A Convicted Felon, Finally: When the Language of Democracy is Used to Destroy Democracy, Or the Language of Legal Matters is Used to Destroy the Rule of Law

It’s been almost 2 weeks, and I’m still amazed to know DT was convicted, and so quickly and definitively by the jury. I heard the news just as I was worrying about the possible effects of a not guilty verdict. What a relief!

 

Yet, it was disturbing to hear GOP politicians continue to or even increase their desperate attempts to defend him from his conviction. Who knows what chaos and instability they might yet create? They echo DT’s baseless claim of a justice system “rigged” against him and the GOP, despite the blatant example of Hunter Biden’s guilty verdict being announced less than 2 weeks after DT was convicted. They do this despite the fact DT was given such special treatment, and treated so gingerly, and fairly, with breaks and delays that no one else would ever be given.

 

During the trial and afterwards, the GOP who tried to protect him did not spend much time presenting evidence of his innocence or pressuring him to testify in his own defense. Instead, they focused on attacking, seeking vengeance against anyone who tried to hold him responsible. Many GOP either lied about or attacked the justice system itself, the judge, his family, witnesses for the prosecution; and now they’re going after the jurors. One pro-DT forum accused Judge Merchan of treason and suggested that he should be hanged.

 

DT’s followers just revealed a blind obedience to their leader and a craving for power, calling for politically motivated investigations of Democrats. They cover their own weaponization of government (for example, using the power to investigate supposed wrongdoing by House committees) by accusing others of weaponization. For over a year they searched to find, or to create, something illegal to accuse President Biden of doing; and they found nothing. They recently went after Attorney General Merrick Garland, and for two years, they pursued Dr. Fauci, and they looked foolish in the face of witness testimony.

 

These GOP do this not only for retribution, but to undermine the rule of law itself. They want to hide the facts of this obviously fair jury trial behind clouds of distortions or lies. Maybe they hope to make this fair trial seem as suspect as their own investigations.

 

I should be inured by such acts by now, after 8 years of hearing DT and his followers spout ridiculous and malicious claims. On the street, they can get away with lying or saying almost anything that pops into their heads. In the courtroom, to say anything they must first meet a burden of proof.

 

Each of us who cares about having the vote⎼ or having the freedom and right to speak our minds⎼ the right to control our own healthcare, our own bodies⎼ the right to clean air and water and a livable planet⎼ the right to have free public education, not enforced religious indoctrination⎼ the right to have a jury of our peers and to be presumed innocent unless proven otherwise, instead of being presumed guilty unless we support a DT dictatorship⎼ each of us needs to do all we can to speak up and get out the vote in November if we want to stop the DT/GOP from taking all of this and more from us.

 

No matter how compassionate we are or try to be, it can be difficult to even look at him….

 

*To read the whole article, please use this link to The Good Men Project.

Finally, It’s Here. Finally, He’s Charged: An Almost Anti-Climactic Saving of the Nation

It seems like almost an anti-climax to the biggest event since⎼ I don’t know when. The pandemic, which was or is a three-year catastrophe? The Russian invasion of Ukraine? Any of the recent mass killings? The Jan 6, anti-democratic, mostly white nationalist attack on our nation, that is still creeping along, threatening so much we hold dear? None of these will be forgotten by so many of us. Joe Biden’s defeat of DJT? Now, that was something. DJT being elected in 2016? The world is still reeling from that.

 

So many of us have waited and hoped and now it’s here. It’s taken three plus years. Such events, in a democracy and nation of laws and millions of people, can take time. This is the first time in U. S. history a former President faces criminal prosecution, and for charges that include conspiring to undermine the constitution.

 

This event began Tuesday, in the late afternoon, with the announcement that the court in Washington, DC indicted someone. We could guess, but we didn’t know for sure. On Wednesday, the indictment was released, and we knew for sure. The document was devastating in its completeness and quality of evidence, dramatically written, even elegant. And Thursday, the arraignment.

 

No charge of treason, despite fairly clear evidence that he probably did just that. He tried to end democracy. No charge that his speech led to the death of police officers as well as attackers, or to police suffering from lingering PTSD from the attack.

 

David Leonhardt of The New York Times reported the evidence of treason would not be easy to prove⎼ especially if the goal is to complete a trial before the next election. DJT “never directly told those at the Jan 6 rally to attack Congress.” He was crafty in his language.

 

He did lie, repeatedly about the election being stolen, and so much else. Sixty plus court cases show that he had no evidence for his claims. His own Attorney General and many others told him that. His Vice President has said that DJT lied about Jan. 6 and will be held accountable by history for the lies.

 

What DJT did say, on Jan. 6, was, “All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by emboldened radical-left Democrats, which is what they’re doing. And stolen by the fake news media. That’s what they’ve done and what they’re doing. We will never give up; we will never concede…

I’ve been in two elections. I won them both and the second one, I won much bigger than the first.… I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard…. And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore….” Etc.

 

He was charged on four counts. Obstructing an official proceeding, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the U. S. government, and conspiracy to prevent others from exercising their constitutional or civil rights, to vote and have their votes counted.

 

The indictment starts out with simple and direct charges. “The Defendant lost the 2020 election. Despite having lost, the Defendant was determined to remain in power.” It shows that he knew that his claims about the election of 2020 were false, were a lie, yet he did it anyway. He showed no concern for who was hurt, and the awful effects on our nation. As the Special counsel, Jack Smith, said, we should read the indictment. It’s also available as a podcast, read to us by MSNBC reporter Ali Velshi.

 

Yet, I expected more. Maybe the heavens to part. Maybe love to spread through the nation, or civil war. But luckily, none of the reactionary violence we might’ve feared has occurred. All big events, if they don’t cause unforgettable harm can take time to reach us and can create this sense of “wow, has it really happened?”

 

Maybe we will finally get to see him led off to serve time for crimes no one, certainly no President should ever commit. Maybe the trial will lead those in the GOP to become a party that cares at least somewhat about the nation and laws. Maybe. But as New York Times columnist David French said, it is surely “a trial America needs.” A trial that will hopefully get out the vote in November 2024, to save our world and democracy. Let’s make it so.

 

Today, he was formally arrested but not handcuffed as accused criminals are on crime shows. He was arraigned in a federal court. He was read his rights. And he was released on several conditions, including not communicating with witnesses without counsel being present, or trying to influence jurors, or commit a crime. Judge Moxila A. Upadhaya was the magistrate judge for the arraignment and Judge Tanya S. Chutkan will oversee the actual trial. The hearing to set the trial date will be August 28th. And then DJT was allowed to walk out of the courtroom.

 

He is now facing 3, and soon possibly 4, trials. Over 1,000 Jan. 6 attackers or seditionists have been prosecuted so far. This was made possible by so many of us standing up for democracy and the rule of law or just doing our jobs responsibly. This includes not only the Capitol police and FBI, Democrats, and old-line, not MAGA Republicans, in Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and elsewhere, election workers and others throughout the nation. These people sometimes risked their lives, homes, jobs to do so. This shows, I hope, that we can save and improve this fragile thing called democracy, and stop those in our midst who would destroy it.

 

Another long and dramatic event will now play out in this nation. An event that might determine if we have Presidents in the future or Presidential dictators or just dictators. We will be immersed in a legal battle that might determine how well we sleep at night and if we get to vote or have our votes counted in the morning. So, we take a deep breath. And we watch and listen.

 

 

*This blog was syndicated by The Good Men Project on Sunday, 8/06/23.

We Just Don’t Know, but We Can Wonder: Is Uncertainty A Blessing, A Curse, Both, or Just Reality?

Every once and awhile, we turn on a radio program, pick up a book or newspaper, get a text, and right there waiting in the headline or title or first line is information relevant to a question or concern we were wrestling with.  This happened to me yesterday.

 

I was reading a book of essays by theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli called There Are Places in the World Where Rules Are Less Important than Kindness: And Other Thoughts on Physics, Philosophy, and the World. I’ve been reading the book on and off for a month or so, and it keeps sparking insights. I wrote about buying the book as a gift to myself in a previous blog.  The latest chapter I read is called “Bruno de Finetti: Uncertainty Is Not the Enemy.”

 

Bruno de Finetti was a relatively little known Italian probabilistic statistician, college lecturer, and philosopher of science. The chapter discusses the impossibility of having absolute knowledge and certainty. Uncertainty is a critical element of reality.

 

This is not news. We might think we have absolute answers, think we know what’s true. But all we really have, and many of us somewhere know this, is a subjective notion of what might probably be true.

 

We can, says Rovelli and de Finetti, diminish uncertainly. We can develop, through rigorous examination, justified and credible convictions that are shared by others who have rigorously studied the subject. But we can’t make uncertainty disappear. All we can hope for is reliable probability.

 

And uncertainty can be a positive lifelong companion, says Rovelli. If there were no unknowns, there would be no possibilities. It makes life interesting. Yet, how often do we pray for it to be otherwise?

 

Although it can lead to debilitating worry and anxiety, it can also energize us to prepare, and learn more about ourselves and a situation. So much depends on our response. Do we try to hide from any awareness of our feelings and limitations, or study and utilize that awareness? Because we don’t have complete knowledge, we can and need to continuously learn. Adapt. Listen to other beings.

 

At night, the dark makes the borders between almost everything more indeterminate, returning almost everything to the realm of what’s unknown. That realization, and the stories dreams weave in us about our lives, help us wake in the morning to a fresh, new world. Uncertainty can do the same for our time in the light.

 

Yet, we know too well that such intellectual realizations, no matter how insightful, are not enough. The intellect can point out a path but not walk it for us. We need to learn additional skills and a different sort of rigor, one of the body and emotions, to check on our reasoning. We can learn to better self-reflect on our thinking by using a sustained, moment-by-moment, kindly attention, to feelings, sensations, thoughts, and inclinations to act….

 

*To read the whole piece, please go to The Good Men Project.

 

 

After the Vote, the Wait: Facing the Chaos of Numbers, Avoiding Deception, and then, Please, Let There Be News to Celebrate!

After the vote, we listen. We watch, and we breathe.

 

We know this has been an intensely stressful time, stressful few months, stressful 6 years. We know so much is at stake.

 

We face the chaos of listening to changing numbers on the news, the mad attempt to know before we can know, to get it over with. To be at peace. To feel safe ⎼ while too many of the GOP do all they can to interfere in and make sure we distrust democracy, foster hate, demonize and threaten with violence any opposition. We remember Jan. 6, Buffalo, Charlottesville, the attack on Paul Pelosi⎼ and so much more.

 

We know it will take many hours, or probably days, maybe weeks. Only later will we seriously consider what we did right, and what more we could do in the future. Now, we know we voted. We did something. We’re only one person amongst millions.

 

So, we breathe in and out as gently as we can and recognize the tension in ourselves. We’re as kind as possible to everyone around us because we know we need kindness ourselves. We need patience.

 

Only with this kind intensity can we then think clearly. Observe clearly. We assume nothing until we have sufficient fact-based information and analysis to know for sure. And then we’ll be ready for whatever happens and able to do what’s needed to protect and expand democracy, our future, and the well-being of our communities.

Nothing Improves Our Sense of Strength, Or Expresses Better Our Ability to Care and Love, Than Helping Others ⎼ And Helping Others Vote.

Bob Dylan’s song, the “Masters of War,” has been in my mind lately, about the “masters” who do nothing but destroy and create unspeakable fears, the worst fear being to bring children to life⎼ or to love.

 

Since 2011 or so, levels of fear and anxiety have been increasing in this country and most of the world. We know this too well. And lately, it’s been getting worse, and not due just to the pandemic. Remember “Trump anxiety disorder”? Even though DJT is no longer in office, he and his supporters have continued to make the world more frightening. Then add economic strains, the climate emergency, and the war in Ukraine and what we face is increasingly disturbing.

 

More and more people have been feeling they have no future, or that our political system can no longer handle the problems we face. Especially young people feel political leaders can no longer do anything good for them. Many are furious at Biden for various reasons, for not pushing more for the elimination of the filibuster in the Senate so laws to protect voting and abortion rights, and our right to a world that is not burning up, could be passed. And in the past, for his role in limiting Senate investigation of claims of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas to Anita Hill, thus allowing him to be seated in the Supreme Court. Biden actually voted against Thomas’ confirmation.

 

Biden can in one moment be so competent and caring, such a relief from the GOP who came before him, and in the next can seem to not get it at all. He often distances himself from the progressive wing of his party. He met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Salman, who is responsible for so many malignant actions including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. So, yes, pressure the President. We need to hold politicians responsible for actions they have actually done. But I fear this anger might lead some people to not vote Democratic.

 

In the case of meeting with the Crown Prince, Biden was using old fashioned politics when what we needed was courageous leadership. But we need to remember he was responding to those suffering from, and holding him responsible for, high gas prices and inflation. Should we hold those yelling about gas prices responsible for Biden talking with Ben Salman to get more oil?

 

We must remember that it is the would-be “masters” and the anti-democratic mass of the GOP who are manipulating this fear and it is they who need to be held the responsible.

 

Their goal is to shock us, get us to turn away from speaking out and political action. The GOP  not only try to directly suppress but also control the counting of votes. They are trying to convince us voting does nothing, there’s no power there. Or convince progressives that Democrats and Republicans are the same or convince moderates that Biden Democrats are too progressive….

 

*For information on GOTV campaigns, click on the GOTV links.

**To read the whole article, please go to The Good Men Project.