Category Archive 'Sophistry'
16 Dec 2016
In the New York Times, Tatiana Schlossberg (Caroline Kennedy’s daughter, Y’ 12) explains that if the weather’s getting cooler, that doesn’t mean there isn’t Global Warming. Why, well-educated members of the community of fashion elect can even explain to you that Global Warming actually can cause colder weather!
On Thursday, temperatures on the East Coast are expected to plummet, and some people â€” fellow journalists and weather broadcasters, weâ€™re looking at you â€” may start talking about a â€œpolar vortex.â€
We thought you might want to know what the polar vortex is, and what itâ€™s not.
(And we wanted to pre-empt the inevitable chatter about climate change that usually crops up when the thermometer drops â€” â€œItâ€™s bone-shakingly cold, how could the Earth be warming?â€ Weâ€™ll tell you how.) …
When these cold snaps come, you may hear other people asking,â€ If global warming is supposed to be warming the globe, then why is it so cold?â€
Well, for starters, there is a difference between weather and climate. Climate refers to the long-term averages and trends in atmospheric conditions over large areas, while weather deals with short-term variations, which is what happens when the polar vortex visits your hometown.
And of course, an Arctic blast can still occur in a warmer world. The air that comes down from the North Pole might not be as cold, Ms. Barthold said, but it would still be the product of the same phenomenon.
Some studies suggest that climate change could actually make these frigid waves of Arctic air more common, a result of shrinking sea ice. However, other scientists remain skeptical of this theory.
And the earth is definitely warming: Temperature records show that, by the end of last year, the earthâ€™s surface had warmed by about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since the 19th century. But even though the earthâ€™s surface is warming, scientists say that winter will still exist.
And even if parts of the United States are experiencing unusually cold temperatures, it represents such a small portion of the earthâ€™s surface â€” about 2 percent â€” that it does not mean much in terms of average global temperatures.
So, if, for instance, a senator (perhaps James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma) brandishes a snowball on the floor of the Senate to dispute the validity of climate science when a chill wind blows through Washington, you will know that the unseasonably cold temperatures he is talking about do not mean that global warming is not happening.
Apparently the Great Big Brains have understood all this for years. Warmlist, the attempted complete list of all the things caused by Anthropogenic Global Warming, already has listed:
cold spells, cold spells (Australia), colder waters (Long Island), cold wave (India), cold weather (world), cold winters
02 Jul 2015
Justice Anthony Kennedy
No president ever appointed Stuart Schneiderman to the Supreme Court, but he still has no difficulty in eviscerating Anthony Kennedy’s opinion.
Justice Kennedyâ€™s opened his opinion with the following stirring statement:
The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity. The petitioners in these cases seek to find that liberty by marrying someone of the same sex and having their marriages deemed lawful on the same terms and conditions as marriages between persons of the opposite sex.
The notion that individuals are free to define and express their identities is pop psychology and postmodern critical theory. More accurately, itâ€™s mental drool.
When Kennedy added a few more freedoms to marriage, he went further off the rails of rational thought:
The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality.
One expects better of the Supreme Court. In truth, freedom comes in many different shapes and forms. Free love is not the same as free will. Freedom from responsibility is not the same as freedom for responsibility. Free will is not the same as free lunch. And, of course, free expression and the free trade in ideas do not constitute a free-for-all.
By extending the concept of freedom indiscriminately Justice Kennedy has sowed confusion.
As for Kennedyâ€™s musing about pop psychology, itâ€™s one thing to say that marriage has evolved to include the possibility that a couple be in love. Itâ€™s quite another to say that the â€œnature of marriageâ€ is to grant access to a freedom for intimacy and spirituality. In truth, Scalia pointed out, marriage circumscribes and restricts your access to intimacy. It limits your freedom to covet your neighbor and to commit adultery. …
Kennedyâ€™s idea makes no sense within the context of gay marriage. If gays were free to create themselves as they wished they could recreate themselves as straights.
Admittedly, some people who are involved in homosexual activities are not, strictly speaking, gay, but homosexuality, nearly everyone will agree, is not a choice. It is a natural predisposition.
If Kennedy meant that gays should be allowed to define themselves as straight, thus, to marry as though they were straight he was suggesting that gay relationships, those that differ from socially recognized marriages, are somehow inferior to marriage.
One notes that Kennedy also mentioned, rather mindlessly, that the alternative to marriage was loneliness.
In fact, once you enter into the marital institution that institution defines and delimits your relationship. Those who have avoided entering into the institution of marriage have done so in order to gain a greater liberty in defining their relationship. Feminists, for example, have insisted that marriage is an oppressive institution, one that would unduly constrain the exercise of their freedom.
Dare we mention the obvious point, that a married couple is not free to change the definition of their marriage without passing through a judicial process called divorce.
Kennedy seems to have granted us the liberty to take liberties with reality.
One ought to note that the Supreme Court decision has not transformed reality. It has changed the way that certain couples are treated â€œin the eyes of the law.â€ The law can confer dignity and it can deny dignity, but it is not the only arbiter of the way dignity is conferred or denied.
07 Jul 2012
The search for the Roberts’ Taxon exceeded in difficulty the search for the Higgs Boson.
Iowahawk has news of the latest breakthrough in constitutional ontology.
Jubilant scientists at the DNC’s High Speed Word Collider (HSWC) announced today they have conclusively disproven the existence of Roberts’ Taxon, the theoretical radioactive Facton particle that some had worried would lead to the implosion of the entire Universal Health Care System.
“I think it’s time to pop the champagne corks,” said HSWC Director David Plouffe. “Then blaze some choom.”
The landmark experiment in Quantum Rhetoric began early this week after legal particle cosmologist John Roberts published a paper in the Quarterly Journal of Tortured Logic that solved the long-debated Pelosi’s Paradox in Universal Health Care Theory.
“Pelosi’s Paradox states that in order to find out what is in a health care bill, it would have to be passed,” explained physicist Steven Hawking. “But in order to be a law it would have to be constitutional, which means someone would have to know what was in it, which would mean it couldn’t have been a bill in the first place. Think of Schroedinger’s Cat, except with a lobotomy.”
To solve the paradox, Roberts proposed the existence of the Taxon – an ephemeral, mysterious facton particle that in theory would allow the Universal Health System to be constitutional, without directly observing what was in it. DNC scientists at first cheered Roberts’ findings, but it soon came apparent that it opened an even deadlier dilemma.
“If Roberts’ Taxon were really to exist, and was woven throughout the Health-Government-Time continuum, the merest realization of it would create a giant black hole in Gallup Space and cause free healthcare reality to collapse upon itself,” said Plouffe.
In order to disprove the Taxon, scientists at the HSWC devised a test experiment in their enormous CarneyLab bullshit accelerator. This test involved speeding a small mass of Facton – theoretically containing Roberts’ Taxon – and smashing it at near-light speed against a flaming super-dense ionized clod of purified bullshit.
30 Jun 2012
Haruspex in action
Jonah Goldberg heaps some well-deserved abuse on Chief Justice Roberts’ ruling.
Why not just cut open a goat and be done with it?
In ancient Rome, a special kind of priest called a haruspex would â€œreadâ€ the entrails of sheep to divine the will of the gods, the health of the growing season, or whatever else was weighing on the minds of men. Because animal guts donâ€™t, in fact, impart that much information about, say, next yearâ€™s wheat harvest, the haruspices could pretty much make it up as they went along. The same went for the auspices, priests who studied the flight of birds and derived signs or omens called auguria (from which we get â€œauguriesâ€). Ultimately, the haruspices and auspices made their decisions based upon the whims, vicissitudes, and demands of politics in one form or another. If the rulers were happy with the result, they didnâ€™t much care what the guts actually said.
Fast-forward to chief haruspex John Roberts.
In the majority opinion written by Roberts, the Supreme Court held that the mandate to buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause. But Roberts also found that itâ€™s constitutional under Congressâ€™s power to tax. It is on these grounds that Roberts upheld the constitutionality of Obamacare, siding with the four liberal justices of the bench.
The upshot is that Congress cannot use the Commerce Clause to force you to eat broccoli, but it can tax you into doing so. Huzzah for liberty!
To reach this decision, Roberts had to embrace a position denied by the White House, Congress, and vast swaths of the legal punditocracy: that the mandate is a tax for the purposes of constitutional consideration but not a tax according to the Anti-Injunction Act (which bars lawsuits against taxes until after theyâ€™re levied). Robertsâ€™s effort, wrote Justice Antonin Scalia in dissent, â€œcarries verbal wizardry too far, deep into the forbidden land of the sophists.â€
Read the whole thing.
11 Feb 2012
The Obama Administration wants to affirm its commitment to the secular progressive religion of Dionysius and D. H. Lawrence by mandating provision of contraception and abortion even at the cost of violating the freedom of conscience of religious institutions but, oh, me, oh, my! it encountered totally unexpected pushback and faces possible electoral consequences. Whatever to do?
As the Wall Street Journal explains, in an editorial delightfully entitled “Immaculate Contraception,” Barack Obama proposes, quite characteristically, to conceptually manipulate his way out of the consequences of his policy simply by telling those insurance companies to cook their books a bit.
Here’s a conundrum: The White House wants to impose its birth-control ideology on all Americans, including those for whom sponsoring or subsidizing such services violates their moral conscience. The White House also wants to avoid a political backlash from this blow to religious freedom. These goals are irreconcilable.
So you almost have to admire the absurdity of the new plan President Obama floated yesterday: The government will now write a rule that says the best things in life are “free,” including contraception. Thus a political mandate will be compounded by an uneconomic oneâ€”in other words, behold the soul of ObamaCare.
Ace analyses Obama’s compromise this way:
So here’s how this works.
I’m an insurer. Here were your two options, before Obama’s brilliant solution:
I could cover your employees for x dollars.
If you want birth control/abortifacient coverage, we’ll add that rider for y dollars. So this option is x + y dollars.
Obama’s genius solution is:
Hey, we’ll cover your employees for x + y dollars as a baseline. But we’ll toss in abortifacient coverage for 0 dollars.
Uhhh… That x+y is what it cost to have base insurance + birth control/abortifacient coverage. All that’s being done here is that people are lying about the costs — now the insurer and the contracting party lie and pretend the base insurance cost is x + y (which it isn’t; it’s x) and also pretend the cost for the birth control coverage is 0 (which it isn’t; it’s y).
All Obama’s doing is mandating that employers enter into a contract with insurers in which both parties pretend that the base cost of the service is higher than it is, and that abortifacient coverage now costs zero dollars.
Obama’s mandate solution is now just to force the conscience-objectors to lie about it.
Barack Obama demonstrates once again two key features of his identity and outlook. He is, first of all, an absolutely intransigent representative of the progressive elite, dedicated to enacting and enforcing his class’s social, political, and economic agenda without limit, mercy, or remorse. Intellectually, he is also a paradigmatic representative of the cognitive elite, trained in the best schools in the manipulation of words, concepts, and ideas. Which is to say, Barack Obama is the living model of the man professionally schooled in rhetoric that they used to call a sophist in Classical Antiquity.
He is definitely and absolutely committed to getting his ideological way, and his method for dealing with legal, moral, and theoretical objections to his agenda is simply to find a linguistic formula that redefines those obstacles out of existence.
31 Mar 2009
“What if the government put a cap on blog readership? or the number of words you could post?” one of Matthew Yglesias’s readers proposed as a thinking point in the course of arguing against the Gen Y pinko’s suggestion for a 95% tax on earnings over $10 million.
“Fine by me, I’d love to post fewer words,” replied the crafty Rand villain, carefully sidestepping the reduced benefits to him (fewer readers) portion of the analogy and seizing like a limpet onto to the “less work” portion. They train them well in precisely this kind of sophistry in our elite schools.