General discussion


Principle vs. Politics -and- Reality vs. Rhetoric

By maxwell edison ·
Definitions (From American Heritage):

Rhetoric: Language that is elaborate, pretentious, insincere, or intellectually vacuous: His offers of compromise were mere rhetoric.

Reality: That which exists objectively and in fact: Your observations do not seem to be about reality.

Principle: The collectivity of moral or ethical standards or judgments: His is a decision based on principle rather than expediency.

Politics: Intrigue or maneuvering within a political unit or group in order to gain control or power: Partisan politics is often an obstruction to good government. Office politics are often debilitating and counterproductive.

All too many people either don't know the difference and/or substitute (knowingly or otherwise) one for the other.

An argument based on principle is usually (but not always) followed by an application of, or as applicable to, reality. While an argument based on politics is usually (but not always) followed by rhetoric.

Personally, I always try to apply both principle and reality to my arguments. I try to avoid the usual political rhetoric.

Examples of political rhetoric:

The rich are getting richer on the backs of the poor.

Bush is in the pockets of "big oil".

Examples of principled reality:

The individual owes it to both himself and society to accept full and total self responsibility.

Oil is a vital factor in both the American economy and the world economy.

Disclaimer: Yes, I know. I chose examples based on my "principled reality", or my "bias". Feel free to share your own.

Another disclaimer: "Bias", when based on "principled reality", is not a bad thing, especially if clearly admitted and supported. For example, my "bias" is towards less government involvement in social issues, not more. (Will anyone admit to having a "bias" espousing MORE government involvement in social issues? If so, admit it, rest on YOUR principles, and have a go at it WITHOUT relying on rhetoric.)

In my experience, the political left relies almost entirely on political rhetoric. (And the only ones who will probably disagree are the left-leaning among us.) However, how can the argument "yes, it is right and proper to take the property from the person who earned it, so government can give it to a person who did not earn it", stand on its own merit? Personally, I've never even seen anyone try (except, of course, in cases of Mao's little red book or Marx's The Communist Manifesto) without relying, either in whole or in part, on political rhetoric.

And in regards to my previous example, The individual owes it to both himself and society to accept full and total self responsibility, how can the opposite possibly be argued with any semblance of merit without relying on the usual, tired and old political rhetoric?

Political rhetoric is intended to sway and convince by appealing to the emotional heartstrings of the listener. Political rhetoric is usually intended, to some degree, to deceive, because, in my opinion, the argument being presented can't stand on its own merits.

The man-caused global warming argument is dripping with political rhetoric, since it is neither conclusively proven nor universally accepted.

The war on terrorism (or, as I like to call it, the war with Islamo-Fascism) is dripping with political rhetoric.

The "lied about weapons of mass destruction" argument is dripping with political rhetoric.

(The same disclaimers apply.)

Principled reality is intended to sway and convince by using facts based on reason and logic. Principled reality can usually stand on its own merits; and whether you agree or disagree with the premise of the argument, the worst case is that two people might simply agree to disagree. On the other hand, it's much more difficult, and in some cases impossible, to simply agree to disagree when presented with an argument based on political rhetoric, because it's usually based on a flawed premise, and the opposing argument gets side-tracked dispelling and/or pointing out that flawed premise.

Many people around here will take exception to this comment, but there way too few who can present a clear and concise argument based on principled reality, and way too many who rely, either entirely or in part, on political rhetoric.

People should present an argument like they might write a computer program. When you see two people going at it, going "round and round", never resolving an issue and/or not even agreeing to disagree, it's tantamount to an endless loop because of a flawed or poorly written computer program. One side -- or both -- relies more on rhetoric and less on principle. And that, my friends, will only result in the debating equivalent of the dreaded blue screen of death. It just won't compute.

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A classic Maxwell

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Principle vs. Politics -a ...

"In my experience, the political left relies almost entirely on political rhetoric. (And the only ones who will probably disagree are the left-leaning among us.) "

I could n't agree more with that point of view, let me start off by saying.

In my experience, the political right relies almost entirely on political rhetoric. (And the only ones who will probably disagree are the right-leaning among us.)

Tears in my eyes and coffee on my screen.

Point proven, case closed , achievement NIL.

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by jdclyde In reply to A classic Maxwell

I disagree...... ;\

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A classic. However

by rob mekel In reply to A classic Maxwell

starting with "In my experience" followed by whatever statement, principle, rhetoric, politics or reality; is always right.
More to the point: starting a statement based on personal opinion, believes or whatever personal vibes (not meant in a mean way) is always true as you can't decline a person to be and having experiences. Or, to put it more direct, you can't argue with ones experience as they are his/her experience.

However your conlusion is right; achievement -> nil.


Has Friday's YUK already started? I could need a laughter

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Reality or rhetoric?

by neilb@uk In reply to Principle vs. Politics -a ...

Mar. 21, 2003 White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer - "Well, there is no question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical particularly."

Mar. 22, 2003 Gen. Tommy Franks: "There is no doubt that the regime of Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction. As this operation continues, those weapons will be identified, found, along with the people who have produced them and who guard them."

(I could go on for several pages but you get my drift...)

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Neil, you're smarter than that - and you could take volumes to list quotes

by maxwell edison In reply to Reality or rhetoric?

Those comments aren't rhetorical. Those comments were made by those people with 100 percent certainty they were true -- or they were, in the very least, thought to be true. If you define that as rhetoric, you and I are in different worlds.

To elaborate:

Neil: Man-caused Global warming is a reality.

Maxwell: Man-caused global warming is a myth.

Now Neil, I wouldn't consider either of those comments "rhetoric", but rather simply stating facts and opinions as we believe them to be. Worst case scenario, we can simply agree to disagree.

Rhetorical example:

Neil: Vote for me (or believe in me), because Maxwell, my opponent, wants to destroy the planet and kill millions of people and various life-forms, and see cities flooded and people displaced from their homes because he refuses to do what's necessary to stop global warming.

There's a BIG difference, Neil.

Back to your list. I could quote Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Democrats, Republicans, news analysts, and so on with similar quotes. I could go on for volumes, not mere pages.

"If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program."
- President Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998.

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members ... It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."
- Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002.

But like I said, stating a fact as you believe it to be is not "rhetoric".

By the way, Neil. Were ALL those people around the entire world wrong about this, or did the WMDs just vanish into thin air? OR, did Saddam, during the 12 month VERY PUBLIC build-up to the invasion, smuggle them out of Iraq into Syria or Iran (possibly with Russian or French help), and/or bury them in the desert? That's the observation and suggestion made by General Michael DeLong. And, as I mentioned in another discussion, that kind of information might be known, but is being "censored", for a variety of reasons, from becoming public knowledge.

Note: General DeLong defines "stockpiles" as a briefcase sized container for biological weapons, and a cargo truck sized container for the chemical weapons. And for reference, Iraq is twice the size of Great Britain. Could you hide a briefcase and/or cargo truck in G.B? Or if G.B. was primarily a land-locked country, take them across a border somewhere?

So Neil, in reference to the WMD issue that you brought up, will you answer the questions I asked? And try to do so without employing any rhetoric, now that you know what it is and is not.

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Rhetoric? Moi?

by neilb@uk In reply to Neil, you're smarter than ...

What we always have to do with political statements is ascertain the BS quota (Rhetorical Index) in any statement.

It was you who suggested that those of us who tend to be suspicious of claims of the presence of WMDs in Iraq at the time of the invasion are guilty of political rhetoric. I dispute that we are the only guilty party and I would suggest that, quite possibly, we are not the most guilty.

The simple facts from the perspective of myself and people of similar views is that we say "There are no WMDs in Iraq" and no WMDs have been found in Iraq. That does not seem to quite fit your definition of rhetoric.

The alternative: "There are WMDs in Iraq" and no WMDs have been found in Iraq strikes me as a fairly obvious RI problem for you regardless of how many General DeLongs you could hide in Syria.

A general point here on which we probably agree: the majority of statements by politicians are partly or completely founded on what they believe that the voting public need to hear to keep those politicians in office. Now we differ: in the case of the US government post-**1, you needed someone to punish and Iraq was your target and you needed an excuse. <British understatement>I am suggesting that your pro-war politicians were a little less careful in examining the evidence than they should have been. They were less careful in their endgame planning than they should have been but that's another issue. </British understatement>

The absence of WMDs is not down to me to explain. It is something that you have to explain. Non-existent, buried or exported, they haven't surfaced yet.

I quite like the NY reader comment - " Saddam Hussein may be guilty of a number of dreadful things, but thought crime - is this a new legal precedent?"

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Rhetoric and Fear-Mongering

by mjwx In reply to Principle vs. Politics -a ...

Starting from the start

I wont dispute your definitions but I prefer (bias) a British dictionary like oxford.

Rhetoric is mostly hot air, mostly sometimes they reflect truth. Political (originated) rhetoric is the worst but you would sooner get a polly to do an honest days work than to speak the truth.

I will answer your two examples of rhetoric with pertinent questions you may answer or ignore at your discretion:

"The rich are getting richer on the backs of the poor.". Are the rich getting poorer? how do the rich gain their wealth?

"Bush is in the pockets of "big oil"" Who does pay for GWB's campaigns? Do they do it out of the kindness of their hearts or do they expect favours?

The right uses far more political rhetoric. For example:
"Your either with us or against us"
"There is an axis of evil"
"There are WMD's in <insert country here>"
The word "Islamo-Fascism" is in itself political rhetoric of the worst kind and it also happens to be one of your favourite words. So I am going to paraphrase Apocalypse now and say "what is it when the fascists accuse the fascists" and I'm sure you know the rest of the lines.

"how can the argument "yes, it is right and proper to take the property from the person who earned it, so government can give it to a person who did not earn it", stand on its own merit?" I much prefer to say "A portion of tax revenue should go to help the needy" Welfare for short, to help the disadvantaged of this dog-eat-dog society. Just to be humane rather than human for a little while. I find any-one who would say "Why must I pay for welfare" is incredibly selfish, your not being asked for much and it means a world of difference to those genuinely in need (I don?t consider it selfish to deal with your own (US) needy first/only). To those who would say "Why must I pay for welfare" I sincerely wish that you suffer the worst that society has to offer. Hold your noses in the air all the way down. My POV on welfare here.

Man caused global warming, well it sure as **** wasn?t the dolphins. We are at the top of the food chain, responsibility goes up. Man must take responsibility.

"Lied about WMDs" is political rhetoric but that doesn?t make it untrue. I prefer to say "the Bush administration deliberately misled people about the presence of WMD's in Iraq" Which is actually what happened.

Being a net admin, I would make things work and work well. I don?t have the luxury of controlling what I have to work with like a programmer (at least a lot less control), if I get a bad user or a Macintosh I have to work with them and make them work. This kind of analogy is better for the political systems and politics must have some awful admins.

Personally I am sick of rhetoric, I am even more sick of fear mongering. The Bush admin is trying to monger fear against Iran amongst western nations and their Iranian counterparts trying to monger fear amongst Middle Eastern nations against the west. We have ultra right-wing nutcases who are trying to make me scared of other ultra right-wing nutcases who are trying to make others afraid of me.

Meanwhile there?s me in the middle and all I want to do is RELAX, have a beer and watch the bloody footy in peace so give the rhetoric and fear-mongering a break. I would think a lot of people would echo these senitments.

<edit: left out a quote>

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Use whichever dictionary you'd like

by maxwell edison In reply to Rhetoric and Fear-Mongeri ...

From the <insert snobbish tone here> Oxford Dictionary:

<end of snobbish tone>

Rhetoric: Language with a persuasive or impressive effect, but often lacking sincerity or meaningful content.

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The accent that you used?

by neilb@uk In reply to Use whichever dictionary ...

Can you give me an idea, phonetically, as I'm stuck with **** VanDyke in Mary Poppins at the moment and I'm sure you can do better than that?

Jean-Luc Picard would be about right.


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Your question on "the rich"

by maxwell edison In reply to Rhetoric and Fear-Mongeri ...

You asked, "Are the rich getting poorer?

Well, there are some people, I suppose, that we would call rich, who have lost some or all of their wealth, thus becoming poorer, but I've not seen any statistics in that regard. I'd bet a dollar to dirt, however, that most of them earn it back.

"How do the rich gain their wealth", you asked?

Do you really not know?

Okay, I'll answer.

Some rich folks, like Senator Ted Kennedy, inherit it, never having to work a day in his life, like the rest of us, at a real job to earn it.

Some rich folks, like Senator and presidential loser, John Kerry, marry into it.

Some rich folks, like Bill Gates (or John Smith), actually earn it.

In a nutshell, however, if we eliminate the inheritance or marriage means of wealth acquisition, I would suggest that most people get rich by providing goods and services to other people who are willing to pay for them. The more you offer, the more they pay, and the more you earn. Do it well enough, often enough, and long enough, and presto, you're rich.

The challenge, however, and the reason not everyone can do it, is to properly define the goods and services you provide, and come up with an effective means of doing so. Some people are actually convinced that they CAN'T do it!

But if a person realizes that very simple principle, and if a person is smart with the money he or she earns, it can be saved and invested so that the money is actually working FOR you; the magic of compound interest will add even more to one's wealth.

That's assuming, of course, the government allows people to keep the money they do actually earn. If not, and the government takes it away in the form of taxes, then perhaps not as many people have a fighting chance -- and ironically enough, they then have to depend on government.

Tax something, and you get less of it. Subsidize something, and you get more of it.

Tax wealth, and fewer people become wealthy. Subsidize dependency, and more people become dependent.

Personally, I don't think we should tax the rich because, as I said, we then get fewer rich people. And we want lots and lots of rich people. (Or do you really want to see fewer rich people?)

Instead, I think we should tax the poor. Let's literally soak them with outrageous taxes. That way, they'll avoid being poor like the plague, and perhaps actually earn their own living. Great idea, don't you think?

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