The Wraith of Kahn

August 1, 2016

I didn’t hear the speech, but I read the transcript.  Mr Kahn stood before the Democratic Convention and declared himself parent to a combat casualty.  He gained the nation’s sympathy.  But then he pulled from that emotion to one of anger, making unfounded accusations about the other Party’s candidate.  And when the accusations were rebutted, the media followed lock-step into the same fallacy of considering an attack on the truthlessness of the thin speech as an attack on the speaker. The fallacies of Mr Kahn made him out to be a wraith, a shadow of a man who appears to be one thing, but isn’t.

Here is what he said, and the rules of logic being invoked:

Tonight, we are honored to stand here as the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, and as patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country. Like many immigrants, we came to this country empty-handed. We believed in American democracy — that with hard work and the goodness of this country, we could share in and contribute to its blessings. We were blessed to raise our three sons in a nation where they were free to be themselves and follow their dreams.  (appeal to authority)

Our son, Humayun, had dreams of being a military lawyer. But he put those dreams aside the day he sacrificed his life to save his fellow soldiers. Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son “the best of America.”  (appeal to pity)

If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America. (lie #1 – fallacy of composition)
Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. (hasty generalisation, in that Mr Trump only warns against the actions of some Muslims)
He disrespects other minorities, (hasty generalisation)
… women, (hasty generalisation)
… judges (hasty generalisation – it was an attack on one judge who was clearly at fault)
…even his own party leadership. (appeal to authority)
He vows to build walls and ban us from this country. (straw man)

Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with our future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words “liberty” and “equal protection of law.” (fallacy of composition)

Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending America — you will see all faiths,genders, and ethnicities. (fallacy of composition)
You have sacrificed nothing and no one. (fallacist’s fallacy)
We can’t solve our problems by building walls and sowing division. (“good fences make good neighbors”)
We are Stronger Together.  (circular argument)
And we will keep getting stronger when Hillary Clinton becomes our next President. (appeal to consequences)

Here’s the cheat sheet from

  • The fallacist’s fallacy involves rejecting an idea as false simply
    because the argument offered for it is fallacious. Having examined the
    case for a particular point of view, and found it wanting, it can be
    tempting to conclude that the point of view is false.
  • An appeal to consequences is an attempt to motivate belief with an
    appeal either to the good consequences of believing or the bad
    consequences of disbelieving.
  • A circular argument fails as a proof because it will only be judged to
    be sound by those who already accept its conclusion. Anyone who
    rejects the argument’s conclusion should also reject at least one of
    its premises (the one that is the same as its conclusion), and so
    should reject the argument as a whole. Anyone who accepts all of the
    argument’s premises already accepts the argument’s conclusion, so
    can’t be said to have been persuaded by the argument. In neither case,
    then, will the argument be successful.
  • An appeal to pity attempts to persuade using emotion—specifically,
    sympathy—rather than evidence. Playing on the pity that someone feels
    for an individual or group can certainly affect what that person
    thinks about the group; this is a highly effective, and so quite
    common, fallacy. This type of argument is fallacious because our
    emotional responses are not always a good guide to truth; emotions can
    cloud, rather than clarify, issues. We should base our beliefs upon
    reason, rather than on emotion, if we want our beliefs to be true.
  • The genetic fallacy is committed when an idea is either accepted or
    rejected because of its source, rather than its merit.
  • The fallacy of composition is the fallacy of inferring from the fact
    that every part of a whole has a given property that the whole also
    has that property. (he says one judge is unfair, therefore he believes
    all judges are unfair)
  • An appeal to authority is an argument from the fact that a person
    judged to be an authority affirms a proposition to the claim that the
    proposition is true. Appeals to authority are always deductively
    fallacious; even a legitimate authority speaking on his area of
    expertise may affirm a falsehood, so no testimony of any authority is
    guaranteed to be true.
  • The fallacy of division is committed by inferences from the fact that
    a whole has a property to the conclusion that a part of the whole also
    has that property. Like the fallacy of composition, this is only a
    fallacy for some properties; for others, it is a legitimate form of
  • The hasty generalisation draws a general rule from a single, perhaps
    atypical, case.  (Example:  (1) My Christian / atheist neighbour is a
    real grouch. Therefore:  (2) Christians / atheists are grouches. This
    argument takes an individual case of a Christian or atheist, and draws
    a general rule from it, assuming that all Christians or atheists are
    like the neighbour.)

Restore the JOBS act

December 29, 2014

The JOBS act was supposed to make it easier for ordinary Americans to help their neighbors start companies and rebuild local economies.  Unfortunately, the SEC gutted the meat of the bill, assuming Americans weren’t smart enough (too stupid) to take intelligent risks with their money.

The JOBS act would have let small businesses ask for small investments to finance operations and growth.  An individual who made less than $250k (most of the nation) could buy shares in the company, up to 10% of their annual income.

In my research, I’ve found that many startup businesses need only $20k-$50k, Restoring the original intent of the JOBS act would solve that easily.

For example,. 20 neighbors with average wages of $35000 could have each invested in these companies, providing enough capital to help that business begin to employ additional staff.  This is neighbor helping neighbor, not Wall Street creating complex financial products that only the wealthy can benefit from.

Kickstarter and similar sites show the willingness of ordinary citizens to pool small amounts of money for solid business ideas, but those crowdfunding sites are not allowed by law to give the funders any meaningful return for their investment, limiting rewards to personal thanks and company trinkets.

A reinvigorated JOBS act would give middle America the option to earn more than the 1% offered at the bank and make their local communities better places to live.

“The President Is Losing It”

September 20, 2010

Former Washington Insider Michael Laprarie has confirmed what I’ve been saying for some time, that the President is unqualified for the office he’s been elected to.

Barack Obama is a great speaker.  You remember him from the 2004 convention. He gave a great speech that inspired the party.  A very junior Senator, it put him on the radar.  So much that the power brokers suggested him as a Presidential candidate.  For him, a great opportunity.  A chance to do what he loves doing:  giving speeches that stir up trouble and excite

Obama in Trouble

August 14, 2010

Although it sounds like an understatement, President Obama is in trouble, and continues to go from bad to worse.  It’s like the old commercial “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

Nile Gardiner, a Washington-based foreign affairs analyst and political commentator, calls it a “stunning decline” and has offered 10 reasons why President Obama is in trouble. I commend the article to you for the rationale behind each choice.  For now, here is the list:

1. The Obama presidency is out of touch with the American people

2. Most Americans don’t have confidence in the president’s leadership

3. Obama fails to inspire

4. The United States is drowning in debt

5. Obama’s Big Government message is falling flat

6. Obama’s support for socialised health care is a huge political mistake

7. Obama’s handling of the Gulf oil spill has been weak-kneed and indecisive

8. US foreign policy is an embarrassing mess under the Obama administration

9. President Obama is muddled and confused on national security

10. Obama doesn’t believe in American greatness

They sound like a Blinding Flash of the Obvious (BFO). In the Gulf and in foreign affairs, he makes Bush look proactive and skillful. He supports projects most Americans oppose – people may want a solution to the problem, just not his solution. He bows to third world leaders, blows off the boy scouts, and is on constant vacation at taxpayer expense.

Mr Gardiner sums it up calling it “a distinctly Titanic-like feel to the Obama presidency”.  I agree.

Iftar Endrun

August 14, 2010

The Hill blog noted today that President Obama will delay his next vacation – a weekend jaunt to the Florida Panhandle beaches – to host an Iftar dinner tonite.  (An Iftar is the evening social meal during Ramadan.)  This shows just how out of touch the man is from the bulk of the US population.

Ramadan is the holy month of remembrance of the Quran being given to Mohamed.  It’s highlighted with the Haj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, and the stoning of the devil ceremony.  Many in attendance become riled up against infidels, and it is a time for increased levels of violence.

I find the Iftar feast an interesting practice.  Ramadan is a lunar month of fasting.  However, the legalists in Islam have declared that while the faithful must fast all day, they are allowed to eat anything they want at night. “At the end of each day there is a feast where friends and family gather to celebrate the day.” (ref)

The practice has evolved into a month of gluttony and lethargy.  Not only are the meals often festive occasions with rich food and sweets, they often last well into the night – midnight or later – making getting up the next morning a chore.  And once the people are up, if they rise after sunup, they can’t have their morning cup of coffee.  Workers are sluggish and irritable.

In that Mr Obama was raised in a Muslim country, he likely sees Iftar as a festive meal, divorced from religious overtones (I doubt he’s fasting during the day).  Unfortunately, it seems to be clouding his judgment and sense of history from a Western point of view.  Then Pres Obama took it a step further outside mainstream by declaring

“Ramadan is a celebration of a faith … a reminder that Islam has always been part of America and that American Muslims have made extraordinary contributions to our country.”

Somebody get that man a teleprompter.  When he goes off on his own, he mangles facts worse than Mr Bush or Ms Palin.  Ramadan may be a celebration of faith, but it is one practiced by only 2% of Americans.  And while there may have been isolated cases of Muslims immigrating to America in the past (or brought here as slaves), there has not been any measurable presence until very recently.  It has NOT “always been part of America” nor have Muslims made “extraordinary contributions” to the country at large.

Perhaps he’s talking about another nation when he says “our country.”?  Or is he simply trying to justify his unpopular support for the Ground Zero Mosque?

Training Future Leaders

August 8, 2010

This week,  37,000 Boy Scouts, ages 12-17,  celebrated their 100th anniversary at the annual Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill near to Fredericksburg, Virginia, July 26-Aug 4.

Traditionally, the President makes a visit to encourage the assembled hundreds of future leaders. Sometime during the week-long event, the sitting President would take the quick visit to and from the White House.

This year, President Obama skipped the event. He found time to appear on The View television show, and then headed off to Chicago for a quiet birthday party with friends and then to “hang out” at the house while Michelle vacationed in Spain.

Instead, he sent a video prerecorded sitting in an office.

How was it received?

The Scouts apparently understand what leadership is.  (That’s what they’re trained for. )  They knew that what they were seeing wasn’t it.

Queen Michelle

August 5, 2010

The Obamas are on vacation again.  That’s what, 7? 8?  this summer. This time, however, they’ve gone on separate trips. Both at public expense.

Michelle’s trip is getting all the press.  It’s not because she only took Sasha, or that she was gone on Barack’s birthday.    It’s that she’s treating it as an official visit.  And I’m paying.  So are you.

When I take a vacation, I travel coach, or I drive.  I take overnight flights to avoid hotel bills.  I stay at Choice hotels because they have comfortable beds and a simple (free) breakfast without charging me for nice lobbies.  When I travel on business, I do the same, saving my employer at every turn.

Not so with Michelle.  She’s taking Air Force 2 to Spain, at a cost of almost $150k.  While she’s there, she, her friends and the secret service will occupy some 60 or 70 rooms, at $2500 each a night (around $70k total). Add food, incidentials and souveniers, that’s a lot of stimulus that didn’t stay in the country.

And Barack?  He took Bo the dog back to Chicago.  Birthday fundraiser dinner with “friends”.  Of course Oprah was there.

Makes me wonder.  It’s not proper.  Even when they’re together, they’re separate.  We saw that in the campaign, especially the convention.  If I didn’t know better, she’s punishing him, spending “his” money, and since she’s right, he doesn’t say anything, but simply slips off for a weekend with the buds (or the girlfriend?).

It’s not enough our country is going down the toilet and our emperor seems powerless to stop it, but his personal life is starting to look shaky, and we’re paying for that as well.

Kagan’s lack of experience

August 2, 2010

Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama today called Supreme Court nominee Elaina Kagan’s lack of judicial experience a “dramatic deficit.”

Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, is also worried she would try to mold the law to her liberal beliefs, instead of simply ruling on the evidence on constitutional grounds.  He believes Kagan has a dangerous political approach to the law that makes her unfit for the Supreme Court.

In short, he’s worried that she’s a liberal activist with no experience at being a judge, but only in writing politically-charged speeches for others to argue.

Sounds familiar.  I have often spoken about our President’s lack of experience to do the job he’s been elected to do.  Organizing others to take freebie handouts from the government is not the same as making hard managerial decisions.  He wants to compare himself to Reagan, but Reagan had been a Governor, as have 4 of the past 5 presidents. (Bush 42 had been a senior government civilian and gained governing experience that way.)

Mr Obama makes good speeches, but he lacks depth for the job.  I call him an empty suit.

No Papers Required

July 29, 2010

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton today ruled parts of Arizona’s immigration law to be illegal.  Illegals’ advocates and activists hailed the ruling.  Arizona Governor Brewer vowed to appeal.

Bolton is  a Clinton-era appointee.  Her opinion ruled against parts of the law, and kept others in place.  She rules that immigrants need not carry their papers at all times, and that they don’t need to prove their status when applying for a job.

She let stand the prohibition against hiring on the street corner.

I see two problems with this.  The first is in what she let stand.  In effect, she said it’s illegal to hire someone for day labor.  Papers or not, she says I can’t hire my neighbor to come help fix my fence, my kitchen or my garden, unless he’s got a contractor or business license.

She said that when I do some writing for a local business, I’m breaking the law, because I don’t do it enough to get a business license in their city.  I report the income – paid in cash – but according to Judge Bolton, if I do it again, I’ll be breaking the law.

On the bright side, next time the police pull me over when I’m in Arizona on business, I don’t have to show them my license.

Our Absent President

July 26, 2010

No president in recent memory has been on vacation as much as Mr Obama.  Mr Reagan spent quite a bit of time in California, working the ranch, but kept in touch.  GWBush did the same, only better.  He made many trips to his ranch in Texas, but tended to “vacation” by working the ranch half days, saving time for staff meetings and press conferences. Even Mr Clinton, who vacationed in expensive locations that made the rest of the working classes jealous, only took a couple of them a year.

This president seems to have trouble finding his way back to the White House.  7 vacations so far this year, not counting the “date night” to New York City, the command performances at the White House, and the extended summits and visits to visit the troops.

Today we hear that his wife, freshly back from a family trip to Maine, is jetting off to Spain.  Not a simple trip to visit an old friend.  She’s not flying coach.  She’s taking an official government plane, staying in 30 rooms at a 5-star resort.  (It takes that many for all the friends and bodyguards that are going with them.  She’s taking 9-year-old Sacha, but not her husband.  He will join them in the Florida panhandle for next week’s vacation.

Rather than buckling down to do the work of governing the country, President Obama is getting a reputation of King Barry, spending our money to help the already big and powerful, spending our money to give a pittance to out of work citizens, and spending our money for personal luxury.  It’s a good gig if you can get it.