Archive for ACLU

Jeff Sessions: Cruelly Stupid, or Stupidly Cruel? Discuss.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 10, 2018 by drmiller1960

Pop quiz time!

Oh, stop complaining. I know it’s summertime, and that school isn’t in.  But we at the New York Military Academy for Troubled Scions are made of sterner stuff.  So quit moaning.

Besides, class, how often does life hand your teacher the opportunity to test you on knowledge so recently imparted?  That’s right.  Hot on the heels of my discovery of two new logical fallacies (“screwing the pooch” and “lacking a moral compass”), fate has dropped into my lap the perfect opportunity to assess your ability to understand and distinguish between the two.  And besides that, we’ll get to help out a worthy member of the federal judiciary, too!  Neato, huh?

You might want to re-read “Fantastic Fallacies and Where to Find Them” before taking the test to ensure total comprehension.  However, for the lazy amongst you (and you know who you are), here’s a brief rundown.  “Screwing the pooch” occurs when the argument shows that the person making it (or on whose behalf the argument is made) reveals a depth of stupidity matched only by the Marianas Trench—and that stupidity results in disastrous consequences for a third party.  “Lacking a moral compass,” on the other hand, occurs when the argument reveals a total disregard for the blindingly obvious difference between right and wrong—also with disastrous consequences for a third party.  The crucial difference between them is not intelligence—stupidity often goes hand in hand with immorality.  Just ask David Duke.  The distinction relies upon intent.  Did the perpetrator mean to cause havoc by being an evil piece of work? Or was she so moronic that she couldn’t possibly foresee the shit storm her actions or words would engender, despite all the arrows, flashing red lights, and sirens surrounding the decision?  In other words, are you looking at a Stephen Miller or a Don Jr.?

Clear?  Good. Now here are the facts you need for your test. Be warned:  what you are about to read is not a hypothetical.

The ACLU is currently representing a group of twelve people who are contesting the Trump regime’s new asylum pronouncements, including a mother and child who are fighting deportation.  The judge in the case granted the plaintiffs’ motion to delay deportation until he could reach a decision in the case. So, today, while the lawyers from the ACLU and the DOJ were arguing before D.C. U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan about whether this particular mother and child should be deported, they (oh God, you won’t believe this) were at that moment on a plane being deported to El Salvador.

Yep.  On a plane.  To El Salvador.  Being Deported.  After the Court had granted a stay of deportation.

Judge Sullivan took the news in his stride, and displayed full equanimity and bonhomie when ACLU attorney Jennifer Chang Newell told His Honor about the email she received during the hearing informing her that her client (and her child) were flying the unfriendly skies of ICE Airlines to the lethal situation confronting them back home.

Nah.  I’m just messing with you.  This Reagan-appointed judge was pissed.  As well he should be.

Now, “This is outrageous,” and “I’m not happy about this at all,” might sound fairly mild to you.  But as an erstwhile lawyer, I can assure you that the collective DOJ sphincter was tightening so much that its motions were picked up by the U.S. Geologic Survey’s seismographs on the other side of the country.  In fact, Judge Sullivan was so incensed by this flagrant violation of his order that he is actually considering holding Attorney General J. Beauregard Sessions in contempt of court. Now that is a sentence I never dreamt I would be writing, not because I hold Sessions in high esteem, but because you wouldn’t expect an official who is the chief federal law enforcement officer to have so little regard for the law as to be held in contempt.  I mean, my goodness, it was Jeff’s Christian love of the law that forced him to rip little babies from their mothers’ arms in the first place, right?  How could such a statute-hugger disregard a legally issued and fully enforceable judicial order?

Now, we all know that intent is not necessary to hold Sessions in contempt of court.  The judge does not need to determine whether that impish little devil meant to ignore the court order, or if he is just such an incompetent boob that it accidentally happened.  However, as I warned in “Fantastic Fallacies,” such a determination just might be relevant to the degree and kind of punishment that a tribunal might assess against someone like Sessions.  “Screwing the pooch” might result in a slap on the wrist and a de minimis fine.  “Lacking a moral compass,” however, might warrant being slathered with honey and being staked out on top of an ant hill.  Decisions, decisions.  It’s tough, going through the small and very narrow channels of Jeff’s mind to determine his motivation, and I’m sure Judge Sullivan would appreciate any help he might get along the way.

So, without further ado, here’s your essay question:  Was Sessions merely screwing the pooch, or was he acting without a moral compass?

Answers should be submitted to Judge Sullivan, care of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, or in the comments section below.  Extra research should not be necessary to answer the question.  However, extra credit will be given if you decide to delve deeper into the story.  And, as always, your argument must be factually supported and rooted in reality. I’m not Alex Jones, after all.

©2018 D.R. Miller

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Fantastic Fallacies And Where To Find Them!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2018 by drmiller1960

As a Critical Thinking Teacher, it has been my mission to teach my readers about various, well- established logical flaws that are fatal to any reasoned argument.  I follow in the foot steps of giants, starting with Aristotle, who first categorized thirteen logical fallacies in his light-hearted classic, Sophistical Refutations.  Since then, a long and noble line of Critical Thinking Teachers have identified and catalogued at least twenty-four logical fallacies, as well as twenty-four cognitive biases.  (If you’re curious about learning more about these fallacies and biases, I strongly urge you to go hereafter you’ve finished reading this blog, that is.)  I imagine my intrepid forebears, sifting through the linguistic equivalent of hot messes to seek and destroy these barriers to logical thought, and I shiver in admiration, never daring to believe that I might join their illustrious company.

Until today.

Yes, that is right, dear reader.  Like a zoologist announcing the discovery of a particularly slimy species of mud slug, I am thrilled to reveal that I have found not one, but two new categories of logical fallacy.

And I owe it all to Donald Trump.

The first logical fallacy occurs when the statement is so nonsensical that it belies an incompetence so deeply rooted in and inextricable from the speaker’s intellect that it is damned near geologic in its depth and breadth.  I call this flaw “screwing the pooch.”

The best (and brightest?) example of “screwing the pooch” comes in the Department of Justice’s most recent filings concerning the reunification of immigrant children with their parents. As a bit of background, you need to understand that when the ICE was enforcing Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, it was far too busy deporting the parents whom they coerced into signing away their rights to their children to take down the information needed to eventually reunite them.  As a result, ICE is unable to find the parents of around five hundred children.  They sought them here, they sought them there, but they could not find them anywhere—mostly because they didn’t know where to look in the first place.

In a Joint Status Report filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, lawyers for ICE helpfully suggested (presumably with a straight face) that the ACLU, who is representing the children and parents separated at the border, be responsible for looking for the deported parents.  I mean, God knows that the might of the United States government, including the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security, couldn’t possibly match the financial and human resources of the ACLU.  What makes this such a perfect example of “screwing the pooch” is that the government’s lawyers are basically admitting that their clients are so inept that they couldn’t—and shouldn’t—be trusted to match column A to column B.

Happily, the Honorable Dana M. Sabraw didn’t need a Critical Thinking Teacher to tell him how to refute an argument infected by “screwing the pooch.”  After rubbing his eyes in disbelief at what he had just read, Judge Sabraw issued an order that was the judicial equivalent of, “Are you fucking nuts!?!”  Additionally, George W. Bush’s appointee to the federal judiciary solemnly reminded the DOJ’s finest that, “for every parent who is not located there will be a permanently orphaned child and that is 100 percent the responsibility of the administration.”

Hurray for our independent judiciary—let’s just hope we still have one next year.

Now, the second fallacy I’ve discovered is one I’ve decided to call “lacking a moral compass.”  The result of “lacking a moral compass” is frequently similar to “screwing the pooch”—they both can result in a condition known to my engineering friends as “FUBAR”—fucked up beyond all recognition.  However, there is a vital distinction between the two: “screwing the pooch” is the result of idiocy, while “lacking a moral compass” requires you to know the difference between right and wrong, but not giving a toss about it.  In order to discern which fault is at play, therefore, the listener needs to determine the intention of the person making the fallacious statement before categorizing it as either “screwing the pooch” or “lacking a moral compass.”  As the astute amongst you probably noticed, this is very similar to the kind of determination you need to make before distinguishing ignoratio elenchi from a red herring. (And for the not-quite-as-astute-as-one-might-wish amongst you, you might want to refresh your memory of the difference between the two by re-reading the delightfully written Ignoramus Rex. And, yes, there will be a quiz.)

So, for example, the failure to take down the name and address of a hysterically crying woman who desperately wants to be reunited with her child might be down to the fact that ICE has decided to hire an army of morons.  If that were the case, then the bright spark at ICE making this error in judgment would be guilty of “screwing the pooch.”  On the other hand, if there were a deliberate effort to rip families apart as a deterrent to lawful immigration despite being warned of the permanent damage that could be done to a child as a result of losing her parent, then the person perpetuating this action would definitely be “lacking a moral compass.”  And this is especially true if a senior administration official is actually delighted by the scenes of sorrow taking place at the borders because he thinks it will help his party in the mid-term elections.

Of course, the amount of harm done to the victim of either “screwing the pooch” or “lacking a moral compass” will probably be the same.  After all, losing one’s child or parent permanently will be a source of inexorable pain, quite probably scarring the victim’s psyche irreparably, whether it is the result of cruel stupidity or stupid cruelty.  However, being able to determine whether one merely “screwed the pooch” rather than “lacked a moral compass” might be useful to tribunals that might review the actions of the Trump administration and its cronies—either in this world, or the next.

Finally, while researching the mountains of money that Trump’s corporate backers have been making as a result of his immigration scandal, I might have stumbled upon a third logical fallacy.  I’m tentatively labelling it “who ate the all pies?”  However, I’m not sure if it’s actually a separate fallacy or merely a subset of “lacking a moral compass.” I therefore require further research to ensure that I’m not mistaken—I definitely want to keep my dog’s honor intact, after all!

©2018 D. R. Miller

 

 

Critical Thinking Today Scoops Exclusive VP Interview!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2017 by drmiller1960

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