|The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by Josh Nossiter
|The Morning Mendacity
Monday, July 11th, 2005
|The Nossiter Net is cast to snare some of the riper rascalities of the day. Comments? email@example.com|
|The most influential official in the Bush administration is also the least known. Wolf J. Flywheel is White House Logician in Chief. Operating from a small West Wing office equipped with nothing but a telephone, pads of paper, and boxes of number two pencils, Mr. Flywheel works out the logic behind every administration policy. The difficulties inherent in this task are evidenced by Mr. Flywheel’s appearance. A nondescript bureaucrat when he took up his position, over time his thickening eyebrows, thinning hair, slouching walk, and ever-present cigar have made him the spitting image of Groucho Marx. After toiling in complete obscurity for five years, Mr. Flywheel has agreed to his first interview.
TNN: Mr. Flywheel, for the benefit of our readers, can you explain just what it is the White House Logician in Chief does?
WJF: Surely. When the party of the first part, which is usually but not necessarily the President or his staff or their assigns and dependants, enters into an agreement with the party of the second part, which is generally speaking but not always myself, which is to say the White House Logician in Chief, or his assigns and dependants, of which he, that is to say I, have none…
TNN (hastily): Thank you, Mr. Flywheel. Perhaps an example of your work might be more helpful.
WJF: Certainly. Despite overwhelming evidence that industrial processes produce greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, the president maintains that global warming cannot be ascribed to industrial processes. Or, to cite another example, despite the inherent elegance of one of the great modern scientific theories, backed by a century and a half of solid data as proof, the president avers that “the jury is still out on evolution.” I have given the president the logical tool that allows him to make these assertions: the principle of Slothful Induction.
TNN (scratching head): I see… Perhaps another instance might make things clearer.
WJF: With pleasure. William Donaldson, the former SEC Chairman, contrary to all expectations, began enforcing securities laws and regulations with vigor. The president’s friends on Wall Street demanded a change, so Mr. Donaldson was pressured to resign, and Christopher Cox, a California Congressman who has long been a tool of the banking, insurance, and securities industries, and can be relied upon to ignore all the rules, was appointed to take his place. Applying the principle of argumentum ad consequentiam, Mr. Donaldson was persuaded to leave his post on the grounds that his enforcement of the rules was bad for business, when of course the opposite is true.
TNN (bleary eyed): Hmm. I’m not sure I follow you.
WJF (waving a sheaf of notepaper): This will help. It’s my latest work. The president has asserted many times that we are fighting a war in Iraq so we won’t be attacked again here at home. We haven’t been attacked, at least at home, since 2001. The British have just been attacked at home. Therefore, applying the principle of post hoc ergo procter hoc, it is incumbent upon Great Britain to invade another country in order to spare themselves further attacks. Having had some success there before, in the Falklands War, I am recommending that the British invade Argentina as quickly as possible. Now do you understand how the White House office of Logician in Chief works?
TNN (pulling hair out): But Mr. Flywheel, post hoc, argumentam ad consequentiam, Slothful Induction, these are all logical fallacies.* How can you govern a nation sensibly by applying fallacious logic to every situation? That’s like building a viaduct to carry water from Death Valley to the Colorado River.
WJF (now puzzled himself): Why-a-duck? Why not a chicken?
©Joshua C. Nossiter, 2005
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