Bob Schwartz

Month: July, 2018

Trump: “The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!”

Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning) – almost unheard of. Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client – totally unheard of & perhaps illegal. The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 21, 2018

Trump is not even my 45th favorite President. My favorite Presidents (out of 45):

46. Donald Trump

Also:

The government didn’t “break into” Michael Cohen’s office, home and hotel room. It was properly executing a difficult-to-obtain search warrant.

New York is a one-party recording state, that is, the permission of only one of two parties is needed to legally record a conversation.

The New York City Bar Association advises that a lawyer may tape a conversation without disclosing to the other party “if the lawyer has a reasonable basis for believing that disclosure of the taping would impair pursuit of a generally accepted societal good.”

We know that Trump does not understand or respect the proper administration of justice or “generally accepted societal good.” Which is just one more reason he is my 46th favorite President.

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How Bizarre Things Are: There Is a Sane Shadow Government Trying to Run America in Spite of Trump—and That May Be Okay

There are government agencies that issue statements and policies that contradict or correct what Trump says. There are reports that military leaders have an informal agreement to passively defy any truly crazy and dangerous orders that Trump issues. There are reports that after Trump attempted to subvert the unity of NATO, American military leaders immediately told their international counterparts not to worry because nothing was changing. There is widespread belief that some of the most capable and reasonable members of Trump’s team won’t resign because they believe they are holding the line between order and disaster.

When you put this and other pieces together, a picture emerges. There is right now a sane shadow government trying to uphold the conventions of an orderly and intelligently managed American government. Under most other circumstances, in other times and places, this might be considered subversive and reprehensible. But under these particular circumstances, we might actually—as strange as it seems—be thankful.

Is it any wonder that at least half of America, and probably more, feels like strangers in their own land, transported to some unprecedented alternative bizarro universe, and wakes up each day wondering what fresh hell awaits them in the news?

Time for Billionaires and Companies to Spend Money to Protect Democracy and Make Elections Secure

Washington Post :

House GOP refuses to renew election security funding

House Republicans on Thursday approved a spending bill that excludes new money for election security grants to states, provoking a furious reaction from Democrats amid a national controversy over Russian election interference.

The spending bill passed 217-199. Democrats’ bid to add hundreds of millions more in election spending was rejected 182-232 — as Republicans were unmoved by Democrats floor speeches decrying the funding changes and chanting “USA! USA!”

At issue is a grants program overseen by the federal Election Assistance Commission and aimed at helping states administer their elections and improve voting systems; Democrats want to continue grant funding through 2019, while Republicans say the program already has been fully funded.

A number of Republicans, especially in Congress, no longer seem to believe in democracy, because they do not want to risk losing on a level playing field. That is precisely the reason that Trump accepted (or solicited) Putin’s help in winning his election, and why Republicans now worry about helping states make elections fair and secure.

That’s why American billionaires and companies should step in and fund state election security, since the Trump-run government apparently won’t. This isn’t a controversial or partisan matter; it is an American matter. These billionaires and companies can and should offer assistance in many ways—all of which require millions of dollars, all of which these people and companies have.

How could any American billionaire or company find the funding of secure and fair elections objectionable? Even if it sometimes seems that some do.

Logical Proof that Putin is President of the United States (and leader of the Republican Party)

Logic, even playful logic, is not particularly popular with Trump and many of his supporters. It has been tossed on the trash heap, along with truth, selflessness, courage, patriotism and sanity.

Logic can be helpful in critical times like these. Using what might be called the Transitive Property of Dominance, we find:

Trump is President of the United States.
Putin dominates Trump.
Therefore Putin is President of the United States.

and:

Trump is leader of the Republican Party.
Putin dominates Trump.
Therefore Putin is leader of the Republican Party.

This has many uses. Most importantly, when you see a Republican official, or see a Republican candidate on a ballot, unless you are absolutely sure he or she is an active opponent of this dominance (not just rhetorical objection), you can assume that for all practical purposes you are looking at Putin.

The logic may not be formally pure. But the point is essential and inescapable.

Trio Gnossieme

Trio Gnossieme

The birds
The cicadas
The wind through the branches.
A yellow flower twitches.
Nothing still.

©

Compassion Toward Your Things

Much is said and written, in many traditions, about awareness, mindfulness and realization. But this one thought, said just this way, is new to me.

Speaking for the Baal Shem Tov, the first ancestor of Hasidic Judaism, Martin Buber writes about our relationship not just with creatures but with our things. The idea of being compassionate toward your possessions may seem eccentric. Nothing could be more central. If everybody—and everything—is not free, who is?

From The Legend of the Baal-Shem:

Around each man—enclosed within the wide sphere of his activity—is laid a natural circle of things which, before all, he is called to set free. These are the creatures and objects that are spoken of as the possessions of this individual: his animals and his walls, his garden and his meadow, his tools and his food. In so far as he cultivates and enjoys them in holiness, he frees their souls. “For this reason a man must always be compassionate toward his tools and all his possessions.”