Thursday, January 6, 2022

1-6-2022 - Garland Speaks Out, Aaron Burr, James Madison and the Need for Urgency

Attorney General Garland to the Rescue ... We Hope

In a speech to Justice Department personnel on Wednesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland vowed to hold all those responsible for the Jan. 6 riot accountable — whether they were at the Capitol or committed other crimes surrounding the day’s events — saying investigators are methodically building more complicated and serious cases and would prosecute people “at any level.” 

 “The actions we have taken thus far will not be our last,” Garland said, speaking in the Justice Department’s Great Hall in an address that was broadcast live online and by cable news channels. “The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law — whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy. We will follow the facts wherever they lead.”

This will probably cause many to lose sleep wondering if the facts would lead to them.  The trail goes through Steve Bannon and Marc Meadows and as the small-fry who invaded the Capitol, and also those who committed other acts, are apprehended, it will ultimately reach higher and higher.  This might cause some to "flip" and incriminate others or cause some to hunker down behind a wall of silence bolstered by legal maneuvers.  Democracy hangs in the balance, and it is but ten months until Election Day ... but Garland will be in office until 2024.

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Treason Trial of a Former Vice President


Aaron Burr, Thomas Jefferson's former Vice President (and also the untried murderer of Alexander Hamilton, dueling being illegal in both NY and NJ at the time), was tried for treason in 1807 for doing less than what our defeated former president instigated on January 6, 2021 in an effort to remain in office.  Burr was merely training "troops" and planning an insurrection to set up a separate republic in the Southwest, but no one was killed and the Capitol wasn't invaded. Burr was acquitted since there was no 'overt act' comparable to what happened on January 6, 2021.  It would appear the Select Committee's seeking information on what happened in the White House that day is aimed at determining whether the defeated former president's behavior on that day did amount to an 'overt act.'


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Think We Live in a Democracy? We Don't. 
At Least One 'Founding Father' Wanted it That Way

An opinion piece in the New York Times on January 3 was titled "The Republican Party Is Succeeding Because We Are Not a True Democracy."  Written by Jedediah Britton-Purdy, a professor of constitutional law at Columbia University, it points out the elitist aspect, historically, of American democracy.  An excerpt follows:

"James Madison boasted that the Constitution achieved “the total exclusion of the people, in their collective capacity.” Its elaborate political mechanics reflect the elite dislike and mistrust of majority rule that Madison voiced when he wrote, “Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.” Madison’s condescension has never gone away. 

Walter Lippmann, perhaps the most prominent intellectual of the short American Century, reckoned that citizens were ignorant, confused and emotional. Democracy brought “an intensification of feeling and a degradation of significance” to whatever it touched. If Madison and Lippmann could have seen the “QAnon Shaman” break into the Capitol, then meander around like a tourist whose phone has lost its signal, they would have muttered, “This is what democracy looks like.”

Democracy receded from the popular imagination during the blandly optimistic decades that followed the Cold War’s end around 1989. American leaders predicted that the world would inevitably come to embrace some combination of elections, capitalism and personal freedom. Serious thinking about what democracy meant, and what could threaten it, seemed more like intellectual history than practical politics. We live in the shipwreck of that unearned optimism."

Science fiction writer Isaac Asimov observed many years ago that there has always been a strong anti-scientific, anti-intellectual strain in this country, a "celebration of ignorance" as he put it, and that "democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge." If that is what democracy means, would you opt out for some other form of government?  Is that why James Madison and Walter Lippmann felt the way they did?  


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In Short Supply - Urgency

The many important issues occupying Congress all serve to divert the Democratic Party from doing TODAY what they should have done from DAY ONE, and that is figuring out how to maintain their control of both Houses of Congress and the White House.  And that requires legislation to guarantee voting rights of all citizens!  (The mail I get from my Congressperson deals with mundane, business-as-usual, matters and goes nowhere near that.)

Why must Shumer wait until January 17 to act? Every week counts. Even if voter rights legislation is passed tomorrow, it will take months to put it into effect and battle the lawsuits against it Republican-dominated States will surely initiate. Election Day is ten months away! The good things Americans have gained from Democratic legislation are not sufficiently dramatic to win votes. (Even Republicans who voted against them confuse the voters by claiming credit for them.)

There is only one job on the workbench for Democrats and those who wish to preserve democracy in America. Regardless of whether voting rights legislation is passed, it must be the mobilization of the votes needed to keep control of both Houses of Congress in November. As I have repeatedly said, that can be done only with a massive turn-out of voters, motivated by consistent Republican opposition to anything which might be of benefit to women and persons of color. These are the specific voters whom the Democratic Party must target to mobilize now! Not tomorrow. Now. Otherwise, democracy loses.


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Prerequisites of Nationhood

I have always felt that there are certain prerequisites of nationhood which ought to be met if a country is to survive as a legitimate nation.  There is some flexibility in them but they are: (1) logical borders such as large bodies of water, deserts or mountain ranges (rivers do not qualify), (2) at least one language or ethnicity common to its inhabitants, (3) an economic base provided by plentiful natural resources, manufacturing, trading or financial acumen and finally, (4) a workable governmental structure to manage its operation. The failure of a nation to survive can sometimes be attributed to any one of the first three prerequisites, but the absence of the fourth makes failure a certainty. Whether it be autocratic or democratic, that structure must exist. It is the glue that holds any nation together, the alternative to anarchy. Our present crisis involves testing that fourth prerequisite in the United States.


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Quoting Bari Weiss

Bari Weiss, in her blog “Common Sense,” said the following after mentioning Jonah Goldberg’s and Liz Cheney’s alienation from the rest of the G.O.P., now afraid to lose the votes of the followers of the loud-mouth, defeated, and soon to be disgraced, former president:

"What does it say about the state of the conservative movement and the Republican Party that these two conservative Republicans now find themselves at the periphery rather than at the center? Just as old-school liberals find themselves on the outs with the new, riotous left, so too classic conservatives are finding themselves out of step with a right-wing that seeks revolution rather than conservation."

Weiss is not too far right nor too far left.  


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Coming Up Next Time Around

More about Covid19 and More about College Football's problems.

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