Pennsylvania minus five weeks

Another thread for discussion of matters American. Since the last instalment we’ve seen Barack Obama win Mississippi 61-37 (19-14 in delegate terms), before running into his first bit of serious campaign turbulence courtesy of the audaciously hopeful Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

1,202 comments on “Pennsylvania minus five weeks”

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  1. This can set the logical tone for this thread!

    Robert B @ 1154 (previous thread)- This link is a good summary of the common fallacies of argument that would be a good one for all us PBers to keep handy.

    I like this one, on the ‘argument from pity’:

    “For example, in the 1880s, prosecutors in a Virginia court presented overwhelming proof that a boy was guilty of murdering his parents with an ax. The defense presented a “not-guilty” plea on the grounds that the boy was now an orphan, with no one to look after his interests if the court was not lenient.”

    Ron, your test on the fallacies is tomorrow – and it will be a ‘closed Wikipedia’ test 🙂

  2. jv- There are a couple of good books on logical argument for non-specialists. The best one is “How to Win Every Argument: The Use and Abuse of Logic ” by Pirie. Another good one is “Crimes Against Logic” by Whyte.

    I don’t mind people making crappy arguments but when they use a False Appeal to Authority by incorrectly stating that their arguments are logical, something just has to be said.

  3. 5 the agony continues…suggestion Mr Bowe; competion: next Bank, c(K)ookie of the day/week, pickaVP, the date ‘BurntheHankey’ tops it…Shrub ‘retires’ to the Funny Farm & DICK takes over etc (& Kev learns Japanese)

  4. Diogenes – I started a Litt B in philosophy decades ago, but abandoned it after a few months because my supervisor was a religious nut. However, I remember the segment in Phil 100 on fallacies of argument, and still have the book somewhere – called in fact “The Fallacies of Argument” I think, but not sure now who by. It is a great little primer for cutting through false arguments typically heard in debates everywhere and emanating often from politicians, and even sometimes from us here! Philosophy should be compulsory in any uni course in my view.

  5. jv- “How to Win Every Argument: The Use and Abuse of Logic ” is a reproduction of “Book of the Fallacy: A Training Manual for Intellectual Subversives” which is probably the textbook you are referring to. It’s a classic. 😀

  6. I just got to watch some of Obama’s speech (I read it yesterday), and what struck me, apart from the content, was that he was really speaking.

    He wasn’t reading! He did not look at notes, he wasn’t glued to an autocue.

    Barak Obama gave a speech, no ers, no ums, no pauses, no stumbles.

    The man spoke.

    God, it was beautiful.

  7. 1152 Previous Thread

    Codger, I remember crossing swords with THAT Ron on Possum’s site in the wake of the Sydney cricket test when Poss went all Bogan on the Indians unleashing the Ugly Australian from all quarters, including one called Ron. ‘Twas my last visit to Possum’s site.

    I just assumed it was a different Ron over here.

  8. The Hunting of Iraq by George W

    “Just the war for Iraq!” the Idiot cried,
    As he landed his crew with care;
    Supporting each man on the top of the tide
    By a finger entwined in his hair.

    “Just the war for Iraq! I have said it twice:
    That alone should encourage the crew.
    Just the war for Snark! I have said it thrice:
    What i tell you three times is true.”

  9. I saw that Geraldine Ferraro is pissed-off with Obama for dragging her into his speech, where he said: “We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias”. Her reaction?

    “To equate what I said with what this racist bigot has said from the pulpit is unbelievable,” Ferraro said today. “He gave a very good speech on race relations, but he did not address the fact that this man is up there spewing hatred.” Ferraro, the only woman to ever run on a major party presidential ticket, sparked a controversy when she told the Breeze that “If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position.”

    I sympathise with her. It’s a rather long bow to equate her comment with that of the Pastor. Just like the long bow that he was drawing when he drags his grandma into his speech: “I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe”. The grandma should give him a good spanking for being such a naughty boy, denigrating his own grandma.

    Back in the NH debate, he also put down Hillary when Hillary was asked why so many people did not like her. He chipped in with “Hillary, you are likeable enough”. Methinks this dude likes to put down women, kinda sexist? Watch them polls.

    ps: the wolves are hunting in a pack again.

  10. Finns- Many animal behaviourists people consider wolves the most intelligent animal after humans, even smarter than monkeys and dolphins.

  11. Finnigans @ 12
    “To equate what I said with what this racist bigot has said from the pulpit is unbelievable, Ferraro said today.”

    Aha! See Finns, Geraldine is guilty of at least two fallacies of argument here: the “Faulty Analogy” and the “Loaded Question” fallacies:

    Faulty Analogy = Obama didn’t ‘equate’ what Ferraro said with what Wright said.
    Loaded Question = The concept of ‘racist bigot’ does not arise from anything Obama said – that’s all Ferraro’s, slipped in there gratuitously as part of the point.

    You could also say she has committed the ‘Straw Man’ fallacy by herself describing Wright as a ‘racist bigot’ and then saying by natural implication that Obama has put her in the same basket – clever. But untrue.

    Of course, the overall context of what Obama was saying was that everyone has their fears and prejudices – blacks and whites – and these have to be recognised and understood by society being caring enough to understand why they arose. As he was with the example of his grandma. But Ferraro, while knowing this, doesn’t care.

  12. Finns, Ferarro, like you, continue to miss the point by a long way. You can judge the politics of the speech as good or bad, as many have, but when you spend post after post trying to pick it apart with innuendo and marginalia you just seem small.

  13. Not at all Finns, just my personal response to a couple of your posts. In particular the ‘blacks aren’t the only ones discriminated against, what about the Chinese’, and ‘how about that NH debate’ ones spring to mind. Oh and the quoting of Bill Kristol as your evidence of Obama’s wrongdoing. Seems snarky rather than constructive is all.

  14. Finns- The “What about the Chinese” argument is an example of Ignorantio Elenchi in the form of a “Red Herring.” A red herring is a deliberate attempt to change the subject or divert the argument from the real question at issue to some side-point; for instance, “Senator Jones should not be held accountable for cheating on his income tax. After all, there are other senators who have done far worse things.”

    INTPs are recognised above all for their love of pointing out logical flaws in arguments. It makes me very, very popular at work.

  15. Blogers questioned if Reverend Wright expressed racist views:

    Obama thought so. In his speech he said:
    “they (Wright’s views) expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country
    – a view that sees white racism as endemic”

    Wright talks of “the BLACK Jesus vilified by the WHITE unbelievers
    Wright constantly says: “white Christianity” & the United States of white america

    Blogers questioned if Reverend Wright expressed extremist views:
    The USA is as bad as Al Quaeda
    The government (implied US) injected black people with aids to spread genocide
    The US brought 9/11 on themselves

    Blogers said Obama stated why he remained in the pastors Church
    Yes he did give reasons
    But NONE of his reasons were he agreed with the fundamental sermons message
    which after all is why the hell he was sitting there.
    And what was the fundamental sermons message ?
    Pull up not one , but say 50 of them in you tube

    IF you go to a Church and hear enough repugnant sermon messages , you should morally and ethically leave. Its a question of values & judgement.
    Obama should have done so

  16. #18 amigo, if because my view is different from yours then i am small, then i am small. No prob. Like my hero would say: “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT’S relativity.”

  17. ‘Ignorantio Elenchi’ sounds like one of Harry Potter’s spells.

    I think someone has cast that particular one on GWB.

  18. To see white racism as endemic does make one a racist, Ron.
    Otherwise, which rule of logical argument have I missed here?

    Ron – and why do you care so much what a pastor said. Step back and look at the larger Dem nomination picture for a change.

  19. #2 Diogenes Says:
    I don’t mind people making crappy arguments but when they use a False Appeal to Authority by incorrectly stating that their arguments are logical, something just has to be said.

    Surely you jest.
    So you do not mind people making crappy arguments (BUT silently thinking they are logical) or do you want them to openly admit their crappy arguments are illogical

  20. I don’t think you are the same Ron, Ron. Weren’t you the first mate on the good ship Obama at one stage? We’ll have to start calling you Fletcher Christian if you are the same one.

  21. Finns, my posts 16 and 18 criticise a tactic, not your view, and not because it is different from mine. But if this is what you take from those posts, I think I’m beginning to understand how you arrived at your response to the speech.

  22. j/v
    Wright talks of “the BLACK Jesus vilified by the WHITE unbelievers
    Wright constantly says: “white Christianity” & the United States of white america

    do you consider any of these racist j/v ?

  23. [IF you go to a Church and hear enough repugnant sermon messages , you should morally and ethically leave. Its a question of values & judgement.
    Obama should have done so]

    Ron, your obsessiveness over this NON-issue is becoming disturbing. Despite all the alternative explanations given to you by fellow bloggers, you seem intent on concluding that Obama is either racist or lacks judgement. Faulty logic aside, why are you so desperate to make this conclusion. If you don’t like Obama or what he stands for, then just say so.

  24. Ron @ 28 [do you consider any of these racist j/v ?]

    No Ron, I don’t. They are rhetorical cries on behalf of an oppressed minority, whose forebears suffered intolerable cruelties in large numbers, and who continue to suffer institutionalised racism today – for example, have you checked out the US gaol populations lately?
    They are an accusatory lashing out from a passionate member of that historically oppressed minority, the poionting of a fingerr at racism in the US, I in a genuinely free society he should be permitted to cry out passionately without vilification of either him, or his friends, such as Obama. Obama is not the same person, and doesn’t agree with Wright’s more passionate (read divisive) lashings out.
    Wright is not a terrorist, he isn’t inciting violence or leading rampages through white golf clubs.
    To blame in part white christianity for US racism is an eminently fair point and is simply not racist. It’s a fact.
    Don’t you see that?

  25. 25 Ron- Most of the comments here are phrased as opinions and with a bit of fact to back them up. If you were pedantic about it, almost none would be logical, as in the premises of the argument do not rationally justify the conclusion reached. In the spirit of the blog, I think most of these “crappy” arguments should pass unchallenged. Otherwise, we could only state facts.

    However, you have the tendency to dress your arguments in the cloak of respectability by referring to or rebutting arguments stating that they are logical when they are not. If you are going to live by the sword, you are going to die by the sword. 😀

    And while we’re at it, you have incorrectly stated that Obama said Wright’s comments were racist. He did not. He said “they (Wright’s views) expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country- a view that sees white racism as endemic”. Where in that comment does he describe Wright’s views as racist.

  26. [‘IF you go to a Church and hear enough repugnant sermon messages , you should morally and ethically leave. Its a question of values & judgement.’]

    No wonder I never go to *any* church. Because at the end of the day, hell and heaven and marketing will be involved. They are all equally bad. When you think about the threat of hell, it actually disqualifies any other minor earthy matters such as racism.

    So I guess this disqualifies all the candidates.

  27. Sorry, Kirribilli Removals, but Obama was reading from an autocue as was obvious as he turned his head from side to side, and the autocue was clearly visible as he walked on to the stage.

    Personally, I don’t think Obama can win a general election – rhetoric and inspiriational feel-good speeches read from an autocue may enthuse some Democrats, but it will not appeal to the broad American (dare I say rascist bigoted Americans).

    Unfortunately, Obama is all show but no substance. Again and again, he has been shown up to be lacking in good public policy, and when he does get down to substance, it’s usually some thing lifted from Hillary’s previous public policy pronouncements.

    In short, he is a fraud. If he secures the nomination, the Democrats will be thumped (again). If I was a US Democrat, I would not vote for him. I simply would not vote at all. I feel so strongly about this guy.

  28. #32 – dio – [In the spirit of the blog, I think most of these “crappy” arguments should pass unchallenged. Otherwise, we could only state facts.] – dont you think you should practice what you preach!!! & you should inform your fellow wolves accordingly

  29. Noocat #30,

    It is not that I dislike what Obama stands for. The reason, relevant to this point, why I prefer Clinton is that I am unconvinced that Obama is being honest. This is American politics, and Obama is from Chicago, arguably the most corrupt city in America. Obama is on the record as having done nothing during his first 6 years as a state legislator. He didn’t do the tough debates, he didn’t do the cross aisle work (the IL state leg. was GOP-controlled at the time) to get anything passed, he didn’t even propose anything, and he voted “present” over 100 times. It was only during his last year, when the Dems got a majority, that he did anything, and that was mostly along the lines of resurrecting proposals that other Democrats made during their time in “opposition”, and attaching his name to them. The point that I’m getting at here is this – Obama, in my opinion, is just another politician. Moreover, he is pretending that he isn’t, which aggravates me.

    Further, given (it’s a matter of public record) that Obama has yet to win any tough races to be elected to any office, I am very sceptical about his ability to beat the most electable GOP candidate in the country come November. That’s why I accept the role of superdelegates – it is their place to make what they believe is the best choice for party, when neither candidate received enough pledged delegates to get the magic 2025 off the top. I, obviously, believe that this means that they should go for Clinton, but if they believe that Obama’s the best choice, fair enough. But they are not bound by the decision of the caucuses and/or primaries.

    (FYI: Obama ran as sole candidate to get into the IL legislature. When he went for the US Senate, his Dem and then his GOP opponent both imploded of their own volition.)

  30. Ron – last effort – (I promise bloggers! )
    Just read the top definition of “racism” from Wiki. (This won’t be in your logic test tomorrow Ron, so you don’t have to remember it, just to understand it)

    “Racism has many definitions, the most common and widely accepted being that members of one race consider themselves intrinsically superior to members of other races. Racism inherently starts with the assumption that there are taxonomic differences between different groups of people. Without this assumption, prejudices against different peoples would be catagorised as being prejudices related to national or regional origin, religion, occupation, social status or some other distinction.”

    I think you may have been confusing racism with mere prejudice

  31. 35 Finns- I was referring to not challenging the lack of a strict logical basis for our blogs. But I’m all for countering “crappy” arguments with other “crappy” arguments. In other word countering opinion with opinion, with variable degrees facts to back the opinion up.

  32. 34

    I’ll stand corrected then, as I only saw a clip on Newshour, and not him walking on stage.

    Regardless, it was, in my opinion, a thoughtful and profound piece about race and America, and highlighted some of the fracture lines that have been exploited by many for centuries.

    If he’s a ‘fraud’ then I’m the Emperor of Japan.

  33. # 30 Noocat quotes me:
    IF you go to a Church and hear enough repugnant sermon messages , you should morally and ethically leave. Its a question of values & judgement.
    Obama should have done so

    Then Noocat says : this is faulty logic and a NON issue.

    Ron says:
    Its not faulty logic , its my opinion of what one should morally & ethically do.
    Its my view Kevin07 would not continue to go to a Church preaching repugnant sermon messages .

    NON- issue ?
    My view is alot middle America (the centre & Independent voters) will share my view , probably being more offended by the repugnancy of the extreme anti US
    than the racial.
    IF my comments above are a NON-issue , the Polls in a week will expose me.

    And finally , where have I said or implied Obama is a racist.

  34. Finns – there’s a great book about dogs called “The Truth About Dogs” which busts all the myths about pedigreed dogs and different types of dog, and points out that all dogs are extremely close to wolves genetically. The different appearance between ‘breeds’ of modern dogs is a little tiny bit of junk DNA on top of the core wolf genes that means little in behaviour.
    The pedigree bullsh*t is a Victorian English idea that mirrored the Empire’s concept of superiority of the British people and their need to civilise the savages. And yet you hear people go on and on about their wonderful gun dog or sheep dog or whatever, but they are all just basically scavengers who are masters at wheedling their scavenging way into human beings’ lives to be looked after. They see themselves as part of a wolf pack. It’s a great read.

    Moral is – don’t be fooled by the appearance of PB bloggers, they are ALL wolves 🙂

  35. #41 once a dolfinn, always a dolfinn. we are the wolves of the sea. we hunt in a pack. we laugh like the wolves. we are more intelligent than the wolves.

  36. Ok, you’re down to your last dollar, you’ve blown it all on a night on the tables, so what do you do…walk out with that dollar in your pocket, or plonk it down on 14 Red?

    Looks like 14 Red to me:

    … and of course, there’s McCain, traipsing around the Middle East, with his bum-wiper Joe Lieberman making sure he doesn’t say the wrong thing in public.

    If it wasn’t tragic it would be funny.

  37. I think the Republicans pretty much already know how they’ll be attacking Obama in the general if he wins the nomination: the issue will be patriotism.
    Fascinating times in store.

  38. Finns @ 42 – Yeah I know, I’ve heard your story about intelligence – if only dolphins could walk on land they’d all be at Cambridge as Rhodes scholars.

    Did you know scientists have been able to work out the language of dolphins from underwater recordings. The first recorded conversation between two dolphins was ” You know, if there’s one thing I’d like to do before I die, it’s swim with a middle-aged couple from New South Wales.”
    Did you say that?

  39. #46 – jv – no this what we say to each other;

    Oh that I was where I would be
    Then I would be where I am not
    Here I am where I must be
    Go where I would, I can not
    Come diddle oh day, oh diddle, lie o day.

  40. j/v ,
    Wright talks of “the BLACK Jesus vilified by the WHITE unbelievers
    Wright constantly says:“white Christianity” & the United States of white America

    It does not matter what we think is racist or what the deinition is.
    I contend ordinary working American whites will regard the use by a black man of his race to criticise whites using ‘black’ or white’ descriptions
    IS racist ! They will not differentiate to the word prejudice in importance

    I think middle white America independents/centre will be offended & Obama will lose votes , not because they think he thinks this but because he sat there regularly & listened to it rather than ceasing to turn up.

    They would have forgiven him had he acknowledged his silent inaction but continual attendance was an error of judgement. This is also my ‘grip’ with O

    The polls in a week or so of middle America independents/centre will show.
    Your view ?

  41. Kirribilli Removals

    Perhaps “fraud” was too strong a word; perhaps “insincere on occasions” explains what I mean. No, I don’t think you are the Emperor Of Japan!!!

    I do agree, however, with your recent post about McCain and that disloyal Democratic rat Libermann following him around, correcting him, and generally sucking up. Libermann is one of the most disloyal Democrats I have seen – he lost preselection for the Senate race in 2006, spat the dummy, and ran as an independent (financially sponsored by the Republicans) and supported by McCain, Karl Rove et al.

    In politics, there is nothing worse than a party rat. If you run with the good times, you have to cop it when the party decides they want another candidate. Mal Colston was one of the greatest (corrupt) party rats. It’s all about self-preservation, as we all know.

    Talk is about a Clinton/Obama ticket or a Obama/Clinton ticket. That will never happen. Too much water has flowed under the bridge, and frankly they hate each other despite their public statements. It’s a tragedy really. This administration deserves to have their butts kicked big time, but I fear that McCain will win against Obama – their spin doctors will be making their political ads already featuring Obama and his pastor. American politics in so man ways is good, but it sucks in many other ways.

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