The Republicans are racing to enact AHCA under cloud of secrecy and distraction provided by the Russia investigation. They are intent on their mission and won’t be denied. But why the hurry, why the secrecy, why the subterfuge and why the cruelty?
The AHCA and other upcoming bills tell us the agenda of the Republican party. If we analyze what they are doing, we can connect the dots as to why, and where they want to take our country. I can’t comment on the Senate version of AHCA because nobody has seen it. But I can comment on the House version. We can be confident that, while the Senate version may have some differences, the effect will be similar. The House and Senate are both controlled by Republicans, and those in charge share an agenda. Thus, while there may be differences around the edges, the substance will be intact.
We can derive from the CBO score that the House AHCA benefits those of privilege and the healthy young, while gravely harming the aged, the disabled, and the poor. The question we ask is why? Why are they protecting those in least need of protection and savaging those in greatest need of protection? What is the end game?
As I wrote in a post earlier (read it here), we are racing toward corporate feudalism. Based on their priorities and allegiances, it is obvious that this is the goal of the Republican establishment. They have a protected class, and the purpose of the rest of society is to serve, pamper and enrich the protected ones. The protected class consists of corporations and the wealthy. To complete corporate feudalism, they must have control of all factors of production, that is, the means of creating wealth. A read of the House version of AHCA and the CBO scoring of it shows that they are doing all they can to accomplish that. It also reveals a sinister undercurrent in the Republican Establishment thinking: Those who are not able to serve, pamper and enrich the pampered ones have a duty to die. I will say it again, those who do not fit the purpose of the elite have a duty to die. But, as I will explain later, they must die in the most horrible ways, and only after any wealth they may have been able to generate is returned to the corporations.
Let’s take a look at who is primarily targeted by the House AHCA. It is the elderly, the disabled, those with preexisting conditions, the poor and the sick. Why are they the targets? These are the people who contribute nothing or little to the corporate bottom line. These are the people Republicans have been calling the “takers.” Not the corporations making billions in profits while collecting millions in tax dollars. The “takers” are the people who continue to live while not enriching the protected. Based on the content of bills being pushed by the Republicans, it is clear Republicans believe these “takers” have a duty to die and stop using resources.
Those who are not targeted, the young and healthy at their peak of production, are covered by AHCA as long as they stay healthy. They bring in far more profit than they cost to cover. The protected class needs them to do the work. The young and healthy are the most valuable factors of production, and they are worth the investment to maintain. But the bill has some huge gotchas in it for them. If they have preexisting conditions, that will be out of pocket, and at a higher rate than the actual cost to treat those conditions. (For example, there is no way it costs $2000 a month to make and distribute insulin to a diabetic. But that is what they are going charge the diabetic. Same with a number of other drugs. The pharmaceuticals are having a heyday with life saving drugs.) The portion of the bill that allows lifetime caps on coverage for the employed is a way to exact maximum profit from workers and discard them when they are no longer profitable. It also discourages workers from accessing their coverage in order to have it available in time of great need.
Women and children are targeted in this bill. We should note that with this bill plus their other policies and practices, women are to be nothing beyond toys and incubators. There is to be no sex education (hence Betsy), no birth control (hence targeting planned parenthood and other Republican sponsored bills both in congress and in the states), no prenatal coverage (now, isn’t that crazy if you want a healthy baby?), no maternity coverage, no neonatal protection, and once the child is born, no public assistance (they are working on dumping WIC and severely restrict even food stamps), no assistance with child care. But if you don’t manage to raise the child the way they think the child should be raised, you can be fined, charged, arrested and even imprisoned. This only makes sense in a corporate feudal framework where women and children are little more than livestock. We should notice from their behavior that in their minds, the place of women in their society is the serving, pampering and enriching via sex. Going beyond reproduction, Republicans are pushing policies that would have children not from the protected class educated in institutions that push a religion that supports their caste system and restricts knowledge to those things that will make those children grow up to be little more than capital (financial assets, like machinery). Once their value is fully depreciated, they revert to being “takers.”
The “takers” have a duty to die. But if you look at the rest of the administration, you find that it is more than a duty to die. AG Sessions has spoken out against both medical marijuana and death with dignity laws. Why would he oppose those? The reason is evil in the rawest sense. Marijuana has been shown to relieve pain and other symptoms of disease and is relatively inexpensive. It has been shown to offer comfort for cancer patients, especially in their final stages. It has been shown to offer some help for dementia patients. Why not encourage its use? And why, when a person has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, not allow them to pass on peacefully and painlessly at a time of their choosing? I can only come up with one rationale for these things. People using medical marijuana are not using expensive pharmaceuticals. People who choose to die peacefully and at the time of their choosing wind up not using the pain killers or living in nursing homes. In other words, Republicans want to ensure that as you are suffering and dying, you will first cough up any assets you have managed to acquire in your life to corporate interests before you go. You have a duty to die, and to die broke and in agony. To serve the protected class.
I am not sure what can be done about our trajectory. Now that the GOP is in control of two branches of government and is about to cement their control in the judiciary (not only in the Supreme Court, but in all the Federal courts as well), a course correction may not be possible. As of this summer, we may be officially a corporate feudal state.
When I was growing up, My father was active in politics. You would never see him on the stump, and he never ran for office. He was a critical member of various politicians’ teams, mostly republican. One thing he was particularly good at was fundraising. I remember him telling me, “The small donation from a family is important. If the person who handles the family money will give you $5.00, you have to understand what that means. $5.00 is a roast and all the fixings (this was the 60’s, after all). That is at least one family meal. They have given you a meal off of their table. If they will give you that, they will give you their vote. These donations are a sign that they are with you.”
Was the small donation also a way to gain influence over the candidate? Probably, but it didn’t matter. The donation was small, and their were a lot of them in relation to the district. Lots of donations of similar amounts meant that the influence was dispersed across a whole lot of families. The politicians had to listen to a lot of people with a lot of different ideas if they wanted to fund their campaigns and win their elections. While they hated having to beg for donations, the process led to democratic (small d) representation. Those families, and their neighbors, were the constituency, and the politicians never forgot it.
When I returned to Colorado in 1989, I joined up with the Douglas County Republicans, because I lived in Douglas County. We were immediately involved in the local elections and midterms. I was looking forward to putting into practice the things I had learned from my father. However, something had happened to Colorado politics while I was away. I was told, “We don’t do fundraising that way any more. It is too hard, too time consuming, and undignified. We have big dollar sponsors now. All we have to do is select candidates that our sponsors can support.” And so it was. At the time, the big donors were people like Marvin Davis and Philip Anschutz and corporations like major banks and large developers. It soon included the Koch brothers and other donors at the national level. While the smaller donations were never turned down, they were no longer the focus of fundraising. With the change in fundraising came a change in the constituency. The politicians no longer had to accommodate the families who made up the small donor class. They had to accommodate the big donors. And the influence was no longer dispersed, it was concentrated. The constituency was now the wealthy individuals and corporations, who seemed to have the same policy focuses.
Then came the The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, also known as McCain Feingold Campaign Finance Act. But first, a bit of history on campaign financing.
The first federal laws concerning campaign finance were passed in 1867 to prohibit Navy yard workers from being solicited for campaign funds. I don’t know why this law was passed. Over the years, other laws were passed to regulate campaign financing. Essentially, these laws were meant to limit contributions to ensure that wealthy individuals and special interest groups did not have a disproportionate influence on Federal elections, prohibit certain sources of funds for Federal campaign purposes (i.e., the Tillman Act prohibited corporations and national banks from contributing money to national campaigns), control campaign spending (laws passed in 1910 covering U.S. House of Representative races, and 1911 to add the Senate, both laws limited the amounts that could be spent on a candidate’s election), and require public disclosure of campaign finances to deter abuse and to educate the electorate (essentially the Federal Corrupt Practices Act of 1925). The public disclosure was an important element of the regulations passed.
However, these laws were approved without including a way to enforce them. Thus, the campaign finance provisions of all of these laws were pretty much ignored. In 1971, Congress passed a more rigorous set of disclosure provisions under the 1971 Federal Election Campaign Act as the primary law regulating political campaign spending and fundraising. It focused on increased disclosure of contributions for federal campaigns.
After Watergate, Congress passed the Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments of 1974, which put new limits on contributions to campaigns. Unfortunately, within four years, the FEC had decided that donors could donate unlimited money to political parties, but not the candidates themselves, as long as the party used that money for “party building activities” such as voter registration drives, but not to directly support candidates. Political parties still used this money to support their candidates. This money donated to parties became known as soft money. In 1992, President George HW Bush vetoed a bill restricting use of soft money.
Because of a series of scandals (including Enron) brought the issue of campaign finance to the fore of public consciousness in 2001, and the McCain-Feingold bill was passed. The important provisions of this act included a prohibition of national political party committees from raising or spending any funds not subject to the federal limits previously set, and limited the use of issue advocacy adds. It also prohibited any issue advocacy ad from being paid for by a corporation, including non-profit issue organizations, or union general treasury funds. It also included a ban on foreign corporations or foreign nationals being involved in decisions regarding political spending. Mitch McConnell was a major opponent of this act.
To comply with McCain-Feingold, many “527s” have been registered. 527s get their name from section 527 of the IRS code. 527s are mostly funded by wealthy individuals, labor unions, and businesses. While 527s existed before McCain-Feingold, they became more popular after it was passed.
McCain-Feingold had in it a section known as the “millionaire’s amendment,” which tried to equalize campaigns by increasing the legal limit on contributions to candidate when his opponent used personal wealth to overwhelm the spending of the candidate. As McCain said, “Money does buy access in Washington, and access increases influence that often results in benefiting the few at the expense of the many.” In other words, the millionaire amendment was specifically designed to offset the ability of the very wealthy to buy elections. This is the provision that the Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional in the case known as Citizens United in 2009. Specifically, Citizens United struck down campaign financing laws related to corporations and unions. The minority argued that the court erred in allowing unlimited corporate spending, arguing that corporate spending posed a particular threat to democratic self-government. However, it did also make it easier to hide the source of funds. According to President Barack Obama, “With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests—including foreign corporations—to spend without limit in our elections. I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people. And I’d urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.” He also said the decision was, “a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.”
In fact, the Supreme Court decision in 2009 did make it easier to hide where soft money was coming from. The elections of 2012 and 2016 are evidence of this fact. Now our elections are largely financed by the 1%. We know that Robert Mercer was a major contributor to the Trump campaign. We know that Sheldon Adelson largely funded the failed Newt Gingrich campaign and was sought by all the Republican candidates in 2016. We also know that the Koch brothers have invested heavily in elections throughout the country from school boards to state assemblies and legislatures to U.S. Congress and President. So financing campaigns has been moved from the family donations to the company donations to corporate and special interest donations to the 1%. So the influence, and thus, the constituency, has shifted accordingly.
However, these are the things we know about soft money. The difficulty in finding out the sources of funds in the soft money world opens up a whole new problem. Because of the lack of transparency, there is every possibility that a significant portion of that soft money is in fact laundered money from foreign sources. We do know that there are questions about several individuals involved in the Trump campaign as to whether they have been laundering money. There are transactions, for example, that Manafort has been involved in that have all the earmarks of money laundering. It is not a far stretch to ask whether the Trump campaign was an experiment in a new way to launder money. If the Trump campaign was benefiting from laundered money, was he the only one? If politicians were accepting money from foreign sources, then who do they represent? Does the influence belong now to foreign entities? Are these foreign entities now the true constituency of our politicians? This is a really scary thought. Imagine if the real constituent to whom our congress and President are responsible to is Vladimer Putin. Perhaps the time has come to ask our congresspersons, who are your real constituents?
This is a letter My husband wrote to Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman. I think it is worthy of reading.
I trust you will read this letter in its entirety, rather than picking and choosing issues to respond to as has been the case in the past.
I am a retiree and depend on my earned benefits (Medicare, Social Security and a small pension).
I am a Viet Nam era veteran from the early 1970s where I was a part of the IC community. During that period, I developed a deep dislike for Russia and its corrupt behavior.
Politically I was active within the GOP from the 1970s to 2005. In the late 1990s the GOP left me and became a party I did not recognize. The party also left the American people. It no longer cared for the citizens and did everything to abandon the nation’s infrastructure and the health and welfare of people that matured under the Eisenhower administration. Yes, the Democrats were the opposition, but there was usually an attempt to find solutions. Today Democratic values are more closely aligned to the values of the GOP in the 50s and 60s and for that matter the 70s and 80s. Voter opinion was valued by the party. Huge donors didn’t rule the roost. There were no Koch brothers or DeVos family influences. People mattered back then. Today, who in the GOP cares about the people?
The issues I have outlined below are important to me because I still believe American citizens matter. Everyone who lives in this country matters (other than those who choose to destroy our Democracy). I hope you consider each, realizing this nation must be one of compassion and that today’s GOP cannot continue to shove their beliefs down everyone’s throats.
The Trump/Ryan Care legislation was unacceptable. It was cruel to those who need it most, many who have no choice. For example, my daughter-in-law has type 1 diabetes. Her employer does not provide insurance to ‘part time’ employees. By the way, she is not part time by choice, but rather because her employer (major American corporation), like so many, is avoiding the cost of benefits. Prescriptions alone could cost her $2,000 per month without insurance. A high-risk pool such as proposed by the GOP would mean no health insurance coverage and eventual death. Is what we really want? For the rich, I am sure that is the case.
The menu of EHCB under ACA has been a godsend. Yes, premiums and deductibles are high, but much better than the days before ACA. Why do I like the ACA? The answer is simple, ‘affordable health insurance for a person over 50 years old’. I was in the Defense industry for almost 40 years. My benefits were great, however with budget cuts, highly compensated employees like me and my wife were forced into early retirement. Retirement medical benefits were more costly than what I could find on the commercial market and the ACA. I was headed toward bankruptcy. Both Trump/Ryan didn’t give a damn about the over 50 population and even with increased tax credits the deal was rotten. How dare they use the legislation to reduce the taxes of the wealthy on the backs of people like us? This should be legislation for comprehensive health care for all at an affordable price no matter the individual’s age. Medicaid is an essential element of health care although it does not affect us. The GOP does not seem to care for the working people living in this country.
I am a firm believer in protecting the benefits we paid for, specifically, Medicare and Social Security. These are earned benefits. Now that I collect these benefits, I understand more than ever their importance and the need to protect them for all who have made contributions. It is important to keep these programs viable, but GOP plans are not well thought out. Why is the Social Security Cap not adjusted like it used to be? It seems like increasing a contribution to retirement a little each year is not a sin other than some Think Tank giving a Congressman a lower score. Congressmen work for us, not a Think Tank. Medicare must be kept intact and prescription prices kept affordable. Rather than adjusting retirement age (not a reality) why not consider an increase in taxes in line with inflation? Privatizing is not an option either. The Government is the best manager of my money. I’ve had so many investment firms rip me off over the years that I no longer trust them. That is the private sector.
The fabric of this nation is our immigrants, no matter how they arrived. It is special to see friends, co-workers, worshipers, store clerks, airport workers, public servants, etc. from so many different countries. Many came to this great country to flee oppression or poverty. Why on earth would we change something so special? Today’s travel bans and deportations are just two things that shock me. Why do we oppress people in or attempting to enter our country? I love Colorado because of its diversity. In a normal day I interact with people from at least a dozen countries. They are not here to destroy us. Why are DREAMers not citizens? What law did they break? They had no say in how they arrived and yet they are friends and peers. What about those escaping war-torn countries and areas of famine? For those of us of Christian faith, God would expect us to care for those in need. I cannot understand why Congress and the Administration are filled with such hate.
I am a firm believer in the separation of church and state. This line is being blurred by this administration and is being manifested by expressions of hatred towards believers of other faiths. I am stunned that Congress is seemingly silent on acts of violence and vandalism. Congress is guilty of not condemning this administration of promoting expressions of hate.
This is the biggest waste of taxpayer dollars. No one knows the exact price and Congress is making no attempts to find out the true cost. Congressmen will be held accountable for this failure. This wall reminds me of the Berlin wall. Is Mexico our enemy? No. They are our friends and trading partners. Is this wall going to hinder migration of wildlife? I am sure it will. The hatred of this administration seems to trump all considerations of the impact of the wall. Bottom line this Congress is lazy. It does not want to do the hard work required to find solutions.
This is another area where Congress is not pushing back. The travel ban is a Muslim ban. More importantly it has no impacts on the investments of the president because it excludes nations where he has properties. It harms our businesses and tourism. People will not feel welcome to visit our nation and other nations will likely not welcome us. It is making this a more dangerous world. The Colorado GOP delegation seems to embrace this expression of hatred. As written, this ban has nothing to do with the safety of this country.
Where do I begin? I have yet to meet anyone in Colorado that does not support green energy, does not want clean air and water, and that denies climate change. The actions of many in Congress and the current administration are advocating the destruction of all the progress we have made over the last several decades. Cost of regulations is not an acceptable excuse. The benefits have far outweighed the ‘costs’. People are healthier now. The world is better off.
This administration is failing the country in a major way. Ms. DeVos should never have been confirmed. First, this was a case for pay to play. Too many Congressmen accepted donations from a Michigan resident who in turn felt obligated to support her nomination. Quite frankly, I believe this was a criminal act. Second, she advocates on the part of religious education. This dilutes the effect of our public education system. Our tax dollars must not go to religious education under any circumstance. My tax dollars must not go to supporting a school whose beliefs I do not support or agree with. Religion must be kept out of our public schools (and I am a Christian).
Voting rights are being attacked in so many ways. Voter ID laws are making it impossible for the infirmed, minorities and seniors to cast their votes. A solution must be found so that all citizens can easily vote. Voting obstruction must end. Colorado may not be perfect, but does get higher grades than many states and should be held up as a good example for voting in national elections. I resent the criticism coming from the current administration on Colorado voting laws and I encourage our delegation in Washington to demand that it stop.
This is an area where the GOP has dropped the ball. Where are the investments in the power grid, highways, water lines, gas lines, rail, mass transit, internet access, etc.? Congress is zeroing these investments out and refusing to increase gas taxes. Bridges are falling apart. Pot holes are everywhere. Tolls are being charged for highways that were constructed using our tax dollars. Are we giving infrastructure public assets to the well connected to profit from our contributions? This is corruption. It is a failure on the part of Congress. This took hold in the 1980s and now we as a country are facing a case of deferred maintenance which will cost ten times more to fix. Will it take a major disaster to wake Congress?
This is a losing argument with you. Suffice it to say, voters will remember the Garland nomination. Why you were a part of this obstruction is beyond me. Neil Gorsuch, in my opinion, puts more value in businesses than the people of this country. There was no indication in the hearing that he would protect the lives of people in this country. Protecting big donors and big businesses seemed far more important. Is Congress throwing the poor and middle class under the bus? It appears that is the case.
Behavior of Current Administration
Our president has been in office roughly 75 days as I write this. It has seemed like 10 years of hell. Congress could become heroes if they were willing to put a stop to the chaos. Most of the EOs are not well thought out. Congress could correct the EOs, replace them, or pass legislation overriding them. We clearly have a president that has no clue on governing.
As a veteran, I am very sensitive to anyone’s relationship to Russia. I don’t trust them and I believe they are out to destroy our great country. The Senate seems to be doing the right thing, albeit a little slow for my taste. Whatever the case may be, Congress must get to the bottom of this mess and hold people accountable, even at the highest levels of government. Tampering with our elections and any subsequent cover-up is wrong. Personally, I could probably name at least a dozen who I believe are guilty of something. It could mean a new President and it might be down the line of succession. I know I am not only person that is worried. Senate leadership is going to be very important.
Congressmen Work for Constituents
This can be the toughest thing for a Congressman, but it is the most important. Colorado elected you, not donors, not Think Tanks. You must listen to your constituents. I will hazard a guess, as much as you may not like it, most of us in Colorado embrace the ACA. Your donors may not like that, but in 2020 the voters will provide you with an assessment on how well you listened to them. In person town halls are important. Voters need to release their emotions in person and you must listen. This is especially true today, when we have an Administration that is determined to tick everyone off. Unfortunately, you will receive most of the voters’ wrath even if you were not a part of the president’s actions. I don’t believe for a minute that the Colorado protesters are outsiders. They are my friends and neighbors from here in Colorado. We want our Congressmen to hear us. I believe you can. Do you have the will?
For a long time, I have wanted to have logic taught as a year-long eighth grade class, in which four quarters would cover the logic of Philosophy, the logic of Mathematics, the logic of Language and critical thinking, but our school superintendent said teachers couldn’t teach that. I believe that if we ran political speeches through the known fallacies there would be nothing left of the speeches except “Hello, I am XXX and I am running for YYY.”
There are three major areas of logic, that is philosophy (where logic originated), mathematics and language. Since mathematics is a language, I consider it a subset of the logic of language. Computer logic is a subset of mathematics. I discuss here several logical fallacies, in a discussion of the logic of Language. If, as a society, we used these logical failings as a filter on political speeches and ads (is there much difference?) we could clear out much chaff from real debate. We can discuss real issues.
Back in the day of our founding fathers, Logic was considered a necessary part of education. During debates, they did not even address the truth of premises until they had addressed the language of the argument. If the argument failed, the truth or otherwise of the premises was moot. I am convinced that our education needs to relook at logic as a foundation of the educated person.
I make one clarifying statement here: Just because a statement is derived from faulty logic does not mean it is untrue. It means it was not proven by the logic used.
- Argumentun ad antiquitatem: Argument to antiquity or tradition. “We’ve always done it this way” is the one I hear most often at work. Another example is “If it was good enough for my father and good enough for his father it is good enough for me.” “My dad never got past eighth grade, his father never got past third grade, I don’t need a high school diploma.” “This nation was founded on Christian principles” (not true to start with and logical fallacy to boot).
- Argumentum ad hominem: Argument against the man. When the argument is directed to or at the person, attacking the character or motives of a person who has stated and idea rather than the idea itself. It can also be an attack on the source of information. Name calling is included in this. “Justice Sotomayor is a racist.” This also includes innuendo. “Barack Obama wants to provide the public option in health care. He is a socialist!” It also includes put-downs. “You turned out pretty well given how much your father used to drink.”
- Argumentum ad ignorantiam: Argument to ignorance. Arguing that because something has not been proven true means it is false. “It has not been proven that this drug hurts people, therefore it does not hurt people.” “It has not been proven that there is a god therefore there is no god.” (Can cut both ways, eh?)
- Argument ad logicam: Argument to logic. Claiming that an argument is false because the logic in the proof offered is flawed. Just because the argument that the fact that we are seeing more hurricanes (which could be because we have satellites that can see hurricanes we couldn’t see before) does not prove global warming does not mean there is no global warning. (On the other hand, please stop saying that because we see more hurricanes means there is global warming? It just gives the other side distracting ammunition.)
- Argumentum ad misericordian: Argument to pity. Claiming sympathy is a good reason to accept the argument. How many of us were told to eat everything on our plates because of all the starving children in India?
- Argumentum ad nauseam: Argument to the point of nausea. Saying the same thing over and over makes it true. Saying Barack Obama is not a citizen over and over does not make him stop being a citizen. Get over it!
- Argumentum ad numerum: Appeal to numbers. Four out of five doctors recommend our product over every other similar product. Just because they recommend it doesn’t mean it is better.
- Argumentum ad populum: Appeal to popularity. Similar to ad numerum, the bandwagon argument. It involves the claim that everybody thinks it, everybody does it. Eighty per cent of the population believes in Angels, therefore there are angels (or whatever per cent it is – I didn’t look it up.) That doesn’t prove there are angels.
- Argumentum ad verecundiam: Appeal to authority. Barbra Streisand or Chuck Norris commenting on foreign policy. Being a popular actor does not make one an authority on foreign policy. Or reverse mortgages. If there is no reason to believe that the person has expertise in an area, it is a fallacy to quote them on the subject. In our society we often associate lab coats with doctors or scientists. TV ads often feature people in lab coats to give gravitas to what the actor was saying, implying that that person is a doctor. My grandmother was a doctor. When I was little I used to wear her lab coat. Did that make me a doctor?
- Circulus in demonstrando: Circular reasoning. The Bible is the word of God because the Bible says so. See the circle? It says xyz in the Bible. So how do you know the Bible is correct? The Bible says so. Interestingly, every web site I looked at used this example. Go figure.
- Complex Question: Implicit assumtion that somethingis true by the construction of the statement. Also known as loaded question. This is the traditional “Have you quit beating your wife?” argument. “Have you paid up those back taxes?” assumes there were back taxes to be paid up.
- Post hoc ergo propter hoc: After which therefore because of which. I got pregnant after moving to my new house. All our neighbors got pregnant shortly after they moved in (true story). It must be the water here that made us pregnant. This fallacy is the foundation for many superstitions.
- Cum hoc ergo propter hoc: With this therefore because of this. “We haven’t been attacked on our soil since we started enhanced interrogations, therefore we are keeping you safe.” Assumes that because of the enhanced interrogations we have not been attacked. We might not have been attacked for a lot of reasons.
- Dicto simpliciter: Sweeping generalization. Expanding limited observations to make very general conclusions. Often leads to stereotyping. “I got mugged by a preacher’s kid, therefore all preachers’ kids are muggers.” “My mother had PMS, therefore all women go crazy once a month.” “It was Muslims who attacked us on 9/11. Therefore all Muslims are evil.”
- Appeal to nature: Just because it is natural means it is good and true. “Carbon Dioxide is found in nature, therefore it can’t be bad for you.” We all know where this came from.
- Naturalistic Fallacy: Assuming ethical correctness based on facts alone. “The world population is growing. Therefore it is ethical to have more children.” “Minorities make up the bulk of the prison population. Therefore we should jail more minorities.”
- Non Sequitur: Does not follow. Stating a conclusion that does not necessarily follow from the argument. “We do not have public option health care, therefore I need more shoes.” Well, maybe that does follow.
- Petitio Principii: Begging the question. Also known as tautology. Assuming the premise – including what you are trying to prove in the argument as if it is already proven. “We must have deregulation to improve productivity” assumes deregulation improves productivity. As we have seen, it may not improve real productivity. Using a definition of an event to describe the cause of an event. “The drop in GNP is the result of the country being less productive.”
- Red herring: Introduction of irrelevant facts, misdirection, false emphasis. “We can’t be letting in all these immigrants to the United States. Think of all the fighting going on in Congo.”
- Slippery slope: If we go here, we will eventually wind up there. “If we let in all these Mexicans, pretty soon we will all be speaking Spanish.” “If we let gays marry, pretty soon we will have men marrying sheep.” Not to say what women will marry!
- Straw man: Creating a caricature and arguing against it. “All these women go out and be promiscuous, then they get pregnant and want a last minute abortion. We must do what is necessary to make women be chaste.” “These people have lots of babies to collect a lot of welfare money. We should not encourage that.” “These people swindled the finance companies, took on more debt than they could handle and now expect us to bail them out.” “These people come in to our country illegally to collect our welfare and let us support them.” I find that an argument that begins with “these people” or some derivative thereof are usually suspect.
- Tu quoque: You too! Two wrongs make a right. “They attacked our trade center, therefore torture is justified.” “Nancy Pelosi knew we were torturing and she didn’t say anything.” Enough said?
- Equivocation: Different uses of the same word. Some dogs have long ears. My dog has long ears. Therefore my dog is some dog. I love grass. My joints hurt me. I should stay out of those joints.
- Intentionally misinterpreting sentence construction. All that glitters is not gold. Gold glitters. Therefore gold is not gold. Have we ever seen politicians intentionally misconstrue what someone says based on sentence construction?
- Affirming the Consequent. If P then Q. P therefore Q is correct. Not Q therefore not P is correct. Not P therefore not Q is incorrect. P could be a subset of Q, which would mean that an element could be a member of Q but not of P. This one is insidious and shows up in political discourse all the time.
- False Dilemma: Claiming only a black or white selection exists when there are many areas of grey. “Either you are for us or against us.”
- Suppressed Evidence: Presenting only the information that supports the argument. Taking quotations in part or out of context is an example. The arguments against Justice Sotomayor fit into this one.
- These are some logical fallacies. http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org/… and http://ocw.usu.edu/…give many more.
So imagine, next election cycle, if the pundits went through the fallacies before discussing the speeches? Or making their own claims? Would we have a much more substantive discussion?