Ogi says: Hit ’em with a leg o’ lamb

by Ogi Overman

The next time you hear someone say, ‘“The president’s anti-terrorism policies must be working because we haven’t been attacked again by al Qaeda,’” just smack them. Don’t try to reason with them, just give them a shot upside the head. Anyone still using that line of non-reasoning deserves an old-fashioned Burlington eye-dotting.

Oh, it would be easy for me to advocate taking the high ground by reasoning with them, but the problem with that is you can’t reason with them. I agree with columnist Tom Freidman, who questions the latest poll numbers that say Bush’s approval rating stands at 29 percent. Like him, I am incredulous that 29 percent of Americans, outside of his immediate family, could still believe in this guy! I mean, there can’t be that many multi-millionaires who are directly benefiting from his policies, can there? Even accounting for the percentage of folks who a) have no awareness of the world around them, b) are so narrow-minded that to admit a mistake is not in their psychological makeup, or c) are so die-hard right-wing that their learless feader can do no wrong, that still shouldn’t amount to 29 percent.

Rational thought does not work with any of these people, hence my advocacy of the Otis Campbell philosophy: ‘“Hit ’em with a leg o’ lamb.’”

But if you really, really, really insist on trying to have an honest debate with these folks, to show them the error of their ways, then there is one tool with which to disarm them. Don’t expect it to work, though, because it involves a concept foreign to most of them. It’s called logic.

Being a philosophy major, the first time I heard the argument ostensibly proving Bush’s anti-terrorism measures must be working, I knew there was a logical fallacy inherent in that line of reasoning. But after all these years, I could not for the life of me recall which one. My mind’s eye could see Dr. Lanfear teaching that Logic 101 class at dear old East Carolina, but the subtleties and nuances of the various fallacies have dimmed with the passing years. So I did what any inquisitive liberal with an ax to grind would do ‘— I went online.

There I found a wealth of info, both refreshing and perplexing, that explained not only the fallacy of that argument but several others used by the Bush apologists, to wit:

Post hoc ergo propter hoc ‘— Actually, I did remember this one. It is the fallacy that confuses chronology with causation: A occurs before B, therefore A must be the cause of B. Or in our case here, Bush started a war on Iraq (A), therefore the so-called war on terror must be a success because (B) no further terror attacks have occurred here.

It’s almost too easy to pick this one apart. One could make the argument ‘— with equal validity ‘— that because Madame Lorraine down in Baton Rouge is sticking pins in a voodoo doll of Osama bin Laden that no further attacks have occurred.

Burden of proof ‘— This is the old argument that uses the example that God must exist because it can’t be proven that He does not. Here the obligation to provide evidence of His existence lies on the side that claims He exists, not vice versa.

For our purposes here, the burden of proof lies on the side that claims no further attacks are proof that the Duh’s policies are working. And, of course, there is no proof.

Appeal to Consequences of Belief ‘— This fallacy applies to the hackneyed retort the hawks use when they’ve run out of anything coherent: ‘“I’d rather be fighting them there than fighting them here.’”

The premise is: X is true because if X were not true then there would be negative consequences. It presupposes that if we did not fight them there then we would automatically be forced to fight them here, as if there were no other options. In other words, support the president’s policies or the terrorists will attack us again.

False dilemma ‘— This one is also called black and white thinking and is a hallmark of the Bush administration. Either claim X is true or claim Y is true when both could be false. Claim Y is false, therefore claim X is true.

This one also applies to the ‘“fight them there’” argument: We must fight the terrorists over there (X) or fight them here (Y). This would not be fallacious if these were the only two options, which is clearly not the case. It precludes the possibility of fighting them by covert ops, infiltration, and fighting a ‘“war’” for the hearts and minds of the Muslim world.

Begging the question ‘— Another fave for the Bush regime, this is the circular argument they use to justify all manner of atrocities. To pick one out of the air, it is legal for the president to authorize wiretaps because if the president authorizes it, it must be legal.

Or put another way, it is OK for me or you to smack Rush Limbaugh, Cal Thomas or Bill O’Reilly, because if we do it it must be OK.

Sounds logical to me.

Ogi can be reached at, heard each Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. on ‘“The Dusty Dunn Show’” on WGOS 1070 AM, and seen on ‘“Triad Today’” Friday at 6:30 a.m. on ABC45 and Sunday at 10 p.m. on UPN48. His blog is