Susan Rice is on the block again. Spoiler alert, I would have gladly written speeches for her when she was our UN rep and I was editing things at UNDP and elsewhere in that system.. But today I do not need to make excuses. It is overkill to turn Susan Rice's candor into an occasion for right-wing umbrage. There is enough umbrage around already. We do not need to make Ms. Rice a martyr merely for saying how things are.

I do not have any confidence that those whose minds were made up years ago will even follow this reasoning. But here it is for what it's worth.

Today's New York Times says Ms. Rice has become an "inkblot test in the controversy over Russian meddling in last year’s election." First, no one should say that Trump forces conspired with Russia unless it can be proved. In that Case, Harm was clearly done whether or not Trump can be condemned for conspiring with Russia.

No harm was done

In the case of Ms. Rice, there is no proof whatsoever that any harm was done merely because intelligence resources enable one to know things that are otherwise private. The Trump team has made almost a fetish out of being in everyone's face. If one wants to fault them one does not need to penetrate things deemed private. All one would need to do is watch TV, which is one reason I happily gave up the pundit habit during the campaign.

The only actionable offense that should be acknowledged is a cover-up of something criminal.

Is there a standard for evaluating conduct?

I would maintain that there is a universal standard for evaluating all human conduct. It could be anything that conveys the following: All human conduct can be judged by one standard only, the harm or hurt that is caused by any conscious act or expression.

This is a roundabout way of saying what Jesus said in seven words: By their fruits, you shall know them. It is what the father of pragmatism, Charles Sanders Peirce, called pragmaticism -- his emendation of the original term to show its Scholastic roots.

Obama was a pragmaticist

Susan Rice had the good fortune to work in an administration, that of President Obama, on the cusp of being pragmaticist.

That means he operated on a set of ethical markers or values. He was hardly perfect. No one is. But his continuing popularity attests to the fact that the American people continue to prefer his honest effort to Trump's amoral tactics. A pragmaticist thinks in threes, allowing consideration of good to enter the mix. Binary thinking, to a pragmaticist, is pretty close to the root of all evil.