Sunday, May 19, 2019

Ground Truth

Ground Truth

Trump is willfully ignorant and a compulsive liar. He is cruel, morally unprincipled, and destructive of democratic institutions, whether the written rule of law or the unwritten but vital norms of civil behavior in a democratic republic.

Lest there be any mistake, that is not an argument. It is the conclusion of an argument and my ground truth going forward. Almost four years of observation is congruent with the observations of those who have known him for decades: he is what he is and what he is is what he’s always been.

If someone wants to argue for Trump’s knowledge of government, reputation for honesty, compassion towards others and guided by his inner moral integrity then have at it - but not with me.

The Democratic Foreign Legion

I have submitted my voter registration request to leave the Republican Party and to become a "None" because of the "Silence of the Shams" of that party in the Senate, House and governor's offices.

Their silence or even approval of Trump's accusation that the career investigators at the FBI who uncovered both the Russian release of stolen emails on behalf of Trump's campaign and the eternal gratitude of Trump and his campaign for their help (and their apparent eagerness for more of the same in 2020) rather than faithfully serving their nation's security, in fact, committed treason.

They are doomed to become a regional white nationalist party in league with like-minded, autocratic foreign governments and with an ever dwindling share of the American electorate.

I want no part in it.

I'll not register in the Democratic party because I'm more conservative than people apparently realize (and mindful of Peter Hickey's sensitivities regarding Republicans taking refuge in the party of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren 😀 ) but, other than that - I'm all in for Democrats as they appear to be the only elected officials we have who give a damn about the constitutional rule of law. #TheNakedEmperor

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Truth is Out There…

...but I’m damned if I can find it.

Having thoroughly enjoyed an all too rare family get-together in Charlotte, NC to celebrate a grand nephew’s college graduation at a non-party (he didn’t want a party so we obliged, though I couldn’t really tell the difference), I checked out of the motel and began driving my (borrowed) Mercedes Benz SUV north through the Shenandoah Valley.

I had planned to stay at a motel near Antietam in Sharpsburg, Md. to visit the battlefield and break up the drive back to Bethlehem, PA into two parts but, the day was overcast, rainy and foggy for long stretches and at times traffic slowed to a crawl.

The GPS finally said my motel was on my right but all I saw was a patch of woods. Went back and forth a few times and found the motel tucked away somewhat behind the patch and a Waffle House out front.

Checked into the motel to get the key but, without visiting the room, went directly to the battlefield for reconnaissance. It was farther away than I anticipated and, on the way in, I was amused to see a sign directing me to the Antietam Paranormal Society.

“Well,” I thought, somewhat impiously, “there certainly is a good supply of prematurely departed souls on hand.”

The battlefield was gloomy and darker than normal due to the rain. I just went to the bookstore and bought a few books on the battle, figuring I’d prep at the motel for a more extended visit the  next day.

I had overdosed on coffee and candy in the car to stay awake for the last bit of the trip so I wasn’t particularly hungry late afternoon but figured I would be later on and would not feel like venturing out of the motel, so on the way back I followed a series of mysterious signs indicating that there was a Subway nearby.

Driving way out of my way following Subway signs that kept appearing and disappearing without revealing where the damned thing was, and having repeatedly crossed the Potomac into West Virginia and back I finally gave up. Only by the grace of God and the Mercedes Benz GPS did I find my way back to Maryland and the motel, picking up an adequate sub and soda at a Sheetz.

Now, desperately tired, I parked at the motel and carried just my CPAP machine and a bare minimum of overnight things up to my room which, while on the first floor, required me to climb a flight of stairs to get up the small hill from the parking space.

I put the food in the fridge, read for a bit, and decided to pack it in at around 5:30 thinking I needed the sleep and this way would get to the battlefield when it opened at dawn.

I slept like the dead.

The motel phone woke me up. Who on earth would call me on the motel phone?

It was the motel front desk.

“Sorry to disturb you but where did you park?”

“At the stairs, where you told me to.”

“What color is your car?”

“It’s a white, Mercedes Benz.”

“Another guest just told me there is a white SUV by the motel that’s been standing there with its rear hatch wide open.”

Holy Mother of God, as my Catholic forbears would say, I left the Mercedes - the borrowed Mercedes - wide open to the world in a strange town.

I looked at the motel clock: 7:45!!

Sweet Jesus, I had slept over 14 hours with the Mercedes open and vulnerable to any passing Tom, Dick, or Harry!

I dressed quickly and went to the vehicle. If anything it was darker and more gloomy than the day before. And, yes, the hatch was wide, wide, open.

Nothing appeared to be missing and nothing damaged.

Now, thoroughly awake and thinking I now only had a few precious hours for a battlefield visit, I quickly loaded my stuff and checked out of the motel.

There was significant traffic during the twenty minute drive to the battlefield and it was eerily dark for 8:45 AM on a Monday morning. I again meditated on the sign for the Antietam Paranormal Society as I parked in front of the Visitors’ Center. It was incredibly dark to the point that I wondered if something strange was going on - like a power outage or something.

But the street lights near the Center were working and I found it hard to believe that they’d be on emergency power.

Dark, gloomy, and not a soul in site, I ate my food from the night before thinking that in just a few minutes, at 9:00, the Center would open.

Nine AM came and went. The Center remained dark. No one - neither staff nor visitor - showed up. The sign said the park closed at dark and it was certainly dark. If anything, it was darker now then when I left the motel.

And now I was definitely creeped out. What in hell?!

I took out my cell phone and looked at the time.



“PM?! WTF?!”

I had looked at the motel clock when I got the call and it definitely said 7:45. AM. I had checked!

Hm. It’s 9:15 PM on Sunday night. I checked out of my motel after being there a little more than four hours. I’m wide awake and four hours from home.

So I aborted my battlefield visit (the one that got away) and headed home.

On the way back to the highway I again passed the sign for the Antietam Paranormal Society and decided I’m either going crazy or the gray deceased were having some fun with a Yankee.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Trump supporters must be bound by the Mueller Report

Truth claim: 

If you accept Barr’s conclusion of “no collusion” you must accept the accuracy of everything in the Mueller Report.


Because Barr’s conclusion was based on HIS OWN, STATED, ASSUMPTION that everything in the Mueller Report is “the factual record” of the actions of Russia and the Trump Campaign so, if you do not accept Barr’s assumption that this is the case then you CANNOT cite Barr’s characterization of Mueller’s report as accurate.

More colloquially, you can't have it both ways!

Ground Truth

"We accepted the statements in the report as the factual record," Barr said. "We did not go underneath it to see whether or not they were accurate. We accepted it as accurate."
Attorney General William Barr admitted he didn't look at the underlying evidence before concluding Trump didn't obstruct justice in the Russia probe (Business Insider)

“"After nearly two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas, and hundreds of warrants and witness interviews, the Special Counsel confirmed that the Russian government-sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those schemes," Barr said, adding that Americans "should be grateful" for the findings.
He said that Mueller's report also went on to "consider whether certain actions of the president could amount to obstruction of the Special Counsel investigation."

***     ***     ***

"As I addressed in my March 24th letter, the Special Counsel did not make a traditional prosecutorial judgment regarding this allegation. Instead, the report recounts ten episodes involving the President and discusses potential legal theories for connecting these actions to elements of an obstruction offense," Barr explained. "After carefully reviewing the facts and legal theories outlined in the report, and in consultation with the Office of Legal Counsel and other Department lawyers, the Deputy Attorney General and I concluded that the evidence developed by the Special Counsel is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense."
Barr affirms Mueller probe found no evidence of Russia-Trump collusion, prepares to release report (Fox News)


Ground Truth (Wikipedia)

Toulmin Method

Superhero Rules: Truth, Justice, and the American Way

It is increasingly apparent to me that Trump supporters that refuse to even look at the evidence and who keep posting the same, discredited nonsense are NOT engaging in argument.
They are running up the team flag to see who responds.
Well, I'm doing the same.
Those who are not on my team are not my enemies. And they are not really even adversaries. Many are family, friends, and co-workers.
So I'll hear their concerns and attempt to address them, but I will consider them irrelevant to serious discussion regarding the issues facing America and how best to respond to them.
My team looks like this.
1. TRUTH: We demand honest discussion based on evidence-supported, rational argument.
2. JUSTICE: We demand humanity, moral integrity, and public accountability from society's leaders.
3. THE AMERICAN WAY: We demand support for inherited democratic institutions beginning with the rule of law.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019


Trumpists can spin like tops but Mueller's report has dropped, historians will consider it the bedrock source regarding who did what in the 2016 election (yes, even over Rudy 🤣 ) and, in our time, the gods in DC will continue to heave lightning bolts at each other as this continues to play out on the national scale.

So, I ask myself, what can I - mere mortal in Bethlehem, PA - do to occupy myself (#OccupyMyself ?) while waiting for the no doubt momentous national events to come?

AS A CHRISTIAN: Christians have never been married to one type of government, though I consider myself beyond blessed to have lived in a democratic republic. My duty as a Christian is the same no matter WHO is running the show and no matter WHAT (if any) rules they feel compelled to follow.

It is the duty of a Christian to ally ourselves with the marginalized and unmask and rebuke death's false claim of authority over the human race as that claim is operationalized in deathly and dehumanizing systems of poverty, racism, materialism, militarism, etc.

AS AN AMERICAN: As an American of any or no religious faith, the Trump administration has laid out the core duties of a patriot.

1. INSIST on facts.
2. INSIST on the rule of law under the Constitution.
3. INSIST on humanity and decency in our leaders and ourselves.
4. INSIST on transparency and moral integrity as the standard of leadership even though human nature may fail the test in one specific case or another.
5. INVEST OURSELVES in those civic institutions of a democratic republic that mediate between the consolidated power of the nation state and the atomized liberty of free individuals.

And, yes, that last one especially is a TRULY CONSERVATIVE point of view first articulated by Edmund Burke, expanded upon by De Tocqueville, and now stolen from Yuval Levin by Bill Bekkenhuis. 🙂

I will keep an eye on international and national issues in Washington, DC, communicate with my representatives, and engage in civil protests if necessary.

But with Mueller's report out, our energies are now best expended in our neighborhoods and communities, whether by participating in local politics, supporting the Red Cross or the Boy Scouts, the local fire department, and / or the church or mosque or synagogue or values community of choice.

With Mueller's report, D-Day is over. The beachhead has been secured.

But there's a lot of house-to house fighting - for facts, for decency, for humanity - to come.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Facts are stubborn things.

We demanded a judgment from an independent, unbiased arbiter on the legality of Trump’s and his campaign’s actions regarding Russia’s criminal conspiracy into the 2016 campaign and whether his subsequent actions constituted obstruction of justice.

And, based on what I know right now, the American people got that from the Department of Justice.

Now it goes to Congress to make a political decision on impeachment and conviction and / or the electorate to make a political decision on re-elected Trump for another four years. And the House should attend to its oversight responsibilities so sadly neglected for the past two years.

But, as John Adams said in defending the British soldiers in the Boston Massacre (again, not a popular cause):

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence. John Adams
For all the consternation being shown by my fellow never-Trumpers on MSNBC and elsewhere, Mueller's and Barr's decisions seem transparent.

There were acts that might have been obstruction. Mueller decided to not render a decision on whether or not they were criminal instead listing each instance and reasons for / against prosecution as a crime that could be proved beyond a reasonable doubt... and booted the decision to Barr.

Barr looked at the list and decided that no single instance could be proved according to federal statutes stipulating that for the action to be a criminal offence the prosecution would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt 1) engaged in obstructive conduct 2) with the corrupt intent 3) to obstruct an impending legal proceeding.

To put this in an extreme way… Trump could have acted 100 times and each and every time have met two of the three conditions beyond a reasonable doubt but with insufficient evidence on the third and Barr would be justified in his decision.

Barr determined that, regarding obstruction, there was insufficient evidence to charge Trump with a violation of the obstruction of justice statutes.

Maybe it will turn out that Barr is on Russia's payroll and has Mueller bound and gagged at Guantanamo (which Mueller would probably count as a vacation at this point).

But until such time as someone gives me some really good reason to believe that, I am going with the independent DOJ decision that Trump committed no obstruction of justice CRIME that he could be successfully prosecuted for irrespective of DOJ policy against indicting a sitting president.

From Barr’s Summary..."Generally speaking, to obtain and sustain an obstruction conviction, the government would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person, acting with corrupt intent, engaged in obstructive conduct with a sufficient nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding. In cataloguing the President's actions, many of which took place in public view, the report identifies no actions that, in our judgment, constitute obstructive conduct, had a nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding, and were done with corrupt intent, each of which, under the Department's principles of federal prosecution guiding charging decisions, would need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to establish an obstruction-of-justice offense."

Saturday, December 08, 2018

LET ME SAY THIS ABOUT THAT (Richard M. Nixon, maybe)

LET ME SAY THIS ABOUT THAT (Richard M. Nixon, maybe) Last night's legal events established that if Trump was a mayor, a governor, Hillary Clinton, or anyone other than POTUS, the Southern District of New York would indict him for his primary role in directing Cohen in a criminal conspiracy in which Cohen committed two felony campaign finance violations. And they believe they could prove it beyond a reasonable doubt with evidence backing up Cohen's story. By my lights, he is now - beyond any doubt - impeachable. Although, for different reasons, neither House Republicans nor House Democrats, don't want to go there - *I* don't want to go there unless there is a reasonable chance of conviction in the Senate - the evidence, the Constitution, the will of the people as reflected in the last election, and their own historical legacy, they may be all but compelled to go there.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

To the Deplorables

Your anxieties and difficulties are worthy of respect. NOT your politics.

We have a racist, autocratic president and a once respectable political party whose professional class has rolled over and died to cling to his coattails and a cable network that has basically become state TV on his behalf.

The ARE deplorable.

As for just plain folks who enable that apparatus, they are ALSO deplorable by association, albeit to different degrees and in different domains.

There are those ATTRACTED by his racism and autocratic disregard for the Constitution and a cult-like attachment to Trump as a person that makes issues of true and false, right and wrong irrelevant. We'll call them the CORE deplorables. (Or, as I term them, the 5th Ave. Club.)

There are those who like his policies on immigration, federal judges, taxes, trade, etc. and will do a Paul Ryan shrug to the rest. We'll call them the TOLERANT deplorables: racism and autocracy off-putting but, so long as they get what they want, they'll tolerate it.

And then there are those who are just plain too occupied with trying to keep their heads above water to spend any time even casually investigating what Trump is actually doing and considering its moral implications. The ones who would vote for Jack the Ripper if he had an (R) next to his name on a ballot.

I am empowered by God in Christ to love these people but I cannot respect their politics because ALL the deplorables have one thing in common: racism, ideology, and / or self-interest HAVE PUT THEM OUTSIDE THE ARENA OF RATIONAL DISCOURSE.