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Posts Tagged ‘Impeachment Hearings’



If you only had brain in your head you would be as good as man as any of them, and a better man than some of them. Brains are the only things worth having in this world, no matter whether one is a crow or a man. 

― L. Frank Baum, The Wizard of Oz



Watched the end of the impeachment trial yesterday. Sad day for this country and for every American as the former president* was acquitted.

Acquitted but not exonerated in any way.

It was actually more of an embarrassing day for republican voters who see themselves as being American first then republican. I believe there are a few still remaining out there. These folks witnessed and understood the criminality– which their party leader readily admitted was present in the words and actions of the president– that put our democracy in peril, knew that it went against everything that our country once claimed as virtues.  But they saw the majority of their craven senators say that it didn’t matter, that their partisanship and short term self-interest was more important than doing what was right for the future of our nation.

These senators seem intent on following the road to disgrace to its bitter end.

Their votes to acquit made this political in a proceeding that, at its heart, was not apolitical. It was necessary and for the majority party to have not went down this path would have been betraying their sworn oaths to the Constitution and to the future generations of this country. The House Managers laid out a compelling and convincing evidentiary argument that won the day.

57-43 is a victory in a way. It was an acquittal but, as I said, not an exoneration. No innocence was implied or proven. The majority of the country recognizes and approves of the guilt attached to this vote. I say majority because the 57 senators who voted to convict represent 76.7 MILLION MORE Americans than the 43 dissenting senators.

The people know. 

Let’s move on now to the Sunday morning music for this week. I was working on the small painting at the top the page yesterday while listening to the impeachment proceedings. I don’t know what made the idea of a person standing in the field as scarecrow come to mind but it appeared around the time the voting was taking place. I can’t quite put my finger on the feeling I get from it or its origin but it seemed to fit the moment.

Maybe it cam from the quote at the top from L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz? If they only had a brain…

The piece itself reminded me of the old John Cougar Mellencamp song, Rain on the Scarecrow, from 1985. He started his career with the cheesy stage name of Johnny Cougar before attaching his actual Mellencamp last name and eventually getting rid of the Cougar altogether.

In 1985, he was still John Cougar Mellencamp. He had a great trio of albums in the late 1980’s starting with this album, Scarecrow, followed by The Lonesome Jubilee and Big Daddy. They were all strong. complete albums. This song has been a favorite from when I first heard it back then. I also want to note that John Mellencamp is a talented painter as well.

But here’s Rain on the Scarecrow to go along with the new piece at the top which is simply called Scarecrow.

Be careful out there and have a good day.



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The impeachment process is not meant to determine criminality leading to statutory charges.

It is by definition a political act.

It is meant to determine whether the impeached elected official should be removed from office or, if the impeached person is no longer in office, be barred from ever holding public office again.

That’s the simple premise of what we are watching right now in this country.

The Republican senators have made it clear that they have no desire to give any weight to the very real evidence presented on the Senate floor, if they listen or watch at all. There are multiple reports of some reading newspapers and playing video games while the proceedings go on. The majority of them will cast a purely partisan vote to acquit, a decision that was made beforehand for many of them.

The Republican senators will cast their votes on the outcome of this impeachment trial not on a determination of what is right or wrong but based on their own political aspirations and loyalties.

As I said, a political act.

But what we are witnessing goes far beyond the political, beyond one’s own desire for power and future offices. 

No, we are seeing actions, both by the terrorists who stormed the Capitol and those who incited and designed the attack, that are anything but political.

It is pure criminality, from the smaller scale of the personal assaults that took place to the grand scheme to overthrow a lawful election and, by extension, the existing government.

This is an existential choice about our nation’s future. An acquittal is future permission for other would-be dictators to do whatever they want to hold on to power, to use the vast tools at hand to serve their own desires.

These Republicans who believe they could be that next dictator or at least a power player under that person are playing with fire. That kind of power is not controllable or predictable. They might be granting permission and setting the stage for a future coup from forces that they might not be able to envision with their limited imaginations.

Who’s to say that the next violent insurrection– and possibly successful based on lessons learned from this failed attempt– won’t be a leftist revolution? One that gains a toehold in legitimacy via the permissions granted by these Republicans who can barely see past the end of their noses into the future. 

All I am saying here is that this trial needs to transcend the political. It needs to uphold our past and our future. It need to provide accountability.

There needs to be accountability for what has happened. Without that, there can be no reconciliation nor unity going forward. How could there be? Why would anyone trust or unite with those who say that overt incitement to violence is allowed in order to hold on to power? How do you trust someone who says it’s okay for their supporters to attempt to kill you?

I am certainly cynical of the Republicans doing anything but that which fits their personal agenda but I remain hopeful.

There. Like it or not, I have had my say for the morning. Let’s have a song, okay?

This morning, I am playing a song from famed folk singer/songwriter Malvina Reynolds, who you might know her best from her song Little Boxes which was used for the opening credits of the series Weeds. This song is No Hole In My Head and it has to do with how we have to be careful about the info with which we fill our heads. There are a lot of folks who want to fill it with trash, as you know. Maybe me, who knows? It might even be the reason we’re where we are as nation today.

I am playing two versions here, the original from Malvina Reynolds (1900-1978) and a brand new, less folksy one from the evergreen Tom Jones. The man is 80 and still wails the hell out of everything he sings. Plus he still looks to push his art, to stay current and not dwell on his past glories. Check out his other new tune Talking Reality Television Blues, which contains a similar message to No Hole In My Head. in how we are shaped by what we see, hear, and read. He’s a marvel. Gives me hope. 

Pay attention today and in the future. We need everyone to participate. And have the best day you can.



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There are two ways of spreading light… To be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it.

–Edith Wharton

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This is a sort of new painting headed to the Principle Gallery for their upcoming Small Works show that opens next week. I say sort of new because it is a painting from a few years back that was changed in a way that made it a completely different piece.

Back then it was titled Candle and it was just as it is without the female figure and the boat. With its simplicity and color, it was a favorite of mine and it has been here in the studio for the last year or so, much to my delight. There has always been something in it that speaks to me.

But I have recently worked on a few paintings with small female figures in them and their presence has had a real impact in those compositions, adding a real layer of meaning and depth to those paintings. In the studio, I started to to look at this painting– without the figure– and began to see her there. I could see her adding a symbolism that would change and enrich the painting.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to change the original painting but day after day all I could see was a ghost of that figure in place. The original began to fade for me, began to seem lacking, as thought it had waited for me to add this figure and make it whole.

So, this what you have now.

I changed the title of this painting with another addition, becoming Fiona’s Candle. The Fiona comes, of course, from the British born US Diplomat Fiona Hill who testified in the recent Impeachment Hearings. Her strength, her intelligence, her straight forward approach, sense of purpose, and her unwillingness to suffer fools or alter her moral compass for them made a deep impression on me and many others.

We could use a few more Fiona Hills.

In this painting, I see the female figure as having those same characteristics. She is seeking, as Edith Wharton wrote above, to spread the light, to illuminate the truth– which I see here as the Sun, a set and constant thing– as either the candle or the mirror that reflects it.

I am usually averse to changing pieces that speak so strongly to me, that seem to already have a life force in them. But there are always exceptions and this painting, for me, seems to have been fortified, made stronger by one simple addition.

 

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MALONEY: Why do you have confidence that you can … tell your dad not to worry?

LT. COL. VINDMAN: Congressman, because this is America. This is the country I’ve served and defended. That all of my brothers have served. And here, right matters.

MALONEY: Thank you, sir.

Applause breaks out.

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Those short few sentences above from the testimony of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman during yesterday’s Congressional Impeachment Hearing pretty much sums up what the stakes are in this hearing.

This country, as a nation and each and every one of us as individuals, has to decide if he is correct in the statement that here in the United States, right still matters.

We have to ask ourselves a simple question: Do we want to live if a country that lives by the hardset and time honored values of rightness, of truth, of honor, of duty?

Or do we want to live in a country where those values are negotiable and subject to the situation at hand and the person involved? A country where those values don’t really apply so long as you have enough power or privilege or connections to be able to shrug them off?

Listen, I am not naive to think there haven’t been plenty of situations in our past where power, privilege and connections have overpowered our values at times. But in the past, that sense of honor, duty and rightness has always somehow persevered. This nation has not always operated in absolute truth and rightness and honor but the hope is that we lean that way, that we somehow keep struggling and pushing in that direction.

That hope, that continual trending toward rightness, is the basis for any exceptionality we might claim.

But this feels different.

It feels like a defining moment for us and our future. It feels like there is part of us who have taken control and wish to ignore these values, who find them inconvenient and restraining to achieving their own aims.

They continue to move away from answering to a sense of rightness or duty. How do you reconcile that as a nation going into the future?

If the falsehoods and corrupt intent we have witnessed are not impeachable, not subject to oversight and being called out, where does that leave us for the future? Where do we then draw the line between what is right and wrong?

If we cannot stand up for what is right and true now, we may be looking at a future where we may not get the chance to do so.

So, ask yourself and answer honestly: Does right matter here still?

 

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I wrote the above yesterday. Last evening I then caught the end of one of my favorite movies, Watch on the Rhine. It’s a film set in Northern Virginia, around Washington DC, during World War II and concerns the daughter of a well-to-do family who has come home from Europe with her family.

I am not going to go into  the whole plot here but I will point out that her husband, Kurt Muller played to perfection by Paul Lukas, is an anti-fascist fighter and a leader in the European resistance against the Nazis. This character is one of my favorite characters on film, a man driven completely by rightness and truth, willing to sacrifice everything to fight for the lives and rights of other men.

Seeing this powerful portrayal of such an honorable character stood in stark contrast to the performance I witnessed earlier by the republicans during the hearings. There was no honor shown by these men, no sense of rightness or dignity. These are not people who are willing to sacrifice anything for anyone. They are only willing to protect their own interests and those of their buddies. Screw everyone else.

They are the antithesis of rightness.

To give a quick example, Lt. Col. Vindman and his family are under 24/7 protection from Us Army security forces and they are looking to move them into a secure location because of threats against the Lt. Col. from Trumpists spurred on by these jackals. This man, an immigrant who came here as child, has served and sacrificed for this nation for many years. He wears a Purple Heart for being wounded in action. He has honorably risen to the highest levels of military diplomacy and has been characterized in reviews by his superiors as being “brilliant” and in the top 1% of all the military. Yesterday, this man was subjected to all sorts of attacks on his character and motivations for simply coming forward and pointing out actions that he saw as being wrong.

He was simply doing his duty. Like Kurt Muller from the movie, he was simply doing that which is right.

I would put Lt. Col. Vindman’s sense of rightness and honor up against that of all the republicans in that hearing who have seemingly sold their souls, their dignity and their honor for god knows what in order to protect a vile and small man. A man without honor or loyalty who will throw them to the trash heap without a thought when they no longer serve his personal needs.

As I said, the contrast is stark.

Black and white. Good and evil.

Right and wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

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