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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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Max, spelling is your prerogative

by mjwx In reply to Who does pay for GWB's ca ...

But if you were funding a polly wouldn?t you want him to pass laws favourable to you? Don?t answer, everybody knows it?s a yes (everybody with half a brain would answer yes to this question), I just want you to think about the question not the answer.

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Your Examples

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

You said, "The right uses far more political rhetoric....""

First of all, your suggestion that the right uses far more political rhetoric is just an opinion. I'd sure like to see you document that "finding" in totality. I might suggest that the "other side" does it more, regardless of which side one might fall. And I say that because people, including you and me, see the world through the prism of their own bias.

Your examples:

"Your either with us or against us."

Yep, I agree.

"There is an axis of evil."

Yep, I agree again.

"There are WMD's in <insert country here>."

Nope, that's simply stating a fact, or stating a fact as one believes it to be true.

But two outta' three ain't bad.

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the same as

by mjwx In reply to Your Examples

The right doesnt use more political rhetoric is an opinion. Politics is opinion based when it should be factual based.

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On Islamo-Fascism

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

You said, "The word 'Islamo-Fascism' is in itself political rhetoric of the worst kind and it also happens to be one of your favourite words."

First of all, why do you consider it political rhetoric of the worst kind"? Don't just say something like that, but explain why you said it.

My use of Islamo-Fascism, is in regards to naming this war we're engaged in, and it's something I picked up from someone else. I like it better than President Bush's "war on terrorism". After all, terrorism is a tactic, not a clearly defined enemy. And if we're fighting a war, which we definitely are, I'd like to call it something. This war, however, is different than wars of the past. During W.W.II, for example, we were engaged in a war against Germany and Japan, two clearly defined enemy nation-states. But the factions against whom we're fighting are not the nation-states themselves, but rather elements within many nation-states, including our own.

I certainly can't say that we're at war with all Islamic people, because that's not the case at all. And I can't say that we're at war with all nations with predominantly Islamic populations, because that's not the case either. However, there are Islamic Fascist element operating within many nations, and those are the elements against whom we're fighting, and to whom we should bring ultimate defeat. If you think that's "rhetoric", perhaps you can help me out. What do you call it? What should I call it? And who are we fighting? (Not to be confused with, who are YOU and others running from. And yes, for the record, that was rhetoric ..... but based on truth.)

Let's have a contest. What do we call this war? And try to call it something without using your own rhetoric.

And second of all, how do you know what my "favorite word" (or words) might be?

Julian thinks my favorite word is "disingenuous".

Oz thinks my favorite word is "core values".

In the context of these off-topic discussions, others might think it's "self-responsibility".

But no, my favorite word is probably "liberty".

You said, "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."

Nope, I have no idea what you're talking about. In fact, that sounded kinda' stupid.

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The word "Islamo-fascism"

by mjwx In reply to On Islamo-Fascism

is meant to inflame HATRED that is why it is rhetoric of the worst kind. Here in australia we lock up people like that. Jack Van Tongerin is a RacistBastard from my neck of the woods (West Australia) and has just been locked up again for inciting (anti-Asian) violence. He was locked up the first time for firebombing 4 Chinese restaurants.

Terrorism is a Idea (tactic) that?s why a war on it is doomed to fail, wars cannot be fought against ideas (Ideas lack form so you can only kill supporters but ideas live on). Islamo-fascism is an idea to. Islam is the only thing you can (in the literal sense) fight a war against. This is debating semantics which is (whilst sometimes is fun) fairly pointless.

I think it is one of your favourite words because you use it a lot. The saying "good sir" is one of my favourites at the moment and you may have heard me use it from time to time.

I thought you would have seen the movie Apocalypse Now. Here are the lines from the movie. It pertains to how the Vietnam War was run.

"What is it when the assassins accuse assassin. They lie, they lie and we must be merciful to those who lie." Swap assassin for fascist and it applies to both sides perfectly.

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I usually don't waste my time on movies

by maxwell edison In reply to The word "Islamo-fascism"

And if you think movies, especially ones like Apocalypse Now are indicative of reality, you confirm my suspicion that YOU ARE AN IDIOT!

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so you prefer movies that are not indicative of reality

by mjwx In reply to I usually don't waste my ...

Figures, I didn't think reality was your thing.

I like movies like Apocalypse now because of a human factor, particularly when that factor is twisted, distorted and removed. Which is what happens in war

A good example of this is a BBC miniseries called ?the warriors? which is about a British Mech inf platoon in the Balkans and how they try to re-integrate into society afterwards. Kind of like full metal jacket in reverse with half the budget.

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You prefer to say

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

You said, ".....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."

First of all, you live in Australia and I live in the United States. It's really pointless to debate each other's social issues. You can all pool all of your earnings, equalize outcome all you want, and sing kumbaya every night, for all I care.

Second of all, why do I always have to correct "you people" when you lump all government social programs into "welfare for the needy" category? Sending Warren Buffet a Social Security check and paying for his medical care hardly fits that definition.

Third of all, if you live in a "dog eat dog" society, perhaps you need a bigger dingo.

Fourth of all, you said, "your not being asked for much...".

Actually, I'm not being "asked" for anything. I'm being TOLD that I must give, and give a lot. And it's for more than just "the needy". We are living in more and more of a collectivist society, and that's not only wrong, but counter productive.

Fifth of all, for you to define someone else (like me) as selfish, is selfish. You don't know any such thing about me. I would even venture to suggest that I GIVE more of my time and money to others than you do. Of course, it's pure speculation, since I don't know the first thing about you, just like you don't know the first thing about me. But my "giving" is in the thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours, each and every year. How about you?

Sixth of all, why is it "you people" are so willing to "give" other people's property? Giving comes only from within. Taking is what you're talking about.

Seventh of all, those kind of comments are the most ignorant and stupid things a person could possibly say.

P.S. "You people" is in quotes because "you people" all know who you are!

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It is comments like that

by mjwx In reply to You prefer to say

Which allow me to judge you in such a fashion. You would happily deny someone else the chance to the start you benefited from and that GOOD SIR makes you a disgrace of a person.

(spelling mistake: I would never judge anyone in "fusion")

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Have I told you lately. . . . . .

by maxwell edison In reply to It is comments like that


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