Archive for October, 2017

Critical Thinking Today Scoops Exclusive VP Interview!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2017 by deborah1960

Critical Thinking Today’s exclusive interview with Vice President and Mrs. Pence was granted hours after the Vice President announced the salient features of the GOP’s Forced Birth Initiative.  Here’s the transcript of our interview, where Vice President Pence shares his and his wife’s views on contraception, female autonomy, and God’s plan.

CTT:  Mr. Vice President, Mrs. Pence, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview.  Our readers have so many questions about the, uh, thinking behind your party’s position on contraception, abortion, and women’s health care.

VP:  It’s our pleasure. Right, Mother? Frankly, nothing is more important to the health of our nation than the continued fertility of American women.  That’s why the GOP has gathered the finest panel of experts on woman things.  This panel, the Council of Fathers, has looked at the issue of female health from all sides, inside and out, and you ladies can be assured that we have your best interests at heart.

CTT: The “Council of Fathers”?

VP:  Yes.  Well, that’s what we like to call them.

CTT: Oh.  But how can we be sure that an all-male panel will have a full awareness of and sensitivity to all of the cultural, emotional, and medical issues that confront women as they make decisions about their reproductive health?

VP (patting her hand in an avuncular fashion): Aw, sweetie.  Don’t worry your pretty little head over that.  We got your back, don’t we, Mother?  Besides, it’s a known medical fact that thinking too much makes your uterus fall out.  So, be careful, okay?  Just got the carpets cleaned.

CTT (snatching hand away): But let’s look at one of the proposals that have come out of the Council of Father’s recommendations:  H.R. 490, the Heartbeat Protection Act.  Under the terms of that bill, it will be a criminal act for a doctor to perform an abortion if a heartbeat is detected.  But most doctors say it isn’t a heartbeat at all: it’s the motion that occurs in the part of the yolk sack that might eventually become a heart, isn’t it?  That can happen at about 6 weeks, when most women don’t even know if they’re pregnant!

VP:  That’s the beauty of using the rhythm method.  You’ll be fully in tune with the cycles of your body, and you’ll magically know the instant that God has blessed you with the gift of life.  And what right does anyone have to throw away God’s gift?

CTT:  But rhythm has a 20% failure rate! And what if the mother’s health or life is threatened by the baby?  The Ohio statute that this bill is based on had no exceptions.

VP:  Well, that’s the price you pay for being a vessel.  Blame it on Eve. If she hadn’t bitten that apple, none of you ladies would have to suffer.

CTT: (inaudible)

VP:  What’s that?

CTT:  Nothing.  Okay.  Let’s look at another issue.  Female contraception.  Under TrumpDon’tCare, employers will be able to refuse to cover the cost of their female worker’s contraception.

VP:  That’s right.  We wouldn’t want to violate anybody’s religious sensibilities, especially corporate America’s.  They’re so righteous and easily offended.

CTT:  But at the same time, Viagra and other medications for erectile dysfunction will be covered.  Aren’t you in effect enabling men to have sexual pleasure, while making it more difficult for women to fully express their sexual nature? Isn’t that hypocritical?

VP:  Hypocrisy is never part of God’s plan!  Here, let me explain it slowly so you can understand.  God intended sex in order to procreate.  We cover Viagra not to let men have pleasure, but so they can fulfill God’s purpose.  If they can’t get it up, how will they implant their seed in the fertile fields of their wives’ wombs?  The fact that there is pleasure in sex is really surplus to requirements, if you think of it.  Let’s face it:  nice girls don’t have orgasms.  Right, Mother?

Mrs. P (sighing):  I suppose.

CTT: (coughing)

Mrs. P:  Are you all right, dear?

VP:  Would you like a sip of the Kool-Aid?  It’s refreshing and delicious.

CTT:  Good God, no! I mean, I’m fine.  Thanks. (Takes deep breath).  So, if I’m reading you right, then you’re saying that the only real role that women have is to bear children?

VP:  Oh, goodness, no!

CTT: Oh, that’s good.

VP:  That’s what God says.

CTT:  Oh.

VP:  That’s what saddens me so much about the Jane Doe case.  You know, that girl in Texas?  The one that the ACLU sent to an abortion farm?

CTT:  The girl who ICE was holding in prison so she couldn’t exercise her constitutional right to an abortion?

VP:  Yes. We were that close to saving that baby.  And that benighted soul just slipped through our fingers.

CTT:  But what would have happened to her and the baby?  Would she have been able to stay in the States with her baby?  Wouldn’t the baby have been a citizen?

VP:  Oh, goodness, no!  We would have no choice but to send the mother back to Mexico.  The baby would have been given to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.  I’m sure it would have been fine. Eventually.

(Several seconds elapse)

CTT:  All right, then.  One last question.  If the Council of Fathers is so pro-life, then why did they recommend that the Senate pass a budget resolution that recommends over $1.3 trillion in cuts to all non-Medicare healthcare, including Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program? And another half a trillion dollar hit to Medicare? Surely if you are pro-life, you would want to ensure that all humans have access to health care?  I mean, aren’t you the party that claims that “all lives matter”?

VP:  Gosh, Mother!  Look at the time!  I had no idea it was so late.  Isn’t your Mothers for Life group meeting now?

Mrs. P:  Is it?  Oh, yes! Yes, it is!

VP:  This has been loads of fun.  We’ll need to do this again.  In the meantime, God bless!

CTT:  Thanks.  I’ll need it.

©D.R. Miller 2017

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The NPS’s Real Reason For Banning Nude Female Statue

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2017 by deborah1960

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—OFFICIAL NATIONAL PARKS SERVICE STATEMENT ON REVOCATION OF R-EVOLUTION STATUE PERMIT

It has come to the attention of the Director of the National Park Service that a height variance permit requested by the organizers of Catharsis on the Mall had been erroneously granted and has been consequently rescinded.  Structures normally must be no more than 45’ tall; while the statue itself is under the limit, it is placed on a 2’ stand, making the statue soar way, way over the limit.

Furthermore, the subject matter of the statue raises legitimate concerns whether the turf on the Mall would be harmed by allowing the erection of this particular object to take place.  The statue depicts a nude, short-haired woman who is standing in the mountain pose, a traditional yoga position that connotes strength, focus, and watchfulness.  Obviously, having a symbol of female power next to the Washington Monument would provide such a damning juxtaposition that experts fear it might cause cracks in the foundations of white male supremacy that underpin the Mall and its environs.  After having spent millions of dollars to ensure that the Washington Monument will thrust ever upward for generations, the NPS is simply unwilling to take that risk.

However, given the inevitable hue and cry over so-called First Amendment rights, the Director was unwilling to take this position without consulting the finest legal minds in the country.  Sadly, only Attorney General Jeff Sessions was available.  However, he said that he was equally appalled, and that, “the only thing that would make the damned thing worse would be if the statue depicted [a woman of color].”  Later conversations with the White House confirmed that the President concurred in the decision.

In consultation with White House staff, the NPS is willing to extend the hand of helpfulness to the little ladies at Catharsis on the Mall and offer this compromise.  We would be happy to grant the permit if the following reasonable changes to the statue were made.  Instead of mountain pose, the statue could perhaps be in a more suitable position, such as down-facing dog.  She should also be clothed in order to avoid traumatizing the millions of visitors to the Mall who have never witnessed a liberated female body.  We recognize that appropriately clothing a statue of such proportions in a short period of time might be a daunting task.  Consequently, the First Daughter has graciously offered to lend the organizers patterns for slinky evening gowns and totally practical stiletto heels for the working mom from her Plagiarista™ line, at nominal expense.

We trust that this accommodation will address the concerns of all parties involved.

Questions may be addressed to John Thomas Wankersmith III, White House Press Officer in Charge of Female Things.

© D. R. Miller 2017

 

 

 

Who Quoque? Tu Quoque!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2017 by deborah1960

My beloved has suggested on more than one occasion that I should write a Critical Thinking textbook, using examples from Trump’s tweets and other public pronouncements to illustrate logical flaws.  I like this idea, and I just might take it up some time.  Lately, however, Trump has committed so many assaults upon logic, linguistics, and just plain human decency that it has been bloody difficult to keep up with him. Indeed, the onslaught has been so overwhelming that my most recent posts have focused upon the substance of what he has said (or done) rather than on how he has communicated his, for want of a better word, “thoughts.” While I’ve enjoyed writing these little bagatelles, I have felt a little guilty.  The role of a Critical Thinking Teacher, after all, is to teach Critical Thinking, and the first rule of Critical Thinking is “look at the details.”

Consequently, I resolved to redirect my attention in order to focus upon his actual words and phrasing, and to look for particularly choice examples of egregious thinking. It wouldn’t take long, I thought, before he would commit some logical faux pas or other.  And of course, Trump and General Kelly soon accommodated me by providing a magnificent catalog of ad hominem attacks upon Rep. Frederica Wilson (D., Fla. 24th).  It was easy pickings in the grove of Critical Thinking.  Believe me!

Too easy, in fact.  Everyone knows that ad hominem attacks are bad, bad. By attacking the arguer instead of the argument, they distract the listener from the issue at hand, and tend to provoke such an emotional response from all involved that reasoned discourse is impossible.  Up until recently, it would be considered bad form to accuse a female moderator of treating you unfairly because she had “blood coming out of her whatever.” Or to make short jokes about a Senator who happens to think you’re a menace to the nation and perhaps humanity at large.  Or to mock a reporter with a physical disability. Once upon a time, a bag of bile who would spout such things would be ostracized for an apparent inability to engage in civilized discourse.  Now, he’s in the Oval Office.

Do you see my problem?  Using Trump as an example of the evils of an ad hominem attack, while apt, would hardly win me any points for originality. I was about to hang up my towel when I heard something on the radio that pricked my ears.

As you may or may not be aware, President W gave a speech that, without naming 45, was a fairly damning assessment of why Trump, besides being an appalling human being, is also an existential threat to American ideals.  Bush asserted that nativism, bigotry, and protectionism are antithetical to the values we hold as a country.  In other words, Bush was a righteous oratorical antifa.

This might come as a surprise to most observers of presidential rhetoric.  W was never known as a fine spinner of words, and Christ knows I wasn’t a fan when he occupied the seat behind the Resolute Desk, but damn, he did a pretty good job of skewering Trump.  Kudos, George.

However, this is not what got my logical juices running.  I was listening to a phone-in show on NPR, and Bush’s speech was the topic du jour.  Many people were quite complimentary about the speech, and quite a few of them expressed their shock at being in agreement with W.  I certainly knew how they felt.  Anyway, I was nodding my head in agreement when the token Trump apologist opined that it was pretty rich that W, who had started two wars that we’re still fighting and whose own disapproval ratings were shockingly low, had the brass plated cojones to criticize another president.  Or words to that affect.

“That’s a tu quoque flaw,” I smugly said to myself.  “His argument is fatally flawed.”

Now, faithful readers of this blog (Hi, Mom!  Hi, Dad!) will recall that I have extensively discussed tu quoque flaws in a previous article.  However, for those of you who are new to my readership or have short term memory issues, here’s a brief explanation.  “Tu quoque” (pronounced “tu kwo-kway”) is Latin for “you, too.”  It is the “and so are you” or “look who’s talking” retort that we make when we realize that our verbal sparring partner is guilty of exactly the same behavior that he is complaining about.  Basically, the Trump supporter was saying that President Pot has a helluva lot of nerve for calling President Kettle black.  Tu quoque is a form of ad hominem attack because you are focusing the listener’s attention to a personal trait of the speaker (Bush is a flaming hypocrite) rather than the substance of his argument (Trump sucks).

But at almost the same moment that I was mentally patting myself on the back for recognizing the flaw so swiftly, the following thought caught me up short.

What if he’s right?

I asked myself this question because, believe it or not, there are times when an ad hominem attack would not be considered a flaw.  I would hazard a guess that 99.9% of the time that an insult is hurled at an opponent, the hurler’s intent is to distract the listener (and opponent) from the subject at hand.  Thus, Trump’s designation of any unflattering story as “fake news” can pretty much be seen as an ad hominem attack on the outlet that published it. Indeed, so consistent is this rule that you can just about bet your kid’s education fund on the truth of the story and sleep well at night (except the bookies wouldn’t give you decent odds on the bet, so why bother?).

However—and stay with me here, I know it’s a stretch—let’s imagine that there were a network or website somewhere the sole purpose of which was to spread unfounded rumors and outright lies about, oh, let’s say a female presidential candidate. Crazy, huh?  Let’s take that wild hypothetical a bit further, and imagine that the website is headed by a fat, cirrhotic, lying sack of shit who will stop at nothing to achieve his ends.  Let’s call him Steve.  Now, if I were debating Steve and said, “Steve, you are a fat, cirrhotic, lying sack of shit who will stop at nothing to achieve his ends,” I would be guilty of making an ad hominem attack up to the point that I called him “fat” and “cirrhotic.”  The state of his physique and his apparent ill-health have nothing to do with his propensity for publishing fake news.  However, the rest of my statement, from “lying sack of shit” onwards, wouldn’t be an ad hominem flaw.  Steve’s honesty is the heart of the matter being debated and, assuming that I can back my assertion with facts, it is logically connected to my argument.   (Where, oh where would I be able to find back up for such a spurious claim?)  Similarly, my oblique characterization of our current president as a bag of bile, while not nice, also wasn’t an ad hominem flaw because it was linked to the idea that a president should be able to engage in civil discourse.

So, are there times when tu quoque isn’t a flaw?  Am I so blinded by my misotrumpy that I glossed over the importance of Bush’s failings as a president? I’m tempted to say, “Yes.  There are times when the charge of hypocrisy is so damning that the term tu quoque denotes not a flaw, but an appropriate label.” It seems reasonable.  After all, would we sit still for a lecture by Himmler on the evils of anti-Semitism?  How many copies of Harvey Weinstein’s The Importance of Eliminating Sexual Harassment could we reasonably expect to fly off the shelf?

But isn’t anti-Semitism evil? Shouldn’t sexual harassment be eliminated? And does the mere fact that a hypocrite made these statements make them any less valid? Does the degree of hypocrisy in and of itself invalidate the argument?

To me, this conundrum illustrates perfectly why tu quoque is such an insidious flaw.  The charge of hypocrisy is powerful because we have a visceral reaction to people who dare to tell us to act in one way while they blatantly act in the other.  They make us want to puke.

But does that mean they are illogical?  Or can’t their reasoning, no matter how insincerely held, be sound?  Even if the subject of the hypocrite’s argument is “why I hate hypocrisy,” wouldn’t the reasons for hating hypocrisy remain valid? In other words, if their argumentation is valid, why should their lack of moral standing invalidate it?

I’m not sure it should.

Let’s take Bush as an example.  I recall that I spat blood when W stole the election from Al Gore, so I’m willing, for the sake of this thought experiment, to ascribe all sorts of nastiness to him.  Let’s pretend that George Bush is a goose-stepping, tiki-burning, refugee-kicking fascist.  He even likes to dress up in lederhosen embroidered with swastikas. Now, let’s look at what he says.  The entire speech can be found here, but here are three fairly typical statements:

“Our identity as a nation—unlike many other nations—is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood.  Being an American involves the embrace of high ideals and civic responsibility.”

“[B]igotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed.”

“Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children.”

Is there anything wrong with these ideas?  Are they illogical, biased, or flawed? Does the fact that they were uttered by the second-most incompetent president in the history of our fair land destroy their legitimacy? Or do they merely reflect some fairly basic tenets that in ordinary circumstances (remember them?) would not have to be said?

These are not terribly controversial stands for W to be taking, if you think about it.  Our history as a nation of immigrants pretty much makes the notion of an American people pretty absurd; what brings us together isn’t our ethnicity, but our belief in certain ideals and notions embodied in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Marbury vs. Madison.  If we take the 14th Amendment seriously, with its Due Process and Equal Protection clauses, then we really do have to admit that bigotry is a destructive force that needs to eradicated, not propagated. Didn’t we even fight a war or two over those very principles? And kids really do need role models, preferably positive ones. The only reason why these fairly unsophisticated notions have attained the status of soaring oratory is because Trump has set the rhetorical bar so low.  Frankly, it is so refreshing to hear something expressed in such a gentlemanly, multi-syllabic, and (praise be!) grammatical manner, that we swoon to hear it.  In no way does Bush’s hypothetical status as a closet Trumpite make them any less basic or correct.

So, yeah.  Tu quoque is pretty much always a flaw, no matter how hypocritical the speaker might be.

Glad that’s settled.

 

 

©2017 D. R. Miller

Holy Smoke (And Mirrors)!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2017 by deborah1960

 

 

“The Devil can cite scripture for his purpose.”

William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

 

Brothers and Sisters!  It is such an honor for me, The Really Reverend Reynard J. Foxworthy, to take this mighty pulpit!  It is always exciting to attend the Values Voter Summit, but never more so than this year, when, for the first time ever, we have been blessed by the presence of the President. Wasn’t his speech vowing to protect Judeo-Christian values just the most incredible thing you’ve ever heard?  We are truly blessed to have such a powerful advocate who will defend the sanctity of the family, the church, and the proper role of women!

And, speaking of blessings, did you all remember to bring your faith shower caps?  That’s right, that’s right.  Bring them on up here!  Now, all of you remembered to say the special prayer, right?  Excellent.  And the crisp twenty dollar bill, all rolled up nice and tidy and tucked in along with your prayer concerns?  No checks.  The Lord don’t accept checks.  Just cold, hard, cash. Wonderful.  That’s right.  Just bring ‘em on up. Remember what the good book says:  “There will be showers of blessings!”  Ezekiel 34:26.  Good ol’ Ezekiel.  And Acts 20:35!  “It is more blessed to give than to receive!”  Remember!  The more you give, the more blessings you receive!  Thank you, thank you!

Whew!  That sure is a powerful pile of shower caps, folks!  God bless you! I mean that, from the bottom of my heart!  I know that you are a holy people!  I can bank on that!

That sure is a bright spot!  A bright spot in these dark days.  Oh, yes, Lord, these are dark times.  There are dark murmurings.  Portents. Omens.  Unchristian malcontents muttering about our blessed, blessed president. Ho-mo-sex-u-als.  Mus-lims.  Lib-er-als.  Fem-in-ists. Sinners, all of them! But you, my brothers and sisters, you are the bright light in the dark, dark world. The light under the bushel!

Yes!  The Christian Union of Nationalist Trumpites is a veritable house of Lot in the middle of Sodom AND Gomorrah!  A pure white herd of fat, juicy sheep in the midst of wolves and scavengers! Alleluia!

Now, there are some who will tell you that our president is not a good man!  That a twice divorced man who admits on tape to committing sexual assaults, has alleged Mafia ties, bamboozles his students at his “university”, and refuses to pay his subcontractors , to name but a few transgressions, must be one of those wolves!  Well, that might be!

But let me ask you this: Who would be better at protecting a sheep than a wolf?  And not any old wolf, but a wolf who knows every trick in the sheep-fleecing book, yet has mended his ways, has seen the awful wrongness of his sins, and has crept back to the fold? I have laid these hands on Donald Trump, brothers and sisters, and I know just how real his contrition is.  I felt that he was my brother, and that, deep down, he was just like me.   I’m telling you, folks, Donald Trump is part of God’s plan!  It’s right there in the Bible!  “The wolf will live with the lamb”! Isaiah 11:6.  I sure do love that Isaiah!

Of course, there are some who think I shouldn’t be talking about our president up here from my pulpit.  Some, like those pawns of Satan at the IRS, think our blessed Christian Union should lose its tax exempt status just because I am exercising my first amendment rights by using my sermons to persuade you to vote in a certain way so as to benefit our blessed denomination.  But I had a vision, beloved friends!  I saw the very paper on which that rule was first penned eternally burning in the fiery pits of Hell! And do you know who I saw lighting the first match?  That’s right!  Our president, Donald J. Trump, Sr.!

Now, I was out in the concession stand, signing copies of my book, and I heard some of you chewing the fat over what the president did to Obamacare (or, as I like to call it, NO!-bamacare)!  You heard all the fake news about the $200 billion it will add to the federal deficit, and how millions of poor and middle class people, people just like yourselves, won’t be able to afford to pay for health insurance, especially if they have a pre-existing condition.  You might be worried that your kids could pay thousands of dollars into a health insurance plan that seems real cheap but don’t cover squat, or has eye-watering deductibles.

But don’t worry!  Remember what Jesus said about worrying!  “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”  Matthew 6:26.  Trust me, you are much, much more valuable than a sparrow!   You are precious treasure, believe me!

And even if all this fake news is true, which it isn’t, you need to ask yourself:  how does this fit in with God’s plan?

Now, you know that God’s plan isn’t always the most obvious thing in the world.  Like my old pappy, the Reverend Billy-Todd Foxworthy, used to say to me, “Reynard, God has the damnedest sense of humor sometimes.” Amen!  But if you try real hard, sometimes you can figure it out. And folks, I think I’ve cracked the code!

Remember what Jesus said:  “Blessed are the poor!” Luke 6:20.  My favorite gospel, that Luke!  Well, think about it.  If Trump makes more people poor, isn’t he actually spreading God’s blessing?  After all, if it’s “easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God,” then isn’t President Trump opening up heaven’s gates to more people? And isn’t that a miracle?  Glory!

So don’t believe what that lying Whore of Babylon Rachel Maddow says about the President.  And remember: your gifts of time, talent, and especially treasure to the Christian Union of Nationalist Trumpites help us carry out God’s mission.

Now, please turn to page 666 of the hymnal, and join me as we sing the offering hymn “Lord, Thou Lov’st the Cheerful Giver.”

©D. R. Miller 2017