GOSSIP, FAKE NEWS, OR THE TRUTH?

When we listen to the news, what are we trying to do? Well, supposedly we want someone to communicate to us what has been going on in the world that is “important” while we were sleeping, working, playing, or otherwise preoccupied. Unfortunately, it is next to impossible to get an unbiased report. In fact, some people are devious.

Here we will consider an example of the work of the devious. The Washington Post put out this story, Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador, based upon unidentified sources.

President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.

The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.

The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said Trump’s decision to do so endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency. (continued here)

What is peculiar about the story is how The Washington Post goes on to tell us this:

The Post is withholding most plot details, including the name of the city, at the urging of officials who warned that revealing them would jeopardize important intelligence capabilities. (from here)

Since when is okay to reveal highly classified information to a reporter? Yet The Washington Post‘s supposedly reliable sources did exactly that, supposedly.

Anyway, the White House emphatically denied the story.

The White House has denied a Washington Post report that Donald Trump revealed classified information when he met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak last week.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters this Monday: “The story that came out tonight, as reported, is false. The president and the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation. At no time — at no time — were intelligence sources or methods discussed.”

“The president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known. Two other senior officials who were present, including the secretary of state, remember the meeting the same way and have said so. Their on-the-record accounts should outweigh those of anonymous sources.”

“I was in the room — it didn’t happen.” (continued here)

Nevertheless, news organs such as The Associated Press breathlessly picked up the story.

On Monday, McMaster told reporters: “The president and the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries including threats to civil aviation. At no time, at no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed and the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known.”

The revelations could further damage Trump’s already fraught relationship with U.S. intelligence agencies. He’s openly questioned the competency of intelligence officials and challenged their high-confidence assessment that Russia meddled in last year’s presidential election to help him win. His criticism has been followed by a steady stream of leaks to the media that have been damaging to Trump and exposed an FBI investigation into his associates’ possible ties to Russia.

The disclosure also risks harming his credibility with U.S. partners around the world ahead of his first overseas trip. The White House was already reeling from its botched handling of Trump’s decision last week to fire James Comey, the FBI director who was overseeing the Russia investigation.

The Royal Court in Jordan said that King Abdullah II was to speak by telephone with Trump later Tuesday, a conversation that was scheduled last week.

The revelation also prompted cries of hypocrisy. Trump spent the campaign arguing that his opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, should be locked up for careless handling of classified information.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson disputed the report. He said Trump discussed a range of subjects with the Russians, including “common efforts and threats regarding counter-terrorism.” The nature of specific threats was discussed, he said, but not sources, methods or military operations. (from here)

The suggestion is that President Trump somehow fouled up and said more than he should have. Yet people whose names we have adamantly insist nothing untoward happen. So who are we supposed to believe?

Here is another report on the denials from the White House: McMaster: WaPo Story About Trump Sharing Classified Materials With Russians Is ‘False’ (freebeacon.com).

When we read stories like this, we need to keep something very basic in mind.  It can be quite difficult to prove nothing wrong happened. Hence, we insist that those charged with a crime are innocent until proven guilty. Has Washington Post provided any proof? Read and decide for yourself.

 

 

19 thoughts on “GOSSIP, FAKE NEWS, OR THE TRUTH?

  1. I heard that on FOX5 this morning and caught a snippet on Channel 8. Channel 5 at least made a effort to show the other side. Channel 8, to my knowledge, did no such thing.

    One reason I try to find multiple sources when I am looking something up. I want as clear a picture as I can get *before* I open my mouth. There have been comments and posts that have been edited, if not deleted, once I find information suggesting that my view/opinion may be wrong. I’m not always successful, but at least I try, which is more than MSM seems to do. Sensationalism sells.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The MSM is not just after sensationalism. I wish that was the only problem. Big corporations own MSM outfits for a couple of reasons. Those corporate interests do business with the government. So they want to be in a position to influence politicians. Their businesses are heavily regulated by the government. So they buy news media assets to protect their interests and influence the outcome of elections.

      Think about it this way. The guy who runs Amazon bought The Washington Post. Why? My guess is he saw what Bill Gates did after the government tried to break up Microsoft. Bill Gates started taking a more active interest in politics, including buying a news outfit.

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  2. Tom,

    I guess it comes down to who has more credibility on the facts that they present. Trump wasted his credibility and the credibility of his surrogates from the moment he took office (as if he had any real credibility for voracity before that – remember how he suggested that “Lying Ted Cruz’ father helped assassinate JFK, remember “grab her pussy” Trump):

    1. To quote Spicer’s first press briefing and Trump ever since, Trump’s inauguration crowd was the largest in history. Verifiably not true.

    2. Trump claims he actually won the popular vote because millions of people voted illegally. Obsolutely no evidence of it and denied by the voting authorities of every state, including Republican state’s voting authorities.

    3. President Obama “wire tapped” (sic) Trump. Said to be obsolutely not true by multiple authorities (including former FBI Director Comedy).

    4. Comey was fired solely on the recommendation of the Deputy Attorney General and not because he was investigating the Trump campaign’s multiple connections to Russian meddling in our election. This is what Trump surrogates said (including VP Pence) only to be undermined by Trump himself in an interview where he admitted that he fired Comey exactly because Comey was investigating the Trump connections to Russia.

    5. Despite McMaster’s non-denial denials in support of the President, this morning Trump tweeted that he actually had shared intel with the Russians, thus destroying the credibility of another of Trump’s surrogates.

    I could go on. The man lies by the minute, if not the second. He sends members of his administration out to say things that are lies, and has thus all but destroyed the credibility and reputations of a growing number of officials. Sometimes Trump says conflicting statements in the same sentence or the same paragraph. His communications staff can’t keep up with what “alternate facts” (IOW lies) they are supposed to spin because Trump changes the lie to a new one before they have even finished spinning his last lie.

    You voted for a man who is not only vice ridden, but actually glorifies in all the vices (greed, nepotism, gluttony, selfishness, boastfullness, conceit, and yes, dishonesty). He thinks the common virtues are only for losers.

    Now you are surprised that he is being constantly exposed for what he is, for what has always been his character, or lack there of? Seriously? You picked the degenerate Trump in what you thought was a Hobson’s choice because you thought Secretary Clinton could somehow be worse, but you still knew Trump was a narcissistic degenerate, didn’t you? Of course you did. You are way too smart not too have always known . 😏

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    1. Tony

      Now you are surprised that he is being constantly exposed for what he is, for what has always been his character, or lack there of? Seriously?

      What a dramatic assertion, but where did I express any surprise?

      I spent some time early on during the election campaign investigating the media claims that Trump said this or that. I just don’t bother anymore.

      I use to read The Washington Post regularly. When it became apparent that that rag thrived on destroying reputations, I quit. I could not in good conscious subsidize it anymore. So now I just occasionally point out instances where it is an unreliable source.

      What do I care about? Set aside the confusion about what Trump supposedly said for a minute? What is Trump doing. For the most part he is keeping the promises he made. With perfect success? Why should we expect that from anyone?

      Look at the stuff you are complaining about. Why should I care?
      1. A crowd estimate.
      2. Something we have to investigate anyway because a bunch of dishonest people REFUSE to enforce our immigration laws and have weaken our election laws. Should we make certain only those people vote who have a right to vote and they vote only once? Of course, we should. Yet Democrat Liberals obviously have a problem with that, and the reason is readily apparent.
      3. Something that Obama did that is worse than what got Nixon hounded out of office. There is no question people in the Obama administration were “investigating” people connected to the Trump campaign. Did you know The New Times first used the words “wire tap”, not Trump.
      4. Democrats called for Comey’s firing first. It is on record. Why Trump waited to fire the man I don’t know. I don’t have enough nameless sources, I guess. But it could be something as simple as the fact he was busy with other things. That is what Democrat Liberals hate about the man. He has been very busy.
      5. All you have are nameless sources accusing Trump of something. What exactly? On the other hand, to get their nameless sources, the news media had to get people to break their oaths (if these sources actually exist) and release information to a bunch of news media gossips. And I should worry about these sources being honest? When more honorable people flatly deny what they said?

      When people refuse to discuss the issues and make me the issue, I don’t play. What would be the point? I cannot win. I am not perfect. What you are doing is refusing to discuss the issues and making Trump the issue. I don’t have the time to defend Trump from every silly accusation of imperfection. Even if he were perfect, I would not know how to prove it, and that is what you would insist I do. Well, nobody is perfect. So get use to it. That is why only fools try to make government their god.

      Look at the people you support. There are about as flawed as they can be. It is ridiculously easy to find instances where most of them have contradicted themselves, and signs of corruption surround them. And you are worried about Trump? Instead of condemning Trump, why don’t you discuss the issues? Is it because you know you want our government to do what it should not be doing? Is it because your own conscience condemns you?

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  3. I’m not making you the issue Tom, nor am I interested in your making it about me either. And yes, this is about making Trump the issue.

    Trump is the POTUS. His lack of character and his corruption of the institution that Trump now represents are not only valid issues, they are issues of the highest import.

    Yes, we are all flawed and fallen sinners. As you have often said, Christianity is a personal recognition of that concept, and an humble acceptance that only God can grant us the grace that can redeem us to something higher. The problem with Trump is not that he has vices – we all have vices to be ashamed of. The problem with Trump is that is he NOT ashamed of his flaws and vices. Trump continuously applauds and glorifies in vice and often scoffs at virtue. Do you doubt this? Trump is pretty obvious about it so how many examples do you need? And you don’t find this concerning?

    It is often said that Christians love the sinner and hate the sin. However, the election of Trump is the natural culmination of Americans turning toward materialism, greed and selfishness as the new good. It is the natural result of loving and glorifying sin itself.

    The surprise should not be that numerous insider whistle blowers are increasingly exposing the corruption of a man who constantly worships his own “Trump” branded golden calf of corruption. That is not surprising; it’s an inevitability. The surprise instead should be that so many Americans have come to agree with the worship of vice as virtue that is Trumpism, and that so many others have become so jaded to vice that now they just don’t care.

    In my humble opinion, the well meaning, but moral hollowness of the left, and the self righteous embrace of materialism and greed by the right IS the issue of our time. It foments and inspires every other issue. This issue is crawling again out the slime at the turn of the 21st Century, but it is as old as the proverbial Devil himself. On the other hand, as you know, the answer, is even older.

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    1. @Tony

      It is often said that Christians love the sinner and hate the sin. However, the election of Trump is the natural culmination of Americans turning toward materialism, greed and selfishness as the new good. It is the natural result of loving and glorifying sin itself.

      You vote with the political party that is obsessed with materialism, and you still have the gall to say that?
      🙄

      When I advocate adhering to the Constitution and the values of a constitutional republic, what do I get? Do I get a defense of Socialism and its merits? Do I get advocacy for abortion and making taxpayers pay to destroy babies? Do I hear how wonderful it is to send children to government-run schools? Do you explain why each of us has the “right” to choose our sex and make others pay for the operation? No. I just get an explanation of how rotten Trump is. Do I wonder why? No.

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  4. Tom,

    You made Trump’s credibility the issue when you questioned the credibility of the press reports and whistle blowers’ accusations about him, and now you desperately wish to change the subject. Don’t blame you.

    If you want to discuss your laundry list of issues, then write a new post about them. We’ve beat some of these horses well beyond death, but if there is something new other than deflecting, or I can add something worth yours and my time, then I may bite.

    However, your post was about the voracity of press reports about Trump and by implication, the long ago squandered moral voracity of Trump himself. You seem to think that, because Trump constantly lies and makes trumped up statements about small things, he is not capable of lying about the big things. You say Trump is keeping his promises, but he has accomplished little and changed his tune on even more.

    Once again, the real issue is Trump’s (and many Americans who support Trump) glorification of vice and disdain of virtue. You don’t seem to want to touch that one, and yet from that issue, the questions and answers to all the others derive.

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    1. @Tony

      Voracity is probably the correct word, but I suspect veracity is the word you want.

      Is the veracity of a politician relevant? Of course, it is. Never said it wasn’t, but what the news media is doing is sick, and so is what motivates them.

      Once again, the real issue is Trump’s (and many Americans who support Trump) glorification of vice and disdain of virtue.

      The man is being attacked by the mass media which includes the news media, and you accuse Trump of the glorification of vice and disdain of virtue? Have you lost your mind?

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  5. “The man is being attacked by the mass media which includes the news media, and you accuse Trump of the glorification of vice and disdain of virtue? Have you lost your mind?”

    You make a non sequitur, and then you question my sanity. Is that really an argument, or is it just poor deflection and a sad attempt at insulting someone just because they honestly disagree with you?

    Without even realizing (or perhaps realizing all too well) the Orwellian sound of it, Trump and his political adviser, Steve Bannon, have called the press “the enemy of the people”. A politician once said that one should never start an argument with someone who buys ink by the barrel. Despite the flagging future of ink media these days due to the popularity of less credible internet startups (such as the faux news and hate mongering site that Bannon used to run), it is truly nice to see great press institutions such as The New York Times, The Washington Post and even the conservative Wall Street Journal in an investigative reporting competition again.

    Most everything that these media reports have uncovered, often from anonymous whistle blowers who are terrified by Trump’s unethical and erratic behavior, has turned out to be true. For example, the story that you started your post with that said that Trump released top secret information to the Foreign ministry as a boast to them about how good the intel he knows is. As a result of Trump’s “bigly” stupidity and impeachable carelessness, the administration next had to do damage control with our intel agencies and our allies. The fear was that the Russians could easily figure out and expose the source of this sensitive “code word” intel, and that Trump had not gotten permission from, or even warned, the source before he essentially exposed it. None of the basic facts of this story has been denied or proven incorrect, and as often has happened, Trump’s own defensive tweets since actually just seem to confirm the story’s “veracity” (and yes, I do appreciation the ironic humor of your snarky correction).

    The freedom of the press is inshrined in our Constitution for just this reason, so that the press can act as a check on just the sort of corrupt government that the characterless Trump unabashedly embodies. Just as in any human institution, the press is not perfect, but they are essential to democracy, and it seems to me that they are doing a good and virtuous job in this case.

    So many of us seem to be less concerned about the pursuit of truth and virtue and the disdain of the promotion of vice and sin that is exemplified in Trump, as much as they just want to see their team win at all costs. I guess they’ve decided that the “ends” do indeed justify the “means”. However, when someone makes a deal with the devil, it seems that they always get burned in the end, even if in the short run they get a Supreme Court nominee or the strange satisfaction of destroying the access to health care of the poor, the old and the chronically ill.

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    1. @Tony

      You don’t like Trump? Wasn’t my first choice. You think that because Trump is a bad person I should have voted for H. Clinton? We have discussed that.

      You think the news media is noble for trying to prove Trump is incompetent. Since the vast majority of the news media votes like you do, I am not surprised, and we have discussed that.

      You think Trump is a threat to our rights? Yet you vote for people who think the Constitution is a living document that should mean whatever they want it to mean. This is after taking at oath to support and defend the Constitution and passing the bar exam. Then you spout accusations of hypocrisy. Again. We have discussed that.

      You have one trick. Throwing mud and hoping some of it will stick. What is it that you need to know about my opinion of this trick and its minor variations that you don’t already know? Instead of attacking Trump, have you even considered the possibility of advocating and defending what you believe? Is it possible you know what you support is indefensible? Since you are not stupid, i fear that is the case. If I am correct, then I am definitely not alone in my hypocrisy.

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  6. Although we may disagree on specific issues, Christians know what is virtue and what is vice. Christians accept that we are all fallen and vice filled sinners living in an imperfect and fallen world. However, we pray for God’s grace and redemption, and we seek to be more virtuous and less vice filled. If God can love and forgive us despite our vices, then we should try to love and forgive each other in the same way.

    Because we and our world is fallen, the world will never be perfectly virtuous. It will never be completely rid of vice. As you know, virtue itself is often an imperfect balance between competing vices (such as courage being a balance between being cowardly and being foolhardy). Even when we try to do the right thing, we make mistakes, and often no perfectly virtuous answers exist for complex and intractable dilemmas. But simply because we and the world can never be perfectly virtuous does not relieve us of the obligation to try to make it a little more virtuous, a little less corrupt.

    We vehemently disagree often on how to do that. Although I think you are sometimes wrong in your methods, I don’t doubt that your motivation is toward virtue and away from vice. You apparently don’t seem to grant me this because you conflate method and motive, and you pride yourself and your Party too highly on the perfect correctness of your methods and the absolute incorrectness of the other side. Liberal Democrats often do the same thing, and even as someone who considers himself a moderate who has voted for Democrats and Republicans, I am sure I am guilty of this sometimes as well.

    Like all of us, President Trump has vices and virtues. He deserves our love and understanding. However, the reason why Trump should not be our leader and why he should be opppsed is because he unabashedly promotes vices (greed, pride, hatred, etc.) as virtues and virtues (courage, humility, service, etc.) as vices. This has a corrupting effect on our institutions, on the institution of the presidency and on our society as a whole.

    It is not “mudslinging” for the press to point out that corruption. In our constitutional democracy, it is their function, and I applaud them for it. The press is not perfect. In so far, as they spread untruths they should be held accountable. However, you seem to want to shoot the messenger simply because they are giving true messages that hurt your team.

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    1. @Tony

      Platitudes! You still have not addressed what you are for that justifies relentlessly castigating President Trump. What is it you stand for that President Trump opposes. Virtue? Yeah! Sure! And that means voting for H. Clinton?
      😆

      Have you ever considered that when a Democrat is guilty of the same sort of things President Nixon was forced out of office for doing Democrats don’t care? The news media doesn’t give a damn. The Obama administration has a long list of scandals, and yet Obama can still get away with proudly proclaiming his administration was scandal free. And what is sad is someone like you has no idea of all the crap that man was guilty of.

      But simply because we and the world can never be perfectly virtuous does not relieve us of the obligation to try to make it a little more virtuous, a little less corrupt. We vehemently disagree often on how to do that. Although I think you are sometimes wrong in your methods, I don’t doubt that your motivation is toward virtue and away from vice. You apparently don’t seem to grant me this because you conflate method and motive, and you pride yourself and your Party too highly on the perfect correctness of your methods and the absolute incorrectness of the other side.

      You are wrong. I don’t conflate method and motive. I just look at the method. When people rob banks so they can give away money, I appreciate their generosity, but I still have a problem with their method. That is, I think even that sort of bank robber belongs in jail.

      I support a limited government. I am perfectly happy to let other people run their own lives. If other people make of mess of their lives, I am even willing to help them straighten out their mess. Nevertheless, think help of that sort should be voluntary, and that is definitely not the sort of government you are voting for. What you want are generous bank robbers.

      Those supporting Robin Hood government (Socialism) may have the right motives, but their ends still do not justify their means. Stealing is not virtuous. Giving away what rightfully does not belong to you is not virtuous.

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  7. There is nothing inherently immoral about the concept of forcing people to be responsible to the community when they share the benefit from being a part of that community, but anything can be taken to immoral extremes. Only a few extremists want to live in either a society of totalitarian collectivism or a dog-eat-dog land where it’s every über man for himself. It’s a dumb argument so please forgive me if I am uninterested in being your strawman for either stupidity.

    Virtuous means in the hope of attaining virtuous ends often balances imperfect methods toward achieving necessarily imperfect results. We need to prioritize both moral and material goods in doing the best that we can in compromising these necessarily imperfect means and ends. If someone regards vices as virtues and virtues as vices then he is not only unable to find balance and compromise toward better means and ends, but he will also be unable to even have virtuous priorties for which moral and material goods are to be valued – he will only spread corruption. That is the problem with Trump and Trumpism.

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  8. There is nothing inherently immoral about enslaving people so long as we don’t take it to immoral extremes? To be moral do we just have to declare ourselves “moderate” and everyone else extreme?

    I don’t think America at the founding was perfect, but America at the founding certainly proved that limited government works. What kept the country from being either a society of totalitarian collectivism or a dog-eat-dog land where it’s every über man for himself? The people were generally more virtuous than not. Most Americans at least thought highly of Christian beliefs.

    What would I like you to do? Well, here is part of a comment I left for another blogger. He refused to answer my questions. I suppose he too thought I was making a dumb argument. Still, it would be well if you brilliant guys could explain what is so virtuous about robbing Peter to give money to Paul.

    What is good for the country in general? Well, I think we need to realize that what JFK said was a actually good idea.

    And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.” is one of seven quotes inscribed on the walls at the gravesite of John F. Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery.

    Some things we must do ourselves. That includes charity.

    What happens when we forsake private charity for government-run charity? If we see the government as the solution for all kinds of social ills, what must we trade off? Keep in mind there is no such thing as a perfect solution. There is only an optimum solution. Therefore, whenever we consider a solution, we must consider the problems imposed by our solution. Is our solution actually a solution or have we created a bigger problem?

    Each government program requires us to grow the power and size of our government. When government officials have grown powerful, how can a relatively weak people hold it accountable?

    Consider that government does not produce anything. It takes every cent it spends from the People. Do we pay our taxes willingly? Some of us. Many pay because the threat of force is implicit, and some suffer severe punishment when they do not pay.

    So here are a some questions for you.
    1. Why is it moral for the government to tax us?
    2. When does it become immoral for the government to tax us? That is, where do you draw the line and say no more?
    3. How do we ensure that a government that runs our lives will exercise its power for our benefit and not someone else’s benefit?
    4. How big and powerful does the government have to be before the people have lost the ability to refuse it anything it wants?

    Do I have a dog in this fight? Yes. I am a citizen. When government abuses its power, as citizens we are each responsible. In addition, I have children and grandchildren. I want them to live in a nation where the people are at least as free as they were when I grew up. (from => https://citizentom.com/2017/05/13/identity-politics-and-the-guilt-trip/#comment-73863)

    When you tried to define virtue, you spoke of “we” balancing this and that. In reality, there is no “we”. There is only “them”. We elect some people, and those people make some laws, tax us, hire bureaucrats, buy resources, and so forth.

    What priorities guide our elected officials? It is whatever gets them reelected. In other words, they use our tax dollars to buy votes. Thus, according to your definition of virtue, what is most virtuous buys the most votes.

    So I am little confused. How is it you don’t think Trump is virtuous? He won the election fair and square. He is now one of your big “we”. How long is it going to take for you to realize the news media and the Democratic Party is leading you on a snipe hunt? How long is it going to take for you to realize your definition of virtue is a bit too self-serving.

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  9. “So I am little confused. How is it you don’t think Trump is virtuous? He won the election fair and square. He is now one of your big “we”. How long is it going to take for you to realize the news media and the Democratic Party is leading you on a snipe hunt?”

    Actually, Trump did not win the election “fair and square”. According to our intelligence agencies, he won it as a result of Russian influence. Most of us (“we”) did not vote for him so in “one man, one vote” democratic terms, he did not win at all, but instead won on a constitutional technicality. All that, however, has little to do with Trump’s virtue. Trump did win and he is the president. That constitutional institution is bigger and more important than he is. For the sake of the country, I wish Trump could be a president, but he can’t. He is self sabotaging.

    I reiterate, the problem is not just that Trump lacks virtue. The problem is that he actually promotes vice and disdains virtue (and I define these terms quite simply in the most ancient and Christian sense). He promotes greed as good, selfishness as applaudable, and constantly basks in his own conceit. Trump considers the kind of service and sacrifice that you quote from JFK as only for suckers unless he can get something out of it. (Look what he said about John McCain, about a Gold Star family). If you really need examples of Trump’s glorification of vice, it should not take much of a Google search. His whole life and much of what he did and said during the campaign is a case study in vice promotion.

    Set the astounding truth of the leaks aside for a minute and ask yourself why the high level persons in Trump’s own administration are willing to risk legal jeopardy by whistle blowing to the press? You served in leadership roles in the military. The key elements of true leadership resides in demonstrating integrity. Because Trump is incapable of this he does not inspire loyalty. In short order, his administration is therefore disintegrating into some kind of Machiavellian game of thrones. The wheels are coming off.

    As for your hyperbole about the government “enslaving” you, I have a hypothetical for your consideration. You remember this from Madison’s Federalist 51:

    “[T]he great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defence must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions. ([1788] n.d., 337)”

    Let just take Madison’s first scenario: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary” and try the following thought experiment. Imagine a world where men are just as finite and fallible as they are now and the world is just as imperfect with entropy, suffering and death. The big difference in this imaginary world, however, is that men do not sin. All men therefore have perfect virtue and no vice. Would that world actually need no government?

    Certainly armies and policemen would be unnecessary because there would be no crime and no war. Corporations and private ownership would be unnecessary because everyone would voluntarily serve each other and the fruits of their labor would be shared equally without the necessity of any selfish incentives.

    On the other hand, in this imaginary world, we would still need leadership, organization and division of labor. Some people would still be less talented than others at certain things and, although intentions would always be perfect, because we would still be fallible, people would still make errors in practical judgement. There would still therefore be disagreement about material matters and practical disputes that must be arbitrated. People could not sin because their intentions would be good, but because virtue often exists in a balance, one could imagine that sometimes there would still be no perfectly moral answer, and these disputes too would need to be resolved somehow. Products would still need to be invented and produced. Infrastructure would still need to be built and children would still need to be taught in schools. Something would have to organize all this, and it is hard to imagine how or why it would be done privately.

    It seems to me that all of this would still take some form of government, and quite arguably there would be much, much more government than we have now. In a sense, we would have angels governing angels, but we should still have a great deal of governing going on. What kind of government do you suppose it would be?

    You may disagree (and I would be curious to here it), but it seems to me that this thought experiment demonstrates government is not a necessarily evil, but instead, it is better thought of as a necessary good. Madison’s point is still meaningful. Much of government is necessary because we are not angels and because we are not governed by angels.

    The size and scope of government is a practical matter as much as it is a moral necessity, and it also needs to change with the advance of economics and technology as the world gets smaller because of modernity and globalization. Even if we were all as virtuous as angels, the size and scope of government would necessarily be different today than it was in Madison’s Century. Certainly there is a good argument to be made that, if institutions are allowed to grow to excess, they take on a wasteful and corrupting life of their own. Government reform should therefore be an endless task. However, no matter what size it is, government itself is only as morally good or bad as we make it.

    And that is why government is not the enemy, corruption is the enemy. Corruption in government comes from it’s citizens turning away from virtue and toward vice. Donald Trump exemplifies that pattern. Good government requires it’s leaders to regard themselves as servants of those that they lead, not the other way around.

    Instead of being servants of the people, you expect and accept corrupt leaders and therefore you get corrupt government. You think that by limiting government you will then limit corruption. In that scenario, you may get less government, but do you really get less corruption, or does corruption just spread more unchecked by the government institutions that should inhibit it?

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  10. @Tony

    According to our intelligence agencies? Ummm. No. Our intelligence agency chiefs have uniformly stated that they have no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians. So, absent any evidence it needs to be done, Democrats want an investigation of the unlikely possibility Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russians. And that indicates what?

    What we actually have some evidence of is that some hackers (supposedly Russian) tricked Democrats into giving them access to their emails. Those hackers, whoever they were, then made some of those emails public. Supposedly, the same hackers also tried to get into Republican Party computer systems, but without success.

    Aside from what was in those emails, what does this “Russian connection” prove? Well, we probably should not elect people who won’t follow proper security procedures.

    Is Trump self sabotaging? We all do that to some extent. However, it is obvious that some people want Trump gone, and that some of those people will do and say anything to make that happen. Unless one uses Satan’s definition, what those people who want Trump gone are doing is plainly not virtuous.

    Why are high level officials in Trump’s administration leaking to the news media? You don’t know Trump still has lots of Obama holdovers?

    Anyway, I will address the rest of your comment in a post. Will give you a heads up when I post that post.

    Like

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