Politician’s Fallacy – FT#57

Politician’s Fallacy – FT#57

Show Notes

The Politician’s Fallacy is committed when someone recognises that ‘something’ must be done about a problem and assumes that any ‘something’ will do.



We started out with this clip of Trump explaining why he had to put tariffs on Chinese goods:

Then we talked about this Washington Post interview where he excused his Muslim ban by saying that something had to be done.


Chris’ British Politics Corner

Chris (oh yes, Mark’s away this week, so Chris is guest hosting instead) talked about Brexit as one big Politician’s Fallacy. He mentioned anti-migrant headlines in the UK tabloids – here are the stats:

Fallacy in the Wild

We talked about the Premier League in British soccer as a solution to underfunded clubs in the 80s. This clip helped to set the scene:

And we followed that up with this clip from Yes Minister:

Jim mentioned this NYU study about the public consensus for politicians to do something rather than nothing, even if the something is politically opposite from their own stance.


Fake News

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

  1. Those 280 miles I built have stopped like hundreds of thousands of people. Mexico is heavy, heavy COVID territory. They are highly infected. I built the wall and that wall has stopped people from coming in. If she said that, and I know sleepy Joe said it, he said we should stop the wall, and I might even tear down the wall. He wants to tear down a wall that’s the best border wall ever built, in terms of the success of it, in terms of — the best-ever built, he wants to tear it down.
  2. Amazon and other companies like it, they come and they drop all their mail into a Post Office, not all of it, but a big percentage of it, and they say here, you deliver it you stupid people, you deliver it. And it costs us every time they drop a package, it costs us like $3 to deliver the package for them, $3 a package, we’re losing a fortune. I said, you’ve got to raise their rates, you’re going to have to raise their rates. But Amazon, they build their big plant, always near a Post Office.
  3. What happens is I get other countries, other leaders, they call me up and they say “How do we talk to him” because I have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un and they don’t know how to deal with him, but I know. They say “You’re the only one he listens to, could you talk to him for us?” and you know, I hate to say it, but they’re right. Nobody has a relationship with North Korea like I have, and they’ve been trying for years to figure out how to talk to him.

Click below for the answer

Chris got it wrong on Mark’s behalf this week, so now he’s on 24/57, or 42.2%.



This week’s sponsor was Hopheads, a subscription box where you get 12 bottles of beer sent straight to your house!  Click here to sign up!




Language is not a logical fallacy

Jim talked to Dr. Norma Mendoza-Denton, one of the authors of the excellent new book “Language in the Trump Era: Scandals and Emergencies


The stories we really didn’t have time to talk about

  • It was the Republican National Convention last week, and this year’s theme was ‘things that aren’t true’. After night one, Fox’s Steve Doocy said “At least one TV network last night was live fact-checking the RNC – someone would say something and they’d go “Woah, hold on a second, that’s not true” – they did not do it last week for the Democrats, so what does that tell the viewer?” which is a great point. It’s just not the point he thought he was making.  Many people are saying Don Jr looked like he had taken a lot of cocaine before his speech, presumably to help him keep up with his girlfriend Kimberley Guilfoyle, who yell-screamed all the way through her speech like Animal from the Muppets. Small-faced bobblehead Charlie Kirk did some olympic level cherry picking when he claimed that if you only look at C-SPAN’s online streaming viewing figures, the first night of the RNC was six times more popular than the DNC. Everyone from Larry Kudlow to Mike Pence talked about coronavirus in the past tense. Pam Bondi, the former Florida Attorney General who dropped an investigation into Trump University days after her campaign got a $25,000 donation from the Trump Foundation, gave a speech about how corrupt Joe Biden is, and how nepotism is bad which was immediately followed by a speech from Trump’s daughter Tiffany, and then later, one by Eric, before Melania closed out night two by saying that America deserved total honesty from their President, which is weird, because I thought she was supposed to be on Donald’s side.  Finally, it wouldn’t be a Trump event without some good old-fashioned law breakin’ and sure enough there were multiple violations of the Hatch Act, with Mike Pompeo addressing the RNC during an official trip to Israel, and Trump pardoning someone and then performing a naturalization ceremony during the campaign event. At least two of the women involved in the ceremony were not told in advance that they would be taking part in the convention, but Trump never worried about getting consent from women in the past, and dammit he’s not about to start now.
  • In other news, the CDC have changed the guidelines on who’s getting tested yet again, just to make Donald look good. After all, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve got it or not, it’s only about whether you’ve been tested. The new guidelines raise the bar on who should get tested, advising that some people without symptoms probably don’t need it, even if they’ve been in close contact with an infected person. The kicker in all of this? This was all changed whilst Anthony Fauci was having an anaesthetic and was actually having a minor operation.  Just because the scientist is asleep, doesn’t mean science stops.
  • The Democratic National Convention was such a contrast to the RNC, that I had to check my cognitive bias. Can they actually be so amazingly different in tone, content and quality or am I just looking at them through rose tinted, radical leftist glasses?  Well, yes. They can be that different. Barack Obama spoke and it was so refreshing to remember what a real President sounded like, just for a few moments. He, and later Michelle, spoke about the stakes of this election with genuine concern about the prospect of four more years of Trump. Donald attacked Michelle, because of course he did, for taping her speech instead of doing it live, saying “It was taped a long time ago, because she had the wrong deaths”. Yes, Trump was complaining that Michelle Obama had only credited him with “More than 150,000” deaths, when the real number is much higher.  Jill Biden spoke about what kind of man Joe is, with anecdotes about their life together. That kind of thing was dramatically absent from Melania’s speech or any of Trump’s children’s, because as we know, he is an awful, awful person.
  • And Trump has also backed yet another supposed cure for COVID. In this case, the cure is oleander. The oleander plant is highly toxic and consumption of it can be fatal. After you, Mr President.
  • Blotchy white supremacist Steve Bannon, who these days looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger wearing Steve Bannon as a disguise to try and sneak onto Mars, has been arrested for his part in a fraudulent fundraising project called “We Build The Wall”. Bannon, who as Josh Gondelman said, looks like the final boss you have to fight to free Willie Nelson from a dungeon, reportedly used hundreds of thousands of dollars of border wall donations for his own personal expenses, which, I assume, largely consisted of skin cream and KFC.  I’ve actually lost count now of how many of Trump’s campaign team and White House staff have been indicted on federal charges, but it’s more than you would hope of a sitting President.  No word yet on a pardon for Bannon, who somehow looks like cirrhosis and herpes had a child who  grew up to be a used car salesman.
  • Donald Trump has also called for himself and Democratic challenger Joe Biden to submit drug tests before their first debate next month. Apparently Trump believes there’s been a sudden improvement in Biden’s performance in the Democratic TV debates, and thinks that therefore Biden must be on drugs. I’m just wondering whether the drug test will include hydroxychloriquine or whatever keeps his skin orange.
  • A new report from the Inspector General’s office has offered up some details about Sean Lawler, the former Chief of Protocol.  The Chief of Protocol is responsible for overseeing diplomacy with foreign nations and enforcing rules of decorum and etiquette.  But remember, Lawler was Trump’s Chief of Protocol, so you’ll probably be slightly less shocked to learn that the IG’s office characterised his tenure as an environment of yelling, cursing, “overconsuming alcohol,” and intimidating and abusive behavior.  According to the report, Lawler routinely made abusive, homophobic and culturally insensitive comments to his subordinates, called a group of visiting Turkish nationals dirty and disgusting, and said that a group of visiting Japanese diplomats “looked like gay porn stars” and that he thought he was getting “hit on” and didn’t want their gifts. Trump really has a knack for hiring the best people.
  • In British politics, finally the Liberal Democrats have elected a new leader. Well, it’s kind of the leader that was already there, it’s Ed Davey. On the day of the announcement the BBC website obviously put up a headline to say that he’d been elected, however, I’m not saying the Liberal Democrats have become irrelevant, but on the same day Boris Johnson announced that he’d brought in a personal trainer because he thought he looked a bit porky, and that page had more hits and stayed on the front page of the BBC website for much longer.

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

Jim Cliff

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