Author Archives: Josh Loveless

The Straw Man President

By Josh Loveless 2014 Candidate for U.S. Congress (State of Texas, 3rd District)


Many who don’t know me well might be surprised to learn that in high school I was quite the accomplished debater and orator.  I have box full of local, state, and national awards, trophies, and medals somewhere in storage.  And that doesn’t include the ones that my team mate and I earned while practically refilling an entire trophy cabinet by ourselves over two years.

For those who’ve never tried it, debate is an art form.  It is built on logic, but is effused with human emotion.  It can be both highly infuriating and highly rewarding in the same moment.  I had a formidable reputation as a result of having brought some of the best debaters in the state to tears.  Sometimes these were tears of frustration, and at other times tears of laughter.  But I learned something very important during those debates:

Truth, logic, and right thinking don’t always win the public.

It’s a sad, but a true fact.  The best debaters learn very early on that even though facts and logical argumentation are important, they’re not nearly as important as style, dramatic presentation, and conveying conviction.  It’s something you are forced to take into your core.  This is because you will be forced (and often) to defend a position you do not agree with, one that may even be diametrically opposed to your beliefs.  It was in these debates that I am sad to say I was the most effective.

I did this by creating very specific arguments that were intentionally infuriating logical fallacies, so effective that they could not be ignored.  My opponents would then attack these arguments while ignoring certain facts, or making themselves look ridiculous.  In debate, or in philosophy, this is known as a straw man.  The Brits across the pond call it an Aunt Sally.  The structure of a straw man goes like this:

You take position 1 (For example: Excessive eating of calories can lead to obesity, therefore we should limit the number of calories we eat).

Opponent takes position 2, an intentionally distorted version of position 1 (For example:  If people don’t eat enough calories they could starve, therefore your true desire is to starve people to death).

There are many ways to make this work, this is just the most basic example.  You can read more about straw men arguments in all their flavors here on Wikipedia.

The Scarecrow scared

Notice that in the straw man used above your opponent never actually addresses your contention or conclusion.  The facts and logic are ignored and the argument instead becomes about you, or your fight with an imaginary opponent.  That is the real trick to winning with straw men.  When you know you are using a logical fallacy to win, you have to make that fallacy so personal, so salacious, and so insidious that your opponent appears to have no choice but to address it.

If you let it stand that you wish to murder people by limiting what they eat until starvation, well then everything else you say for the rest of the debate is suspect.  Thus you end up attacking something that isn’t real, or in other words a man made of straw.  The more calm, cool, and collected your opponent is when delivering the fallacy, the more likely people are to believe it is true.  The debate then becomes a matter of emotion, while fact and logic are forgotten (at least until it is most convenient).

You’ve probably recognized straw man tactics before in our national discourse.  It’s the oldest trick in the politician’s playbook.  Make no mistake, this tactic is used by both sides of the aisle.  However, I am shocked by how excessive the use of straw men has become, especially by our president.

Barack Obama’s entire 2012 campaign against Mitt Romney was a series of straw man arguments that were propped up by the press.  Here’s an example:

Mitt Romney chooses not to release complete versions of his tax returns for a small number of years.  The Obama campaign (and surrogate Harry Reid) first says this is dishonest, and then begins to ‘calmly’ imply that the reason is clearly because Romney is a tax cheat and a felon.  Instead of debating the merits of Romney’s proposals, or Obama’s record, the national discussion turned to Mr. Romney’s supposed crimes.  It even went so far that media elitists issued rewards for anyone willing to release Romney’s financial documents or implicate him in a crime.

Since winning the election the logical fallacies have not been mitigated, instead they appear to have multiplied.  The President has made straw men out of nearly every major issue facing America today.  His entire Inaugural Address was a series of these types of arguments, even sometimes contradicting himself.  The following quote is merely one example:

“We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit (true). But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future (fallacy),”- Barack Obama (parenthetical comments were added by me).

This argument implies that his political opponents have taken a position stating we must in fact choose between our children or our grandparents; that conservatives are ‘chomping at the bit’ to sacrifice one for the other.  This entire premise is false.  Congressional Republicans are not currently seeking any repeal of entitlement programs with the exception of Obamacare.  They are however suggesting that we must shore up the weaknesses of these programs; reign in the spending, and make them more effective.  Or contrariwise we can do nothing and watch them fail.  That is the real argument facing America.

As a seasoned debater I can tell you there are typically three situations in which someone will use a straw man argument:

  1. You do not understand your opponent’s argument, or have no logical or evidentiary counterargument that can stand on its own.  You strongly believe you are right, but don’t know how to back it up.   To win you must instead crush your opponent by making him or her so emotional that no one listens to the actual argument.
  2. You wish to distract your opponent.  During the distraction you may submit an occasional, potentially valid, position (usually some sort of heavy disadvantage) that is lost on your opponent because they are too focused on the insidiousness of the straw man.
  3. You are forced to defend a position you don’t believe and you know what you truly believe is unacceptable to the judging party.

It is my opinion that all three of these reasons are the drivers behind the way Obama addresses his opponents.    It is his intention to crush Republicans and win the argument, regardless of the consequences.   The ends justify the means.

Despite their potential effectiveness there is a serious danger in using straw men.  If your opponent or the judging party is trained to recognize these types of attacks you lose complete credibility.  You in fact become a man made of straw to them because you clearly have no valid counterargument, you clearly do not express your core beliefs.  Any straw man can be easily burned to the ground or blown away.

Barack Obama is a man clearly made of straw arguments.  Not in his two campaigns, nor in the last four years, has he offered a single acceptable plan for tackling our nation’s biggest problems (even to his own party).  The U.S. Senate hasn’t passed a budget in over four years.  That doesn’t mean it hasn’t debated a budget.  The White House has submitted a proposed budget each of these years, and each year it has been so thoroughly rejected by both parties that it is a running gag.  In fact, Obama’s last budget proposal was rejected by the Senate 99-0.  Not a single vote in the affirmative, not even from Harry Reid.

Republicans need to learn how to address these straw men in the correct way.  To win against these kinds of tactics we first have to learn to recognize them.  Once we see the straw man we must never, ever, take the bait and debate the fallacy.  Instead we need to clearly point out that the President has said nothing.  That he has not addressed the problem surrounding the argument, and has clearly offered no plan to abate it.  We need to show the people what is actually in the President’ proposals, calmly and coolly, and then let the American people decide if they like them.

I think if we took this approach, never allowing the debate to become personal, I believe Obama’s policies would be rejected by the majority of Americans.  Instead, by attacking Obama personally, by getting overly emotional about our declining rights and values, we play right into his hands.  When we play into his hands the media is sure to make us look like the illogical, dangerous, fanatical, racist, war mongers his party has painted us into.

Straw Man 1



Checks and Balances – Are We Breaking the Scales?


By Josh Loveless – Candidate for U.S. Congress 2014

The close examination of nearly every document written by the founders of our great nation reveals a persuasive common refrain: That all men are created equal, and that despotism occurs when one person or group seeks to prop themselves up above the others.  It’s not just a phrase from the Declaration of Independence but rather a thematic supposition for the discourse of that age.

It is for this reason that our United States Constitution was written in the manner that it was.  It is in part also the cause of its genius.  The entire document, including the Bill of Rights, is a lesson in balance; a balance designed to protect equality.  Every phrase and every Article is intended to create a system of compromises, or as it’s often referred to, checks and balances.  Each power ceded to one person or group is checked by another.

The power of the federal government is balanced with the states, and all the states with the voice of the people.  The three branches of the federal government balance and check each other; three making it impossible to tip the scales.  This system of checks and balances is well known and largely understood by most Americans.  But what we often forget is the historical context by which they came about.

In the great Constitutional Convention of 1787 the delegates of the various states met together with the original intention of refining the existing governing document of the day, the Articles of Confederation.  However, some delegates came with the unwavering intention of replacing the Articles with a new government.  This was the beginning of many extraordinarily lengthy and furious debates.

It took an entire hot Philadelphia summer, from May to September, for the delegates to write and agree up on the Constitution.  The disagreements were hotter than the summer air, in so much so that the Constitution can really be called a document of compromises.  Nearly every governing rule contained in it is the result of some compromise; from the number of Senators, the splitting of the Congress into two houses, the powers of the President, the number of Supreme Court justices, and the election of the President through an Electoral College.

It is these compromises that in and of themselves create the checks and balances of the system.  Without compromise the Articles would have been unbalanced and the Constitution would have failed miserably.  226 years later the principles of compromise and protection of equality appear to be largely forgotten.  The lessons taught to us by our fore-fathers are essentially being ignored.

There are many examples of this irresponsible amnesia in our recent political discourse.  For example on Monday, January, 14 2013 President Obama complained, “America cannot afford another debate with this Congress about whether or not they should pay the bills they’ve already racked up”.  Less recently in response to a request by Republicans to discuss the 2009 stimulus bill, the President refused to listen to Republicans or debate the merits of the bill, simply stating, “I won”.

Not to be outdone by the uncompromising president, House Speaker John Boehner has also given up on debate.  During a particularly difficult negotiation over the recent Fiscal Cliff bill Boehner offered the President an increase in taxes and then asked, “What am I getting?”   The president replied, “You don’t get anything for it. I’m taking that anyway.”  After this exchange Boehner was quoted as saying he was “done meeting with President Obama one-on-one”, and that he would no longer participate in debate with the White House.


It is this exact lack of genuine discussion and compromise that has created many of the problems our nation faces today.  There is nothing wrong at all with having strong principles and standing on those principles.  But there is something terribly wrong in thinking that we, or our leaders, or our political parties, or our principles are the only right ones.  We are wrong to believe in the superiority of our ideas to exclusion of all others, such that we refuse to even listen to those who disagree.

Many of my conservative friends will probably vehemently disagree with that statement.  But if you do, I submit that it is a grave mistake.  They would perhaps argue that our situation has occurred BECAUSE we have compromised on our principles.  I disagree.  I would submit that in those cases, we haven’t compromised, but instead have surrendered these principles back and forth as often as we’ve changed our politicians.  I would submit that we have forgotten what compromise in context of the United States government certainly means.

The Constitution proves this point emphatically in my opinion.  From a Constitutional perspective compromise should not mean a surrender of one idea or principle to another.  Instead compromise can be a policy, a law, or an article that allows two seemingly conflicting principles to peacefully co-exist, to even work together for the common good.  It is that type of compromise that creates balance.  It is that type of balance that is endangered.

Yes, there are some principles upon which we CANNOT compromise, and that we can accept no form of balancing power.  I would submit however that most of those issues are already settled.  Examples would be the need for a strong Federal government that does not allow states to secede.  Or, that every American is free, and equal, despite race, religion, or creed.  While not perfect, the major flaws in the Constitution have been addressed.

we the people

Instead, here are a few examples of principles we are choosing not to compromise on, in favor of angry, divisive, and often dishonest pretension:

Liberals traditionally believe in a strong government that constrains business, protects common citizens, and cares for our environment.  They are traditionally a party focused on compassion.   You may not agree with their conclusions about Global Warming for example, but can you in good conscience look out the window at smoggy skies, and filthy water and say we cannot do better?  We live in a time of great economic instability and wide-spread joblessness.  Is this not a time in which our government should find reasonable ways to have and encourage compassion?

Conservatives generally believe in limited government, constrained spending, and a powerful military.  In this age of runaway spending can our liberal friends not agree that more limits and constraints on government might be needed?  In an age of increasing global instability can we really argue against a strong centralized military?  Can conservatives not agree that a strong military isn’t necessarily an expensive one, and that military constraint can be equally powerful if properly implemented?

This is only scratching the surface of course.  For most issues currently facing the American people, the answer is yes, there is room for compromise.  In fact, I would submit that most Americans are still very much in the center on the big issues.  We are generally reasonable people.  Many of us are actually seeking for this kind of debate, for leaders who are willing to strike bargains that are universally beneficial.  We want to have a good and a reasonable public discourse of ideas.

But our political class, our media, and many or our own personal conversations have abandoned this standard, and in some cases have abandoned all reason.  George Washington in his Farewell Address prophetically warned our nation about party affiliations and the dangers of extremism and polarization.

“The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.

But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those which apply more immediately to your interest. Here every portion of our country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the union of the whole.”


It is this thought that should normalize our discourse, the thought that we protect individual liberty best by acting in concert.  Together, we have largely ignored this original American theme.  We have instead placed tremendous burdens (in the form of dishonest, rhetorical, “platitudinized”, angry discourse) on the platforms of the scale of American government.  In its inspired greatness this Constitutional scale is right now holding up under the tension.  But the chains that secure the scale’s platforms are straining and may soon burst.

Make no mistake; a break in this scale would have far reaching negative consequences.  We must soon remember who we are, and what we really stand for or risk the fall of our union.  We need to personally change the way we speak to each other and the way we debate.

And if we as a people place our leaders and our media instead upon the scales and find that they do not balance. If we find that they are unwilling to hold civil discourse on difficult topics.  Or if we find them so unbending as to reject sound compromise, then it is our duty as Americans to replace them.  That is our check and our balance against them.

To learn more about Josh Loveless and his campaign for U.S. House of Representatives visit:


Debt Ceilings and the Federal Budget

Debt Ceilings and the Federal Budget


By Josh Loveless

It’s January 2013!  That means it is time for many of us as families, businesses, churches, and organizations to start enacting our financial plans for the next twelve months.   As individuals, or business owners, our financial plans likely include an assessment of our financial situation at the end of the previous year, and a strategy that will dictate our financial plans for this year.

The main vehicle in financial planning for a week, month, or year is a budget.  Budgets are critical in conducting any kind of financial transaction.  I wanted to write today about the purpose of a budget, and why it is so important, especially at a federal level.  I know this should be elementary finance, but hopefully you the reader will take a moment to follow along, because there is a larger point to be made about our nation’s current situation.

I would like to quote Wikipedia in order to establish a baseline definition of budgets upon which everyone can agree:

A budget (from old French bougette, purse) is a financial plan and a list of all planned expenses and revenues. It is a plan for saving, borrowing and spending.

A budget is an important concept … an organizational plan stated in monetary terms.

In summary, the purpose of budgeting is to:

  1. Provide a forecast of revenues and expenditures, that is, construct a model of how our business might perform financially if certain strategies, events and plans are carried out.
  2. Enable the actual financial operation of the business to be measured against the forecast.
  3. Establish the cost constraint for a project, program, or operation.



In other words we use a budget as a blueprint by which we can conduct financial transactions, providing confidence that plan adherence will lead to goal achievement.  In examining that statement a little further we can draw some obvious conclusions:

  1. In order to create a budget, we first need to know and understand our current financial situation, including a candid assessment of the success or failure of previous budgets.
  2.  We must actually have quantifiable end goals established that we wish to reach with at least one ultimate date by which we want them achieved.  For families this might include saving for retirement or a vacation, or paying off debts.  For businesses, it might mean saving for a new computer system, targeting profits, or finding monies to provide a pay raise for employees.
  3. Budgets are NOT for simply tracking what we spend.  A budget is the detailed plan not the game, like a playbook in sports.  As a coach we must however hold ourselves accountable to the playbook.
  4. Budgets are not just random numbers and data points arbitrarily splashed on an excel spreadsheet, a budget provides information.

All of this seem obvious to everyone?  What does this have to do with our country?  Like many of our households the United States of America is in a state of financial disaster.  For example, I am guessing by now we’ve all seen the debt clock.  If you haven’t recently, check it out at

This IS a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.  The picture that is painted by the U.S. debt clock is one that should deeply concern every single American citizen, even those who pay few taxes.  Thanks to information like this, many Americans are finally starting to ask the two most important questions about our financial situation:

  1. How did we get here?
  2. How do we get out of this mess and avoiding repeating our mistakes?

There are lots of proposed answers out there.  Some of them are very complex.  Republicans and Democrats alike have numerous recommendations, designs, and campaign pitches addressing both.  But it seems to me that neither side is telling America the simple, hard truth:

We are here because we’ve abandoned rudimentary financial principles, and the only way out is to reestablish them as requirements.

That means that the United States Government needs a financial plan that includes all of the basic points discussed above.  We need to establish quantifiable goals with reasonable time frames.  We need to have a plan for reducing our debts.  And MOST importantly we must pass a budget.

The news is all abuzz about the federal budget, and the debt ceiling.    The truth is that for at least the last 12 years (probably much longer) these two implements have been nothing more than political gimmicks.  In fact it is so much so that the debt ceiling has NEVER been decreased, and was raised 90 times in the last century.  That’s nearly once a year.

Debt Ceiling

Your federal government has not passed a budget since April 29, 2009.  In fact the White House is now claiming that a budget is no longer necessary, and that the Congress should simply cede the debt ceiling power to the president.  These financial tools, once grounded in fiscal common sense, are now used as nothing more than talking points meant to deceive or divide the public.

From a financial perspective, every American household and business knows that not having goals, plans, or a budget is tantamount to economic suicide.  But this basic fact appears to escape the political class.  This makes the tax hikes we passed at the end of last year essentially meaningless.  It is unconscionable to demand an increase in borrowing before establishing how much is needed and why. It is time for this nonsense to come to an end.

We the people need to demand that our congress get serious about our financial situation.  We need to demand that our Congress and our President lay out a common sense financial plan with clear, attainable, quantifiable goals.   We need to demand that they pass, and adhere to a budget that is specifically designed to meet those goals.  We need to hold them accountable when they don’t follow the plan.  If our congress and our president cannot do this, they are not public servants; they are usurpers and abusers of power and should be replaced.  Let us not forget where the money they are entrusted with comes from: our time, labor, ingenuity, and prosperity; not theirs.

Debt Ceiling height

A Change in Our Conversation – Fiscal Responsibility

A Change in Our Conversation – Fiscal Responsibility

by Josh Loveless


 As many of you know (welcome to those who don’t), I am running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.  If you’ve been listening to me recently, or over the years, I have loudly proclaimed a need for a “Change in Our Conversation” at the national level.  I wanted to take the time to tell you what I mean by that statement, and fiscal responsibility is a good subject to illustrate the point.

In the 2012 Presidential election cycle we heard many speeches about our national economy and taxes.  Many ideological theories on how to fix our looming financial problems were discussed incessantly.  Most interestingly after all this discussion, we the people voted for the status quo.  We changed neither our President, nor our Congress.  Why?

It is my opinion the outcome was determined by the conversation.  In all the debates and campaigning most Americans found that there was plenty of flowery language, incisive catch phrases, political platitudes and a general pandering tone in the arguments of both sides.  Essentially what we got was a total lack of reason and common sense delivered in a shiny feel-good (or outraging) wrapper.  The inner product contained little substance.

The Democrats would have us believe that the ideas of many Republicans are worn-out, tired, and failed.  The Republicans would have us believe that the Democrats are proposing more reckless policies that lead us to our current predicament in the first place.  But neither side really offered any real solutions.  Instead they repeated the same talking points they’ve been using for years, but with different branding.

An example would be how the Democrats realized that the term “pro-choice” was to some inflammatory and non-inclusive.  They changed the brand; instead they now call pro-choice “reproductive rights”.  Who’s not for the right to control our own sex-lives and ability to make choices around procreation?  At the root however, the substance of the argument did not change.

We need to stop changing our brand or our slogans and instead change the conversation.  We need to return to talking about substance.  We need to talk about the hard truths, roll-up our sleeves and go to work.  We need a return to action.  It’s not enough to offer platitudes and campaign promises.  We require a president and a congress that is willing to concede the root of a problem; who lock themselves in a room until they agree on a tangible solution that is balanced, responsible, and appropriate (even if it isn’t politically expedient).

Take fiscal responsibility for example.  We have spent the last 60 or more years ignoring three immutable facts: 2-1=1, 1-1=0, and 1-2=-1.  You don’t need to read Adam Smith, have a PhD in economics, or be a captain of industry to understand that spending more than you take in leads to bankruptcy.  Math is not an old, tired out political idea. One plus one never equals 11.

This statement is not a philosophical one.  Nor is it one of morality, religion, ideology, or politics.   Our political class however will go to nearly any length to obscure the truth and make it seem so.  They will charge the conversation with rhetoric but they never address the root except in divisive passing acknowledgement.


It’s not enough to acknowledge the problem.  We require a solution, one that is realistic and workable.  We require a return to common sense.  We require a conversation about the root of the problem.  Again, take into consideration our prevailing conversation on taxation.

Listening to either side of the “fiscal cliff” argument one gets a very clear picture: Taxes have nothing to do with revenue.  Our politicians have proved this empirically; if we want a government program or idea bad enough we will find any means to pay for it.  This isn’t something new.  Does anyone else remember the congressional check bouncing scandals of the 1990’s, or the constant acknowledgement that Social-Security is insolvent?

Our politicians instead use taxation as a billy club, a way to influence and control.  The right would have us believe that tax policy should be used to change the economy, i.e. the George Bush tax rebate.  The left would have us believe that taxes should be used to control economic fairness and correct inadequacies in our society.  No doubt, taxes can influence both.  But taxation and tax policy are NOT at the root of our problems.  They neither caused our current economic predicament, nor our social failings.  Using taxes in this way is merely an attempt to shove us around, or force others to “see it our way”.

The conversation around taxation has to change back to: Taxes exist to generate revenue to fund the government, allowing it to provide for the general welfare as guided by the U.S. Constitution.  The conversation needs to change such that we begin to discuss the root causes of our economic and social problems, not all of which are related to policy.  It needs to change such that band aid resolutions, like taxation policy changes, are not considered a permanent solution, or a solution of any kind.

This is only one example of the change needed.  These aren’t new ideas, nor are they old and tired.  Instead, it’s a return to the foundations of any lasting society: economic common sense, balance in powers, cultural responsibility and accountability.

These aren’t minority opinions.  We don’t run our homes this way.  We don’t run our businesses this way.  We don’t run our churches this way.  We don’t run our communities this way.  It is time for the habitually silent majority to speak.  It’s time for America to demand common sense and grounded, principled leadership.

It’s time for a change in the conversation.

You can read more about Josh Loveless as a candidate at