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Many people seem to be confused over the meaning of the term “separation of church and state”. How is it relevant to our lives in America?

Beginnings

The very concept of the “separation of church and state” dates back to Roger Williams and the founding of Rhode Island in 1636. He was the first American to advocate and activate complete freedom of conscience, dissociation of church and state, and genuine political democracy. He also founded the first Baptist Church in North America. He settled in Providence with 13 other householders and in one year formed the first genuine democracy, as well as the first church-divorced and conscience-free community in modern history. Williams felt that government is the natural way provided by God to cope with the corrupt nature of man. But since government could not be trusted to know which religion is true, he considered the best hope for true religion rests with the protection of the freedom of all religion, along with non-religion, from the state. In that way, whichever religion was true would never find itself subservient to one that was false. The truth of a religion doesn’t lie in the number of it’s believers but in its message.

Separation of Church and State

The logic behind the concept is flawless, and we owe a debt of gratitude to the forward thinking of the founders of this country. With the diversity inherent in a pluralistic society, including a multitude of Christian sects, as well as representation of every faith on the planet, including those with no beliefs at all, the only conceivable way to ensure that no amount of favoritism is shown through legislation to any one belief, in preference to any other, is to create an environment in which all religious beliefs compete with each on a level playing field based on their own merits.

Some have argued that what that does is establish atheism as something having a favored religious status. Nothing could be further from the truth. Atheism is not a religion. It’s the absence of religion. It holds a secular position. The default position of the government is one that shows no favoritism to any religious view. That is the definition of secular. In order to maintain religious freedom, which is the core of democracy, government must not concern itself with religious subjects. In this way each religion rises or falls of it’s own accord without the assistance of the government. The success and purity of a religion should be based on faith, which is its message. Not government sponsorship. Government corrupts religion.

The atheist has no interest in religion and simply holds the same default position, and that position is one of democracy. Religious freedom and the freedom of ones conscience is fundamental to democracy. Atheism, for example, doesn’t introduce something into the legislative action of government based upon a belief. It doesn’t concern itself with belief at all. Therefore it, like the government, which must address the needs of all of its people, can only address matters that effect everyone regardless of their beliefs. Knowing that no religion can prove itself as more real or accurate than any other, government can’t possibly legislate the beliefs of one over the beliefs of another on issues that are simply matters of faith. The only result from that kind of action is religious tyranny. Society is reduced to a matter of who has the most adherents to a belief. Having more believers doesn’t mean that the belief is necessarily true.

Jefferson said, “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.”

Holding to this principle insures the concept of religious freedom that is the cornerstone of democracy. Opposition to this principle begs the question put forth by Justice O’Connor when she asked, “Those who would renegotiate the boundaries between church and state must therefore answer a difficult question: why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly? Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the Ten Commandments ruling, June 27, 2005

The Separation of Church and State principle is a part of our historical, legal and political/social heritage and preserves and protects our religious liberty.

References

Roger Williams – Champion of Liberty: by Ian Williams Goddard. eighth great-great-grandson of Roger Williams

Thomas Jefferson: Letter to the Danbury Baptists. Jefferson Writings. Library of America

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor: United States Supreme Court

The copyright of the article Separation of Church and State in American Affairs is owned by Larry Allen Brown. Permission to republish Separation of Church and State in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.

 

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Larry Allen Brown is the author of Poltical Logic: Defeating Conservative Theories of Rationality, and Growing up White in Racist America.

He has also recorded three CD’s:

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He lives in Vermont. He’s a liberal iconoclast.

Meritocracy

Even if you bring everybody to the same starting point in life; in the race, what’s going to happen? Who’s going to win? The fastest runners. The fastest swimmers. No matter how hard you work, for no matter how many years you put in the sweat, you will never beat Usain Bolt on the track, or Michael Phelps in the pool. You did not win the genetic lottery. They did. Therefore, they are entitled to and deserve to make more money than you do. Right?

I Just watched a discussion that brought up Meritocracy. It’s the concept that invokes effort as the basis and justification for moral deserts? People who work hard to develop their talents deserve the benefits that come from the exercise of their talents. Sounds right, and the discussion was that “everybody loves the meritocracy”. But the work ethic, even the willingness to strive, depends on all sorts of family circumstances and social and cultural contingencies for which we can claim no credit. You can’t claim credit for having been first in birth order, which for some reason seems to be associated with striving, with achieving, with effort. Or being born into a family of wealth. Or having blue eyes. Or being right handed. William was first born and he’s heir to the throne in England. He didn’t earn that. But he is entitled to it based on the rules of succession. Harry came second and he’s another Prince with an allowance and his choice of estates to call home. But he can never be King. Will can look forward to one day being King of England and the responsibilities that go with that position. What’s Harry’s motivation in life? What’s he striving for? All he has to do is stay out of trouble. I’d wager that nearly every man in England has worked harder than either Will or Harry but that’s not going to serve them as well as the genetic lottery treated the Princes.

Those of you that invoke effort, you don’t really believe that moral desert attaches to effort. Take two construction workers. One is strong and can raise four walls in an hour without breaking a sweat. The other is small and scrawny and has to spend three days to do the same amount of work. No defender of Meritocracy is going to look at the effort of that weak and scrawny construction worker and say therefore he deserves to make more money. So it really isn’t about effort. It isn’t really effort that the defender of meritocracy believes is the moral basis of distributive shares. It’s CONTIBUTION. How much do you contribute? But Contribution invokes our natural talents and abilities, not just effort. And it’s not our doing how we came into possession of those talents in the first place. We’re all products of the genetic lottery.
 
What is the difference between moral deserts and entitlement.  Consider two games. A game of chance, and a game of skill.

Take a game of pure chance. The lottery. I play and my numbers come up. I’m entitled to my winnings. Even though I’m entitled to my winnings, there is no sense in which I’m morally deserving of them. We may praise God if we win, but do we curse God for when we don’t? There is no moral justification for winning the Lottery. We didn’t deserve it. But we are entitled to the prize.

Now contrast the lottery with a different kind of game. A game of skill. Imagine the Cubs winning the World Series. When they won, they’re entitled to the Trophy. But it can always be asked in a game of skill, did they deserve to win? It’s always possible to distinguish what someone’s entitled to and whether they deserve to win the trophy in the first place. That’s an antecedent standard. Moral Desert.

Distributive justice is never a matter of Moral Desert., but is a matter of entitlements to legitimate expectations. What is morally at stake? One thing that’s at stake is the whole question of “effort”. But there’s a second contingency, a second source of moral arbitrariness that goes beyond the question of whether it’s to my credit that I have the talents that enable me to get ahead. And that has to do with the contingency that I live in a society that happens to prize my talents. And a society that ignores outside bias and bigotry both of which are designed to block my talents from being utilized to their best potential.

The fact that Stephen Colbert, or LeBron James lives in a society that puts a great premium, a great value on smirky humor or athletic skill is not their doing. They had nothing to do with that. They’re lucky that they live in a society that values those talents. But this is a second contingency. It’s not something that any of us can take credit for. Even if I had sole unproblematic claim to my talents and to my effort, it would still be the case that the benefits I get from exercising those talents depend on factors that are arbitrary from a moral point of view.

What my talents will reap in a market economy, and what does that depend on? It depends on what other people happen to want or like in this society. It depends on the law of supply and demand. That’s not my doing. And it’s certainly not anything Trump can take credit for. And it’s certainly not the basis for moral desert. What counts as contributing depends on the qualities that this or that society happens to prize. Most of us are fortunate enough to possess in large measures for whatever reason, the qualities that our society happens to prize, the qualities that enable us to provide what society wants. In a capitalist society it helps to have entrepreneurial drive. In a bureaucratic society it helps to get on easily and smoothly with superiors. In a mass democratic society, it helps to look good on TV and to speak in short superficial soundbites. In a litigious society it helps to go to law school and have the talents to do well on LSAT exams. But none of this is our doing.

Suppose that we, with our talents inhabited not our society, technologically advanced and litigious, but a hunting or warrior society. How much would a homerun hitter get paid if he lived on a dessert island? What would Tom Brady’s football skills be worth living in Germany? What becomes of our talents then? They wouldn’t get us very far. Nobody in Germany would care about how far or accurate Brady can throw a football. They may however be very interested in the Patriots place kicker. He’d certainly be worth more to them than Brady. No doubt some of us would develop other skills, but would we be less worthy? Would we be less virtuous? Would we be less “Meritorious” if we lived in that kind of society rather than in ours? NO! We might make less money and properly so. But while we’d be entitled to less, we would be no less worthy, no less deserving than we are right now. And here’s the point: The same could be said of those in our society that happen to hold less prestigious positions, who happen to have fewer talents that our society happens to reward.

So here’s the moral import of the distinction between moral desert and entitlements to legitimate expectations. We ARE entitled to the benefits that the rules of the game promise. For the exercise of our talents. But it’s a mistake and a conceit to suppose that we deserve in the first place a society that values the qualities that we happen to have in abundance.

A Moral Choice

Today is Mothers Day. May 13th 2018 and I’m watching a program on TV where a Fmr Chief of Staff at the CIA; Mr. Larry Pfeiffer, defending the choice of Gina Haspel as President Trumps pick to head the CIA. The argument against Ms Haspel is that she oversaw the torture of prisoners at a “black site” in Thailand and Cairo and approved the use of Waterboarding and other horrible methods of coercive interrogation. The argument that is being made to support Ms Haspel is a legal argument. At the time these operations took place, torture was renamed “enhanced interrogation”; a euphimism that was applied to give the practice of torture a legitimacy that it doesn’t deserve. We legalized torture by calling it something else. I’m sure that those who experienced that practice were relieved to know that they were no longer being tortured. That should ease anybody’s mind that what’s happening to them isn’t torture at all. It’s “enhanced interrogation”. It’s like robbing a bank isn’t really bank robbery at all. It’s enhanced appropriation of funds.

But what Ms Haspel is being questioned over in the confirmation hearings is not whether she oversaw a legal practice, but whether it was a moral practice that could stand the test of American values. She’s been asked repeatedly as to whether she considers Waterboarding and other methods of torture as morally acceptable and if ordered by the President to implement those tactics, would she comply with his wishes or would she refuse and resign if ordered to do so? She’s stated that she would not follow those orders, but has dodged the direct answer as to the morality of the practice of torture.

So what is Trumps view on torture?

There is a major flaw in Trumps thinking that seems to have found support in a certain segment of the population. Trump has stated that we need to “go after the families of terrorists”.

“Donald J. Trump said that in the battle against the Islamic State, the families of terrorists should be targets, saying they were using their relatives “as shields.”

“We’re fighting a very politically correct war,” Mr. Trump said, adding, “The other thing with the terrorists, you have to take out their families.”

“They say they don’t care about their lives,” he added. “You have to take out their families.”

This presents an interesting hypothetical scenario that puts that kind of logic and reasoning to a test. Because Trump has also said this; Trump, Feb. 17: Torture works. OK, folks? You know, I have these guys—”Torture doesn’t work!”—believe me, it works. And waterboarding is your minor form. Some people say it’s not actually torture. Let’s assume it is. But they asked me the question: What do you think of waterboarding? Absolutely fine. But we should go much stronger than waterboarding.

Ok, so we know Trumps position on going after the family members and we know his position on Torture.( OK folks? Am I right? believe me.)

“Believe me”! ??? Why would anybody believe him? Has Trump ever been tortured? I think we could probably get him to confess to sinking the Titanic if we tortured him. And he would go way beyond waterboarding. Our imaginations can take over from here.

Which brings me back to the interview with Mr. Pfeiffer. Alex Witt put forth the moral question to Mr Pfeiffer and that question involved “doing the right thing”. Does Ms Haspel have the moral fortitude to do the right thing?

To get some perspective on this we can refer back to the father of our country; George Washington who said this: “Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]. . . I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause… for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country.” – George Washington, charge to the Northern Expeditionary Force, Sept. 14, 1775

Washington established a moral value that America would forever adhere to, for the very reasons he points to. We should never bring shame, disgrace or ruin upon our country. The argument that “they do it to us, doesn’t give us license to practice the very thing that separates us from “them”. By engaging in this practice we become the very thing we denounce.

Trump would have us become the very thing that we hate.

Mr. Pfeiffer says this in what amounts to one of the most “tortured” responses I’ve ever seen or heard. After a deep sigh, and much hemming and hawing, with um, well, uh…I think,,,,um, uh…he finally says that he thinks you have to balance the moral need….uh, well, um….if the consequences had gone the other way…if information had not been gained…would it have been immoral NOT to have done everything you needed to do to protect the American people?. And THAT is called Consequentialist Moral Reasoning. It’s a Utilitarian concept of determining what is moral and what isn’t.

The principle of utility The morally right action is the one that produces the best overall consequences with regard to the utility or welfare of all the affected parties. > Jeremy Bentham’s slogan: The right act or policy is the one that causes ‘the greatest happiness of the greatest number’ – that is, maximize the total utility or welfare of the majority of all the affected parties. When we face a choice between alternative courses of action, we should chose the course of action that has the best expected consequences for all (or the majority of) the affected parties.

Utilitarianism points out that; ”The only reason for performing action A rather than alternative action B is that doing A will make mankind (or, perhaps, all sentient beings) happier than will doing B” (J.J.Smart, ”An Outline of a System of Utilitarian Ethics”

With Consequentialist Moral Reasoning, one only takes into consideration how the consequences of an act will affect oneself or a given group – e.g. ones family, fellow citizens/compatriots, class or race. Moral rightness depends on the consequences for an individual agent or a limited group. If saving hundreds or thousands of people depends on torturing somebody, then torture is morally correct and acceptable.

This presents us with an interesting choice based on Trumps stated desires to go after the terrorist’s families. Let’s put that to the test. The Ticking Time Bomb test.

Our intelligence people have uncovered a time bomb that will explode in Times Square killing hundreds if not thousands of people. They have found a suspected terrorist and taken him to a secure location for interrogation Trump style. But they also bring along his 3 year old daughter from his home. They are both tied to a chair face to face. One man stands over the daughter with a garden clipper and spreads her fingers prepared to lop off one finger at a time in front of the girls father. Remember that this is a “suspected” terrorist. We’re trying to get information from him. The question now is whether we condone the torture of a child to get our information? Logically there should be no objection to torturing the child since we have already accepted the Trump doctrine of going after the families of terrorist as legitimate, and also the doctrine of torture. Neither of those policies are conditional in any way. The age or the sex of the person being tortured is irrelevant to the logic being used. If we are going to go after the family members and we agreed that we need to go beyond water boarding then the age and sex of the victim doesn’t matter. We don’t even know if the suspect is a terrorist but what matters is stopping the bomb from going off, and if torturing a 3 year old girl accomplishes that task then it’s morally acceptable according to Consequentialist Moral Reasoning.

So…here’s your choice? Do we subscribe to a utilitarian view of consequentialist morality? (The moral thing to do is to act in the best interests of the greatest number. Doing the greatest good for the greatest number means that one life is expendable regardless of who or how old or what gender that life may be) Or do we hold to a Catogorical Imperative. The categorical imperative was contrasted with the hypothetical imperative of Utilitarianism. And the idea of a hypothetical imperative was if/then. So if you want your society to be safe, then you must be willing to torture the child. That’s a hypothetical imperative. Dick Cheney would probably have no problem with that. But would the American people? The Categorical imperative is, don’t torture a child ever under any circumstance. So, the idea of a categorical imperative is that it’s not dependent on an if/then statement, right? So that’s the notion behind Kant’s ethics; that we should look for propositions that we would affirm regardless of the consequences. That’s the notion of a categorical imperative.

The answer for the person that subscribes to the Kantian view of the Catagorical Imerative is that it’s wrong to torture a child under any circumstances and we don’t do that. Those are not American Values. The Utilitarian view is that we torture the child if it means we save some lives. In this case we sacrifice values for a perceived greater good. So, if there are always exceptions to our values which are often sacrificed to the greater good, then why do we hold them knowing that they can and will be compromised? Why bother pretending that our principles are never compromised when we see it every day and an entire political party embraces contradiction as normal part of the political process. When they tell us, “Of course we’re hypocrites. But we’re professional’s. We bring it to another level.”

So what is the Catagorical Imperative? It’s an unconditional moral obligation which is binding in all circumstances and is not dependent on a person’s inclination or purpose. It’s the unconditional moral principle that one’s behaviour should accord with universalizable maxims which respect persons as ends in themselves; the obligation to do one’s duty for its own sake and not in pursuit of further ends. The Motive according to which we act. According to Kant only one kind of Motive is consistent with morality. Duty. Doing the right thing for the right reason. A Categorical Imperative is a moral obligation or duty that is universally binding and unconditional. It doesn’t rest on an if/then conditional. It’s unconditional and universal. You do the right thing, for the right reason. IF you’re doing something out of inclination or self-interest, there is no moral worth to your action. That’s what guides our actions and determines the morality of our decisions.

Every time the motive for what we do is to satisfy a desire, or a preference that we might have, to pursue some interest, we’re acting out of inclination. In so far as our actions have moral worth, what confers moral worth is precisely our capacity to rise above self-interest and inclination and to act out of duty. Here’s another example that we can put to the test. The boy in the store.

In this scenario, a young boy walks into a store to buy a loaf of bread. The boy is very young and the store owner realizes that he could easily short change the boy and he’d never know the difference because he’s too young to understand the concept of “change”. So the boy gives the owner a $5 bill and the owner thinks it over and reasons that if he does short change the boy, it could get out that he cheated a young boy out of his money. If it did, he might lose some of his customers and he really can’t afford that kind of bad reputation. So, he gives the boy the right change and sends him on his way. The question is this: was there any moral worth to his actions? After all, he did give the boy the correct change. But the answer as to whether there is any moral worth to what he did is a resounding NO!. He gave the boy the right change out of his own self-interest and Not because it was the right thing to do. He did the right thing for the wrong reasons. The moral thing to do is to give the boy the correct change because it’s the right thing to do and it’s his moral obligation to do what is right by the boy. It’s out of duty. Not self interest or inclination. It’s out of respect for the boy as an end in himself and not an object to be used for the store owner’s purposes.

These are tools that we use to make our moral choices. It’s either Consequentialist Moral Reasoning based on Utilitarianism as presented by Jeremy Bentham. Or it’s the Catagorical Imperative as presented by Kant as a way of evaluating our motivations for actions.

Hypothetical imperatives apply to someone who wishes to attain certain ends. For example:

If I wish to quench my thirst, I must drink something.

If I wish to pass this exam, I must study.

A categorical imperative, on the other hand, denotes an absolute, unconditional requirement that must be obeyed in all circumstances and is justified as an end in itself. It is best known in its first formulation:

Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.

A utilitarian says that murder is wrong because it does not maximize good for those involved, but this is irrelevant to people who are concerned only with maximizing the positive outcome for themselves. Consequently, Kant argued, hypothetical ( consequential ) moral systems cannot persuade moral action or be regarded as bases for moral judgments against others, because the imperatives on which they are based rely too heavily on subjective considerations. According to Kant: Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end.

Understanding this goes a long way in helping us decide whether torture is something we should use on anybody to get whatever it is that we want. It’s the Machiavellian view that the ends justify the means. It’s perfectly fine to torture somebody if we can prevent the bomb from going off. But once again, if we subscribe to the idea that torture works then it can’t logically matter who it is that gets tortured if the end result is stopping the bomb from going off. That means that if torturing a 3 year old buy cutting off her fingers one by one will prevent the bomb from exploding, then we should be fine with that. That’s consequentialist moral reasoning and that is exactly what Mr. Pfeiffer was describing in his interview. In his own words: “….if the consequences had gone the other way…if information had not been gained…would it have been immoral NOT to have done everything you needed to do to protect the American people?” It’s a utilitarian view and an example of Consequentialist Moral Reasoning.

So, knowing Trumps views on torture and targeting the families of terrorists, we can assume that he has no problem in lopping of the fingers of a 3 year old if it will get him what he wants. Is this what we’ve come to in America? George Washington said no. Two presidents. Two opposing ideas on what makes America unique among nations. Washington’s statement wasn’t conditional. It was universal. Trump’s statements are those of a con-artist pressing the buttons of every cretin who is thrilled by the idea of inflicting pain on others.

If Ms Haspel’s best argument was that she was just following orders when she presided over torture under the Bush Administration, I’m afraid using the Nuremburg defense doesn’t work. It didn’t work for the Nazi’s tried for war crimes, and it certainly won’t work today. I think that there are other people at CIA just as qualified if not more so than Ms Haspel to run that organization without the stigma of torture attached to their resume’. Somebody needs to remind Trump that we aren’t like our enemies. We don’t resort to the same tactics that they use. We refuse to become the very thing that we hate. Some of us still have to look ourselves in the mirror and not see the picture of Dorian Grey.  Happy Mothers Day.

 

 

Reason, rationality, and empathy 

There are three guiding principles that the Obama Administration has operated from during its tenure in the White House and those principles have guided public policy during that time. They are “reason, rationality, and empathy”.

One definition for “reason” is the power of the mind to think and understand in a logical way. Obama has always demonstrated his ability to think and understand things in a logical way. He grasps the basic law of non-contradiction which states that you cannot be A and not-A at the same time. So, he fits that definition. That makes him a rational person because rationality is the quality or state of being agreeable to reason. Most, if not all reality based people are agreeable to reason. Obama also displays empathy to the least among us which is a Christian value to be applauded by those professing to actually be Christians as opposed to using their religion as a political weapon. Even an atheist can understand this value as an American value. Because an atheist will recognize the truth in a value even when there may be religions that share that value as a truth. Truth doesn’t care if you have a religion or don’t.

A distinction without a difference is a type of logical fallacy where an author or speaker attempts to describe a distinction between two things although no difference exists. It is particularly used when a word or phrase has connotations associated with it that one party to an argument prefers to avoid. In this case, it’s about the fitness of Donald Trump to be the man with his hands on the nuclear codes. It’s the assertion that a position is different from another position based on the language when, in fact, both positions are exactly the same — at least in practice or practical terms. It’s like saying, A is not the same as the first letter in the alphabet.

For some people change; apparently any kind of change, is preferable to the “status quo”.

Which brings me back to the beginning of this. It appears that the status quo that the Trumpers want to abandon is one of reason, rationality and empathy. That’s the stark contrast that Trumps Presidency demonstrates. None of those qualities can be found in Donald Trump. Trump relies on boastful exaggerations, outright lies, religious bigotry, racism, xenophobia, scapegoating. He acts like a 9 year old in a grown-man’s body. He reacts to every perceived slight or criticism with the mentality of a “Valley Girl” with a Twitter Account. Like a 5th grade bully, he goes after Governors, Senators, Federal Judges. Even Gold Star Mothers. He can’t stop himself from punching back. One has to ask how he might respond to criticism from foreign leaders? Why would anybody expect him to act any other way than the way he has already shown us?

What we see in Trump, is Anti-reason, Anti-rationality and Hate as the alternative to the “status quo”.

If Hillary Clinton represented the status quo, and that is defined as using reason and rationality tempered with empathy, then I suspect that we’d have seen her working with Republicans as much as they’ll allow themselves to work with her in doing the people’s business.

What she wouldn’t do is invoke racism, or bigotry into our policy making and she wouldn’t abandon our allies.

The choice became one of voting for reason/rationality/empathy v ideology/authoritarianism/ hate. The country voted for ideology/authoritarianism/and hate. It appears to have been a backlash to the Obama years and having a black President.

 

There is a major flaw in Trumps thinking that seems to have found support in a certain segment of the population. Trump has stated that we need to “go after the families of terrorists”.

Donald J. Trump said Wednesday that in the battle against the Islamic State, the families of terrorists should be targets, saying they were using their relatives “as shields.”

“We’re fighting a very politically correct war,” Mr. Trump said, adding, “The other thing with the terrorists, you have to take out their families.”

“They say they don’t care about their lives,” he added. “You have to take out their families.”

 

This presents an interesting hypothetical scenario that puts that kind of logic and reasoning to a test. Because Trump has also said this; Trump, Feb. 17: Torture works. OK, folks? You know, I have these guys—”Torture doesn’t work!”—believe me, it works. And waterboarding is your minor form. Some people say it’s not actually torture. Let’s assume it is. But they asked me the question: What do you think of waterboarding? Absolutely fine. But we should go much stronger than waterboarding.

 

Ok, so we know Trumps position on going after the family members and we know his position on Torture.( OK folks? Am I right? believe me.)

 

If we put this logic and reasoning process to a hypothetical test we can force ourselves into having to make a crucial choice, and that’s where our own moral compass reveals itself. Let’s look at the ticking time bomb scenario:

Our intelligence people have uncovered a time bomb that will explode in Times Square killing hundreds if not thousands of people. They have found a suspected terrorist and taken him to a secure location for interrogation Trump style. But they also bring along his 7 year old daughter from his home. They are both tied to a chair face to face. One man stands over the daughter with a garden clipper and spreads her fingers prepared to lop off one finger at a time in front of the girls father. Remember that this is a “suspected” terrorist. The question now is whether we condone the torture of a child to get our information? Logically there should be no objection to torturing the child since we have already accepted the doctrine of going after the families of terrorist as legitimate, and also the doctrine of torture. Neither of those policies are conditional in any way. The age or the sex of the person being tortured is irrelevant to the logic being used. If we are going to go after the family members and we agreed that we need to go beyond water boarding then the age and sex of the victim doesn’t matter. We don’t even know if the suspect is a terrorist but what matters is stopping the bomb from going off, and if torturing a 7 year old girl accomplishes that task then it’s morally acceptable.

 

So…there’s your choice? Do we subscribe to a utilitarian view of consequentialist morality? (The moral thing to do is to act in the best interests of the greatest number. Doing the greatest good for the greatest number) Or do we hold to a Catogorical Imperative. The categorical imperative was contrasted with the hypothetical imperative of Utilitarianism. And the idea of a hypothetical imperative was if/then. So if you want your society to be safe, then you must be willing to torture the child. That’s a hypothetical imperative. Categorical imperative is, don’t torture a child ever under any circumstance. So, the idea of a categorical imperative is that it’s not dependent on an if/then statement, right? So that’s the notion behind Kant’s ethics; that we should look for propositions that we would affirm regardless of the consequences. That’s the notion of a categorical imperative.

The answer for the person that subscribes to the Kantian view of the Catagorical Imerative is that it’s wrong to torture a child under any circumstances and we don’t do that. Those are not American Values. The Utilitarian view is that we torture the child if it means we save some lives. In this case we sacrifice values for a perceived greater good. So, if there are always exceptions to our values which are often sacrificed to the greater good, then why do we hold them knowing that they can and will be compromised? Why bother pretending that our principles are never compromised when we see it every day and an entire political party embraces contradiction as normal part of the political process. When they tell us, “Of course we’re hypocrites. But we’re professional’s. We bring it to another level.”

 

 

 

Bait and Switch

 

bait and switch: Definition of bait and switch
1 : a sales tactic in which a customer is attracted by the advertisement of a low-priced item but is then encouraged to buy a higher-priced one
2 : the ploy of offering a person something desirable to gain favor (such as political support) then thwarting expectations with something less desirable

Build that Wall. And who’s going to pay for it?? MEXICO! Yeah right. Come on people, you can’t really be that stupid. He’s talking about the American People spending $25 BILLION to build a wall that he told you “Mexico is going to pay for. 100% guaranteed. Believe me”

i-can-hear-it-now-trump-cashing-that-check-from-mexico

 

 

Mexican lawmakers have said it many times — they are not paying for the wall. It got to the point where on one of the earlier calls of his presidency, Trump urged Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to stop saying that Mexico will not pay for the wall.

We should both say, ‘We will work it out.’ It will work out in the formula somehow,” Trump said according to transcripts obtained by the Washington Post. “As opposed to you saying, ‘We will not pay,’ and me saying, ‘We will not pay.’

On that same call, Trump told Peña Nieto that the wall “might be the most important” campaign promise Trump made, which is why he wanted to keep Peña Nieto’s refusal to pay out of the press. “But you cannot say that to the press,” Trump said. “The press is going to go with that, and I cannot live with that.”

Trump can’t live with that? He can’t live with the bullshit claim that Mexico would pay for his stupid wall? Awww. You would think that any sane person would understand you don’t commit somebody else to pay for your own bullshit.

Think about it: You’re going to put up a fence between your house and your next door neighbors house, and you’re telling everybody that your neighbor is going to pay for it. Maybe you should try to convince a court that the neighbor should pay for your fence. Try that and see how far you get. It’s not so much the wall, as it is the total arrogance of the idea itself. That is mind-numbingly stupid.

It should come as no surprise when they say, Fuck you and your dumbass wall. It’s your wall. You pay for it. How nuts are you Gringo?

So now Trump has failed to get Mexico to pay for the wall, and he wants the American taxpayer to pay for it. He promised that Mexico would pay for it, and now the American taxpayer is supposed to bail his ass out of his bullshit promise that nobody should have ever believed. We’re supposed to put up a down payment and then we’ll collect the rest from Mexico in some way or another over the next 150 years. This is classic used car salesman bullshit. It’s called “bait and switch”. Trump is a grifter. He’s fucking nuts to have suggested the idea in the first place, and when that falls apart, he wants to get the American taxpayer to front the money for the wall, and he’ll collect the balance later from Mexico… the only thing missing here is the verbal tick that he always delivers at the end of his bombast; “Believe Me”, which is the very reason why you should never believe him…and as sure as the sun rises in the east, there are some out there dumb enough; I mean REALLY Fucking dumb enough, to once again believe his bullshit.

i-can-hear-it-now-trump-cashing-that-check-from-mexico

Nobody telling you the truth, ever needs to say; “Believe me”. That’s the clearest evidence that you’re being lied to.

And to top it off, if he doesn’t get his wall, he’ll shut down the government. And he did just that. No wall. No deal. On day 365 to the hour of his first year in office, the United States government has been shut down. How’s that for a petulant asshole? Between his buying porn stars, and playing golf and demonstrating his racism and trading insults with another petulant asshole with nuclear bombs, and making one asinine bullshit claim after another, we now have a government shutdown on the one year anniversary mark of his presidency.  Bravo Trump. Bravo. Well done. Meanwhile Melania has to deal with something much worse than Hillary ever had to go through. She’s been totally humiliated by the biggest asshole in the world, who carried on an 11 month affair with a porn star while she (his wife) was delivering their son. Nice work Trump . Our status in the world has dropped from #1 to  #3 behind Germany and China and barely in front of Russia. We’re totally disrespected in our own Hemisphere. Hated in Central America. ( Gee, I wonder why? Maybe it has something to do with his Shithole countries remark?) So, Happy anniversary Trump. You’re definitely making history.

_93307860_036427663-1

After reading the intelligence community report on Russian activities in the 2016 election, it would be a good idea to look back at the events that played out during that period as we witnessed them in real time prior to our knowledge about the extent of Russian interference that has now been revealed by unanimous concurrence of the intelligence community.

This story has obviously taken on global implications for the basic fact of the status of the United States on the global stage. It’s become clear that the US election has become tainted by outside interference from a belligerent state.

The Jan. 7 edition of the Times of India published this article:

Donald Trump trashes US intelligence report, says hacking had ‘no effect’ on election

WASHINGTON: The US intelligence community told President-elect Donald Trump to his face, and subsequently disclosed to the American public, that Russian President Vladimir Putin directed a persistent cyber-attack aimed at denying Hillary Clinton the presidency and engineered his (Trump’s) election to the White House.

The extraordinary and unanimous intelligence conclusion, which undermines the Trump presidency even before he has been sworn in, was delivered to him at a two-hour briefing at Trump Tower in New York on Friday. Shortly thereafter, a declassified version of the report was released to the public, some 60 million of who voted for Trump as President.

The report was blunt and uninhibited, almost to the point of telling Trump he is a tainted “Siberian candidate” redolent of the infamous Manchurian candidate.

“Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump,” it said.

Trump, who has repeatedly praised Putin, trashed the American intelligence community, and expressed skepticism about their work and conclusions, issued a statement saying he had a ”constructive meeting and conversation with the leaders of the Intelligence Community,” and while he has “tremendous respect” for their work and service, “there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines.”

(The report makes no such conclusion. Trump is asserting this on his own. The report states clearly: We did NOT make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election. The US intelligence community is charged with monitoring and assessing the intentions, capabilities and actions of foreign actors; it does not analyze US political processes or US public opinion.)

But he also promised some action to combat cyber-attacks in a nod at the broader threat. “Whether it is our government, organizations, associations or businesses we need to aggressively combat and stop cyberattacks. I will appoint a team to give me a plan within 90 days of taking office. The methods, tools and tactics we use to keep America safe should not be a public discussion that will benefit those who seek to do us harm,” he said.

But in an assertion that he will not be derailed by the intelligence report, he maintained, “Two weeks from today I will take the oath of office and America’s safety and security will be my number one priority.”

The jousting between the incoming President and the intelligence community, which does not itself have an unblemished or unsullied reputation given its record of interference in democratic processes worldwide, is unprecedented in American history.

Already, there are signs of fissures at the top level of the incoming administration, with former CIA Director James Woolsey disassociating himself from the Trump transition team (where he was a senior advisor) amid pledges by Trump’s National Security nominee Maj Gen Michael Flynn that he would revamp the spy agency.

Among the more striking aspects of the Intel report was the unanimity in America’s spookdom about Russian interference and the fact that it was directed from the very top viz., at the instance of President Putin, who has a mutually antagonistic relationship with Hillary Clinton.

 

”We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence,” the report said.

On Dec. 17th of 2015, ABC News reported this:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump seems to have a new fan in his corner –- Vladimir Putin — and the real estate mogul thinks it was a “great honor” to get compliments from the Russian leader.

Speaking to ABC News earlier today, the Russian leader said Trump is “a very colorful person. Talent, without any doubt,” Putin said.

“But it’s not our affair to determine his worthiness – that’s up to the United States,” Putin added. “But he is absolutely the leader in the presidential race. He wants to move to a different level of relations, to more solid, deeper relations with Russia and how can Russia not welcome that – we welcome that.”

Trump tells ABC News in a statement that “it is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.”

“I have always felt that Russia and the United States should be able to work well with each other towards defeating terrorism and restoring world peace, not to mention trade and all of the other benefits derived from mutual respect,” Trump’s statement continued.

On the campaign trail, Trump has often said he thinks he could have a good relationship with the Russian leader. He has also called Putin his “stable mate” since both were featured on the same episode of a recent edition of CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

 

On Sept 8th of 2016, Trump said this as reported by the BBC.

Trump says Putin ‘a leader far more than our president’

Donald Trump has showered Vladimir Putin with praise as he and rival Hillary Clinton took pointed questions from military veterans.

The Republican presidential nominee told the forum the Russian president “has been a leader far more than our president [Obama] has been”.

It came on the same day the chief of the Pentagon accused Russia of sowing the seeds of global instability.

Mrs. Clinton, meanwhile, defended her judgment despite her email scandal.

The White House candidates appeared back to back on stage in half-hour segments at the Intrepid Air and Sea Museum in New York on Wednesday night.

Quizzed by NBC host Matt Lauer on his previous complimentary remarks about Mr Putin, Mr Trump responded: “He does have an 82% approval rating.” ( Right. Saddam Hussein had a 96% approval rating. Authoritarian dictators generally show very high approval ratings. Anything less could prove fatal to those that don’t agree.)

“I think when he calls me brilliant I’ll take the compliment, ok?” added the businessman.

He said Mr Putin had “great control over his country”. ( obviously something that Trump admires)

Mr Trump also predicted that if elected in November, “I think that I’ll be able to get along with him.”

The property magnate recently drew sharp criticism when he urged Russia to dig up the emails that Mrs Clinton deleted from her email server.

 

According to the Intelligence Assessment:

“Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.

We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence.

Moscow’s approach evolved over the course of the campaign based on Russia’s understanding of the electoral prospects of the two main candidates. When it appeared to Moscow that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the election, the Russian influence campaign began to focus more on undermining her future presidency.

 

Under the section of the report titled: Russia’s Influence Campaign Targeting the 2016 US Presidential Election

Putin Ordered Campaign To Influence US Election

We assess with high confidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election, the consistent goals of which were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. 

We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.

We assess Putin, his advisers, and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump over Secretary Clinton.

Beginning in June, Putin’s public comments about the US presidential race avoided directly praising President-elect Trump, probably because Kremlin officials thought that any praise from Putin personally would backfire in the United States.

(Obviously, one of the candidates getting praise from the Russian leader would backfire and turn the public against that candidate. Praising Clinton wouldn’t have worked since Clinton had a long history of harsh and critical statements aimed at Putin. Trump on the other hand would be very receptive to flattering statements from anybody, even Putin. However, the public would become skeptical so Putin avoided any overt statements of praise for Trump.)

Nonetheless, Putin publicly indicated a preference for President-elect Trump’s stated policy to work with Russia, and pro-Kremlin figures spoke highly about what they saw as his Russia-friendly positions on Syria and Ukraine. Putin publicly contrasted the President-elect’s approach to Russia with Secretary Clinton’s “aggressive rhetoric.”

Moscow also saw the election of President-elect Trump as a way to achieve an international counterterrorism coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Putin has had many positive experiences working with Western political leaders whose business interests made them more disposed to deal with Russia, such as former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

 

The report goes on to say; “We assess the influence campaign aspired to help President-elect Trump’s chances of victory when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to the President-elect. When it appeared to Moscow that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the presidency the Russian influence campaign focused more on undercutting Secretary Clinton’s legitimacy and crippling her presidency from its start, including by impugning the fairness of the election. “

This coincided with Trumps non-stop declarations that the election was “rigged”.

This is from NJ.com. True Jersey As Trump talked of rigged election, Putin plotted to tarnish Clinton win.

WASHINGTON — While Donald Trump warned of a rigged election, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign focused on “impugning the fairness” of an election that Hillary Clinton seemed likely to win, according to a declassified intelligence report of foreign interference in the U.S presidential race.

The report by the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Security Agency said part of the Russian effort involved challenging the legitimacy of a possible Clinton victory.

That’s the same message Trump delivered in the closing weeks of the campaign, when he said “this whole election is being rigged” and refused to pledge to support Clinton if she won.

Donald Trump Speech 10/14/16: Greensboro, North Carolina

Donald Trump said the accusations of sexual harassment leveled against him are part of an effort to rig the election.

“The process is rigged,” Trump told a cheering crowd Friday in Greensboro, N.C. “This whole election is being rigged. These lies spread by the media without witnesses, without backup or anything else, are poisoning the minds of the electorate.”

Trump has issued earlier warnings that that election would be rigged against him, and has defended voter identification laws that federal courts have said prevent blacks and other minorities from casting ballots.

I’ve been saying this for a long time: The whole thing is one big fix,” Trump said in Greensboro. “It’s one big ugly lie. It’s one big fix.”

“The stories are total fiction,” Trump said Friday. “They’re 100 percent made up. They never happened. They never would happen.” 

Trump repeated his allegations that Clinton met privately with international bankers, a charge that the Anti-Defamation League said has been used as anti-Semitic trope. 

“Behind closed doors, speaking to these international bankers, Hillary Clinton is pledging to destroy the sovereignty of the United States,” Trump said. 

He also repeated the charges made in his announcement speech that Mexican immigrants were bringing drugs across the border. 

“Right now, we’re a one-way highway into Mexico,” Trump said. “They get the jobs, they get the factories, the cash. You know what we get? We get the illegal immigration and we get drugs.”

 

Before the election, Russian diplomats had publicly denounced the US electoral process and were prepared to publicly call into question the validity of the results. Pro-Kremlin bloggers had prepared a Twitter campaign, #DemocracyRIP, on election night in anticipation of Secretary Clinton’s victory, judging from their social media activity.

The Kremlin’s campaign aimed at the US election featured disclosures of data obtained through Russian cyber operations; intrusions into US state and local electoral boards; and overt propaganda. Russian intelligence collection both informed and enabled the influence campaign.

Cyber Espionage Against US Political Organizations. Russia’s intelligence services conducted cyber operations against targets associated with the 2016 US presidential election, including targets associated with both major US political parties.

“We assess Russian intelligence services collected against the US primary campaigns, think tanks, and lobbying groups they viewed as likely to shape future US policies. In July 2015, Russian intelligence gained access to Democratic National Committee (DNC) networks and maintained that access until at least June 2016.”

The General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) probably began cyber operations aimed at the US election by March 2016. We assess that the GRU operations resulted in the compromise of the personal e-mail accounts of Democratic Party officials and political figures. By May, the GRU had exfiltrated large volumes of data from the DNC.

 

Public Disclosures of Russian-Collected Data. We assess with high confidence that the GRU used the Guccifer 2.0 persona, DCLeaks.com, and WikiLeaks to release US victim data obtained in cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media outlets.

Guccifer 2.0, who claimed to be an independent Romanian hacker, made multiple contradictory statements and false claims about his likely Russian identity throughout the election. Press reporting suggests more than one person claiming to be Guccifer 2.0 interacted with journalists.

Content that we assess was taken from e-mail accounts targeted by the GRU in March 2016 appeared on DCLeaks.com starting in June.

 

We assess with high confidence that the GRU relayed material it acquired from the DNC and senior Democratic officials to WikiLeaks. Moscow most likely chose WikiLeaks because of its self-proclaimed reputation for authenticity. Disclosures through WikiLeaks did not contain any evident forgeries.

In early September, Putin said publicly it was important the DNC data was exposed to WikiLeaks, calling the search for the source of the leaks a distraction and denying Russian “state-level” involvement.

Sept 2, 2016

Vladivostok (Russia) (AFP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday denied Moscow was behind an email hack that embarrassed White House hopeful Hillary Clinton but said it was important the information got into the public domain.

“I don’t know anything about it, and on a state level Russia has never done this,” Putin told Bloomberg News in an interview aired Friday.

Hacked emails leaked by WikiLeaks in July revealed that party leaders had sought to undermine the primary campaign of Clinton’s rival Bernie Sanders and US officials said Russia was behind the release.

Putin slammed the accusations as attempts to “distract the public’s attention from the essence of the problem by raising some minor issues connected with the search for who did it.”

“The important thing is the content that was given to the public,” he said. (No Vlad. The important thing is that you were injecting yourself into the US election to get your puppet elected,)

 

Clinton’s rival Donald Trump has made no secret of his admiration for Putin, leading some to conjecture the Kremlin strongman was working to put the real estate billionaire in the White House.

This was being brought up in Sept.

The report goes on:

“The Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet RT (formerly Russia Today) has actively collaborated with WikiLeaks. RT’s editor-in-chief visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in August 2013, where they discussed renewing his broadcast contract with RT, according to Russian and Western media. Russian media subsequently announced that RT had become “the only Russian media company” to partner with WikiLeaks and had received access to “new leaks of secret information.” RT routinely gives Assange sympathetic coverage and provides him a platform to denounce the United States.

These election-related disclosures reflect a pattern of Russian intelligence using hacked information in targeted influence efforts against targets such as Olympic athletes and other foreign governments. Such efforts have included releasing or altering personal data, defacing websites, or releasing emails. 

Russia collected on some Republican-affiliated targets but did not conduct a comparable disclosure campaign. (They aren’t likely to conduct a comparable disclosure campaign against the very people that they want to see elected. However, it should be alarming that a similar campaign of destruction could be aimed at Republicans including Trump himself, just as easily in order to sway those officials to being more receptive to and doing the bidding of Russian policies.)

Russian Cyber Intrusions Into State and Local Electoral Boards. Russian intelligence accessed elements of multiple state or local electoral boards. Since early 2014, Russian intelligence has researched US electoral processes and related technology and equipment.

DHS assesses that the types of systems we observed Russian actors targeting or compromising are not involved in vote tallying. (There has never been any suggestion that the voting machines themselves were hacked. For Trump to make the statement that the voting machines were not tampered with is a Red Herring argument. Nobody has suggested that to be the case.

Trump stated this in a Tweet on Jan 7th:

“Intelligence stated very strongly there was absolutely no evidence that hacking affected the election results. Voting machines not touched!”

Trump is deliberately lying here. The report makes no such conclusion. Trump is asserting this on his own. Trump issues false statements all the time, but this one is particularly egregious. The Intelligence never stated that there was absolutely no evidence that hacking affected the election results. They said this:

We did NOT make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election. The US intelligence community is charged with monitoring and assessing the intentions, capabilities and actions of foreign actors; it does not analyze US political processes or US public opinion.)

His comment that Voting machines not touched, is a Red Herring argument. That has never been suggested. A Red Herring is a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue. The basic idea is to “win” an argument by leading attention away from the argument and to another topic. This sort of “reasoning” has the following form:

1.Topic A is under discussion.

2.Topic B is introduced under the guise of being relevant to topic A (when topic B is actually not relevant to topic A).

3.Topic A is abandoned.

This sort of “reasoning” is fallacious because merely changing the topic of discussion hardly counts as an argument against a claim.

 

Starting in March 2016, Russian Government– linked actors began openly supporting President-elect Trump’s candidacy in media.

CNN: Russian State TV is backing Trump

Russian state television appears to have thrown its support behind Donald Trump, hailing him as an anti-establishment candidate willing to cooperate with Moscow.

Source: CNN

 

BBC: US election 2016: Russian state TV backs ‘anti-establishment’ Trump

A top presenter on Russian state TV has come out firmly in favour of Donald Trump in his bid to become US president, hailing him as an “anti-establishment” candidate who is ready to co-operate with Moscow.

Russian state TV has regularly shown sympathy towards Mr Trump, especially after his apparently complimentary remarks about President Vladimir Putin. But it is only in the last week or so that it has started to unequivocally praise him.

Fronting his two-and-half hour news review on official channel Rossiya 1 on 13 March, Dmitri Kiselyov hit out strongly at what he saw as a conspiracy by the US political elite to stymie Mr Trump’s White House ambitions. (This injects the Rigged election claims that Trump would jump on. If Trump loses, then the election was rigged. If he wins, of course, it was all fair and square.)

He said Mr Trump was an “anti-establishment” candidate, who stood apart from the hierarchy of the Republican Party in wanting to forge good relations with Putin. “This is why Mr Trump is not wanted and is even seen as harmful,” he said.

Dmitri Kiselyov is a key figure in the Kremlin’s media operation. As well as presenting a flagship current affairs show on state TV, he is the head of the government-funded international news agency Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today).

He is also known for his outspoken attacks on the US. On more than one occasion, he has boasted of Russia’s ability to reduce it to “radioactive ash”.

 

Rising Star

A week earlier, Mr Kiselyov had praised the “anti-establishment” Trump in even more glowing terms as the “rising star” of US politics. ( this plays right into what Putin knows about Trump. He’s very easily manipulated. If you praise him, you’ve got him. If you criticize him, he strikes back. That’s a weakness in his personality and it’s easy to exploit for a former head of the KGB)

Russian state TV is often scathing about attempts by wealthy businessmen to carve out political careers for themselves. But the Russian TV anchor appeared to see a virtue in Mr Trump’s vast personal fortune. ( what they see is somebody who’s weak ego can be exploited by the former head of KGB)

“In his own words, he is the only one of the contenders to have hired people with his own money. That is, he gave people work. In America, they value this,” he said. ( what this man doesn’t know is that Trump exploited his workers and contractors by not paying them what they were owed. Small businesses that contracted with Trump were ruined because of his refusal to pay them what they were owed. He also hired undocumented workers from Poland that he could pay less. )

Mr Kiselyov’s praise of Mr Trump has skirted around his more controversial views, such as his proposed ban on Muslims entering the US and his plans for building a wall along the border with Mexico. ( Trumps Muslim ban is a direct violation of the First Amendment to our constitution, and his “Great Wall” will NOT be paid for by Mexico. They might actually have something to say about that. He intends to get congress to pay for it and then tells us that we’ll be reimbursed by Mexico. Trust me!)

But the New York businessman also has a strong following among extreme Russian nationalists, such as Alexander Dugin, who have links with anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant parties in Europe.

In a video posted on YouTube after Super Tuesday, Mr Dugin gave a ringing endorsement of the US property billionaire in his broken English, declaring “In Trump we trust”.

He was also perhaps more explicit than Dmitri Kiselyov in identifying why Moscow might be favouring Trump’s candidacy. “Trump is the voice of real right-wing America which, in fact, doesn’t care about foreign policy and American hegemony,” he said.

In the course of the video, Alexander Dugin also poured scorn on Mr Trump’s Republican rivals and critics. He used a homophobic slur to attack Florida senator Marco Rubio and labelled Senator John McCain, a notable Putin critic, as “insane” and “disabled”. ( just the kind of guy Trump would love )

 

Bloomberg reports this:

Trump’s Long Romance With Russia

March 15, 2016 11:04 AM EDT

By

Josh Rogin

When Donald Trump talks about his desire to have good relations between the U.S. and Russia, it’s not a recent attraction. Trump’s attempts to expand his business and his brand there date back decades, and this history casts a shadow over his pro-Russian foreign policy. As a presidential candidate, he courts Putin’s favor, extending the charm offensive intended to build the Trump real-estate empire.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if actually we could get along with Russia?” Trump asked at a recent Republican presidential debate. It’s a line he’s used in rallies as well. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin have exchanged praise and Trump said he “would probably get along with him very well.”

Trump’s attraction to Russia seems to be mutual. There is a Russian-language website that collects Trump news and offers sales of Trump books and products. There’s even a Trump 2016 Russian language mock campaign site.

What Trump rarely talks about is his decades-long effort to do business in the Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia. Good U.S.-Russian relations are potentially very lucrative for the Trump Organization. The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

In the 1980s, Trump was often seen on news shows offering his services to negotiate with the Soviets. “Why don’t you negotiate the SALT talks for Reagan, Donald?” a man on the street once yelled at Trump, according to a 1990 profile of Donald and Ivana Trump in Vanity Fair. In 1987, Trump traveled to Moscow and Leningrad to discuss building hotels there. He even met with the Soviet ambassador to the U.S.

“It’s a totally interesting place,” Trump said at the time. “I think the Soviet Union is really making an effort to cooperate in the sense of dealing openly with other nations and in opening up the country.”

In a 1997 New Yorker profile, Trump talked about his trips to Russia to explore having the Trump Organization take part in skyscraper and hotel development projects in Moscow, including the reconstruction of the Moskva and Rossiya Hotels.

“That’s a very big project; I think it’s the largest hotel in the world,” Trump told Russian politician Alexander Ivanovich Lebed at the time. “And we’re working with the local government, the mayor of Moscow and the mayor’s people. So far, they’ve been very responsive.”

Lebed, a former Russian presidential candidate, was eager to help Trump get established in the Russian market. “If Trump goes to Moscow, I think America will follow,” he told Trump.

Trump traveled to Russia in the 1990s with developer Howard Lorber, whom Trump recently told the New York Times was one of his best friends. Lorber has “major investments” in Russia, according to Trump.

Negotiations over the two hotels eventually fizzled, but in 2008 the Trump Organization was at it again, announcing it planned to build elite residences and hotels in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Sochi, and license the Trump brand for other projects. Donald Trump Jr., the candidate’s son, made the announcement in a speech at the 2008 “Real Estate in Russia” conference.

The younger Trump made over half a dozen trips to Russia on behalf of the Trump Organization in the two years during which the U.S. real estate market was collapsing during the Great Recession.

“The emerging world in general attributes such brand premium to real estate that we are looking all over the place, primarily Russia,” Trump Jr. told a Manhattan audience in September 2008. He said that while Russia was on the Trump Organization’s “A-list” of emerging markets for investment, doing business there carried risks due to corruption and “because it is a question of who knows who, whose brother is paying off who, etc.”

Trump Sr.’s interest in Russian real estate development escalated in 2013. He met with Russian partners including developer Aras Agalarov to discuss building a replica of his SoHo residential development project in Moscow. Trump’s other partner in the SoHo deal was Alex Sapir, son of Georgian billionaire Tamir Sapir, a well-connected real estate developer in Russia.

“The Russian market is attracted to me,” Trump told Real Estate Weekly. “I have a great relationship with many Russians, and almost all of the oligarchs were in the room.”

That was also the year that Trump brought his Miss Universe pageant to Moscow. Trump invited Putin to the event, although the Russian President ultimately didn’t attend. The event was held at the Crocus City Hall in Moscow, which Agalarov owns.

“Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow – if so, will he become my new best friend?” Trump tweeted at the time.

While he was in Moscow for the pageant, Trump announced that he was planning to build a skyscraper in Moscow. He gave no details and there’s been no news about the project since.

During this presidential campaign Trump has repeatedly espoused positions that are closer to Moscow’s policies than his rivals’ are. He calls for the U.S. to leave Syria and “let Russia fight ISIS.” He believes the U.S. shouldn’t lead the international effort to help Ukraine fight Russian intervention. He said that there isn’t enough evidence to prove Russia is to blame for the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. ( Trump[ comes to Putin’s defense. Who else can we name that doesn’t believe that Russia downed that airliner? Only somebody wired to Putin would suggest such a thing? Who does he think shot it down?)

Before he was a presidential candidate, Trump’s hunger to be popular in Russia was less troubling. Now it is a conflict of interest. At minimum, there is the appearance of wrongdoing: The candidate’s foreign-policy positions are conveniently aligned with his long-standing business agenda. But what’s good for the Trump Organization isn’t necessarily good for America. 

From the news source. Russia Beyond the Headlines.

Why Russia sympathizes with Trump: Super Tuesday in the Russian press

March 3, 2016 Anna Sorokina, RBTH

Following big wins for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the contests for the Republican and Democratic nominations for the U.S. presidency on Super Tuesday, Russian media offered their interpretations of the leading candidates’ credentials.

RBTH is a Russian publication.

 

“Super Tuesday, the day on which 11 U.S. states hold their contests to nominate Republican and Democratic candidates for the White House, saw the frontrunners on each side underline their credentials for the nomination.

 

Donald Trump won seven of the 11 states, which strengthens his potential to become a Republican candidate for the White House.

 

Meanwhile, ex-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came out victorious on the Democrats’ side. Despite the general opinion that Russians support Trump, the mass media gives diverse evaluations of the presidential candidates.

Gambling on the populist

Out of the two favorites for the primaries – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – Moscow knows Clinton very well, but sympathizes with Trump, writes the RBK newspaper.

Russian officials have been following the unfolding U.S. election campaign for a long time. Once, when speaking with journalists, President Vladimir Putin referred to Trump as a “talented person.”

“It is not our business to evaluate his merits, this is for the American voters. But he is the absolute leader in the presidential race,” said Putin.

“He says that he wants to switch to another level of relations with Russia, a more compact, deeper level. Do we welcome this? Of course we do,” he said.

“Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have their pluses and minuses concerning relations with Russia,” said parliamentarian Vasily Likhachev, Russia’s former permanent ambassador to the EU.”

Trump is more active and wiser in playing the Russian card, and it’s interesting that his positions and views are supported by the electorate. Clinton knows a lot about Russia but she has a big problem: She is prone to occasional anti-Russian and Russophobic sentiments, which she has had since she was first lady,” explained Likhachev.

In his opinion, Trump has more potential for creating positive dialogue with Moscow, but Russia should prepare itself for all possibilities.

At the end of 2015, after Putin made his compliment, Trump responded that for him it was a great honor to receive praise from “such a highly esteemed person, in Russia and elsewhere.”

On Feb. 27, Reuters said that Trump’s advisor on Russia was Michael Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, who supports closer cooperation between Moscow and Washington.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has often been critical of Russia. Last year during an event at the Brookings Center she expressed her conviction that efforts must be made to steepen the cost of Russia’s policy on Ukraine for Putin.

“I belong to the category of people who want America to do more as a response to the annexation of Crimea and the continuing destabilization of Ukraine,” said Clinton back then.

 

The BBC: Donald Trump blasts ‘fools’ who oppose good Russian ties 

US President-elect Donald Trump has posted a series of tweets condemning those who oppose good relations with Russia as “‘stupid’ people, or fools”.

Mr Trump vowed to work with Russia “to solve some of the many… pressing problems and issues of the WORLD!”

His comments came after an intelligence report said Russia’s president had tried to aid a Trump election victory.

Mr Trump said Democrats were to blame for “gross negligence” in allowing their servers to be hacked.

In a series of tweets on Saturday, Mr Trump said that having a good relationship with Russia was “no bad thing” and that “only ‘stupid’ people, or fools, would think that it is bad!”

He added that Russia would respect the US more when he was president.

Mr Trump said frequently during his election campaign that he wanted to improve ties with Russia.

He has also repeatedly questioned US intelligence claims of Russian hacking in the election campaign.

Mr Trump tweeted on Saturday: “Only reason the hacking of the poorly defended DNC is discussed is that the loss by the Dems was so big that they are totally embarrassed!” (This from the guy that lost the poplar vote by almost 3 million votes)

He was referring to the Democratic National Committee, whose email accounts were hacked during the election campaign.

 

Key findings from the report 

   Hacking into the email accounts of the Democratic National Committee and top Democrats

Using intermediaries such as WikiLeaks, DCLeaks.com and Guccifer 2.0 persona to release the information acquired from the hackings

Using state-funded propaganda and paying social media users or “trolls” to make nasty comments

After being briefed by intelligence chiefs on the report on Friday, the president-elect declined to mention Russia, but did say he had “tremendous respect for the work and service done” by those in the US intelligence community.

He also insisted the election outcome was not affected.

In the wake of the report, the US Department of Homeland Security announced that voting machines and other election databases would be classified as “critical infrastructure” and given more protection from cyber-attacks.

The unclassified part of the report says that the Kremlin developed a “clear preference” for Mr Trump. ( This should be obvious to anybody that can read. All of the above statements demonstrate that very truth)

In the wake of the report, the US Department of Homeland Security announced that voting machines and other election databases would be classified as “critical infrastructure” and given more protection from cyber-attacks.

Russia’s goals, the document added, were to “undermine public faith” in the US democratic process and “denigrate” his Democrat opponent Hillary Clinton, harming her electability and potential presidency.

“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election,” it said.

It gives no detailed evidence of Mr Putin’s alleged role. ( right, however it’s ludicrous to think that anything of this magnitude would be taken on without the knowledge of the Head of state himself. If the campaign to disrupt the US Election were done without Putin’s knowledge, that would suggest that he could be caught in an international conflict with the US without knowing the details of such a mission. Heads would roll in Russia if he were put to that kind of embarrassing situation by a few zealous underlings. Nobody would take that kind of risk without Putin’s approval)

The report says Mr Putin liked Mr Trump because he had vowed to work with Moscow and the Russian leader had had “many positive experiences working with Western political leaders whose business interests made them more disposed to deal with Russia, such as former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder”.

Mr Putin has called Mr Trump “a clever man” who should “quickly understand” his role. ( that will always get Trumps attention and Putin knows it)

Russia has not commented on the report but has previously denied the claims about influencing the election.

Last week, President Barack Obama ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats from the US over the alleged hacking. Russia has said it will not reciprocate.

 

The Report Continues:

Starting in March 2016, Russian Government– linked actors began openly supporting President-elect Trump’s candidacy in media aimed at English-speaking audiences. RT and Sputnik—another government-funded outlet producing pro-Kremlin radio and online content in a variety of languages for international audiences—consistently cast President-elect Trump as the target of unfair coverage from traditional US media outlets that they claimed were subservient to a corrupt political establishment.

Russian media hailed President-elect Trump’s victory as a vindication of Putin’s advocacy of global populist movements—the theme of Putin’s annual conference for Western academics in October 2016—and the latest example of Western liberalism’s collapse. ( Trumps special advisor, Steve Bannon, is an advocate of Nationalist populism as CEO of Breitbart.com. Trumps National Security advisor, Gen Mike Flynn has close ties to Putin and wants to restructure our intelligence services and reduce their effectiveness to provide the President with the intelligence needed to keep America safe.)

Putin’s chief propagandist Dmitriy Kiselev used his flagship weekly newsmagazine program this fall to cast President-elect Trump as an outsider victimized by a corrupt political establishment and faulty democratic election process that aimed to prevent his election because of his desire to work with Moscow.

Pro-Kremlin proxy Vladimir Zhirinovskiy, leader of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, proclaimed just before the election that if President-elect Trump won, Russia would “drink champagne” in anticipation of being able to advance its positions on Syria and Ukraine.

RT’s coverage of Secretary Clinton throughout the US presidential campaign was consistently negative and focused on her leaked e-mails and accused her of corruption, poor physical and mental health, and ties to Islamic extremism. Some Russian officials echoed Russian lines for the influence campaign that Secretary Clinton’s election could lead to a war between the United States and Russia.

In August, Kremlin-linked political analysts suggested avenging negative Western reports on Putin by airing segments devoted to Secretary Clinton’s alleged health problems. As if on cue…

…One month later, on Sept. 21st, the NY Post ran this:

Hillary is dealing with mounting health issues, new book claims

“Hillary Clinton faces “mounting health issues” — and she’s secretly worried that she’s too sick to run for president, according to a new book.

The 67-year-old Democratic front-runner has been “frequently plagued” by “blinding headaches” and a series of strokes over the course of the campaign which have left her second-guessing her chances of winning in 2016, says the upcoming book “Unlikeable — The Problem with Hillary.”

Excerpts were published Tuesday by Radar Online.

“For the first time I’ve known her, she’s showing self-doubt about her strength and vitality,” a friend of Clinton’s told author Edward Klein, who has written about the Obamas and Kennedys in the past. ( and who exactly was this “friend”?…that’s not revealed)

The presidential candidate has also been battling bouts of insomnia that have ultimately “worried her, because it sapped her energy just when she needed it most for the campaign,” Klein writes.”

She is exhausted and depressed a lot of the time,” a friend is quoted as saying, adding that Clinton even tried taking sleeping pills to combat the problem, but to no avail.

“She said they made her less sharp the next day,” the friend explained.

In late 2012, Clinton suffered from a life-threatening blood clot on her brain that left her “constantly worried” she would develop another one, according to Klein.

Clinton has insisted she’s in good health and released a letter from her doctor over the summer attesting to her fitness. ( This campaign was echoed by Rudy Giuliani and others including Sean Hannity ar Fox News)

Dr. Lisa Bardack of Mount Kisco, NY, outlined Clinton’s medical history, which included her treatment for a brain concussion, an analysis of blood clots affecting her legs and brain on separate occasions, an underactive thyroid gland examination, and a complete family history of heart disease.

Her findings showed that Clinton’s electrocardiogram and her blood lipids were reported as normal, and her cancer screening tests — including mammography, breast ultrasound, colonoscopy and gynecological examination — were also normal.

But Klein says the former first lady is keeping her medical ailments under wraps.

“There were incidents on the campaign trail when she felt faint and nearly swooned,” he claimed. “Those incidents were kept secret.”

 

 

To summarize:

“In August, Kremlin-linked political analysts suggested avenging negative Western reports on Putin by airing segments devoted to Secretary Clinton’s alleged health problems.”

One month later, on Sept. 21st, the NY Post ran this:

“Hillary is dealing with mounting health issues, new book claims”

 

 

On 6 August, RT published an English language video called “Julian Assange Special: Do WikiLeaks Have the E-mail That’ll Put Clinton in Prison?” and an exclusive interview with Assange entitled “Clinton and ISIS Funded by the Same Money.” RT’s most popular video on Secretary Clinton, “How 100% of the Clintons’ ‘Charity’ Went to…Themselves,” had more than 9 million views on social media platforms. RT’s most popular English language video about the President-elect, called “Trump Will Not Be Permitted To Win,” featured Assange and had 2.2 million views.

For more on Russia’s past media efforts— including portraying the 2012 US electoral process as undemocratic—please see Annex A: Russia—Kremlin’s TV Seeks To Influence Politics, Fuel Discontent in US.

Russia used trolls as well as RT as part of its influence efforts to denigrate Secretary Clinton. This effort amplified stories on scandals about Secretary Clinton and the role of WikiLeaks in the election campaign.

The likely financier of the so-called Internet Research Agency of professional trolls located in Saint Petersburg is a close Putin ally with ties to Russian intelligence.

A journalist who is a leading expert on the Internet Research Agency claimed that some social media accounts that appear to be tied to Russia’s professional trolls—because they previously were devoted to supporting Russian actions in Ukraine—started to advocate for President-elect Trump as early as December 2015.

 

Influence Effort Was Boldest Yet in the US

Russia’s effort to influence the 2016 US presidential election represented a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations aimed at US elections. We assess the 2016 influence campaign reflected the Kremlin’s recognition of the worldwide effects that mass disclosures of US Government and other private data—such as those conducted by WikiLeaks and others—have achieved in recent years, and their understanding of the value of orchestrating such disclosures to maximize the impact of compromising information. 

Election Operation Signals “New Normal” in Russian Influence Efforts

We assess Moscow will apply lessons learned from its campaign aimed at the US presidential election to future influence efforts in the United States and worldwide, including against US allies and their election processes. We assess the Russian intelligence services would have seen their election influence campaign as at least a qualified success because of their perceived ability to impact public discussion. (The man they backed, won. If that can be done here, it can be done throughout Europe. We may have won the cold war, but it appears that Russia is having the last laugh)

Putin’s public views of the disclosures suggest the Kremlin and the intelligence services will continue to consider using cyber-enabled disclosure operations because of their belief that these can accomplish Russian goals relatively easily without significant damage to Russian interests.

Russia has sought to influence elections across Europe.

We assess Russian intelligence services will continue to develop capabilities to provide Putin with options to use against the United States, judging from past practice and current efforts. Immediately after Election Day, we assess Russian intelligence began a spear-phishing campaign targeting US Government employees and individuals associated with US think tanks and NGOs in national security, defense, and foreign policy fields. This campaign could provide material for future influence efforts as well as foreign intelligence collection on the incoming administration’s goals and plans.

 

In summation: Opinion.

Knowing the extent of the Russian espionage efforts to affect the election in the United States; it shouldn’t take much effort to understand just how effective this effort has been. Knowing their intentions, it shouldn’t be hard to recognize that not only the DNC and White House and State Department have been hacked, but the GOP as well. US Senators have been hacked. In fact, it’s likely that Russia has an entire room housing information on Donald Trump that can and will be used to bring him down unless he gives them what they want, which will likely be an endorsement of their goals. Trump has lived his life in the spotlight. One can only guess at the information and photo’s that can be used against him. Trumps properties around the world have his name splashed all over them in huge bold letters. That makes them targets for terrorism everywhere.

In an interview, Kellyanne Conway actually asked the question, “Why would Russia want to back Trump?” It’s astonishing that she doesn’t already know the answer to that question. She’s a grown woman, with four children. I would assume she has some grasp of reality left. There are many reasons why Russia would want Trump, but they really all boil down to the fact that they know that he can be manipulated, and easily. Trump is the Siberian Candidate. He’s Putins Puppet, just as Hillary said. Clinton would have been way too difficult. She doesn’t have to deal with an ego like Trumps. She has a healthy ego and has no problem with self-deprecating humor on occasion. Trump has an inflated ego that betrays his insecurity. He can’t handle criticism of any kind and can never admit a mistake. Trump is target rich with character flaws that can be exploited. His thin skin betrays him all the time. Conway, claims that if somebody attacks him, he has the right to fight back. Actually Kellyanne, the President is supposed to be above petty bullshit like that. You need a much thicker skin to be president of the United States. Most likely he’ll dive into a Twitter war with whoever he feels has crossed him, including heads of state. Trump is acting like a child and you have four of them. You must know the difference between an adolescent and an adult. That’s a weakness and he resorts to twitter to amplify that weakness. And that is a weakness that the former head of the KGB can easily exploit. Trump is no match for Putin. Putin helped get him elected. Putin can lead him by the nose in any direction he chooses, most likely because he already has damaging information on Trump. If you doubt that, then you’re a bigger fool than we thought. The Russians are clearly adept at misinformation and manipulation of facts to achieve their goals, one of which was to get Trump elected. Mission accomplished. We won the cold war, but we’re losing the Cyber War.

Trump has become a surrogate for Putin. Trump is to Putin as Chris Christi was to Trump. Somebody to use as long as he needed him and disposable when no longer needed. When the time comes, Putin will take Trump down and cause havoc once again in the United States. “Believe me”!

Trump has not come forward and said if he accepts the Intelligence Communities findings or rejects them. I suspect that with a Press Conference looming he knows that question will come up. So far it appears that he’s not inclined to accept their findings. For Trump, it would taint his victory. It would look like he needed the help of the Russians to win, which of course he did. If that’s the case, then it’s a demonstration of the truth that maintaining his ego is more important to him than this country which just had it national election sabotaged. The country which he’ll be sworn to defend.

This country is headed into a radical change. We’ll be in a place that we’ve never been before. It appears that we’re headed into a Global Plutocracy. With each country an extreme right wing Authoritarian Autocracy.

I don’t believe that the country is willing to go there. I also don’t think that Donald Trump will make it for two years before he’s impeached. We’re protected by our Constitution. However, unless there is respect for the Constitution as the law of the land, its nothing but a piece of paper. How all of this plays out, especially with the vast conflicts of interest between his business dealings and the public interest that he’s required to serve will come to a head on Jan 20th. At the moment he takes the oath of office, he will be in violation of the Constitution. ( Article 1 sec 9) Donald Trump intends to use his office to enrich himself and his family at the expense of the American tax payer. How this stands with the US Congress will tell us what we need to know about our future.

There are three guiding principles that the Obama Administration has operated from during its tenure in the White House and those principles have guided public policy during that time. They are “reason, rationality, and empathy”.

One definition for “reason” is the power of the mind to think and understand in a logical way. Obama has always demonstrated his ability to think and understand things in a logical way. He grasps the basic law of non-contradiction which states that you cannot be A and not-A at the same time. So he fits that definition. That makes him a rational person because rationality is the quality or state of being agreeable to reason. Most, if not all reality based people are agreeable to reason. Obama also displays empathy to the least among us which is a Christian value to be applauded by those professing to actually be Christians as opposed to using their religion as a political weapon. Even an atheist can understand this value as an American value. Because an atheist will recognize the truth in a value even when there may be religions that share that value as a truth. Truth doesn’t care if you have a religion or don’t.

On Morning Joe today, Mika and others were questioning fmr Rep Chris Shayes about Trump and other leading Republicans who continue to endorse him and what kind of impression that leaves in the minds of large segments of the population. When asked if Shayes thought that Ryan or McCain and others actually thought in private that Trump would make a good president, he said no. Shayes was pressed on this being asked; when does it become glaringly, undeniably obvious that they are putting party ideology over the very foundations of this country. They are willing to put the United States and the fate of the free world and the world itself into the hands of somebody they know would be bad for the country. When pressed by Willie Geist about the obvious cynicism that is on full display by Republicans to the voters, Shayes attempted to dismiss it as part of doing business in politics. Clearly this is placing ideology over country. He tries to create a distinction between endorsing somebody and voting for that person as somehow being different. But of course that’s a distinction without a difference. Ask Kelly Ayotte how that’s working out for her in New Hampshire. She’s supporting Trump. Just…not endorsing him. Right.

A distinction without a difference is a type of logical fallacy where an author or speaker attempts to describe a distinction between two things although no difference exists. It is particularly used when a word or phrase has connotations associated with it that one party to an argument prefers to avoid. In this case, the fitness of Donald Trump to be the man with his hands on the nuclear codes. It’s the assertion that a position is different from another position based on the language when, in fact, both positions are exactly the same — at least in practice or practical terms. It’s like saying, A is not the same as the first letter in the alphabet.

Shaye’s then goes on by drawing some strange analogy between CNBC and NBC as relevant to what he’s trying to say in order to justify the contradiction he finds himself in, which left me and the panelists scratching our heads . Well, at least he’s not voting for Trump, so I guess that’s a good thing. But why he feels a need to try to justify the party over country views of Paul Ryan and other Republicans isn’t clear. When presented with this very stark choice of Party or country first, Shayes says that for some people change; apparently any kind of change, is preferable to the “status quo”.

Which brings me back to the beginning of this. It appears that the status quo that the Trumpers want to abandon is one of reason, rationality and empathy. That’s the stark contrast that Trumps candidacy demonstrates. None of those qualities can be found in Donald Trump. Trump relies on boastful exaggerations, outright lies, religious bigotry, racism, xenophobia, scapegoating. He’s like a 9 year old in a grown-man’s body. He reacts to every perceived slight or criticism with the mentality of a “Valley Girl” with a Twitter Account. Like a 5th grade bully, he goes after Governors, Senators, Federal Judges. Even Gold Star Mothers. He can’t stop himself from punching back. One has to ask how me might respond to criticism from foreign leaders? Why would anybody expect him to act any other way than the way he has already shown us?

What we see in Trump, is Anti-reason, Anti-rationality and Hate as the alternative to the “status quo”.

I doubt that the vast majority of voters in the United States want the kind of change that Trump represents. At least I would hope not. It represents a total break with what we know as the United States. If Hillary Clinton represents the status quo, and that is defined as using reason and rationality tempered with empathy, then I suspect that we’ll see her working with Republicans as much as they’ll allow themselves to work with here in doing the people’s business.

What she won’t do is invoke racism, or bigotry into our policy making and she won’t abandon our allies.

The choice becomes one of voting for reason/rationality/empathy v ideology/authoritarianism/ hate

 

There is a major flaw in Trumps thinking that seems to have found support in a certain segment of the population. Trump has stated that we need to “go after the families of terrorists”.

Donald J. Trump said Wednesday that in the battle against the Islamic State, the families of terrorists should be targets, saying they were using their relatives “as shields.”

“We’re fighting a very politically correct war,” Mr. Trump said, adding, “The other thing with the terrorists, you have to take out their families.”

“They say they don’t care about their lives,” he added. “You have to take out their families.”

 

This presents an interesting hypothetical scenario that puts that kind of logic and reasoning to a test. Because Trump has also said this; Trump, Feb. 17: Torture works. OK, folks? You know, I have these guys—”Torture doesn’t work!”—believe me, it works. And waterboarding is your minor form. Some people say it’s not actually torture. Let’s assume it is. But they asked me the question: What do you think of waterboarding? Absolutely fine. But we should go much stronger than waterboarding.

 

Ok, so we know Trumps position on going after the family members and we know his position on Torture.( OK folks? Am I right? believe me.)

 

If we put this logic and reasoning process to a hypothetical test we can force ourselves into having to make a crucial choice, and that’s where our own moral compass reveals itself. Let’s look at the ticking time bomb scenario:

Our intelligence people have uncovered a time bomb that will explode in Times Square killing hundreds if not thousands of people. They have found a suspected terrorist and taken him to a secure location for interrogation Trump style. But they also bring along his 7 year old daughter from his home. They are both tied to a chair face to face. One man stands over the daughter with a garden clipper and spreads her fingers prepared to lop off one finger at a time in front of the girls father. Remember that this is a “suspected” terrorist. The question now is whether we condone the torture of a child to get our information? Logically there should be no objection to torturing the child since we have already accepted the doctrine of going after the families of terrorist as legitimate, and also the doctrine of torture. Neither of those policies are conditional in any way. The age or the sex of the person being tortured is irrelevant to the logic being used. If we are going to go after the family members and we agreed that we need to go beyond water boarding then the age and sex of the victim doesn’t matter. We don’t even know if the suspect is a terrorist but what matters is stopping the bomb from going off, and if torturing a 7 year old girl accomplishes that task then it’s morally acceptable.

 

So…there’s your choice? Do we subscribe to a utilitarian view of consequentialist morality? (The moral thing to do is to act in the best interests of the greatest number. Doing the greatest good for the greatest number) Or do we hold to a Catogorical Imperative. The categorical imperative was contrasted with the hypothetical imperative of Utilitarianism. And the idea of a hypothetical imperative was if/then. So if you want your society to be safe, then you must torture the child. That’s a hypothetical imperative. Categorical imperative is, don’t torture a child ever under any circumstance. So the idea of a categorical imperative is that it’s not dependent on an if/then statement, right? So that’s the notion behind Kant’s ethics; that we should look for propositions that we would affirm regardless of the consequences. That’s the notion of a categorical imperative.

The answer for the person that subscribes to the Kantian view of the Catagorical Imerative is that it’s wrong to torture a child under any circumstances and we don’t do that. Those are not American Values. The Utilitarian view is that we torture the child if it means we save some lives. In this case we sacrifice values for a perceived greater good. So if there are always exceptions to our values which are often sacrificed to the greater good, then why do we hold them knowing that they can and will be compromised? Why bother pretending that our principles are never compromised when we see it every day and an entire political party embraces contradiction as normal part of the political process. When they tell us, “Of course we’re hypocrites. But we’re professional’s. We bring it to another level.”