Republican Leader McConnell vs Logic

In all the reporting about the Democrats high profile stand against the Republicans, one little gem of a logical fallacy almost slipped through the cracks. Here, in vibrant full color, is that fallacy. From the NYT:

But the Republican minority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said the Democrats’ arguments were illogical, given that they had voted to confirm Gen. David H. Petraeus as the American commander in Iraq and thus, implicitly at least, had voted to give the administration strategy a chance to succeed.

His imaginary proof goes something like this:

  • If you confirmed Petraeus, you voted to let the administration pursue their latest strategy
  • The Dems voted to confirm Petraeus
  • !OMG! The Dems voted to let the administration pursue their latest strategy!

The problem with his reasoning is a bit obvious. Voting to put a qualified General in charge in Iraq is a common sense move to try to improve things. The Democrats, even those who opposed the war, desperately want the country to improve. If it does not, they know that the social and economic cost to this country will be devastating, and the smoking hole left in the middle east will further destabilize the region. Both of these results are to be opposed in as effectively as possible, hence the drive to bring the troops home. The vast majority of Iraqis do not want us there. Right now, aside from being targets, our troops are playing into the hands of the insurgents just by being there. In addition, removing troops is not a flash-bang it’s done proposition. It takes considerable planning and skill, all the more reason to have a good General in place.

The idea that the Democrats gave Bush a blank check to is ridiculous, prefacing that claim upon the confirmation of Petraeus is even more egregious.

Right now there are rumblings about a second surge. Even if Mitch McConnell’s faulty logic made sense, it would still not bind the actions of the Democrats on withdrawal. Bush has already pursued his strategy for turning the war around. The surge. It has failed.

For all the talk of how Republicans are criticizing the President, none of the newly vocal are taking action to stop him from further endangering our country and an entire region of the world. The Democrats are. The Republican minority leader would do well to follow the leadership of the Democrats on this one, and vote on a date to bring our troops home.


Why Use Religion to Oppose Rights?

A N.C. Pastor has asked a powerful and direct question of Edwards that can be applied with equal force to nearly every candidate running for office (via Pam, Pandagon):

Rev. Reggie Longcrier, pastor of Exodus Missionary Outreach Church in Hickory, N.C., submitted a question on marriage equality for the CNN’s YouTube Presidential debate. It’s a powerful, short and simple video.

While Longcrier’s question could have been asked of all of the presidential candidates (save Gravel and Kucinich), he happened to direct the question to former N.C. Senator John Edwards because of his statement that he is unable at this time to “cross that bridge” to support marriage equality. His wife Elizabeth is waiting on the other side of bridge, of course, since she favors the right of gays and lesbians to marry.

Here is the question itself:

Sen. Edwards has said his opposition to gay marriage has been influenced by his Southern Baptist background. We know religion was once used to justify slavery, segregation and women not being allowed to vote, all of which today are recognized as unconstitutional and socially and morally wrong. So why is it still acceptable to use religion to justify denying gay and lesbian American their full and equal rights.

This question is very well crafted.  Generally those who oppose gay marriage take the debate into the reasoning behind their opposition.  When being intellectually honest, they bring it back to a question of their faith.  Of course why that faith should be imposed on others is the immediate question the pro-gay marriage crowd (self included) jump on.  But to ask why faith or religion should ever be used to justify denying someone their rights and their equality is an important shift in the debate.  The likely response from the opposition would be to quote scripture to defend their stance.  The pro rights crowd can do the same.  However that is not where the question really takes us (and not where its utility lies).

The power of this question lies in the nature of religion and the role of rights in relation to ethics.

  1. If religion is a fundamentally ethical entity
  2. And denying rights is an unethical action
  3. Then a particular religion cannot act to deny rights without violating its nature.

Using religion to agitate against civil or human rights is therefore an unnatural act.  Either that, or a given religion cannot claim to be a moral force for good in the world.  It becomes just another grouping of people, another political powerhouse working towards its own goals.

Religious groups are consistent when they work towards the recognition and realization of human rights.

When they turn on the rights of others, they act in opposition to what religion should be and strike at the core of its social legitimacy.

Religion should be used to affirm rights.