It is a sad day when Rudy Giuliani crushes our spirits by asserting that he will not “pontificate” on moral theology. This comes after he appeared to do a full “final, essential command” straight outta 1984 by saying that “truth is not truth.” Let me be perfectly clear that I do not wish to entrap Rudy in a moral theological perjury trap. He did it all by his very own faux-thug self.
Why don’t we leave aside the evident falsity of Mr. Giuliani’s assertions that nobody knew nothing about any Russian government involvement in the June 9, 2016 meeting; and moreover, let’s ignore the does-not-pass-laugh-test claim that the colluding colluders did not even know that “Natalia Veselnitskaya” was a Russian. The cardinal point Rudy both fails to enunciate explicitly–and yet paradoxically embodies–is the urgency, in our current predicament, of an accurate interpretation of the moral theological principle St. Thomas elaborates in his Commentary on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Book Seven. I refer of course to “Continence and Incontinence.” (Certain chapters in Book Six, which explicates the intellectual virtues, are certainly relevant here, e.g. the chapters on “eubulia” (excellence in deliberating) and “moral virtue and prudence,” but tant pis, tempus fugit, so on we go to continence and incontinence. This is the elephant in the room, really: we have an incontinent president–seriously, if not literally. There’s no getting around it and there’s no easy way of hiding from the stench. Thomas Aquinas, as ever, is expert at sorting out the subcategories and distinctions. Are we dealing with partial or unqualified incontinence? What is the relation of continence to pleasure-seeking? Is all pleasure-seeking “softness”? In what circumstances are incontinent persons reduced to bestiality? Are the intemperate worse than the incontinent? How is obstinacy related to continence and incontinence? I refer readers to the print version of Thomas’s Commentary, available in English translation by C.I. Litzinger, published by Dumb Ox Books (1993). Or to the online link via DHSPriory.org (won’t copy and paste for some reason).
As Mr. Giuliani said in his “pontification” tweet this morning, “sometimes further inquiry can reveal the truth other times it doesn’t.” I say we must have a thorough investigation into the following question: in what ways is our president continent or incontinent? I am confident that a fair and rigorous, though not obstinate, inquiry will be a balm for our country. Our country has a habit of turning all political questions into legal questions (as de Tocqueville wrote almost 200 years ago). This has had some good consequences, and limited some bad effects of our often intemperate habits. But along with the urgent legal questions we are now marinated in, let us raise our sights–not in a pontificating way, but in an inquiring way, and see where the inquiry takes us. And let’s not let anyone short-circuit either the legal inquiry or the moral inquiry.
P.S. A reading suggesion for co-religionists of Mr. Giuliani, and perhaps others–a papal encyclical on the splendor of truth, “Veritatis Splendor.”
At first there were, in the president’s deceitful tweets, a mere 13 “angry Democrats” after him. Now, I guess in homage to Q or Qanon or whatever, the number has increased to 17 supposedly “angry Democrats” from the purported “criminal deep state” who are hell-bent on colluding to take down this amazingly patriotic president.
If there really was a deep state intent on stopping Donald Trump, he would be in prison right now (h/t Howard Fineman twitter). He would have been exposed during the 2016 election, if not before. He would be doing hard time for any number of financial crimes, not to mention witness tampering, obstruction of justice, tax fraud, and on and on. I suppose it’s a good thing that the country is not what Trump says it is. That said, I don’t think 13 or even 17 angry Democrats is nearly enough, not this year. This country needs 535 Democrats (or close to it) elected to Congress this November 6, because the entire Republican Party–from Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan on down to bozos and Russian puppets like Dana Rohrabacher, Steve King, Rand Paul, Louie Gohmert, and Jim Jordan–have shown themselves almost completely incapable of any oversight of the corrupt executive branch and the apparent foreign asset in the White House. The Republican Party agenda has devolved into nothing more helpful to the “forgotten men and women” than tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. Rather than protecting Americans against evildoers, they have either accepted or insisted on the dismantling of regulations that protect clean air, clean water, collective bargaining, and safe food and drugs. The Republican Party does not deserve the benefit of the doubt when it fails to protect Americans against the tyrannical impulses of our toddler-in-chief. I am all for voting for the best candidate in local and even state-level elections, and ordinarily for the best available candidate in federal elections. But this year, to preserve and protect the Constitution and to protect the greatness of this country, Republicans must be sent packing. Let them regroup and rethink what they’re doing for at least a couple of years. We had best not miss this chance to put a check on a president who has no feel for freedom, or separation of powers, or checks and balances, or much of anything that has made this country great.
P.S. Of course the 535 do not all need to be angry all the time–but they should be capable of outrage at what is outrageous.
Why on earth is President Trump bothering to tell us that he condemns “all types of racism”? Why is signifying worse than lying? Why doesn’t he just admit that Christmas this year is going to be whiter than ever in his White House? Why, that is, is he insisting on being so pseudo-correct? We know that he is pretending to believe that discrimination against forgotten white people is a greater threat than any other form of discrimination. We do not need Omarosa telling tales about the bad words he supposedly spews to know that he is playing his base of the “poorly educated” (his words) white non-college graduates for fools. Why do I say “for fools”? Because he is trying to sell them junk streetsurance, trying to get them to accept the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act by insinuating that it benefits the wrong people, trying to distract them with trash-talking black athletes, trying to bamboozle them with tough talk about brown people in Iran and Chicago and on the border and in the bushes of their neighborhoods, that’s why. Trump is trying to get his base riled up so they put aside his attacks on collective bargaining and safety net programs and environmental laws (that hurt the “forgotten men and women” sooner and more than they do the wealthy).
But I believe that the mask has slipped a little when the president of the US is calling a woman he knew for many years before his election, and hired for a White House job–which cost taxpayers like you and me hundreds of thousands of dollars–when he calls her names like “lowlife,” you have to wonder, who is really the lowlife? You have to wonder whether and hope that voters will take the time to show up in November and put a check on the power of our lowlife president. Sorry if that’s not politically correct, but let’s call it what it obviously is. Let the president whistle his fake-PC condemnation of “all types of racism,” and let voters condemn all types of Trumpism.
Who among us is surprised to hear (from possibly unreliable witness Omarosa!) that President Donald J. Trump chews and eats paper in the Oval Office? Not you and not me. Especially if it was a piece of incriminating paper given to him by Michael Cohen, as reports today indicate. But, to be fair, the president of the “forgotten man” was at least not wearing a tan suit, so we’re good. Unless we hear next that there was collusion involving illegal insider trading and newsprint tariffs.
Today brought almost identical headlines from the NYT (“President Admits Focus of Trump Tower Meeting Was Getting Dirt on Clinton”) and the Times of London (“Trump admits son was getting dirt on Clinton”). What set me off was not the difference in capitalized vs. non-capitalized words. Nor was it that one paper may have copied from the other. What got to me was the sad feeling that they had both clearly run out of digital ink. Did they not have enough to inform readers? To say clearly what the real headline ought to have been?
Real headline from a hypothetical real paper: “President Trump Admits Campaign Meeting Was Getting Dirt On Clinton From Foreign Nationals, Which Is A Felony–And By The Way Throwing Son Under Bus By Claiming He, Trump Sr., Knew Nothing, Which Is Both Terribly Implausible And Utterly Dishonorable.” There, fixed it, you’re welcome, Timeses.
Cannot believe the nerve of that old woman Queen Elizabeth 2, keeping our wonderful president waiting for several agonizing minutes at Windsor the other day. That is, I literally cannot believe the story, because I literally saw the queen of England standing in the heat and looking at her watch at 4:57 or so. The American president did show up at 5 or 5:01, so he perhaps did not break protocol, strictly, but come on, Trump–she kept you waiting? Please, your emperorship, stand down for once in your life.
Re this whole Q thing, since O Anon seems to be taken, which I would otherwise have used (Occamites Anonymous), I am going to have to settle for a counter-protest group that I will call P Anon, for Parsimonious Anonymous. PP Anon (for Parsimonious People Anonymous), alas, is already taken up by the “dodgy dossier” conspiracists. Speaking of unbelievable, it is beyond obvious that the president of the United States is acting as if he’s guilty of something really bad. That’s good enough for me to vote for Democratic candidates across the board, even if they may not have always blown their noses into silk hankerchiefs with the utmost discreetness at all times.
First off, I am tired of hearing the word “meddling.” Russian military intelligence officers and Internet Research Agency trolls did not merely “meddle” in the 2016 election. Those who repeat this minimizing term are doing our democratic republic no favors.
Second, it is past time to give this president the benefit of the doubt about anything he says. I get that many of us have a deep desire to believe that our authority figures are protecting us, or are at least on our side, or failing that at least somewhat reliable witnesses. I like presidents who haven’t been captured as much as the next person, but this president is compromised. We need to deal with it.
My best hope is that enough eligible voters will be motivated to show up November 6 and put Trump in check, the way the framers of our Constitution hoped would happen when despotic political leaders took office. Alexander Hamilton would be surprised by the election of someone like Trump (see Federalist #68), but he would be truly appalled if the people failed, at their next biennial opportunity, to use the checks and balances written into the Constitution to limit the power of somebody like our 45th president. My best hope, in other words, is that enough voters have enough sense to see Trump’s gaslighting (impressively diligent though it is) for what it really is–just shovelware.
Alfonse? LOL. But there is no denying that Al Capone was treated very unfairly. He was a strong leader and a terrific person. Also very intelligent and really a true elite guy. But I like people who don’t let their tax returns get captured.