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Nixon had Checkers, Sideshow Bob has Les Wynan and you have this

Moderator: Sideshow Bob, Councilman Les Wynan says that you're not experienced enough to be mayor. Sir, what do you have to say about that?

Sideshow Bob: I'd say that Les Wynan ought to do more thinking and less whinin’.

Lisa: There's no Councilman Les Wynan.

Bart: Good line, though.

-“The Simpsons” Season 6, Episode 5, “Sideshow Bob Roberts.”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call a classic “straw man” argument.

OK, I could find an example from the real world of politics, but I think more people have watched “The Simpsons” than have voted in recent years.

Experts have a lot of theories about where the term came from. My favorite is that back in the olden days, when things were going bad, villagers would create a manikin out of straw, blame it for all of their problems, and then knock it down as revenge.

Others say it comes from a game very similar to that in England, called “Aunt Sally.”

Whatever the source, the terms now refers to a logical fallacy. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines it this way: “A weak or imaginary argument or opponent that is set up to be easily defeated.”

In simple English, you create a fake argument that’s pretty lame, tell everyone your opponent said it, and then you destroy it.

There was no councilman Les Wynans. No one ever said what the moderator claimed Les Wynans said. Sideshow Bob made him up and made the quote up so he could make himself look good.

So, you say the cartoon example doesn’t work for you. Try this one from the real world:

Richard Nixon, when he was vice president under Eisenhower, was accused of improperly using campaign funds to pay personal expenses. When he responded, he said his critics were saying he should give back all of the gifts he received, including a little dog named Checkers.

In part, Nixon talked about how much his daughter loved the dog, and the whole family loved the dog. Then he said, “I just want to say this right now, that, regardless of what they say about it, we are going to keep it.”

The problem was, no one said a thing about Checkers; “they” did say plenty about illegal use of campaign funds, but nothing about puppies.

Nixon created a fake argument, claimed his opponents were using it, and then publicly tore them down as haters of children and puppies. He might as well have thrown in Mom and apple pie.

Straw man.

So why do I care so much about straw men?

Because one is being used against you right now.

The issue is Section 611 of the FAA authorization bill, or AIRR Act. It would make piecework pay the law when it comes to trucking.

It was contained in a paper sent by the ATA. And it was a doozy.

First, it says the provision “preserves the option to pay on a piece rate basis.” Well, that was never under threat, so why do they need this?

Second, it says that “79 percent of self-identified independent contractor truck operators included in a survey … believe Congress should enact legislation like Section 611.” The provision applies only to employees, none of which are independent contractors, so why did they survey them? Who said that they did or did not support Section 611? (And frankly, what questions were asked those truckers? I’m betting they did not offer certain options that would have more accurately portrayed what is going on here).

Third, it continually compares mileage page to state minimum wage laws. No one, and I mean no one, is asking that truckers be paid only minimum wages. What’s more, that is a reference to a California lawsuit that brought the issue up on the federal level. While the minim

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