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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Immanuel Kant/The Categorical Imperative

Friday, July 12th, 2019

A major philosopher of the Enlightenment, Immanuel Kant , was born in Königsberg, Prussia in 1724. During Kant’s lifetime Königsberg, near the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, was the capital of East Prussia, and its dominant language was German. Altho’ geographically remote from the rest of Prussia and other German cities, Königsberg was then a major commercial center, an important military port, and a relatively cosmopolitan university town. Today Königsberg has been renamed Kaliningrad and is part of Russia.

Kant’s father was a saddle maker, but the son was a serious student. He studied theology, physics, mathematics, and philosophy at university, and worked for a time as a private tutor; he made very little money, but it gave him plenty of time for his own work. He lectured at the University of Königsberg for 15 years until he was eventually given a tenured position as professor of logic and metaphysics in 1770. Though he enjoyed hearing travel stories, he never ventured more than 50 miles from his hometown, believing that travel was not necessary to solve the problems of philosophy.

In his most influential work, The Critique of Pure Reason (1781), he argued against Empiricism, which held that the mind was a blank slate to be filled with observations of the physical world, and Rationalism, which held that it was possible to experience the world objectively without the interference of the mind; instead, he synthesized the two schools of thought, added that the conscious mind must process and organize our perceptions, and made a distinction between the natural world as we observe it and the natural world as it really is. He viewed morality as something that arises from human reason, and maintained that an action of morality is determined not by the outcome of the action, but by the motive behind it. He is also famous for his single moral obligation, the Categorical Imperative: namely, that we should judge our actions by whether or not we would want everyone else to act the same way.

He wrote, “Two things fill the mind with ever-increasing wonder and awe…the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.

William Shakespeare

Wednesday, July 10th, 2019

T.S. Eliot opened his magnum opus, The Wasteland” with the following words: ”April Is the cruelest month . . . .” Well, perhaps. But I believe April is a wonderful month ­­­­––– Shakespeare, Immanuel Kant, and Ella Fitzgerald were all  born in April. And, often overlooked is the freeing of Dachau, that pit of evil, by the American army, on April 29, 1945. So, in the next 4 posts are a few words about all four of these April miracles.

April 23,1564, was probably the actual birthday of William Shakespeare, the greatest writer in the English language, who was baptized on April 26, in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. Unfortunately, he left behind no personal papers; so much of what we know, or think we know, about him comes to us from public and court documents, with a fair measure of inference and speculation. We do know that his father, John, was a glove maker and alderman, and his mother, Mary Arden, was a landed heiress. William’s extensive knowledge of Latin and Greek likely came from his education at the well-respected local grammar school. That was the extent of his formal education, which has led to hundreds of years of conspiracy theories disputing the authorship of his plays, since many found it unbelievable that he could have written so knowledgeably about history, politics, royalty, and foreign lands on a grammar school education. Various figures, such as Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, the 17th Earl of Oxford, and even Queen Elizabeth I, have been put forward as possible — though unproven — ghost writers.

We know that he married the older — and pregnant — Anne Hathaway when he was 18 and she was 26, and she gave birth to a daughter, Susanna, six months later. Twins Hamnet and Judith followed two years after that, and son Hamnet died at age 11. It’s speculated that his son’s death hit Shakespeare hard, because he began to write Hamlet soon afterward.

He moved to London around 1588 — possibly to escape deer-poaching charges in Stratford — and began a career as an actor and a playwright. By 1594, he was also managing partner of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, a popular London theater troupe. He was popular in his lifetime, but his popularity didn’t rise to the level that George Bernard Shaw referred to as “bardolatry” until the 19th century.

In 1611, he retired to Stratford and made out his will, leaving to his wife, Anne, his “second-best bed.” He died on or around his birthday in 1616, and was buried in the Church of the Holy Trinity in Stratford, leaving a last verse behind as his epitaph: “Good friend, for Jesus’ sake forbeare / to dig the dust enclosed here. / Blessed be the man who spares these stones, / and cursed be he who moves my bones.”

Though biographical details may be sketchy, his literary legacy is certain. He wrote 38 plays: including the great tragedies Lear, Hamlet, Macbeth and Othello. He also wrote 154 sonnets, and several epic narrative poems. He created some of the most unforgettable characters ever written for the stage, and shifted effortlessly between formal court language and coarse vernacular. The Oxford English Dictionary credits him with coining 3,000 new words, and has contributed more phrases and sayings to the English language than any other individual. His idioms have woven themselves so snugly into our daily conversations that we aren’t even aware of them most of the time, phrases such as “a fool’s paradise,” “a sorry sight,” “dead as a doornail,” “Greek to me,” “come what may,” “eaten out of house and home,” “forever and a day,” “heart’s content,” “slept a wink,” “love is blind,” “night owl,” “wild goose chase,” and “into thin air.”

Though we have no way of knowing whether the Bard of Avon was writing of his own impending retirement when he wrote Prospero’s soliloquy from The Tempest in about 1610, it’s satisfying to think so:

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

 

Dachau

Sunday, July 7th, 2019

On this 75th anniversary of d-Day and the beginning of the destruction of the German war machine, it should be remembered that in less then a year, on Aril 29, 1945, American soldiers liberated 30,000 prisoners from a concentration camp in Dachau, Germany . The camp had been established in March 1933, just five weeks after Hitler rose to power as German chancellor; it was the first concentration camp the Nazis established. Originally it held political prisoners, unionists, and other opponents of the Nazis, but by 1945, most of the prisoners were Jews. The camp also held communists, homosexuals, Roma Gypsies, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. It was a labor camp and a training ground for SS camp guards. Nazi scientists carried out experiments on the prisoners, which crippled or killed hundreds of them. Thousands more were executed or died of typhus, which was rampant. When the Americans arrived, they found 30 railroad cars filled with bodies, and the survivors were on the brink of starvation. Some of the American soldiers were so shocked and horrified by what they saw that they opened fire on their German prisoners of war, killing as many as 50 Nazi guards.

The gates of Dachau proclaim, in wrought iron, “Arbeit macht frei” — work sets you free. There is a memorial inside those gates now, which reads: “May the example of those who were exterminated here between 1933 and 1945 … unite the living in their defense of peace and freedom and in reverence of human dignity.”

 

The Mueller News Conference/5/29/2019

Friday, May 31st, 2019

      The bizarre news conference called by Robert Mueller did not help clear up the mess he had made of his 2-year effort to bring down President Trump. To follow are 2 excellent reviews of what Mueller said and what it all might mean.

 

Richard Viguerie’s

CONSERVATIVEHQ

Mueller’s Bitter End

George Rasley, CHQ Editor | 5/30/19

Note to Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his band of angry Democrats: There is insufficient evidence to charge me in the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, but that doesn’t mean that you should encourage Congress to spend the next two years harassing me about it.

Robert Mueller’s hastily called press conference yielded one thing, and one thing only; a last opportunity for Mueller to encourage the overthrow of the President he despises, but was incapable of overthrowing himself.

Beyond infuriating Democrats by announcing that “…the report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress…” Mueller stated only the obvious: “…there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy” and “We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.”

The further problem for Trump-haters is that buried in Mueller’s statement was an important statement of fact that further exonerates President Trump:

“…the [Department of Justice] opinion explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting President because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents available. Among other things, that evidence could be used if there were co-conspirators who could be charged now.” (Emphasis ours.)

In other words, had there been evidence uncovered that Donald Trump conspired with anyone to obstruct justice, the co-conspirators could have and would have been charged, even if the President is shielded from such a charge by the Constitution.

After Mueller’s exhaustive investigation no co-conspirators in any cover-up or conspiracy to obstruct justice were charged and the Special Counsel announced when the final report was filed there would be no further indictments, ergo, there is no conspiracy to obstruct justice or cover-up for House Democrats to investigate.

Many anti-Trump media commentators and all of the radical Leftists vying for the Democratic nomination for President seem to have interpreted some of Mueller’s remarks as an invitation or referral to Congress to begin an investigation and impeachment hearings.

And that may be Robert Mueller’s fervent wish for the outcome of his investigation and yesterday’s press conference, but that is not what he said. What he said was not a reference to specific conduct that might be impeachable, but rather a simple statement of fact:

“…second, the [Department of Justice] opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing. And beyond Department policy we were guided by principles of fairness. It would be unfair to potentially — it would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge.

So that was Justice Department policy. Those were the principles under which we operated and from them we concluded that we would not reach a determination, one way or the other, about whether the President committed a crime. That is the office’s — that is the office’s final position, and we will not comment on any other conclusions or hypotheticals about the President.”

The Department of Justice “requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing,” but there is no statement of any fact that constitutes criminal wrongdoing to trigger that process, no co-conspirators charged in an alleged cover-up or obstruction of justice. Far from making an “impeachment referral” to Congress, all Mueller did was to state the well-known constitutional law that governs the decision not to charge a sitting president, any sitting president, with a federal crime.

Somewhat like those of the ancient oracle of Delphi, Robert Mueller’s pronouncements will be interpreted to justify the desires of those hearing them. So, regardless of what Robert Mueller said yesterday, or what is in the plain language of the Special Counsel’s report, in the end Trump-haters, House Democrats hungry for TV time during impeachment hearings, and the radical Far Left Democrats running for President, will all do what they perceive to be is in their political self-interest. And, recognizing that that is their motivation, fair-minded Americans should not allow them to get away with claiming otherwise.

 

Daily Wire

4 Key Takeaways From Robert Mueller’s Farewell Address

Alex Wong/Getty Images

By Ben Shapiro

@benshapiro

May 29, 2019

On Wednesday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller finally emerged from the shadows to make a declaration: he’s leaving, and he’s taking the dog. According to Mueller, his job here is finished, since his 448-page report on Russian election interference and Trump administration obstruction has concluded. What’s more, according to Mueller, the country is better off for the Mueller investigation having taken place, despite two years, billions of dollars in media coverage, and no actual conclusion.

 

Trump Reacts To Mueller Statement: ‘Nothing Changes…Case Is Closed’

Well, then.

There were a few key messages in Mueller’s valedictory.

  1. Mueller’s Original Brief Was Limited. Mueller began his statement by recognizing that his original brief was to investigate “Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.” He proceeded to outline the fact that this interference was highly damaging to the political process: “As alleged by the grand jury in an indictment, Russian intelligence officers who are part of the Russian military, launched a concerted attack on our political system.” All of this is fine and dandy; there’s little controversy over any of it.
  2. Mueller’s Investigation Never Should Have Included Obstruction by Trump. Mueller then moved on to his explanation of his investigation of obstruction. Unlike the election interference investigation, which began as a counterintelligence investigation inside the FBI, the obstruction investigation began as a criminal investigation — and a criminal investigation that Mueller admits he never had the authority to conclude. Mueller stated regarding Russian interference, “It was critical for us to obtain full and accurate information from every person we questioned. When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of their government’s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.” That would be true of Trump’s associates. That would not be true of Trump himself — Mueller recognizes that he never had the authority to indict a sitting president. He explained:

[U]nder longstanding department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that, too, is prohibited. A special counsel’s office is part of the Department of Justice, and by regulation, it was bound by that department policy. Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.

Yet Mueller proceeded to write two hundred pages about Trump himself, and his conduct. This means that Mueller spent tens of millions of dollars and years of time investigating unindictable conduct. So what the hell was he doing? Mueller provided two separate explanations for the investigation of Trump’s conduct: first, he said, the investigation was permitted because it is “important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents available.” Evidence of what, though? A crime? But Mueller refused to allege a crime. So evidence of something — something that wasn’t prosecutable right now, and that Mueller refused to suggest amounted to a crime for the future. Mueller himself said the investigation was justified because perhaps it would have resulted in evidence that “could be used if there were co-conspirators who could be charged now.” But Mueller didn’t charge co-conspirators in obstruction. This is bizarre, at least.

Mueller’s second justification is more obvious: he essentially said he was doing Congress’ impeachment groundwork for them. “The Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing,” Mueller stated. This is an invitation to impeachment.

But that’s not Mueller’s job. He is a member of the executive branch. He is not an independent counsel. He is not a legislative investigator. A criminal investigation that cannot possibly result in charges is a conflict in terms. Mueller never should have agreed to such an investigation under the law, and Mueller’s own standard makes that clear.

 

  1. Mueller Wants Trump To Go Down, But Wouldn’t Call For Prosecution. Mueller infamously stated that there was “insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy.” So far, so good. That’s a prosecutorial statement in prosecutorial language. But then Mueller wildly exceeded his brief. In fact, he pulled a James Comey: he effectively indicted Trump for supposed non-crimes publicly, the same way Comey did Hillary Clinton. Of course, he said he would never do that: “It would be unfair to potentially — it would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge.”

That’s pretty rich, coming just paragraphs after Mueller accused Trump of a non-crime without the possibility of resolution of the actual charge:

If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime….we concluded that we would not reach a determination one way or the other about whether the president committed a crime.

Trump’s opponents have hung their hats on this statement to show that Trump only escaped prosecution because he was the president, and because of the Department of Justice regulations. But that’s not quite right. In actuality, Mueller said that the DOJ regulations created a threshold barrier to a decision: he had no right to make a decision, he said, because no prosecution was available. Thus, he made no decision. Instead, he decided to publicly say he could not exonerate Trump. Now, presumably that remark was directed toward Trump’s false statements that he had been totally exonerated. But it was partisan and inappropriate for a man of Mueller’s stature: the comments effectively shifted the burden of proof from Mueller to Trump himself.

It’s not Mueller’s job to exonerate anyone. It’s his job to prosecute or not prosecute. Instead, he told everyone that Trump might be prosecutable, but he couldn’t really say, but still, there might be impeachment available. The proper language here would have been the same as the language surrounding collusion: “insufficient evidence.” But instead, Mueller refused to say even that.

Was any of this supposed to be in the purview of Mueller’s activity?

 

  1. Mueller Didn’t Expose Barr As A Perjurer Or Obstructor Of Justice. Barr stated in public testimony that Mueller told him “several times in a group meeting that he was not saying that but for the OLC opinion he would have found obstruction.” Here, Mueller stated that he could not prosecute, and that he would not say whether Trump had committed a crime. These two statements are not actually in conflict. Mueller may well have told Barr that he had not reached a determination on obstruction, and that he saw no reason to do so. That’s what he told the public, after all. Furthermore, Mueller explained that he didn’t question Barr’s “good faith” in his decision to “make the entire report public all at once.” So much for Barr’s supposed obstruction.

Then, Mueller said that he was out. Done. Finito. He explained that, having created a political Rorschach test, he would now act like Watchmen’s Rorshach: “all the whores and politicians will look up and shout: ‘Save us!’ And I’ll look down and whisper, ‘No.’” Mueller stated, “the report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress. In addition, access to our underlying work product is being decided in a process that does not involve our office.”

Did Mueller clarify anything today? Only that he exceeded his original mandate — that after conducting a thorough investigation, he was willing to inject himself into the political process rather than sticking to his role. That’s damning not just for Trump — who will now have to face down Democrats calling for his political head — but for a career prosecutor who decided that the business of criminal prosecution was too difficult, and that he’d prefer to serve as a roadbuilder for impeachment.

 

 

George Washington Elected

Sunday, April 14th, 2019

On Februart 4, 1789, the first Electoral College convened and elected George Washington as the first president of the United States. Only 10 states were represented in the college. Some had not held their presidential election yet, and others hadn’t yet ratified the Constitution and were therefore ineligible to vote. Congress finally certified the results on April 6, after a quorum was established. Each elector had two votes: all 69 electors present cast one of their votes for Washington. The second vote went toward determining who would be the vice president. John Adams was the runner up, with 34 votes. He provided balance to the ticket, too: he was from Massachusetts, and Washington was from Virginia, which was the largest state at that time.

Washington had led the Continental army to victory in the American Revolution, and he had served as the president of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, so he was an easy choice, and perhaps the only choice. But he really didn’t want the job. He wrote to a friend, “My movements to the chair of Government will be accompanied with feelings not unlike those of a culprit who is going to his place of execution: so unwilling am I, in the evening of a life nearly consumed in public cares, to quit a peaceful abode for an Ocean of difficulties …”

At his inauguration on April 30, Washington wore a simple suit of brown broadcloth. According to the journal of a senator who was present at his swearing in, Washington was very nervous: “This great man was agitated and embarrassed more than ever he was by the leveled cannon or musket.” Washington admitted as much in his inaugural address to Congress: “Among the vicissitudes incident to life, no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order.”

The details of the office — and indeed, the entire system of American government — were still being hammered out when he took office. Throughout his presidency, Washington took great pains to distance himself from the monarchical customs and ceremonies of Britain. When the Senate asked him how he wanted to be addressed, and offered “His Highness” as an option, he turned them down in favor of the less lofty “Mr. President.” He didn’t wear a military uniform or any robes of state to official functions, appearing instead in a black velvet suit.

Washington served two terms and then stepped down in 1797, despite many calls for him to continue in office. He believed that it was crucial to set the precedent for a peaceful transition, and he longed for a quiet retirement at Mount Vernon, his Virginia plantation. He composed his 32-page farewell address with the help of Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. In his speech, he urged the nation to think of itself as a unified body. He said that partisanship “serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passion.”

Washington only got to enjoy the quiet life at Mount Vernon for two years. He died of epiglottitis, a severe throat infection, in 1799.

 


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