Friday round-up

1. Diversion 101 – Attack the opponents
This article explains how the current focus of GOP partisans and hardcore supporters of Donald Trump is on attacking Trump’s critics outside of the Republican Party – the media, presumed liberals and other lower forms of life.
The likely explanation for the focus elsewhere is that right now Donald Trump is not doing much of anything that makes sense or which is defensible. Hence the reversion to “oh look! there are bigger assholes over there!” tactics.

2. How to Spot Deceit 101 – divergent and changing stories
One of the easiest ways to detect lies and bullshit being deployed to explain actions and events is to carefully analyze the ways in which the actors are explaining those actions and events, and whether those explanations change over time.
Since lying, by definition, involves making shit up, once you have more than one actor, or actors who are disorganized or complacent, it is usually only a matter of time before narratives and explanations created at different times begin to clearly diverge.
Once that begins to happen, it becomes rather obvious that bullshit is being disseminated.
This Washington Post article explains that in the case of the firing of James Comey, the actors reporting to the President, in the space of 24 hours, created two divergent stories of the events leading up to his firing. Then, not to be left out, the POTUS himself, in interviews, created a third totally divergent story.
This is not evidence of mere bullshit. One of more of the actors in this farce has been disseminating 24-carat whoppers. The totally divergent nature of the narratives leaves me unconvinced that any of the narratives released that far is anything like the truth.

3. Impeachment 101
For those of you using the I word (as in Impeachment), you need to remember that according to a SCOTUS ruling in the case of a judge who was disbarred for corruption following a State Senate trial, impeachment is a political process, not a legal one.
This means that, under the catch-call of “other high crimes and misdemeanors”, the US Senate could theoretically convict Donald Trump of almost anything. Just like they tried to convict Bill Clinton for lying about a blow-job.
If you ever get to watch any impeachment proceedings, you need to remind yourself that this is not a legal process, with all of the required checks and balances and due process. For example,. there is no jury vetting or voir dire process to weed out biased or incompetent jury candidates. The jury is the entire US Senate.
Because impeachment is a political process, this, almost by definition, means that it can be abused in the service of practical politics. This has happened in the past. The ideal way to resolve directional issues in US political governance is via full free and fair elections, not post-hoc persecution of opponents. There are already some disturbing “third world” tendencies creeping into US politics (as exemplified by the “lock her up” rabble-rousing about Hillary Clinton) and any further drift in the direction of retributive actions based on slip-shod legal manouvering will further erode the credibility of the US system of representative democracy.

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