Should the Department of Justice Prosecute Trump?

I sense a lot of frustration with regard to what seems to be a lack of activity by the Department of Justice (DOJ), with regard to prosecuting Trump of crimes. A lot of people feel like Trump has committed several crimes, and while I’m not a lawyer, that’s my sense as well. (And if he didn’t, he’s done many things that deserve serious consequences–to deter this sort of behavior in the future.)

But assuming the DOJ has enough evidence to prosecute Trump and they feel confident they can win the case (It would be a disaster if they failed to convict Trump.), I may belong to a minority of anti-Trumpers who has unease about prosecuting Trump.

Yes, I understand and largely agree with those who argue that not prosecuting Trump (if the evidence is there) would be worst than failing to prosecute him.

But prosecuting Trump will set a precedence that I’m very uneasy about. To see why, think of the current GOP. I have no doubt they would prosecute Democratic presidents when they leave office (and I wouldn’t put it past them to prosecute past presidents like Obama)–for purely political reasons. And that would likely lead to Democrats doing something similar.

This would be an awful situation, one with no clear remedy.

Here, I should mention the congressional GOP–and my utter contempt I feel for them. The Founders created the mechanism to deal with someone like Trump–namely, impeachment and removal. Indeed, one could argue Trump was precisely the type of president Congress had in mind when it came to impeachment. I believe the majority of Republican members of Congress know/knew Trump deserved to be impeached (Same with many of the people working in the Trump administration.)

But they failed to use this mechanism. Twice!

And that’s why we’re in this position. The GOP seem to be waiting for the DOJ to do their dirty work–in spite of the problems this will likely cause for future presidency. It’s another example of the egregious way they put their party ahead of the country.

Vocabulary Thread

When we were in school, teachers gave us vocabulary words to learn and memorize, but my children don’t have the same experience. To me, this is an oversight that I wanted to rectify. In this thread, I’m going to describe this process, which has brought to light observations that I wouldn’t mind discussing or at least seems worthy to record. Think: a journal of teaching my children vocabulary.

The Kalapana Thread

I’ve been listening to Kalapana’s first album, and while I looking at their discography on Apple Music, I noticed a lot of albums I never really listened to. I don’t think I realized they had so many especially in the late 70s and early 80s. In this thread, I plan to go through their discography, although I don’t know if I’ll make it all the way through.

An Article That Captures What Inadequate Republican Leadership Looks Like

On this 4th of July, I hope Americans really reflect on the system of government the Founders created, the benefits we’ve enjoyed from it, and all the people who have gave their lives to launch and preserve it. I hope they realize that this system is not guaranteed, and that they heed those who believe it is currently under threat.

Rep. Liz Cheney has been raising alarms about this, and I view these efforts, as well as her work in the 1/6 Committee, as a robust defense of our constitutional system–something that stands in stark contrast with Republicans who have actively supported Trump’s undermining of our system, or those who have largely remained silent. Among the latter, I’m especially disappointed, perplexed, and exasperated by those who know better, who actually care about the country, but have decided to sit on the sidelines

I include Sen. Romney among this group, and his piece in the Atlantic today is not only disappointing, but also exasperating. I’ll expand on this in the next section.

A Speech That Captures What Republican Leadership Looks Like in 2022–Liz Cheney’s Speech at the Reagan Library

Barack Obama gave a speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention that catapulted him into the national consciousness and eventually lead to him becoming president. Describing a politician’s speech as “presidential” may be overused, but that’s what I thought of when I listened to this speech. She emphasized our most important values, she reminded Americans of the importance to defend the Constitution, putting this above politics, and she used rhetoric to help unify the country (although she had a small political digs in there). In short, she sounded like the type of Republican that I’ve been accustomed to–which was refreshing, but also something that sadly now requires courage. Rep. Cheney certainly has displayed tremendous courage, not just in this speech but her work in the 1/6 Committee and her public criticism of Trump. She has made herself a pariah in her party, and may lose her seat in Congress. And she’s doing this to defend the Constitution–to keep her oath.

I highly recommend listening to this (start around the 14:00 minute mark). I not only found her words inspiring, but also the moments and energy of the crowd’s applause.

Are Congressional Republicans Violating Their Oath of Office?

The January 6 Committee has revealed information that bolsters the case that Trump and several of his associates corruptly and comprehensively attempted to overturn the 2020 election–in spite of being told this was illegal and wrong. My sense is that the upcoming hearings will make this case even stronger. Whether Trump and some of his associates will see jail time has been receiving a lot of attention.

But something, maybe a bigger matter, has received much less attention in my view—namely, did congressional Republicans violate—and are they continuing to violate– their oath of office? To put this more specifically and concretely, are they failing to “defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic,” and in some cases are they undermining and subverting the Constitution, either tacitly or actively? (Would it be fair to designate those who are undermining and subverting the Constitution as the “enemies” in the oath?)

Raising these questions makes me wonder if I’m being irrational, blinded by biases, but let me lay out my thoughts to see if others agree or not.

Interesting Ways Blockchain and NFTs Could Impact Music

Music critic Ted Gioia had some ideas on the ways blockchain and NFTs can impact music–positively for both musicians and fans. I’m not comfortable with my knowledge of blockchain or NFTs, but based on what I know, Gioia’s speculations does generate some enthusiasm. I say more on this later, but I should also say that I have a heavy-dose of skepticism, with regard to a new financial model that will actually compensate musicians fairly. My cynical sense is that the corporations (and historically, the people with money) will ultimately find ways to exploit the artists. (A handful of individual artists may prosper, but many will not, including great artists who were ahead of their time.)

The Political Lens I Use to Understand the Current GOP

For a while now I’ve arrived at a way of understanding GOP politicians and their supporters–a way I expect many will consider proof of bias and/or irrationality. I want to describe the lens I use to understand the GOP, and lay out the reasons for this–including the reasons a more, seemingly reasonable approach doesn’t seem to work.

Let me begin by first discussing and describing the reasons people adopt specific political positions. Normally, they do so because they believe such a position is good for the country, and, relatedly, they oppose a position because they believe it is bad for the country. “Good/bad” in this sense generally refers to things like improving economic conditions, improving education, increasing the access and affordability to health care and housing, etc. To determine good or bad policies, most people rely on their values and and political principles. Of course, self-interest is also a key factor. That is, people support or oppose a policy to the degree to which it helps or hurts their personal interests. My guess is that personal interest is the biggest factor for most people.

While this may be true, political parties and politicians should rely more on what they believe is in the best interests of the country. Certainly, self-interest, in the form of power and wealth shouldn’t be the primary basis for their positions. Generally, if a party or politician supports a policy simply because it increases or protects power and wealth, that would undermine the argument for such a policy. Therefore, while self-interest is a legitimate reason for supporting a policy, it can’t be the only one–not if broad support is the goal.

For most of my adult life, I have assumed that Democrats and Republicans consistently chose their policy positions based on a genuine interest in the welfare of the country. Again, the quest for power always plays a role–and sometimes may supersede the country’s interests–but I didn’t doubt that the country’s interests were consistently a key driver.

Since Trump became President, I no longer feel that way about the GOP.

Normally, I would want to lay out a thorough argument for this position, but I’m impatient to describe the lens I use to understand the current GOP, so I’m only going to provide a brief explanation. In a nutshell, the GOP, in supporting Trump, have revealed that they don’t, or never did, value most of the political principles they’ve espoused–as Trump has violated, sometimes egregiously, them. At this point, I don’t know what Trump could have done that would have caused the GOP to oppose him. (Low taxes seems to be the one exception, although Trump never violated this principle.) Additionally, my sense is that the GOP really doesn’t seem serious or interested in solving major problems.

To keep and maintain power, they seem to have employed the following strategy. First, when Democrats are in power, obstruct and stonewall, so very little gets done. Doing so will deny any success that Democrats can use to win votes, without losing votes for the GOP. (Many voters seem to blame both parties when little is done in Congress–but they also don’t blame incumbents very often.) Second, go all in on the “culture wars.” I will have a lot to say about the culture wars–indeed, the political lens I use relates to my current understanding of this. I’ll go into that in the next post.

A Middle Ground for Moderating Social Media

Social media companies have been wrestling with content moderation for several years. Jaron Lanier recently suggested an alternative to a laissez-faire approach and government regulation. Here’s how he describes it:

…a platform would require users to form groups through free association, and then to post only through those groups, with the group’s imprimatur.

…It would be like starting up a zine, a band, or a partnership. You’d find some people with whom you feel compatible, people whom you trust, and then you’d work together to create a brand—a name for your group to be applied to a common feed of posts. Only groups like this would be able to post, not individuals, though individuals would still identify themselves, just like they would when playing in a band or writing in a magazine. Individuals could join multiple groups and groups would self-govern;…

…Members would share both good and bad consequences with one another, just like a group shares the benefits and responsibilities of a loan in microlending.

…Groups, as they appear on existing platforms, can be of any size. Some number in the millions. The sort of groups I have in mind would be much smaller as a rule. The point is that the people in the groups know one another well enough to take on the pursuit of trust and quality, and to rid their groups of bots.

…each group will be self-governing. Some will have a process in place for reviewing items before they are posted. Others will let members post as they see fit. Some groups will have strict membership requirements. Others might have looser standards. It will be a repeat of the old story of people building societal institutions and dealing with unavoidable trade-offs, but people will be doing this on their own terms.

I’ll write some thoughts later. What do you guys think?