The “even if” versus the “moreover” way of arguing a point

“You heard Mr. Jones testify that he doesn’t allow his dog to run loose. Even if Mr. Jones’ dog was running loose it could not have bitten Mr. Smith.”

“You heard Mr. Jones testify that his dog did not bite Mr. Smith. Moreover, Mr. Jones doesn’t allow his dog to run loose.”

Before I retired from law practice I always found that the second way of arguing to a jury in closing argument, the “moreover” way, works better than the first way, the “even if” way.  The even if argument confuses the jury.  Did Mr. Jones say that maybe his dog did bite Mr. Smith? The moreover way of stating things makes a clear statement that Mr. Jones denies his dog ever bit Mr. Smith, and a clear statement that Mr. Jones handles his dog responsibly by not letting it run loose and become a neighborhood nuisance.

So long as the testimony made the point that Mr. Jones denies his dog bit Mr. Smith and that he (Mr. Jones) keeps his dog in his own yard, the testimony of the witness can be accurately summarized either way by his counsel in closing argument.  The more persuasive is the “moreover” statement.

This is just as true with more complex subject matter.  Here is a statement about what is likely to happen when a state raises its minimum wage law:

“Even if (contrary to all evidence) states that raised their minimum wage did indeed enjoy higher employment growth than states that did not raise theirs, the foundational economic argument against the minimum wage still stands.”


“All evidence shows that states that raise their minimum wage do not enjoy higher employment growth than states that do not raise theirs.  Moreover, there is a foundational economic argument against the minimum wage on several grounds previously mentioned [or set forth below].”

Again, restating the same argument with “moreover” instead of “even if” is more persuasive.  Every time you find yourself uttering or writing the words “even if” think about whether you could rephrase it with “moreover.”  if so, you’ll persuade more people.

The indictment of Rick Perry is a attack on the rule of law — the very foundation of liberty

Rick Perry demanded the resignation of Rosemary Lehmberg, Travis County DA, after her drunk driving arrest. Lehmberg’s behavior during her arrest for DWI is the real issue and shows she is unfit to keep her job. Perry vetoed legislation for the DA’s office until Lehmberg resigns. The Texas Constitution gives him that power. The veto is what sparked Perry’s indictment, which has been roundly condemned by Democrat newspapers, organizations and pundits. They hate Perry but fear this indictment is so unsound it will backfire on Democrats.

Liberals despise Perry and want to ruin his political prospects, but only the firebrands in Travis County (Austin) are so hate filled they are willing to destroy themselves in the process. The grand jury that indicted a ham sandwich Rick Perry appears to have been a stacked deck.

This episode demonstrates an eternal truth of American politics, as it is presently constituted. That is, conservatives believe liberals are misguided and are always on the wrong course, but do not hold contempt for them. Liberals, on the other hand, harbor the most visceral hatred for conservatives and believe to their core that conservatism is a force of evil in the world that must be eradicated. To liberals, any opposition to whatever they want to do is evil.

Here is the booking video of Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg being booked for DWI. Her BAC is reputed to have been three times the legal limit of .08. In the final frame of this video she points finger gun at the camera. Nice lady.

Rule number one of why you should never argue with cops is that it cannot possibly help you. Your argument must be reserved for the courtroom, and made according the rules of evidence and courtroom decorum. The best way to get the cops to be lenient on you, if there is a way, is to be polite and cooperative and not make any categorical fact statements when you are under the stress of being arrested.

My long-held belief about gun control laws is vindicated by Frank Miniter

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 1.33.45 PM I have long believed that disarming citizens in any country has a perverse effect in the police forces of that country. As citizens become less armed, police become more heavily armed and more violent. Citizen/police contacts become more dangerous to citizens. When asked to explain the basis for this thing I strongly believe, I’ve had a hard time making a clear argument. I think it is true, but I don’t know why it’s true. I’ve considered several possibilities such as criminals becoming more violent since they have less to fear from victims and that in turn making the police more wary and more violent; or more cynically thinking that the cops are just acting like criminals because they also have less to fear from citizens who are not criminals.

Now Frank Miniter in his new book shown above [click the image to go to its Amazon page] has apparently vindicated my long-held belief with actual data from England, a country that is different, but not all that different from the United States.  After all, England is the mother country and the common law of England became the law in the United States after 1789 except as it has been changed by statute or Judicial decisions since then.  It is a verifiable fact that since England outlawed all private firearm ownership in 1997 police shootings of innocent citizens subjects has risen dramatically.  In one to the worst incidents a man carrying a cane was shot dead when an armed response unit mistakenly believed he was carrying a rifle.  Even if the cane had been a rifle the man was not pointing it at anyone and just shooting him should not have been justified. But as the right of self defense has been curtailed for citizens subjects in Britain the right to shoot first and ask questions later seems to have been expanded for police.

Awr Hawkins at Breitbart:

Miniter also highlights the role guns play in undergirding freedom by showing the negative consequences of gun control in the lives of the disarmed. He does this through a brilliantly written history of gun control in England during the last century.

He shows how gun control in England – once allowed following World War I – incrementally increased until the “Firearms Act of 1997 banned the private ownership of handguns almost completely.” In the aftermath, as law-abiding English citizens remained largely disarmed, the police have gone from carrying no arms “to becoming ever more heavily armed.”

Miniter suggests this has resulted in an “emasculation” of the British people via gun restrictions that undermine, rather than sustain, “more liberty, more courage, and a more self-reliant people.”

I always knew it.

Miniter’s book is terrific.  He shows how the gun has sustained freedom and if the gun doesn’t have a similar future in America our liberty in all matters will be in jeopardy.  It’s true that while “God made men, Sam Colt made them equal.,” or “Abe Lincoln freed all men, but Sam Colt made them equal.”  A gun makes an 85-year grandmother equal to a 25-year old home invader, or at least gives her a fighting chance to stop his aggression and save her life.

Awr Hawkins ends his essay this way:

Although Miniter takes various avenues throughout the book, the reader is certain to see that the central point never changes: the gun has been key to freedom’s past and is indispensable to freedom’s future.

Steven Hayward: Rick Perry’s real mugshot

Texas governor Rick Perry had to stand for a mugshot after radical leftist and Travis County attorney Ronnie Earl convinced a grand jury to indict Perry for begin a Republican.

What is Truth?

Truth is that which accords with reality. Those who claim there is no such thing as truth, or that there is only “my truth and your truth” do so because the truth doesn’t work for them. If the truth won’t advance one’s goals or if the truth hurts, then one might not seek the truth and instead seek ways to avoid it. Knowing there is an objective truth that ultimately cannot be avoided, whether we know it or not, is the beginning of wisdom.

Truth is usually the first casualty in demonstrations and protests, such as in Ferguson, Missouri. Truth may eventually emerge: Officer Darren Wilson suffered “orbital blowout fracture to eye socket” during Michael Brown attack and More than a dozen witness say Brown attacked officer.

Robert Frost described a poem as beginning in delight and ending in wisdom. A poem, at least a good one, is then a quest for truth. This short one seems to fit Frost’s definition nicely:

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Random Wisdom

From Random Thoughts by Thomas Sowell:

One of the big differences between Democrats and Republicans is that we at least know what the Democrats stand for, whether we agree with it or not. But, for Republicans, we have to guess.

If politics were like sports, we could ask Israel to trade us Benjamin Netanyahu for Barack Obama. Of course, we would have to throw in trillions of dollars to get Israel to agree to the deal, but it would be money well spent.

Read all the rest here.

Is conservative or liberal wired into our brains?

In A Conflict of Visions Thomas Sowell offers a thesis that suggests we are all born with a tendency toward one of two basic belief systems, or “visions.”  Our vision is our world view. Our own personal way of looking at the world we live in, how we believe that world works. Sowell doesn’t separate the two competing visions as liberal or conservative. That makes sense because he emphasizes that he is talking about mindsets that are primordial and universal in human existence.  For convenience he separates them between a constrained and an unconstrained mindset.  The former sees human beings as having a fixed nature that is largely intractable to change except over periods of time that stretch far longer than historical memory.  The latter, the unconstrained vision, firmly believes that humans are malleable, that every child’s brain is a tabula rasa to be written upon by his future experience and perception, and all of his behavior and beliefs will ultimately conform to whatever is thus written there. This is essentially the nature versus nurture debate.

These two mindsets are not mutually exclusive and most people will exhibit some characteristics of both but will fall mostly into one set or the other.

The constrained vision is sometimes called the tragic vision, mostly by liberals, because they think it’s tragic that human beings are just like the leopard that cannot change its spots.  Conservatives, the real ones, don’t think its tragic at all. It’s just reality.  Refusing to accept reality is tragic.  The unhappiness and failure that comes from not accepting reality and learning how best to live comfortably with it, that is the real source of tragedy in this world.

It’s not so much what one believes to be possible as it is how one believes good things are made possible. If more can be accomplished by people whose vision accepts that we live in a world constrained by natural forces beyond our control, then it is the constrained vision that offers hope for the future.

There is a simple test that may help determine which of these visions is dominate in a person.

Say you are back in school or college and you are in the middle of the final exam in one of your classes.  You are writing away and feeling pretty good about how it’s going.  Then you notice that the guy across the aisle seems to be stretching his neck to copy off your paper.  He’s cheating. The class is graded on a curve, the better he does the higher the curve.  If you’ve got all the right answers and he doesn’t, your grade may be higher.  You’re incensed at him for cheating.  You decide to take corrective action.

You begin to mark down answers you know to be wrong, and the cheater copies them.  You get to the end and you neatly stack up your test papers indicating you’re finished. Then you stall a bit until the cheater gets up to turn in his paper, satisfied that he’s done well with the answers he’s stolen from you.  After he leaves the room you quickly erase all those wrong answers and insert the correct ones.

When the tests are returned a few days later you have an A and the cheater gets an F.

Now the ultimate test question: Is what you did ethical?  Should you be found out and punished for intentionally causing the cheater to get a failing grade?

Invariably, liberals will say what you did was unethical.  Conservatives will say no, the cheater deserved what he got. He’s the unethical one for cheating.

Why the difference? Why is it so predictable?  The difference is that to say what the smart student did was unethical is to fail to look beyond the surface of the entire interaction.  Looking at this episode more thoroughly, thinking it through, we can see there were two distinct acts to be analyzed from an ethical point of view.  The act of one student giving wrong answers to another student, and the separate act of the other student cheating on the exam.  The act of giving wrong answers must be be further analyzed.  It was not so simple as just tricking the other student to adopt wrong answers. The context of the act itself must be considered.  It was done to prevent the cheater from gaining by his wrongful conduct.  The cheater could easily have avoided the result by simply keeping his eyes on his own paper and giving it his best.  He probably would have done better on the exam if he had.

So what we have here is a choice of evils.  To the constrained vision, this is a microcosm of life itself. We are forced to make choices between two things when we might like to avoid them both. But if that is not possible we must choose.  It is better to choose the lesser of the two evils.  The unconstrained vision is so uncomfortable with the thought that the world is not perfect and cannot be made perfect, the holder of that vision will normally avoid thinking it through and will take comfort in declaring that you were unethical to foil the cheater by giving him wrong answers.

It is easier to think like a liberal.  Liberals believe perfection is possible if only the smartest people are in charge.  Conservatives understand that the perfect is often the enemy of the good.  Liberal thinking has been dominate in our culture. That is why we have all the horribly burdensome and destructive social programs in America that do more harm than good.

A good word to add to your vocabulary

hormesis hor·me·sis (hȯr-ˈmē-səs): a theoretical phenomenon of dose-response relationships in which something (as a heavy metal or ionizing radiation) that produces harmful biological effects at moderate to high doses may produce beneficial effects at low doses.
—hor·met·ic \-ˈmet-ik\ adjective

Salt, for example.  We must have salt to live, but a fairly low dose will do.  About 500mg per day according to previous thinking, now perhaps as much as 3,000mg per day is recommended.  As consumption of salt increases it starts to do damage, and will eventually kill the animal that ingests it.  Of course, the same can be said for water.  We can’t live without it, but ingesting the illegal drug known as “ecstasy” can cause one to crave water to such an excess as to result in death. See,  Anna Wood (1995) and Leah Betts (also 1995).

Small amounts of several heavy metals (zinc, copper and iron, e.g.) are needed for good health but are lethal at higher doses.  One could say the same about food in general.  Exerting stress on muscle tissue strengthens it, but too much stress on muscle tears it apart.  I built up my ham strings with exercise, a form of stress; then tore one apart when I slipped on some ice. A little stress good, too much bad.

I say all this by way of introduction to criticism of the current hysteria on the part of global warming alarmists to the release of increased amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.

At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in 1750 the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere was about 3 parts per 10,000.  Percentage wise, that is 0.03%.  Say it this way: Three one-hundreths of one percent.  Compare that to nitrogen-78%; oxygen-21%, argon-0.9%; water vapor varies from zero to 4%.  Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution the level of CO2 in earth’s atmosphere has increased from 3 parts per 10,000 to 4 parts per 10,000, or from 0.03% to 0.04%.

Water vapor is the most important greenhouse gas and it makes life on earth possible for most of its living inhabitants since without the retention of heat from the sun caused by the greenhouse effect of water vapor the surface temperature on earth would be a near constant minus 18º C, 0º F. All water outside of Yellowstone would be ice, and life as we know it would not be possible.  Even the geysers in Yellowstone would become columns of ice. Old Faithful would be a column as high as the clouds, except there would not be any clouds.

CO2 is also a greenhouse gas but surely contributes much less to the greenhouse effect because it is such a small part of the atmosphere. CO2 is also necessary to life on earth; all plant life depends on it every bit as much as we depend on oxygen.  CO2 might be said to be hormetic. In a high enough percentage of the atmosphere it might make the earth so warm as to make life just as unlikely as a complete absence of any greenhouse gas would do.

Without CO2 plants and trees would die, and so would we because it is the plants and trees that make the oxygen that we breathe.  Increased CO2 no doubt also increases plant life, which in turn consumes CO2 tending to hold CO2 levels at the current low percentage of the atmosphere.

At some point, of course, all standing room on earth would be taken by tree trunks but thinking this way is known as reduction to absurdity, and is not worthy of serious concern.  Given conditions in the streets of New York City in the year 1885 one could just as well have predicted that by the year 2000 the entire city would be covered over by a layer of horse manure 10 feet thick.

If we’ve only increased CO2 from 3 to 4 parts per 10,000 in the last 264 years, I’d say things are going along swimmingly and the wizards of brilliance on the U.S. Supreme Court who have agreed with the EPA to classify CO2 as a pollutant to be regulated should find something more constructive to do with their power.

Power in the hands of mortal human beings is itself an example of hormesis. A small amount exercised wisely can do good. Wielded arrogantly (and ignorantly) it tends to be abusive, and can do much damage to the flourishing of life on earth.

For liberals, government is the unicorn

The unicorn has all the powers you can imagine for it.  Liberals looks at government that way.  It can do anything they want it to do.  This is, of course, insane.  Government wrecks everything it touches because being a monopoly wherever it acts, it suffers no penalty for its failure. Without that necessary feedback loop government cannot learn from its mistakes.  The elected politicians can lose the next election; the bureaucrats can lose their jobs.  But that is little different than when the police take a drug dealer off the streets and the next in line jumps in to take that slot.  The next set of politicians and bureaucrats continue on with the same carnival show, or a slightly changed one that is just as intractably incompetent.

Right now the City of Detroit has nearly a new set of politicians and bureaucrats.  The former ones are either retired, fired or in jail.  Detroit is still a mess and the bureaucrats are blaming it on global warming. As the French say, Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

I’d like to say that the government being a unicorn for liberals is my original thought, but the idea actually comes from Duke economics professor Michael Munger:

When I am discussing the state with my colleagues at Duke, it’s not long before I realize that, for them, almost without exception, the State is a unicorn. I come from the Public Choice tradition, which tends to emphasize consequentialist arguments more than natural rights, and so the distinction is particularly important for me. My friends generally dislike politicians, find democracy messy and distasteful, and object to the brutality and coercive excesses of foreign wars, the war on drugs, and the spying of the NSA.

But their solution is, without exception, to expand the power of “the State.” That seems literally insane to me—a non sequitur of such monstrous proportions that I had trouble taking it seriously.

Public Choice economics that Professor Munger refers to is the realization that politicians and bureaucrats make decisions based on what they perceive to be their own personal interests, not the public interest. That’s what we all do, and getting a government job or winning an election does not change our basic natural tendency to look out for number one.  What is always needed is not to elect or hire the right sort of politician or bureaucrat that will always act selflessly, but to have the right kind of a system where human natural propensities can do the least harm.  That was the goal of America’s founding fathers who understood public choice politics long before James Buchanan gave it that name and won the Nobel Prize for his work.

The so-called Millennial generation, those born between about 1984-1996, exhibit the exact schizophrenic thinking that Prof. Munger noticed among his friends in academia.  They tell pollsters they distrust government; and they want the government to solve every problem they can imagine. They want the government to provide everyone with a guaranteed income, they want government to run the health care system, they see this government they do not trust as the solution to every ache and pain in their lives. The government is their unicorn.

There have been many “ages” in art, literature and politics. At the end of the Middle Ages was the Italian Renaissance. The 17th Century in England and the 18th Century in the American colonies are known as an Age of Enlightenment. That was followed in the early 19th Century with the Romantic Age in art and literature. Then came the philosophy of Naturalism and Realism.  The period from 1900-1917 is called the Progressive Era in American politics.

The Millennials tempt us to conclude that the time we live in presently will come to be known as the age of mass stupidity and ignorance.

Sheriff Clarke Defeats Bloomberg!

happy2This is soooo… delicious. Nannie Bloomberg dumped $150,000 into this sheriff’s race to defeat Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke. Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele is widely rumored to have contributed $300,000 of his own money to defeat Clarke, although Abele has neither denied nor admitted this. That means he did.

Bloomberg and Milwaukee’s leftist establishment have saved their most visceral hatred for Sheriff Clarke because he’s a staunch Second Amendment supporter who advises citizens to get a gun and learn how to use it in order to defend themselves from criminal attack. This makes the soft-on-crime lefties apoplectic with rage. They thought this was finally the time they were going to get Clarke out of office. They found their knight in shining armor in City of Milwaukee police lieutenant Chris Moews who wanted to be sheriff so bad he was willing to suck up to all left-wing groups in Milwaukee county. Moews stated that if he became sheriff he would not honor an ICE warrant against an illegal alien, and would help the left wingers turn Milwaukee county into a illegal immigrant sanctuary.

Sheriff David Clarke

Sheriff David Clarke

The specter of a sanctuary city and county offered by Moews may be what turned even Democrat voters [there are no Republican voters in Milwaukee] away. Plus the fact they have been voting for Clarke for sheriff for the past two election cycles and generally like him.

sheriff David ClarkeChris Abele probably wanted to see Clarke defeated because Clarke is an outspoken critic of the soft-on-crime policies by the court system in Milwaukee County, aided and abetted by the county government of which Abele is the chief executive.  Milwaukee is becoming almost as crime ridden as Chicago.

Sheriff David Clarke is the one public official trying his best to change that.  Some of the lefties were saying they wanted to take Sheriff Clarke’s horse away from him.  Actually, the horse Clarke rides is owned by him.

Clarke won by nearly 4,700 votes in a small turnout election. It was the Democrat primary. The winner of the Democrat primary is automatically the winner of the general election in November because their is no Republican primary and no Republican on the ballot in November.  Milwaukee does not have enough Republicans for any Republicans to ever win an election in the City or the County. Clarke’s critics go after him for not being a real Democrat, and that’s probably true.  He has to run as a Democrat because that’s the only political party in Milwaukee.