Trump, His Critics, And The Julie Principle

We return now to “The Julie Principle,” an ethics concept I introduced three and a half  years ago. “The Julie Principle lies at the center of tolerance in its most productive sense. It also will keep you from going crazy “ was how the post was introduced. Here is the guts of it.

When a characteristic or a behavior pattern appears to be hard-wired into someone, it makes no sense to keep complaining about it. You either resolve to tolerate it ( and accept responsibility for the consequences of doing so), or decide that it is too much to endure, meaning that the relationship has to end.  “Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly…” [ Note: this is the most famous lyric in the second most famous song in “Showboat,” “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man o’ Mine,” sung by the tragic, abused mulatto Julie.]

The Julie Principle comes in handy in resolving many ethical dilemmas. In making an ethical analysis requiring balancing, the illusion, when it is an illusion, that a major part of the equation can be removed by just a little more advocacy, education or pressure permanently warps the process. We have been debating same-sex marriage here in several threads, and the illusion that gays can change their orientation, that it is a choice rather than part of their essence, is a massive impediment to reaching a rational accord. The Julie Principle applies. Do we want gay Americans to be part, and feel like a part, of the American fabric, or do we want to make what is essential to their being a deal-breaker? We’re the ones with the choice, not them.

I think the Julie Principle makes the choice obvious. It makes the choice obvious in the immigration debate as well. All those illegals are here. They have ties to family, the economy and the community: they aren’t leaving. “Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly…” Does it make sense to keep punishing million of people for what they can’t change, or do we accept them for the good they can do from this point on? Sure, it would be preferable if we hadn’t allowed so many to walk across our boarders…But it’s too late to do anything about that. 

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly…”

The challenge in executing the Julie Principle is how you accept your bird or fish without letting that act corrupt your own values, or stop you from continuing to advocate and fight for them.

The left-wing media and still-bitter Democrats and progressives really need to learn the Julie Principle regarding Donald Trump, and fast. It might be too late to stop them from going crazy, but if they don’t learn it, they will drive everyone else crazy, and still accomplish nothing.

Yesterday, many, not several but many, of my Angry Left Facebook friends posted links to stories attacking Trump’s silly tweet about him really winning the popular vote and there being millions of fraudulent votes for Hillary Clinton. “Is he going to do this sort of thing his entire administration?” one friend asked.


If so, then you are going to go nuts, and you will just become irrelevant and annoying.

The New York Times solemnly pronounced this morning that Trump’s tweet is a damnable lie. No, it’s really not. He is not making a serious assertion. This the President-Elect’s childish, unprofessional way of striking back when he feels he has been wronged, and indeed, he has been, and is being wronged. The bizarre Jill Stein-Clinton recount is nothing more than a calculated slap in his face, the latest in a long chain of unprecedented Democratic insults proclaiming that he should not be regarded as or treated as a legitimate selection in a legitimate election. We know how Trump acts; we saw it over and over again in the campaign. If we want him to address this bad habit, which only undermines his own credibility—really, who believes that there were “millions” of fraudulent votes cast for Hillary, except maybe Trump?—then the responsible, ethical approach is to respectfully, fairly, rationally explain why this tit-for-tat tantrum doesn’t work in the Oval Office, and will harm, not help, his image and power.

Acting as if every completely characteristic and usually predictable act by Trump is a shock and a horror is unproductive, and unnecessary, unless one wants his administration to be constantly bogged down by tangential controversies, like his campaign was.

The Julie Principle also applies to more substantive and less legitimately objectionable acts. For example, the news that Trump will appoint Tom Price, a determined Obamacare foe, as head of HHS, is being reported as if it is a complete shock and disgrace that Trump would do such a thing, and how dare he? It’s ridiculous. Trump said he would proceed with plans to dismantle Obama’s messy and dishonestly -sold “signature achievement,” and he has a Republican Congress that has vowed to do the same. Why are his critics freaking out about the obvious?

Donald Trump, more than any national figure in my lifetime,  requires a careful, measured application of The Julie Principle to serve everyone’s best interest. Screaming “TRUMP IS TRUMP! ARRGHHHHH!” for four years will do no good at all. Find a way to co-exist with him so his negative proclivities do as little damage as possible and his positive ones have a chance to thrive, and save the explosions of indignation for substantive matters where opposition is essential.

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly…”


108 thoughts on “Trump, His Critics, And The Julie Principle


    Ben Shapiro framed this pretty nicely on CNN when he said “If the media is going to turn it up to 11 every time Trump tweets, it’s going to be a long administration.”

    I’d like to pretend I’m surprised at the constant outrage flowing from his detractors, but I just can’t find it in myself to be that shocked when the outrage mob gets outraged anymore. Which come to think of it… might be it’s own incarnation of the Julie principle.

    On the other hand, I’m annoyed that he still has a Twitter account, and some of the stuff he says is *so* stupid. It should be illegal to burn the flag, eh Donald? I get it, I get it…. Symbolism, Patriotism, Manners… But when did burning the flag become America’s drawing Mohammad? If someone tries to tell me I can’t burn a flag, I’m going to do it just to prove you wrong. Hell, keep it up and I’ll burn one a day for a year (or at least until I get bored and I feel my point is made.).

    • On the other hand, I’m annoyed that he still has a Twitter account, and some of the stuff he says is *so* stupid. It should be illegal to burn the flag, eh Donald? I get it, I get it…. Symbolism, Patriotism, Manners… But when did burning the flag become America’s drawing Mohammad? If someone tries to tell me I can’t burn a flag, I’m going to do it just to prove you wrong. Hell, keep it up and I’ll burn one a day for a year (or at least until I get bored and I feel my point is made.).

      I’ll gladly burn one with ya.

  2. What about Trump saying he would imprison and strip people of their citizenship for exercising their 1st amendment rights? Do we just shrug our shoulders at that too? At what point are we normalizing and passively allowing rights to be stripped away by whistling and looking the other way? Shouldn’t Americans draw attention to and/or protest what they feel are wrongs? I guess I simply don’t have the “obedience to authority” impulse as strongly as other people, because your suggestions strikes me as being deeply wrong.

      • Never mind…I see now you are referring to the flag-burning tweet. Which is ridiculous, both the tweet, but especially the freak-out. It’s an opinion, just like Bernie and Hillary’s equally wrong-headed opinion that the law should be able to ban books and movies if they are funded by corporations, associations and organizations of citizens during a campaign. It was an opinion that had some backing in the law until the Supreme Court clarified that flag-burning was speech. Trump can believe that people who burn the flag are symbolically rejecting their citizenship—so what? Can he do anything about it? No. Is it settled law that it is speech? Yes. Can he say he disagrees with the law, and really thinks flag-burning should eb punished? Sure, and since it isn’t something within his power to change, it is just irritating.

        • just like Bernie and Hillary’s equally wrong-headed opinion that the law should be able to ban books and movies if they are funded by corporations, associations and organizations of citizens during a campaign.

          That is not their opinion.

          • That IS their opinion, because that’s what the law struck down in Citizens United would have allowed. Read the oral argument. The government argued in Citizens United that the law should be able to ban books, and a movie was the object of the challenged enforcement.

        • Here is the Dissent in Texas v. Johnson, by current liberal hero, of all people, former Justice Stevens. He argued that simply calling flag-burning speech undermined the power of the protest. Trump doesn’t have tyhe education or accument to make his case, but his opinion is simply not the mind-blowing calumny you make it out to be.

          From the DISSENTING OPINION By Justice Stevens:

          The Court’s opinion ends where proper analysis of the issue should begin. Of course ”the Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.” None of us disagrees with that proposition. But it is equally well settled that certain methods of expression may be prohibited if (a) the prohibition is supported by a legitimate societal interest that is unrelated to suppression of the ideas the speaker desires to express; (b) the prohibition does not entail any interference with the speaker’s freedom to express those ideas by other means; and (c) the interest in allowing the speaker complete freedom of choice among alternative methods of expression is less important than the societal interest supporting the prohibition.

          Contrary to the position taken by counsel for the flag-burners in Texas v. Johnson, it is now conceded that the Federal Government has a legitimate interest in protecting the symbolic value of the American flag. Obviously that value cannot be measured, or even described, with any precision. It has at least these two components; in times of national crisis, it inspires and motivates the average citizen to make personal sacrifices in order to achieve societal goals of overriding importance; at all times, it serves as a reminder of the paramount importance of pursuing the ideals that characterize our society.

          The first question the Court should consider is whether the interest in preserving the value of that symbol is unrelated to suppression of the ideas that flag-burners are trying to express. In my judgment the answer depends, at least in part, on what those ideas are. A flag-burner might intend various messages. The flag-burner may wish simply to convey hatred, contempt, or sheer opposition directed at the United States. This might be the case if the flag were burned by an enemy during time of war.

          Motivations of Flag-Burners

          A flag-burner may also, or instead, seek to convey the depth of his personal conviction about some issue, by willingly provoking the use of force against himself. In so doing, he says that ”my disagreement with certain policies is so strong that I am prepared to risk physical harm (and perhaps imprisonment) in order to call attention to my views.” This second possibility apparently describes the expressive conduct of the flag-burners in these cases. Like the protesters who dramatized their opposition to our engagement in Vietnam by publicly burning their draft cards – and who were punished for doing so – their expressive conduct is consistent with affection for this country and respect for the ideals that the flag symbolizes.

          There is at least one further possibility; a flag-burner may intend to make an accusation against the integrity of the American people who disagree with him. By burning the embodiment of America’s collective commitment to freedom and equality, the flag burner charges that the majority has forsaken that commitment that continued respect for the flag is nothing more that hypocrisy. Such a charge may be made even if the flag-burner loves the country and zealously pursues the ideals that the country claims to honor.

          The idea expressed by a particular act of flag-burning is necessarily dependent on the temporal and political context in which it occurs. In the 1960’s it may have expressed opposition to the country’s Vietnam policies, or at least to the compulsory draft. In Texas v. Johnson, it apparently expressed opposition to the platform of the Republican Party. In these cases, the respondents have explained that it expressed opposition to racial discrimination, to the failure to care for the homeless, and. of course, to statutory prohibitions of flag-burning. In any of these examples, the protesters may wish both to say that their own position is the only one faithful to liberty and equality and to accuse their fellow citizens of hypocritical indifference to -or even of a selfish departure from – the ideals which the flag is supposed to symbolize. The ideas expressed by flag-burners are thus various and often ambiguous.

          Legitimate Government Interests

          The Government’s legitimate interest in preserving the symbolic value of the flag is, however, essentially the same regardless of which of many different ideas may have motivated a particular act of flag-burning. As I explained in my dissent in Johnson, the flag uniquely symbolizes the ideas of liberty, equality, and tolerance – ideas that Americans have passionately defended and debated throughout our history.

          The flag embodies the spirit of our national commitment to those ideals. The message thereby transmitted does not take a stand upon our disagreements, except to say that those disagreements are best regarded as competing interpretations of shared ideals. It does not judge particular policies, except to say that they command respect when they are enlightened by the spirit of liberty and equality. To the world, the flag is our promise that we will continue to strive for these ideals. To us, the flag is a reminder both that the struggle for liberty and equality is unceasing, and that our obligation of tolerance and respect for all or our fellow citizens encompasses those who disagree with us – indeed, even those whose ideas are disagreeable or offensive .

          Thus, the Government may – indeed, it should – protect the symbolic value of the flag without regard to the specific content of the flag-burners’ speech. The prosecution in this case does not depend upon the object of the defendants’ protest. It is, moreover, equally clear that the prohibition does not entail any interference with the speaker’s freedom to express his or her ideas by other means. It may well be true that other means of expression may be less effective in drawing attention to those ideas, but that is not itself a sufficient reason for immunizing flag burning. Presumably a gigantic fireworks display or a parade of nude models in a public park might draw even more attention to a controversial message, but such methods of expression are nevertheless subject to regulation.

          A Question of Judgment

          This case therefore comes down to a question of judgment. Does the admittedly important interest in allowing every speaker to choose the method of expressing his or her ideas that he or she deems most effective and appropriate outweigh the societal interest in preserving the symbolic value of the flag? (1) This importance of the individual interest in selecting the preferred means of communication; (2) the importance of the national symbol; and (3) the question whether tolerance of flag-burning will enhance or tarnish that value. The opinions in Texas v. Johnson demonstrate that reasonable judges may differ with respect to each of these judgments.

          The individual interest is unquestionably a matter of great importance. Indeed, it is one of the critical components of the idea of liberty that the flag itself is intended to symbolize. Moreover, it is buttressed by the societal interest in being alerted to the need for thoughtful response to voices that might otherwise go unheard. The freedom of expression protected by the First Amendment embraces not only the freedom to communicate particular ideas, but also the right to communicate them effectively. That right, however, is not absolute – the communicative value of a well-placed bomb in the Capitol does not entitle it to the protection of the First Amendment.

          Burning a flag is not, of course, equivalent to burning a public building. Assuming that the protester is burning his own flag, it causes no physical harm to other persons or to their property. The impact is purely symbolic, and it is apparent that some thoughtful persons believe that impact, far from depreciating the value of the symbol, will actually enhance its meaning. I most respectfully disagree.

          Indeed, what makes this case particularly difficult for me is what I regard as the damage to the symbol that has already occurred as a result of this Court’s decision to place its stamp of approval on the act of flag-burning. A formerly dramatic expression of protest is now rather commonplace. In today’s marketplace of ideas, the public burning of a Vietnam draft card is probably less provocative than lighting a cigarette. Tomorrow flag burning may produce a similar reaction. There is surely a direct relationship between the communicative value of the act of flag burning and the symbolic value of the object being burned.

          The symbolic value of the American flag is not the same today as it was yesterday. Events during the last three decades have altered the country’s image in the eyes of numerous Americans, and some now have difficulty understanding the message that the flag conveyed to their parents and grandparents – whether born abroad and naturalized or native born. Moreover, the integrity of the symbol has been compromised by those leaders who seem to advocate compulsory worship of the flag even by individuals whom it offends, or who seem to manipulate the symbol of national purpose into a pretext for partisan disputes about meaner ends. And, as I have suggested, the residual value of the symbol after this Court’s decision in Texas v. Johnson is surely not the same as it was a year ago.

          Given all these considerations, plus the fact that the Court today is really doing nothing more than reconfirming what it has already decided, it might be appropriate to defer to the judgment of the majority and merely apply the doctrine of stare decisis to the case at hand. That action, however, would not honestly reflect my considered judgment concerning the relative importance of the conflicting interests that are at stake. I remain persuaded that the considerations identified in my opinion in Texas v. Johnson are of controlling importance in this case as well.

          Accordingly, I respectfully dissent.

        • I agree with you that Trump doesn’t stand a chance of actually making flag-burning illegal again. That doesn’t make his totalitarian impulses any better. Someone who wants to ban flag-burning, but can’t, will find other, more practical ways to constrain freedom.

          I also think it’s fair to condemn politicians who want to ban individual gun ownership, even though they don’t stand a chance of overturning 2A.

          • I guess I don’t see the sinister link you do. My Dad was pretty much a libertarian, but as a wounded veteran, he found flag-burning reprehensible, and materially harmful (no pun intended).

            The second amendment could be gutted to the point that it was useless. All that would be needed is a SCOTUS ruling declaring it moot, and referring only to Colonial militias. I agree this would be tough.

          • Left wing political correctness has already done far more than Trump could do to restrain freedom. For example, the universities speech codes and obsession with microaggressions. If I choose to put a “Make America Great” bumper sticker on my car and drove on the local university campus, I’m pretty sure that security would be called and I would be directed to leave the campus.

            • “I’m pretty sure that security would be called
              and I would be directed to leave the campus.”

              And I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t. Come on.

              I suggest this is an an example of creeping Trumpism–sloppy use of hyperbole, casual language that blurs the boundaries between metaphor and fact.

              Thanks to the Tweeter-in-chief-elect, we can expect more assaults like this on reality-based language–flag-burning, Mexican-paid walls, mythical cheering Muslims, voting illegals–but we don’t have to succumb to it.

              • Why do you say dumb things that make you look like a silly twit (with all courtesy I’m not saying you are dumb or a silly twit, just that you say dumb things that make you look like a silly twit)?

                1) Hyperbole has been a solid rhetorical device for too long for you to pretend like it is new.

                2) Hyperbole / sarcasm / hysterical comments have been on the rise for a couple *decades* now.

                3) Hyperbole has been used often on these forums since I’ve been active, which began in 2012.

                4) You are well known for your own hyperbolic and hysterical comments as well.

                As someone who sells himself as an erudite man, I KNOW that you know that points 1 through 4 are accurate. But yet, you take this opportunity to make a disingenuous comment flying in the face of points 1 throuh 4. Why?

                • Texagg, dial it down.

                  Hyperbole has been around since Aristophanes. At least. I am not “pretending it is new.”

                  I suspect you’re right that it’s been on the increase for a couple of decades now.

                  I agree with you (from another comment) that “It’s a good bet that rhetoric of our nation WILL spiral downhill as a result of Trump’s rhetoric.”

                  Which was basically my point: I say the Twit-in-chief-elect is ALREADY having a deleterious effect; you seem to be saying it’s still in the future. Tomato, Tomahto.

                  Let me make a non-hyperbolic set of observations that I suspect most of us would agree to:

                  1. Everyone on this blog engages in hyperbole to some extent; Jack uses it to great rhetorical success quite frequently; it is an accepted literary device.

                  2. It is also capable of being over-used, with some deleterious effects – incivility, disrespect, dismissiveness – which are harmful to social interaction.

                  3. We as a society are at (or somewhere near, if you prefer) a tipping point of such over-use.

                  4. MOST (if not all) of us denizens of this blog (including myself) could do with a little dialing back of our own levels of hyperbole usage (I specifically exclude Jack because I think blog-writing should have different rules than blog-commenting).

                  5. SOME of us could do with a little more dialing back than others.

                  And I’m intentionally not suggesting an objective “Hyperbolic velocity” rating scale for all of us, because I think it’s ideally something done individually, each on our own (and because it would inevitably look hyperbolic itself).

                  • Valid points, but you don’t get to pivot away from your error.

                    My comment to you was an observation of your fallacy applying this “Trump effect” directly to Wayne.

                    I’ll conclude, by your pivot, that you acknowledge this error and settle for that.

                    • And of course, your opening line is silly. I’m not sure what you are asking me to dial down from? Identifying serious trends you exhibit in the credibility of your commenting?

                      Nope. Gonna keep coming.

                    • charles is right; Wayne proclaimed that the left was worse and more totalitarian/freedom-hating than Trump, and then the only example of this he could provide was something that has never happened and likely never will happen. Retreating to “he was being hyperbolic” doesn’t make his original argument any better.

                      And tex, a trend I notice in your comments is that you take people you disagree with literally–to the point of overlooking the clear meaning of their points–but allow for “hyperbole” from those you agree with ideologically. You also act like a condescending asshole to everyone you disagree with.

                    • Erm…Wayne’s first sentence IS reasonable analysis…surely you’ve read Jack’s posts *clearly* demonstrating the Left’s increased love of totalitarianism in academia. Now one can debate if Trump’s opinion is or is not worse than what the Left has *actually done* in academia, but Wayne’s first bit is reasonable analysis. The last bit IS hyperbole, you denying that? And it doesn’t undermine the first bit one iota.

                      “And tex, a trend I notice in your comments is that you take people you disagree with literally–to the point of overlooking the clear meaning of their points–but allow for “hyperbole” from those you agree with ideologically.”

                      Link or didn’t happen.

                      “You also act like a condescending asshole to everyone you disagree with.”

                      Not true. Just you, charles and deery, who in particular demonstrate an active unwillingness to be objective and a perpetual obtuseness when presented with logic and a persistent imagination that you’ve never been schooled on particular topics when you repeat errors that you’ve been corrected on. In short, you’ve earned it.

                    • And after re-reading your reply, I realize you’ve completely missed the mark anyway. Charles specifically made his reply to Wayne as an example of the effects of what charles calls “creeping Trumpisms”. I merely indicated that charles was wrong that Wayne’s use of hyperbole is due to Trump’s rhetorical irresponsibility.

                      So no, charles wasn’t right, but way to assist in the attempted pivot.

                    • “You also act like a condescending asshole to everyone you disagree with.”

                      Also, I know I’ve explained this before, but I take extra care not to ratchet up aggressive debate until after someone demonstrates abject obtuseness in a particular thread. It’s just unfortunate when any particular person, with a history of obtuseness, already starts a thread in such a manner.

              • “I suggest this is an an example of creeping Trumpism–sloppy use of hyperbole, casual language that blurs the boundaries between metaphor and fact.”

                Excellent point, Charles. I should have added to my “Nation of Assholes” prediction an “A Nation of Inarticulate Blatherers” follow-up. Then again, we had both Bushes, neither of who could be relied upon to speak clearly. But they were just garbled. Trump is something else.

                • Very poor showing. Government employees are not allowed to display political signs while on the job. This applies even to school employees; I have seen teachers in my district complain that they were asked to park across the street from campus because their car has Hillary Clinton bumper stickers. I felt no sympathy for them. You have no evidence that this decision was politically biased or that it would not apply equally to someone with a leftist political placard.

                • La-la land? That is far, far from a valid counter-example.

                  First, you (presumably) are not a federal employee.
                  Second, as you point out, the local university is not a federal workplace.
                  Third, there is therefore no Hatch Act to even be considered relevant in the case of you driving around a college campus.

                  You don’t find those distinctions relevant? I certainly do.

        • I don’t understand you anymore Jack. Are you now saying that the opinions of the President-elect do not matter, that they don’t influence millions of Americans? Do I have to go back and pull the dozens of times that you criticized Obama for speaking out against police shootings or mass shootings and how, to paraphrase you, he was damaging the very fabric of society? Please be consistent — Presidential “opinions” either matter or they don’t.

          • I am saying, and it’s clearly true, that all opinions don’t matter equally, and that the statements of an individual, President or not, need to be understood in context. The freakout over this flag tweet is typical. The news media and half the cointry pre-hates Trump, so every typical outburst is treated like the end of the world. Prior to 1990, the opinion that flag-burning was a serious anti-American act was the majority one, and laws backed it. SCOTUS decided otherwise, just as they decided against laws blocking wealthy groups from negative advertising during campaigns—you know, the opinion that Bernie said he would get reversed from “Day One”?, and Trump disagrees. So what? What’s the harm, other than to his own reputation?

            Read the original post: I don’t link for my health, I link so every post isn’t 5000 words. Julie basically sings that she has good will toward her lover, and thus is not going to reject him over behavior that he isn’t going to change. The President Elect deserves assumed good will…what he’s getting is the opposite, which means every typical utterance is treated like an edict from Voldamort.

            I’ve written about Obama’s flat learning curve a lot: his tendency to comment and use his position to interfere with local issues and law enforcement matters, and to take pot shots at citizens and pundits. By now, I’ve accepted it. When he publicly gave a pass to Colin Kaepernick for, in essence, announcing in every damn game that the United States is out to kill blacks, I didn’t bother to mention it. That’s Obama. He won’t learn, and this one was a lot less significant than the rest.

            When a Presidential utterance, or tweet, does or risks real harm, then it should be called out. How frequent and remarkable a statement or style of statement is, however, has to be considered. Look, I find it horrifying that Trump is so inarticulate and careless with words, but he is, he isn’t going to learn to communicate like Winston Churchill, and that’s that. So we accept it. Same with Twitter.

            As for this statement, are you really saying that it is WRONG for a President to call into question a SCOTUS ruling? Because that’s all this was. THIS foofaraw is especially dishonest: “TRUMP DEFIES THE CONSTITUTION!!!” He tweeted his opinion, which was pretty much what I was taught in the Boy Scouts as a kid, and the position of the GOP right up to 1990.

          • I don’t think Jack is saying not to disagree. I think he’s saying for the Left to not throw itself into an epileptic seizure everything Trump says something…but rather to simply correct and move on…

      • The president doesn’t get to “talk out of his ass for effect.” When the president speaks, nations listen. “Oh, that’s just Trump” is not a solution. We can’t “end the relationship” with Trump without members of the electoral college breaking their vows, which you’ve already declared unethical. So what do we do? Your proposal seems to be “acceptance,” which strikes me as unethical; this type of behavior cannot be accepted. The President of the United States can’t just accuse millions of people of illegally voting because he’s mad he didn’t win the popular vote. We have a duty to condemn such behavior in the strongest terms. Every single time.

        • Nations do NOT listen to those kinds of statements, or shouldn’t. They are not immune to the Julie Principle either. Trump isn’t the first world leader to say silly things, and nations learn to cope. Eventually, serious, practical leaders and diplomats learn the difference between the nonsense and the substance.

          You accept that what cannot change won’t change, and concentrate on what can be improved. Bitching non-stop feels good (to some) but it’s pointless. There is no reason not to ignore what obviously should be ignored, because it has no practical effect.

          • I still love leftwingers who really think that the removal of Trump and replacement by Clinton would actually be a step up.

            They still don’t realize how ABJECTLY horrible she also is…

            • Jack was not a left-winger when he spent a year arguing that Clinton was clearly the superior choice. Though it seems he’s since revised his opinion, I think he was right.

              • I haven’t revised that opinion. I revised my opinion of the party, the minions, and the increasingly undemocratic and untrustworthy philosophy that Clinton would carry with her into power. I gained more respect for the message (wrong messenger) that all was not hunky-dory in Obama’s America, and it was dangerous to pretend otherwise.

                If a gun had been pointed at my head, vote for one of these or die, I would have voted for Clinton without hesitation, recognizing that it was a risk.

              • In typical Chris fashion, a comment not addressing what I said.

                Jack did argue that Clinton was the superior choice. BEGRUDGINGLY. You missed that bit.

                See you missed the arguments demonstrating that “Clinton is negative 78 versus Trump who is negative 79. So Clinton is the superior choice. But, Christ, she’s still a negative 78.”

                You saw “Clinton is the superior choice” and derive from that: “Trump is like a negative 79 and Clinton is like a positive 80….so it we be totally great for America to oust Trump and instate Clinton!”

                No. Ditching Trump for Clinton really isn’t an improvement and certainly at this point, given the temper tantrums and hissy fits that your camp is engaging in, would probably be a negative in summation as it would validate their toddler-napoleonic like world-view.

                Clinton WOULD BE ABJECTLY horrible as President.

                I’m sorry you cannot see this. Your bias-imposed blinders are not my problem.

                • I still don’t know whether getting rid of the horrible consequences of having Clinton in would have been more difficult than enduring the continuing trainwreck of a Trump presidency.

                  The horrible consequences wouldn’t have been as bad, but remedying them may well have been a lot harder, simply because they’d be wrong within normal bounds.

                  I’ve also been trying to find a politician on either side of politics who would be significantly better than Clinton. Every time I look at just how bad Clinton is, I see the same faults or worse in her peer group. The problem isn’t so much that she’s awful, she is, but that others are not significantly better.

                  Trump is in a class of his own though.

                  • “I’ve also been trying to find a politician on either side of politics who would be significantly better than Clinton.”

                    Uh literally 2/3rds of the Republican options available and 1/3 of the Democrat options would have been infinitely superior to Clinton.

                    Of the remaining 1/3 of Republicans options, all but Trump would’ve been generally superior. And of the remaining 1/3 of Democrat options, that blubbering straw man Bernie, would have been a hair better.

      • I’m not talking about obedience. I’m talking about bitching, and specifically bitching about one well-known trait: talking out of his ass for effect.

        You realize the president is not your blowhard uncle sitting around the Thanksgiving table jawing about what he would do if he were in charge, correct? The president actually has the power to implement some of his opinions and affect millions of citizens. Trump doesn’t have the luxury of “talking out of his ass” like when he was a private citizen. His opinions are (and rightfully so) examined very carefully. His thoughts, combined with his appointments, like a potential Homeland Security Secretary who wants to suspend habeas corpus and put a million people into Gitmo-like facilities should deeply worry anyone who is aware of such things.

        What you consider to be “bitching” is people drawing awareness to such sentiments, before such actions are implemented in the first place. People can’t act when they don’t know. I certainly don’t think we should shrug our shoulders at such things, not when so much is at stake.

        • What is the threat of the “millions of fraudulent voters” comment? What is it? There is none. It’s trolling. He didn’t cite evidence, its impossible to prove a negative—swell. It literally doesn’t matter. Does it matter that Trump says Millions when he means “some” and “thousands” when he means ” a few I’ve heard about”? Well, sure, it makes him look like an idiot, but we knew that.

          • What is the threat of the “millions of fraudulent voters” comment? What is it? There is none. It’s trolling.

            Well, for one, I don’t think the President could ethically troll, at least not in such a manner, so there is that. But the threat coming from his “millions of fraudulent voters” tweet is that millions of legitimate voters could be disenfranchised. We’ve seen that since “voter ID” (really a broad array of laws, many of which have nothing to do with providing id) has been implemented in states like North Carolina, many people have found themselves unable to vote, or found voting much more difficult than in the past. The courts have found it to be a deliberate strategy to suppress minority voting, while the GOP protested that it was merely a way to prevent “fraudulent voting”, while turning around and touting that voting among minorities was way down since the last election in North Carolina. Now imagine that strategy implemented nationwide across America, with the full backing of the President, the Justice Department, the Supreme Court, and Congress. Some may very well smile at that scenario, but there are those, like me, who find such tweets on his part quite chilling.

            • The threat is that someone who believes in conspiracy theories with no evidence because it makes them feel good about themselves is about to have the power to take us to war.

          • Jack, the President’s opinions matter! You used to complain about this all the time with Obama — how people listen, how race relations are becoming worse. You wrote entire blogs to the subject and then threw in references to Obama’s dangerous opinions in dozens more. Your current stance quite frankly is mind-boggling — either you are losing your mind or you are losing your credibility.

            Fake news is taking over the world — people don’t read, they lack basic critical thinking skills. I know you like to think that your everyday American analyzes issues the way you (and most of your readers) do, but they do not. My family already believes that millions of undocumented immigrants voted in this election, and now they have the President-elect confirming their belief.

            His tweets are not silly, they are dangerous because they will be read by millions who do not know the difference between an opinion and a fact.

            • I didn’t say they don’t matter. I do say that as we learn about individuals, we learn how much they matter. Trump’s habit of spewing forth whatever half-baked thought is in his head is bad, but it’s disingenuous to treat every example as a serious statement and one worthy of a week of condemnation. In the end, it comes down to good will (a positive bias) or ill will (a negative one). I knew—KNEW—that Obama’s “he could have been my son” comment about Trayvon Martin was disastrous, but virtually no mainstream pundit or news media called him on it, because for 8 years, he has had the presumption of good intentions, even when he has screwed up badly. Trump has the presumption of bad intentions, even when, as in this stupid flag-burning comment, the statement does no damage at all, and is simply embarrassing. Hillary Clinton’s statement that we should take second amendment rights away from those arbitrarily placed on a no-fly list, however, has impact and negative implications. So Trump disagrees with a SCOTUS ruling: so what? Again, SO WHAT? That’s not even a substantive one, or an opinion that is without points of legitimate dispute.

              As it becomes clear that Trump makes off the cuff statements that are functionally meaningless, and people and the news media determine that they are meaningless, this President’s statements won’t matter as much as those of prior Presidents, and if he’s going to be an irresponsible jerk, shouldn’t.

              The fact is that he has an opinion. Read the tweet. He didn’t say that it was illegal to burn the flag, only that it should be.

              • I predict this particular debate is going to become practically a meme: how do we treat the unprecedented communications style of this President.

                Remember when his son reached out to Kasich for VP and said the job would include “foreign and domestic policy?”
                Kasich then asked the perfectly reasonable question, “So, what will the president be doing?”
                The answer: “Making America great again.”

                It’s becoming clear that his view of the job includes jawboning companies one by one; delegating national security briefings to the Veep; and conducting all communications through twitter and YouTube.

                This will, as Jack notes, take some adjusting. And I’m sure he’s right that “this President’s statements won’t matter as much as those of prior Presidents.”

                But I think it’s also undeniable that they will STILL matter, somewhat. It matters already to stupid yahoos on planes and swastika painters. Worse, it already matters to Indian businessmen who crow about their new connections. It already matters to stock markets and foreign leaders. Not everybody is going to fully discount what he says.

                And that leaves in a very weird territory. HOW MUCH do you discount someone who tells flat out lies? Is the default to discount 75%? 90? How about just every third comment? How about depending on how critical the issue is?

                What do you do when the currency of the realm – in this case, historically-developed, nuanced patterns of public communication – becomes radically changed?

                It’s not a trivial matter to say “his statements won’t matter as much.” I think it’s a very serious matter, because in addition to not knowing “how much” to discount them, we don’t know when, and where, and under what conditions to discount them. That adds up to a mega-ton of uncertainty, and a whole lot of people willing to fill a conceptual vacuum with what they’d like to believe he meant.

                It’s not like the human race puts a lot of emphasis on rational discourse to begin with, but it’s a serious step backward to have the leader of the free world trash-talking on the public stage, IMHO.

                • “HOW MUCH do you discount someone who tells flat out lies?”

                  I don’t know, but I imagine you’ll find a way to reverse the amount of Credit you advanced Obama when he told his…

                • “but it’s a serious step backward to have the leader of the free world trash-talking on the public stage, IMHO.”

                  Yeah, because your lord and savior Obama never trash talked ANYONE…

                  You are such a dishonest shill, for the life of me I can’t imagine how you wake up with no shame whatsoever.

                  • WHISTLE! Ten yards! You’re a rationalization expert, Tex…you know “But he did it too” isn’t an argument. 26. “The Favorite Child” Excuse

                    I think what you really mean is, “If you really objected to this kind of conduct, you would be consistent in condemning it.” That’s a legitimate point.

                    • If my comment looked like a defense of Trump, and I don’t think it does, that definitely was not the intent. Though, the Left, in their hysterical undoing of of their own credibility, are actively trying to get people who are trying to remain objective (like me) to make everything into a defense of Trump when it actually isn’t. This may be one of those instances.

                      I was most definitely calling out charles on his incapacity to be consistent, one of my favorite past times. Or as you put it: “If you (charles) really objected to this kind of conduct, you would be consistent in condemning it.”

                    • And THAT should not be construed as an attack on you. I think alot of charles’ comments lately are designed to make every little jab at Trump, warranted or not, be a line drawn in the sand. If you call a leftist on one of the fallacious lines drawn in the sand, then by definition (their definition), you are Trump supporter.

                    • Though, the Left, in their hysterical undoing of of their own credibility, are actively trying to get people who are trying to remain objective (like me)

                      Is that really what you think you’re doing? You’re quite bad at it. Nearly every comment you’ve written over the past two weeks is some variation of “The left is worse.” Why do you think that’s “objective?”

                    • “Nearly every comment you’ve written over the past two weeks is some variation of “The left is worse.” Why do you think that’s “objective?””

                      Say it all you want. It isn’t true. But whatever helps you sleep at night.

                      You see, being objective doesn’t actually mean you dole out criticism equally to all sides if one side really really really is acting like a bunch of moronic cry babies. Being objective means approaching every situation with no preconceived notions.

                      Try it. It’s liberating.

                    • It’s objective because as of this period in time, the LEFT is worse, objectively so and obviously so. Objectivity doesn’t mean blindness, Chris, or excusing misconduct to create an artificial balance. I am extremely objective. I detest Trump and Pence, but I don’t allow that to cause me to excuse unethical criticism and misconduct.

                    • Well, you can apologize for that, because I do, other than using established principles of ethical analysis, values and systems. And I resent the insinuation. Because I often disagree with you since you have an ideological and partisan bias, does not mean I do. And I don’t.

                    • “I don’t believe for one second that you’re approaching this topic with “no preconceived notions.””

                      That’s not my problem though. You can do the reading. Politically I’ve taken pretty much most libertarian stances on political discussions… so there’s no real reason to assume I will have some knee jerk defense of the Republicans or the Right…

                      And given that I’ve not jumped to any crazy defense of Gary Johnson’s blunders other than using the “he’s not the worst option” rationalization that this entire election cycle became it’s safe to assume I’m not a knee jerk Libertarian either.

              • Hillary Clinton’s statement that we should take second amendment rights away from those arbitrarily placed on a no-fly list, however, has impact and negative implications.

                Does Trump’s agreement with her on this position also have impact and negative implications, or is he held to a lower standard?

                • Interesting question, though before you proceed, you could also ask these questions:

                  1) when did Hillary say this and what position was she in?

                  2) when did Trump say this and what position was he in?

                  • To be fair, I think the media gave them both a pass because they (and the left) generally agree with it, and think it’s a “common sense” gun control measure. I did too, at first. You convinced me otherwise, and now whenever someone calls something a “common sense” proposal, my immediate assumption is that they don’t want me to think about it.

                    • That’s a great reaction. Bill James, the baseball stats guru who is one of the most open-minded and creative thinkers alive, once said that whenever someone says a conclusion is just common sense, it means that they haven’t really thought about it, and it could well be bullshit. I have to check myself using Bill’s warning often. OFTEN. It is easy to forget.

            • Well said.

              The President farts it becomes news. Anything he says is twisted, spun and regurgetated to ones political perspectve.

              I enjoy his Tweets and treat them like astrology – fun to read but don’t take them seriously.

        • Just where are we going to get the money to build GITMO like facilities to hold one million suspected terrorists. Do you seriously think congress would allocate the money to finance such a hair brain scheme?

      • So when he speaks or tweets anything goes?

        In olden days some pussy grabbing would leave all the pundits gasping. But now we know, all of Trumps lows.

        • So when he speaks or tweets anything goes?

          1. I really don’t like it when people put words in my mouth.
          2. That isn’t what the post says. This is blatant straw man stuff.
          3. If you really think the post suggested “anything goes,” you really are an idiot.
          4. Julie accepted that “her man” was often a louse. If he had beaten the crap out of her, the song wouldn’t apply. If you want to intentionally misconstrue to avoid thinking, go ahead: I don’t recommend it, though.

      • Talking about Trans restrooms… Could someone please explain to me what is the clear and compelling reason for me to be legally forced to use a male restroom in NC at the moment?

        Yes, I know enforcement is problematic. That even the proponents of the law have stated in court that they don’t expect trans and intersex people to actually obey the law. That the current Governor even insisted that one person (Caitlyn Jenner) be compelled to break it.

        • Since your own arguments say it’s perfectly fine for someone indistinguishable from any other bro on the street should be free to use female restrooms based on what they claim to feel in their heart of hearts, what’s the big deal if you use the men’s room? There’ll be stalls for you to use.

          In all my research, I’ve never found a transwoman who’s been attacked in a men’s room so it’s probably the safer option. And even if it weren’t, well attacking someone is a crime isn’t it? It’ll be punished if it happens. That is what you tell me when I worry about men being given free reign to hang out in ladies rooms and wait for a victim.

          There’s really only three ways this can go.

          1: One restroom is safer. That means restricting who can use it to keep it that way.

          2: It doesn’t matter who uses what because there are laws about bad behavior. That means there’s no reason to complain about using the men’s room, you essentially believe they all should be functionally co-ed anyway.

          3: They’re based on bodies, my argument. In which case you should use the women’s, ignore the law which could never be enforced on you given your body, and stop pushing to let in people with the wrong bodies.

          But your augment seems to come down to…

          4: Number 2 except having a stick figure of a man on the door of that co-ed restroom hurts my tender feelings and makes it a hate crime. If there’s no stick figure in a dress to validate my feelings, it’s oppression.

  3. There are consequences when burning a flag since someone may choose to disagree in a physical manner. I am amazed that no one has ever capped a member of the Westboro Baptist Church.

    Recently a significant counter protest took place in Amherst over a flag burning.

    The flag has also been used in methods that only a picture can describe.

    The flag issue is of no importance to me and it is fairly well protected under the 1st.

    • It’s an issue to me only insofar as Trump’s continued demonstration of irresponsibility, tyrannical impulses, and ignorance is an issue. “He’s not going to stop being like this” isn’t a counter-argument. That’s exactly why we have to speak up. Every time. We cannot let this type of behavior become normalized. The more we let things slide, the more he will get away with. There will be no acceptance.

      • The left apparently has surfaced from the sewer with behaviors that make even the irrationals of the right in regards to Obama seem normal. Think I take them seriously? Think I took those crazies in 2008 and 2012 seriously?

        • “The left apparently has surfaced from the sewer with behaviors that make even the irrationals of the right in regards to Obama seem normal.”

          “The right apparently has surfaced from the sewer with behaviors that make even the irrationals of the left in regards to Trump seem normal.”

          May I suggest that formulations like that add nothing to civilized dialogue. They simply feed an increasing movement called DON’T. READ. THE. COMMENTS.

          Enough with the flaming already.

          • It gives Insight how both sides function. That is important when you read anything that’s going on now especially with all the phony news sites. The left and the right take turns I’m trying to be the most obnoxious and I think that is extremely important for all observers to watch. My wife is already falling into the Trap.

  4. You make a very good point about the uselessness of protesting against someone’s basic nature. I get it, and at least in principle agree.

    But what do you do if the issue at hand is something relatively key to democracy, like the truthfulness of language?

    Holding people accountable to rules of truth and logic is a very useful social attribute. If we’re going to pass on it, how do we ensure it doesn’t get eroded in other arenas of life? Like, what if he gets into a tweet-war with Theresa May? Or more likely, with Kim Jong Un?

    Do we just tell all the world to like, chill out, he doesn’t really mean it?

    I don’t claim to have an answer, but but we should have some kind of plan before giving up on a well-established practice like truth-in-language.

  5. Basically, from what it seems to me, you seem to be urging people to maintain silence in the face of unethical behavior and conduct, mostly because the unethical behavior is done repeatedly, and what’s the point anyway? Which doesn’t strike me as the most ethical advice I have ever heard, but perhaps I’ve misunderstood?

  6. Trump strikes back when agitated and it is usually with opinionating tweets. And that is what they are – opinions. Details and facts are murky at best, but that has been his methodology from day one. That is his behavior pattern and it is hard wired so do not expect a change. But being an uncouth and blustering loudmouth does not necessarily correspond to action. This is one difficult person to get a “read” on. That confuses everyone and especially the media.

    Trump may actually be calculating in his scattershot methods since it creates deflection off core issues. His appointments appear as they do with any president – some potentially good and some that one can hope for the best.

    • And that is what they are – opinions.

      Claiming that he would have won the popular vote if millions of people hadn’t voted illegally, when there is no evidence for either the premise or the conclusion, isn’t an “opinion.” It’s a lie.

      • Maybe there will be evidence? Maybe Jill Stein will start a gofundme page to look into it? I’ll toss in twenty….mabe ten….OK…a fin.

  7. I’m going to agree with Jack here. Trump’s tweet is ignorant and irresponsible, but they’ve been like that for a long time. Nothing has changed. I keep wondering when his Twitter account will be seized by someone with more impulse control.

    So, while I agree that a President’s (and a President-Elect’s) words have weight and that Trump is going to have to get a handle on the things he says in person and online, I see a lot more opposition to American principles from the Left.

    Or maybe I’m just mad that I ran into another obnoxious Facebook meme that claims the Obamas are scandal free and that most white Christians hate them because of the color of their skin…

    Speaking of opinions, am I the only one who rushed here to see if there was an entry about Trump’s presumed candidate for Transportation Secretary? The media is reporting it being Elaine Chao. I know you have an opinion on that, Jack.

      • So why do you “hate her guts” as you put it?
        I’m sure you have reasons, based on evidence.
        You may not be objective, but that can be for good reasons.

        • The short version: Decades ago, I was set up to meet with her by a mutual friend, now the current president of the US Chamber of Commerce, while I was job-hunting. She was rude, dismissive, insulting, and generally treated my like crap on her shoe, both insulting our mutual friend, but blowing the Golden Rule sky high. She took phone calls while I sat in her office, and never even looked me in the eye, opening the door and giving me the bum’s rush after about 7 minutes. Tom Donohue apologized for her behavior, and agreed it was inexcusable. (He is fantastic when someone sends a young job-seeker to him for counsel and advice. Why? Tom has it right: “Because that’s how you wished people treated you when you were in that position.” I also wrote her a letter expressing my displeasure. She never responded.

          Signature Significance: she’s an asshole.

          • Eh, maybe she knew early on you weren’t what she was looking for. I have been in interviews where both people involved knew it was going nowhere and it was just a matter of saying “thank you for your time” and getting out of there with both people’s dignity intact. That said, there is a proper way to do that, and ignoring the interviewee before giving him the bum’s rush isn’t it. It’s better to just not have the interview than waste everyone’s time.

            About 2 decades ago all five of the NY DA’s offices sent representatives to my law school to hold interviews. They hired not one person. I find it very hard to believe that out of 125 people interviewed not a single person merited the nod, and I believe they never intended to hire anyone (actually it was well known that Robert Morgenthau pretty much only hired from his own law school). If that was the case, why waste more than 200 hours of ADA time that would be better spent prosecuting cases, and why have the law students bother getting all dressed up and prepared for interviews that had no hope of going anyplace?

            As for writing her a letter expressing displeasure, I think all that ever does is burn a bridge. Maybe you didn’t care, and I don’t blame you for that.

    • It was really nice of the author of that piece to reveal in the second paragraph that everything in the first paragraph and the headline was a misleading oversimplification.

      • It’s also really nice that you fail to recognize the difference between opinion (as Jack has clearly explained to you) and someone actually pushing *legislation*. Granted the legislation sounds benign as it seeks to make a type of “Yelling Fire in a Crowded Theater” type exception to flag burning, it is nonetheless, legislation limiting the Freedom of Speech, based on an incredibly impossible to prove standard, which would probably have the effect of outlawing MOST flag burning.

        • Granted the legislation sounds benign as it seeks to make a type of “Yelling Fire in a Crowded Theater” type exception to flag burning, it is nonetheless, legislation limiting the Freedom of Speech, based on an incredibly impossible to prove standard, which would probably have the effect of outlawing MOST flag burning.

          I don’t see how that follows. I agree that it’s an incredibly hard to prove standard, but why would that have the effect of outlawing most flag burning? If it’s nearly impossible to prove that someone burned the flag with the intent of intimidating or causing violence, then most flag-burners would not be punished under the law.

          • Valid. Where it would fall on spectrum is up for debate.

            Regardless, one is pushed legislation suppressing flag burning (however moderate) and the other was mere opinion…

            • Yes, but the legislation suppressed flag burning only in extreme cases where the underlying action was already illegal. I have to agree that it was pandering to the right–Clinton is smart enough to know that such a law would be basically toothless–but even if Clinton deeply believed in the law, it still would not constrain speech in the same way that Trump’s proposal would.

              • Constrain flag burning. A small component of the freedom of speech.

                Let’s be clear is an ignorant comment for Trump AND ignorant legislation pushed by Clinton… but still, neither is tantamount to dictatorship…

                I’ve noticed that as soon as flag burning is discussed both sides immediately conflate it to an assault on the entire freedom of speech.

                The flag IS a special case (Stevens’ dissent does a great job explaining this) and requires considerable slippery slope arguing to expand it to the entire 1st amendment.

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