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Posts Tagged ‘election’

Yesterday’s events at the U.S. Capitol were shocking, but not surprising. The Era of Trump had no other possible conclusion. He is a man of no integrity, and it is not a surprise that his followers would have none as well. 

He is also a wannabe tyrant, and this is exactly how tyranny works:

  • Defame, degrade, accuse, allege.
  • Inflate then demonize then attack the powerless. Attack the press, attack the scientists, attack institutions of learning, attack the arts.
  • Form your own press. Form your own facts. Make your own culture. Indoctrinate the children to your views.
  • Foment distrust, then foment conspiracy, then foment protest, then foment violence.
  • Then ascend to true, dictatorial power.

This has been the pattern throughout the post-monarchial age. It’s the new way to form tyranny, replacing the royal inbreeding of yore. Pol Pot, Benito Mussolini, Adolph Hitler, and a slew of African, South American, Asian, and Eastern European dictators followed the the same pattern, with only slight variations, over and over and over again. Millions have died, billions have been oppressed, as a result. Fascism is a horrible thing to behold, and leaves terrible scars.

But it’s all over now. We won, democracy won, it’s over.

Um, no.

Watching yesterday’s domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol, I was reminded of November 9, 1923 and the Munich Putsch, known to Americans as the Beer Hall Putsch. Two thousand Nazis marched on the city, but were stopped by police in a violent clash. 16 Nazis were killed, Adolph Hitler was arrested, and other conspirators fled to the hills.

Munich Marienplatz (Wikipedia)

Everyone thought it was over. Ten years later, Hitler was the Chancellor of Germany.

So what happened? Oof, so much.

The penalties for these criminal activities were woefully light. A number of judges involved were Nazi sympathizers and wanted leniency. Hitler was only sentenced to five years in prison, the lightest punishment for such an offense per German law. In the end, he only served 8 months, being released on good behavior, and many others were released outright or served light sentences.

Hitler used his time in court to espouse his philosophies, to the delight of allied judges. His remarks received extensive coverage in the newspapers. He likely gained more followers in his trial than if he just slunk into the shadows. The Putsch was a great propaganda victory for the Nazi Party, accelerating their position in national discourse.

The Nazis killed in the Putsch were treated as martyrs for the cause. They were idolized. Mein Kampf was dedicated to their memory. An annual march (held, ironically, every 9/11, due to the way Europeans write calendar dates) was held in their honor, right up until the fall of the Third Reich. These deaths became a catalyst for cultic indoctrination into the Nazi Party.

All of this happened during an era of great economic challenge for Germany. WWI reparations posed a heavy burden, most directly in terms of hyperinflation. Things were bad for the German people, and financial hardships led to discontent, distrust, and contempt for leadership. This made the climate ripe for the rise of a fascist state.

If one were to put this into a mathematical formula, it would resemble Martyrdom + Propaganda + Economic Failure – Justice = Tyranny. There are obviously deeper and broader factors, but this is a close approximation.

Capitol Putsch (unknown Twitter source)

What does this mean for the United States of America and our current situation? It means we cannot take this lightly. It means we must apply the appropriate level of honest justice to every piece of this seditionist, MAGA movement.

— Those who refused to follow the orders of law enforcement, committed acts of violence against law enforcement, trespassed onto the capitol grounds, committed acts of vandalism or theft on capitol grounds, made threats of violence toward sitting members of Congress, or acts of seditious conspiracy per Title 18, must be found, arrested, and dutifully tried for the appropriate crimes. This must be a nationwide manhunt, involving law enforcement and the court systems within jurisdictions across the country, within the auspices of the law. These individuals must not be left free or given lenient sentences for convenience. Follow the letter of the law and due process, hold trials, and assign the appropriate punishments per existing statutes. There must not be any plea bargains for the convenience of the court, this is a serious matter and must be treated seriously.

— Speaking of law enforcement, there is concerning evidence that police and sheriff’s departments across the country are sympathetic to seditionist causes, or employ white supremacists (the core of this movement). This is not to say that all cops are bad, it is to say that there is enough anecdotal evidence to suggest something is seriously wrong. One need look no further than the difference in response between Black Lives Matter protests and an actual assault on the U.S. Capitol by white rioters. It certainly appears there is dereliction of duty involved, if not in specific response during the incident itself, then in the preparation for what would undoubtedly be a very tense day. Law enforcement agencies must follow up on evidence of collusion or racism by officers, and if it is appropriate, implement the proper correction action including dismissal or referral to criminal prosecution if warranted.

— Anecdotal evidence exists that the U.S. military has also been infiltrated by MAGA sympathizers. The lack of staging of National Guard troops in the District, as a contingency in the event of mass public unrest, is outrageous. It represents an immense failure in judgement at the very least, and suggests it was an intentional act by military commanders or civilian authorities. If there is evidence of intentional actions to prevent appropriate security measures to the U.S. Capitol by members of the Armed Forces, courts martial must be convened.

— Attorneys who have advocated for illegal, improper, or unethical practices or accusations must be held accountable by authoritative bar associations. Bar associations have the authority to regulate the actions of attorneys, and must take actions in these cases. There is a vast difference between ensuring due process for the rights of your client, and using knowledge of the law to circumvent said laws for the profit of yourself or your client. If any attorney has violated the ethics rules of their bar association in support of this movement, they must be disbarred.

— Other civilian authorities must be held accountable if they have worked towards these seditious acts. Whether it’s the Secretary of the Army blocking the staging of National Guard troops, or the Attorney General ordering agents to stand down from a proper investigation, or a media spokesperson blatantly lying to the American people, there needs to be accountability. This could be criminal charges or at least an exposure of their actions to the American people. They must not be let off the hook to become media consultants or lobbyists in the future.

— Donald J. Trump must be impeached. There is no other recourse at this time. Even if he is leaving the White House, there must be a conviction by the duly convened Congress. This would not only prevent him from ever holding elected office again, it would also be a permanent statement in history that his behavior is not to be tolerated. We can never have another President Trump, or else our country is doomed. It would also help to shut him up, stop spouting his garbage, although that would still be a tall order

— Finally, the Executive Branch must be depowered. It is evident that the Presidency has too much authority. Over the decades, the Congress has granted more and more power to the President, giving up their own. This course must be reversed. We need the restoration of checks-and-balances in our federal government. We dodged a very significant bullet, we need to close the gaps before the next tyrant comes along.

This Matters

Now I know what people will say: that I’m advocating a witch hunt. No, I’m not. I am well aware that criminal justice has been used throughout world history to persecute political opponents. That is a tremendously dangerous road to travel, and we must not do that. I am advocating for the use of solid investigatory and evidentiary processes. I’m advocating for the application of appropriate, extant laws, and the enforcement of ethics rules of the various professions. I’m advocating for legal thoroughness. I am also advocating for the harshest possible penalties under those laws, for this is a broad and deep seditious conspiracy against the government of the United States, and not simple vandalism or civil unrest.

This is all necessary. The reality, though, is none of this will be enough. 48% of the voting public supported this administration. That’s a tough pill to swallow. Even if every single MAGA member at the Capitol was arrested and thrown in prison, they represent a tiny fraction of Trump’s support. There needs to be systemic changes elsewhere to fix the problems that led to MAGA. There are legitimate economic concerns across this country, including in the oft-neglected rural communities. Media outlets in this country (and beyond) are failing their duties regarding journalistic integrity to tremendous profits, and that is a nearly impossible nut to crack thanks to the sacredness of the First Amendment. Election interference and voter disenfranchisement are serious problems requiring solutions. Education needs to be fixed, it’s shocking how many people fail to understand basic civics. These are long-term problems caused by long-term neglect, and will not be easy to fix.

Bottom line: we have a choice to make. Do we allow the January 6th attacks on the Capitol to stand, in the hopes that the MAGA movement is a flash in the pan and it will all just “go away”; or do we learn the lessons of the Munich Putsch and put an end to sedition in this country for the next 150 years.

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Mourning in America

Today, I weep for our country, the place of my birth, my home.

american-flag-distress-signal_rt1

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It’s been close to a week since the midterms, and the disappointment still lingers.

Now if you’re still with me, you might be saying “another liberal scumbag” or something similar. But you’d be far from the truth. I actually agree with some GOP fundamentals. The cost of doing business here, including the hiring of employees, is too high. This keeps our economy depressed. There are many things controlled by the feds that really belong with the states. And many of our social programs actually result in a culture of entrapment and dependency that’s counterproductive.

Regardless, I’m not only incredibly disappointed in the GOP takeover, I’m actually disgusted.

It’s About Ethics, Stupid

Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign famously told its staffers “it’s the economy, stupid.” This was meant to keep them on-message: that all other issues are effectively meaningless in the eyes of voters. People vote with, and because of, their pocketbooks. Totally understandable, you can’t really fault folks for wanting to provide for their families.

Unfortunately, there is actually something more important than the economy. That something is ethics.

I’m not naive enough to suggest we have to elect ethical politicians. I’m not naive enough to suggest that Congress or state legislatures need to be squeaky-clean with nothing but honest men & women doing nothing but good, honorable work. That would be like suggesting unicorns are a sustainable food source. Unethical politicians are part-and-parcel of governing since the Roman Empire. Both parties have them, always have, and always will.

But there’s something deeply disturbing about today’s Republicans. They have reached a level of unethical behavior that’s well beyond free hot tubs and kickbacks.

The Pockets of Big Business

Big money in politics is also nothing new. But we have to go waaaay back to the robber barons to see the level of corrupting influence we have today. We have reached a point where our very freedoms are challenged by Big Business. Of course, you can pick apart big-money donations and find reprehensible influence-peddling amongst Democrats and Republicans, and say “they all do it”, but the Republicans made absolutely certain that this influence peddling not only continues, but that it’s absolutely protected as free speech.

Yes, I’m talking about Citizen’s United. Citizen’s United clearly puts the principle of free and fair elections, and sane and responsible government, at direct risk. Citizen’s United basically said it is perfectly acceptable for money to control the political process and the political discourse. And who supports Citizen’s United wholeheartedly, and refuses efforts to put political power back in the hands of the people?

Republicans.

Only the GOP is working to guarantee that big money will control our political process, even when it opposes the interests of the population as a whole. They’ve basically put corruption into law.

Denying Science

The worst of today’s influence peddling surrounds energy. The Koch Brothers and other moneyed interests are basically using their millions to fight science. And the Republicans are the town criers of this inanity. There is something specifically reprehensible about science deniers. Basically, these people are combating the very laws of physics because they are on someone’s payroll. I can’t barely form words to describe how disgusting this is.

Science denial is very nearly the worst of the unethical behaviors. When you deny science you directly put people at risk. You compromise safety. You compromise health. You compromise food supplies. You compromise the education of our children. You compromise damned near everything. And that makes you a reprehensible human being.

And for what? Because some rich bigwigs donate to your campaign, control the media, and manipulate the message? And why are they doing so? To make money.

Refuting the facts in order to make more money is the very definition of unethical, scumbag behavior.

But What’s Even Worse …

So if you had to pick something that was truly unethical amongst politicians, what would it be? What would be worse than intentionally supporting & passing bad policies in order to profit your supporter? What would be worse than intentionally combating scientific data simply so your supporters could make more money?

How about intentionally manipulating the system solely so you can stay in power?

This is the worst of the worst. This behavior has been used successfully by tyrants the world over, for decades and decades, and we’ve rightly condemned them for it.

Yet, this is what the GOP is doing, and not just doing, but doing with full admission and even bravado!

These Republicans intentionally derailed Obama’s presidency simply so they would have a better chance getting elected. They intentionally manipulated election rules to benefit themselves. They intentionally gerrymandered congressional districts to ensure their own victory (fair representation be damned). They intentionally passed policies with the express intention of disenfranchising folks who might vote against them! This is Boss Tweed stuff, this is the direct manipulation of the voting process, of our very democracy! It is a thumbing of the nose at the fundamental freedoms, the very basis of our Constitution, the very foundation of any definition of “liberty”.

The Democrats aren’t particularly honest, I have no doubt of that. They also aren’t particularly bright, nor are they particularly good at running campaigns. But all of that pales in comparison to the sleazy, slimy behavior of Republicans. They simply do not deserve to be in power, regardless of their policies.

And yet, put them into power is exactly what we did.

Congratulations.

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