Sunday, June 25, 2023



For my part, I'm proud to live in a city and a state that recognizes that in a free society, people have the right to be who they are.

It doesn't get any more basic than that.

Happy Pride month.

Monday, June 19, 2023

Not Enough Clichés for This

Strap yourselves in folks, it's going to be a bumpy ride. 

That's just another cliché making the rounds these days as we head into uncharted waters, so to speak.

For the purpose of this post, last Tuesday evening I held my nose and sat through a speech the exPOTUS gave at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, a few hours after he was indicted for a second time.

Predictable in so many ways, that speech featured wall to wall hyperbole, logical fallaciesmisleading statements, outright lies, a few pronouncements taken directly from the How to be a Dictator for Dummies Handbook, and other stuff that could best be described as nothing more than unadulterated bullshit. I'll detail just a few of those in a minute.

The one thing that separated this speech from his typical whiney rants of the past was that it featured an unusual amount of self-pity, even for him, not a good look for someone who likes to pretend he's a tough guy. In reality a diva if there ever was one, 45 made it clear to his adoring public that the great tragic operatic heroines, Aida, Madama Butterfly and Lucia di Lammermoor combined, have nothing on him as far as suffering and being victims of indignity, maltreatment, and injustice. Paraphrasing the old Negro spiritual, to the MAGA cult who sees their guy as a latter-day Jesus Christ, nobody knows the trouble he's seen. 

To the rest of the world, he's exactly where he belongs, as a criminal defendant.

As they say, what goes around, comes around.

So on to the speech, shall we?

One year ago, I wrote this piece on logical fallacies, that is to say, arguments that do not reasonably follow from their premises. In my post I listed about a dozen categories of logical fallacies (there are many more) and can honestly say the exPRES used virtually all of them Tuesday evening.

Here I'll mention only three, the ones with fancy Latin names, just because they make me sound smart:

Logical fallacy number one: The post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy with not a little hyperbole thrown in. On Tuesday evening, the exPOTUS opened his speech with this:

The ridiculous and baseless indictment of me by the Biden administration’s weaponized Department of Injustice (sic) will go down as among the most horrific abuses of power in the history of our country.
Post hoc, ergo propter hoc, in English "after this therefore because of this", concerns the misconception that subsequent events are necessarily connected to preceding ones. In this case, the exPOTUS's legal prosecution follows the presidency of Joe Biden, therefore according to him, the Biden administration, and specifically Biden himself, are directly responsible for the prosecution of the exPOTUS. 

The following is the core argument of the exPOTUS: 

A corrupt administration, Biden's, is actively prosecuting a political rival who is likely to face him in the 2024 presidential election. 

This is a very serious charge, one that should never be taken lightly, especially in a democracy.

We'll never know if Joe Biden is directly or indirectly responsible for the prosecution of 45, but logic and everything I've seen up to this point leads me to believe that both are extremely unlikely. For starters, the current president has bent over backwards to distance himself from his predecessor. He has made it abundantly clear that in his administration, the Justice Department works independently of the Office of the President, as it is designed to do. To further that point, an independent counsel, Jack Smith was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland, to investigate and if necessary, prosecute this case, further distancing Biden and the Justice Department from the travails of the exPOTUS. 

OK but what if Biden is lying and really is working behind the scenes to ensure that the case against the exPRES moves forward? That's where logic comes in.

Joe Biden is not a dumb man. He understands that 45 needs attention, even negative attention, like a fire needs oxygen in order to survive. I believe that if the current president truly is working behind the scenes to remove the exPOTUS from the race, he would do everything in his power to avoid giving 45 more oxygen in the form of public attention. The media circus that has developed around 45's two indictments, and surely more to come, is the last thing Biden needs if he is truly afraid of the exPOTUS and wants to keep him out of the headlines.

Biden also knows that 45 (who is hoping to become 47) is a proven loser. While he may be the odds-on favorite to win his party's nomination, he is the least likely of four or five of his Republican opponents to defeat Biden in the general election in 2024. A conviction of the exPOTUS would almost certainly energize more than just the MAGA base to come out to vote for the Republican candidate, whomever that may be. There's no telling where that road might lead but a conviction probably would not be helpful for the Democrats' cause in 2024.

Furthermore, should 45 be convicted, you can bank on any future Republican administration, with or without the exPOTUS in charge, much like the Mob, seeking retribution and coming after Biden and his family in Congress and the courts with all their might. 

Which leads us to the following cliche, currently the mantra of the Republican Party:

The exPOTUS said as much Tuesday promising that if elected president in 2024, he:

...will appoint a real special prosecutor to go after the most corrupt president in the history of the United States of America, Joe Biden, and the entire Biden crime family.

In other words, he would do exactly what he is accusing Biden of wrongly doing right now, weaponize his Justice Department against his political enemies. 

Unlikely as it may be, it is not inconceivable that 45 could become 47 in '24 and I certainly wouldn't put it past him to do just that, or at least try. After all, he has a proven track record as president of using his attorney general as his personal attorney. 

Simply put, no matter how much Joe Biden would like to see justice done, prosecuting 45 does not work in the current president's self-interest. It seems ridiculous to me that he would actively work toward that end, rather than letting the chips fall where they may, which I have no doubt is exactly what he's doing.

Logical fallacy number two: The tu quoque fallacy.

Translated into English, "you too", the tu quoque fallacy occurs when rather than explaining one's own position, someone turns an argument back on the opponent, citing inconsistencies or hypocrisy in their position. A more current and familiar term is "whatboutism". In the speech after his latest indictment, 45 spent a considerable amount of time listing other prominent figures who did what he is charged for, wrongfully maintaining records of government information, some of it highly classified, in their possession after leaving office. The exPOTUS was indicted for his actions while the others were not. This is correct. What he conveniently left out is that all the others he mentioned, the Clintons, Joe Biden and Mike Pence, all cooperated with authorities to return the material in their possession back to the government. 

In stark contrast, 45 did not cooperate, in fact according to the indictment, he went to extreme, illegal measures to prevent the government from getting their hands on the documents, many of them containing very sensitive information regarding national security.

As a friend commented on Facebook: comparing 45's acts to those of the other politicians "is not like comparing apples to oranges, it's comparing apples to hand grenades."

Logical fallacy number three: The ad hominem attack.

Attacking the opponent, rather than addressing the argument, is what defines the ad hominem (to the person) fallacy. It also happens to be the favorite rhetorical device of the exPOTUS. It's almost inconceivable to think of a 45 speech without hearing stock put downs like "these are very bad people" or "this is a low IQ individual" or "so and so is a nasty person" if the target happens to be a woman. Like a schoolyard bully, the bigger the threat to 45, the harsher the put down. The really privileged get a personal nickname. Who could ever forget "Crooked Hillary" Clinton or "Rocket Man" Kim Jung Un?

Perhaps the biggest threat the exPRES has ever experienced up to this point in his career is the Special Counsel in this case. True to form, he is the beneficiary of the harshest nickname of them all, "Deranged" Jack Smith. I imagine the nickname doesn't come from Smith's highly regarded professional reputation, but from his headshot that made the rounds, where he's sporting a full beard and an intense gaze, making him look shall we say, a little sinister. But as we all know, you can't judge a book by its cover, Smith's work on this case has shown nothing but intelligence, thoroughness and competence, very unfortunate indeed for the exPRES. No wonder he hates him so.

Then there's his name. 45 displayed some of his tribal instincts when he said:" I wonder what his real name is. Jack Smith, sounds so innocent, doesn't it?" I guess to him, a white guy with a very common Anglo-Saxon name is someone he would automatically trust, as opposed to someone with a name like Barack Hussein Obama for an example.

What these logical fallacies have in common is they deflect from the issue at hand, in this case the crimes the exPOTUS is accused of committing. In fact, all the defenses I've heard from apologists for the exPOTUS, both the true believers and those who are simply afraid of crossing him and maybe getting a nickname of their own, have not once addressed what is actually in the indictment. "I guess..." suggested one commentator, "you can't defend the indefensible." Instead, they just throw a bunch of nonsense against the wall to see what sticks. (I do love that cliché).

On Tuesday evening however, the exPOTUS did bring up the charges.

Logical fallacies alone do not invalidate a premise. Claiming that an issue cannot be true because its defender uses faulty logic is known as the fallacy fallacy, I kid you not.

Making stuff up is another story.

The secondary argument of the exPOTUS is this:

I did have the documents in my possession, but I had every right to do so. 

During his Tuesday speech, the exPOTUS kept bringing up the "Presidential Records Act" which he claimed gives presidents leeway to take their time in order to make the decision as to which records could be kept and which should be relinquished.

I must say 45 made a good case for himself citing an act of Congress from 1978 that I'm assuming few average Americans, myself included, knew much if anything about. Given my ignorance on the subject, I did what most reasonable people would do, I looked it up, not hard to do these days. 

Lo and behold, The Presidential Records Act states exactly the opposite of what the exPOTUS claimed.

According to the Presidential Records Act of 1978, the president is required to relinquish ALL documents relating to affairs of the government, classified or not, as soon as he or she leaves office. 

This is neither my opinion nor conjecture, it is an unequivocal fact. Here is section 2022 of the Act which deals with the ownership of presidential records:

The United States shall reserve and retain complete ownership, possession, and control of Presidential records; and such records shall be administered in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

And from Section 2203, dealing with the management and custody of presidential records:  
Upon the conclusion of a President's term of office, or if a President serves consecutive terms upon the conclusion of the last term, the Archivist of the United States shall assume responsibility for the custody, control, and preservation of, and access to, the Presidential records of that President. The Archivist shall have an affirmative duty to make such records available to the public as rapidly and completely as possible consistent with the provisions of this chapter.

If you don't believe me or think I'm taking this out of context, you can read for yourself the Presidential Records Act here.  

Of course, 45 is only preaching to the choir. He has so little faith in the curiosity and the intelligence of his followers, that he doesn't think twice about telling them easily debunked falsehoods, assuming they wouldn't dare question him. For many I'm afraid, that's true. 45 could tell them up is down and down is up and before you know it, they'd be walking on their hands. 

Unquestioning people like these can be easily manipulated, so when a former president whom they adore tells them as he did last Tuesday:

They're not coming after me, they're coming after you.

They believe him. A lot of them do.

And as Republican former gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake so eloquently pointed out, many of them have guns. 

So, this week when friends and family members asked me what I thought about the indictment, I responded with the most pertinent cliché of all:

We have to be careful what we wish for.