Silly arguments


Be calm in arguing, for fierceness makes error a fault and truth discourtesy. —George Herbert

Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work.–Mark Twain

I’ll sing like a bird.–John Dean

I’m all in favor of serious discussion that’s based on facts from reliable sources. Allusions, anecdotes, and sound bites? Not so much.–constituent comment on Tom Reed’s facebook page 12/11/18

Silly arguments in favor of a Southern border wall seen or heard on facebook:

  • A country without a border is not a country!
  • A wall will keep drugs out.
  • A wall is the “proper tool for the job.”
  • Opposition is  “political.”
  • Most Americans want it.
  • GOP added seats in the Senate.
  • A wall is like a front door.
  • Obama did what he did, so Trump can have his wall.
  • It needn’t be a concrete wall; it could be a steel wall.–Tom Reed
  • No one really wants a long wall, so a short wall is a reasonable compromise.–Tom Reed

Silly arguments heard on TV news:

  • Trump is a good President, so his crimes don’t matter. –Senator Hatch
  • Cohen’s conviction has nothing to do with Russia, so it doesn’t matter.
  • It’s all Cohen’s fault–as a lawyer he should have known better than to do as asked.
  • Campaign finance violations, if any, are no big deal.
  • The Logan Act has seldom if ever been enforced, so violations don’t matter.
  • Campaign officials’ communications with the Russian government, if there were any, were all proper.
  • If Congress should move to impeach, it would only reflect dirty politics rather than “dirty deeds.”
  • What about Hillary Clinton?

Tom Reed’s view, that there is little substance to current political debates, which are no more than “political theater,” is fishy. Will we agree to spend billions based on political theater? If we do, it won’t be the first time.

Theater, along with other arts and sciences, might help guide us if is honest theater, more than allusions, anecdotes, and sound bites.


Posted in 2018, Campaign Finances, Campaigning, Trump | 2 Comments

Our misperceptions

punditWe Americans don’t know as much as we think we do. For example, only 59% of us guess that the most Americans killed by others are killed with firearms. Here is more data from the IPSOS study of misperceptions in various countries. This data if for the United States:

Question Average guess Actual Fact
Use of renewable energy 26% 9%
Infant vaccinations 73% 95%
How many are immigrants 29% 15%
How many are Muslims 14% 1%

Our ignorance may explain why we find it so hard to agree on what is fact. The IPSOS site has a quiz for those who might like to test their knowledge.

Posted in 2018, Gun Violence, Health Care, Immigration | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Will Tom Reed vote for Nancy Pelosi?

PelosiWith the facts on our side, we stood up to hypocrisy and disinformation from liberal politicians like Andrew Cuomo, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi… — Tom Reed reelection campaign mailing


Will Tom Reed vote for Nancy Pelosi? It seems unlikely, but he has committed to do so.

The Problem Solvers Caucus, with Rep. Tom Reed of Corning leading its Republican contingent, compromised on its demands and won enough concessions to agree to support Nancy Pelosi for House Speaker.–Mark Mulville/Buffalo News


When the Problem Solvers Caucus gets to 75 percent agreement on a bipartisan proposal, including 51 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of Republicans, the Caucus agrees to take the position as one group. —Will Reinert, PR NewsWire

Reed’s vote doesn’t matter; Nancy Pelosi doesn’t expect, seek or need his support. It is very unlikely that Reed or any Republican will vote for Nancy Pelosi, but it will be interesting to see how Reed explains his vote if he disregards his commitment.

Of course every Republican could vote for Nancy Pelosi in a show of bipartisanship. Their votes wouldn’t matter, but no Republican would then stand out as a rebel.

Note: According to the Buf News editorial, the rules agreed to are these:

  • Any bill with at least 290 co-sponsors can come to a floor vote.
  • Amendments with at least 20 co-sponsors from each party would be prioritized as the Rules Committee prepares legislation to move to the House floor.
  • The discharge petition process, which allows lawmakers to force bills to the floor for a vote, would be modernized so that such measures could come to the floor more quickly and on any day the House is in session.
  • The procedure called “the motion to vacate the chair” would be reformed so that organized groups on the far sides of the political spectrum – right or left – could not so easily threaten a coup to oust the speaker.


Posted in Reed's Views | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Rep. Mark Pocan on No Labels

No LabelsRep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) on “No Labels” (I think we already knew.)

No Labels is slick, and I got duped. But no other current or newly elected member of Congress should fall for its shtick. No Labels is a centrist, corporate organization working against Democrats with dark, anonymous money to advance power for special interests.

Congressman Mark Pocan represents Wisconsin’s 2nd District and is the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Posted in Campaigning, Political | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

What we never used to see on cable TV


“I have publicly stated my opposition to and outrage at Charter’s conduct on numerous occasions. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for boycotting the network and encourage other officials to do the same. Consumers must be made aware of the abuses of Charter Spectrum, which the network has conspicuously failed to report on any of its broadcasts. Consumer pressure will affect Charter’s bottom line, which is obviously their only concern.” — Gov. Cuomo

  • Display stuck
  • Voice and video out of sync
  • “Loading”
  • “No internet”
  • “Service not available, try again later.”

Was it legitimate for Spectrum News to promote Gov. Cuomo’s rivals? Does Spectrum not invest in improved service because of Gov. Cuomo’s complaints?

Posted in Media | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Does election make one wise?

truthHistory has tried hard to teach us that we can’t have good government under politicians. Now, to go and stick one at the very head of the government couldn’t be wise.
— Mark Twain, New York Herald, 26 August 1876

Does election to political office make one knowledgeable and wise? Some politicians seem to think it does. For example, Donald Trump:

  • Says he is invariably the smartest person in the room.
  • Could learn all there is to know about nuclear weapons in a short while.
  • Has a superior knowledge of military science, trade, international relations, manufacturing, climate science, and more.
  • Is too intelligent to accept the views of experts on climate change.
  • Has blessed us with the most successful administration ever.
  • Relies on his gut rather than other’s brains

Do we believe it? I hope not.

Tom Reed, a country lawyer, now claims expertise in:

  • health care policy.
  • Agriculture, farming
  • manufacturing in which he has no education or experience.
  • international trade.
  • knows that professional economists are wrong; he knows better than they do.
  • tax law.
  • parliamentary rules.
  • and more.

Do we believe it? I hope not.

George W. Bush, believing he knew better than the generals, fired those who advised that war with Iraq would be difficult, and went with his gut. He was wrong. He believed that a surge in American soldiers would solve the remaining problems; again he was proved wrong.

We have a right to expect caution and wisdom of elected officials, but not necessarily expertise. That’s why Congress needs to hold hearings to learn the views of experts. Rather than imagine that they have requisite knowledge, they should listen to experts who do.

When politicians claim to know about something, ask what they have read, who they have consulted, why they think they know.


Posted in Economics, Political, Reed's Views, trade, Trump | 3 Comments

House Rules


Small potatoes

Emily Birnbaum, writing for The Hill on Nov. 26 reports:

Nine Democratic members of the Problem Solvers Caucus are urging prospective Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to back three rules changes as she aims to drum up enough support to lead the House.

What are these three changes, one might wonder. Here they are:

  1. The first proposal would require that any legislation that achieves 290 cosponsors — three-fifths of the House — be debated and get a timely floor vote.
  2. The second would mandate that any amendment with at least 20 cosponsors from both parties would get a debate and a vote.
  3. The final proposal says every member in every new Congress can introduce one bill on the committee on which he or she serves that would be guaranteed debate and a committee vote as long as the measure is bipartisan and germane to that panel’s jurisdiction.

The House is a large legislative body that can’t operate without rules. Are the proposed rule changes desirable?

The proposed changes don’t appear radical, but may have desirable and undesirable consequences if adopted. The primary effect would be to slightly reduce the power of the Speaker and committee chairpersons.

The first rule change would limit the power of the Speaker to keep popular measures from being considered by the House. While it seems reasonable that popular measures should be considered, past speakers have found reasons to block them. If an elected speaker is irresponsible, this rule change would do little to limit the harm. It the Speaker is responsible, this rule change seems unnecessary.

The second change is more clearly undesirable–it could result in too much time being wasted on amendments supported by special interests. It would reduce the power of the Rules Committee and the Speaker to guide proceedings of the House.

The third change seems highly political–committee members could seek publicity by forcing committee debate on pet bills. I rate this proposal undesirable. If the bill is a good one, it should succeed on its own merit.

It will be interesting to see if any of these proposed changes is adopted, and if so, what impact, if any, it has on legislation considered by the House.

Posted in Congress, Political | Tagged , , | 8 Comments