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Posts Tagged ‘Impeachment’

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The worst of it is that we live in a spoiled moral environment. We have become morally ill because we are used to saying one thing and thinking another. We have learned not to believe in anything, not to care about each other, to worry only about ourselves. The concepts of love, friendship, mercy, humility or forgiveness have lost their depths and dimension, and for many of us they represent only some sort of psychological curiosity or they appear as long-lost wanderers from faraway times, somewhat ludicrous in the era of computers and space ships. . . .

If I speak about a spoiled moral atmosphere I don’t refer only to our masters. . . I’m speaking about all of us. For all of us have grown used to the totalitarian system and accepted it as an immutable fact, and thereby actually helped keep it going. None of us are only its victims; we are all also responsible for it.

Vaclav Havel, New Year’s Day Address, 1990

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I came across the line, We have become morally ill because we are used to saying one thing and thinking another, in a tweet last night from former CIA Director John McLaughlin who said it ran through his mind several times yesterday as he watched the display of moral bankruptcy from the GOP senators taking place before our very eyes.

The onetime Czech playwright and dissident Vaclav Havel spoke those words in his New Year’s Day address to the Czech people after becoming the first democratically elected President of that nation in the post-communist era just weeks before. To that point, Havel had lived his entire life under an authoritarian regime. His plays were banned in his own land and he was imprisoned as a political prisoner multiple times, over four years during the longest incarceration, for attempting to bring light into a society where truth was what the regime claimed it to be. Many citizens were under almost constant surveillance and show trials were the norm.

Shows trials are those, particularly in Soviet nations of the Cold War Era, that have a predetermined outcome and don’t rely on witnesses or real evidence. As with truth, the evidence was what the regime claimed it to be. It was an expedient manner to remove political opponent with the appearance of justice taking place.

Sound familiar?

After reading Havel’s address and watching the events of the last few days, knowing already what the outcome will be as in any show trial, I could see real parallels in the moral illness that Havel described in his address and the behavior of our Republican senators. How can these people who speak one thing while thinking another believe that this will not corrupt our whole society, that which they have been entrusted to protect?

Their corruption will beget more corruption and that corruption more yet. Our Great Leader’s thousands upon thousands of lies will become accepted truths and his skewed amorality becomes the moral compass of our nation. Unless we reject these new norms, we will remain in this spiral that will soon bring us to a form of totalitarianism complete with more show trials and deeper surveillance for those who dare to stand against those in power.

We still have a chance to avoid this end. As Havel said: None of us are only its victims; we are all also responsible for it.

You can’t stand on the sidelines now. You can’t let others do the heavy lifting alone. Too many of us have done that for too long.

We are all responsible for it.

 

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The Seven Social Sins

1- Wealth without work.
2- Pleasure without conscience.
3- Knowledge without character.
4- Commerce without morality.
5- Science without humanity.
6- Religion without sacrifice.
7- Politics without principle.

–Frederick Lewis Donaldson, Westminster Abbey sermon, March, 1925

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The list above has been attributed for years to Mahatma Gandhi who published this same list later in the year in 1925 but it first came from a sermon given by Anglican priest, Frederick Lewis Donaldson, at Westminster Abbey in March of that year.  Gandhi published it in his newspaper, Young India, in October, stating in a very short commentary that the list was sent to him by a “fair friend,” adding “Naturally, the friend does not want the readers to know these things merely through the intellect but to know them through the heart so as to avoid them.”

Though Gandhi may not have originated the list, his reputation sent the message worldwide.

Reading the list early this morning, I was struck that the entirety of the list could be applied to many of those who wield the power of government, most notably the person(?) who sits in our white house. He is devoid of all the positive social attributes on the right side of this list, existing without conscience, character, morality,humanity, or principle. Nor is he unwilling to work or sacrifice anything of his own to make the world better for those beneath him in the social pecking order.

Based on his comments stating that traumatic head injuries suffered by our soldiers weren’t real wounds, I think you can throw empathy and a few other positives into the list of things missing from his being.

In short, he is a hollow man.

A husk.

And the more we follow his lead, giving in to his twisted and selfish worldview, the more hollow we become as a nation. You can easily see it in the way he has affected the republican party which has many members in power who, like him, are crossing off more and more items on the list above. They have become a husk of a political party, one without conscience or principle or shame of any sort, all too willing to carry the water for the hollow man.

As a result, he is going to be acquitted in this trial. That’s a forgone conclusion.

As Marcus Tullius Cicero wrote over two thousand years ago: “Here is a man whose life and actions the world has already condemned – yet whose enormous fortune…has already brought him acquittal!

Some things remain the same. That doesn’t make it right nor does it undo the harm already done and the damage yet to come.

And the more hollow we become as a nation, the more of these sins that we normalize, the less able we will become to recover when that damage fully arrives.

We must ask more of our leaders. And ourselves.

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There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.

——Isaac Asimov, Newsweek interview, 1980

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We’re on the eve of a dramatic and historic event starting tomorrow with the impeachment trial in the Senate. The stakes from this trial are as high as we have ever faced as a nation, far more than the two previous impeachment proceedings of the last fifty years, the Nixon and Clinton affairs. Neither of those had imminent national security issues. Neither had the sitting president asking for and receiving assistance from foreign nations in gaming our elections. Neither had the president using the whole power of his office and the many agencies at his disposal to obstruct and evade investigation.

As serious as those prior impeachments were, they pale in comparison to this trial and the ramifications that emerge from its outcome. With an acquittal of charges, the current president** will be totally unrestrained in his actions with, for all practical purposes, no oversight. An acquittal basically says that any president from this point forward can do whatever he desires. He can smother any investigation, refuse to release any information and persecute those who stand against him.

The president**, if you believe the hackneyed rationale of his attorney Alan Dershowitz, is unimpeachable for abuse of power or obstruction of justice.

Dershowitz has written that this president** could allow Russia to retake Alaska, in the same way it is attempting to reclaim Ukraine, without ordering resistance from our troops. As wrong as he claims it would be, Dershowitz writes that this would not constitute an impeachable offense.

As insane as that sounds, it may not be out of the realm of possibility for this president**, given his subservient stance toward Putin and Russia.

His power, according to Dershowitz–at least at this time–is near absolute. To put it plainly, he is above the law.

That is the nightmare scenario we are facing in this trial– a man with little, if any, self-restraint who may be given the green light to indulge his deepest and darkest desires. And to think that he won’t head that way with this newly found freedom is foolishness. Can you think of a single day in the past three years where he has tried to unify this nation in any way? His time in office has been a blur of self-serving actions, befuddling lies that are pawned off by his willing accomplices as truths, attacks of retribution and an almost nihilistic attack on the functional systems of our nation.

With acquittal, the last three years of madness and stupidity will be seen as the “good old days” as we go forward.

How did we get to this point? Well, it’s been heading this way for about forty years. For one thing, there is the unrestricted money in political campaigns which allows the wealthiest among us to parlay their wealth into political power that would give them even more advantages. So they can amass more wealth and more political power.

That might be the biggest contributing factor. But much of it comes down to the words at the top of the page from Isaac Asimov.

This cult of ignorance has been nurtured greatly in the past forty years. Minds that are easily distracted and lazy are easily manipulated. Those who wish to cultivate these people feed them misinformation, disinformation and outright lies, stoking their fears and angers while at the same time bringing them to the belief that their only hope lies in the very people who are fanning the flames and profiting from it.

Ignorance is a powerful force.

Ignorance becomes a belief system. It’s almost impossible to fight this belief with rational and fact based arguments. The line my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge” could easily be replaced now with “my belief, as unfounded and ridiculous as it is, is greater than your facts.

I try to maintain a sense of hopefulness in the face of the tide of ignorance that swirls around us. But today, as we wait on a trial that whose outcome seems almost preordained to hurl us into an abyss, I am not particularly filled with optimism.

I want to be wrong and hope I am proven so.

But I don’t think I am and don’t think I will be at this point.

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Two Asterisks?

I am going to try to not say too much about yesterday’s impeachment of the president*. I will point out that the asterisk that I have always attached to his title is now fully earned. In fact, I may have to change it to president**.

And based on all that is still hanging out there in the forms of scandal, corruption and foreign entanglements, I wouldn’t be surprised if there aren’t even more asterisks added by the time this whole fiasco of an administration is done.

I don’t think there is a limit on the number of impeachments one president can have.

Though I am gratified that this process has taken place and he** has been impeached, it gives me no pleasure. This is only the first salvo and, as I have pointed out before, this man** is a looter who will burn down the whole shooting match before he** will allow himself** to be made responsible.

There are going to be many ugly days ahead.

He** has yet to show  any interest in uniting this country and governs through personal retribution and vengeance. He** feels no responsibility for anything that negative that happens and views this whole process as being somehow unprovoked. He** is going to make everyone pay.

For a man** with so little shame, he** has remarkably thin skin. His** ability to whine and feel persecuted is beyond anything I have ever witnessed outside of a 6 year old throwing a tantrum in a grocery store because he has been told he can’t have the candy bar at the checkout line.

I have seen that kid. Sadly, I have been that kid.

I believe I grew out of that phase. I am afraid I can’t say the same for the man** with the 6 year old’s mentality who is fuming this morning in the white house** or for his** glassy eyed cult members who cheer on every misdeed and bloviation of this child**.

As I said, ugly days ahead. But that is the price that must be paid to avoid even uglier days that would come if he** is not held accountable for his** actions. To not do so could set us on a course that would make us look a lot more like an autocracy than a democracy. And as flawed as our democracy might be, I prefer it to suffering the whims of a 6 year old autocrat.

This had to be done. He** has earned every asterisk he receives.

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“And you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others. And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

Haruki MurakamiKafka on the Shore

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And it begins.

Many of us believe it should have started long ago. The foreboding darkness has been hovering around us for some time now but maybe Fate wasn’t ready to unleash the fury of the storm until this precise moment in time.

Part of me is relieved, even happy, to have this beginning because I know we must endure the storm if we are to get past this somehow. But part of me fears what it may bring, what damage the aftermath might reveal.

And another part is sad because it is a storm of our own making. For too long we have neglected our duties as citizens, distracted by those shiny things and flashing images that fill our modern lives. It was too easy to let others choose the direction in which this country would go.

Unfortunately, those who took control made a beeline for that place where the darkest clouds sit. That location where they could operate in obscuring shadows, that place from where an angry storm would no doubt come.

And that is the place where we are now. And a mighty storm has begun there.

We will get through it. And years from now, we will hopefully have vague memories of it and the toll it will take on us. But, as Murakami writes above, we will be somehow transformed coming out the other side. We will be forever changed, perhaps in ways we could never foresee.

And this change, this transformation we are about to undergo, is a scary thing for many of us. The optimistic part of me wants to believe we will be better for it, that we will shore up those supporting foundations of our democracy that have been eroded through attacks and neglect in recent times. But the darker, more pessimistic part of me sees us coming out in a world that thrives on the uglier aspects of ourselves– greed and hatred and anger.

I get the feeling that when we come out of this, we will have more fully embraced our better angels or our darker angels. I am not a religious person but I pray that we fall toward those angels of light.

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