WINNING ISN’T EVERYTHING – BY ELLIN CURLEY

Considering how the world has changed, I suspect more of us have become aware that “winning” isn’t everything and sometimes, not even a good thing. It all depends on what you won. And there can be a lot of emotional conflict about whether what you’ve done is winning or not.

My ex-husband, Larry Kaiser, was a young litigation attorney in New York City in 1979. His law firm assigned Pro Bono Appeals cases to junior associates as part of a public service program.

Larry was given the appeal of a defendant, Eric Michaels, who had been convicted, in a second trial, of rape, sodomy, robbery and burglary. His first trial had been declared a mistrial. It was clear that the defendant was rightfully convicted. He had definitely done it. So Larry had to look for a procedural irregularity that he could exploit to try to get the conviction overturned on appeal. That was his job, unsavory as it was.

Larry discovered that the trial judge, Judge Arnold Fraiman, had declared a mistrial for a questionable reason – he and several jurors were scheduled to leave on vacations. I believe the judge even had his wife and his packed suitcases in the courtroom. If this was seen as an abuse of discretion by the appellate court, it would invalidate the guilty verdict of the second trial. The entire second trial would be considered invalid as a violation of double jeopardy. You can only be tried once for any crime or crimes.

Larry was drowning in work so I helped him write this Pro Bono brief. It was very much a joint effort. I was practicing law at a small New York City law firm at the time. We won the appeals case and Eric Michaels was released from prison.

One morning shortly after the appellate verdict was rendered, I was getting out of bed and I heard Larry yelling from the living room. He had just opened the New York Times and found his case on the front page! The misconduct of Judge Fraiman was considered a big enough deal to warrant a prominent story. This was particularly true because his misconduct resulted in the release of a convicted rapist. The District Attorney of New York had described Eric Michaels’ crimes as some of the more vicious crimes prosecuted by the state in years.

Judge Fraiman was now in the spotlight. Larry was interviewed by several newspapers. Over the next few days, reporters dug into the Judge’s prior cases. And they discovered that the exact same thing had happened before. Judge Fraiman had previously declared a mistrial for the same reason – he was due to leave on vacation. His prior mistrial declaration had also been considered inappropriate by an appellate court. And again, an appellate court had released another guilty defendant back onto the streets because of Judge Fraiman’s actions in court.

This was now a really big judicial scandal. The story stayed in the news for a while and destroyed Judge Fraiman’s reputation. I think he may have been censured by the judiciary or by the Bar Association.

Larry always had mixed feelings about this case. He had won a major legal success and got his name in the New York Times.On the other hand, he helped get a rapist released from jail. This is often the plight of lawyers in the criminal field. It was also a prime reason I didn’t go into criminal law.

Winning isn’t everything.

HOW TO ASK ABOUT RACE – Marilyn Armstrong

I read a note on Twitter yesterday wondering “how to ask” about race? I suppose it depends on what color you already are and who you are asking, but let’s suppose you are white and the other person isn’t. Any shade of not-white will do the job. From a light tan to a rich deep brown, not white is not white. Just your average person in one of the various colors that make up skin on this planet.

Colors are not white or black and I have yet to meet anyone who is gray. White isn’t a human color, nor is black. We are all somewhere in between. I don’t even think albinos are truly white, but a very light version of what ought to be the original color.

We are all shades of pale to dark brown, ranging from fish-belly (me) to dark olive, light tan, to sort of pinkish with levels of blotchy.  The freckles of youth turn to liver-spots in age, and some skin conditions cause blotchiness. In the end, though, skin is the largest sensory organ in the human body. Eyes, ears, nose, and mouth can see, hear, smell, and taste … but every single inch of your skin can feel and in various way. Skin is sensitive and discerning and I don’t believe it makes the slightest difference what color it is.

So, if you want to talk about race, why don’t you try asking someone who isn’t the same color as you how it feels to be them? How are they dealing with one more outrageous act of systemic racism? On the other hand, if you hate them because they don’t look like you, maybe you should skip conversation and get your attitudes adjusted. THEN have a conversation. Hatred just isn’t a good place to start.

The easiest way to talk about something is to want to talk about it and have someone with whom to talk about it. If you don’t have any friends of other colors, then maybe you should deal with that issue first. Lectures, book, seminars, and podcasts, not to mention television news — doesn’t really give you a meaningful grasp of even the basics of the subject. If you really don’t know how to have a conversation, that’s a different problem.

If you live in an entirely unicolor area, maybe you should become part of an activity that includes people of other races. Find someone who seems sympatico and get a bit friendly. You might be surprised at how much you have in common. It might be a hobby — photography? movies? history books? Star Trek? video games? Of how much you love/hate/don’t know what to do about our so-called government, drugs, parents,  grandparents, teachers, boss, taxes, judges, police, umpires, or referees are a fine starting place

Once you scratch off the surface color, what’s left is humanity in all its extraordinary facets. You might form a great friendship or fall in love. Or start an enterprise.

Ask. If you aren’t a bigot or racist, you can start conversations with a complete stranger as long as you are polite, non-aggressive, and really interested in the answer. That’s how I’ve made many friends of all colors.  I wasn’t rude. I was simply curious and interested and it turned out, they were curious and interested right back. You just never know about humanity until you’ve tested a few different  oceans, lakes, and streams. It’s all water. What’s really different is its temperature, saltiness, and how many rocks are on the bottom. And how your feet feel about that.

I’ve always been interested in peoples’ backstories. What their lives were like. What churches they went to and how they felt about it. Their relationships with school and the arts. What things made them laugh or cry. Curiosity can take you far in this world, at any age.

DEAR REPUBLICAN SENATOR – By musingsofanoldfart

Dear Republican Senator

As an independent and former Republican (and Democrat) voter, I try to read and watch several validated news sources. They are validated, as they try to get it right and print retractions when they don’t. I also try to use an independent lens to see politicians for their good and bad actions and stances, regardless of party. Am I biased? Of course, we all are. But, my greater bias is favoring the truthtellers as I do not cotton to being obviously lied to by our elected officials.

That is why your support of this reckless president is troubling. It troubles me that he is so cavalier with the truth, that maybe, he does not know when the truth stops and the marketing schtick begins. But, this is not news, as five biographers of the president have noted he has a problem with the truth. And, the Mueller report (which I read) validated several untruths made by the president and did not exonerate him of obstruction of justice.

But, you know this, because I would worry about you more if you did not. Yet, it bothers me to see Senators seemingly support tribal loyalty over our constitution. You can say that you do not do that, but I can read how seemingly rational people bend over backwards to defend the indefensible.

Instead of looking to say those who investigated this corrupt and deceitful president somehow did not do it pristinely, it would be better to pay attention to that parade of honorable diplomats who testified under oath and at great risk of their concerns over the president’s actions in Ukraine. Now, the Republican Senate can pretend that all that did not happen, but these folks knew the president is highly vindictive, but testified anyway. Some have lost their jobs and received death threats, yet they still did it,

Rather than focus on whitewashing history, I would prefer the Senate to spend time focusing on the issues of today. COVID-19 deaths in the US are now in excess of 115,000. That is 27% of the global death total, but we have only 5% of the global population. And, as we have opened up the country more, too many have been too rash with their actions and COVID-19 is on the rise again. Frankly, this is not a surprise. The summer heat dampens the spread, but too many folks in close proximity, especially indoors, does the opposite.

The other issue is the ongoing racial injustice that is being shown to our black citizens. This new Jim Crow era is seeing greater degrees of incarceration for blacks than for whites for the same crimes and blacks being treated differently and more aggressively by police. I recognize the police have a hard job, but they need to better police their own. Every group has bad apples and even good police make poor decisions in the face of fear. We must do better at this. It is well-past time.

The current president has not helped on these two issues and it concerns me. We missed six weeks of planning on COVID-19, where we could have taken some steps instead of calling it a hoax and naysaying it as late as February 28, ironically the date of the first US death (now we exceed 115,000 just over three months later). Instead of being the leader we needed, the president decided to follow his modus operandi of misinformation, which continues to this day. As for the racial injustice, while I applaud the bipartisan sentencing reform of many months ago, the president has not been one to ease the tensions of the whole nation. We need him to be president for all, not just his more strident base of voters.

READ THE REST OF THIS POST: DEAR REPUBLICAN SENATOR

SHARING IN AN INSANE WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World 5-27-2020

Questions:


In your opinion, does patriotism require the belief that one’s country is the greatest on earth?

Manchaug dam on the Blackstone

I know people who live in a lot of other countries and they love their country. Not only do they know their country isn’t the biggest, greatest, richest, or most powerful, they love it because it’s home.

Why is patriotism considered by some to be the highest of virtues? What is so important about love of country? Shouldn’t we be more concerned about humankind, or the planet as a whole, rather than a single country?

I never understood it, frankly. The only country other than the U.S. that tends to get wildly patriotic is Great Britain. Maybe that’s our “inheritance.” I understand loving your country. But proud? Why should you be proud because your mother happened to get pregnant and gave birth in this particular country.  If you’d be born somewhere else, you wouldn’t love your country because your mother was in the wrong place? Huh?

The world

Of course we should care for humankind more than “things” and power and money, but we aren’t. There’s something terribly wrong with us, and it seems to be getting worse.

Too weird for me.

What is the relationship between decisions and consequences?

There ought to be a direct relationship but apparently, I’m just living in another universe.

What is social justice?

Not whatever it is we’ve got. But that’s because we started out supporting slavery. It was our original sin and most of our problems come directly from that.

What’s one body part you wouldn’t mind losing? (told you.  Silly).

It turns out I’m doing pretty well without boobs and two heart valves. And a few teeth. I would rather not lose anything else. I think I’m already on thin ice.

WHERE’S THE BIG CHANGE? – By Marilyn Armstrong

When Harvey Weinstein got nailed, everybody dumped all over him. Which I’m sure he deserved. They even tossed him out of the Hollywood Important People Club, ignoring all the other sexual predators who have been operating there since Hollywood became Hollywood.

Sexual predators are everywhere. They are in our homes, our churches, our schools, our sports teams. The number of adults and children raped by family members, boyfriends or girlfriends of family members is astronomical. Add to that the kids hit on by coaches, teachers, scout leaders, priests, pastors, bosses, dates, and total strangers. We even have one in the White House.

This was an ongoing horror show when I was a kid with a pedophile father. It has not gotten better. Victimized men and women still can’t talk about it. The weak laws and pathetic prosecution of these crimes make it unlikely a child who tries to report an adult will be believed. We automatically assume a middle or upper-class person with no criminal record can’t really be a criminal has never been true.

Not true. Never was true.

Woody Allen and Harvey Weinstein – A real pair of winners.

No criminal record usually means “never caught in the act.”

Is this going to change soon? It’s nice that Weinstein got whacked, but all the other Hollywood guys who do the same thing and have since … forever? I couldn’t believe everyone was so “shocked.”


SHOCKED? SERIOUSLY? REALLY?


Aw, c’mon. You’re kidding, right? Not only do laws need changing, but attitudes need changing. Given the state of the world, not to mention judges who are determined to not ruin that poor young lad’s life by making him do time for rape? Call me cynical, but I don’t see justice happening. I don’t even see a hint of it happening. Especially not in this bizarre world in which we live.

I do not see a single substantial change in the way unwanted sexual advances and/or rape are dealt with today than they were 50 years ago. We have supposedly better “laws” but we don’t observe them. We don’t even pretend to follow them. The courts don’t follow them, the police and prosecutors ignore them.

Women know it. And that’s why we don’t report problems. We don’t report date rape and we don’t report rapist fathers or mom’s boyfriend who can’t keep his hands off us. Or the boss who turns our working life into a living hell. Why bother? It won’t change anything and we aren’t going to save other women from the same fate.

The beat goes on.

GOVERNMENT GAMES – Marilyn Armstrong

In my neighborhood, my right-hand neighbor hates cops. He doesn’t want to pay for them. The guy on the left resents school taxes.  He never had kids. Never wanted them. He doesn’t want to pay for education none of his children will ever use.

Meanwhile, down the road, that guy has a big powerful SUV. He doesn’t care if the roads are plowed because his transport can plow through anything. If you can’t get through, well, too bad. Why should he pay for your transportation? He’s got his own. He also probably would step over you if you had a heart attack and were lying nearly dead on the sidewalk.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Then there’s that odd family up on the hill. They home-school their kids and don’t let them talk to anyone who isn’t on their “list.” They don’t believe in government. He doesn’t feel he should have to pay for anything. They are the creepy family who wouldn’t turn their hose on if the neighbor’s house was on fire. You want him choosing which taxes to pay?

In theory, Americans settled this issue at the beginning as part of the Revolution.

Taxes exist and we pay them because we are required to do so. You don’t have to like anything about the government, governor, Congress, or the school board. Or the cops, the town selectman, or the Mayor.

There are laws and we abide by them. Our government is not lunchtime in a diner where you pick what you want from the menu. The closest you can get to that kind of choice is voting for whoever you believe will support the programs you support.

If you don’t have children, you still need to recognize how important education is. It isn’t whether or not you or yours use the school. Failure to educate is how we got to the sad state we are in. If we continue to keep slashing education the way we have in the past, our national life will be worse, maybe even worse than we imagine.

Every time we need to cut government funds, we slash education as if education is of so little importance, we needn’t bother with it. We underpay teachers, underfund schools — and then complain that people are stupid. Meanwhile, we work very hard to make sure they remain stupid and their kids, too.

I think we need to look at the bigger picture. We don’t live in little tribes in caves. We all depend on our government and each other for survival, socialization, culture … everything. I need Social Security and Medicare. We all need roads, even if we don’t drive because whether it’s our own vehicle or a bus, it runs on a road. If all our “stuff” is delivered, they too need roads. We need bridges repaired whether or not we cross that river. Our visitors, doctors, delivery people, friends, and family may cross that river and may not have a convenient canoe for paddling.

Education benefits us all, as does the fire department, police … and oh yes, roads. And the military, National Parks. If I don’t get to visit every single one of them, I am happy they exist.

Even if I never drive through Texas, the roads there are part of the bill that makes sure my roads are paved. And I actually care whether or not people I don’t know live decent lives. It isn’t just about me or mine. I don’t believe the government should be a game where people we elected are allowed to pick and choose who lives and dies. We aren’t pieces on a board.

Vote sensibly, try to make sure other intelligent people vote. Set the glibness aside and make the best choice you can. Not every pol is bad. True, the awful ones are currently in charge, but who put them there? People voted for those losers. We didn’t have a revolution and it wasn’t a junta. It was voters — and the Russians.

There’s a lot of stuff — like disability, for example — for which a lot of people don’t want to pay. Or Medicare and Social Security. There are a million things the government does to keep things going. Take that away and we are alone, making do and only the wealthy survive.

To make a country, you need people who care about each other and share some fundamental beliefs. We need to believe that other people matter and recognize that we will share the funding with people we’ll never know. That is what makes a nation as opposed to a bunch of tribes living in caves and throwing rocks at each other.

Round two of four – Detroit

I never believe anything politicians say when they are trying to get elected. At best, they can promise what they want — hope — to deliver. The result will depend on many variables so whatever they say is what they want to do. It doesn’t make them liars or evil if they can’t deliver.

They can’t promise anything because no matter what you-know-who says, a president doesn’t make laws and can’t do whatever he or she wants to do. Elections and nominees offer us hopes and dreams, but they aren’t etched in stone. We can reasonably assume many of them will not be met.

Not all politicians are the kind of sleaze we see in Washington today. Many have the world’s best intentions but have a congress who won’t pass their ideas into law. Or have a Supreme Court that doesn’t think the legislation is legal — or at least this court says that. Who knows what the next one will think?

We do the best we can or we’ll live under fascism or in chaos. Take your pick. Neither sounds good.

We have made some progress throughout the years. Not enough, but some. Before you throw out the bathwater, make sure the baby isn’t in it.

AN ALLEGORY OF LIFE AND MORAL BREAKDOWN – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Allegory


I decided this morning that if our government doesn’t feel they need to obey laws, why should we? They have declared us as a non-government. They have no laws by which they need to abide, so why are we bothering?

Allegorical equality

Our president, good old mentally defective #45 doesn’t feel he owes us, the voters and citizens of this country, anything at all. Putting aside for the moment his obvious mental illness, stupidity, bigotry, viciousness, cruelty, and mean-spiritedness — he is a big bag of air, an empty nothingness.

Allegory of hatred and bigotry – By: Aleix-Pons

Allegorically speaking, we don’t have a government. If our purported leader can do anything he wants, why can’t we? Why can’t we all do whatever we want, whenever we feel like it? We do we have to work? Or pay taxes? Why do we have to obey traffic laws? We can all carry guns and when we need something, we can just shove the gun in someone’s face and demand it. That’s what the prez does and I think he has set us a fine example of what the world he believes in.

If just one of us stops obeying laws, we’ll get busted.  But what if ALL of us — the entire body politic —  stopped obeying not one, but ALL laws? Stopped obeying even the most basic rules of common sense and civility? What if we all refused to send our children to school? Refused to stop for red lights and parked anywhere we felt like parking? We can all carry big guns so when we ran out of money or anything else, we can hold up the nearest store or bank. We’ll just take what we need, grab what we want, and when they try to arrest us, say “screw you” and shoot our way out.

Allegory of the Cave – Plato

They couldn’t catch all of us. After a while, I’m pretty sure they’d give up trying and take to chaos too. I bet the previous so-called police would be the best law-breakers of them all. They’ve got the training to do evil way better than me. Just wait until the military goes wild.

Do I really think this is a good idea? No. But that’s the example being set for us, so after a while, we have to begin to wonder “why not?” The wild west wasn’t nearly as wild as we could make today’s America.

So if you feel chaos and law-breaking is a good idea for Those People, it should be good for us too. That’s what allegory is all about, isn’t it? Or is that metaphor? So hard to be sure.

WHY I SIGNED THE HISTORIANS’ STATEMENT ON THE IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT TRUMP By SEAN MUNGER

SIGNING THE IMPEACHMENT STATEMENT – SEAN MUNGER

This week I was asked by a professional contact in the history community to add my name to this statement, called the Historians’ Statement on the Impeachment of President Trump. It was an easy call for me to do so. But, as has become evident over the last few days, this statement was much more than just another “online petition.” The historians who have signed this statement, now more than 2,000 of them, have had a measurable impact on the events that occurred in Washington, D.C. this week. Indeed, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi referenced the statement in her floor speech beginning debate on the impeachment of Trump. As you know, the House of Representatives voted to impeach him. We historians have joined numerous other professionals whose expertise is relevant to the impeachment process, such as Constitutional legal scholars and public prosecutors, in stating that impeachment is warranted under the standards of the Constitution.

Some of the historians I joined in signing include Ken Burns (documentary historian), Robert Caro (biographer of LBJ), Ron Chernow (author of the biography of Alexander Hamilton that was the basis of the Broadway musical), John Fea (fellow history podcaster and author of the wonderful Way of Improvement Leads Home blog), Alan Taylor (Pulitzer Prize-winning historian), Matthew Dennis (my former academic advisor), and many, many more.

While the statement speaks for itself, I thought I would add a few words to explain why I signed it.

I marched in favor of women’s rights and solidarity on the day after President Trump was inaugurated in 2017. That action was political. My signing of the Historians’ Statement goes beyond politics.

Reason one: Trump’s actions are unquestionably impeachable.

The Constitution’s standard for impeachment is deliberately vague: “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The fact that it’s vague doesn’t mean it’s always difficult to tell when the standard has been reached. The impeachment inquiry has proven beyond all doubt that Trump committed bribery by conditioning aid to the government of Ukraine on their investigation of the Biden family. That’s bribery. As for other “high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” it seems difficult to argue that this standard hasn’t been reached either. If we could go back in time to the stuffy room in Philadelphia where the Founders met in the summer of 1787 to create the Constitution and give them the example of Trump’s actions, it’s abundantly clear that they would agree, probably to a man, that this is the kind of behavior they had in mind when they wrote the impeachment clause. The evidence is uncontroverted. I say that both as a historian and as a lawyer.

Reason two: The Constitution and its processes must be protected.

America was created with the notion that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Flawed, yes; imperfect, yes; subject to change in interpretation by future generations who are entrusted with it, certainly. But some things about it are absolute. If the Constitution’s standard for a President’s removal from office is reached, not taking the Constitutionally-required action to set that process in motion does violence to the primacy of the Constitution and its principles. Letting Trump’s unconscionable behavior slide, giving it a pass, is itself an affront to the Constitution and everything it stands for.

The action of impeachment entails considerable political risk. While it’s true that I voted for the other lady (you know, the one who got more votes than Trump did), I’m certainly not happy with the idea that, if Trump were to be convicted, his successor would be Mike Pence, a man whose bedrock principle is that I, as a member of the LGBT community, do not deserve basic human and civil rights, and once in office he’ll likely mobilize the power of the government to strip me of those rights–because he’s done it before. But that’s a political calculation. The risk to the Constitution in turning a blind eye to Trump’s crimes transcends politics, and it should. That’s what the primacy of the Constitution means.

The men who met in this room in the summer of 1787 believed they were serving principles larger than themselves. I think we have to honor that commitment, however imperfect the Constitution was (and still is).

Reason three: Trump must be taught that his wrong actions have consequences.

Even if the Senate takes the cowardly way out and does not convict him, the impeachment of Trump has considerable value on its own. One of them is to teach him something he apparently hasn’t learned during his nearly two years in office: he can’t just do anything he wants, and his bad actions have consequences. Apparently, he has learned that lesson. There is a report out of the White House this week that Trump was surprised, astonished and furious that he was impeached, and that he’s gone through violent mood swings as a result. Indeed, an aide is quoted as saying, “He’s very angry. It’s made a deep impression.” Trump is a man impervious to facts (such as the proven scientific reality of human-caused climate change) and incapable of empathy (such as when he ordered children to be placed in concentration camps). But if impeachment can get through to him on such a deep level, and tell him that his actions will receive push-back, from the Constitution if from no other source, then the impeachment is worth it on that score alone.

Reason four: Historical precedent shows impeachment has the effect of reining in a wayward President’s actions.

If you look back at the two Presidents who have previously been impeached, Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, you’ll see that, although neither was removed from office, impeachment had a profound effect on both of them: they took care to stop doing the actions that got them impeached in the first place. Andrew Johnson, in particular, was every bit as pugnacious and defiant about his impeachment as Trump is about his own. Yet, after the impeachment and Senate trial in May 1868, Johnson suddenly went quiet: he stopped trying to interfere with Congress’s power over Reconstruction and he took no significant action for the rest of his term.

Clinton, similarly, toned down his act in his last two years in office. And you can bet that, at long last, for once in his life, he stopped running around with young women and lying about it. Both Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were/are deeply flawed men who did monstrous things. But impeachment did put brakes on their reckless behavior. Even as defiant and vengeful as Trump is, I seriously doubt he’ll ever call up a head of state and ask them to interfere in our elections again. There’s no telling what other more subtle effects it will have that can serve the public good.

Andrew Johnson was, like Trump, a racist man, a white supremacist, and deeply incompetent at his job as President of the United States. But, his impeachment in 1868 did have an effect on his behavior.

I don’t like to see our Constitutional system tested and tarnished by the actions of President Trump. Our government has many important things that it could be doing right now, like taking immediate and drastic action on climate change. But the Constitution must be protected, and sometimes its enemies are within the walls rather than without.

I stand by the Historians’ statement. I only hope it’s not too late for our republic to be saved from the damage being done to it by self-serving people like Donald J. Trump.

All images in this article were either taken by me or are in the public domain.

Please check out Sean’s blog at: https://seanmunger.com/

NOT WORTH THE PAPER IT’S WRITTEN ON – Marilyn Armstrong

It was Samuel Goldwyn who supposedly said that “a verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.” He had a point. Almost everything is done online these days from legal papers to mortgages.

Job offers, book deals, major purchases (like cars) are all done online, without people meeting face-to-face. I’m still not willing to make major commitments without a personal meeting, but I’m old-school. Maybe you should be, too.

Computers, or not, get it in writing. Without the handwritten signature of a live human with a name, address, and phone numbers, you ain’t got nothing.

When I was working my first jobs out of college, I would take anything with some connection — no matter how vague — to professional writing or editing.
It was the 1960s. Those days, before home computers and the Internet, getting a job was pretty simple, at least at entry levels.

You saw a listing in the paper for something you figured you could do. You phoned them (if they gave a number to call) or wrote a letter. On paper. Put it in an envelope with a stamp and dropped in a mailbox. You included a résumé or brought one with you for the interview.

You went to the meeting in person. A day or two later, that person (or his/her secretary) called back to say “Yes, you’re hired,” or “No, thank you.” An entry-level job didn’t require 30 hours of interviews or meeting everyone from the company president to the IT crew and the overnight backup guy.

And there really was a job, unlike now where they interview people for jobs that don’t exist just to find out if there’s a workforce to fill it — should it ever come up. You were qualified to do the job or not. The person who interviewed you actually had the authority to hire you. Which was why he or she was conducting interviews.

Unlike today where you can be certain the first person you talk to is someone from HR trying to ascertain whether or not you are a serial killer or corporate espionage agent.

Contracts? Those were for really important jobs. Getting in the door was relatively easy. Getting an office with a window might never happen. If you were a woman, knowing how to type was your entry card.

So the company made me an offer. I took it. I was optimistic back then. Any job might lead to the coveted and elusive “something better.” I was already working, so I gave my current employer two-weeks notice. On the appointed day, I showed up for work.

The guy who had offered me the job was gone. Quit? Fired? No one seemed to know or care. Worse, no one had heard of me, or my so-called job. I had nothing in writing. Without proof, I had a hard time even getting unemployment. I had learned the most important professional lesson of my life:


GET IT IN WRITING.


Whatever it is, if it’s not on a piece of paper, dated, and signed, it’s a verbal contract. Sometimes, that’s fine, but it’s not something you can show to a judge or for that matter, the unemployment department yo-yos. Which, in the immortal words of Samuel Goldwyn, means it is not worth the paper it’s written on.

WHAT THE DOES THE FEDERAL JUDGE’S RULING ABOUT MCGAHN MEAN? Reblog – Washington Post

This is one of the contextual posts The Washington Post sends out to help us understand complicated rulings from courts and congress. This one is important insofar as it says what many of us have been thinking.

In America, we do not have Kings. We do not have monarchs with unlimited powers. That is what the Revolutionary War was about. In all of our history, this is the one thing the U.S. has always stood against: allowing unlimited power by one person over all others. We are not Trump’s subjects. He is our subject. We elected him — and he is not in any way the absolute ruler here.


The Daily 202: In ordering McGahn to testify, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson broadly rejects Trump’s absolutist claims

November 26 at 11:32 AM

With Mariana Alfaro

THE BIG IDEA: In her ruling that Don McGahn must comply with a congressional subpoena, U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of Washington goes to great lengths to illustrate how far out on a constitutional limb President Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr have crawled with their absolutist claims of executive power.

Jackson invokes “Animal Farm” as she dismisses the Justice Department’s position that the president alone has the authority to make unilateral determinations regarding whether he and his senior aides, current and former, will respond to, or defy, subpoenas from House committees during investigations of potential wrongdoing by his own administration.

“For a similar vantage point, see the circumstances described by George Orwell,” the judge writes in her 118-page decision. “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”

House Democrats want the former White House counsel, who left his position in October 2018, to testify about the episodes of possible obstruction of justice that former special counsel Bob Mueller outlined in his report. They are debating whether to proceed with articles of impeachment related to the president’s alleged efforts to undermine that investigation. Jackson said McGahn can assert executive privilege when asked specific questions, but Trump cannot issue a blanket order to stop his former aide from showing up to testify.

“Compulsory appearance by dint of a subpoena is a legal construct, not a political one, and per the Constitution, no one is above the law,” she concludes.

— The Justice Department, which is representing the former White House counsel in the case, quickly announced plans to appeal, and the White House decried the ruling in a statement. McGahn’s lawyer said his client will comply with Jackson’s order to appear unless a court issues a stay pending appeal.

— Jackson accuses the Trump administration of “emasculating” the House by trying to thwart its ability to seek redress from the courts when subpoenas are ignored. The judge quotes from “The Federalist Papers,” specifically No. 51 by James Madison and No. 69 by Alexander Hamilton, along with Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America,” as she rejects the administration’s argument that White House senior staff are “absolutely immune.”

— Trump has cottoned to describing his authority as “absolute.” He has publicly declared his intention to stonewall and ignore all subpoenas. White House counsel Pat Cipollone said in an Oct. 8 letter that the administration would not cooperate in any way with the House’s inquiry into whether the president abused his power vis-a-vis Ukraine.

— Some variant of the word “absolute” appears 124 times in Jackson’s opinion. She picks apart each of the Justice Department’s arguments with often elegant prose and lays out a standard for compliance that would apply just as much to, say, former national security adviser John Bolton as McGahn. She apparently wrote this opinion knowing that her decision would be appealed, and the case could eventually wind up before the Supreme Court. Some Democrats hope that her ruling, in the meantime, could embolden other current or former Trump administration officials to comply with subpoenas and appear for depositions.

“Stated simply, the primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that Presidents are not kings,” Jackson writes. “This means that they do not have subjects, bound by loyalty or blood, whose destiny they are entitled to control. Rather, in this land of liberty, it is indisputable that current and former employees of the White House work for the People of the United States, and that they take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Moreover, as citizens of the United States, current and former senior-level presidential aides have constitutional rights, including the right to free speech, and they retain these rights even after they have transitioned back into private life.”

— Jackson, nominated by Barack Obama, has been a district court judge since 2013. Still only 49, she’s often mentioned in elite legal circles as a possible nominee for the Supreme Court by a future Democratic president, which could make her the first black woman to join the high court. The judge studied government as an undergraduate at Harvard and stayed for law school, like Chief Justice John Roberts, where she was a supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review. Jackson clerked for Justice Stephen Breyer, served as a federal public defender and spent a few years in private practice.

— The judge blasts the Justice Department for arguing in the McGahn case that courts don’t have the jurisdiction to adjudicate disputes between the legislative and executive branches while the president’s personal lawyers simultaneously ask courts to block subpoenas for his tax records. “A lawsuit that asserts that a legislative subpoena should be quashed as unlawful is merely the flip side of a lawsuit that argues that a legislative subpoena should be enforced,” she explains. “DOJ implicitly suggests that (much like absolute testimonial immunity) the subject-matter jurisdiction of the federal courts is properly invoked only at the pleasure of the President.”

Jackson emphasizes that a 1971 memo from Richard Nixon’s Office of Legal Counsel asserting that senior White House aides do not need to appear before Congress is “neither precedential nor persuasive.” She argues that the executive cannot be the judge of its own privilege. “Fifty years of say so within the Executive branch does not change that fundamental truth,” she adds.

The judge notes that Ronald Reagan, during the Iran-Contra affair, declined to assert executive privilege and even furnished relevant excerpts of his personal diaries to Congress for review. She recalls how George Washington turned over records so that Congress could investigate a military operation that went awry. She also notes how legislative and executive branches have often reached accommodations to prevent courts from getting involved and points out that Trump has rejected this approach.

— Jackson repeatedly cites a 2008 decision in which U.S. District Judge John Bates, also of Washington, rejected President George W. Bush’s bid to block testimony by his former counsel Harriet Miers to the House Judiciary Committee on the firings of U.S. attorneys. An appeals court never ruled on the case because the White House and Congress reached an accommodation. But Bates, a Bush appointee, concluded that the Bush administration’s claim of “absolute immunity from compelled congressional process for senior presidential aides is without any support in the case law.”

Jackson cites or refers to Bates’s ruling more than 40 times. “Just as with Harriet Miers before him,” Jackson writes, “Donald McGahn must appear.”

— She explains how legislative subpoenas are older than the country itself. Citing a 1926 law review article, Jackson notes that, even before the ratification of the Constitution in 1787, the colonial assemblies, like the House of Commons, assumed, usually without question, the right to investigate. She shows how the historical roots of the concept of a “subpoena” go back to the times of ancient Rome and Athens. Jackson traces how the concept evolved in English common law. Jackson quotes an opinion from Chief Justice John Marshall in 1807 that concluded “the obligation [to comply with a subpoena] is general, and it would seem that no person could claim an exemption” from it.

“As far as this Court can tell, no federal judge has ever held that defiance of a valid subpoena does not amount to concrete and particularized injury in fact; indeed, it appears that no court has ever even considered this proposition,” Jackson writes. “And perhaps for good reason: if defiance of duly issued subpoenas does not create Article III standing and does not open the doors of the court for enforcement purposes, it is hard to see how the wheels of our system of civil and criminal justice could keep turning.”

— Judges always cite precedents, of course. That’s their job. But it reveals something deeper about the present political moment that so many federal judges, appointed by previous presidents of both parties, feel compelled to offer what read like increasingly discursive and detailed, history lessons in their rulings to illustrate why Trump’s conception of his power is so at odds with the American tradition. In May, for example, another judge at the same courthouse likened Trump to James Buchanan, who also whined about “harassment” from Congress. Perhaps part of the impulse is the incumbent’s clear disinterest in U.S. history or his demonstrated lack of basic historical knowledge.

— For his part, Barr has been accusing “the left” of trying to “incapacitate” Trump by conducting oversight, which he likens to a “war” on the president. “The fact of the matter is that, in waging a scorched earth, no-holds-barred war of resistance against this administration, it is the left that is engaged in the systematic shredding of norms and the undermining of the rule of law,” the attorney general said at the Federalist Society’s annual meeting earlier this month. “I don’t deny that Congress has some implied authority. But the sheer volume of what we see today, the pursuit of scores of parallel investigations through an avalanche of subpoenas, is plainly designed to incapacitate the executive branch and indeed is touted as such.”

— This case could certainly end up on the Supreme Court’s docket. The justices, including two appointed by Trump, may soon weigh in on other major cases revolving around the separation of powers.  Last night, for instance, the Supreme Court blocked a House committee from immediately reviewing Trump’s financial records after the president’s lawyers agreed to an expedited review of a lower court ruling granting access.

“The court’s action signals that, even as Congress considers impeaching Trump, the court will undertake a more complete consideration of the legal powers of Congress and state prosecutors to investigate the president while he is in office,” Robert Barnes reports. “The court instructed Trump’s lawyers to file a petition by Dec. 5 stating why the court should accept the case for full briefing and oral argument. If the petition is eventually denied, the lower-court ruling will go into effect. If accepted, the case probably will be heard this term, with a decision before the court adjourns at the end of June.”

— In the meantime, Trump’s refusal to cooperate with the House investigations is likely to emerge as the basis for its own article of impeachment. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said in a letter to his colleagues on Monday that he plans to send a report summarizing the conclusions of his investigations to the House Judiciary Committee soon after Congress returns from Thanksgiving break next week. “We will catalogue the instances of noncompliance with lawful subpoenas as part of our report to the Judiciary Committee,” Schiff wrote, “which will allow that Committee to consider whether an article of impeachment based on obstruction of Congress is warranted along with an article or articles based on this underlying conduct or other presidential misconduct.”


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LIKE WATERGATE. DRIP, DRIP, DRIP – Marilyn Armstrong

Da Prez has been shrieking “Witch Hunt” but not everyone is quite as stupid as he thought they were. Where there was no one willing to testify, now they have more people lined up who want to “tell the whole truth” then they have time to listen to.

Drip, drip, drip.

It takes time. Years. But now,  we want to know what happened. Really happened.

First, there was Mueller. We were disappointed. We wanted more than that. Nothing wrong? Are you kidding? I assumed he had done everything wrong. It was more a matter of proof, evidence, facts, legal stuff. This has been a lot like Watergate times 20. I remember the joy I felt as during  Watergate when the dominos began to fall.

Drip, drip, drip … plunk … rattle, bang, bang, bang.

And they all fell down. Finally, down went the Top Dog. Never did I imagine we’d wind up back in this place again with even bigger and more dangerous fish to fry.


Aside from setting our country back to being a proper nation, we’ve got a planet to save, wars to end, a climate to save. Oceans to clean and wildlife to preserve. Medical care to make available to all. There’s barely anything that doesn’t need some degree of saving.

I’m going to go with “save the planet first,” but that’s only because if we lose the planet, nothing else will matter.

Maybe, along the way, we will save ourselves from extinction. That would be a nice touch.


I just wanted to add this last bit, in case you weren’t clear on what I’ve been getting at.

There are no innocents in this mix. To say that all politics is corrupt is more or less true and always had been … but not like this.

I don’t merely want to “know more.” I want the whole story. Paragraph by paragraph, line by line. I want to know what happened and more than that, I want to know what I can do to make it better. I’m tired of feeling helpless while the world crumbles around me. Maybe now we can make a start at changing the world into a place my granddaughter can build a life.

IMPEACHMENT FOLLIES – Garry Armstrong

Marilyn asked me to write a piece.  This as I was swapping comments with others on Facebook as we watched today’s Impeachment Hearings and the comments that followed. I internally blanched but said, “Yes, dear.” I quickly dashed out this first paragraph. Time out. Nature was calling.

(Insert commercial here)

Okay, I’m back. Nature’s call answered. Showered, shaved and CNN is on with the evening recap of today’s Impeachment hearing. Maybe I missed some important stuff while attending my own business. Throne room biz gets top priority here.

It seems there is hard evidence of the call that never was — or that PERFECT phoner without any quid pro quo.  Donzo’s disciples are in spin overdrive while Democrats are like Felix the cat who nabbed a feline whistleblower.

Do we take time out for the weekend? Maybe watch some college and pro football?  Or do we put the Impeachment on hold? Will the hearings keep us in a mental brain lock until they resume, presumably on Monday?

Rest assured,  the weekend talk shows, especially the Sunday Pol Staple Shows, will review and regurgitate everything we’ve seen and heard during the past few days.  Was it good for you? Didn’t Wolf Blitzer look like he was barely able to keep from grinning?

These are good days for Facebook, the social media giant dealing with well-earned criticism for its many breaches of privacy.

Facebook’s cyber party line is perfect for many folks who are sharing their reactions, opinions, and emotional takes on the impeachment hearings. The comments and responses to comments are clearly partisan.


I think it’s a healthy way to unload your exhilaration, anger, and frustration over the mulligan’s stew of interrogation and testimony. Yelling at the television doesn’t get the reactions we need.

I can’t be the only one shouting profanities at some of Donzo’s coat-holding Pols who are insulting and demeaning witnesses testifying about the existence of the phone call and the hinky business surrounding what he said he said.  Today, we heard first-hand testimony of Donzo’s call to his Ukraine liaisons. It was a call taken in a restaurant and clearly heard by a myriad of people. Probably including the Russians who are very good at snooping in Ukraine, not to mention right here in the good ole’ U.S.A.

How loud WAS he talking? Did they put the call on speaker? We wouldn’t want the waiters or busboys to miss anything. Tune in tomorrow for further updates, revelations, and the throbbing excitement of our democracy falling apart while the world watches with a mixture of dismay and glee.

Look across the river,  Lennie. See the rabbits, Lennie? I get all sentimental remembering the glory days of Watergate.


Speaking of the Tricky One, they’ve been constantly running an audio clip of Milhouse’s rant on the media, “…and, ya know,  there’s not a good one of them on all three of the damn Networks.”

Donzo can smile because he has more than three networks “harassing” him. He has more media dissidents than any President in U.S. history. Even more than George Washington, a president who could tell you something about political detractors. He didn’t take a third term in office because he could not tolerate more press attacks — and that was long before mass media.

Donzo has gone from being a star on “The Apprentice” to being a living legend in his own mind. He is the man waiting to be carved onto Mt. Rushmore and the man who claims he shot Liberty Valance. Now, finally, he’s the guy with the highest TV ratings in town. It’s the brightest spot on his resume.

Print that legend!

PRUDENT IS UNAMERICAN — Marilyn Armstrong

Prudent. Maybe like the Impeachment Hearings?

Prudent seems like a very strange word these days. Here we are — Garry and I — and the impeachment hearings are on the TV and we’re having little conversations about how people feel about this. I gathered, but last night’s “comedy” television that these hearings are getting gigantic ratings. Garry said he was sure that Trump would be very proud of this and I thought that was pretty funny.

I think this IS part of the space force!

I guess he moves on with his life in which I think he still wants another television show of his own (like who does he think would hire him?) explaining that he had the highest-rated television show of 2019. But if he’s not the President, I don’t think he’s going to get such great ratings.

I also learned last night that he was worried that naked pictures of him (Trump) would surface. Naked pictures of DJT? And the man who is our “president” is worried about naked pictures of his big fat self?

No, no, no.


I can barely stand to see whats-his-face fully clothed. The idea of all that blubber naked is beyond me on every level.

Prudent? Careful? Working within limits? Honest?

Sometimes these guys go on for five minutes and I look at Garry and say “Was there a question in there?” We have our own version of “Law and Order” going on here.

Prudent?

I don’t know how the reporters understand what’s being asked and answered. Do they?

IT’S CONSTITUTIONALLY SIMPLE: TRUMP HAS VIOLATED THE LAW: THE SHINBONE STAR – Marilyn Armstrong

From the U.S. Constitution (as amended; emphasis added)

“It shall be unlawful for a foreign national directly or through any other person to make any contribution of money or other thing of value, or to promise expressly or impliedly to make any such contribution, in connection with an election to any political office or in connection with any primary election, convention, or caucus held to select candidates for any political office; or for any person to solicit, accept, or receive any such contribution from a foreign national.”

It’s this simple: Read the Constitution. It states it’s “unlawful” to “solicit” help from a foreign national to dig up dirt on a potential political opponent. It’s a crime. It’s spelled out in black and white for anyone and everyone to read.

The Constitution does not provide a political partisan spin on what’s legal or illegal. The document crafted by our founding fathers — sustained as the foundation for the safety and security of our republic for more than 240 years — is clear, crystal clear on this topic.

To repeat loudly from the Constitution: It’s “unlawful” for any person “to solicit, accept, or receive any such contribution from a foreign national.”

Notice no mention here of any need for a “quid pro quo” to make a solicitation of aid illegal. Simply asking for help is against the law.

Just to make certain the facts of the issue are clear in all of our minds, here’s what pertinent portions of a White House-provided “memo” — a heavily edited and heavily redacted “transcript” of the July 25 phone conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky — reveals. It’s important to note this is not a “perfect” phone conversation.

UNCLASSIFIED
Declassified by order of the President
September 24, 2019

MEMORANDUM OF TELEPHONE CONVERSATION
SUBJECT: Telephone Conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine
Participants: President Zelensky of Ukraine
Notetakers: The White House Situation Room
Date/Time: July 25, 2019/9:03-9:33 am EDT
Place: Residence

“President Zelensky: … I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.

The President: I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike … I guess you have one of your wealthy people. The server: they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it … Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.

President Zelensky: Yes it is very important for me and everything that you just mentioned earlier … I will personally tell you that one of my assistants spoke with Mr. Giuliani just recently and we are hoping very much that Mr. Giuliani will be able to travel to Ukraine and we will meet once he comes to Ukraine … I also plan to surround myself with great people and in addition to that investigation, I guarantee as President of Ukraine that all the investigations will be done openly and candidly. That I can assure you.

The President: Good because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great … The other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.”

So ignore all the noise that Trump has done nothing wrong, nothing impeachable, coming from the White House and Republican lawmakers across the country as public testimony begins in earnest Wednesday in the House impeachment investigation. All the nonsensical ravings from these lunatic minds are aimed at distracting “we the people” from the “unlawful” (illegal) and corrupt activities undertaken by government officials during the past few months at the direction of the current Oval Office occupant.

Focus on this fact: Trump has violated the law and is feverishly working to obstruct the Constitutionally-authorized impeachment inquiry by ordering White House officials familiar with particulars of the Ukranian phone call not to testify before House Committees involved in the impeachment process.

Focus on this fact: Ignoring a subpoena to testify is an “obstruction of Congress” or an  “obstruction of justice” both criminal acts. So, in essence, Trump is ordering executive branch employees — paid for with taxpayer dollars — to commit a crime

Focus on this fact: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has stated emphatically that if the House passes articles of impeachment against Trump he will personally make certain the articles are “taken care of.” In other words either no Senate trial or no conviction.

Focus on this fact: House Democrats engaged in the impeachment inquiry continue to work up legislation to address many of the key issues that directly impact “we the people,” including measures on gun control, minimum wage, and health care. These bills once approved are sent over to the Senate where McConnell, in his role as majority leader, ignores them.

Focus on this fact: It’s the “do-nothing Senate Republicans” intent and obsessed with defending an unlawful president who are not going about the business of governing the country. Apparently, they can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.

The facts, Constitutionally speaking, show Trump is acting “unlawfully,” attempting to once again solicit help from foreign governments in order to win reelection as president (remember Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election in order to get their man into the White House).

Our country, the global community, can not afford to allow this type of anti-American, treasonous behavior to continue. Focus on the facts provided by our Constitution, not the fiction flowing from the White House.

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