"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Monday, April 16, 2018

Logical Fallacies and Their Discontents

The bad calls are coming from inside the (White) House!

Just because I was mentioning it the other day,  this is how you do ad hominem:

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway ripped into former FBI Director James Comey on Monday after his tell-all interview with ABC News.

Conway, during an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” slammed Comey for not coming forward sooner to discuss his concerns “under oath” regarding Trump and Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“If he really felt like he was saving the country rather than selling books, why did he wait until an interview with you not under oath and selling a book not under oath?” Conway asked Stephanopoulos, whose highly anticipated interview with Comey aired Sunday night.

Stephanopoulos quickly pointed out that Comey had already done just that.

“Well, he actually answered a lot of those questions under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee last year,” Stephanopoulos told Conway.

Conway, undeterred, continued to rant against Comey and the allegations in his new book A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, And Leadership, set to be released on Tuesday.

Comey “loved being alone in the Oval Office. He wanted a piece of it,” Conway said. “This is somebody who’s not under oath in interviews and writing a book. And this is somebody who’s given a revisionist version of history. The president hardly knew the man.”

There's nothing Kellyanne Conway said about James Comey that isn't an ad hominem.  Nothing she says has anything to do with what Comey said in interviews or his new book.  Everything she said goes to trying to destroy his character, to remove one of the key elements of argument, according to Aristotle:  ethos.  Per Aristotle, if the audience doesn't think the speaker is of good character, they won't listen to his/her argument, however sound and well-reasoned it is.  Is the White House banking on that?  Well, even Meghan McCain seems to have gotten the memo:

Conservative co-host Meghan McCain said that it seems Comey can’t decide how he wants to categorize himself. Either he’s claiming to be a Boy Scout defending the FBI, she said, or he’s trying to be a pundit.

McCain recalled a Daily Beast article out Monday quoting existing FBI agents, who feel the comments from Comey are self serving or arrogant.

“He seems to love the media,” McCain said, parroting a talking point repeated twice by Kellyanne Conway Monday. “Which is fine if you’re doing what we do, but not when you’re the head of the FBI.”

“Well, he’s no longer the head of the FBI,” Hostin noted.

“There’s also his leaking as well,” McCain later said. “Because he leaked through his friend who is a Columbia professor. I’m sorry, but –”

“But he was no longer an FBI official,” Hostin explained again.

“Leaking is a cardinal sin in all forms of politics,” McCain said. “And it sure as hell is in the FBI — in or. And I will say, if you have some information to say have the cojones to do it on TV. Let it come out of your own mouth, not some lawyer that is now apparently working for you but wasn’t at the time. There are way too many conflicts like this, and if you are leaking anything, in or out out in any situation in politics, it is a cardinal, cardinal sin.”
Nobody on Trump's side wants to talk about what Comey has to say, or what the facts are; they just want to talk about Comey's bad character, his ethos, and why you shouldn't listen to him.  They aren't even attacking Comey's ideas; just Comey personally.

That, for all you who feel offended in internet arguments, is how you do ad hominem.  If that's not what's being done to you, find another excuse to complain, please.

Also not an ad hominem; at a guess, I'd call it a red herring.  
It certainly isn't relevant to the question of what Comey says Trump did.


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