26 Jan Argumentum ad Lunam – FT#67
The Argumentum ad Lunam Fallacy is committed when someone compares putting a man on the moon (or another very hard thing that has been achieved) to a hard thing that has yet to be achieved.
We started out by talking about Trump claiming that since the US has already done several hard things, it can also provide school choice for every child:
Mark’s British Politics Corner
Mark is having to take a few weeks off from the podcast due to work, so Jim talked about this Telegraph article by Boris Johnson claiming that Brexit will be totally fine because we put a man on the moon.
Fallacy in the Wild
We talked about this clip from The Garbage Pail Kids Movie:
We followed that up with this clip from Scott Pilgrim vs The World:
The we looked at this clip from Antz:
And finally, Jerry Seinfeld gave us a meta-example:
Here are the statements from this week’s Fake News game:
- Joe Biden will deliver a crippling shutdown. He’s actually thinking about — can you — no, we did that and we saved millions of lives. That’s it. We’re doing good now. And by the way, your governor has done a good job. Florida is down low now in the China virus. It’s a China virus. Some people call it “coronavirus.” That sounds like a beautiful place in Italy, right? Didn’t come from Italy. It came from China. But this guy is talking. He’ll shut it down. The scientist says shut it down. We shut it down. No, we’re not shutting anything down.
- We’ve done an incredible job. Incredible In Europe they’re having a lot of problems right now. A lot worse problems than us. I spoke to the King of Finland. He’s the President of Finland — some people call him the King, I call him the President. He’s a good friend of mine, he likes me a lot, and he said they don’t know what they’re doing in Europe and they look at us and they all say what a tremendous job we’ve done. They can’t believe it. It’s true.
- So, I have great respect for the U.K., United Kingdom. Great respect. People call it Britain. They call it Great Britain. They call it — they used to call it England, different parts. But the U.K., great respect. And I was asked to have tea with the queen, who is incredible, by the way. Incredible. So I was hearing — I had landed and I’m on the grounds and I’m waiting with the king’s and with the queen’s guards. Wonderful people. I’m waiting. So I was about 15 minutes early and I’m waiting with my wife. And that’s fine. Hey, it’s the queen right? We can wait.
Click below for the answer
Our guest host Frank got it wrong again this week, and is currently on 0%
Inauguration not a logical fallacy
We talked about the excellent inauguration ceremony for Joe Biden. The stand out moment for me was this poem by Andrea Gorman:
The stories we really didn’t have time to talk about
- We’ve talked many times on the show about how Trump is a stupid person’s idea of a clever person and a weak man’s idea of a strong man, but that went to an extreme last week when outgoing Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley appeared on Fox and host Bill Hemmer weirdly asked him if Trump felt emasculated by being banned from Twitter. It’s a strange question, but the answer was even stranger: “I wouldn’t say emasculated. The most masculine person, I think, to ever hold the White House is the president of the United States.” After struggling to clear images of Gidley saying things like “Oh Mr Trump, you’re so… manly” out of my head, let’s examine that. Even using Republican’s questionable definition of masculinity I think a certain Theodore Roosevelt may just pip Trump to the post. In October 1912, as he was getting into his car to go and give a speech, he was shot in the chest. He coughed into his hand and decided that since he didn’t cough up any blood the bullet hadn’t hit a lung, so he went and gave the speech anyway, starting by saying “I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot. It takes more than that to kill a bull moose…The bullet is in me now, so that I cannot make a very long speech, but I will try my best.” So he only talked for 84 minutes. But sure, Trump’s a real man.
- In his last week in office, and unable to vent on Twitter, it appears Trump took to being mean to everyone around him. Problem is that as the ship was clearly sinking many Ratpublicans had already left, or at least moved out of earshot. The only ones who hadn’t were Trump loyalists, yet even that loyalty didn’t protect them from the bitter orange tart. Melty-haired clown-lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who on Jan 6th told the crowd to prepare for “trial by combat” – which of course was nothing to do with a direct incitement to use physical fight-violence but was a harmless “quote from Game of Thrones” apparently, was not exempt from Trump’s petty revenges. The Washington Post and New York Times reported that Trump had instructed his staff not to pay Giuliani for his services, or even his travel expenses despite sending him around the country to appear in many courtrooms touting nonsense and drunk witnesses in support of the electoral fraud conspiracy. Fair enough, I guess, since if you look at the fine print of the ad in the Mar-A-Lago gift shop window for Rudy ‘Better Call Saul” Giuliani’s lawyering services it clearly states “No Win No Fee” – scrawled across it with a big fat sharpie!
Trump’s final act of ya boo sucksness was to fire the White House butler so no one was there to open the doors when Biden arrived to take occupancy – cor that Trump thinks of everything hey, well everything except being a decent president, politician, tv personality, dictator, businessman, author, husband, parent, golfer, human being…
- Rudy’s really going to miss that $20,000 a day he planned to charge Trump, since Dominion Voting Systems has just sued him for $1.3 billion for, well, repeatedly and publicly defaming them. They cite more than 50 damaging and evidence-free statements made by Giuliani on Twitter, on his podcast, and in the media, and point out that none of his court filings mention Dominion, seemingly proving that he knew the claims were false. Now, I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t buy that argument. Rudy made loads of claims he knew were false in his court filings! Giuliani has called the lawsuit “Another act of intimidation from the hate-filled left-wing to wipe out… the ability of lawyers to defend their clients vigorously.” Honestly, after Four Seasons Total Landscaping, I don’t think there was anyone left who believed Rudy had that ability.
- Never let it be said that Trump is inconsistent, no sooner had he admonished Rudy for not being loyal enough cos he hadn’t won him a second term, he pardoned hitherto reviled ‘Sloppy’ Steve Bannon. See, he’d recently been saying that Trump should get to be head again and that Fauci and FBI director Christopher Wray should lose theirs! In a deluge of 140 pardons and commutations in Trump’s final hours, which alone must count for the most paperwork he has handled in four years, he bestowed succour and clemency on more armed crooks, corrupt villains and jailed mobsters than we’ve seen since the Ant Hill Mob in all the episodes of Wacky Races. Notable by their absence were Rudy, Julian Assange, and Joe Exotic who heartbreakingly had his lawyers send a limo to the prison gates ready to pick him up. Also absent are any and all members of the Trump clan itself, apparently bestowing a pardon on them would carry the implication of guilt, and was deemed inadvisable. Yippee – it means they can still be hunted down and charged. Please don’t disbar Rudy, he’s now suitably pissed to be the perfect prosecuting lawyer!
- Even if Rudy had found himself on the list of pardons, chances are the ongoing and unprecedented incompetence of the Trump administration would have meant it didn’t offer all that much protection after all. While Michael Flynn’s pardon covered everything he could possibly have been charged for, more recent pardons, including those for Manafort, Roger Stone, Steve Bannon and others have been significantly more narrow. In Manafort’s case, the pardon only covered offences he had been convicted for, which leaves the 10 counts on which a jury hung in Virginia available to retry, which should be pretty easy, since he admitted to those offences under oath as part of his plea agreement. Similarly, Bannon has only been pardoned for those offences he was specifically charged with in his pending case on defrauding Trump supporters out of wall money. Since prosecutors very rarely charge all the offences a person could be charged with, in order to keep the case more simple for a jury, there are doubtless still plenty of ways Bannon could find himself in prison, including wire fraud and mail fraud. If there’s one thing we should be thankful for about the past four years, it’s that Trump was so bad at criming.
- Remember the early days of the three-word slogans that got Trump elected? Including his promise to Drain The Swamp? Well he actually went some way to doing that in 2017 when he signed an executive order effectively preventing ex-federal officials from capitalising on their connections with Capitol Hill. The order required executive branch appointees to sign a pledge that they would never work as registered foreign lobbyists, and banned them from lobbying the federal agencies where they worked for five years after leaving the government. For a while there it looked like Trump was really doing one of things he said he’d do to stamp out corruption. We’ll ignore the nepotistic appointment of Kushner to high office, pretend we didn’t see him grant personal audiences with wealthy donors if they made wealthy donations, and look away from The Trump Organisation charging the government fees to host Trump presidential events at Trump properties. So apart from that all good… until the Tuesday before he left office when he rescinded that executive order anyway, having not ever bothered to make it law, he just sharpied it off the books. Coincidentally just as all of his cronies left office with insider knowledge of various government departments, who they might thus be able to consult for and in turn even send him a percentage in gratitude. Forget Rambo I want a flag with Trump’s swampy head pasted over the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
- Now that Trump has gone, you may be wondering who can possibly step into his shoes of lies. And it’s true, 30,573 lies in four years is an impressive total. Well let me introduce you to 25 year old freshman North Carolina Congressman and winner of the Whitest Name Competition six years running, Madison Cawthorn. Madison’s story is one of overcoming hardship. At 18 he was planning on serving his country, having been nominated to the Naval Academy until tragedy struck and he was paralysed in a car accident. Not only did he rise to his new challenges, he headed off to college, and started training to compete in the 2020 Paralympic Games, all while running his own successful real-estate business and running for congress – a race he ultimately won. That at least, is the story you would glean from his campaign videos, his website, his social media and the interviews he’s given, and the bit about becoming a congressman is 100% true. The truthiness of the rest of it is, well, trumpian. Actually, he had been rejected by the Naval Academy before his car accident, and he then spent a single semester at Patrick Henry College in Virginia, where he got mostly Ds before dropping out. As for the Paralympics, Cawthorn didn’t compete at his college, which doesn’t have a parasports program, he doesn’t appear to have competed in any qualifying races, and he doesn’t appear on the International Paralympic Committee’s register of athletes who are allowed to compete internationally. Basically he’s training for the Paralympics in the same way I’m hoping to win an Oscar. Oh, and his real-estate business, which he started in April 2019, has posted no profits so far and he is the only employee. So don’t be surprised if you start seeing Cawthorne 2032 signs all over the place pretty soon.
- Here on Virus Island, home to Airstrip One – the government are getting slightly more certain about the need to at least consider the possibility that perhaps closing the borders to people coming into the country without a negative COVID test might be plausible. Though they are expending much more energy denying that the Home Secretary Priti Smirky McSmirkface Patel had said that very thing a year ago. Similar efforts at denial are going into talking about whether the scientific designers of the one-dose-now-and-one-dose-in-6-weeks 95%-effective vaccines really meant it could actually be 12 weeks because that way more people could get the first dose and the government wouldn’t look like it’s cocking up the vaccine rollout as much as they have cocked up everything else so far! Smirki Patel also announced there’d be heavy fines for gatherings of 15 or more party-goers in an effort to continue to find groups to blame for the growing spread rather than the government itself for not taking back control of the borders that Brexit so dearly promised. Party-goers swiftly amended all their invitations to limit parties to 14! Now that the world has awoken from the Trump Slumber and denounced him for the charlatan he is, we await the UK populace to do the same for our blond idiot-in-chief’s antics – yeah not holding my breath!
That’s all for this week, thanks for listening!