Throwing Stones from a Glass House While Advancing an Ad Hominem Argument

by Robert Maynard

In a response to a detailed argument from Tom Pelham about how cronyism is driving up Vermont’s energy prices, Vermont Priorities founder Bob Stannard provides us with an example to two major no-nos in advancing an argument.  First of all there is a matter of advancing an ad hominem argument.  This is when one attacks the person making the argument, rather than addressing the argument itself.  Such a approach usually signals that the person engaging in the ad hominem is not capable of addressing the substance of the argument.  Then there is the attack itself.  Here we have a textbook example of why people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

Here is the part where Stannard decides to engage in a personal attack on Pelham instead of addressing the substance of his argument:

Which position is Mr. Pelham vying for in a Bruce Lisman administration?

You all do understand what’s going on here, right? Through a faux, self-financed organization, Campaign for Vermont, Mr. Lisman is positioning himself for a run for governor. Those folks in exile, like Mr. Pelham, are looking to his their cart to Lisman’s pony.

Most people couldn’t do this as they don’t have a million dollars they can afford to spend on this “campaign”. Most people didn’t get the lucky break to work for Bear Sterns and make millions just in the nick of time before the company went belly up and cost customers hundreds of millions.

Here is Tom Pelham’s response pointing out that Stannard is throwing stones from a glass house while advancing an ad hominem argument:

Bob….your flawed and narrow vision seems able only to perceive reality through the prism of political claptrap. What of substance or value do you have to offer?

To interpret my commentary above as some sort of political subterfuge is beyond silly. Whether you agree or disagree, it’s a substantive piece, it’s researched and it’s clearly not about political agendas’.

Your myopic vision expressed in the above comment is an open display of your inability to see your own inconsistencies and double standards. For your own reasons, you leap from my piece to your focus once again on Mr. Lisman and Bear Stearns in an effort to smear him and his Wall St. employment and in the process making assumptions about which you truly know nothing about.

But Bob, look to your own activities for parallels? You start a super-pac, Priorities Pac, and accept money from Lisa Steele, who got much of her wealth from selling Dow Jones & Company to Rupert Murdoch for $5 billion.

You know who Rupert Murdoch is I’m sure. He controls Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and News Corporation, the British company recently under fire for hacking e-mails. Here you can read more about the multi-billion dollar transactions between Ms. Steel, your benefactor, and Mr. Murdoch.

Now I won’t condemn Ms. Steele or Mr. Lisman for making money on Wall St. So didn’t Governor Dean’s dad and I’m a big fan of Governor Dean. Both Ms. Steele and Mr. Lisman are on the Board of the Shelburne museum and I’m sure are using their wealth to help this important Vermont institution, among others. But, I do think you look ridiculous criticizing one while accepting money from the other.

Further, while it seems to upset you that Mr. Lisman is using his own money to address a concern about which he is passionate, the future prosperity of his home state Vermont, you say nary a word about another millionaire who does the very same thing, our own Governor Shumlin.

Bob, I’ll repeat my request. If you have specific information that connects Mr. Lisman with the fall of Bear Stearns, make your case with links to documentation here on Vt. Digger. Otherwise, you continue to undermine your credibility by slinging mud, casting false innuendo and guilt by association, much in the mold of Mr. Rupert’s Fox News.

6 thoughts on “Throwing Stones from a Glass House While Advancing an Ad Hominem Argument

  1. But the difference is that VPIRG is funded by many, many other people who give money because they believe in the issues being promoted by the organization.

    Campaign for Vermont, on the other hand, is being funded nearly 100% by Mr. Lisman for the purpose of getting Mr. Lisman’s name out to the public and promoting Mr. Lisman, along with a handful of feel-good ideas.

    I think almost anyone could tell the difference between VPIRG & CFV

  2. Nice to see I made this fine publication. I think it’s legitimate to ask if Mr. Lisman is running for governor. If he is, which I suspect is the case, perhaps he should come right out and say so, just like any other candidate, instead of hiding behind a self-created organization.

    If he does not have gubernatorial aspirations then he only needs to say so and end all speculation.

    • it appears as though things have gotten rather quiet here. Perhaps I should ask again; is Bruce Lisman running for governor of Vermont in 2014, 2016 or 2018?

      • That is a worthy question to ask. I do not think anyone is disputing whether it is. Given Cass Gekas’ sudden foray from issue activism into the political arena, anything is possible. The problem comes in the context in which the question is asked. The context that prompted this article was a discussion on our energy policy. Whether or not Bruce Lisman, Cass Gekas, or anyone else is going to run for Governor is totally irrelevant to the validity of the critique of our energy policy. That is a discussion, which should proceed strictly on the merits of the issue. Diverting that discussion away from te merits of the issue not only comes off as an Ad Hominem attack on the person making the argument, but a Red Herring as well. Any student of formal logic recognizes that both of these are fallacies when used in an argument.

        • Dear True North – but isn’t it valid to ask whether or not Mr. Lisman is doing what he’s doing for the purpose of positioning himself to run for governor? I’m OK with him running for governor, but if that’s what he’s up to why doesn’t he just come out and say so instead of trying to convince us that he’s using a “non-partisan” organization to bash the governor, the legislature while saying he’s all about prosperity (whatever that is)? His organization is overwhelmingly made up of Republicans with but a few token Democrats who support Republicans.

          By anyone’s account it appears as though he’s running for governor. He could quell the rumors by stating emphatically that he is not nor, nor will he be a candidate. Until he does so his organization, “Campaign for Vt” can only be viewed as a front for his inevitable run for governor.

          • Whether or not Bruce Lisman intends to run for Governor is totally irrelevant to the validity of the work done by the Campaign for Vermont. Their work stands on its own merits and should be judged accordingly. I have a problem with a lot of the positions VPIRG takes on issues, but the decision of a major player worker for VPIRG to enter the politicla arena and run for Lt. Governor is not related to my critique of their positions. In the case of VPIRG, they also come present themselves as a non-partisan organization. In their case the path from issue advocacy to running for political office is not hypothetical speculation like it is with Mr. Lisman. Whether it be the Campaign for Vermont, or VPIRG, the critique of their work should be based solely on the merits of the positions they put forward.

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