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As I Was Saying . . .


Today’s Thought: Refrain from the Judgment of Others

Today’s Thought from my Readwise collection is from Amanda Knox’s Atlantic essay about how people continue to exploit for profit her identity and the lies told about her.

As someone who has been falsely accused, reading this impacted me in a significant way.

So now I also try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. We don’t know the whole story about any other person.

I know how it feels for a group of people to be wrong about me. That is a pain I don’t wish on others. So I work to refrain from the judgment of others. I don’t want to make that same mistake.

Amanda Knox quote about refraining from the judgment of others.

The Fifth Amendment Protects the Innocent

People are having too much fun mocking former President Donald Trump for utilizing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Worse, some lawyers claim that no innocent person would ever take the Fifth.

I know from experience just how awful this legal advice is. The Fifth Amendment protects the innocent, as the many exonerees who were wrongfully convicted because of police misconduct during interogations can attest.

While I subscribe to Craig Calcaterra’s Cup of Coffee Substack mostly for baseball analysis, he’s also quite smart about politics and things in our culture. His response about the Fifth Amendment was spot-on:

But it’s still a profoundly wrong, profoundly stupid, and profoundly harmful thing to say. The “you don’t remain silent or invoke the Fifth unless you’re guilty” thing has been used against the powerless by the powerful for a very long time and it’s the sort of thing that, at best, causes otherwise good people’s — and innocent people’s — reputations to be ruined. At worse it pressures people into speaking to law enforcement or prosecutors when it’s against their best interests to do so. It’s no better to say such things simply because the target is a bonafide piece of crap.

Craig Calcaterra, Cup of Coffee, August 11, 2022

This dynamic is one of the reasons I support California’s AB 2644, a bill “that would, commencing January 1, 2024, prohibit law enforcement officers from employing threats, physical harm, deception, or psychologically manipulative interrogation tactics, as specified, during an a custodial interrogation of a person 17 years of age or younger.”

I think the police should never be allowed to use those tactics, but at a minimum they should be prohibited with children.

Now Republicans Want to Defund the Police?

So this is weird. Now Republicans want to defund the police because the FBI got a search warrant for President Trump’s Mar-A-Lago? Puck’s Julia Ioffe made an important point about the GOP’s hypocrisy:

When the national spotlight finally turned on law enforcement killing unarmed Black civilians, Republicans saw the call to “defund the police” as offensively unpatriotic. When the F.B.I. came after a former president who obstructed justice, flushed public records down the toilet, and did all kinds of other things that, let’s just say, weren’t extremely friendly with the law, it was suddenly time to get serious about defunding law enforcement. Funny how that works.

Julia Ioffe, Puck, August 9, 2022

Failures of Kindness

American writer George Saunders spoke at Syracuse University’s graduation in 2013. I just saw an excerpt of his speech in the Small Bow newsletter written by A.J. Daulerio. I’ve been working on trying to meet this goal in other ways recently. But I was struck with all well Saunders said it.

What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.

Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded . . . sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.

Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope: Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth?

Those who were kindest to you, I bet.

It’s a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.

Elections Are Not Therapy

The Nation’s Elie Mystal makes the case for why people who care about protecting our rights will vote for Democrats even if we aren’t happy with some of their failures.

It is important that people understand that elections are not therapy. Even if they don’t lead to all the results we want, they can reduce the harm inflicted upon many of our neighbors.

Protect the Right to Contraception

I would like to see the Democratic leadership do this immediately.

A Plan for Hope

Brian Beutler offers a plan for hope in his latest Big Tent newsletter. Yes! It’s true: there are things we can do to try to fight back against the radical Republicans and the rise of authoritarianism in our nation.

Herewith: how NOT to let a fascist party win federal power outright, when things are kinda crap, but the last semblances of American democracy are on the line.

It comes down to passing whatever energy bill Senator Joe Manchin will allow (or make it clear why he won’t and then run on passing it without him next year), running on “give us two more senators and the House and we’ll pass a law codifying Roe in January 2023,” and doing everything possible to make every Republican elected official own the Trump Coup of January 6.

Yes to all of this. It is a time to make the choice clear. We have to stop hoping Republicans will become sane again. We have to deal with the political party that exists today, not the one we wish still existed.

Today’s Thought: To Live in this World

Mary Oliver shared this observation in her poem, In Blackwater Woods, which is included in her Pulitzer Prize-winning collection, American Primitive:

To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

From In Blackwater Woods by Mary Oliver

Remember Checks and Balances?

While we may be used to giving the Supreme Court an extreme amount of deference, that isn’t how our system of government is supposed to work.

Remember how essential checks and balances are supposed to be in our Constitutional framework? The Washington Post’s Jamelle Bouie explains that the other two branches of our federal government are not powerless to respond to a radicalized Supreme Court doing the Federalist Society’s business:

It can impeach and remove justices. It can increase or decrease the size of the court itself (at its inception, the Supreme Court had only six members). It can strip the court of its jurisdiction over certain issues or it can weaken its power of judicial review by requiring a supermajority of justices to sign off on any decision that overturns a law. Congress can also rebuke the court with legislation that simply cancels the decision in question.

In the face of a reckless, reactionary and power-hungry court, Congress has options. The problem is politics.

That’s spot on. Democrats have shown little appetite to fight the battle in front of them.

A Horrible Decision for our Nation

Today the Supreme Court’s majority did with their ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization what the Federalist Society and radical Republicans selected them to do: overturn Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood.

This decision is the culmination of a five-decade effort to take away the right to abortion. It is a horrible decision for our nation. And Justice Clarence Thomas makes clear in his concurring opinion that the radical right’s work is not done.

Today’s emergency episode of the Strict Scrutiny podcast features an appropriate level of anger in its analysis of the decision and its implications. It also includes a discussion of what we need to do now.

I hope we will now start listening to the people like these hosts who warned us that Roe (among other rights) was in trouble. As discussed in the episode, Leah Litman spoke out in ways that put her at risk before she had tenure.

We keep bringing back the people who were wrong on the critical issues of the 20th Century. Wrong about the Iraq War. Wrong about the housing crisis. Wrong about Republican obstructionism in the Senate. Wrong about whether these Justices would respect precedent. Wrong about the radicalization of the Republican Party starting with Nixon. Wrong about the impact of Trumpism.

We don’t need to hear more from those who were wrong. Let’s listen more to people like Melissa Murray, Kate Shaw, and Litman, who have been right all along.