A couple notable events occurred in my life recently. #1: I completed another trip around the sun with relatively few physical maladjustments to hinder my aging process. #2 … well, in the time it took to type up #1 I forgot #2. My thought fell prey to the checkered course of getting older. That’s okay, it probably doesn’t matter.
There are a few notable things going on in the world. The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to hear the case concerning whether ex-president Donald J. Trump is eligible to appear on Colorado’s primary ballot. The Colorado Supreme Court decided he is not eligible because of his involvement in the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
The trouble is, Trump and his behavior have been normalized. When the news broke that the ex-president stole documents from the National Archives, whether they were classified or not wasn’t of great importance because stealing documents of any classification, or lack thereof, was a crime.
For sure, stealing classified documents is a serious crime and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, but the news media has completely neglected the first crime: taking federal documents away from the National Archives. Whether the documents were hidden from the proper authorities in the White House or some other government building — or non-government building — the people taking those documents away from the control of the National Archives were stealing the documents.
But, in this hyper-24-hour news world, “we” have normalized stealing government documents from the National Archives. Who still believes taking government documents is a crime? There is a large minority of Americans who believe everything and anything their personal lord and savior Donald J. Trump says, so they see no wrong in the ex-president stealing government documents.
According to the Department of Justice taking the documents is a crime, with very few exceptions. From their website:
“The necessary measure of protection for government documents and records is provided by 18 U.S.C. § 2071. Section 2071(a) contains a broad prohibition against destruction of government records or attempts to destroy such records. This section provides that whoever: willfully and unlawfully; conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates or destroys; or attempts to conceal, remove, mutilate, obliterate or destroy; or carries away with intent to conceal, remove, mutilate, obliterate or destroy; any record, proceeding, map, book, paper, document or other thing deposited in any public office may be punished by imprisonment for three years, a $2, 000 fine, or both.”
How did that get lost in the shuffle? How is it the news media is asking whether the ex-president can be convicted of such crimes, including the more serious crimes of stealing classified documents?
We are constantly reminded that the legal standard in the judicial system is, “defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.” But this isn’t a courtroom. We all watched the ex-president’s cult followers storm the capitol, destroying doors and windows, leaving urine and feces in the capitol building’s hallways. We saw a man walking through the building holding the flag of a defeated foe — the Battle Flag of the whipped Confederacy. Just like we have seen and read the evidence that Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Clarence Thomas is the most corrupt Supreme Court justice in history.
We saw one man, Richard Barnett, put his feet on Then-Speaker-of-the-House Nancy Pelosi’s desk, calling her a bitch. He wasn’t remorseful when he was sentenced to 4.5 years. He admits he was angry, but he committed no crimes! He was pushed into the capitol by the mob behind him … Why were you leading that mob Mr. Barnett? Why didn’t you push your way to the back of the swarm of rabid MAGA Cult members? Richard Barnett should have had a much harsher sentence, at least 10 years. He got off easy.
The Q-Anon Shaman Jacob Chansley got what he deserved: 41-51 months, but was released on parole 14 months early. He said he was wrong, “Men of honor admit when they’re wrong. Not just publicly but to themselves. I was wrong for entering the Capitol. I have no excuse. No excuse whatsoever. The behavior is indefensible.”
Maybe he is remorseful, but he has filed the paperwork required to put his name in the mix to run to be the congressperson representing Arizona’s 8th District. There is a snag though, a federal snag, section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It says : “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”
Chansley took an oath when he joined the U.S. Navy in 2005. Can he be considered a “… an officer of the United States …”? I would like to see some legal beagle talking heads discuss that. There is no question the QAnon Shaman took part in the January 6, 2021 insurrection; maybe even led part of it with his strange outfit and spear with the U.S. flag tied to it. Chansley was on the dais of the U.S. Senate looking like a leader.
We should ask Ari Melber of MSNBC that question.
Getting back to the premise of this post: As of January 6, 2024 1,200 people have been charged with crimes related to the January 6 insurrection. A number of these criminals said they were invited by Trump, or doing what the ex-president told them to be part of a, “Conspiracy to obstruct administrative or congressional proceedings …” And the perpetrators “… may be prosecuted under 18 U.S.C. 371, and the general aiding and abetting, accessory after the fact, and misprision statutes are likely to apply with equal force in the case of obstruction of an administrative or congressional proceeding.”
Like I wrote earlier in this essay, this is not a court of law and we are not bound by the legal threshold that says a person is innocent until proven guilty. This is the court of public opinion and we saw Trump and several of his fellow conspirators exhort his assembled “Trump’s MAGA Cult,” who are conspirators, to march to the capitol building and disrupt the peaceful congressional proceedings.
Trump and his acolytes committed their crimes out in the open, in front of cameras and microphones. When the mob reached the capitol building they used their own phone cameras to record their participation in the crimes. And many of them told the prosecutors and investigators they did it because then-President Donald J. Trump told them to do it. He and all his fellow conspirators are fucking guilty.
When they get into a courtroom to be held accountable for their crimes, they can bask in the legal standard of “innocent until proven guilty,” as short-lived as that status may be.
One of more disturbing news, and once I have processed it, no surprise, A large number of GOP voters believe the conspiracy theory that law enforcement, i.e. the FBI, instigated the insurrection to suppress political dissent. Plus a third of Americans believe Joe Biden’s win in 2020 was not legitimate. The far right wing nut media has been promoting these and many other conspiracy theories, casting doubt on our elections and government institutions. Much of this news is getting buried by the talk of the day.
The daily news cycles are being filled up with the Republican primary news, polls and historical similarities and disparities. The civil case taking place right now in New York City has captured a good portion of the news as well.
Donald Trump has already been found liable for sexually assaulting writer E. Jean Carroll and now, for the second time, having a jury decide how much — how big — should the damages be to deter Trump from defaming Carroll in the future. That’s the standard the plaintiff’s lawyers gave the jury:
There is a lot of important topics in the news, including mass murders, the do-nothing House of Representatives that is hell bent on investigating President Joe Biden for … no one knows … and ignoring the coming financial crisis with the U.S. budget and the stakes of the extreme right’s plan to make women second class citizens by banning abortions. The GOP wants a national ban, despite the vast majority of Americans supporting a woman’s right to choose.
But the top issue is still — must be — the climate crisis. Sea level rise, the lengthening wild fire and hurricane seasons. Tornadoes in the middle of winter — none of this is making the news.
My next post should be on the climate crisis, regardless of the Trump and political news.
Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the elected government officials and business were so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that.