Wholly misleading half truth: Repealing an amendment


Technically speaking, this is true. However, it is also a strawman. In practical terms, the constitution can be changed by reinterpreting it, which is within the purview of the Supreme Court.

The constitution states the amendment process:

Article. V.

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

However, this ignores the fact that the Supreme Court can “reinterpret” the constitution.

For example, the federal government is barred from taking powers not explicitly granted by the constitution by the tenth amendment:

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Between 1917 and 1919, this was interpreted to mean that the government may not outlaw foods or drinks, especially if they are manufactured and consumed in the same state. Therefore, to pass prohibition it was necessary to pass the 18th amendment:


Passed by Congress December 18, 1917. Ratified January 16, 1919. Repealed by amendment 21.

Section 1.
After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.

Section 2.
The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Section 3.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

Yet today, without any relevant change in the constitution itself, the federal government runs the Drug Enforcement Agency that forbids other drugs.

Very few people are afraid that the government will abolish the second amendment from the written constitution. But if it is interpreted to mean “the state militia may bear arms”, or “only such arms as existed when the Bill or Rights was ratified”, it becomes dead letter.

This fear is based on:

  1. Gun control laws that restricted the right to bear arms, and were approved by the supreme court as not violating the second amendment.
  2. Statements, including from Hillary Clinton herself, supporting further restrictions on the right to bear arms.

Wholly misleading half truth: Non-essential


There are things that have to run 24×7. Law enforcement, ambulances and hospitals, fire dept., 911 dispatch, etc. Those are called essential.

Some non-essential employees fulfill other functions, which have to be fulfilled for the essentials to happen. If payroll doesn’t pay the police, if the fire department doesn’t have access to the budget for fuel, or if the 911 dispatch center gets disconnected from electricity because the bill wasn’t paid, what happens? How about if the roads that the ambulance needs to get to your house aren’t maintained, even though they aren’t maintained during a snow storm? Or the court system that takes people arrested by the police and sends them to prison or sets them free? Those are all non-essential on a 24×7 basis. They can all take a week off to avoid dying in snow related accidents. But if they took much longer than that, there would be effects.

Bad Comparison: Dissimilar Events

This is not a valid argument, because the two events were very different.

In Garland, TX it was an event guaranteed to upset Muslims. The event organizers, very prudently, hired guards to keep the events safe. An attack was expected, guards were there, and it was resolved successfully.

In San Bernardino, CA the attack was unexpected. While having CHL holders might have helped matters, we cannot be sure. People are much easier to attack when they think they are safe. Therefore, this comparison is invalid. A better comparison would be to an unexpected act of violence, such as this one.

Wholly Misleading Half Truth: Worker’s Share of Corporate Revenue

Technically speaking, this is true. However, it conjures up a picture of the line employees getting the same share of revenue, which is not in the data. Worker pay includes everybody from the CEO to the mailroom clerk, when the CEO gets a salary and stock options. It excludes dividends, but for tax reasons dividends are tax inefficient.

Those who don’t compensate their employees enough end up having trouble attracting good workers and often lose their best employees to competitors.

This part of the explanation is true. However, but the fact is that the mix of employee value changes with time. It used to be that you needed Joe the production worker, who was a hard and conscientious worker even if he wasn’t too bright. Now Joe’s grandson works in Taco Bell because those production jobs are automated. On the other hand, while Tracy Technician wasn’t that much more important than her husband Joe, the other grandson, Trevor Technician, basically runs the whole factory by himself and is much more productive, with payment to match.

Wholly Misleading Half Truth: Ignoring Time

This meme assumes that “Republican” and “Democrat” are fixed labels. It ignores the fact that the 15th amendment was ratified in 1870. Obamacare is from 2010, 140 years later. The lowest level official involved in approving laws and amendments is representative, and the minimum age for those is 25. In other words, to have supporter or opposed both policies would require a politician to be 165 years old when lobbying about Obamacare. Such decrepit politicians do not exist, AFAIK.

The labels are the same, but the content is different. To claim that there really is a meaningful connection between the two groups (either Republicans in 1870 and Republican in 2010, or Democrat in 1870 and Democrat in 2010) requires more than hand waving.

Wholly Misleading Half Truth: Trump’s Business Failures

It wasn’t personal bankruptcy, but the bankruptcy of failed companies. Having four companies fail sounds like a terrible business record. Considering every real estate property is probably its own company (to allow external investments and protect the owners should that particular property fail), that depends on how many properties he has in total. Compared to that number, four failures aren’t a such an unbroken record of failure as they appear.

To be clear, I am not saying that Donald Trump would make a good president. He has a track record of great salesmanship, but that isn’t necessarily an important job qualification. I am, however, saying that this meme, while true, is misleading.

h/t Peter Shalen for the logic hole here.