Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/29/2019: ‘It Depends On What The Meaning Of _____ Is’ Edition” [Item #1]

One of the many things I deeply resent about the “resistance”/Democratic Party/ progressive/mainstream media assault on the President, elections, our democracy and the connective tissue that has held the United States together—aside from such minor inconveniences as the likely permanent damage it has done to society and the viability of the American experiment—is how it has rendered so many familial, personal and professional relationships unsustainable after one party or the other has fallen prey to Stage 5 Trump Derangement.

Commenter Greg has chronicled an experience that too many will find familiar. Here is his Comment of the Day on #1 in the post, “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/29/2019: “It Depends On What The Meaning Of _____ Is” Edition.”

I’m not on Facebook, so I can’t unfriend anybody. But inspired by Jack, I finally did block a (former) friend from texting me today after the following exchange, which is in tone exactly like all of the other text conversations that I have endured with him for over three years:

Former Friend: Compare what Barr said and what Mueller said:

BARR: “[Mueller] made it very clear that was not his position. He was not saying that but for the OLC opinion he would have found a crime.”

MUELLER: “If we had confidence POTUS clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

According to Barr, Mueller didn’t find that Trump committed crimes and the OLC didn’t have anything to do with it. But Mueller says Trump committed crimes and he would have charged him if not for the OLC opinion. So Mueller contradicted both of Barr’s LIES today. Barr lied and dropped the charges and let Trump go. We gotta impeach both these criminals.

Me: There’s no inconsistency between what Mueller said and what Barr said. There is a continuum:

1. Clearly did not commit a crime.
2. Probably did not commit a crime.
3. 50/50 whether he committed a crime.
4. Probably committed a crime.
5. Clearly (i.e., beyond a reasonable doubt) committed a crime. This is the only circumstance under which a crime would be charged.

Mueller said the evidence was not sufficient to establish #1 and he did not comment on whether it established #2 through #5. Barr said the evidence was not sufficient to establish #5 and he did not comment on whether it established #1 through #4. Mueller didn’t say that Trump committed crimes and he certainly didn’t charge him with any crimes.

Former Friend: Bullshit. Barr said the barrier to charging a president was NOT a factor in failing to bring a case against Trump. Mueller said today that is the only reason why they didn’t charge Trump. A LIE.

Me: No. Barr didn’t say that the barrier to charging a president wasn’t a factor in Mueller’s decision. He said that it wasn’t a factor in his own (and Rosenstein’s) decision. Barr and Rosenstein decided not to consider whether or not a president could be charged with a crime under any circumstances because they had determined that the evidence did not establish #5. Mueller decided not to consider whether or not the evidence established #5 because he had determined that a president could not be charged under any circumstances. There’s no inconsistency.

Former Friend: Read the fucking transcript.

Me: I read the transcript and I read the Mueller report and I read Barr’s letter. Barr’s letter said: “Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense. Our determination was made without regard to, and is not based on, the constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president.” That means that they determined that there was no proof of #5 even aside from the barrier to charging a president.

The Mueller report says, “We considered whether to evaluate the conduct we investigated under the Justice Manual standards governing prosecution and declination decisions, but we determined not to apply an approach that could potentially result in a judgment that the President committed crimes.” That means they did not make any determination about whether or not the evidence established #5. They said they decided not to make that evaluation because the “threshold step” had not been satisfied. The “threshold step” was a determination of whether the president could be charged with a crime. Because they determined that the answer was no, they did not move to the second step, which would have been evaluating whether the evidence was sufficient to establish #5. That means they decided not to make a determination one way or the other about #5 because of the barrier to charging a president.

That’s what Mueller said today, too. “We concluded that we would not reach a determination one way or the other about whether the President committed a crime…. We will not comment on any other conclusions or hypotheticals about the President.” This is exactly the same as the report. They are not expressing any opinion about #2, #3, #4 or #5 and they refuse to speculate.

Former Friend: You are so full of shit. You just sit there and repeat Trump’s talking points over and over again. Evidence doesn’t matter to you at all.

Me: [block]

Since I blocked him, I have been brooding about the countless hours I have wasted texting with him and others like him about Trump and the poisonous effect that all of this has had on our relationships. I actually sat for almost three hours today checking the text of original documents and carefully composing replies that I truly thought would persuade my former friend that, on this one minor issue, at least, he was wrong. Insanely, even though nobody has ever changed their mind about even the smallest point as a result of any thing I have said, I have kept acting as if someday they will. Instead, any attempt to persuade them just makes them angrier. This person used to be a real friend — somebody I went places with and had fun with — not just a Facebook friend. But for almost three years, he and I haven’t spent a minute in each other’s company or exchanged a word about any topic other than Trump, which is why I finally decided today that I needed to acknowledge that our friendship came to an end long ago.


18 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/29/2019: ‘It Depends On What The Meaning Of _____ Is’ Edition” [Item #1]

  1. What I have learned over the last few years is that no matter how close a friend you thought you were the real relationship was build on the fraud that you could disagree without being disagreeable.

  2. These ideas are not original to me and I would credit the writer for these profound thoughts if I could remember his/her name. The left’s behavior following 2016 is not mass delusion or mass hysteria or Trump Derangement Syndrome, no it is pure unadulterated hate.

    Understand that with Barack Obama, ordinary Dems became captivated by the narrative that they were the Good People, and therefore ENTITLED to crush anyone in their way, because everything they do is in the service of social justice.

    If the writer is correct, then the derangement we are facing is not Orange Man Bad; it is America Bad.

    Leftists no longer believe in our two-party political system. They have completely rejected American civic norms of treating the president, regardless of political party, with a modicum of respect and cooperation. They don’t want to alternate presidential power every four or eight years. They truly believe theirs is the only party that deserves to be elected.

      • Yes. Trump needs to be impeached and convicted of NOT BEING BARACK OBAMA OR HILLARY CLINTON. What more evidence do we need of that? Just look at the man. I mean, for one thing, he’s a man, not a woman and therefore guilty of not being HRC. And he’s not even anywhere near half black! He’s orange, for God’s sake. He’s been being not Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton for what, almost three years? In plain sight. Don’t Republicans see this? What more proof do they need?

        And besides, in England, if they don’t like a prime minister and a different party gets the majority of the House of Commons, the prime minister has to go. The Democrats got control of the House. Trump has to go. Forget that four year term stuff, that’s so not European.

    • Leftists no longer believe in our two-party political system. They have completely rejected American civic norms of treating the president, regardless of political party, with a modicum of respect and cooperation. They don’t want to alternate presidential power every four or eight years. They truly believe theirs is the only party that deserves to be elected.

      I think this is right, but incomplete. They have also rejected the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, by saying both must be changed to comport to their ideas about hate speech and gun rights. They have attacked the drafters of the documents as evil slaveholding white men, and the suggested the Constitution cannot be an ethical or just document because of the sins of those who drafted it.

      They have vowed to change the constitutionally-designed system of elections, and reject federalism generally unless Republicans are in charge. They have explicitly rejected due process and the fifth amendment as inapplicable to anyone they deem unworthy of its protections, or in cases where the “greater good” is served by ignoring it.

      There is probably more, but this is the best I can do in the time I have.

  3. It is always disappointing, even depressing, when you’re forced to accept that someone isn’t the friend you thought they were, when second-hand hatred is more important than F2F friendship.

  4. I have to feel sorry for your friend, because Mueller’s statement, not to mention the conclusions in his report and the letter he sent to Barr, seem calculated to confuse any but a hard-nosed legalistic mind. He was asked to provide clarity and he gave us a Rorschach test.

    • If you want evidence of the Meuller investigation being nothing more than a deep state attack on a duly elected executive, you don’t have to look any further than Robert Mueller.

  5. Mrs. OB reported this morning on a conversation Saturday evening (at a memorial service, of all things). A childhood friend of the widow mentioned to Mrs. OB in casual conversation that she was divorced. When Mrs. OB asked “what happened,” the response was, “Trump.” Mrs. OB just about fell out of her chair. The woman had been married to Mr. 2 for about fifteen years but “He couldn’t stand the fact that [his wife] was a Democrat.” Mrs. OB guffawed and said that that was the most insane thing she’d ever heard. The woman was not pleased. See Frank Stephens above.

  6. Congrats on the COTD.

    I find such discussions happen far too often these days: I just has just about the same one in person (against my usual discretion) just last Friday. Fortunately, we agreed to disagree without vitriol: he was baffled how anyone could vote for Trump (given that he was a criminal and all) and I explained it to him.

  7. I don’t know why it took you 3 years to decide that this person was no longer a friend. A friend might tell you something you said was bullshit, especially if the thought didn’t originate with you, but was something you were agreeing with. A friend does not tell you to “read the fucking transcript” or that “you are so full of shit.” These are both rude things to say to anyone, and they are not things you say to a friend under any circumstances. That’s part of the problem with the left. They are incapable of being other than rude with those they disagree with, i.e. the not-so-dearly-departed Chris here.

    There is a bully culture ingrained on the left since Obama. They think they should be able to say whatever they damn well please, no matter how harsh, rude, profane, or abusive, and that the right should just maintain a dignified silence and take it. Heaven forbid the right answer, strike back, or go after any of their people. Because of this mentality they think it’s perfectly ok to treat those they disagree with as stupid at best (because anyone who was smart would see it their way) or evil (because once you’ve been shown the correct way and still decline to agree with it you must be evil).

    • P.S. Don’t waste your time trying to explain things to folks who clearly have advanced cases of Trump Derangement Syndrome. The disease is a progressive one, and frequently it’s terminal. The best bet is to cut people like that from your life if you can. Trust me, life is difficult enough without encouraging the presence of bullies, snipers, and haters.

  8. Greg, I decided long ago not to engage my friends and family on social media about politics. The one time I did it was regarding gun rights and was directed at my cousin. I discovered that I could not win the argument, because my dear cuz simply rejected logic as applicable. It was all about the emotion. I am unwilling to argue from emotion — incapable of it, really.

    That was a lesson learned. We agreed to disagree and I decided that there are better places to debate this sort of thing than with my family and friends.

    I don’t urge this approach on anyone else, as self-censorship is never an ethical strategy, it’s just my preferred one when it comes to this tiny subgroup. I also hate social media with a passion and never use it except to check for birthdays and the status of friends, but I never post anything about me. My wife does enough of that for both of us. I am as near to invisible on Facebook as it is possible to be and still be a member. I don’t even engage Jack there other than to send him an occasional link.

    That’s my strategy to avoid this situation. It may not be ethical, but it works for me.

    • I agree, Glenn. And it runs contrary to Jack’s duty to confront. But I think it’s the only way to go. Just this morning I found three idiotic facebook posts from a high school buddy I spent years with at that age. I was tempted to respond with the dialogue from A Man for All Seasons, or even the youtube clip. For God’s sake, we studied the movie in AP English! But it’s pointless. I just need to figure out how to block his future posts without his knowing I’ve done so. Mrs. OB has done this with various of her high school friends.

      • What I am tempted to do, and have yet to do, is to write, “Do you actually think about any of this stuff, or just blindly post articles by pundits and columnists who belong to your “team”? Because the latter is lazy and annoying, and a use of the appeal to authority as substitute for actually debating. When I challenge people like you, they almost inevitably can’t mount a genuine argument of their own, and resort to name calling, fatuous talking points, and double talk. Have the guts to make your own arguments, and stop leaning on hacks like Krugman, Blow, Maddow and others. All you are doing is checking “Like” boxes. Try some critical thinking.”

          • My problem is I default to wanting to respond, “My God, are you really that much of an idiot? You’ve been that much of a numb skull lemming our entire lives? Caramba!”

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