Substance or Fluff—What Are Beto O’Rourke’s Legislative Accomplishments?

Substance or Fluff—What Are Beto O’Rourke’s Legislative Accomplishments?

—November 2, 2018

Campus Reform, a Right-leaning news organization that focuses on college-related news, sent a reporter to Texas A&M University to determine student-body voter sentiment about what is perhaps the most talked-about Senate election race of the fast-approaching midterms—that is the Texas Senate election between incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz and his Democratic candidate counterpart, Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke. While the fact that most students interviewed expressed support for Beto over Cruz was not surprising, of interest was the fact that none of the students could name a single accomplishment achieved by the three-term congressman. One student, obviously lacking any sense of irony, suggested that Beto “resonates with young people because we are more aware.”

Hundreds of pundits have already weighed in on Beto, with commentary on the Right generally positing that the “remarkably unremarkable” Beto has never “offered any substantively impressive policy ideas,” nor “led on any notable issues in the House,” while commentary from the Left argues that Beto delivers “substance,” far beyond the “calculatingly cool” charisma that his detractors claim is all he offers.

So, substance or fluff, which is it? Perhaps we should turn to the historic record to determine what, exactly, Beto has accomplished as a legislator. If nothing else, Beto has proven to be an accomplished fundraiser, having raised the most money—more than $38 million—in one quarter of any Senate candidate in history, and on track to raising the most money ever in a Senate campaign.

All that money—more than $60 million and rising—has presumably been donated in support of Beto’s official platform and what he’s said on the campaign trail, because his official legislative record certainly does not lend itself to that level of support. Not that Beto doesn’t take his Congressional job seriously, but his legislative record just doesn’t seem all that impressive. During his almost three terms in office he has sponsored 75 bills and co-sponsored 1,034. Of these only one of his own bills has passed into law, while only 44 of the bills he co-sponsored are now law. Thus, if his own legislation serves as a barometer of success, the pinnacle of his Congressional career is marked by the 114th Congress’s H.R. 5873, which “designate[s] the Federal building and United States courthouse located at 511 East San Antonio Avenue in El Paso, Texas, as the ‘R.E. Thomason Federal Building and United States Courthouse.’”

As for co-sponsored legislation, perhaps the most impressive bills he supported that became law included one which prohibits the manufacturing or importing of multi-line telephone systems that aren’t preconfigured for direct 9-1-1- calls—H.R.582—and a provision which improves U.S. Veteran’s Administration mental health services for veterans—H.R.203. Speaking of veterans, Beto deserves credit for his legislative efforts on their behalf, given that two-thirds of the passed-into-law cosponsored legislation involves veteran’s issues, while more than one-third of his own legislation is designed to support veterans.

Perhaps Beto’s lack of legislative success can’t be held against him given that Republicans have held control of the House of Representatives during his terms of office. Nevertheless, it still calls into question why he receives so much support, financial and otherwise. Part of it is undoubtedly inspired by the Left’s desire to unseat Ted Cruz at all costs. Beto also has that charisma—“Kennedyesque,” as described by many in the media—that Democrats tend to revere in their candidates. Beto’s charisma is such that there is even speculation regarding a future run for the White House by Beto, including talk that he could play a role in the 2020 election if he loses in the midterms.

Beto’s lack of legislative accomplishment reminds us of another charismatic politician who rode into the White House despite a distinct lack of such. But at least three of the four pieces of successful legislation bearing then-Sen. Barak Obama’s name as primary sponsor were a bit more substantial than re-naming a federal building.

—Originally published in Discernible Truth

Twitter Executives Ponder Controls on “Dehumanizing” Tweets, Ignore Most Newsworthy Offender

Twitter Executives Ponder Controls on “Dehumanizing” Tweets, Ignore Most Newsworthy Offender

—August 12, 2018
Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey held a high-level policy meeting Aug. 10, to debate ways to make the social media site “safer for its users.” At least, that’s how two New York Times reporters characterized the meeting. Dorsey reportedly invited the Times reporters to the meeting in an effort to “provide more transparency about Twitter’s decision making.” However, had Dorsey truly wanted to be transparent perhaps he should have also invited a member of the conservative press.

If you happen to be a conservative Twitter user then you can’t be blamed if you might be a bit skeptical about New York Times reporting on the meeting, or, more importantly, on Twitter’s ultimate intentions. If you are a conservative Twitter user, then you are well aware that the social media site, like Facebook, Google, Instagram and others, has been actively trying to stifle conservative voices. In fact, these first days of August have been marked by a significant ramp-up by these Left-leaning sites to purge Right-leaning content from their sites.

At this juncture I could easily go off on multiple tangents to explore this enhanced attack on freedom of speech—the social media ban on Infowars and the Proud Boys, and Sen. Chris Murphy’s (D-CT) demand that social media “take down” more conservative sites, for example—but want to remain focused on the Twitter meeting, as it is so rich with irony, hypocrisy and double standards.

According to the New York Times article, the hour-long meeting primarily focused on “how to rid the site of ‘dehumanizing speech,’ even if it [does] not violate Twitter’s rules, which forbid direct threats of violence and some forms of hate speech.”

Ah yes, those strongly enforced (hah!) Twitter rules forbidding direct threats of violence…. Threaten a liberal, or any of the Left’s sacred cows (illegal immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ et al., Black Lives Matter, feminists, any minority group, etc.), even if in satire, and the Tweet is quickly removed and the author usually penalized with a suspension or other sanction.

However, if you post a Tweet threatening violence against a conservative, it will likely not be removed or sanctioned at all. Just ask President Donald Trump, the recipient of tens of thousands of Tweets threatening his life or otherwise inciting violence against him and/or his supporters. While Twitter administrators occasionally remove such threatening posts, they rarely impose any penalties on the tweets’ authors.

For another great example, “Kill white people” and other tweet themes against white folks tends to be just fine with Twitter. However, Twitter initially made a concerted effort to keep “It’s OK to be White” from trending back in November 2017 after savvy social media pranksters initiated the campaign to show how the otherwise innocuous phrase would be deemed “racist” by the Left. Apparently, it’s not OK to be white, because Twitter suspended some users who used the phrase, deleted some tweets with the phrase, and restricted Twitter users from seeing it in other instances by marking it as “sensitive content.”

And this leads us to Twitter’s Friday discussion about “dehumanizing speech.” The 19 Twitter executives at the meeting, and the two invited New York Times reporters, could easily have found samples of such speech on Twitter by perusing the Twitter history of the New York Times’ own newly named member of its prestigious editorial board—Sarah Jeong, who posted hundreds of tweets disparaging white folks over the past decade.

How about: “Are white people genetically predisposed to burn faster in the sun, thus logically being only fit to live underground like groveling goblins” and “Dumbshit Fucking white people marking up the internet with their opinions like dogs pissing on fire hydrants” for just two examples?

What do you think, “dehumanizing?” While the Twitter executives apparently did not discuss Ms. Jeong’s tweets during the meeting, such tweets were recently deemed offensive by the company. Offensive, that is, when astute double-standard exposer Candace Owens reposted some of Ms. Jeong’s more egregious Tweets (including the two above) as her own by substituting “black” and/or “Jewish” for “white.” Those tweets were promptly deleted and Ms. Owens sanctioned with a 12-hour suspension from the site. While Twitter rescinded the suspension when called out for the double-standard, the point had been made.

Made, but perhaps not taken, as evidenced by the apparent lack of the Twitter executives’ discussion of Ms. Yeong’s “dehumanizing” tweets. Either the New York Times reporters chose to not report on any mention that may have been made about Ms. Yeong’s tweet history, or the Twitter executives accept the New York Times’ patently false Aug. 2, assertion that Ms. Yeong’s anti-white tweets were primarily written in reaction to racist comments tweeted at her and made in satire.

Freelance journalist Nick Monroe examined all of Ms. Yeong’s 100s of allegedly racist tweets and determined that only a dozen or so were made in response to any racist or anti-feminist tweets initially made to her. Satire, of course, is highly subjective, but Ms. Yeong’s former nonstop excoriating tweetfest against white folks seems much more of a noxious brew than a mildly intoxicating elixir.

Bottom line is that given the recent newsworthiness surrounding Ms. Yeong’s anti-white tweets (and the controversy over the New York Times hiring of her) how could they not have been part of the Twitter executive discussion about “dehumanizing” speech on their site? The answer seems to be that either the New York Times buried any such details, or Twitter has no intention of making its platform safer for conservative white folks.

—Originally published in Discernible Truth

Always In Search of Waterways and a Boat With Which to Ply Them

Always In Search of Waterways and a Boat With Which to Ply Them

—January 26, 2017

Whenever I travel to an unfamiliar area I always try to get out on the water. It’s not enough to just feel a sea breeze on my face while taking a walk along a city’s waterfront or by strolling barefoot on a beach. I need to experience the feel of water passing under a boat’s hull. I need to experience the area from the perspective of a sailor, and take regard of the shoreline from the sea instead of regarding the sea from the shoreline. I want to get a feel for the lay of the waterways, a sense of what it might be like to ply these unexplored waters on a regular basis. There is also my sense that “adventure” is much more likely to be found on the water than on land.    

And it’s not just ocean water that attracts me, as I’ve always been drawn to lakes, ponds and rivers, as well. If there is water, I look for boats and/or the means to get on one. Take this long-ago away-game, for example:

Shortly after my first stint in university, I visited my friend, Lee—Mister X—Perkins, in Sacramento. Not much water to speak of there, but after he mentioned a whitewater rafting trip he’d recently taken down the American River, I convinced him that we needed to explore the river further. So we packed a lunch, filled a cooler with beer, bought a cheap blow-up raft at WalMart and drove an hour or so northeast to a known launching area. Lee made arrangements for someone to pick us up at the end of the day at the take out some 20 miles downriver and we proceeded to blow up that raft with a foot pump.

ptru1-5341453enh-z6A few people hanging about at the put-in spot gave us quizzical looks, and one man asked, “do you boys know what you’re doing?”

“Of course we do,” we replied. After all, Lee had recently rafted this river…with a guide and on a sturdy, hard-bottomed raft specifically made for white water rafting.

The man shook his head as if to say, fools rush in where angels fear to tread, and off we went, full of excessive bravado and confidence so common in 20-something-year-old men.

A half mile down the river we entered the first rapids—appropriately named “Meatgrinder,”—as our first impact with an unseen rock punched me in the left butt cheek making me howl out in pain. A couple of more strikes quickly followed, letting us know that perhaps our cheap raft wasn’t made for white water. And then we turned a corner to enter the frothing water of the actual rapids and were quickly upended—bye-bye beer, lunch and the first paddle…

…And only 19 more miles and about 30 named rapids to go!south-fork-river

Somehow we made it. We drifted into the take-out at dusk clinging to the last of the raft’s four air pockets that hadn’t yet been punctured, our bodies covered from head to toe in bruises and gashes. Our driver looked with incredulity at us and the remains of the raft and said, “what were you boys thinking?”

“What?” we replied, our bravado still intact. “That was great!”

On the ride back to our car, we did admit to a bit of discomfort, and agreed that we needed a more robust raft for any such future rafting adventures. We also bemoaned the loss of our beer, lunch and paddles. One small saving grace was that we had inverted our life vests to wear them around our mid-sections like diapers, thus providing a bit of protection to the more sensitive parts of our bodies.

And no, we did not have helmets. But it did not seem to matter much, as apparently we had more bone up there in our noggins than we did brains.       

—Originally published January 17 in slidemoor.com    

Be Like Mr. Spock and Hash It Out With Logic in Mind

Be Like Mr. Spock and Hash It Out With Logic in Mind

“If you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be truth.”

—Mr. Spock, Science Officer/Second Officer; USS Enterprise

So you’re hashing-it-out with your buddy, who seems to have the upper hand and is poised to win the argument, but then you flatly state, “most illogical,” refute the tenets of his argument with ease, and then counter with your own logical brilliance, which proves beyond reproach and not subject to further dispute.

Sound far-fetched?

Well, it doesn’t have to be. All you have to do is be like Spock, and make sure that your side of the argument is logically structured….

OK, so that may prove to be a a stretch, but at the least you should be able to refute any fallacies within your opponent’s argument, which in turn should makes your position in the argument that much stronger. And guess what, fallacies tend to run rampant within context of most everyone (especially politicians) trying to make a case. The key is in being able to A) recognize a fallacy when utilized by your sparring partner, and B) then being able to swiftly articulate how the fallacy renders their side of the argument moot.

And, you didn’t hear it from me, but…familiarity with fallacies will allow you to utilize them when trying to bolster your own piss-poor excuse for an argument.

A fallacy is the use of “invalid” or otherwise “faulty reasoning in the construction of an argument. While some fallacies are committed intentionally in order to manipulate or deceive, many are construed by accident due to carelessness or ignorance.

Fallacies were originally identified by the ancient Greek philosophers, who basically spent their time drinking Greek wine, chasing peplos and hashing out every topic conceivable, from “what is the meaning of life?” to “does the soul reside in the heart or the mind?” to “what would be the best way to get Aphrodite into bed.” While today we at Hash-It-Out! are arguing about who would win the match up between Superman and Batman, some 2,400 years ago Aristotle and his buddies were undoubtedly arguing about who would win the matchup between Ares and Poseidon.

Fallacies can either be “formal” or informal. An argument based on a formal fallacy is always considered wrong, and can be proved so mathematically, while an informal fallacy may have a valid logical form, but may render the argument unsound due to a false premise. While there are less than two dozen recognized formal fallacies, there are more than 50 informal fallacies and numerous sub-variations of these fallacies.

Perhaps one of the most recognized formal fallacies is that of “affirming the consequent,” which mathematically is represented as:

  1. If X then Y
  2. 2. Y
  3. Therefore X

Or to put it in prose:

  1. If it rains my car will get wet.
  2. My car is wet.
  3. Therefore, it rained.

This represents a logical fallacy because it does not account for other possibilities. While the conclusion is an all likelihood true, something else—say, the neighborhood brat with a water balloon—could have caused the car to get wet.

While formal fallacies crop up in arguments, you are probably more likely to face an informal fallacy while you hash it out. In fact, you are undoubtedly already familiar with quite a few of them. Consider these:

Red herring—irrelevant subject matter inserted into the argument to draw attention away from the true subject of the argument.

 

The straw man—basing an argument on a misrepresentation of an opponent’s position.

Ad hominem (to the man)—attacking the opponent instead of the argument.

Appeal to authority—asserting something as true due to the position or authority of the person who asserted it.

Argument from ignorance—Assuming a truth because it has not been or cannot be proven false, or vice versa.

Begging the question—providing the conclusion of an argument as the premise.

Appeal to emotion—argument through a manipulation of emotions, rather than through valid reasoning (this one’s gotta sound quite familiar to all of you guys with girlfriends and wives—Doh! I’m gonna catch it from the girls for this note!).

Argumentum verbosium (proof by verbosity)—one of my personal favorites, in which the speaker utilizes so much jargon and obscure information that the audience is forced to accept the argument in lieu of admitting ignorance or lack of understanding.

So, know that you have a basic understanding about fallacies and logical reasoning, you might want to study upSpock-s-Brain-mr-spock-29467198-632-468 some more before you try to be like Mister Spock.

You can check out this website—Thoushaltnotcommitlogicalfallacies.com—for a more detailed primer on fallacies, or just Google “fallacy” to see what you come up with.

—Originally published March 22 in Hash It Out!