Begging the Question – FT#35

Begging the Question – FT#35

Show Notes

Begging the Question is one of those phrases that has come to mean something different over time. Colloquially, it is used to mean ‘raising the question’, but the original meaning is the one invoked by this fallacy, and it’s fun to point out that people are using the phrase wrong, once you’ve explained that tomatoes are fruits and reminded them on the difference between poisonous and venomous.

For the purposes of the fallacy, Begging the Question means assuming the conclusion of your argument to be true, and using that assumption within the argument. It is a form of Circular Reasoning with even less reasoning than usual.

We started out with this excerpt from Trump’s now legendary February 2017 press conference:

Then we talked about this interview in which he described the chances of the most popular Democratic candidates:

And finally we discussed this old vlog about the Emmys:

In Mark’s British Politics Corner, we talked about Stephen Barclay’s defense of the new Brexit deal:

And then we discussed Sajid Javid’s proof by assertion that the deal is good and nobody ahould look at the numbers, thank you very much.


In the Fallacy in the Wild, we talked about this clip from Porridge:

Then we discussed a clip from The Simpsons:

Here are the statements from this week’s Fake News game:

  1. The United States and Italy are bound together by a shared cultural and political heritage dating back thousands of years to Ancient Rome. Over the centuries, the Italian people have blessed our civilization with magnificent works of art, science, philosophy, architecture, and music.
  1. It’s not our border. We shouldn’t be losing lives over it. But again, we only had 28 soldiers. It was 26, 28. I got all different numbers. It ends up being 28 — between the 26, 28. Two people, and they’re fully accounted for. So, that’s the story. It’s very simple.
  1. We have won a $7.5 billion award from, as you know — I guess it’s been pretty big news. And I know that this is against the European Union, and Italy is going to be paying a part of that. And President Mozzarella and I are going to be talking about that.

Click below for the answer

Mark got it wrong again this week, and now he’s on 14/34, or roughly 41%.


We then talked about Trump’s insane letter to President Erdogan.

And finally, here are the stories we really didn’t have time to talk about:

  • You know how if someone asks you to do a job you don’t like doing, sometimes you mess it up really badly so they don’t ask you again?  Well, I’m pretty sure Trump’s Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney doesn’t like doing press conferences.  And mission accomplished – I don’t think he’ll be doing any more!  Last week Mulvaney decided the best thing to do was just take a giant shit on the GOP’s main talking point about the Ukraine call – that there was no quid pro quo.  He said Trump talked to him about the DNC server in the Ukraine, and that was part of the reason they held up the money. A reporter pointed out that that’s a quid pro quo, and gave him the chance to walk it back, but Mulvaney said ‘we do that all the time with foreign policy.  Trump was reportedly very angry. After all, taking a giant shit on GOP talking points is HIS thing. So Mulvaney went on the Sunday shows to claim he didn’t say the things we all saw and heard him say.
  • Mulvaney also explained that Trump still considers himself to be in the hospitality business as a reason for his “great and unmatched wisdom” proving fallible even to Fox News, when, in the middle of an impeachment inquiry and a significant self-created diplomatic crisis in Syria he thought to host the G7 summit, a somewhat major international event, at Trump National Doral Miami golf resort in Florida. Even though this looked for all the world like an attempt to promote a family business with declining revenue, apparently event planners at the White House had done some due diligence and found, weirdly, that Trump’s awesome boasts were accurate and it should indeed be held there – funny that. But ever sensitive to the mood of the nation and his global standing he acquiesced by tweeting furiously some blurb straight from the resort’s advertising brochure and blaming the “Hostile Media & their Democrat Partners” for being “CRAZY!” Despite him being “willing to do it at NO PROFIT” which was good of him, in a stunningly corrupt kind of way!
  • Trump’s personal lawyer and body double for Edvard Munch’s The Scream,  Rudy Giuliani, has been having a bad couple of weeks. He was having lunch at Trump International Hotel in DC with two of his close associates, Ukranian businessmen Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas.  After lunch they said bye to Rudy and headed to Dulles with one way tickets to Vienna, but they definitely weren’t fleeing the country. Mostly because they were arrested at the airport and indicted on charges of illegally funneling Russian money to Republican politicians’ campaigns. Then the news broke that Rudy had been paid half a million dollars for work he did for their company, which was genuinely called ‘Fraud Guarantee’.  No word yet on whether he also worked for Emolument Violations Inc or Yes We’re Doing Treason, Why Do You Ask LLC. 
  • Another blow to his great wisdom and great sensitivity this week when Trump discovered that hoping to surprise the family of dead British teen Harry Dunn with a meeting with the woman who killed him kinda didn’t go down too well. After the woman had fled the UK to the US, the Dunns had made an appeal to PM Boris Johnson to intervene directly with Trump, and were invited to meet Trump at the White House where they made their case parent to parent, forgetting that he is a self-obsessed cynical reality-show failure who had, in true Jerry Springer fashion, got the son-killing woman herself in the room next door ready to come in on cue for the all- and let’s face it only- important photo op. The Dunns politely declined the opportunity to be horrifyingly ambushed in that way, and their representative said that they thought they might meet her one day but on British soil with mediators, counselors, and their legal team in tow i.e. in court for murder. Trump admitted, “they weren’t ready for it,” but I worry that he won’t now give a further toss about them, I don’t worry actually I feel sure he won’t! 
  • Remember a few episodes ago we talked about the tax fraud Trump committed in filing the accounts on his UK and Irish golf courses?  Well, I hope you’re sitting down, because this is shocking. That wasn’t the only time he’s done it. ProPublica obtained tax records for two of Trump’s Manhattan buildings, and the numbers he gave to his lender, Ladder Capital, indicated that the buildings were significantly more profitable than suggested by the property taxes he filed with the New York City tax office.  Among other things, he lied to one or both of them – let’s face it, it’s almost certainly both, about occupancy levels and how many hundreds of thousands of dollars he paid for insurance. I think I’m starting to figure out why the IRS is taking so long with his audit.  They’ve been looking for one transaction in Trump’s personal or business life where he didn’t break the law. Good luck fellas!
  • In a perfect illustration of the Begging the Question fallacy Trump’s top advisor on China Peter Navarro, when asked if he had access to any economists who might provide much-needed insight into the ongoing US-China trade deal, often quotes the work of Harvard-educated economist Ron Vara in many of his books – indeed he has done so in his latest book “Death by China: Confronting the Dragon — A Global Call to Action.” Is it me and being British and being brought up on a diet of cryptic crosswords Lewis Carroll and anagrams, or did I see through Ron Vara being Navarro in about 5 seconds? Navarro’s publisher not so quick – you’ll note he’s had “several books” published; they’re a bit peeved “We take any breaches of our [strict editorial] standards very seriously and take swift (*cough *cough) action when one is identified,”  Navarro is less worried – he told Vice that Vara was a “whimsical device and pen name I’ve used throughout the years for opinions and purely entertainment value, not as a source of fact.” Of course being to do with books the White House has yet to comment on Navarro’s fabrications – oh and being to do with fabrications! Brought into the administration in 2016, Navarro remains one of the president’s most trusted advisers on trade.
  • Those of us on the left who receive our monthly checks from George Soros know that the deep state is a real thing, but some Trump supporters along the East Coast found out the hard way last week when the buses they chartered to take them to Washington to march against impeachment, just didn’t show up.  Stranded would-be hate-marchers claimed it was a democrat conspiracy and the coach company was stopping them from exercising their first amendment rights. As much fun as it would be to imagine a charter bus company taking a stand against the MAGA crowd, the truth is a bit more pedestrian.  The group didn’t pay for the buses. They didn’t pay a deposit, only confirmed they wanted them a few hours before the buses were due to leave, and then their credit card was declined multiple times. To be fair, that’s exactly how Trump would have done it too.
  • Another page turned in the life of Alexander Boris de Pfefell Johnson aged 9¾ this week when he returned triumphant from the EU with what he says is a terrific deal, it’s neither. He sold the DUP and Northern Ireland down the river by moving the backstop to prevent border checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic to become a frontstop so there are now checks between England and the whole of Ireland, and then tried to have parliament vote on a Saturday to say yes or no to it without having any time to read the thing let alone discuss it. Recently, thanks to Boris, ex-Tory MP Oliver Letwin added an amendment that said parliament would only be prepared to vote on the deal once all the due diligence and checks and balances had been gone through – you know that pesky parliamentary constituent-duty scrutiny stuff. So Bozza had to send a letter to the EU as per the law recently voted through parliament, asking for an extension beyond the 31st October deadline to prevent the UK leaving with no deal, and prevent the attendant economic disaster that Chancellor Sajid doesn’t know about, happening. In a statesman-like way befitting of the office he holds Boris stuck two fingers up blew a raspberry and sent an unsigned photocopied version of the letter of request with along with another saying “they made me do it those big boys there, I didn’t want to, it’s not fair, I’m the king of the world, listen to me hawaaah hawaaah” Fortunately the adults in the EU are used to dealing with unruly children and put him in the garden with a teething ring and a diaper-change whilst the grown-ups talked. Stay tuned….


That’s all for this week, thanks for listening!

Jim Cliff

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