H2O ManH2O Man's Journal
"We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream."
-- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; I Have a Dream; 1963 March on Washington
It's rather odd for me to compare and contrast the two most significant citizens' actions in Washington, DC, in my life-time: the peaceful march that contained Dr. King's historic speechk, and the January 6 insurrection. My favorite part of Dr. King's speech was his use of the teachings of the prophet Amos, who advocated for social justice. My favorite thing relating to the January 6 insurrection is the criminal charges that hundreds of the thugs are now facing.
Like everyone reading this, I want to see serious consequences for those who participated in the attempted insurrection, especially the leaders. And that includes those who not only invaded the Capitol, but the slim that was actively involved in the planning of this treasonous event. These individuals, all members of the Trump cult, are currently being investigated by the Department of Justice. I would like them to face the harshest legal consequences possible.
In a telephone discussion with a friend yesterday regarding this very topic, I found myself explaining an important factor when it comes to both penalizing such criminal behaviors, as well as deterring others from engaging in these behaviors in the future. It is a factor that I learned many decades ago, in both sociology and criminal law classes in college. Keeping it in mind helps me balance my appreciation for what we are seeing in response to the insurrection.
What is more likely to deter people from engaging in criminal behavior? As a general rule, it is the certainty of getting caught, more so than a potentially harsh punishment. This isn't a blanket truth that holds true in every individual or group situation -- an obvious example of citizens willingly engaging in "illegal" behaviors despite the certainty of consequences can be found in the public actions of Dr. King and his followers in many of their campaigns. Those who participated were willingly facing arrest, and with the understanding that the consequences could include arrest and incarceration, as well as going to the emergency room or even the cemetery. Taking a brave stand for Truth often interrupts one's life.
The Trump cult, on the other hand, was attempting to interrupt democracy as defined by the Constitution. They were willing to disrupt the rule of law. Yet, they did not anticipate the consequences of their actions -- that they would likely face the disruption of their lives that criminal charges bring about. No, they thought the police, the national guard, and the president, would have their backs. They thought they would be heroes, but now they find themselves paying the price for their crimes.
The growing number of arrests is a good thing. It indicates a likelihood that most of herd will hesitate to follow their leaders over the cliff. That is extremely significant. I view it in the context of a general rule regarding groups of twenty men: those keeping an eye on the group will easily be able to identify the leader, and if he is separated from the other nineteen, the groups threat is reduced by inertia.
In our society today, there are quite a few of those one-in-twenty out there, still furious about Joe Biden's clear victory over Trump. Many, though not all, are disappointed by Trump's failure to declare martial law on January 6, and are beginning to recognize that Trump is a cowardly false prophet decaying before their very eyes. But to accept that Joe Biden won would mean that they have to recognize that they are failures and fools.
This, of course, brings us to Critical Rage Theory, something that every FBI agent and other federal law enforcement officials are aware of. It involves the 5% of the Trump cult that will continue to engage in their battle against democracy. Some are in state or national office, and will actively participate in efforts to prevent non-white citizens from voting. Others are either in or retired from law enforcement and/or the military. Still others are in militias and other secretive cells.
They may have put most of their activities on pause, but they will not go away. They will attempt to identify and engage in activities that have a reduced likelihood of their being caught. I think it is a good thing that we currently have an Attorney General who's previous DOJ experience was investigating and prosecuting a couple of fellows involved in a bombing attack on the federal government that killed 168 human beings, and injured 680 more. In my opinion, that experience will be of great value in the future.
Synergy : The interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.
"Synergy" can be either negative or positive, and I suppose it could, in theory, be neutral. Before examining the negative and positive potentials we have in today's social-political world, let me give another example that might be useful. Frequently, if one is prescribed certain medications, the doctor will advise against using it in combination with other drugs such as alcohol. This is because the synergy of substances can have a multiplying effect.
In today's post-Trump presidency, a blood test would indicate that there is still a high level of his hate and paranoia in our socio-political system. In fact, it remains at a dangerous level. The reasons why this is so is due to the lingering -- even entrenched -- combination of toxins that his administration administered to the public.
It would, in my opinion, be dangerous to view things including the Russian meddling in the 2015 and 2020 elections, the Q-anon-type media, the spying upon journalists and politicians exposing the administration's misdeeds, and January 6's insurrection as distinct things that add up. They have actually multiplied the insanity, and remain a grave danger. This, of course, is the negative potential of synergy.
On the positive side, we won significant election contests in both 2018 and 2020. This was due to a very large effort on the part of numerous, diverse groups and individuals. That combination was far greater than the mere sum of its parts -- although elections are indeed won by the votes counted, except in a couple recent presidential contests. It was the synergy that makes democracy possible.
An average citizen could easily list twenty serious problems that we face. We can identify the republican party as the current, most obvious stumbling block that seeks to prevent the current administration from making progress in dealing with each problem. They aren't the only problem, but certainly the toxins of Trumpism need to be countered. This, I think, is why President Joe Biden said that our democracy is in peril last month.
I'm reminded of Senator Robert F. Kennedy's June 6, 1966 speech in South Africa. He noted that few individuals ever change the arc of history, but that groups of people are more often able to make those changes. He spoke of individual efforts as sending a tiny ripple of hope, and those ripples joing together to create a powerful wave. And that is exactly the synergy we need today, is it not? Is it possible to imagine anything short of this that will defeat Trumpism?
Each one of us has a talent. But none of us has the best answer to every problem confronting our society. Or the time to fully confront them. So we to identify what meaningful activity that we, as individuals, are best at. Every one of us has an important contribution that we can make in this effort. The only contribution that is "too small" is the one that isn't made. All of the rest are Good.
There may very well be more than one area that people can engage in. Individuals may already work with or within some of the numerous groups and organizations that are currently doing outstanding work. Even those who are not part of any organization other that the Democratic Party can coordinate their activities with group efforts they are interested in. These are the ripples of hope that Senator Kennedy spoke of. They are also ripples of power.
"Democracy itself is in peril, here at home and around the world."
-- President Joe Biden
It is often said that you cannot have democracy without fair elections, nor can you have fair elections without democracy. At a time when the Biden administration and the Democrats in the house and Senate are attempting to both repair the damage the Trump cult has done to the institutions of the federal government, while dealing with numerous other current issues such as voting rights, it is essential that citizens have a solid understanding of how "government" works.
The more accurately citizens are informed, the better the chances the government will function properly. The less informed citizens are, the chance of good government decreases. And the more misinformed citizens are, the more likely it is that democracy will cease to exist. "Information" comes from a number of sources, ranging from formal education to the free press mentioned in Amendment 1 of the Bill of Rights.
Let's briefly consider three types of information. There is accurate information, which consists of facts. There is misinformation, the type that Mark Twain spoke of when he said that the problem today is not one of ignorance, but of people knowing so darned much that just wasn't so. And there is disinformation, the purposeful lies told to an unsuspecting public, such as we see coming from the Trump cult when they claim Donald won the 2020 election, or that the January 6 insurrectionists were mere tourists.
In the context of today's complex, high-tech society, the public has constant exposure to all three of these. The more accurate information an individual has, the more they can compare -- and contrast -- with misinformation and disinformation. Hence, the more they can understand.
Let's consider one example, that of the DoJ's current position regarding a civil trial involving E. Jean Carroll and Donald Trump. If one has a full understanding of Paula Jones' civil case against President Bill Clinton, one can both compare and contrast the two. That provides the necessary foundation for understanding that, while one can disagree with Merrick Garland's position, that there are both potential benefits and problems with it -- just as there are for the opposite position. Many times, it isn't a black and white situation, but rather, it is in a gray area.
Now let's consider another extremely serious issue -- the DoJ's spting on journalists and Democrats in Congress. The closest example of an administration spting on "enemies" was found in the Nixon administration. I had posted a lengthy response on the similarities to the Watergate era two days ago (see link below), and was pleased to see similar comparisons being made on MSNBC yesterday. Nixon set a standard for corruption that my generation has compared and contrasted other White House scandals to ever since.
As Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. documented in his 1973 classic, every president up until that time had sought to expand presidential power, almost exclusively on "national security" -- both real and imagined. Jimmy Carter was the only president since who completed a full term without such an attempt at expanding executive power. Thus, we should recognize that such attempts are as likely to happen under good presidents as with bad ones. The contrast is thus between sincere and corrupt motivation -- which, to quote the Hurricane, is the difference between sugar and shit (also 1973).
Corrupt presidents generally start with attempts to expand their power by having their administration engage in activities in that gray area between clearly legal and illegal. As the corrupt begin to experience pressures, those activities migrate from gray to the clearly illegal. In the modern age, this has obviously involved the spying upon and aggressive attempts to destroy their political enemies. This was true in the wide range of crimes known as Watergate, in the Office of Vice President Dick Cheney's infamous "black op" known as the Plame scandal, and in the Trump administration's spying on journalists and politicans they have identified as "enemies."
During the investigations of the enormous series of criminal activities of the Reagan-Bush administration known as the "Iran-Contra scandal," the American public became familiar with the concept of "plausible deniability." This concept had been available to presidents before, and has long been a staple of intelligence agency operations. VP Bush brought it to a new level. We have been subjected to the Trump administration's "implausibe deniability," thanks to William Barr (who had helped cover-up criminality in Iran-Contra investigations).
Now, let us take a look at the man that is currently in charge of the Department of Justice, including both cleaning house and prosecuting those who violated the law. That, of course, is Merrick Garland. Most know that President Obama had nominated Garland to the US Supreme Court, only to have a serious nomination stiffled by republicans. Among his solid qualifications, Garland had served in a senior position in the DoJ from 1993 to 1995. The highlight, at least in my opinion, when he supervised the prosecution in the Oklahoma City bombing case, where rabid right-wing-nuts conspired to attack the federal government.
Did "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" come out from those prosecutions? Perhaps it is important to know that "the truth" comes out in the context of the rules of the judicial system. And there is a range of imperfections in that system, that include everything from a police officer shooting a man for being black, to a USSC decision that selects a president, or rules that corporations are people.
I enjoyed reading an OP/thread about the entities that provided the records of journalists and Democrats (and others), that included questions about why the entities did not fight the subpoenas? An accurately informed community member explained the differences between a DoJ subpoena and a grand jury subpoena. Again, we see the benefit of being familiar with government, specifically the power of grand juries. For it seems very likely that the DoJ is now making use of more than one grand jury. Thought they move slowly, it is safe to say that in a relatively short time, we will be exposed to accurate information, misinformation, and disinformation regarding what they determine.
The Democratic Party is at a crucial crossroads. This is, of course, in the context of Joe Manchin. Though the Democrats have the 50 + 1 majority in the Senate, on the current path, Manchin will always betray our party by voting with the republicans on important issues.. The alternative path, as Manchin's supporters point out, is to risk Manchin losing his now comfortable spot to a republican, who will vote exactly like Manchin on every important issue. One path leads to the destruction of democracy in our country, and the other to the destruction of democracy in our country. Let us chose wisely, without ever considering that there are other options.
The grass looks greener after a brief shower. Along with one dog, one rooster, and one cat, I fed the fish and birds out at the pond. A week ago, parts of the pond had a large quantity of algae growing on the surface, but today the water is clear. This makes it easier for me to evaluate how much fish food I need per day.
The wind from the northwest picks up, and the leaves of the poplar trees turn upside-down. Dark clouds are moving in rapidly. I've had enough broken bones over the years that I don't need a weather man to tell me which way the storm clouds blow. My mother had drilled it into my head throughout my childhood that I was too stupid to come in out of the rain. But I am wearing my water-proof hat.
The cat seeks shelter near the cabin, and the rooster is hurrying back on the path. The dog and I begin to head back to the house. The rain from earlier makes the flowers -- blue, yellow, and white flowers blanket the field -- appear even more alive. This includes both the wild flowers, and those in the flower beds surrounding the house. Suddenly, a kitten bounds out on her back feet, waving her front paws as she carries out this imaginary ambush. The dog is startled by this furious ball of cotten's attack.
I can hear the rain coming down as I struggle to put dry clothes on. Things that one takes for granted can change at different paces as time goes on. But the sound of rain today is soothing. I'm remined of when I was a homeless teen, stationing myself in the hay loft of an old barn, listening to the rain hitting the tin roof. I consider taking an afternoon nap, even though I'm not really tired. But, instead, I turn on the news.
Sidney Powell assures an audience that she has a secret plan to re-instate Trump as president. Mike Flynn tells an audience that a domestic military coup isn't a secret plan. Donald Trump has been telling people that he expects to be back in office by August. Republicans in DC refuse to support the investigation of the January 6 coup attempt. They say those arrested by the DOJ were mere tourists, now being persecuted by the DOJ.
It would be easy to laugh at Powell et al. In my youth, we would call such clowns ' antics "a gas." But Abbie Hoffman warned us that laughing gas is no laughing matter. While Powell herself may be no more dangerous than a dancing kitten, Flynn and his para-military followers are a serious threat. The information being released on members of perhaps the most dangerous of the far-right, anti-government groups' role in the January 6 insurrection comes to mind.
In the days and weeks that followed January 6, older forum members may recall that I said that those who were rioting believed that Trump would declare a national emergency and impose martial law. The messages that the founder of the Oath Keepers that have been released document that his group had been led to believe this, too. Stewart Rhodes expected that a fight between his group and "antifa" would set this plan in motion, and that Trump would declare the Oath Keepers as his official militia to institute lawn and order. I would suggest that this goes a long way in explaining why members of the administration -- Mike Flynn's brother, for example -- were hesitant to send in the National Guard.
Luckily, the country didn't go down that road. But we came mighty close, and there are still those hoping to hijack our future. They include those tourists that were carrying the confederate rag, and those attacking police officers with American flags. They include the republicans who refuse to support a commission to investigate areas where individuals in Congress helped the Oath Keepers and their ilk prepare for the insurrection. And state officials working to deny non-white citizens their right to vote.
Ignoring what happened on January 6 can only make us vulnerable to another ambush and attack upon democracy. For this fight is not over. It's true that in the months since the insurrection, with the Biden administration leading the country, the grass seems greener, and the flowers are coming into bloom. But there are storm clouds gathering on the horizen. This struggle continues.
I watched an interview with Ben Rhodes, someone I have great respect for. He was discussing his new book, "After the Fall: Being American in the World We've Made." Ben points out the road that we must travel to save democracy here, in coordination with those struggling in other lands. In the age of twitter and memes, its 320 pages may seem unrealistic to some. And that's a shame. But I am looking forward to reading it, and encourage others to read it, too. It is exactly the type of book that used to make for valuable discussions on this site.
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