Logic, Standing on Its Head

Long ago, before 80 percent of the world’s current population was born, I had what used to be called a liberal education. (Please recall that “liberal” used to be neither a political word nor a dirty word. But I digress.) One of the things I learned about in the course of that education was logic, which appears to have been abandoned in this Trumpian age.

Consider, for example, our President-Elect’s tweet from November 27 about the popular vote:

In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.

Trump apparently got this idea from Infowars, who got it from God knows where. The media, quite properly, responded, “Nonsense, there is no evidence of this.”

Now consider Trump’s responses to the media’s saying there was no evidence for his statement:

: what PROOF do u have DonaldTrump did not suffer from millions of FRAUD votes? Journalist? Do your job!

: Pathetic – you have no sufficient evidence that Donald Trump did not suffer from voter fraud, shame! Bad reporter.

In other words, don’t expect me to prove what I say, it’s up to you to disprove it. This is the logical fallacy argumentum ad ignorantiam, the appeal to ignorance, which claims that a proposition is true because it hasn’t been proven false.

The appeal to ignorance. Indeed.

Undoing the Election

If enough members of the Electoral College do what they are being asked to do by petitions and by countless newspaper editorials, it’s possible that Trump will not get the 270 electoral votes he needs.

“Rigged,” if it comes out that way, or so Trump will say

A recount has begun in Wisconsin, and recount applications will be filed in Michigan and Pennsylvania too. If all three states were to flip to Clinton, she would have a majority of electoral votes.

“A scam,” Donald Trump has already said

Imagine the uproar we’d have if either of these unlikely things undid the election. Peaceful demonstrations and petition drives would be nothing to it. We’d be better off in every imaginable way, of course, but the Nazi tantrums and violence would go on for a long, long time.

Thats not a reason to leave it as it is, needless to say. There is no reason for that, though it’s probably what will happen. Trump will be inaugurated, and America will circle the drain (and perhaps the wagons) for as long as he’s in office.

I wish most heartily that we could undo this election. Even if we could, though, it’s unlikely that Clinton would be able to govern, even if she were able somehow to win the office. Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate, jackals in House Committees snapping at her, eager to impeach her and lock her up…it’s a lot to ask her to endure.

But on the other hand…Trump.


There’s been a great deal written both during the campaign and since the election about the dangers of “normalizing” Donald Trump. When people talk about normalizing, I think they mean legitimizing – speaking of Donald Trump as though he were a perfectly usual candidate or President-Elect, speaking of his ideas and statements as though they’re reasonable alternatives to “normal” political discourse in the US, and thus legitimate. It also means downplaying or disregarding things that don’t fit the “normal” narrative.

Of course Donald Trump is not a perfectly usual President-Elect. Of course some of his ideas are shockingly abnormal. Of course some of his statements during the campaign are completely beyond the pale in terms of decency or past US political campaigns. Of course he is a racist and a bigot, or is at least willing to lie down with those who are. The mainstream media – after mostly ignoring these things until late in the campaign – has to some extent awakened to this. The Republican party, intent on using Trump to advance its own agenda, has not. To different degrees, both the media and the Republican party are still engaged in normalizing Trump.

Then there’s Stephen Bannon, now chief strategist on Trump’s team, formerly chairman of Breitbart News. The Breitbart site, which does not qualify as “news”, is a web site that is part of the “alt-right”, for which read neo-fascist right. It traffics in white nationalism, homophobia, anti-feminism, anti-Semitism, and fictitious news. Call it what it is: Der Stürmer for modern America. Take a look at the Breitbart site if you never have, or look at a list of some of its greatest hits here. Call Bannon what he is, too: crypto-fascist, Josef Goebbels-lite.

And yet, Bannon is being normalized too. When NPR interviewed him November 17, they allowed him to soft-pedal his alt-right positions and connections. When Paul Ryan was asked about Bannon on November 13, he said he had “no concerns” about his presence on Trump’s staff. And a few media people, whistling in the dark, have said that although Breitbart is pretty bad, Steve Bannon might not really be like that, we can’t tell yet. Uh huh.

On the other hand, a couple of bright spots exist relative to Bannon. There are at least three petitions circulating demanding his removal, one from MoveOn, one from change.org, and one from the SPLC. And as of this writing, 169 senators, all Democrats, have told Trump they want Bannon removed. With the press and the Republicans so keen to normalize, it’s not clear that any of these efforts will result in his removal. But perhaps there is hope.

Random Thoughts After the Election, Part 6:

– I’ve seen WAY too many fake news posts on Facebook since the election, both from the right and from the left. I think the alt-right fake sites are a menace…but so are the sites on the left. Nothing improves if false information proliferates even more across the Web.

Two fact checking organizations I trust are factcheck.org and snopes.com.Both of these sites have been denigrated by the right, but I think without reason. Snopes is entirely funded by advertising (which is potentially, though I think not currently, a problem). FactCheck is supported partly by the Annenberg Public Policy Foundation and partly by donors. They are completely transparent about their funding, which is a good thing. You can support FactCheck here:

Random Thoughts After the Election, Part 5:

– One (very tiny) encouraging thing: the media had earlier reported that Trump was thinking of making Steve Bannon of Breitbart his White House Chief of Staff. Now they are saying this is unlikely, and that the current favorite is Reince Priebus. I’m not a Priebus fan, but putting an alt-right nutcase like Bannon in would be much worse.
– Paul Ryan announced this morning that he wants to focus on privatizing Medicare. This would be a disaster, and it’s also a good test for Trump: if he goes along with it (if it’s passed), it will demonstrate that he wasn’t serious about protecting Social Security and Medicare, as he said he wanted to do during the campaign.
– It’s fascinating to watch the right condemning the protests now occurring, when these same asshats threatened VIOLENT action if Trump was defeated. Apparently sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander in this case.

Random Thoughts After the Election, Part 4:

– Like everyone else, I’m afraid of a lot of things that could happen in a Trump administration with a Republican Congress. One of my big fears — not the biggest, but one that would have a very large effect on me personally — is that they’ll gut or privatize Social Security. I know Trump has said he doesn’t want to touch Social Security, but Paul Ryan and his ilk have been itching to get their hands on it for years. I’m not at all sure I trust Trump to resist this. Not at all.

Random Thoughts After the Election, Part 3:

– Thinking this morning about the Nixon administration, including how it ended. In the end, you could say that democracy triumphed. But it took six years of genuine horribleness to get there — those who are old enough remember. And in the end, it took Republicans of good conscience to help end the mess. Are there Republicans of good conscience today? I don’t know.

– Michael Moore and a few others have pointed out that the Democratic Party needs to begin a concerted drive to elect Democrats at all levels of government, immediately. We need to find the best candidates available for all contests, even those we think are unwinnable because of gerrymandering or demographics, and fund them and run them. And we need to start right now. Today.

Random Thoughts After the Election, Part 2:

– Will Trump even be inaugurated? The Trump University suit at the end of this month may end up preventing that. OTOH, is Mike Pence better, or actually worse?

– How much of this has happened because the Right was right that we educated, liberal folk live in a bubble that makes us not even see people different from ourselves, especially if they’re white? I think Michael Moore has been trying to tell us this.

Random Thoughts After the Election, Part 1:

– The left and Democrats are standing in a circle pointing and blaming each other. Let’s stop. MAYBE Bernie would have won if he’d been nominated, and maybe he wouldn’t have. It doesn’t matter now. If there was ever a time we needed to stand together, this is it.

– The right and Trump supporters are dancing with glee, and still shouting “Lock her up.” Stop this too. Let’s try to look forward, not back.