Friday, May 18, 2018

The Russia Investigation Targets Actual Crimes 
and Very Real (and Ongoing) Threats to Our National Security

Clinton email investigation

2 years, 0 indictments, 0 convictions
Benghazi investigation
4 years, 0 indictments, 0 convictions
White Water investigation
6 years, 0 indictments, 0 convictions

Trump-Russia investigation
1 year, 19 indictments, 4 convictions
…and still counting

...Unlike Earlier Investigations Created as Political Spectacles... that simply wasted taxpayer dollars and distracted us from addressing more pressing problems with actual fake news...this investigation matters and has already demonstrated that fact with concrete results...

Compare that to choosing instead to bloviate about emails and Benghazi for reasons that have nothing to do with national security or respecting the rule of law or addressing problems to help improve the lives of average families.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Dishonesty by Design is Deeply Uncivil

Michael Bloomberg’s May 2018 commencement address diagnoses our top conflict today to be “an epidemic of dishonesty.” Bloomberg points to extreme partisanship, the tendency among all of us to see only the dishonesty on the other side, to favor our tribe over a shared search for the truth. Here is an AP story on his speech.

“There is more tolerance for dishonesty in politics than I have seen in my lifetime. The only thing more dangerous than dishonest politicians who have no respect for the law is a chorus of enablers who defend their every lie.”

Before anyone reading this immediately reads this as a critique of the current president and his many enablers, pause and recognize that a reader from another tribe is just as likely to read this as a critique of President Clinton and his army of enablers.

That is Bloomberg’s point.

His point is not that each side is equally responsible. He is not arguing that the current administration efforts do not amplify the problem. But he is arguing that we cannot honestly make the current president our vessel for all things dishonest, just as those frustrated with this trend on the other side cannot honestly defend the claim that this is largely about the Clintons.

Nor do we want to take Bloomberg’s assertions about tolerance for dishonesty and enablers and tumble down the unproductive pathway toward blaming voters. And please do not seek refuge in assertions about how ‘the media’ or ‘the internet’ or ‘millennials’ or ‘secularism’ or ‘violent video games’ are the driving force here.

Just like defeating the world’s superpower (British Empire) and establishing a democracy based on separated powers with checks and balances was, at that time, a daunting and complex challenge… So, are the challenges today, including this one. Seeking refuge in our favorite hobbyhorse explanation for everything we do not like is not analysis, no matter how elegant our well-rehearsed sound bites ring in our own ears.

Here is the question, related to Bloomberg’s argument, I would like to crowd source today.
Many of those involved in the ‘civility’ response to hyper-partisanship today are reluctant to include in their definition of civility that need to speak truthfully and to share with our adversaries the objective of seeking to speak as truthfully as we are able which is what makes listening so critically important.

How do we persuade these good-hearted people that speaking truthfully, seeking and respecting the best available data, ought to be a foundational cornerstone for any civility effort, particularly one designed to strengthen democratic decision making?

In my view, we must agree that lying and misleading, particularly by design and repeatedly even when confronted with overwhelming evidence to the contrary, is an unforgivable sin in a democratic society. Leaders who make this a habit of the heart undermine the already difficult challenge of making democracy both possible and desirable. We must agree that lying and misleading designed to put tribe before truth and community is deeply, inescapably, uncivil.

Can anyone help me ground this claim in our historical treatment of civility?

While including this in our concept of civility makes the conversation about civility more complex, perhaps even more partisan, can anyone help me make the case for inclusion anyway? Make the case that it can be done and, while more challenging, it will be worth the struggle.

Can anyone help me make the case that, while this more robust understanding of civility might sound partisan (and many will deploy these tools in partisan ways), this is not a partisan idea. This is about democracy and freedom and community…and the vigorous contestation of ideas necessary for the effective problem solving our families and communities need to live freely in a prosperous and just democratic society.

Just before turning to praise the service of John McCain, a leader on the other team, Bloomberg noted we all need to "have the courage to say the things that our own side don't want to hear." 

Bloomberg concludes with the Declaration of Independence:

The Declaration starts with this famous claim:

We hold these truths to be self-evident…

Bloomberg argues our founding generation was only able to bring these truths to light because of the Declaration’s final words…

We mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Nose schmutz screeches white n' wet n' drippy across our window pain
Eyes laser focused on movement in the yard
Muscles tense like a sprinter at the starting line
   still       pouncing       curiosity 
   explosion in heat
Double dog dared to sniff a distant corner of his kingdom

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Wrong on So Many Levels
Dana Milbank’s recent commentary in the Washington Post focuses on what has now grown to a very long list of statements from this president bragging about himself that are all clearly inaccurate. 

Milbank reminds us that our current president has said the following since he became a candidate:
  1. Nobody has been tougher on Russia than I have.
  2. I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life.
  3. I am the least racist persons you have ever interviewed.
  4. Nobody knows more about trade than me.
  5. Nobody respects women more than I do.
  6. Nobody loves the Bible more than I do.
  7. I have one of the great temperaments.
  8. There’s nobody that’s done so much for equality as I have.
  9. I can be more presidential than any president that’s ever held this office.
  10. My IQ is one the highest.
  11. I have the best words.
  12. I am a stable genius.
  13. I have one of the great memories of all time.
  14. I was always the best athlete.
  15. I know more about ISIS than the generals.
  16. Nobody in the history of the world knows more about taxes.
  17. I am the most militaristic person ever.
  18. I received a red carpet like I think probably nobody has ever received.
  19. My Poland speech was the greatest speech ever made on foreign soil by a president.
  20. There’s nobody that understands the horror of nuclear better than me.
  21. My cabinet has by far the highest IQ of any Cabinet ever.
  22. Never has there been a president who’s passed more legislation.

While the president might someday call this the greatest list of quotes from the greatest president of all time, I am sure this is not an exhaustive list of the obviously inaccurate boastings from this dangerous and indecent president. I am not sure why I am so drawn to the disgust here, because I should retain a focus on policy and, more importantly, on the midterm elections. But today, reading these all in one place captured my attention. A weak but honest moment. How did we elect this man?

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Sinclair Script
The script was published by a Sinclair station in Seattle, KOMO.

"Hi, I'm(A) ____________, and I'm (B) _________________...
(B) Our greatest responsibility is to serve our Northwest communities. We are extremely proud of the quality, balanced journalism that KOMO News produces.
(A) But we're concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country. The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media.
(B) More alarming, some media outlets publish these same fake stories... stories that just aren't true, without checking facts first.
(A) Unfortunately, some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control 'exactly what people think'...This is extremely dangerous to a democracy.
(B) At KOMO it's our responsibility to pursue and report the truth. We understand Truth is neither politically 'left nor right.' Our commitment to factual reporting is the foundation of our credibility, now more than ever.
(A) But we are human and sometimes our reporting might fall short. If you believe our coverage is unfair please reach out to us by going to and clicking on CONTENT CONCERNS. We value your comments. We will respond back to you.
(B) We work very hard to seek the truth and strive to be fair, balanced and factual... We consider it our honor, our privilege to responsibly deliver the news every day.
(A) Thank you for watching and we appreciate your feedback"

NPR story on this script and Sinclair.

Also in today's news a very thoughtful analysis of the Supreme Court by Joel Richard Paul (arguing the court will ultimately decide on Russian interference etc... and then the question will be does the president ignore the court).

The analysis compares Roberts to Marshall, focusing on Marshall to use his tenure as a standard against which we can measure Roberts.

Before Marshall each justice on the court issued their own opinion. This small change had a huge positive impact on the court and on our balance of powers.

"Marshall oversaw more than 1,100 cases over 34 years and wrote more than half of the opinions for these cases. In all but 36, the decision was unanimous."


When Marshall was on the court the justices shared one boarding house and ate their meals together. 

Most importantly, Marshall successfully stood up to two populist presidents (Jefferson and Jackson). Will Roberts do the same?

Joel Richard Paul recently wrote Without Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall and His Times.