May cause a sudden drop in blood pressure

More fun with conditional hypocrisy, courtesy of the Virginia Senate:

The bill, SB484, says pregnant women must be given an opportunity to view the ultrasound image prior to an abortion and requires abortion providers to keep a copy in the patient’s file.

"I view this as a serious women's health issue," Vogel said on her website. "At a minimum, ultrasound is necessary to determine gestational age and that there is no anomaly that could affect the health of the mother or outcome of the procedure."

Pro-abortion rights advocates consider the ultrasound provision a tactic to add cost and inconvenience to the process with the goal of getting women to change their minds.

Sen. Janet Howell, D-Fairfax County, was dismayed enough by the bill's progress that she tried to amend it so men seeking prescriptions for erectile dysfunction medication such as Viagra would be required to undergo a rectal exam and cardiac stress test.

She said that's "only fair, that if we're going to subject women to unnecessary procedures, and we're going to subject doctors to having to do things that they don't think is medically advisory."

Howell's amendment ought to help people visualize how such a bill would affect their own administration of their privates, were certain facts different. 

The amendment was defeated, but so was the bill. 

How would this affect me?

Rick Santorum, candidate for President, rushed home this weekend to be with his teenage daughter, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder.  An opponent of the Affordable Care Act, Santorum's daughter will certainly benefit from the pre-existing condition clause of the ACA.  The timing of this particular ad hominem is an important matter, no doubt.  But I think this argument from Elon Green at the Washington Monthly is a nice example of the non-fallacious use of the subjunctive tu quoque (discovered here!):

And it’s equally okay to remind voters that Santorum, in an act of startling cynicism, continues to equate the ACA with socialism, even suggesting that it would lead to the death of his daughter. His claim that he’s “fighting for Bella and other children like her” — and, by extension, proponents of the ACA are not — is spurious.

By all accounts, Santorum’s daughter has beaten the odds. She’s gotten marvelous healthcare. I have yet to encounter a decent justification from either Santorum or his fellow candidates for denying the nation’s children the same opportunity.

The unstated conclusion is that Santorum, were matters different, would hold a different view.  This kind of makes him a hypocrite.  Or it at least he would be a hypocrite, if the security of his family's health insurance were ever in question (which, to a certain extent, it won't be, given ACA). 

At the very least, the subjunctive tu quoque here aims to uncover an opponent's lack of thoughtfulness about how a given issue might affect people's lives in important ways.  The lack of thoughtfulness is particularly egregious, so the scheme alleges, because one fails to realize how their own positions would affect them, were one someone else.

In other news, someone has suggested "tu quoque etiam" as a name for this move.  Anyone?

Taxation ontology

Many have heard by now of Mitt Romney's relatively low (well, very low) tax rate: 13.9 percent on one accounting, 15 percent on another.  This is because his income does not come from work, but rather from dividends and other investments.  These are taxed at a different rate from work. 

I am going to grant that there are arguments for taxing investments differently from work.  Some of these arguments might be good ones, or at least strong ones.  The one Romney offered in is own defense, however, is not one of them. 

Here it goes (via TPM):

Romney’s argument is that even though he pays only 13.9%, he’s really paying something like 45% to 50% because the investment income he lives on comes from corporations. And those corporates also pay taxes. The nominal corporate tax rate is 35%, though of course many pay much lower. But if you add Romney’s rate together with this completely unrelated corporate tax he doesn’t pay, you get 50%, which Romney is now saying is real tax rate. In other words, he’s claiming he pays both taxes.

See the video at the link.  I'm trying to figure out the ontology of this claim.  It seems like Romney is saying that taxation runs with the money, as it were.  So if a corporation (which is, after all, people for Romney) makes profits, those profits are taxed.  That taxation counts for all of the money that then gets paid out in whatever way by that corporation (including the rise in the value of the stock price, etc.).  If the corporation puts the money back into the business, and then later sells the business, the money has already been taxed!  If a corporation pays me to do work for it, then I can claim the money they pay me has already been taxed!  If I buy a product in a store, I can claim that sales tax has already been paid in huge amounts!

I think this only works if corporations are literally people. 

Also, in the video, Romeny included his charitable contributions in his tax burden.  Taxes and charity are significantly different, however.  Taxes are obligations to your fellow citizens.  Charity is up to you.  I don't think he wants us to start thinking of the Mormon Church as a tax-supported entity. 

Chuck Toddler

There are people with no sense of humor at all (encountered them here) and there is NBC's Chuck Todd.  He is concerned that Stephen Colbert's 24/7 satire of the Republican-allied Fox Network might be anti-Republican. 

Appearing at a Winthrop University forum, Todd said that Colbert was doing a "noble" thing by educating his audience about the inner workings of a Super PAC. However, he told the crowd that he had been "very offended" when Colbert testified before Congress about immigration in character, and that he saw the comedian's presidential activities in the same light.

"He is making a mockery of the system," Todd said. "…Is it fair to the process? Yes, the process is a mess, but he's doing it in a way that feels like he's trying to influence it with his own agenda and that may be anti-Republican."

He cautioned the media to be "careful" about amplifying Colbert's message, and said it should not be treated as "shtick" or satire.

"What is his real agenda here?" he said. "Is it to educate the public about the dangers of money and politics, and what's going on? Or is it simply to marginalize the Republican Party? I think if I were a Republican candidate I would be concerned about that."

Perhaps this hypothetical Republican ought to be concerned about having such easily satirized views.  I wonder if anyone pointed out to Todd that satire is a critical genre–someone is going to get it.  Imagine Todd worrying that some Repubican lobbyist might be testifying before Congress with an agenda that "may be" anti-Democratic. 

The scheme meme

I get a kick out of image macros and the memes generated therefrom.  To me, some of theme are like instances of argument schemes for the generation of kids who don't want to read Boethius's De topicis differentiisKnow your meme even expresses them as abstract functions.

Here's a good instance of a "inconsistency" argument scheme meme:

This one doesn't work, because there is no double standard (interpretations of amendments may differ, etc.).

Nonetheless.  The scheme meme is fun.  Lots of others to talk about.

He is enough of a historian

Some may have heard of Saul Alinsky from Fox News or Newt Gingrich (same thing, of course).  The Chicago Tribune has a short piece on a book about him.  It included the following puzzling remark by the book's author:

"Newt realizes this is just an act, saying Alinsky is a dangerous radical. Gingrich is enough of a historian to know what Alinsky was about," Horwitt said. "This is something that he is feeding to a part of the conservative right. (Alinsky) was not a bomb-throwing radical by any means."

Newt, you mean, is lying.

Iron men at the Washington Post

Some classic iron manning from the Washington Post's Ombudsman (via Media Matters and Atrios):

When President Obama has a bad day, or more specifically, on days when the economic news has been bad, I get a slew of feedback from conservative readers that go like this:

“See, you liberal media nincompoops, this is all your fault, you treated Obama like a saint when he was running in 2007 and 2008 and you didn’t vet him, investigate him, report on him skeptically. You were so fawning (and adoring of his blackness), you missed that he was a (pick your adjective), radical, socialist, Muslim, inexperienced, dangerous, corrupt, weak Chicago politician with no track record of accomplishment, whose only talent is giving speeches.”

Those e-mails usually employ much harsher language, and some are filled with expletives.

If you watched the Republican debate Thursday night, you heard a muted version of this criticism of Obama from Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. (Although Ron Paul almost never mentioned Obama, he criticized the entire system of government instead.)

Deborah Howell, Post ombudsman from 2005 through 2008, said at the end of her tenure that “some of the conservatives’ complaints about a liberal tilt [at The Post] are valid.”

I won’t quibble with her conclusion. I think she was right. I read all of The Post’s lengthier, meatier stories on Obama published from October 2006 through Election Day 2008. That was about 120 stories, and tens of thousands of words, including David Maraniss’s 10,000-word profile about Obama’s Hawaii years, which I liked.

I think there was way too little coverage of his record in the Illinois Senate and U.S. Senate, for example, with one or two notably good exceptions. But there were hard-hitting stories too, even a very tough one on Michelle Obama’s job at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

And that’s what The Post needs to do in covering his reelection campaign this year: be hard-hitting on his record and provide fresh insight and plenty of context to put the past three rough years into perspective.

I suppose it's a factual question (to some extent at least) as to whether the Post's coverage of Obama was light on skepticism.  (My guess is that it was as bad as their other work–they pay George Will for petesake).  The funny thing here, however, is the occasion for this moment of self-reflection. 

A person full of conspiracy-driven blather about Obama's race, religion, and socialism (Goldman Sachs style I can only guess) alleges that the Washington Post failed to be skeptical about Obama's race, religion, socialism is for the Ombudsperson a reason to reconsider its coverage of Obama.  Why?  Because he turned out to be a socialist?  Sheesh. 

 

Not sure if Troll, or just illustration of Poe’s Law part #1834

The other day I posted something on Senator Grassley's attempt to find a contradiction in Democrats' support for more robust child labor laws–it would keep children from being physically active, he said.  That sounded like a joke–but it wasn't.  Now comes Keith Ablow, of Fox News, arguing that Newt Gingrich's adultery makes him a better candidate for President than non-adulterers.  He argues:

1) Three women have met Mr. Gingrich and been so moved by his emotional energy and intellect that they decided they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with him.

2) Two of these women felt this way even though Mr. Gingrich was already married.

3 ) One of them felt this way even though Mr. Gingrich was already married for the second time, was not exactly her equal in the looks department and had a wife (Marianne) who wanted to make his life without her as painful as possible.

Conclusion: When three women want to sign on for life with a man who is now running for president, I worry more about whether we’ll be clamoring for a third Gingrich term, not whether we’ll want to let him go after one.

The people, by whom I mean three women who have been married to Gingrich, have spoken.  Clearly the nation as a whole will like him.  There's more:

4) Two women—Mr. Gingrich’s first two wives—have sat down with him while he delivered to them incredibly painful truths: that he no longer loved them as he did before, that he had fallen in love with other women and that he needed to follow his heart, despite the great price he would pay financially and the risk he would be taking with his reputation.

Conclusion: I can only hope Mr. Gingrich will be as direct and unsparing with the Congress, the American people and our allies. If this nation must now move with conviction in the direction of its heart, Newt Gingrich is obviously no stranger to that journey.

Hm. Not sure if Ablow means he hopes Gingrich dumps the US for a younger, sexier country, which he will carry on a secret affair with (Iran maybe).

Can’t tell if troll or just Republican Senator from Iowa

Years ago it was a joke when I gave the fallacy assignment in which students had to make fallacious arguments for various preposterous conclusions.  It's not really funny anymore, because there exist people like Chuck Grassley, Senator from Iowa.  Here is Senator (they're going to kill grandma) on childhood obesity (via Thinkprogress):

Concern was raised about the proposed Department of Labor's intent to greatly limit child labor on family farms.

"This farm bill will greatly affect our FFA and 4-H programs," said Grassley. "Kids won't be able to help on farms not owned by their parents.

"It's interesting that this child labor bill goes against Michelle Obama's anti-obesity initiative," said Grassley. "How can kids be active if they are limited by this law?"

Edgar Dorow, retired extension director, raised the question regarding whether humans have had a direct impact on global warming.

"I believe there are still many questions to be answered," said Sen. Grassley. "There are a few scientists who are proponents of manmade global warming as opposed to natural global warming.

"Until we get an international agreement to make changes, nothing is going to happen."

I suppose supporting food stamps also contradicts Michelle Obama's childhood health advocacy.  The children cannot get fat if they are not eating.

Update: Some context to the proposed child labor laws.  These are the rules Grassley thinks would make kids fat:

Under current law, 400,000 children working on farms are not protected from exploitation and dangerous labor. The proposed rules would forbid children younger than 16 from working with pesticides, timber operations, handling “power-driven equipment, or contributing to the “cultivation, harvesting and curing of tobacco.”

 I suppose according to some smoking does make you thinner.  So there's that.