April 27, 2015

Lanny Davis uses a bad analogy to push the "coincidence" talking point.

I've got to stay with that Lanny Davis interview for another post. The previous post is about his talking point that the Clinton Foundation is so huge that things that might seem big are actually small. The proportion point. There's also the coincidence point:
WALLACE: Do you think it was a coincidence all these Canadian mining executives are giving millions to the foundation, that a company with close ties to Vladimir Putin's government in Russia is giving half a million dollar speech? Do you think that's a coincidence that's happening while the Russian company that wants to buy Uranium One has business before the State Department? Do you think that's a coincidence? 

DAVIS: I don't use the word "coincidence". Of course, it's a coincidence but it's a false inference. It sounds like if two incidents occur side by side, like the rooster crows and then the sun rises, it's a coincidence that the sun rises after the rooster crows. The rooster doesn't cause the sun to rise.
It's not a coincidence that the rooster crows and then the sun rises. It's true that the rooster doesn't cause the sun to rise, but the sun rising causes the rooster to crow. The events are causally related. The mistake is over what caused what. It's not a coincidence!

I think Davis was striving to sound casual and folksy, what with that barnyard scenario, except that he sounds like an overbearing lawyer, not like somebody tapping into real, everyday life (with everyday people). Davis has no background on farms. His father was a dentist. Farms are just a useful source of American hokum. I'd watch out for nonfarmers using farm bullshit. (Other than the "bullshit" itself, which is a fully dead metaphor.)

Earlier in the show, the author of "Clinton Cash," Peter Schweitzer had done an interview in which he repeatedly used the word coincidence. This was his answer to everything about the lack of "direct" evidence or "a smoking gun":
[T]he fundamental question is, with this deal and the others we cite in this book, is it coincidence -- is it coincidence in a pattern we see repeated dozens of times where large Clinton supporters are -- have business before the State Department. They make large payments and favorable actions are taken.  I don't think that coincidences occur that frequently.  
 And here's one of the "coincidences":
WALLACE: All right. There's one other case... and that is VCS Mining, which was a startup company, which was granted for the first time in 50 years a permit for open pit gold mining in Haiti.  One of the board members of VCS Mining was a fellow named Tony Rodham, there he is, Hillary Clinton's younger brother, who has absolutely no background in mining. 

SCHWEIZER: Right, exactly. This is again another example where you see this timing question. Tony Rodham meets with VCS Mining officials at a Clinton Global Initiative event in 2012. A couple months later, they're granted permit by Haitian government, very difficult to get, only two of them granted in the last 50 years. And then, lo and behold, Tony Rodham is added to the board.  You could look at that and say, it's coincidence. But again, as you see a chain of events repeated over and over again from Colombia to Kazakhstan to Africa, that's what I think is so troubling. 

69 comments:

Mike said...

So we aren't sure whether the checks came in and caused Hillary to approve the deals that she previously campaigned against OR if Hillary reversed State Dept. policy recommendations and then the donations came in, right?

Ann Althouse said...

If Davis's rooster analogy were apt, he'd be saying it wasn't that getting money caused something favorable to occur but that something favorable occurring resulted in getting money.

He doesn't mean to say that!

Michael said...

Ha! What a lawyer. Obfuscating, mixing logical fallacies, bringing in roosters.

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc is not the same as the chicken crossing the road. Except, I suppose, to dead chickens.

Coupe said...

Whenever my dad knew he had lost an argument, he would remind me that he was a farmer, and my ignorance of farming is what made me essentially the real loser.

Sloanasaurus said...

The part the seems really bad about all of this is the failure to report these foreign donations as required. Taken on its own, one could argue that the failure to report is an oversight. So how do you string together these coincidences with the reporting oversight. How convenient was it to have a reporting oversight specifically related to a bunch of coincidences?? it seems more likely that the reporting oversight was not an oversight.

Nonapod said...

Manipulating and twisting language, circumlocution, redefining words... these have always the Clinton machine's baileywick. It's like some sort of creepy game for them.

Sammy Finkelman said...

The Haitian contract shows the influence of the Clintons over the Haitian government, not the United States government.

Except that the Clintons had some influence over the fact of U.S. support, and even neglect of investgigation, of the Haitian government.

damikesc said...

Why was it George Bush, who "butchered" the English language according to his critics, didn't have such issues of people not knowing what the hell he's trying to say?

And he has no problem with "coincidences" when the person being paid is quite capable of making the thing that happened occur?

Bob Boyd said...

It sounds like if two incidents occur side by side, like the light comes on and then the cock roaches scurry, it's a coincidence. The scurrying doesn't cause the light to come on.

damikesc said...

Apparently, in Lanny's world, he truly believes groups want to spend tons of money to hear Hillary drone on in the most vague platitudes humanly possible in an unpleasant voice.

PB said...

The Clintons are unethical and corrupt. They should be banned from the DC city limits.

Bill Peschel said...

The rooster-sun analogy falls down when you understand that we know the rooster can't bring up the sun, but we know that Hillary's State Department approved the deal.

The one is impossible, the other is close enough to be proven to a jury.

rhhardin said...

The rooster is crowing about the previous sunset.

rhhardin said...

Having had eight resident roosters for a few years, they crow hours before sunrise.

m stone said...

Obfuscation and minimalization is Davis's game, always has been in defense of the Clinton's.

Davis's also falsely disputed Schweizer's claim that Tony Rodham was on the VCS Mining board when the Haitian contract was let. He verbally impugned his research for leaving that fact out.

Schweizer did no such thing. Earlier in the interview, as AA shows, Rodham net with VCS before the contract and then was added to the board. A clever Clinton tactic: connection after the fact.

Schweizer is very good. He documents contact before any VCS award.

rhhardin said...

Bataille said that sexual intercourse causes earth rotation, on the piston principle. (l'anus solaire)

Coupe said...

The reason the rooster crows, is he just f*cked a bunch of hens.

From Inwood said...

With GOP supposed misfeasors, it's not the need for proof but the mere existence of a serious charge that should bring them down.

With Dem supposed misfeasors if there is no direct evidence, you know like "Here's $X million for your vote", any circumstantial evidence like Dem got $X million from A & voted for something that A wanted is unconscious parallelism or "just one of those things, just one of those bells that now & then rings". Nothing to see here; let's move on.

And, BTW, is it a coincidence that all Hil spin docs use the same phrases, the same mantra in spinning

Strick said...

"(Other than the "bullshit" itself, which is a fully dead metaphor.)"

Having spent time near the feedlots that dotted West Texas, I have to point out it is only mostly dead.

traditionalguy said...

I wondered what he thought he was proving with that argument. But that's was all he had. Sow confusion and act like everybody else is biased. Rinse and repeat.

traditionalguy said...

We Roosters deeply resent our assertive song being demeaned as impotent.

Has anyone every seen the Sun come up without hearing us crow. Even the authority Jesus said our crowing would cause Saint Peter to deny him.

Brando said...

Question for the Clinton lickspittles (as Hillary doesn't seem to wish to lower herself to actually talk to a non-puffpiece reporter):

If the Foundation donors were in fact simply interested in helping the Foundation do good in the world through charitable endeavors, and the Clintons never meant to even imply to the donors that favors and influence could be bought through such donations, then why did you not establish a clear rule that you would accept no donation by any entity that had any business under consideration by Hillary's State Department? Why, if your motives were so innocent, did you not establish such a firewall, or even do so little as to require that all donations be anonymous and untraceable?

We all know the answer, but it would be nice to see Lanny Davis or his cohorts be asked it.

EDH said...

Less about roosters, and more about who's guarding the hen house.

From Inwood said...

Bill P

"close enough to be proven to a jury"

Not if the jury is from the inner city. OOPS, there I go again; racism.

With GOP supposed misfeasors, the evidence, the facts, the evidence need not even have to meet your "close enough to be proven to a jury".

With Dem supposed misfeasors, the evidence, the facts, what you think you see before your eyes must be "more than enough to be proven to a slobbering Dem, a Crony, or a talkinghead at MSNBC.

Big Mike said...

I'd watch out for nonfarmers using farm bullshit.

My uncles were farmers. I'm not a farmer, ma'am, but as a youth I learned to look down when walking in the cow pastures.

Will said...

I happen to speak fluent Rooster:

What the rooster is crowing at sunrise translates to:

"At this point, what difference does it make?"

Virgil Hilts said...

A nice summary of Davis' life work by Glenn Greenwald from a few years ago-- http://www.salon.com/2009/08/18/davis_15/
He was still a better defender of HC than Donna Brazile on This Week. She did not make a single coherent argument in favor of HC.

From Inwood said...

It's no coincidence that all slobbering Dem supporters, cronies, & MSNBC talking heads always demand a higher standard of proof for supposed Dem misfeasance.

mikee said...

A question for our blog host: What exactly will it take to admit to yourself that the Clintons are corrupt and thus undeserving of your political support, your vote, your admiration?

Really. I am asking.

What do you need to see, hear, read or know that will make you understand that they are people who should be kept as far as possible from any position of responsibility?

Greg Hlatky said...

Every vote for Hillary! is a vote for four, eight, twelve (Ready for Chelsea!) or sixteen years of this logic chopping.

"The Jesuits always profited from the exaggerations of their enemies. Accused of murdering ten men and a puppy, they triumphantly produce the puppy."

From Inwood said...

Virg H


It's no coincidence that slobbering Dem supporters, cronies, & MSNBC talking heads cannot make a single coherent argument in favor of HC.

Virgil Hilts said...

Ann, curious what you think about the Emoluments Clause argument. Is that just one of those many constitutional provisions that we now ignore? If not, can you really get around it just by having foreign governments give stuff to your spouse?

Big Mike said...

Under the "not bullshit" rubric, I'd like to point out that the Clinton machine has been dealing with scandals of varying degrees of

(1) Attack the messenger. Make it personal and make it nasty. James ("the Talking Skull") Carville has raised this to an art form.

(Except that Schweizer going after Jeb Bush undercuts that somewhat. Plus, he doesn't seem to much care about the nasty. He apparently thought this through ahead of time.)

(2) Minimize it. As in "$2.3M isn't really all that much."

(Except the counter is pretty easy -- think of the number of starving children $2.3M could feed and for how long.)

(3) Sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD).

(It's all just coincidence.)

(4) Hide behind their party. If you investigate us then those slimy Republicans will win.

(Except that a lot of Democrats seem to be considering that if they don't push back against the Clinton machine, then the Republicans will win anyway, and by a larger margin.)

Everybody in the machine knows their job, everybody knows where to go to get their talking points. There's no need for any complicated coordination. Don't bother looking for Email trails. The machine is well-lubricated with money supposedly earmarked for charitable activities.

richard mcenroe said...

Sloanasaurus: c'mon, Hillary "misplaced" six BILLION dollars at the State Department, how hard can it be to forget to file a few hundred million at a registered charity on your taxes?

richard mcenroe said...

What Lawyer Lanny forgets is that birds CAN tell the sun is rising before people do.

So the Hillary Red Hen can cackle before anyone else sees the fix is actually in...

richard mcenroe said...

Big Mike: $2.3 million here, $2.3 million there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money.

Especially for a couple of dirty-foot hillbillies what wuz dead broke when they'uns wuz throwed out of that nice white house...

n.n said...

It could be an anthropogenic climate catastrophe, where they put the carbon dioxide/credits before the heating and before natural processes; but, in the case of the Clintons, the hypothesis is at least verifiable and likely to be correct. Still, we shouldn't abort the baby in cultish desperation. The Clintons are least owed due process.

n.n said...

A million, even a billion, really is just a sprinkle in a trillion dollar deficit torrent. I wonder how far and wide they have to transfer their debt, and how much private capital must be sequestered, in order to control devaluation of capital and labor.

Texas Annie said...

If the vast right wing conspiracy would just butt out, you wouldn't have to listen to all this prevaricating. It's your fault.

MadisonMan said...

The Clintons are unethical and corrupt. They should be banned from the DC city limits.

Because they're unethical and corrupt? DC is the natural environment of the unethical and corrupt.

james conrad said...

The idea that Lanny Davis is getting ready to embark on 4 years of bullshit covering the Clinton family squalor has just gotta make the Dems worried. I don't think it's in the cards for Hillary, she had her shot in '08, it's a different time now and i just don't think she can get elected. The only good news is, it's early and still time to find a better candidate.

garage mahal said...

So we aren't sure whether the checks came in and caused Hillary to approve the deals that she previously campaigned against OR if Hillary reversed State Dept. policy recommendations and then the donations came in, right?

You Fascist!

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Are you shitting me? The assertion that bullshit is a dead metaphor is pure bull:

"It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose."

- Harry Frankfurt

Michael K said...

"Donna Brazile on This Week. She did not make a single coherent argument in favor of HC."

No doubt you have seen her make a coherent argument. I've missed that one.

Greg Hlatky said...

He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose

It was said of Disraeli that he always went down to Parliament prepared to fling at the House of Commons the first lie that came into his head.

Sebastian said...

It's a coincidence that the dots are all lined up in a row.

Wilbur said...

It seems President and Mrs. Coolidge were getting a tour of a Department of Agriculture facility. Mrs. Coolidge preceded the President in the area where the chickens were.

She noticed a rooster getting busy with several chickens, all within a short period of time.

She asked the attendant "Does he do that often?"
"Yes Ma'am. He does that quite often, numerous times a day."
"You be sure and bring that to Mr. Coolidge's attention."

The President came through this area shortly thereafter and the attendant, as requested, pointed this out to the President.

Cal looked at the rooster for a while, then asked "He does this several times a day?"
"Yes, Mr. President."
"Same hen each time?"
"No sir, it's always a different one".
"You tell that to Mrs. Coolidge."

Writ Small said...

Working with Lanny's analogies, the following must be true.

Lanny Davis using strained logic on Sunday morning talk shows causes the Clintons to engage in ethically questionable behavior.

Garage posting numerous non sequiturs causes Althouse to draw attention to the Clintons' unethical behavior.

Connecting the dots, Garage is the cause of recent Clinton scandals. Suspicion confirmed.

Anonymous said...

is there a reason garage is not allowed to post anything of actual value in a debate?
why do his links always prove the polar opposite of what he purports they say?
is he forced to be the jester or is our host just trying to see if we can be nice to the incontinent retarded boy?
any answers?

Anonymous said...

Why is Lanny Davis on television defending Hillary Clinton?

Why isn't Hillary Clinton on television defending Hillary Clinton?

The first question should always be, "Where is Hillary and why are you here speaking on her behalf when she should be here speaking on her behalf?"

Skeptical Voter said...

Actually Lanny looked pretty good on Sunday morning wearing a bespoke chalk striped suit that probably set him back at least $5K. Tanned (tell me was that makeup or a sun lamp) gleaming white teeth; perfect hair.

And then he wants to do the farmyard analogies. Well Lanny knows as much about farming as the Berkeley animal rights activist who says you should buy your meat in the supermarket "because no animals are killed there". I think Lanny believes that as well.

Todd said...

eric said... [hush]​[hide comment]
Why is Lanny Davis on television defending Hillary Clinton?

Why isn't Hillary Clinton on television defending Hillary Clinton?

The first question should always be, "Where is Hillary and why are you here speaking on her behalf when she should be here speaking on her behalf?"

4/27/15, 3:35 PM


Don't you think she looks tired?

She needs her rest. She is not quite up to the stress and strain of the talk show circuit any longer. She needs others to take on the "rigorous" portions of the campaign so she can save her strength. Hillary! can't afford to miss a nap...

damikesc said...

The first question should always be, "Where is Hillary and why are you here speaking on her behalf when she should be here speaking on her behalf?"

I don't get why the press won't ask her flacks that.

She's been asked 7 questions in total so far.

Yeah, VETTING~!

Big Mike said...

@Todd, why yes I do. I agree that Hillary Clinton looks tired.

Quaestor said...

What is a dead metaphor, fertilizer?

Quaestor said...

If the Foundation donors were in fact simply interested in helping the Foundation do good in the world through charitable endeavors...

If those donors were interested in doing good in the world then they wouldn't have given cash to an organization that consumes 85% of its gross income in "administrative costs".

Drago said...

Willie "Hillary" Sutton: Of course I have a foundation...'cuz that's where all the "coincidences" is.....

Drago said...

damikesc: "I don't get why the press won't ask her flacks that."

Because teammates usually stick up for each other.

SGT Ted said...

The tap dancing is defense of the Clinton Crime family is a hoot.

Keep dancing, the music hasn't stopped!

Anonymous said...

I can't wait until the Clinton Foundation sponsors PBS shows and we hear "Brought to you by the Clinton Foundation, where the cock rises each morning."

Michael McClain said...

Lanny Davis has a most punchable face.

Clyde said...

PB said...
The Clintons are unethical and corrupt. They should be banned from the DC city limits.


If being unethical and corrupt were grounds for banishment from our imperial capital, Washington would be as empty as Carthage.

BudBrown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill R said...

So what Davis is saying is that the mining company has been making multi-million contributions to charitable foundations every single day, as regular as the sunrise, and that it is just happenstance, not coincidence, that on the day they made a contribution to her, she did them a whopping favor. Is that it?

Bill R said...

There's no proof!!!

There's never any proof. It remains the duty of citizens in a democracy to make judgments on the people who presume to rule them, even if the evidence is incomplete.

For example, if a politician invites a young intern to private meetings in his office more than 30 times. A reasonable person would conclude the meetings are for sex, even in the absence of proof.

Similarly, if an organization seeking political favors, one that rarely makes charitable contributions, makes a charitable contribution to a politician's foundation and the politician then provides the organization a very valuable favor, then a reasonable person would conclude this "contribution" is a disguised bribe.

There's no proof unless the miners were so excited about their windfall that they ejaculated on Hillary's blue dress. Still, it's our duty to form a judgement. My judgment is the money was a bribe.

Brando said...

"There's no proof unless the miners were so excited about their windfall that they ejaculated on Hillary's blue dress. Still, it's our duty to form a judgement. My judgment is the money was a bribe."

It was absolutely a bribe--I don't know whether the current evidence is enough to bring criminal charges (maybe if a witness emerges, or some other evidence, that would change things) but any thinking person (i.e., not a Clintonista) will make that same conclusion. It's absurd to suggest that these massive donations and payoffs were made by foreign governments with no expectation of favors in return, and the people will see that. It will at least wound her candidacy and should give Democrats pause before they let her have the nomination uncontested. What I hear from Democrats I know (a small sample size, to be sure) is that they are sick of the Clintons, but wonder who is out there to challenge her? This is the role Obama filled so well in 2008.

Brando said...

As part of the usual Clinton trio of defenses (attack the accuser's credibility, claim it is old news and already addressed, and claim that everyone else does it), the claim that "everyone else does it" is crap. First, it is illegal to take campaign contributions from foreign sources. Second, campaign contributions are just that--contributions to legally formed campaign funds, subject to disclosure rules, etc.--I am not aware of any candidate who has been legally allowed to accept "gifts" from donors above federal gift limits. (For an example of how illegal this is, write to former VA Governor Bob McDonnell who accepted far smaller "gifts" than the Clintons did).

That "everyone else did it" argument might fly among the lowest of the low information voters, but the majority have heard this tune before and can understand the facts enough to see through it.

Time for the Democrats to pull out of this mess....no point in backing a weak horse.

JAORE said...

"I'd watch out for nonfarmers using farm bullshit."

With Lanny, I would not limit that to just farm references.

Char Char Binks said...

In Ridley's Scott's Robin Hood, the queen gives her son an adage about how milking a dry cow will get him kicked off the milking stool, then Prince John says, "Mother, spare me your barnyard memories -- you have none, and I don't understand them."