…as my Greek-American mother used to greet us every Greek Easter morn. You were supposed to respond in kind, but my father’s Greek pronunciation was always so hilarious that I don’t recall that he ever did.
1. Anthony Napolitano and the appeal to authority. Fox analyst “Judge” Napolitano (you’re not supposed to call yourself “judge” after you stop being a judge, but never mind) is suddenly being hailed as a definitive legal authority because he has “broken ranks” (as the liberal websites put it) to argue that President Trump obstructed justice based on the Mueller report. Virtually nothing Napolitano said or opined on prior to this was ever treated by these same sudden fans as anything but the meanderings of a crank, but “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” as someone once said in Sanskrit.
I would never appeal to Napolitano’s authority, though he is far from a crank. He was indeed a lower court judge in New Jersey, he has taught at a law school, and he has written many books. He is not a conservative or a Republican but a libertarian. Like Ron Paul and his son Senator Rand, Napolitano’s ideology is such that he arrives at positions that make it impossible for me to trust his reasoning processes. Notably, he doesn’t think Abraham Lincoln should have fought the Civil War or abolished slavery, saying that it would have been better to allow slavery to peter out peacefully without government intervention. I wonder how the slaves would have felt about that?
He also believes that human life should have full legal rights at conception, and that abortion ought to be outlawed completely. Well, both of those positions—he has others equally extreme—mean to me that as smart as he may be, I don’t know what kind of extremist bats are flying around in the man’s belfry, so while I believe his arguments on obstruction should be judged on their objective merits, that fact that he’s the one making them do not and should not enhance their persuasiveness.
2. Trump Tweets segue...in a tweet, the President claimed that Napolitano asked him to appoint the “Judge” to the Supreme Court, and that his much-publicized obstruction claim is Napolitano’s revenge for the President refusing.
Here the President might learn the lesson of what happens when you have earned the reputation of saying whatever you feel is advantageous or convenient at a particular time, regardless of reality. That’s quite a damning accusation, but who knows, or will ever know, if it’s true? Among the ruthless leadership tips to issue from the lips of Tony Montana (Al Pacino) in the remake of “Scarface” was this gem:
“All I have in this world is my balls and my word and I don’t break them for no one. Do you understand?”
The President has the balls, perhaps, but his word is useless. That’s a terrible handicap for any leader. He might, however, claim another one of Tony’s statements: “I always tell the truth. Even when I lie.”
Tony’s lines were written by Oliver Stone.
3. Post hoc ergo propter hoc. That’s Latin for one of the classic reasoning fallacies, “After this, ergo because of this.” Kentucky Governor Matt Bevins, a Republican, has shown his affection for the false causation theory before, and most recently used it to blame a teacher sick-out for higher pay for an incident where a 7-year-old girl was seriously injured when her 11-year-old brother accidentally shot her. “A little girl was shot, seven years old, by another kid. Because they were somewhere that they weren’t intended to be,” Bevin said.
He’s an idiot. Yes, the sick-out was responsible for the fact that the children were at home rather than in school, but the fact that the home had a gun in it, that the gun was loaded, that the gun was able to be accessed by the children, that the boy hadn’t been trained not to handle guns, and that an 11 year old and a 7 year old were at home without adult supervision all are what the law calls “intervening causation.”
My favorite intervening cause tale was the real wrongful death lawsuit against a state highway authority for a missing detour sign, which caused a motorist to head down a road with construction perils abounding. The motorist was killed….because a plane crashed into his car. “But he would have been there for the plane to crash into if he hadn’t gone down the wrong road because of the missing sign!”
4. Nah, the progressive movement isn’t sliding into anti-Semitism! Not long before a synagogue was attacked in California, the New York Times ran this cartoon in its international edition:
No, of course the 19-year-old shooter didn’t see it, and we don’t yet know what his motive was. However I will expect ( cough) Democrats and their lap-dog media to apply the same logic to this shooting that it has tried to use against President Trump on the occasion of every other “hate-shooting.” That logic would be ‘the shooting was sparked by irresponsible rhetoric from…er, us.”
Democrats have cravenly refused to reject the inflammatory anti-Israel and anti-Jewish remarks by Rep. Omar, and the mainstream media have mostly declined to note and condemn the rising anti-Semitism on the Left. The cartoon is signature significance, and the Times’ retraction note proves it:
Note that there is no apology in sight, nor a clear statement that the cartoon was unfair and untrue. True statements can be offensive, and it can be “an error in judgment” to show the world what you really think.
Error in judgement! If the Times ran a cartoon showing Barack Obama in a minstrel outfit eating a watermelon, would anyone accept that excuse? That wasn’t an error in judgment; it was a publication whose anti-Semitism ethics alarms are as dead as Eichmann. Heck, even Common Sense alarms would have alerted the Times that the cartoon was unpublishable: the paper has been enabling “the resistance” strategy of calling President Trump a Nazi, and now it shows the President wearing a yarmulke? As Glenn Reynold likes to quip, “Worst Nazi President Ever!”
Dominic Green suggested an alternative apology in The Spectator:
We ran a blatantly anti-Semitic cartoon. At a time when anti-Jewish violence and incitement is at levels not seen since 1945, we chose to place gutter racism on our pages. We did this because plenty of our editors share the prejudice of this cartoon; if in doubt, look at our unsigned editorials.
We’re so soaked in this that none of us thought that it might be an error to publish a cartoon with clear precursors in fascist, communist, Arab nationalist and Islamist propaganda. Rather than explain this away in the passive tense, we’re going to name the editors who signed off on this cartoon, and fire them.