Posts Tagged ‘False dichotomies’

Given how bowel-scrapingly loathsome Donald Trump is, it seems almost unseemly to attack any of his enemies, no matter how despicable. So, I’ve mostly — as have most Trump critics — been reserved of late in my criticism of the Clintons, Obama, et al.

No more.

Hillary Clinton just launched a straight-up McCarthyite attack on both Representative Tulsi Gabbard (long-shot hopeful for the Democratic nomination) and 2016 Green Party candidate Jill Stein, calling both of them “Russian assets.”

That strongly implies that both of them were consciously working with the Russians to undermine American democracy. Clinton’s evidence of that? None whatsoever. She makes the extreme stretch of concluding that since the Russians were sowing chaos in 2016, and now, and that some of their bots were promoting both Stein and Gabbard (along with many others on all sides of the fence — in order to sow chaos), that Stein and Gabbard are somehow “Russian assets.”

Her charge against Gabbard is that the Russians are supposedly “grooming” her to be a third-party candidate. The problem here is that Clinton offers no evidence whatsoever of this, and that Gabbard months ago emphatically stated that she will not run as a third-party candidate.

Why would Clinton launch such slanderous attacks on Stein and Gabbard? It’s obvious: She wants to destroy the most leftist candidate in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party (not that Gabbard doesn’t have major problems — she does: among other things she’s apparently a Hare Krishna, which would render her unelectable) and also to close off debate, to limit our electoral choices to the two major parties, the two wings of what Ferdinand Lundberg correctly called “the Property Party.”

Following Obama’s gross betrayal of the people who elected him — he saved the banks, not the people who lost their jobs and their homes — the corporate-Democrat/Republican good-cop/bad-cop mugging of the American public was wearing thin. It became all too obvious that the “good cop” was the junior partner in the looting of damn near all of us.

What better way to parry this growing realization than through false dichotomy.

Part and parcel of our sick parody of democracy is the pretense that the two wings of the Property Party, the Democrats and Republicans, are the only “realistic” choices, and that votes for third-party candidates against this rapacious duopoly are “wasted.” Or, even more grotesquely, that those who vote for third-party candidates or who abstain are somehow — in a classic example of false dichotomy — on the side of the “bad cop,” the Republicans (or their supposed Russian overlords).

Let’s please remember that in 2016 only 59% of those eligible to vote in the presidential election actually bothered to vote. Of the 100% of those eligible to vote, Trump got 26%, Clinton 28%, minor party candidates 5%, and 41% were so disgusted or demoralized that they didn’t even bother to cast a ballot.

Rather than address why over 40% of the American electorate found her and Trump so unattractive that they didn’t even bother to go to the polls, Clinton is attacking outliers and doing her best to tighten the Democratic/Republican duopolistic choke hold on our sad pretense of democracy.

She’s not attempting to broaden democracy, she’s attempting to strangle it.

She is utterly loathsome.

More tomorrow on her disgraceful record. (She should be locked up, but not for the reasons Trump and his minions trumpet.)



We started this blog in July 2013. Since then, we’ve been posting almost daily.

When considering the popularity of the posts, one thing stands out:  in all but a few cases, popularity declines over time.

As well, the readership of this blog has expanded gradually over time, so most readers have never seen what we consider many of our best posts. Because of this, we’ve been putting up “best of” lists for that last two weeks.

Here are the lists we’ve already posted:

And here are our final 2015 “best of” lists:



We’ve all heard this “argument” over and over. It’s so common that I don’t even need to cite examples. It’s constantly used by left and right, and by religious believers of almost all stripes.

Bring up in conversation some horror committed by a government or religion, and an apologist for that government or religion is sure to say, “But what about…..” and then bring up some horror committed by another government or religion. The basis of this “argument”–“stratagem” is more accurate–is the assumption that human rights violations or other atrocities are excusable as long as the apologist can point to worse human rights violations or worse atrocities committed by other entities.

This “argument” plays straight into the hands of the powers that be, at home and abroad. Follow it to its logical conclusion, and you can justify any human rights violation or other atrocity short of the Holocaust. To the extent that people buy this “argument,” governments and religions have greater latitude to engage in evil–as long as other governments and religions are perceived to be committing worse evils.

That’s how it played out in the U.S. during the Cold War, when right wingers in the U.S. routinely dismissed concerns about racism, civil liberties violations, and widespread poverty,  by pointing to the Soviet Union. The end result of this demagoguery was the weakening of attempts to end these evils in the United States, and demonization of those working to end them.

At the same time, all too many American left wingers were (and still are) pointing to those same evils to excuse human rights violations, including suppression of free speech and imprisonment and execution [in the ’60s and ’70s] of political prisoners, in Cuba. The end result of this has been to legitimize the Castro dictatorship and to sweep its human rights violations under the rug.

Invariably in such apologetics, there’s an underlying false dichotomy: the belief that there are only two choices, that when confronted with two evildoers your only choice is to support one or the other. But a moment’s thought reveals that there is always a third choice. It’s entirely possible to oppose human rights violations no matter who commits them. It’s entirely possible to oppose human rights violators of all stripes–including those on your side of the political (or religious) spectrum.

Why do those who utilize the “But what about…..” stratagem do so? The most charitable explanation is that they use this red herring because they don’t know any better, because they’ve never thought about it. All their lives, they’ve heard this “argument” used over and over again, and have never heard its underlying assumptions challenged. All their lives, they’ve been presented with false dichotomies, and have never heard them challenged. So, they repeat this contemptible “argument” in parrot-like fashion.

A less charitable explanation is that they’re deliberately using a deceptive argument for partisan purposes.

If you consider yourself an advocate of human rights and have used this false argument, have uttered “But what about…..” to excuse evil, please be consistent. Please stop being a  hypocrite. Please condemn all human rights violations and atrocities, and all those who commit them, no matter who they are.