“Ipse dixit” is one of the more charming Latin phrases you’ll find in legal writing. It translates to “he himself has said it.” (As an aside, Gilbert & Sullivan aficionado’s may recognize that little phrase from H.M.S. Pinafore.) What the phrase means is that the author asserts as authority the fact that he is asserting something as authority. Another way to describe this type of argument is “boot-strapping.” The best way to understand what I’m talking about, though, is to read the incredible love letter that Caroline Siede has written to Hillary Clinton over at Boing-Boing: “To find Hillary Clinton likable, we must learn to view women as complex beings.”
As the title indicates, Siede’s premise is a simple one: Those who don’t like Hillary Clinton are guilty of sexism. Women are complex. Both men and unenlightened women hate complex women. Therefore, because Hillary is a woman, men and unenlightened women hate Hillary. QED.
You can take Siede’s analysis for whatever you think it’s worth. What I found more interesting was what I discovered when I followed up on her innumerable hyperlinks. The hyperlinks, of course, are meant to imply that every statement Siede makes is factually valid. In fact, though, following the hyperlinks more often than not led to people saying “this fact is true because I say it’s true.” I’ve dealt with lawyers who write legal briefs like that. You’ll find a hundred case citations in the brief, none of which are on point. They exist merely to lend heft to an otherwise invalid argument.
To illustrate my point, let me take just the first two paragraphs from Siede’s love letter to Hillary and to all misunderstood, complex women everywhere, and then walk you through the hyperlinks:
Whether you realize it or not, you’ve spent your entire life being trained to empathize with white men. From Odysseus to Walter White, Hamlet to Bruce Wayne, James Bond to the vast majority of biopic protagonists, our art consistently makes the argument that imperfect, even outright villainous, men have an innate core of humanity. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Good art should teach us to empathize with complex people. The problem comes not from the existence of these stories about white men, but from thelack of stories about everyone else.
That’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot during this increasingly insane presidential election season. Particularly as I try to wrap my head around the fact that Hillary Clinton is on one hand the most qualified human being to ever run for president of the United States, and, on the other, one of the most disliked presidential candidates of all time. In fact, Donald Trump is the only candidate who is more disliked than Clinton. And he’s not only overtly racist, sexist, and Islamophobic, but also unfit and unprepared for office. How can these two fundamentally dissimilar politicians possibly be considered bedfellows when it comes to popular opinion?
And here’s a breakdown of the hyperlinked items in the above two paragraphs:
“you’ve spent your entire life being trained to empathize with white men“ — If you think following that link will lead you to some fact-laden study proving that 98% of all American school children learn only about, and are taught to sympathize with, white men, you’ll be wrong. I doubt you would think that, of course, because like me you’re pretty sure that no such study is possible given that those white men who haven’t already been banished from American classrooms (e.g., Churchill, Shakespeare, etc.) appear in classrooms only to be damned (Founders were all misogynistic slavers, etc.).
What you’ll probably never guess is the authority Siede picked for her claim that Americans are brainwashed to favor white men: It’s a movie review. A movie review at Vox:
It goes a little like this. The person who’s just seen the film stumbles out of the screening, staring at a friend with haunted eyes. “That’s the best movie I’ve seen in ages,” they say, before pausing for a moment, blinking. “And it was about sad white people.” Then they laugh, slightly amazed. And, indeed, its story of one man’s attempts to put his life back together in the wake of his brother’s death hits all the Sad White People buttons.
I say this not to imply that movies about sad white people are inherently terrible or anything like that. Indeed, some of the very best American films — including the granddaddy of them all, Citizen Kane — are fundamentally about trying to solve the aching emptiness at the center of some white guy’s soul. (It’s occasionally a white woman — especially on TV — but very rarely a person of color.)
So the “proof” for Siede claiming that we’re programmed to be hostile to women and support sad white men is a movie about sad white people. Oh, and of course, you have the film reviewer’s assurance that there are other American movies that are about sad white men. There. You can begin unprogramming your brain now.
“From Odysseus to Walter White, Hamlet to Bruce Wayne, James Bond to the vast majority of biopic protagonists, our art consistently makes the argument that imperfect, even outright villainous, men have an innate core of humanity.” This link actually has data: Although men make up 50 percent of the population, they feature in 65 percent of biopics. How sexist of Hollywood (which is staffed at the upper echelons, the decision-making echelons, by oozingly bleeding-heart Progressives).
Because I’m a failed feminist, I feel compelled to note that, historically, women were seldom given the opportunity to act in biopic-worthy ways. Few of them were rulers, business magnates, military leaders, inventors, authors, or composers. To the extent they were (Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth I, Jane Austen, Marie Curie), the entertainment world has milked them for all they’re worth.
On the subject of female war leaders, I’m a little surprised there hasn’t yet been a biopic of Boudica, who almost managed to kick the Romans out of Ancient Britain. Perhaps the fact that she was ultimately a failed war leader who led her troops into a true valley of death after which she committed suicide, may have something to do with Hollywood’s reluctance to touch the subject.
The same linked article also points out something Leftists would do well to remember before they rely too heavily on Hollywood always to have their backs. No matter the — ahem! — principles in Hollywood, the bottom line is always the bottom line: Exciting movies about men make more money than movies about women, whether exciting or not. It’s the same way that people are more excited by watching men play basketball than they are about watching women. I have a theory about this — unbacked by any linkable support — which is that we are biologically programmed to turn to successful men.
In pre-modern times, which aren’t that long ago in human development, the reality of childbirth meant that women could not take upon themselves the tasks of rulers or military leaders. Moreover, another reality, — namely, the fact that the great bell curve of women shows them to be less physically strong than the great bell curve of men — meant that women weren’t able to take leadership positions in fighting, farming, and building.
For a pre-modern society to survive, it needed strong men to protect the family and tribe, as well as to make food available to breeding women. Our lizard brains are still programmed to look for strong men because our lizard brains still view them as the best shot for survival. Sorry, Hillary, but my lizard brain says I’m safer with Donald than I am with you. Moreover, it doesn’t help that you collapsed on 9/11, an emotionally resonant day on which people crave strong leadership.
“Hillary Clinton is on one hand the most qualified human being to ever run for president” — Wow! I want to see the data on that one. That must be some amazing chart Siede is sending me off to that compares Hillary’s accomplishments to, say, Eisenhower’s (successfully leading the entire attack against Hitler), Lincoln’s (a self-made man with a successful career and an exceptional gift for communicating), or Teddy Roosevelt’s (a man who did everything and did all of it damn well). Here is the data on which Siede relies:
How’s that for an ipse dixit argument? Obama himself has said it: The Democrat candidate trying to follow him into the White House is super-de-duper qualified. Well, okay then. I’m sold. NOT.
“one of the most disliked presidential candidates of all time” — Let me first quibble with that “of all time” line. This is exactly the same fallacy into which Leftists fall when they discuss global temperatures. They seem incapable of understanding that, in some contexts, “all time” is a very short time. It was only with the Victorians, a mere millisecond away from us in the earth’s life, that we started collecting temperatures. When Leftists say “the hottest day ever,” they really mean “the hottest day since around 1850, assuming that the temperature measurements back then were reliable and comparable to our measurements today.” (The fact that Leftists constantly mess with the historic temperature record indicates that even they don’t believe the whole “hottest day ever” shtick.)
Likewise, when it comes to measuring a candidate’s popularity or lack thereof, we’re only going back at most to 1935, when Gallup polling first started — and back then the polls apparently weren’t delving into a candidate’s “dislikable” factor. (See this too.) I don’t know when the polling companies started measuring a candidate’s negatives, but I’m willing to guess that the phrase “most disliked presidential candidates of all time” cannot extend back more than 50 years or so.
But what’s a little literary hyperbole among friends? I will even agree that Donald Trump is an extremely disliked candidate in the current election. The ball that Siede is hiding, however, is the fact that as of yesterday there is no statistical difference between Hillary and Donald when it comes to being disliked:
In legal parlance, I call what Siede did lying by implication. It’s a kind of fraud.
“he’s not only overtly racist“ — When I saw a link to the phrase “overtly racist,” I thought, “Oh, boy! Having cast my lot with Trump so as to avoid a Hillary presidency, did I manage to miss the time when he said ‘I hate n*****s because they’re __________.’?” I therefore followed the link with no little trepidation, worried that after a painful election season I’d have to rethink everything . . . again. I need not have worried. The link sent me to an expletive-laden article at a site called The Establishment that assured me that Trump’s supporters are all white supremacists because the author has cracked their code:
If you support Trump, you are a White Supremacist. Full stop. Not just the passive amount of White Supremacy that we all end up participating in, in an inherently White Supremacist system—you are an active, hateful, dangerous White Supremacist.
So yes, half of the U.S. population can be actively working to uphold violent White Supremacy, and yes, Trump’s campaign is violently White Supremacist. Your grandma who supports Trump is a White Supremacist. Your buddy who supports Trump is a White Supremacist. That’s what happens when you actively support White Supremacy. Here’s a sample of what is a vibrant buffet of White Supremacy that Trump supporters are backing:
Make America Great Again is a call to White Supremacy: When was America greater than it is now? The ’60s? The ’50s? The ’40s? How you answer that question depends on how white you are.
Every period of time in U.S. history prior to this one was less safe and less free for people of color, so if you plan on “Making America Great Again” and you are referencing any time in the past—you’re asking for a return of White Supremacy.
Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric is racist as fuck: I’m not saying that if you believe in tighter immigration rules you are immediately a White Supremacist (although you might just be), but if you go about it by insinuating that the Mexicans crossing the border are rapists, and if your proxies are warning of “taco trucks on every corner,” then you are trying to tap into a White Supremacist narrative of the black and brown brute and you are sure as hell dogwhistling that white culture in America is at risk.
Trump’s Islamophobic rhetoric is racist as fuck: Now, before you barge in letting me know that “Islam isn’t a race,” let me please remind you to sit the fuck down. Islam isn’t a race, but Trump’s Islamophobia sure as hell is racist. If Trump and his followers didn’t think of SCARY BROWN PEOPLE when they thought of Islam, Islamophobia wouldn’t exist. If Islamophobia wasn’t racist in nature, we’d treat all problems within other religious communities not affiliated with scary brown people the same way we treat Islam. If Islamophobia wasn’t racist, we’d be trying to “liberate” Mormon women currently being punished for their own rapes at BYU. If Islamophobia wasn’t racist, we wouldn’t have conservative politicians fighting against raising the statute of limitations on child sex abuse so that Catholic priests could finally face justice for their crimes. If Islamophobia wasn’t racist, we would have declared war on “Christian Fundamentalism” after the Oklahoma City bombing and the multiple deadly Planned Parenthood bomb and gun attacks over the years. If Islamophobia wasn’t racist, Trump would be seeking immigration bans on people from ALL countries that produce terrorists (which is basically every country), not just brown ones. But because Islamophobia IS racist, Trump has been able to stir up White Supremacist hatred and fear of the brown “other” and turn it into votes.
I’m too lazy to deconstruct all the logical fallacies in the above. Please have at it in the comments. I’ll just make a few points.
Contrary to the race hustler’s view of history, America’s past was not 100% about race. America’s past greatness involved things such as (1) a growing economy, (2) assimilating immigrants, (3) showing innovation in all spheres, (4) fighting wars to win them, (5) honoring unalienable rights, (6) engaging in a civil war and a civil rights movement to destroy those who refused to honor blacks’ unalienable rights, (7) thinking that being an American was a good thing, etc. These virtues were why people of all races and religions around the world were and still are desperate to get to America.
The reason our government has not officially declared war on Christians (although the gay mafia has) is because (a) Christians across America invariably vehemently denounce those who stoop to murder in order to advance a pro-life cause, (b) there’s nothing in Christian doctrine that is evenly remotely akin to sharia’s demands for worldwide conquest, and (c) we have evidence from around the world that statistically-significant numbers of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims agree with sharia’s demands and that many are aggressively acting on those demands (with ISIS as a particularly vivid example), with America considered a prime target.
Lastly, Trump never said that all Mexicans are rapists. That’s what the media said Trump said. What Trump actually said was that the Mexican government was unloading on America undesirables that it wanted purged from its own shores:
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you,” Trump said while raging against illegal immigration, according to a transcript. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Trump later doubled-down on the same point:
“The largest suppliers of heroin, cocaine and other illicit drugs are Mexican cartels that arrange to have Mexican immigrants trying to cross the borders and smuggle in the drugs. The Border Patrol knows this,” Trump wrote. “Likewise, tremendous infectious disease is pouring across the border. The United States has become a dumping ground for Mexico and, in fact, for many other parts of the world.”
In other words, Trump wasn’t anywhere close to saying that Mexicans are inherently bad. He was simply observing that Mexico treats the U.S. much as England treated the American colonies in the 18th century and Australia in the 19th century: as a place to offload troublemakers.
Is that accurate? I don’t know. Perhaps you can tell me. Certainly we get a lot of news stories about Mexicans who are here illegally and who happen to be pedophiles, rapists, drug runners, drunk drivers, etc.. It doesn’t mean all Mexicans are bad, just as the news stories about white Americans pedophiles, rapists, drug runners, drunk drivers, etc., doesn’t mean all whites are bad.
But here’s the difference. If you get killed by an American-born drunk driver, that’s seriously bad luck. However, if you get killed by a Mexican-born illegal immigrant, that’s an affront because with a working immigration system the immigrant should not have been here in the first place. You weren’t just killed by drunk driving, you were killed by the US government breaking its own laws — and that’s why Americans are infuriated when Mexican raff and scaff comes in, adding its weight to already existing American raff and scaff.
But to get back to the main point, Trump never said a word about Mexican people per se. Instead, contrary to Leftist hysteria and headlines, he merely said that the Mexican government’s policy is to use America as a safety valve: We take the malcontents and troublemakers. We also take the hard workers, who are here not to embrace America and her values but simply to earn money to send back (in the billions) to Mexico, thereby propping up the Mexican economy.
Regarding that last, I’ve long said that our open borders policy is a racist disgrace insofar as it allows the Mexican government’s corruption to continue unabated damaging generations of Mexicans in Mexico:
For purposes of this post, I’m going to accept the Progressive argument at face value: it’s horribly unfair that people south of the Border live in countries rife with crime, sexual violence, drugs and poverty, when we have this perfectly nice, clean, relatively safe country just hovering north of them as a perpetual enticement. And if you buy that it’s all our fault that they suffer so terribly down there, it’s even more unfair.
What the Progressive’s refuse to recognize is that their cute little game of allow a continuous trickle of illegal aliens over the border is a cop-out. No matter how many come in here, there are still a much larger number abandoned way back there. And what’s even worse is that, by allowing utterly corrupt governments (Mexico comes to mind) to have this safety valve, we are giving those governments carte blanche to continue in their reckless, corrupt, abusive ways. As long as we siphon off the poorest and, sometimes, the most criminal citizens, the same governments that are grossly abusing their citizens continue to get a free pass.
I’m more tactful than Trump, but we agree that it’s a disservice to both Latin America and the United States of America to prop up corrupt governments and dead-end societies simply to pander to the delicate sensibilities of ignorant, illogical Progressives.
“also unfit and unprepared for office” — Before I get to the link, let me say that the Constitution does not set out any requirements for fitness or preparedness. The thinking nowadays is that the only person who can be president is a politician who’s been marinated for decades in the sclerotic corruption that is Washington, D.C. or of the politician’s respective state capital.
Looking back on some of our presidents, though, it’s easy to see that George Washington was not a career politician. Abraham Lincoln was not a career politician. Ulysses S. Grant was not a career politician. Dwight Eisenhower was not a career politician. However one ranks their presidencies, these men managed to hold office despite not having come up through the political ranks.
Trump is a manifestly bright man who constantly outplays the media (as he did just today); who has learned from every one of his business endeavors, whether they were successful or not; who has a knack for out-of-the-box thinking; and who is known for getting things done. For people disgusted by an out-of-control government that destroys American culture (self-sufficiency, individual liberty, a free market, etc.), the American economy, and American national security (our military is now about winning climate change, not wars), without doing anything to advance American interests at home and abroad, the thought of Trump The Disrupter is appealling.
On its face, therefore, I disagree with the claim that Trump is “unfit and unprepared,” especially when compared to Hillary. Apropos Hillary, one of my favorite party tricks is to ask people what Hillary has accomplished during her long career. They always recite the offices she’s held. So I next ask, “No, what has she done while in those offices?” I’m invariably told that she traveled a lot, that she’s a woman, and that she cares about children. Rare accomplishments indeed. Actually, not so much. They describe me too.
Back to that link, though. What you’ll find when you follow the link is Keith Doberman . . . er, Olbermann listing 176 reasons (!) why he thinks Trump shouldn’t be president. Those reasons include these gems:
“The Republican party has actually nominated for president a man who attacked the Pope.” I was unaware that the Pope was sacred and cannot be challenged. Follow the link and you’ll learn that Trump said the Pope is foolish not to stand with the west against ISIS, which is perfectly true. I attack the Pope myself. I think he’s a Marxist moron who emerged from the swampland of Latin America’s Leftist liberation theology. I applaud Trump for not mouthing pieties about a man who is, at best, foolish and, at worst, dangerous.
“Who attacked Mexicans as rapists, bringing drugs and crime.” I discussed this above; it’s another Leftist canard.
“[Trump] attacked the United States of America and claimed it is in a ‘death spiral.'” Yeah, Trump and everyone else. A recent poll says 80% of Americans think our country is headed in the wrong direction.
Olbermann also lists all sorts of “alleged” lies, such as Trump’s claim to have seen people dancing in the streets after 9/11. He did, just not thousands and not in New York itself, and he probably saw it on TV, not in person. And here we get to another bit of legalistic hair-splitting on my part.
In the law, there is a difference between puffing and fraud. Puffery is allowable exaggeration. For example, when a manufacturer claims that its product is the best of its kind ever, we all understand that the manufacturer doesn’t need to prove that. It’s an allowable bit of color and exaggeration that we assume reasonably intelligent people can handle without being deceived into accepting it as received truth. Outright fraud, on the other hand, would be to say that the product is hand sewn by expert craftsman in small Italian villages when it’s actually made on an assembly line in Mexico.
Donald is a puffer, and I think most of his supporters understand that. Most accept that, while he may work on a wall (the building of which Congress already passed into law long ago), the wall is as much as anything a shorthand metaphor for restoring rigor to an immigration system that, under Obama, makes no pretense of following any laws at all. Likewise, when he says that Mexico sends us its rapists, Trump supporters don’t believe all or most Mexicans are racists. They just understand that one of the problems with a broken immigration system is that we are no longer able to exercise a sovereign nation’s right to have some control over the quality of people who enter the country.
Hillary, on the other hand, is a liar. She’s not boasting. She’s not using shorthand signals. She isn’t exaggerating for effect. She’s just telling out-and-out lies. She lied long ago about Travelgate. She lied about Whitewater. She lied about Benghazi. She lied about her email server. She was an accomplice to Bill’s lies about the women he slept with, harassed, and assaulted. Hillary will look at you and say black when she knows that it’s white. Those are an endless series of frauds against the American people and the media enables her — which is why people hate the media. Bernie’s supporters, incidentally, are finally figuring all of this out for themselves.
I’m not sure how to wrap this up. I’ve been working on it for hours because I’ve been interrupted dozens of times, which slows me down. I guess my bottom line is that, whenever you read something insulting Donald or lauding Hillary, check your sources. If the love letter I looked at is any indication, the sources are as false as the claims in the article.
One thing about those interruptions: Even though I couldn’t blog, my Watcher’s Council friends are blogging away. You can keep current on news and analysis by going to WOW! Magazine, the new Watcher’s Council collaborative politics and current affairs online magazine.