“Individual Number One”

Robert Mueller appears before Congress tomorrow…

But will it amount to anything in the current political-social climate, is the question. The last few years make that an iffy proposition.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

28 responses to ““Individual Number One”

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    You can never tell, but I’m not expecting it to make much of a difference. People who perceive their interests to be with Trump will rationalize whatever they need to. The only thing that will make a difference is convincing them that’s not where their interests lie.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Which may be all but impossible at this point — it’s become a cult, and he’s their great leader.

      The first session just completed, Mueller before the Judicial Committee. Next he’ll testify before the Intelligence Committee. It’s fascinating (and sickening) watching the questioning. Each side trying to make a point. (Every time I watch one of these I wish I could feed the Dems questions — they seem so lost sometimes.)

      The R’s keep screaming “Political Bias!” — an appeal to worldview — without ever seeming to realize it must apply to them, too. (Speck, beam.)

      I wish the D’s would focus more on the facts — the one thing Mueller is willing to answer questions about. I also wish Mueller wasn’t being so carefully middle-of-the-road in his answers. He’s trying to avoid claims of bias from either side, but maybe the situation demands taking more of a stand?

      I, too, tend to think it won’t move the needle much. It’s one hell of an example of how different worldviews can be, especially in a “post-empirical” culture.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        I listened to it for a few minutes at lunch, then quickly decided I preferred listening to a Sean Carroll podcast. I’m glad I don’t have time to listen to it throughout the day.

        I think the Republican members know they don’t need to be coherent. All they need to do is present a plausible sounding narrative that Trump supporters can glob onto. It’s the main reason I doubted anything will come of this.

        The Democrats are probably focused on throwing meat to their base.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        The afternoon session was a bit better. Some of the D questioning was pretty good. There might be some value in this “movie” version of the Mueller Report since few will read the book version.

        But you do have to wonder who is left to be swayed by what possible argument or evidence.

        Be nice if this tipped the balance towards impeachment — one point made to day involves the potential for trump to run out statutes of limitations with a second term (since a sitting president can’t be indicted) thus effectively putting him literally above the law.

        Quite a mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        “But you do have to wonder who is left to be swayed by what possible argument or evidence.”

        That’s the thing. If someone still thinks Trump is anything other than a nightmare, I can’t imagine what could possibly convince them. It’s a stark testimony to people’s ability to rationalize what they perceive to be in their interest.

        “Be nice if this tipped the balance towards impeachment ”

        I don’t think the Democrats should do it unless/until at least 19 Republican senators are prepared to vote for his conviction, and it’s hard to see that happening unless most of their constituents are on board. Impeaching him without conviction will just let him claim exoneration.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        AIUI, there could be some advantage to the House impeaching him in that it would bring out, and put on the public record, testimony that might be useful in criminal proceedings once he’s out of office.

        Man,… if 2018 seemed like a nail-biter, 2020 is gonna be many times that.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        Maybe. But I’m concerned that the left is doing a lot of its own rationalizing in all this. Luigi Zingales wrote an article after the 2016 election about Italy’s experience with Silvio Burlesconi. Burlesconi was an outrageous and corrupt figure for several years in Italian politics. The opposition frequently ran against him on his obnoxiousness, and consistently lost. The only politicians to beat him treated him like any other political opponent and spelled out why it wasn’t in people’s interests to vote for him.

        I think most elected Democrats understand this. But the base doesn’t. Elected Democrats are having to balance the base’s demand for action against what will likely work for 2020. Not emphasizing how dastardly Trump is, but why it’s not in most people’s interest to vote for him.

        I do fear we’re heading for a nail-biter.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        And, no doubt, an ugly one.

  • mwlange

    I’m skeptical that the Mueller hearings will result in impeachment. The 2020 campaign has already started, so that energy is more efficiently distributed into voting than getting 2/3 of Congress to impeach and convict. Plus, I think there’s more of a win if the electorate can show it rejects Russian attempts to interfere in our elections.

    Personally, I’m not a fan of impeachment. The damage is already done, and the process would only increase turnout for Trump. Plus, him losing the election would make it easier for prosecution after he leaves office.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      So would impeachment, wouldn’t it? As I mentioned above to Mike, impeachment proceedings could bring testimony to life, and there is some concern about statutes of limitations should he win again (a definite possibility).

      I just kills me that impeachment probably isn’t possible politically. It really sickens me how the R’s have become a trump cult. Republicans that used to have integrity have caved for fear of his cultist followers. And that so-called Christians support such a clearly evil person…

      The thing that sickens me most is that I’ve seen this coming for over 40 years. This Chicken Little was right! The sky really was falling. It’s been like watching a slow-motion decades-long train wreck. Now the only question seems what survives and recovers… if anything.

      • mwlange

        Impeachment testimony would more likely hurt than help a state prosecution. All it would do is alert Trump’s defense to what prosecutors might have. In turn, that would give his defense team a better chance at avoiding prosecution.

        If Trump wins again, I think that’s a whole other host of problems. Prosecuting Trump would become the least of them, as sad as that is to admit. It would mean that enough people don’t care if a President gets illegal foreign assistance, and that Democrats could not field a candidate that could overcome a toxic opponent.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        That’s the whole problem, isn’t it. As I said in the last post, “We ought to be able to run a moldy orange against him and win by a landslide.” That we can’t says something about our society right now.

        That he got the nomination in the first place, that he wasn’t laughed out of the race the moment he rode down that escalator, should have been a huge red flag, but very few smart people took him seriously because he was so outlandish. Common sense screamed that this guy couldn’t possibly succeed…

        Unless one was paying careful attention with an eye to history (and science fiction, which is often accurately socially prescient) because the alarm bells started ringing… we’ve seen this movie.

        As it turns out, this was no coincidence!

      • mwlange

        In modest defense of our society, he didn’t get the majority of votes in the country. That’s even after all the factors which helped Trump win the election. There’s even been some reporting about how Trump’s campaign actually was more tech savvy than Clinton’s (there’s a new Netflix documentary called “The Great Hack” which goes into some of it; Frontline also did some reporting on it IIRC). As a society, we were pretty punch-drunk by November.

        That’s why I think an election is more important. It shows to ourselves and the world that we can and will learn from our mistakes.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        “In modest defense of our society, he didn’t get the majority of votes in the country.”

        There’s no question some of us were on to him from the start. After all, he has always been exactly what he appears to be.

        My initial problem is with the large fraction of those who let their anger or desire to win override common sense. A lot of people cut off their nose to spite their face. A lot of people saw what they wanted to see.

        But my bigger problem is with the large fraction of those who still support him. I don’t see how it’s possible to be an American and still support him. I don’t see how it’s possible to be any kind of Christian and still support him. I don’t see how any woman can still support him. I don’t see how anyone of color can still support him. I don’t see how it’s possible to be intelligent or at all moral and still support him.

        He is an evil monster. No one should support him.

        “It shows to ourselves and the world that we can and will learn from our mistakes.”


        Or that we’ve changed as a culture and it’s no mistake, it’s who we are now.

        Or that the barrel of wine is helpless facing a teaspoon of sewage.

        But, yes, hopefully that we can end this tribal anti-empirical nonsense.

  • Lee Roetcisoender

    The “main” reason people are attracted to Trump is because he is not a hypocrite. It really doesn’t matter to his base that he’s a lying, self-serving, bigoted old man. People understand the concept of self-interest within themselves and that behavior is on display 24/7 within the clown show of congressional hearings that are broadcast by our self-serving, bigoted networks, both of which hide behind the facade of “righteousness”.

    There is nothing that stinks worse than hypocrisy, even a small child is capable of detecting the stench at a very young age. Instead of fixing the problem, which means moving away from a democratic republic, it is quite apparent that people are more content to sit around and bitch about our nation’s dilemma, patiently waiting for an angry crowd to follow whose only intent is to imprison a political prisoner. It’s a sad time in America right now and it’s only going to continue it’s downward spiral.

    That downward spiral will not abate unless or until one is at least willing to address the genetic defect in the underlying form of reasoning and rationality, and that underlying form resides within the architecture of the solipsistic self-model. I haven’t met one person who doesn’t readily admit that there is something seriously wrong with homo sapiens, but I haven’t met anyone who is willing to talk about it, let alone seriously address it.

    No need to comment, I’m just musing out loud…..

    • Wyrd Smythe

      “…the genetic defect in the underlying form of reasoning and rationality, and that underlying form resides within the architecture of the solipsistic self-model.”

      Oh, dude, you were doing fine — I was agreeing with you — until you hit your personal obsession there. Per our last conversation, I don’t buy what you’re selling here.

      “I haven’t met anyone who is willing to talk about it, let alone seriously address it.”

      This blog, in very large part, addresses exactly what I think is wrong with people. And it’s been a big topic of conversation all my life, so there are definitely people talking about it.

      That trump is an “unpolitician” is definitely an attractive aspect — this was clear from the beginning.

      But we’ve become a shit-eating society because we love the little raisins we find in the shit. Gotta have those raisins! We’ve even managed to convince ourselves that shit is the norm — fuck honor, fuck character, fuck intelligence, fuck education, fuck idealism — so best embrace those inner demons and go with the flow.

      We’ve embraced materialism and secular thinking, which is fine, except that neither come with anything resembling a moral code, which leaves people to navigate morality on their own (good luck with that; the best of us are still scratching our heads over what Kant meant exactly).

      And we’ve grown so large we’ve gone far beyond our tribal-herd origins. Now we’re more like termites in a mound or bacteria in a petri dish — the many billions of us. The USA, with 330 million, is probably too big, too diverse, to ever effectively govern.

      Technology and science have gone far beyond what most monkey brains can wrap around, and so most have given up ever understanding much of anything. It use to be a clever person could fix their washing machine or car. No more! No user-serviceable parts inside. And who can repair a CPU anyway?

      Our problem, dude, at least from where I sit, is that we’re not rational enough!

      • Lee Roetcisoender

        I share your frustration Wyrd, I really do; but I don’t know what… (“Our problem… is that we’re not rational enough..”) means. Simply because, the discrete, binary system of rationality is a tool, not a “thing-in-itself”. If rationality were a “thing-in-itself”, then I would agree with you, but it isn’t. As an architecture, the discrete binary system of rationality is an expression of the reasoning “powers” we all possess as intelligent human beings. The ability to think for oneself is “power” and that power is centric to everything that we do.

        Unfortunately, as an expression of reasoning powers, rationality is a weapon which the solipsistic self-model uses for its own self interest, a weapon which is used to justify anything. In contrast, the immune system is totally objective, simply because the immune system does not possess the same degree of freedom and self determination that human beings possess. If one wants to compare the two discrete binary systems, it becomes self evident that the problem resides with the entity which uses the system, not with the system itself.

        My personal obsession is clear: “Know thyself”. The phrase know thyself was not invented by Socrates. It is a motto inscribed on the frontispiece of the Temple of Delphi. If one does not know thyself, one does not know shit. Therefore, the tool of rationality resides in the hands of children who possess extraordinary power, but lack the wisdom and understanding to use it correctly.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        “As an architecture, the discrete binary system of rationality is an expression of the reasoning ‘powers’ we all possess as intelligent human beings.”

        Remove the words “discrete binary” and replace “powers” (quotes and all) with “abilities” (no quotes), and we’d agree completely.

        “Unfortunately, as an expression of reasoning powers, rationality is a weapon which the solipsistic self-model uses for its own self interest, a weapon which is used to justify anything.”

        It’s an old argument…

        • “Guns have terrible power to damage, therefore they are bad.”
        • “Religion has terrible power to damage, therefore religion is bad.”
        • “Atomic power has terrible power to damage, therefore atomic power is bad.”
        • “Rationality has terrible power to damage, therefore rationality is bad.”

        But the argument ignores the tremendous power for good these these also have. It’s always true, from chain saws to nukes, powerful tools have powerful effects. They need to be wielded carefully — wisely, even.

        That power is not a reason, IMO, to disdain the tool.

        “My personal obsession is clear: ‘Know thyself’.”

        I find that quite rational! 😉 Perhaps you’re familiar with the Johari Window?

        “Therefore, the tool of rationality resides in the hands of children who possess extraordinary power, but lack the wisdom and understanding to use it correctly.”

        Exactly. The problem is with the children, not the tool. The fix, equally, lies with the children, not the tool.

        As I’ve asked before: If not rationality, then what?

    • James Cross

      Not a hypocrite?


      He announces he is shutting down the Mexican border. Does he? Nope.

      He is going to lower the deficit. Nope.

      He’s going to arrest illegals. Nope.

      He’s going to bring back manufacturing jobs. Nope. And no plan to do so.

      Still waiting on the big infrastructure plan.

      He’s going to pay more in taxes with his plan. Nope. Sweetheart deals for real estate moguls.

      He runs a charity to pay himself and his family.

      He employs illegals.

      Just about everything he says is a lie and everything he does is self-serving.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Plus he’s misogynist, bigoted, uneducated, ignorant, and — outside a narrow range of predatory skills — stupid and incompetent.

        “Not a hypocrite?”

        In the sense of not being a “phony” person — a trait commonly attributed to politicians. He is who he is, and that has always been on display. (Of course, a closer look reveals he is just as phony as any public figure, but his persona is — as his supporters so often say — “a straight shooter.”)

        Remember, he’s a master at Assertion As Fact and Opinion As Truth — two deadly errors in rational thought.

        He does have a few in the win column — a conservative SCOTUS, for instance — that really matter to some of his base. And the economy is doing pretty good right now, so that can’t be held against him.

        I suspect there are some with deep feelings about returning to a white America that this horror show has given aid and comfort to. I suspect one reason so many R pols have fallen in line behind him is they secretly want what he wants. It was clear during the Obama administration that racism is very much alive (recall trump’s involvement in the birther movement), and it seems to be gaining strength. Another evil this monster has normalized.

        Our misfortune is to live in a time in which character traits — or rather the utter lack of character traits — that would once have appalled us now seems normal and just how people really are. We are embracing irrational hatreds and fears.

        Over 40 years ago I started ranting about “The Death of a Liberal Arts Education” and during that time I’ve watched this slow-motion train wreck of a society that once seemed to offer a lot of potential for what humanity could achieve if we could only get out of our own way.

        Instead we pretty much stumbled over our own feet.

      • James Cross

        The economy might in the end be his downfall.

        J.P. Morgan warns of market crash. Plunging corporate profits.


        Trade wars are not good. Midwest farmers definitely suffering from that.

        Inverted yield curve. Federal Reserve seems to not know what to do – first keeping rates low, then raising, now thinking about lowering.

        The Obama Boom which the Trump tax cuts managed to wring the last bits out of is overdue to be finished.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        It’s amazing how, despite how his policies has hurt his supporters, they stay in the cult.

        Make no mistake: this is a culture war. When assertion is fact and truth is political, I suspect the economy takes a back seat. It’s almost entirely — on both sides — about who wins.

  • Lee Roetcisoender

    I know you dislike quotes Wyrd, but the following is a quote from my book:

    “The reality-appearance distinction is derived from the content of his Proem where Parmenides is shown by an unnamed goddess the way of ‘truth’. Script10 1.28b-30:

    ‘…. And it is necessary for you to learn all things, Both the still heart of persuasive reality and the opinions of mortals, in which there is no genuine reliability.’

    Reality is characterized as ‘what-is’ on the grounds that it is completely trustworthy and persuasive. In contrast, the goddess warns Parmenides of the alternate route which posits ‘what-is- not and necessarily cannot be’. ‘What-is-not’ reflects the opinions of men which are not at all trustworthy in any way. What can be summarized after reading the Reality section of the Proem (C. 2-C 8.49) is that what is certain about Reality, (whatever the subject and/or scope of this reality is supposed to be), is that there is purportedly at least one thing that possesses all of the properties of ‘what-is’, in contrast to ‘what-is-not’. And this one thing is separate from appearance and opinion. It stands alone as distinct, separate from any appearance one might assign to it and separate from any opinion one might have of it.”

    (“If not rationality, then what?”)

    It’s a fair question Wyrd. In light of Parmenides’ intuitive insights, the alternative to rationality is as follows: The willingness to listen to the still heart of persuasive reality and then be persuaded by that reality.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      “The willingness to listen to the still heart of persuasive reality and then be persuaded by that reality.”

      Stripped of the poetry, you’ve (again) just described science and rational thought.

  • Lee Roetcisoender

    I don’t mean to be a pest Wyrd, but if one understands Parmenides’ correctly, he was the first philosopher in history to go outside the system of realism by postulating anti-realism. Nagarjuna soon followed suit in the East. Kant re-introduced the notion of to anti-realism to the West during the 1700s.

    Therefore, in the context of anti-realism, the true nature of reality is not subordinate to nor compatible with either science or rational thought. What the true nature of reality becomes according to Parmenides, Nagarjuna and Kant is “spooky action at a distance”; which means in laymen’s terms, that both the practice of science and rationality are subordinate to the true nature of reality, not the other way around.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      So,… your rational thought is that you appreciate the way Parmenides used rational thought in the service of natural philosophy?

      • Lee Roetcisoender

        Absolutely. But in light of the true nature of reality, any, all, and every “thing” which I may choose to think is inconsequential, because there is no such thing as me; there never was, and there never will be. Such is the fate of all discrete systems within the architecture of appearances…

        Party on and do no harm; it’s the best we can do.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I met a man who wasn’t there.
        He wasn’t there again today.

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