Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/6/2019: Rosenstein, Barr, Green, And “Oklahoma!”

Good morning!

Let’s make this an ethical week…

1 As we watch the desperate vilification of Attorney General Barr by Democrats…it is helpful to consider a recent speech by the now departed second in command at Justice, the ridiculously conflicted Rod Rosenstein. He said in part,

Rampant speculation here in D.C. is that Democrats are terrified that Barr’s promise of investigations of the Hillary Clinton inquiry and the process whereby the Trump campaign was surveilled will reveal serious misconduct in the Obama Administration.  This is, of course, mocked as a conspiracy theory by the people who just had their own conspiracy theory exploded. Here’s the usually reliable Kimberly Strassel in the Wall Street Journal (behind a paywall—sorry).

…Mr. Barr made real news in that Senate hearing, and while the press didn’t notice, Democrats did. The attorney general said he’d already assigned people at the Justice Department to assist his investigation of the origins of the Trump-Russia probe. He said his review would be far-reaching—that he was obtaining details from congressional investigations, from the ongoing probe by the department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, and even from Mr. Mueller’s work. Mr. Barr said the investigation wouldn’t focus only on the fall 2016 justifications for secret surveillance warrants against Trump team members but would go back months earlier.

He also said he’d focus on the infamous “dossier” concocted by opposition-research firm Fusion GPS and British former spy Christopher Steele, on which the FBI relied so heavily in its probe. Mr. Barr acknowledged his concern that the dossier itself could be Russian disinformation, a possibility he described as not “entirely speculative.” He also revealed that the department has “multiple criminal leak investigations under way” into the disclosure of classified details about the Trump-Russia investigation.

Do not underestimate how many powerful people in Washington have something to lose from Mr. Barr’s probe. Among them: Former and current leaders of the law-enforcement and intelligence communities. The Democratic Party pooh-bahs who paid a foreign national (Mr. Steele) to collect information from Russians and deliver it to the FBI. The government officials who misused their positions to target a presidential campaign. The leakers. The media. More than reputations are at risk. Revelations could lead to lawsuits, formal disciplinary actions, lost jobs, even criminal prosecution.

Quick! Let’s impeach Barr!

2.  Now here’s a sound bite to conjure with! Rep. Al Green (D-TX) said on MSNBC yesterday, “I’m concerned if we don’t impeach this president, he will get re-elected.” Green, who has brought several impeachment motions before the House using the Maxine Waters and Tom Steyer theory: impeach him because we hate him, could not have done a better job proving  what Ethics Alarms has been trying to clarify since Trump was inaugurated. To be fair and provide the contest, Green surrounded his admission with the usual narratives and talking points, going on to say,

“If we don’t impeach him, he will say he’s been vindicated. He will say the Democrats had an overwhelming majority in the House and didn’t take up impeachment. He will say we had a constitutional duty to do and we didn’t. He will say he’s been vindicated….Here’s what I say, we’re confronting a constitutional crisis as I speak to you. As I look the people of America in the eye, I’m telling you, we have a constitutional crisis. the chief executive office of the president of the United States refuses to comply with subpoenas and says he will order others to do so, this creates a constitutional crisis. We must impeach this president. If you don’t, it’s not the soul of the nation that will be at risk only, it is the soul of the Congress that’s at risk. Congress has a duty, a responsibility and obligation that only it can fulfill. No one else can no. No other entity can. It is Congress that will have to act. If we put people above party, we’ll act properly. But if we allow a party to be above principle, we will not. If we allow political expediency to trump moral imperative, we will have created a shameful situation that this Congress that will never live down, history won’t be kind to us. We must impeach him.”

Not to be unduly unkind, but the whole statement is signature significance for an idiot. First, Green admits that he wants to use  impeachment as a substitute for winning elections the old-fashioned way: by running a candidate that the public votes for. This has been the Democratic strategy for three years. Then he says the President must be impeached because of what he might say if he isn’t. Strange, I don’t see that in the Constitution. He closes his argument by saying that impeachment is required because otherwise people may say mean things about this Congress. I don’t see that in the Constitution either. Green is right about there being a Constitutional crisis: the House is abusing its oversight function and its power of subpoena to impede the functioning of the Executive, and the President and AG are asserting that such abuse itself is illegal. Such disputed are not impeachable, unless one subscribes to the theory used to impeach Andrew Johnson: demand that the President obey an unconstitutional act of Congress. and when he refuses, as he must, impeach him. The Supreme Court eventually vindicated Johnson, who was acquitted (by one vote) in the Senate. I think Trump will win any showdown in the Supreme Court on the subpoena issue too, and I suspect Democrats know it.

3. “Oklahoma!” Ethics. My friend, New York writer/producer and musical theater expert Chip Defaa asked his Facebook friends their views about the current Broadway revival of “Oklahoma!”, which by all reports (I haven’t seen it yet) turns the story from a cheery romantic comedy into a dark musical dramedy, with Curly becoming a cold-blooded murderer, Laurie a class bigot, and villain Jud recast as a wronged and tragic figure. Why did the Rogers and Hammerstein organization approve  the anti-“Oklahoma!”? You get three guesses, and the first two don’t count. The answer is “Money.” (You get half-credit for “Capitulation to militant wokeness in the Broadway community.)

Andy Hammerstein, grand-son of Oscar II who wrote the musical’s book and lyrics, wrote, “I abhorred it. It was an irresponsible travesty masquerading as ‘experimental.’ Up is not down. Sadist Curly shoots sweet victim Jud in cold blood? I am utterly disgusted that R&H lacked the balls to stop this. I urge everyone to keep their money in their pockets on this one. Let it die the ignominious death it deserves.”

The hyper-political Frank Rich, once a theater critic ( he reviewed one of my college performances, and liked me, he really liked me!), wrote (he can write, that’s for sure) an interesting piece claiming that the famous musical always had the dark elements that the new version brings to the fore. (Rich also shows that he’s in late stage Trump Derangement Syndrome by somehow dragging the President into an essay about “Oklahoma!”) Rich is right; indeed most Rogers and Hammerstein musicals curdle the comedy and romance with dark and preachy subplots. That’s one reason I’m not crazy about their works. Still, it’s impossible to argue credibly that a production is being fair to the original and its creators when the wedding that ends the show has the bride in a blood-spattered gown and the cast sings the rousing finale with the dead body of a poor man murdered by the romantic lead still lying on the stage.

Here’s a lightly edited version of what I wrote in response to Chip’s jump ball:

On one side, I think it’s crucial that stage classics of all kinds be reinterpreted and re-thought by responsible directors and designers, otherwise the work becomes stagnant. On the other side, there must be a baseline respect for the original work and the artist’s intent…. My general advice to a director trying to place his or her distorting overlay on a classic is “Write your own damn show.” But the best advice is what I was told by my mentor in these matters, my college musical director,  who  quoted former Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor Serge Koussevitzky in his speech to the cast before every opening night: “We are doing this show for those who are seeing it for the first time, and those who will see it for the last time.”


56 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/6/2019: Rosenstein, Barr, Green, And “Oklahoma!”

  1. #1 – I’m shocked anyone is shocked this was coming. We’ve know for 18 months now that we’ve had worse than Watergate conduct by the previous administration. That combined with the very same people that were actively interfering with one candidate, were simultaneously refusing to address the criminality of the other candidate under the claim that to do so would interfere with the democratic process.
    I have quite a different political outlook than you, Jack. But I sure this point of view strongly: I detest Trump, never supportted him at any stage, and I am outraged at what has been done in an attempted political coup d’etat.
    Anything short of the liberal application of prison sentences for all is unacceptable.

    • Something that just occurred to me….

      I have presumed the delay in addressing the misconduct was to wait for the Mueller investigation to complete. That eliminates the obstruction accusations that inevitably would have come if indictments came sooner.

      But that leads to an insidious potential outcome. Imagime key party leaders are indicted in the middle if the 2020 campaign? Complete turmoil in the democrat party.

      • My initial reaction was that the only way out for the Democrats in your scenario is to thoroughly clean house prior to the inevitable investigations. I did, however, come to the realization that most of the (we’re assuming) guilty individuals and institutions weren’t elected officials. Sure, the rot may well have gone all the way to the top, but there’s no way for the party to actively put distance between themselves and a former (D) president, and much less so a political appointee like an FBI director or the AG. I say ‘no way’ because I’m not sure the DNC has any adults left in the room, much less the willingness to put the adults in charge and do the deep and painful soul-searching needed to set themselves right. I almost made the point that the negative press would be immense, and actually had to pause and wonder if the press would cover such a process. They would have to, wouldn’t they?

        What are your thoughts on the path forward? Obviously the current plan is to double down; throw good money after bad, put a brick on the accelerator and stay the course, (insert your own cliche here). What else could the folks on the political left do to forestall, or at least minimise, the reckoning?

        • As I explain below, the Dems are in jeopardy of losing the initiative, and Barr’s investigation of the genesis of the Mueller investigation threatens to put them on the defensive.

          The best way to mitigate that is to impeach Barr on any pretense and force a Senate trial. That will divert administration attention away from Barr’s investigation and dominate the headlines, hopefully keeping the Republicans from seizing on what could be a very unfavorable outcome from both the IG and the new investigation launched by Barr.

          The administration might be strategically better off by finding a way to release the full report, making it tougher for the Dems to impeach Barr, and delaying them a bit, thereby freeing up Barr to investigate as mentioned above.

          • The literally have no grounds to impeach Barr, and even some of the usual lap dogs in the news media might turn of them. This is all sound and fury, signifying a seriously loused up party.

            • But Green just suggested above that grounds for impeachment of the president is what the House says it is. Certainly Auntie Maxine has said that more than once, as have several others. If that’s “true” for Trump, it should also be “true” for Barr.

              I couldn’t agree more with your last statement.

        • What’s a progressive to do?

          Scream at every single person you know that leans left to stop acting insane. All the democrats need to do to beat Trump is not exceed his level, but they can’t do it.

  2. “Quick! Let’s impeach Barr!”

    I’m sure that’s where it’s going. Democrats and their allies have already questioned Barr’s qualifications, the right of the President to appoint him and his objectivity. There is nothing Barr’s investigation will reveal, up to and including smoking gun evidence of treason on the part of the Clinton Campaign, that won’t be spun as a partisan hit job.

    The Democrats love accusing their opponents of what they themselves are guilty of.

  3. There really should be a lot of people on trial right now. Seemingly everyone involved with the Steele Dossier, the Mueller investigation, and spying on Trump’s campaign should be facing trial. All the people that refused to follow lawful orders from President Trump should be too. I wonder if James Matthis shouldn’t be up on charges. Based on reports of his activity, he may have sabotaged Trump’s ability to get concessions from Kim Jong Un.

    Secretly withdrawing the spouses and dependents of US service personnel ahead of the Trump-Un summit actually would have been quite an effective negotiating tactic. Remember the old adage,”If you want people to really pay attention, don’t hold a press conference, leak it!” When Trump walked out the negotiations on the first day after Un’s unreasonable behavior, the message would have been much more serious than just “I won’t negotiate under these conditions”. However, the military would not follow his orders on this and the chance was lost because the Washington establishment thought they knew best and felt that they don’t have to follow the orders of an outsider who isn’t one of the ruling elite.

  4. “As I look the people of America in the eye, I’m telling you, we have a constitutional crisis. the chief executive office of the president of the United States refuses to comply with subpoenas and says he will order others to do so, this creates a constitutional crisis.”

    This is the kind of quote that almost seems like it’s been taken out of context, but no amount of context makes it better. It’s…. quaint. That’s the word I’m going to use…. quaint. It’s quaint to see people who have at best a brushing relationship with any given part of the constitution all of a sudden develop a self described deep respect and understanding of it when they think it suits their needs.

    Meanwhile, it comes across like a toddler describing a cardiac bypass to a surgeon.

    There have been constitutional crises, depending on your definition of “crisis”, perhaps dozens, over the last decade… Rep Green was just waving his pompoms when Obama was the source of them. Even so, there *are* legitimate constitutional questions around some of Trump’s executive orders, and it’s probably healthy for the republic to talk about them, but I doubt that Green could enunciate the argument with more finesse than “The orange man says things I don’t like, mommy do something”, because he’s choosing to focus on something that is almost certainly constitutional, even if he really, really doesn’t like it.

    • I would think that the fact that the President has not been allowed to head the executive branch would be the Constitutional Crisis. I would think the fact that he has to have the unanimous approval of 800+ federal judges to issue an executive order would be the Constitutional Crisis. The fact that Barr won’t move his desk, computer and phone into the Capitol and work full-time there isn’t the crisis.

  5. 1. Barr

    When it comes to war or any conflict, the side on offense always has the initiative. The Democrats are in a precarious position right now, because their main offensive weapon, the Mueller investigation, has brought forth a mouse.

    AG Barr is now in a position to put the Republicans on offense in a major way if he is left, unimpeded, to investigate Democratic-related behavior in the genesis of the Mueller probe. That could take the initiative away from the Democrats and give it to Trump and the Republicans. Nadler knows this, and is trying to use his subpoena power to force the administration to play defense against a contempt citation.

    This is a desperate move, because these subpoenas have become toothless after what happened with the contempt citation against Eric Holder — which is to say, nothing. It takes too much time for these things to be adjudicated to be effective.

    The house may attempt to impeach Barr in order to prevent losing the initiative. That could work, as it will force a trial that will amount to a lot of sound and fury, but they’ll have to move quickly.

    My feeling is that impeaching Barr is actually the best strategy from the perspective of their tiny, partisan brains, far better than impeaching the president. Barr may decide to cooperate at the last minute, though, depriving them of their rationale. It will be interesting to see who blinks first. But for the administration, finding a way to slow down a house impeachment of Barr would be in the administration’s best long-term interests, because it would free up Barr to attack the genesis of the Mueller probe, a prospect that looks very scary to the Dems.

    2. Rep. Green

    Not to be unduly unkind, but the whole statement is signature significance for an idiot.

    Well, this is far too kind, actually. This is a US representative actually contemplating a constitutional process that lacks the predicate conduct to support it. As with crazy Auntie Maxine Waters, taking the position that high crimes and misdemeanors is whatever the House members say they are the ethics of a crocodile. His tiny lizard brain simply sees a desirable objective and a plausible path — ethics and principle dare not enter.

      • America, and certainly The Americanopolis, and the people with the responsibility of running America, and definitely Conservative America, have significantly veered away from even the possibility of thinking ethically and acting ethically. The fundamental crisis of America is ethics-related. America is profoundly lost. That is my undertanding. And it is what I see.

        Some Christians say that ‘God stands in judgment of America’, not to be on America’s side. The greatest unconfronted and unrepented crime? Two hundred and fifty thousand (minimum) murdered as a result the invasion of Iraq: an illegal war with no parallel by any other nation.

        Until average Americas confront that evil, and numerous other evils, America can be fairly classed as a profoundly unethical nation.

        I was really amazed watching the TeeVee on my recent trip the ads for the Marines. They present it like an adventure, a military adventure for bored souls. But there is no moral or ethical message. Join the Marines, and get to play with all those arms and machines. Just like going to the gym!

        Sick culture, veering toward disaster.

        • Two hundred and fifty thousand (minimum) murdered as a result the invasion of Iraq: an illegal war with no parallel by any other nation.

          I try to follow you but I’m consistently unable to comprehend what you’re attempting to communicate. I stumble over your premises, and this would be a good example.
          Please don’t go on the tangent of claiming I’m an Iraq war supporter.

          Illegal war? Not illegal domestically. Congress approved. You can argue that Congress was fooled, but that doesn’t change the vote. Illegal internationally? Isn’t all war a violation of international law? Save perhaps UN action?

          Without parallel? I can think of unflattering parallels and those are easy. In 1979 “something happened” in Afghanistan. In 1951 “something happened” in Tibet and that’s still going on today.

          • Yes, that was one of Alizia’s dumber comments. 1) Those killed in war are not “murdered.” 2) By no possible stretch was the war illegal. As even the UN admitted, Iraq was violating the terms of the cease fire, and the first Iraq War could have been legally resumed at will.

            “No parallel” is too ridiculous to discuss.

            • Yes, that was one of Alizia’s dumber comments.

              No, in no sense was it ‘dumb’. But the insult is noted. My view is that that war, and these recent wars in the Middle East, are not justifiable wars, and are therefore ‘illegal’. It does not matter (or it matters very little) that Congress approved them. They were undertaken through false pretenses and they resulted in murder. I will use the term for murder as it has been defined Biblically, as in the end man has to answer to God.

              Nationally conducted homicide if you wish. The sort of thing that can destroy a nation and is eating into the moral fabric of America. It does not really matter what term is attached. The thing to be concerned about is the result. And the result was intense destruction of a sovereign nation. Just imagine if anything even slightly similar were to happen in America. It seems to me a proper ethical and moral exercise to contemplate the destruction wrought. Therefore: not dumb. Moral.

              When I critique other people’s comments I avoid judgments as to if they are ‘dumb’ (or stupid or idiotic), though at times I feel that people say non-intelligent things. But my comments are not dumb, no one of them, and my concerns are not dumb, through people may disagree with them. What I have learned, or one of the things I have learned here, is how deeply some people get involved in lies & self-deceptions. And when they get bound up in lies & self-deceptions they cannot really be ethical. Nor moral.

              Dumb ideas? Quite the opposite in fact. I am concerned for ethical and moral issues, and also for the fate of the nation.

              Matthew B wrote: “Without parallel? I can think of unflattering parallels and those are easy. In 1979 “something happened” in Afghanistan. In 1951 “something happened” in Tibet and that’s still going on today.”

              Good point. You have discovered a parallel. And since I assume that you condemn those aggressions, you are well on your way to understanding what I clearly wrote in my post, and what I meant. Don’t let my imperfections in writing in English get in the way of your ethical work!

              It is amazing to me when a person deliberately chooses not to understand . . .

                • The invasion of a sovereign nation, conducted under the pretenses it was conducted under, is described as illegal by many people. That is what I meant and what I mean. But in a larger sense the whole affair, and most of what has gone on in the Mid-East, is profoundly immoral and unethical. Does that now make more sense? Do you agree?

                  • A large number of people use the phrase ‘I could care less’ when they mean ‘I couldn’t care less.’ Still incorrect.

                    ‘Illegal’ has a definition. If that war was illegal, all of them are. Which results in a null statement on your part: legality does not come into the equation.

                    See? Not so hard.

                    • ‘Illegal’ has a definition. If that war was illegal, all of them are. Which results in a null statement on your part: legality does not come into the equation.

                      Illegal does indeed have a definition, Slick One. You are on firm ground there. I suggest that you are not taking into consideration the machinations of war and war-making, nor are you considering the corporate-governmental relationship to the industries of war-making. I would suggest there are many things about these wars that you are deliberately excluding from consideration, and doing so results in an ethical (and moral) failure. There is such a thing as just and unjust war; justifiable and unjustifiable. I used the term ‘illegal’ to cover both the dubiousness of the legality of the Iraq wars — especially the one initiated by the younger G. Bush under extremely sketchy terms.

                      Lies & deceptions were brought out in order to create an atmosphere through which the general population was manipulated to accept and *support* the attack. The deceptions involved in creating such propaganda implies rational lying — a planned choice to deceive — and to conceal the true aims of the war. There, one could talk about the collusion between industry and government in bringing the nation itself into war-making. If when these things are mentioned no ‘ethical alarms’ sound, then I must say that I question your system or ethics. If your system of ethics is that shallow, I would have no choice but to question your the solidity of your moral platform.

                      What is to be considered here supersedes the silly definition-games you are now trying to play with me. I do not think that you could even name it, because you refuse to see it. A vast war-machine unleashed itself against a sovereign country and this resulted in the destruction of social fabric. And tens of thousands of people were killed. And this damage will linger on for decades. The *ethical questions* certainly need to be asked, but in your case there is no one home to answer the door. A meditation for you would be to imagine if such a level of destruction were brought against your state and your community. Take for example the deaths of 3000 in the WTC Event. Weeks and weeks, months and months, years and years! of lamentation over the lives lost. A national licking of the wounds. The establishment of memorials. What I notice is the disproportion between the ‘lament’ that you allow yourselves (that is, America in general) and the thorough — the total — lack of regard or empathy when the destruction is facing away from *you*. I say that this is a national failing. A blind-spot. And I further suggest that when some religious people say that ‘God stands in judgment of America’, and is not standing behind American when it acts in these ways, that their position has logic and makes sense. *You* cannot go on and on doing such things and expect no negative results to accrue from it.

                      Therefore, profound ethical and moral mediation — conversation, discussion — is required. I can think of no national platform where this discussion is going on, and where it is allowed. That in itself points to a dangerous and suppressive media-system which has things in common with the worst forms of totalitarianism. And *people like you* who argue as you do are collusive with these perverse excesses. The faction that used to focus on the moral and ethical questions vis-a-vis such war-making — those considerations of the ‘military-industrial complex’ and what they do in a nation, in this nation, was the left-leaning faction: the social progressives. Now, all they are concerned about seems to be sexual issues and their ‘liberation’. It’s mad. Deranged really. I propose that for the Right to really be right-leaning that the typical Republican jingoism needs to be confronted through a reexamination of Constitutional principles, and a far more critical conversation needs to develop.

                      Whether you understand or agree with what I am saying here has very little relevance to my considerations and to my study. I have said, more or less openly, that I do not respect nor do I value the opinions of sold-out American Conservatives so-called. There is a special word that I might employ here except that it has been made ‘illegal’ on this Blog. You can fool yourselves if you wish. You can be an advanced and even eloquent apologist for immorality and the openly unethical and trick and deceive other people, but I will resist these sick machinations and make efforts to confront them, if only in words.

                      See? Not so hard.

                      Well, except that you have not even begun to engage at an ethical level. So, very very hard for you. Yet I will not abandon you nor *you-plural*. Among the people I respect I notice that they are doing good intellectual work in these and other arenas. Perhaps some day you will wake out of your ego-stupor and show some moral courage.

                    • There is substantial debate on the question of illegality. Simply googling the phrase “illegality of the gulf war” will bring it all up. I did not invent the term.

                      Not ‘lamer than lame’. That is only your opinion. Serious, important and crucial questions that touch on life and death, questions that have profound moral and ethical implications. The sort of things one is duty-bound to think about.

                      I agree that many people who talk do not really know what they are talking about.!

                    • Again, the fact that activists and partisans warped the issues and confounded whether we should have invaded Iraq with whether we could doesn’y advance your argument. Most of what you Google presumes that the Bush administration “knew” there were no WMD’s and went on anyway. That’s nonsense, and was always nonsense. And they didn’t need the WMDs to justify going in anyway. Cease fire. Iraq was openly violating the terms. It’s simple contract law, essentially: if you breach the requirements of a cease fire, your enemy can start firing again.

                    • Again, the fact that activists and partisans warped the issues and confounded whether we should have invaded Iraq with whether we could doesn’t advance your argument.

                      Just more opinion on your part. But please know that I have carefully read what you have written just here, and of course over the years. As I said to the Slick One, just above, encapsulates in general what I think about your position. It does not take all the important factors into consideration.

                      For decades now — and if people like Randolph Bourne are considered then for a hundred years now — have discoursed on the destructive aspects of the American war-machinery. There is — or perhaps I should say *there was* — fierce national debate about what is ‘warped’ and what is sound and proper as it pertains to American adventures. You do not finally decide the issue! Yet you act as if you do and as if everything is clearly decided. It is not!

                      I think they (people like Bourne) have done a very good job of outlining — exposing — the collusion between industry and government in establishing false-pretenses for war-making. And though they are generally seen to be ‘of the Left’ it is my belief that American Conservatism needs to engage itself in similar ways: with a critical position.

                      I have come to understand that these false-pretenses have resulted in the ‘entanglements’ that were warned about. But that is only one aspect, and a superficial one. In my view these late wars (those beginning in the 1990s and continuing on through today) are tearing at the social fabric of the country. In this sense I venture to say that they are doing harm to the national soul. I do not expect you to agree, nor do I expect you even to be concerned. I have a way of seeing and understanding that which you refuse to take into consideration, what you refuse to *see* and consider. I see it as a failing. I would call that seeing and that consideration ‘the fuller picture’. And what I notice that you exclude, and refuse to take into consideration, has inspired me to take it into consideration, and to that end I devote and will continue to devote energy and time.

                      When you say that “my argument is not advanced”, I see you as engaging in sophistical and lawyerly tactics of argumentation. You are just making a blocking statement and you think that that advances your argument, whatever it is. I do not appreciate this nor do I respect it, and I hope that you won’t mind that I say this directly. You will not take the full scope of my argument into consideration and you seem to me to revert to a kind of jingoism which is uniquely American. It is a blind-spot in my view. Yet, I do fully respect your position and, of course, I see you as having sound stances in other areas.

                    • Jack,

                      I stopped reading when she admitted to the definition, then continued with her rationalizations. We are talking past each other at this point, and her assertions are tinfoil hat territory.

                      Alizia takes a couple of valid points and spins it into fingers-in-the-ears-nyah-nyah-I-cannot-hear-you, you-are-all-idiots-and-only-my-opinion-is-valid!

                      This is boring, and not worth my time. I have been here before, and the result was “Alizia has proven herself a smug self-righteous know-it-all. She is the only holder of Truth, and anyone who disagrees will be subjected to name calling and belittling, which (being a Golden Rule violation) is unethical. As such I will not dignify her responses any further. Do not feed the trolls.”

                    • “And when the time comes, we’re the first to move toward the sounds of tyranny, injustice and despair …”

                      Well Dragon, I have actually read Randolph Borne and I’ll wager that you haven’t. And he makes many good points. To say that by having read him, and referring to part of his work, that that person ‘is lost to us’, is ultra-poor argumentation. Make some reference to Bourne. Talk about him. You cannot. You give evidence of being intellectually closed. And that is part-and-parcel of ‘the dumbing down of America’. But you arrive at moral dumbness and ethical blindness. There you have my opinion, take it as such.

                      Slickness writes: “Alizia takes a couple of valid points and spins it into fingers-in-the-ears-nyah-nyah-I-cannot-hear-you, you-are-all-idiots-and-only-my-opinion-is-valid!”

                      Yeah? What were the valid points?

                      Since you have said nothing, there is nothing to respond to. I read everything you wrote. You have no argument.

                      As such I will not dignify her responses any further. Do not feed the trolls.

                      That is your best technique and your main contribution: when you have no argument, and when you get trounced, you pull a Zoltar! How weak!

                      A troll is defined as someone who does not think as you do and argues to the contrary.

                      All my points stand. You have not convinced me otherwise. You have done nothing.

                      Randolphe Bourne wrote:

                      “… if the State’s chief function is war, then the State must suck out of the nation a large part of its energy for its purely sterile purposes of defense and aggression. It devotes to waste or to actual destruction as much as it can of the vitality of the nation. No one will deny that war is a vast complex of life-destroying and life-crippling forces. If the State’s chief function is war, then it is chiefly concerned with coordinating and developing the powers and techniques which make for destruction. And this means not only the actual and potential destruction of the enemy, but of the nation at home as well. For the … calling away of energy into military pursuits means a crippling of the productive and life-enhancing processes of the national life.”

                      Worthy of consideration in the present, so it seems to me!

                    • I’ll assume that this was addressed to me. So, no, I will not explain, nor will engage you further on your quest for pseudo-scholarship.

                    • Have it your way. But I have defeated each one of you absurd interlocutors. Each of you is too weak to make any sort of case. I’ll take my victory lap . . . 🙂

                    • Some people may say they respect you and I hope they are being honest. In my case I genuinely respect you and I have learned a great deal from you. Because you are an ethicist and an ethics teacher you have a role and a responsibility self-assumed. I do not respect however the way that each of you (Slick, Matthew and Dragon) have engaged with this OBVIOUSLY important topic. It is an ethical problem of vast magnitude and war-making cannot be seen in any other light. But you have unfairly and even flippantly dismissed my concerns and you have even belittled me for having them! That is a foul in my view.

                      You also set the stage, as it were, for the lack of proper engagement on the part of Slick, Matthew and Dragon. You ridiculed me and my concerns as a starting point . . . and the others carried forward in that line. That is also a foul in my view. And this is not the first time. 🙂

                      Unfortunately for you-plural — because no one of you actually engaged in the topi nor does it appear you-plural will even engage with it — my reasoning and my arguments stand and have not even been challenged.

                      That argument revolves around a giant and important question having to do with a military-industrial complex and collusion between those powers and interests, and wars that have been undertaken under false pretenses. Perhaps you totally dismiss any level of concern by anyone as it pertains to this question? It would seem so. If that is so, I would have to say that your perspective seems irresponsible to me.

                      There is more — much more — to be discussed about this topic. It is wide, deep and important. It requires seriousness and perseverance. The proper attitude toward it — in my excruciatingly humble opinion — was not even closely approached.

              • It is amazing to me when a person deliberately chooses not to understand . . .
                Jack jumped to the insult, i did not so I’d appreciate not ascribing motives you can’t claim to know for certain.

                I will reiterate, I try to understand you, and fail. Clearly our line of thinking is so divergent, I don’t get it. I read, and I re-read and fail to grasp what you’re saying. I jumped on this one because one of the places I stumble is the premise you start from, and this would be an example.

                • Here is the ‘premise’:

                  “America, and certainly The Americanopolis, and the people with the responsibility of running America, and definitely Conservative America, have significantly veered away from even the possibility of thinking ethically and acting ethically. The fundamental crisis of America is ethics-related. America is profoundly lost.”

                  If you cannot still grasp the notion, I will not be able to help you.

            • Not so odd, really. It is a fundamental concern of mine. What happens to a nation when it engages in unjustifiable wars. Pretty basic stuff really. The stuff that you can focus on if some ‘other’ is involved, but stuff that proves impossible for you to examine if it has to do with yourself (as in your own Nation).

              And what I said in the thread you linked to still stands:

              I will take you one, one by one if you wish, or in groups. I will take on the whole *pack* and whole world if need be. I will decimate your lies through simple exposition.

              Same focus, my child, different day!

      • <b<"And when the time comes, we're the first to move toward the sounds of tyranny, injustice and despair …"

        The same mechanism, the same deceptive tricks, are used by the ruling elites to trick people on many many different levels.

    • When it comes to war or any conflict, the side on offense always has the initiative.

      Hell, no, e.g. the Lines of Torres Vedras, Mao Tse Tung’s Long March, Stalingrad, etc. (You lot may be more familiar with the expression “rope a dope”.) Conversely, the German offensives of 1918 and 1944-5 were failed attempts to regain the initiative as they ran out of options.

      The side able to determine whether or not to go on offence always has the initiative – but that is almost a tautology that is true by definition, and so not very helpful in and of itself though – like a map projection – it may help lay things out to think about.

      • In general, being “on offense” is a binary situation taken in the broad scope of a conflict. In a large-scale war, you can be on offense in one place and defense in another, and that’s what you’re apparently referring to. I am well familiar with “rope a dope,” etc.

        However, you cannot have the initiative on defense, even if you’re using a baiting tactic – which are generally tactics of desperation which depend upon the enemy helping you by making bad strategic choices — “playing into your hands.” That’s not a good position from which to fight a battle unless you have no viable choice.

        For example, Stalingrad’s defense was not initiative, it was a poor strategic decision by Germany and frankly a dick-measuring contest between Stalin and Hitler – anyone should’ve known they couldn’t support a siege like that with supply lines that long through the Russian winter. Germany had the initiative, but they trusted too much in their weak flank support and were on too tight a timeline to avoid the winter, where the weather cost them their initiative and gave the Red Army breathing room to mount a counteroffensive on the German army’s southern flank.

        Mao’s Long March was a rearguard action that was successful due to the tactics of his foe, which were remarkably predictable. But the Long March was desperate, and was dictated by the initiative of the opposing forces.

        So I stand by my remarks. The examples you’ve given do not represent initiative, but successful defenses against an opponent with the initiative in battle. Having the initiative does not mean you’re going to win. Sometimes the defender, even without the initiative, wins anyway.

        • … In a large-scale war, you can be on offense in one place and defense in another, and that’s what you’re apparently referring to…

          No, not at all. I’m talking about who could shape what followed. If anything is ever unclear, don’t tell me what I’m saying, ask me.

          I’m going to leave the side issues you have raised to the footnote at the end. For now, observe that, in all the cases I gave by way of illustration, it was the defence that had the option about what to do next:-

          – At Torres Vedras, the coalition forces could have withdrawn by sea to deploy elsewhere, or broken out of the lines, at any time. The French could only besiege or retreat with limited supplies while being pursued – as they eventually had to.

          – During the Long March, the communists could have turned to fight or split up in the hope that units would survive at any time. They only lacked those options when they faced bottlenecks, like a half dismantled bridge defended by machine-guns. Their Plan A, which succeeded, was to regroup in a new base where they could pick up where they left off.

          – At Stalingrad, the Russians could have resumed their harassing, strategic retreat at any time*, while the Germans faced a situation much like the French at Torres Vedras – and also had to do it anyway. (We can amplify this with the Germans being forced to take rather than bypass the Crimea earlier, as they had Crete, or face the risk of it being used as a base from which medium range bombers could damage and maybe even nullify the Rumanian oil fields.)

          In general, these defenders would only have lacked the initiative if there hadn’t been a range of options open to them and if there had been such a range for the attackers. But you can’t ever infer that from the mere fact that they chose the defensive option when and where they did.

          * Subject to their being able to arrange oil supply and other logistics during the time they were buying, which they only just managed to keep going as it was. This is why Stalingrad was not a mere vanity on either side; for each, the issue was whether the German advance could overtake and cut off logistics before the U.S.S.R. could make alternative arrangements (Stalingrad was basically the lowest convenient crossing point of the Volga, passing which would have let the north-eastern Caspian ports be cut off along with their oil transit – the Soviets even had to resort to towing old water boilers filled with oil at one stage).

          Oh, and I wasn’t suggesting that you lot might not be familiar with “rope a dope” but that you might only be familiar with it, and not with, say, the strategic situation surrounding Stalingrad.

          • Thanks for the reply.

            I think the biggest point I’m trying to make is that even if you have a choice as the defender, it’s usually limited to:

            – A strategic retreat — live to fight another day or;
            – Try to goad the enemy in to a tactic you can make too costly for him to continue (i.e. the Long March);
            – Fight to the end and hope you can make the victory Phirric, or in the alternative, goad the enemy into combat on ground where you have the advantage. This is kind of what happened at Stalingrad.

            The offense has many more options on how to attack the problem. For example, Hitler could’ve simply surrounded Stalingrad and moved on. He didn’t need the town at all, he just needed to defeat its effectiveness as a war supplier. He could’ve accomplished that by laying siege to the city. The winter would’ve worked in his favor, rather than against him, then. Of course, they would’ve had to rethink thier war plan, but the old saying that a plan doesn’t survive contact with the enemy is as axiomatic then as it is now.

            That’s my main point. The offense decides on how the battle will proceed, and the defense must react to their strategy. In all your examples above, the offense forced the defense to chose a course of action, even if it was effectively inaction. That’s what the initiative is. The defense did not force choices on the offense until they reacted to that offense.

  6. I am interested in the ethical dimension of the 370 former federal prosecutors who have signed an online letter saying they would have charged obstruction had Trump not been president. Is it ethical to weigh in when they were not privy to the actual evidence. Is it possible that many fear what Barr might actually turn up that could implicate them in some unsavory acts?

    Where were they when HRC destroyed digital files and electronic equipment?

  7. I hate to say this, but it is beginning to look more and more like slickwilly is right. I see no future for this country that does not involve bullets and explosives.

  8. If Donald Trump ordered the Attorney General to stop in investigating Hillary Clinton would that be obstruction of justice?

  9. I learned the meaning of the word irony from a single song from “Oklahoma,” from the original cast album (naked music and lyrics without the wink-nudge-nudge antics of the movie).

    Reversing those roles is not even valid reinterpretation of the play. It makes no sense, especially since it was near perfect as it was. There’s no way the plot could be effective without making it stupid and, as many have now described it, dull. What did they do with Ado Annie’s distinctly un-Progressive song, “I Cain’t Say No” ?? Or “Everything’s Up to Date in Kansas City”?? There should be a chorus of musical lovers outside the theater singing “oh, what a horrible evening.”

    An incidental: Of the many people who played the itinerant Persian peddler (whom Ado-Annie almost fell in love with), the role was filled in the 2002 revival of “Oklahoma” by Aasif Mandvi, British-American, India-born Muslim, best known as the Daily Show’s “fake news” correspondent.

  10. I can’t believe that “Oklahoma” has been reincarnated in any form whatsoever! Easily one of the top five worst musicals ever put on the stage. My son recently played in the orchestra at a Big 10 university production of it, so my wife (also not a fan of the show) and I bought some tickets, figuring we’d give it another chance. Nope. Still a terrible show, though the production was fine (you can’t put lipstick on a pig). It’s like R&H forgot to end the whole thing with Curly, Jud, and Laurie. “Oops, we better bring back this central character and end up with a hero for the show before it ends…”
    The university also managed to tie the show in with its season theme of “Breaking Down Borders,” which we thought was a stretch at the very least. But it’s a terrible show no matter who is doing it, and I know that the 25 or so years between viewings was not nearly enough!

    • The music is generally glorious, as is almost everything Rodgers did in his prime, but otherwise, I tend to agree with you. It’s one of those examples where the musical is much worse than the play: “Green Grow the Lilacs” makes sense, the musical adaptation doesn’t

  11. More on the online censorship front: Twitter is on a roll. There were two accounts banned this last week that don’t even have the thin veneer of impartiality.

    By far the more egregious was the banning of a parody account made by the brilliant (in my opinion) Mike Morrison, who made satirical posts using the Twitter handle: “The AOC Press Release Parody Account”. Twitter, in it’s ultimate wisdom, decided that although the word “Parody” appeared in the Account’s Name, Handle, and Biography that the cutting satire was actually too close to what AOC actually posts, and it might have misled users. I can’t make that up. Quote:

    “You may not register or create fake and misleading accounts. While you may use Twitter pseudonymously or as a parody, commentary, or fan account, you may not use misleading account information in order to engage in spamming, abusive, or disruptive behavior, include attempts to manipulate the conversations on Twitter.”

    “You may also not ‘post duplicative or substantially similar content, replies, or mentions over multiple accounts or multiple duplicate updates on one account or create duplicate or substantially similar accounts,”

    Would this have happened to an account that wasn’t mocking progressive ideas? Of course not. And how do we know that? Because this has happened before, and satirical Twitter accounts aren’t new. “Godfrey Elfwick” used to post satire of what woke people would say before he flew too close to the sun and Twitter decided that woke people needed protection and smote him. Watch out Titania McGrath. I’m just waiting for Twitter to truly fuck up and ban someone who was demonstrating Poe’s law.


    The other example is James Woods. Apparently, James received his ban for the following Tweet:

    “If you try to kill the King, you better not miss. #HangThemAll,”

    Would this garner a ban were Woods not a conservative on woke progressive social media? Of course not. I’d love for Twitter to enunciate which of it’s ephemeral rules this actual broke, but it probably has something to do with targeted harassment. Why do I think that? Because that’s their go-to, even if they’re absolutely abysmal at following through with that even-handedly.

    For example, Twitter will say that all those blue-checked accounts from B list celebrities saying “All white men should die” aren’t bannable, because white men are a class, and “targeted” harassment needs a specific “target”. Well, that would almost make sense, except that Woods didn’t specifically target anyone, and you have to squint really hard to even tell what group one might think he’s referring to. Woke people? But I can’t figure out for the life of me by what rule Twitter would use to justify that ban.

    Unless, of course, justification isn’t even necessary. James Woods is a conservative, you know.

    Which brings me to something of a crossroads. I like to think of myself as a Free Speech extremist. and I like how America’s laws are designed to give the most free speech to the most people I like the idea of governments not interfering with speech in almost any context. I think that the old “fire in a crowded theater” adage probably wouldn’t hold up to judicial scrutiny if the judiciary literally applied the law…. I’m not sure if they would, or even should, but the law as written leaves that question open.

    Free speech is more than the freedom to speak though, it’s the freedom to listen to speech you want to hear. That’s why the people who protest speeches by screaming like banshees into megaphones inside the auditorium of the speech they find objectionable aren’t merely exercising their own free speech, they’re impeding people’s ability to listen.

    And important to both the ability to speak and the ability to listen is the platform to speak at, Before technology, people would take literal soapboxes to the town square, plunk it down, and start talking, and the crowd would decide if they wanted to listen. The first amendment protected this by restricting the power of government to send their jackbooted thugs to pull you out of the square because they didn’t like what you were saying. Now with the advent of technology, that platform has moved from the town square to social media, and while that has made it significantly easier to plunk your soapbox down and start talking, and has made it significantly easier for people to listen, but that only goes until the corporate jackbooted thugs come around, pull you off your box, and eject you from Their Town Square™.

    Which brings me back to the crossroads.

    I’m finding myself struggling with the question of social media regulation, and specifically whether something like the first amendment is necessary to platforms like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook to preserve the rights of people to speak.

    • The Left is increasingly censorious. It’s terrifying. When they define their violence as speech and our speech as violence, they have only one proper response to opposition…and that is to crush it by all means necessary.

      “I’m finding myself struggling with the question of social media regulation, and specifically whether something like the first amendment is necessary to platforms like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook to preserve the rights of people to speak.”

      I’ve long contended that when certain elements of communication or technology become big enough to affect entire swathes of the citizenry with only minor effort by the power brokers, they, while not truly becoming “governmental” entities, gain a certain “pseudo-governmental” scope in society. At that point, it becomes ethical to consider ways of compelling those entities to behave like a government restricted by the Bill of Rights.

    • Social media is the devil. Simple as that.

      It is being recorded so that appropriate action can be taken in the future when progressives return to power.

      The recording thing is admitted by the NSA and the major social media players, who admit they send everything to the NSA.

  12. Complete Non Sequitur #2.

    This weekend, Hamas backed terrorists from Gaza fired 700 rockets into Israel. Have you heard about this? Perhaps, Perhaps not, I suppose it depends on whether you get your news solely from MSNBC. Has MSNBC covered it? Maybe they gave it 30 seconds, a single post on their website, or a Chyron… But there’s Russian collusion to talk about. How could they possibly report on a terrorist attack that blanketed major urban centers when they could be ignoring a 400 page report and paying deep attention to whether the summary of that 400 page report accurately reflected Robert Mueller’s feelings?

    Too much snark?

    Anyway. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are in the news again, because just like the period of time after their elections, where they apparently couldn’t go 15 days without saying something overtly anti-semitic, they happen to have an opinion on Israel again. Go figure.

    From the Daily Wire:

    “How did members of Congress in the United States respond to this? Two Democrat members, far-leftwing freshman representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar defended the terrorists, of course. First, Rashida Tlaib retweeted someone who was criticizing a New York Times story.

    The tweet that she retweeted said, “This is a stunningly irresponsible and misleading headline, New York Times. Israel shot dozens of unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza on Friday and killed four Palestinians including two protesters in Gaza before any projectiles were launched.”

    That tweet that Rashida Tlaib retweeted is itself misleading because what it’s suggesting is that Israel provoked the rocket attacks. Israel didn’t provoke the rocket attacks; Iran acting through Islamic Jihad provoked the response from Israel, which then led to rocket attacks because a terrorist sniper started firing on Israeli troops. So, what this person is suggesting is that when terrorists from Gaza start firing on Israeli troops, what Israel should do is nothing. They should just take it lying down — it would be wrong to fight back against terrorists shooting our troops. That’s what that lunatic says, but the more troubling thing is that a member of the United States Congress then retweeted that Islamist propaganda.

    Tlaib keeps pushing the propaganda, and she then pushes her own tweet. She says, “When will the world stop dehumanizing our Palestinian people who just want to be free”. I’ll pause there — did you catch that? “Our Palestinian people.” Are we talking about some group of Palestinian Arabs living in New Jersey or some group of Palestinian Arabs living in Arizona… no. Who are our Palestinian people? Who does Tliab refer to as “our”? Who does she view as us? Who is she allying herself with?

    The tweet goes on: “Headlines like this and framing it in this way just feed into the continued lack of responsibility on Israel who unjustly oppress and target Palestinian children and families. Hashtag Free Palestine.”

    So, this is pure terrorist propaganda. It’s the only way to put it. A member of Congress Rashida Tlaib has become a mouthpiece for some of the worst terrorists in the world. There’s no more diplomatic way I could say it. The more interesting thing and I’ve suspected this for a long time with Rashida Tlaib, is it’s clear she doesn’t like Israel, it’s clear she doesn’t like Jews, and it’s clear that she sides with some of the worst terrorists in the world. But listen to the language — she’s siding with a group of Arabs in so-called Palestine, that elected Hamas to be their government and that elected a terrorist organization to be their government.”

    I’ll just let that sink in.

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