WHAT HAPPENS IF NO ONE CARES ABOUT LAW OR ORDER? – Marilyn Armstrong

We make laws. We enforce laws or try to enforce them, anyway.

We’ve done such a great job trying to enforce stupid, meaningless laws while doing such a poor job enforcing more important laws, we’ve got millions of people in prison for doing nothing much — while corporate killers laugh among themselves.

Laws don’t apply to them.

In fact, we do not and could not actually enforce every law we make. The only way a nation can exist is when the population — which is to say most of its citizens — have a fundamental regard for law and carry with them the belief that order is a good thing.

Without a citizenry who respect the law, you have chaos, disorder, disunion and ultimately, the worst kind of tyranny. No country can maintain a police force to make everyone do the right thing. Most people do the right thing because they understand it’s right. That’s all the reason they need.

I don’t need enforcement. I get it. I understand. Probably, so do you. That’s the basis of a free society.

We should be crying out for mature, educated, reasonable men and women who can work together even when their parties utterly disagree about pretty much everything. We need people who care about the people they represent. When governments don’t care for people and stop believing the good of the nation supersedes their personal squabbles, it’s the end of democracy and freedom.

After that, the only way to maintain order is for everyone to be afraid, which is the definition of a police state.

If we can’t find bridges to cross, we have no government. We can make all the laws we want, but unless people believe in law and for the most part, live within it, life as we know it is over. The reason this — or any country — works is that most citizens do “the right thing.” They don’t need a gun pointed at them. There aren’t enough cops, guns, or prisons to make everyone obey if no one cares.

We either learn to behave like civilized people or it’s back to the dark ages — a world where only “might makes right.” But this time, we’ll have mobile phones!

I’m sure that will change everything.

UPDATED: DRIP, DRIP, DRIP, PLUNK – Marilyn Armstrong

Da Prez is screaming “Witch Hunt.” Meanwhile, we wait. And wait.  Because we know there’s evil afoot. We want to know what kind of evil.

We want details.

We want to know.

Today we learned a little. It’s interesting that while the Fed – Mueller and associates – are not pressing down hard on Cohen, New York State is pushing for a substantial prison sentence. Garry — who has a tendency to be right about many things political — thinks it’s a “good cop, bad cop” thing except in this case, it’s “good judge, bad judge.”

Robert Mueller

Our chief mobster can pardon Cohen on Federal charges — of which there are very few with no jail time involved — but he cannot pardon him on those New York state charges. I don’t think there’s a lot of love in New York for Godfather Donzo and I’m not expecting a strongly positive reaction to another plea from Cohen. Or Donzo.

There was just so much news today. I haven’t fully processed it and neither has anyone else, probably because this is just the beginning and we aren’t entirely sure, but we can certainly make some solid guesses. What today’s filings on Michael Cohen said is that this is one bad dude. That not only was he a criminal, but he was in it for his own profit and did whatever he did from a position of privilege and power.

Godfather 2 in service to Godfather 1. Or, as Garry put it, “Cohen is one evil dude.”

What was 45’s reaction to it?

How does he figure that?

This is, to put it mildly, a peculiar reaction to the sentencing filings on Michael Cohen. Among many other things, Cohen says the president ordered him to do it.

Take-away from the Mueller document:

Individual 1 is Da Prez. Totally cleared? Seriously? But wait. There’s ever so much more!

And this is but the tip of a huge iceberg

I cannot help feeling that it’s about time we got a little feedback from the investigation. We have, after all, been enthusiastically supporting it even though we had no idea what was going on. We hoped and I think we hoped rightly.

I had to assume that something was indeed going on. I did not expect to get a final report saying “It really was a witch hunt and the poor, bedeviled prez didn’t do nothing wrong, just like he said.”

Michael Cohen

No, I assumed he had done everything wrong. It was more a matter of proof, evidence, facts, legal briefs. This has been a lot like Watergate times 20. I remember with joy the pleasure I felt as in Watergate, 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, an atmosphere to preserve. Oceans to clean and many kinds of wildlife to save from extinction. Medical care to make available to all. There’s barely anything that doesn’t need 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:

As Bump writes:

Linking Trump to knowledge of the payment and the payment to the campaign is important. One of the defenses that might have been offered by Trump is that he regularly had his attorney pay off women to keep their stories quiet. The government filing indicates that AMI and Cohen discussed the company helping to make such payoffs as early as 2014. But the references to the rationale behind the payments in 2016 and the inclusion of the phrase “at the direction” of the candidate bolsters the evidence that the McDougal and Daniels payments were not just run-of-the-mill behavior.

Given that Cohen indicated that the payments were meant to influence the election and that they came at the direction of Trump, Lawrence Noble, former general counsel for the Federal Election Commission, told The Post, “there is little question Cohen, the campaign and the candidate are liable for the campaign finance violations.”

There are no innocents in this mix. They are all guilty and one of my biggest questions remains: HOW FAR DID THIS CORRUPTION GO? How many people — senators, military men, lawyers, wheelers and dealers, were paid to let the Russians play tiddlywinks with our electoral process?

To say that all politics is corrupt is maybe partially true, but this is not only corrupt. This is actively treasonous.

Actively treasonous and not just the president and his close little circle, but his whole “ring of thieves.” Nixon’s crime was a cover-up. This isn’t a cover-up. This is an active attempt to gain the services of an enemy foreign power to win the American presidency.

That’s treason and I don’t care how you spell it. I don’t merely want to “know more.” I want the whole story. Paragraph by paragraph.

ABOUT THE GOOD OLD FIRST AMENDMENT – Marilyn Armstrong

1st amendment cartoonThe first amendment says you can say, write, or publish whatever you want without fear of being arrested, shot, imprisoned, or otherwise legally penalized. On television, the internet, as film or in print. From your mouth or on your blog, even if what you are saying is incredibly stupid, baseless, and factually incorrect. Even if it offends everyone who reads or hears it. As an American, being a loudmouthed jerk is constitutionally protected.

However. The first amendment does not say you are required to utter, write, film, broadcast, or publish whatever idiocy crosses your mind. Just because you can, does not mean you should. The Constitution protects your right to be a moron. It does not mandate you actually behave like one.

Those are your rights. My rights include the right to ignore you.

A right is no substitute for intelligence. It’s healthy to think. It’s good to read a book, check your sources, find out what’s really the right thing. Your opinion is not as good as everyone else’s, not if it’s based on hatred, ugliness, nonsense, and fake facts.

It’s perfectly okay to believe in the truth, to support provable facts, and live in the same reality as the rest of the world. Believing whatever you “feel” is “right” is crap.

Give reality a chance. Try reading a book, something your president hasn’t ever done.

Try thinking.

Our nation will be grateful to you. I personally will be grateful.

WHAT’S AT STAKE – Jan Wilberg

As a young woman, one of the few major triumphs socially and politically for women was when in 1965 the Supreme Court ruled birth control legal — for married couples and later for everyone — and then, in 1973, came Roe v. Wade. Until those two decisions, women weren’t full and free citizens. A man could make a baby and walk away. A woman could not.

I and most other women believed we won that battle. We had won the right to decide what was right for our bodies. To be equals to the men in our world. Never did any of us imagine that as senior citizens, we’d find ourselves fighting the battle again.

I believe we will win this again, as we did before. I do not believe the courts will undo a couple of generations of law to make some old white men feel more powerful … but it’s a strange world into which we have roamed. I suppose anything is possible.

And now, from Jan Wilberg: WHAT’S AT STAKE.


sub-ju-ga-tion
noun: the action of bringing someone or something under domination or control


The guys in Washington can puff themselves up and talk all they want about their belief that life begins at conception, that the ‘unborn’ have rights that take priority over a living, breathing, born woman, that overturning Roe v. Wade would right a 45-year old wrong and set this country on a path of morality and righteousness. They lie.

All of this fervor to pack the Supreme Court with a solid anti-choice majority is about one single thing: subjugation.

The linchpin of gender equality is control over one’s own person. My husband controls his body. I control mine. Taken more broadly, men control their bodies. Women control theirs. That’s what we have now, more or less, although creeping restrictions on birth control benefits and access to abortion services erode this notion.

However, if one gender controls their person but the other cannot, then the two genders are not equal. In the event of an overturned Roe v. Wade, the genders would again become quite unequal with men having full agency over themselves while women’s agency is limited, proscribed, and subject to government intervention.

Taken a step further, if a pregnancy results from the actions of a man and a woman, it will be only the woman’s body subject to external review. The guy can pretend it never happened.

I know how this works. I lived through it.

I became pregnant before Roe v. Wade. I’ll die before I get the image of being completely trapped out of my head, a young, witless woman with no money, no options, boxed in by secrecy and shame, fraught with fear, fear of being found out, fear of doing something illegal, fear of getting hurt or worse. Just utterly trapped.

Meanwhile, my boyfriend was unmarked, he had not a single stain, he was unscathed. A not unkind person, he was, just by virtue of his gender, filled with options, not the least of which was driving away. How is this fair? I thought at the time, that I should be so stricken by this situation and he can be so free?

Because, dear one, you and your boyfriend are not equal. He controls his body. You do not.

How do I say this to women in the plainest possible way? If Roe v. Wade is overturned, the government will control what is happening inside your body. 

Years ago, I did abortion clinic defense with a friend of mine who was a devout Catholic. I would pick her up early in the morning and we’d drive to whatever clinic was being targeted that day by the anti-abortion protesters being bused in from other states. Once there, we would link arms with hundreds of other people, women in suits on their way to their office jobs, college students with Rasta hair, men wearing feminist t-shirts, and the protesters would yell at us, really yell at us, inches from our faces.

“Would you ever have an abortion?” I asked my friend one morning, the sun just barely up and the grass wet beneath our feet.

“Never in a million years,” she answered.

We pulled our linked arms closer so there was no space between us, each of us clenching our hands together into tight, strong fists. What we stood for was clear – our right to be in control of our own bodies, our own lives, our own beliefs, no one telling another what she should do. Freedom.


LEGALIZING THE RIGHT TO A GOOD LIFE is my own take on the matter and you are welcome to peruse it at your leisure.

_________________

Photo by Jose Fontano on Unsplash

via What’s At Stake

WHERE’S A GOOD LOOPHOLE WHEN I NEED ONE?

LOOPHOLE


noun
1. An ambiguity or inadequacy in the law or a set of rules, as in: “They exploited tax loopholes.” synonyms: Means of evasion, means of avoidance; More
2. Historically, an arrow slit in a wall.
synonyms: Means of evasion, means of avoidance.
verb
1. Make arrow slits in (a wall or building).


I was sure this was going to turn out to be something to do with hooking wool or weaving cloth. Who knew it was about arrow slits?

Plenty of loopholes?

As for ambiguities and inadequacies in the law or rules, we seem to have more than enough of them to last through a wide variety of lifetimes.

Right now, I’m looking for a loophole that will let us buy groceries when we are out of money. The loopholes all seem to be in the wrong place. A loophole that give us free food until the next check arrives. Now THAT would be a loophole worth pursuing.

A LEGAL ROMANCE – BY ELLIN CURLEY

In the 1970’s, I was wooed, the old-fashioned way, by a suitor. Because of our circumstances, the courtship took an interesting turn.

Larry and I were both at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. I was in my first year of law school and he was in his second. So the focal point for the romance was, of course, the law library.

Georgetown University Law School law library

Whenever I was in the library (which was often) and wherever I was in the library, Larry would show up. He always knew how to find me. He always seemed to know where I was. That alone intrigued me. Then Larry would sit with me and talk. He’d often help me with homework or explain things to me in very vivid and understandable ways. He ‘got’ the law in a way most people didn’t. He had a brilliant legal mind and he was a very good teacher. For me, at the time, this was positively sexy.

Most of the time we just chatted. Larry had a great sense of humor and fun so we laughed a lot. Too much, in fact. On more than one occasion, we were asked to leave the library because we were laughing too much and too loudly.

Larry when we were in law school

Larry would also send me notes. Not your usual romantic, sentimental stuff. No. Useful notes for someone in law school. Let me explain. All exams and most teaching in law school is done in the form of ‘fact patterns’. These are carefully crafted stories packed with legal issues hidden in them that you had to find and analyze. So Larry would send me notes with ‘fact patterns’ on different legal topics so I could practice the art of legal analysis. To me (and to my study group), that was about as romantic as you could get!

The icing on the cake involved another library. The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. My dad was a published author in the fields of psychiatry and anthropology. One night, Larry called me from the Library of Congress. He had looked up my father! He told me all the books and articles written by my dad that were in the famous library. He asked me to pick one for him to read. He took the book out of the library and actually read it. He later discussed it with my dad. Now that’s dedication!

Library of Congress in D.C.

I had always liked Larry. He was bright and funny and had incredible energy. But at first, I didn’t think of him as a boyfriend. I had just ended an ill-fated quasi engagement with an older man back in New York and was not looking for another relationship yet. But Larry was getting to me.

Over Thanksgiving, Larry’s father announced that he was leaving his mother after 33 years of marriage. Larry was devastated and he opened up to me for the first time. That took our relationship to another level and we started dating.

Me when I was in law school

In December, I went to Connecticut for part of the Christmas vacation. Like in the law library, Larry just showed up at my door one day! He had driven two and a half hours from his home in New Jersey to surprise me. And he wanted to meet my parents. That was the only encounter between Larry and my mother that ever went well. My parents were impressed by him. As was I.

Our relationship blossomed when we got back to Washington in January. We were together almost all the time except for classes. Larry asked me to marry him. I said not yet. Larry proposed again. I still said not yet. In March, I finally said, “Okay, let’s get married.” In typical legal fashion, he said that his initial offer had expired. According to the law, my ‘acceptance’ was now considered a counter offer. So he gladly ‘accepted’ my ‘offer’ of marriage. For 25 years he claimed that I had proposed to him. He was legally correct, but it still annoyed me!

So Larry won me over by persistence and creativity. He used the law to his advantage and got a wife in the bargain.

THE BUSINESS OF JURIES

I’ve been frequently called to jury duty. It’s the price you pay for voting because potential jurors get chosen from voter registration lists.

I’m convinced they call us in alphabetical order. It’s the only reason I can figure why Garry and I were called every few months. Good citizens that we are, we always showed up. Coincidentally, our last name starts with an “A.”

Garry and I were called up two or three times a year for more than a decade until one day I called them and said “I’ve had enough!” After that, they slowed down to every other year. I’m pretty sure there’s an outstanding warrant because I didn’t respond to at least one jury summons. It showed up while I was in the hospital trying not to die. So, it’s just possible I’m a wanted criminal.

I figure they’ll get back to me on that.

72-Statehouse-Beacon-Hill_126

They called Garry often, too, but never let him serve. Reporters are like cops. They’ve seen too much. Garry knew the judges, the D.A., the lawyers — and the criminals. And they knew Garry. Knew he knew stuff they preferred he not know. So, no matter how many times they called him, he was in and out in an hour. Maximum two.

I was a better pick. No connection to law enforcement. No lawyers, law suits, or weird political opinions. That I was a free lancer who was going to lose my salary if I couldn’t work did not matter to anyone except me. I went in, sat around. No trial needed me, so I went home. Done, until next time.

72-Beacon-Hill-GA_028

One day, they called me — and I got assigned a trial.

I had instant images of a long criminal trial. Being sequestered for weeks in some fleabag motel. Losing all my clients. Losing my house. I was  not an enthusiastic juror, but when duty calls, you might as well go quietly. Besides, they have officers with guns stationed at the exits.

It turned out to be a minor civil case. One woman hit another at an intersection. Woman A claimed Woman B was jumping the light. Woman B said she had mistakenly thought it was a cross street. There was no evidence except “she said” versus “she said.” I thought both of them were lying. It was a matter of who you believed less. Eleven of my fellow jurors were ready to acquit. I thought we should at least talk about it. But they wanted to go home and pointed out how everyone knows the intersection isn’t a through street. I didn’t, but I have no sense of direction.

There was nothing except a small amount of money at stake. Peer pressure got to me. Eleven people wanted to go home which I was preventing. That sort of thing can get ugly fast. I caved.

72-Beacon Hill Boston-GA_001

That was more than 25 years.

Tonight, we watched “Twelve Angry Men,” the movie (1957) in which Henry Fonda forces eleven of his peers to reconsider the evidence and fully grasp the concept of reasonable doubt. It’s a great movie which has aged well. Pretty much the way I remember the experience, except we had air-conditioning, sort of.

It left me wondering how many verdicts are based on jurors who just want to go home? How many people are convicted — or acquitted — because the jury couldn’t stand one more minute of examining evidence? How many jurors are bullied into a verdict with which they disagree because they are threatened — emotionally or physically?

72-Beacon Hill Boston-GA_033

There are no statistics on this and by definition, there won’t ever be any. No one, given the criminal liability and potential physical danger, is going to admit to it. But it makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

Next time a jury comes in with some absurd verdict, consider the possibility that at least some of them didn’t freely agree. I’m sure it happens, because it happened to me.

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