Monthly Archives: April 2019

Hypocrisy and Perspective: Part One

Let us be perfectly clear from the start. I am a child of the 60’s. I turned 10 in 1961 and was 18 in 1969. An while I was anything but a hippie/flower child I was deeply influenced by the time. One of the most lasting was my total disdain of Hypocrisy and of lying. I was already predisposed to rejecting Hypocrisy because of my natural, if not instinctual, logic. Also i had close experience with someone who lied about everything and anything.

My first real exposure to the political Hypocrisy of the 50’s and early 60’s was in the 1964 election when I got a copy of “None Dare Call it Treason”. When my mother saw i was reading it she immediate directed me to other sources, news papers, encyclopedias, etc to fact check what the book said. I had already been shocked by the crushingly poor logic and reasoning of the book. It was not till years later when I was introduced to classic Greek logic was I to true comprehend the truly horrible work this book is. This is where I mark my life long crusade against Hypocrisy.

So why this post? Two reasons actually. According to the New York Post Pres. Trump has now told over 10,000 lies and we’re not talking about your run of the mill political lies, we’re talking about bald faced lies. Like the one he just told this week. You know the one (I shan’t repeat it here, it is too vial) about late term abortions. But this is not about Pres. Trump, he is just a symptom of what is wrong with what is known as the ‘conservative movement’. I’m not talking about your run of the mill Jack and Jill conservative, no. I’m talking about the true ‘movement conservatives’.

It is as hard to define a ‘movement conservative’ as it is easy to identify them when you see them. I’m also not going to get into the debate about “there are hypocrites on the left”. Anyone who studies the subject knows that hypocrisy and lying happen on both sides. No, what I’m going to be talking about is systemic hypocrisy of conservative thought and speech. This problem has existed in this country since it’s founding (I like to use the 3/5ths comprise as a starting point) and we have it with us still. There are several things we can use to detect hypocrisy in the ‘conservative movement’. I like to start with the use of euphemisms, most famous in our history is ‘particular institution’ for slavery. Euphemisms are still in vogue today, just consider “alternative facts” for lies (or to be more exact incorrect facts). Another diagnostic is the use of ill defined terms. Like Humpty Dumpty said “a word means exactly what I mean it to mean”. There is a simple experiment I like to perform with people who talk a lot about ‘Capitalism’, I tell them I have never really understood the term and you they kindly tell me what it actually means. 9 times out of 10 I find they have no clear idea either.

This brings me to my last diagnostic, perspective. By this I me just this. That which I like and approve of is “conservative” and good, right, and proper. An everything else is bad, evil, and improper. This has a very interesting effect on talking about ‘conservative movement’, anything less than full support becomes a personal attack. It is fundamentally impossible to have a rational talk with a ‘movement conservative’ because any questioning of the ideas expressed become a personal attack. An there is nothing you can do to change this.

Think on it. Next installment of this post I’ll go into how this works so well with classical logical fallacies, Hypocrisy, and what can de done about it.

A Study in History

I have a question for you….Do you remember the political party called The Federalists? Drawing a blank? Then let’s try something closer in time, how about The Wigs? Still nothing?

To start with The Federalists Political Party is not the POC or Think Tank known as the Federalist Society, it was “faction” (there were no political parties yet) that supported both Pres. Washington and Adams. (Follow the link provided if you want more details.) What is important about the Federalists is that after the 1800 election they knew they were going to be out of power so the both created a slew of judgeships and then appointed loyal Federalists to the judgeships. It was said by the Democratic-Republicans that John Adams stayed up all night of the last day of his presidency signing the papers for the judges.

So what does this have to do with today? Well…..for most of the last administration (Pres. Obama) the GOP has done to keep open as many federal judgeships as it can open (What was done to Merrick Garland was the most famous of these acts.) in hope that they would win in 2016. Well they did, and they got someone, Donald Trump, who could careless about getting good jurists. So now they have been filling all of these open judgeships as fast as they can. More often than not along straight party line votes. So what does this mean to us? Well the Federalists never won a major election again and by 1824 was no more. Strangely enough, that was just about the same time as all the Federalists judges had left office.


Is a political party appointing large numbers of judgeships symptomatic of it eminent dissolution?

Now lets look at the Wigs. As shown in the link this is one of the political parties listed as succeeding The Federalists party. You may remember hearing about them when you studied the American Civil War and the rise of the Republican Party. So what does the Wigs have to do with todays Republicans? Simply that before they finally collapsed in 1860 their membership was shrinking for many many years in the decade of the 1850’s. Also they had a great deal trouble with extreme organizations like the “Nativist, or American Party, or Know Nothings. (To get a Hollywood view of Native party members see the Gangs of New York. Pay particular attention to Bill “The Butcher”.) The GOP seems to be having the same problem with things like the Libertarian party or the Freedom Caucus. So we have a political party with a shrinking and fracturing membership. How long can it stay a major player.


Is the election of Donald Trump symptomatic of a moribund political party?

So we have two interesting hypothesis’ that are actually the same. Is the GOP moribund? How can we tell? What are symptomatic what are diagnostic? Any ideas for set or two of good tests or do we just need to sit and watch what happens.

It depends on what the word “Shall” means

Let me quite clear at the start; I am NOT a Legal scholar, nor a Jurist or Justice, nor even an attorney or  lawyer.  I am just a dedicated student of the both the Law, the Constitution and it’s history.  I do take no little pride in having been this for almost 50 years now.  Because of this I feel I can, with some trepidation put my two cents in.  I also look forward to anyone who is any of those things I said I wasn’t above to jump in an correct any error or misstatements I make here.  That said……

Given what the ‘new’ Attorney General Barr has said this week along with other persons in the Administration have said about turning over Pres. Trumps federal tax returns I am going to do something I haven’t done since November 2016. I’m going to make a prediction about what is going to happen politically. But first a little back story: 48 years ago when I started my study of the law (Business Law 101) on of the things Professor McNutt drilled into our heads was that words in the law often had very firm definition and usage. He started with two of the most, according to him, miss read words in the law. They are “will” and “shall”. I will not bother with all he told us about “will” as it is the word “Shall” that is going to be making all the news.

My prediction is this, that the IRS and/or the Treasury Dept. will refuse to supply the requested Tax returns of President Trump on one or mer grounds. The first, and I think most obvious, is that the Congress has no ‘ legitimate’ legislative purpose for see the documents. The second is that do to the separation of powers the law in question( 26 US Code 6103) can not be applied to the President. There maybe more but my knowledge of the subject is not great enough for me to venture deeper. Also just these two are more than enough to give SCOTUS a very severe case of heart burn.

I’m not going to even attempt to guess how the Court will rule, I’ll only say that both are set with many pitfalls and the Court is facing the real possibility of writing a decision to rival ‘Dread Scot’. As for myself I would like to see how things would evolve if the Court Rules that there are some laws that can not be applied to the President just because s/he is the President. Just what an author of apocalyptic SF needs to fill in the back story. I can just see it now, none of the executive branch needs to follow any of the laws passed by Congress because of the doctrine of the. Unitary Executive and no law can be applied to the President because of separations of powers.

I’m now going to make my prediction: it will take anywhere from 9 to 12 months for all of the challenges to the demand of the Congress to work it’s way up to the SCOTUS and the court will not issue anything till the last minute. I expect and hope the court will say Pres. Trump must comply and I expect Pres. Trump to stonewall it just like Pres. Andrew Jackson did. This would then give the House an actual impeachable act but not enough time before the election to actually impeach the President before the election.

Thought Experiment Time:

It is Wednesday 4 Nov 2020 and one of the following things has happened:

  1. Donald Trump has lost the election
  2. Donald Trump has won. The GOP has retaken the House and kept the Senate.
  3. Donald Trump has won. The Dems have kept the house and the GOP has kept the Senate
  4. Donald Trump has won and the Dems have taken both houses of Congress.

Now lets build our Apocalyptic future history.

Confirmation Bias and Politics

“Please, in the name of God, consider the possibility of you being wrong”

With apologies to Oliver Cromwell.

For those who do not know, Comfirmation Bias is a psychological phenomenon that everyone who is in science in some way is trained to be on the lookout for. We are tought that it came happen to the best of of us. Not only to the sloppy, but to the most detailed and self-honest. It is not something bad, it is just a part of being human. We just have to except that it happens, except it, correct for it, and move on.

So what exactly is Confirmation Bias (CB)? Simple put it is the tendency to except as correct information, data, that supports a currently held option or belief (see for more details). Because CB is always with us as we work and is so insidious and subtle the scientific method has come up with several procedures to counter it, the most well know is the Peer Review. The next is insisting that other researchers confirm our data/observations etc. The funny thing is CB is not something discovered by science. We have know about it for many thousands of years.

Ever since philosophers have started thinking about how we think and reason we have known about CB. One of the things early philosophers pondered is how we know what we know and how we know if it is true or not. Over the Millinnias we have developed many ways of deciding what is true, what to believe. In the since that all of these methods work in that we can decide what to believe and what not to believe most fail in that they don’t tell us what is true or not. The most fundamental problem in selecting a method of deciding what to believe is we have to have a method to make decision. Most, if not all humans start out the same way, we believe what our parents tell us and work out from there. (Unless you are like me and were born logical) Or parents tell us to believe what our teachers tell us, be they secular or religious. An this is where the problems start, we are told to believe what those authority figures tell us. To accept on ‘faith’.

While this works for religion and life philosophy it doesn’t do so well in the realm of politics. (See I did get around to it finally). Selecting an authority figure(s) in politics can be very hard. Why, because people will look for someone who will tell them what they like/want to hear. We all do. Who likes hearing uncomfortable things? It is much easier to listen to comfortable things, even when they are not true. This is where having a method for testing the validity of a statement comes in. Most folks don’t do this correctly.

Wait! I can hear you now saying “But I always look for support of what my political leaders are telling me.” An if you are like most folks who follow politics you do a fair job of finding that data/information. But this is where CB rears it’s seductive head. If you believe, or want to believe, something the CB becomes an issue. We need to look at any data/information that supports our position with a jondus eye, with supision. We must ask the question “Is this true or do I just wan’t It to be true?”

In this age of Facebook/Tweet and all the other social media we must be even more careful. Gone are the days (a hundred years ago) when you had a good idea what news you’d be reading in the “Daily Democrat, or the Workers News. How do you know just what is being told to you by the a blog like “Don’t Drink The KoolAid” or “Five Thirty Eight” or “Info Wars”? Well, one way is by recommendations from people you know and trust. Weak, but a place to start. You can do google searches on reviews, if you can find any and how do you know if they are real reviews. Remember this is the time of Trolls. Reviews can be faked as easily as anything else, even videos can’t be trusted anymore.

My recommendation is look for citations in everything. Look for independent confirmation of the posting. Once you find a news site, blog, what ever, you trust keep checking them when they report. The truely honest ones won’t mind (the dishonest one will say that but really don’t care) and if you find something you disagree with challenge them on it. Most won’t mind and many will love it. Just remember, you could be wrong.