August 11, 2013

10 Debate "Rules" Obama has broken

Below are the "Ten Commandments" of rational debate.  President Obama often claims he "welcomes the debate" over this issue or that issue.  But he doesn't follow these basic rules of rational debate.  As a lawyer with a mere three years of practice, focused on civil rights, he clearly didn't have the time or need to develop ways to debate properly. 

Take a look at these rules and then I will provide examples of the president violating each rule in turn. Rhetorical king or just an ill-equipped debate bully? You decide.

1. Ad hominem attack:

Here the president impugns Sarah Palin.

2. Straw Man Fallacy:

Via The Blaze, an excerpt on the multiple straw man uses in his second inauguration speech.
“No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores.”

Like the first straw man, this one argues against something which is obviously false, and which no one believes. A single, individual person obviously cannot do all of this alone, but again, that does not imply that if someone cannot do something alone, the government must step in and do it for them. For instance, an architect cannot build a skyscraper alone. He needs laborers, engineers, and other people. But saying he can’t do this alone is not the same thing as saying that private citizens cannot cooperatively agree to do this without help from the government.
This one is one of Obama's favorite cheats.

3.   Hasty Generalization: Surely you remember this one Pennsylvania?

4. Begging the question:

RedState has a good example of this one.
Thus we arrive at President Obama’s very troubling statement in Roanoke on Friday. He told the crowd
There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
This begs the question: does the President think government policies got him where he is?

The implication of Barack Obama’s statement is that we owe something to the government. The implication is that people succeed because of the collective conducting its actions via government. Most entrepreneurs would tell you they succeed in spite of the government. Barack Obama views it differently.

He clearly believes we all owe our success to government.

Does he not attribute his success to his parents and, more particularly, his grandparents? What about teachers at his private school? Or was it government policies?

Few people would ever acknowledge it. Most people know intrinsically that it was, contrary to what the President believes, their hard work and ideas that got them were they were. No one denies that others played roles in their lives, but the people who played roles were, in fact, people...
 5.  Post Hoc: The government invested in the Internet and therefore we can thank government for Facebook and Google. Um, no.  That's like saying the mastering of fire preceded the Internet so we can thank the discoverers of fire for the Internet.  Google exists because of it's creators, and same for Facebook. I'm sure Mark Zuckerberg as pro-Obama as he may be, is not willing to share the credit with anyone. Via H4CBlog;
Mr. “Obama,” one of the world’s greatest demagogues, reveals (again) that he is willing to use the Big Lie to obtain his ends-justifies-the-means goals.. Of course, to be a really good liar, you must mix truth with error, as in this case – since undoubtedly the government has had its hands in Google and Facebook for years now.


Obama: ‘Google, Facebook Would Not Exist’ Without Government Funding

( – President Barack Obama insisted Thursday that without government spending, “Google, Facebook would not exist.”

Obama made the remark at a campaign fundraiser while criticizing the budget passed by House Republicans. Obama said the Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget would, among other things, cut funding for research.

“I believe in investing in basic research and science because I understand that all these extraordinary companies that are these enormous wealth-generators — many of them would have never been there; Google, Facebook would not exist, had it not been for investments that we made as a country in basic science and research,” Obama said. “I understand that makes us all better off.”

6. False Dichotomy: Two quick examples of the silver-tongued Obama's false dichotomies from the  San Francisco Gate.
This year, the Obama administration mandated that under the Affordable Care Act, church-based institutions provide "access" to birth control - in Obamaland, "access" means free, with no co-payment - to members of their health-care plans. The order later was delayed until 2013.

Thus the Obama White House set up a false dichotomy: Obama, for access to contraception, versus Romney, who opposes Obamacare and its "access" to contraception. Repeat endlessly, and people might start to think Romney wants to prevent women's ability to obtain birth control.

Obama likes to cite his signature of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act to assure women that he believes in equal pay for equal work. Quoth the president: "Women can't wait for equal pay."

At the second presidential debate, Obama pointed out that Romney has declined to say whether he would have signed the measure. Hence, Obama argued, Romney doesn't deliver "the kind of advocacy that women need in any economy."

Problem: As attorney Victoria Toensing wrote in the Wall Street Journal, the 1963 Equal Pay Act and 1964 Civil Rights act guarantee equal pay for equal work. The Ledbetter bill "merely changed how the statute of limitations is calculated" for civil lawsuits. And Romney told ABC's Diane Sawyer he doesn't intend to change the Ledbetter law.
7.  Ad Ignorantiam: Obama has claimed that his opponents are ignorant and therefore their criticisms of his tire inflation comment are not true.

Via ABC in the 2008 campaign,
"So I told them something simple," Obama said. "I said, ‘You know what? You can inflate your tires to the proper levels and that if everybody in America inflated their tires to the proper level, we would actually probably save more oil than all the oil we’d get from John McCain drilling right below his feet there, or wherever he was going to drill.’"

(Note: that’s not accurate, as we fact-checked last week. But the larger point about energy savings is correct.)

"So now the Republicans are going around – this is the kind of thing they do. I don’t understand it! They’re going around, they’re sending like little tire gauges, making fun of this idea as if this is ‘Barack Obama’s energy plan.’

"Now two points, one, they know they’re lying about what my energy plan is, but the other thing is they’re making fun of a step that every expert says would absolutely reduce our oil consumption by 3 to 4 percent. It’s like these guys take pride in being ignorant.

"You know, they think it is funny that they are making fun of something that is actually true. They need to do their homework.
ABC fact checked him and found out he was not exactly accurate (though they let him off the hook).  But the more pertinent context was that his opponents were ignorant and therefore not correct to question the validity of his argument.

8.  Burden of Proof Reversal: Obama very recently and very obtusely questioned the claim that the Keystone XL pipeline project would create jobs.
President Barack Obama, who usually deflects questions about the Keystone XL pipeline, made waves this weekend when he questioned jobs claims made about the project and appeared to agree with a recent analysis by environmentalists that concluded the pipeline would raise gasoline prices in the Midwest. “Republicans have said that this would be a big jobs generator,” Obama told The New York Times in an interview conducted last Wednesday and published Saturday. “There is no evidence that that’s true. The most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline, which might take a year or two, and then after that we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 jobs in an economy of 150 million working people.”
Luckily TransCanada responded.  Emphatically.
TransCanada shot back over Obama’s remarks Saturday night in an email to reporters. “We have dealt with criticism of our job number totals for over two years and we stand by them,” company spokesman James Millar wrote. “It is not logical to think a $7.6 billion dollar infrastructure project stretching across the entire breadth of the continental U.S. wouldn’t employ thousands of workers both in the manufacturing sector and in constructing the pipeline.

9. Non-sequitur: The Washington Post of all places has a list of Obama's non-sequiturs on oil resources.  Here's a couple of examples along with some refuting commentary.
“As a country that has 2 percent of the world's oil reserves, but uses 20 percent of the world's oil — I'm going to repeat that — we've got 2 percent of the world oil reserves; we use 20 percent. What that means is, as much as we're doing to increase oil production, we're not going to be able to just drill our way out of the problem of high gas prices. Anybody who tells you otherwise either doesn’t know what they’re talking about or they aren’t telling you the truth.”

— President Obama, speech in North Carolina, March 7, 2012

“The United States consumes more than 20 percent of the world’s oil, but we only have 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves — 20 percent we use; we only produce 2 percent. And no matter what we do, it's not going to get much above 3 percent. So we're still going to have this huge shortfall. That's why if we really want energy security and energy independence, we've got to start looking at how we use less oil, and use other energy sources that we can renew and that we can control, so we are not subject to the whims of what's happening in other countries.”

— Obama, speech on American energy, March 1, 2012
And their summary comments on the claims? While still forgiving, they clearly point out the non-sequitur which can be seen more clearly by reading the entire article than below;
This is a strange case because the facts are technically correct but are used in service of fuzzy thinking. The president should drop this fact, or alter it as we suggested, or he runs the risk of misleading Americans about the extent of the U.S. oil resources.

He is especially on shaky ground when he says “no matter what we do, it's not going to get much above 3 percent.” The estimate of proven oil reserves may change at any moment depending on technological innovations and the price of oil. As we demonstrated, it is largely irrelevant to the supply of U.S. oil that is likely to be recovered — or how much oil the United States has left to consume. The president could also be embarrassed if the EIA suddenly boosts the figure for proven oil reserves.

10.  The Bandwagon Fallacy:  President Obama's oft-repeated claim that he inherited the worst economy since the Great Depression has become the conventional wisdom in many circles and certainly a lot of the media.  But for those of us alive in the early 1980's who lived through unemployment north of 10 percent and interest rates around 20% where people were walking away from unsustainable mortgages know better.  Just because so many people believe the worst economy premise, does not make it a valid premise and therefore a springboard for him to follow it with a string of excuses for the current anemic state of pseudo-recovery.

In my critique of President Obama’s 17-minute campaign documentary, “The Road We’ve Traveled,” I took issue with the claim, now taken as a truism by Obama supporters, that he inherited the worst economy since the Great Depression.

I argued that the economy Ronald Reagan inherited was sicker, and I want to elaborate on that assertion.

In his superb biography of the Reagan presidency The Age of Reagan, Steven Hayward reminds us that the nation’s economic conditions “began slipping toward near panic in the two weeks after the 1980 election.”

Prime interest rates were around 19 percent. Inflation was in double digits, with forecasts that food prices would rise by more than 10 percent in the coming year and energy prices by 20-40 percent. Unemployment stood at 7.4 percent (it would eventually rise to 10.8 percent in the early years of Reagan’s presidency). Housing starts were in free fall. And auto sales were down 10 percent from the previous year.
Yeah, that was worse.
So there you have it - 10 rules, 10 rules violated.  There are plenty more examples of these.  When you can't debate, argue.  That's the real rule in play here for the president.

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