Keeping Our Heads On Straight



I am more than a little disturbed by the comment an anonymous poster left on yesterday’s post.


    "I'm having a problem with your premise ...

    You are suggesting that when a politician (and their party) declare themselves above the law in every definable way no one has a right to make public that politician (and party's) hypocrisy and malfeasance?

    It is precisely that "delicate sensibility" which leaves us now facing the possibility of ANOTHER FOUR YEARS JUST LIKE THE LAST EIGHT despite the carnage that has been wrought by the domination of republican policies for the past 40 years.

    Sarah palin used that email account for official business precisely because she believed she could get around the public records laws.

    Neither she nor her actions merit respect from anyone.


When I was on the grand jury panel here in Fulton County earlier this year, we had a lawyer in his fifties named “Roger” who was very, very big on due process and very critical of police procedure. I was the foreman, so I had to pay attention to every burglary, every robbery, every theft by taking, every minor traffic stop that was escalated to a felony by the possession of crack cocaine, all the mundane shit that doesn't even rate making the paper but is prosecuted none the less.

The jurors were more liberal than conservative, but after awhile, “Roger” started to get on everybody's nerves. Most of our cases were basic property crimes, with a little domestic violence thrown in for variety, a few shoot 'em ups, and the obligatory murder case of the day.

There was a particularly bad day, when “Roger” was a little testy, that he seemed to want to cross-examine the cop in every case, even when the perp was caught red handed and admitted to the crime. I got some coffee during a lull and was joined immediately by five or six jurors. "You've got to do something about ‘Roger’" they all pleaded. One guy, a pretty cut and dried fellow, said bluntly, "That guy is an idiot."

I thought “Roger” was an idiot myself - the only indictments we ever no billed were the ones where over zealous officers tried to make judgment calls that was not substantiated by any physical evidence or credible eyewitness testimony. These were the kinds of things you could see a mile away - even the people who were dozing off in the back row would wake up when we heard a case like this. Worrying about the intricacies of police procedure for a guy who was arrested on top of a building with a blowtorch, bolt cutters, and a bag with fifty pounds of copper fittings in front of a row of disassembled air conditioning units WAS a waste of our time - he and his lawyer could sort that out in front of a judge.

But I stopped everything, before we heard our next case, and gave a two or three minute speech to everyone about why we were there, why “Roger's” questions were within his rights as a citizen, and how his keen attention to detail helped me pay better attention to the presentations. As tired as I was of "Roger's" antics, as tired as I of signing indictment after indictment listing young black males as the defendants, I HAD to make that statement. This was not just our job, but our duty as jurors, our duty as citizens.

Just like it is with Sarah Palin's legal woes.

This anonymous comment took me back to that jury room. This is kind of thinking that happens when government becomes a large, distant, omnipotent entity that is disconnected from the individual citizen, even as it develops into an overriding force in our lives. As true as this may be, mob rule is the last thing this Brown Man wants to return.

Critical thinking, not testosterone laced posturing, is what we will need by the truckload these next few weeks.

Critical thinking and voter registration.


UPDATE - SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 21st


Now Bill O'Reilly's website has been hacked in retaliation for O'Reilly's stance against the hack of Palin's email account.

This is what I'm talking about.

We CANNOT stand for this Wild Wild West shit.

And I think that Bill O'Reilly acts like a complete and utter moron, "acts" because I know he knows better, to keep his show on the air.


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6 comments:

Anonymous said...

i've re-read my comment, i've re-read the post i commented on and i've read this post twice.

what in my comment is the equivalent of a call for "mob rule"? in what sense was my comment an example of "testosterone laced posturing"?

was it the editorial use of all caps?

i am always happy to have someone point out a misperception i might be suffering from. clearly i'm missing your point. perhaps you could be more explicit in the nature of your disturbance at my comment.

i'm not being snarky, i really do want to know. i came across your blog a month or so ago and have continued to return because i appreciate your thoughtful and, usually, clear posts.

Brown Man said...

-"no one has a right to make public that politician (and party's) hypocrisy and malfeasance?"-

No, we don't. The social contract we have with each other, the one where we have traded the rule of the lawless for the rule of law is why.

We have established a particular protocol to handle situations like this. It isn't perfect, or quick, and usually leaves someone unhappy with the outcome, but its what we have.

When your feelings dictate immediate retribution, even when you aren't fully cognizant of all the facts; or benign neglect of the rights of the alleged, whose guilt or innocence we have not examined from all sides, then we have vigilante justice.

I don't want to hear about another Bernard Goetz.

Maybe I was a little dramatic, but there is no in between to me - either the mob rules, or the laws rule. Because if you have no laws, you don't get people freely respecting each other, at least not for long. As soon as someone realizes that two people are stronger than one, that ten people are more powerful than five, that a hundred people are hard to stop, and a thousand practically uncontrollable...I hope you get what I'm saying.

Which means if I rub the leader of ten people the wrong way, even if he's in the wrong, I'm ass out.


-"delicate sensibility" which leaves us now facing the possibility of ANOTHER FOUR YEARS JUST LIKE THE LAST EIGHT despite the carnage that has been wrought by the domination of republican policies for the past 40 years.-


That's why we've spent centuries codifying the laws we have developed to guide our actions when there is a civil or criminal conflict.

The quotation marks around "delicate sensibilities", at least to me, indicated some level of disdain for thoughtful, measured reasoning, the kind of thing "can do" he-men often poo poo as "wimpy" (see John Kerry, Al Gore, and now Barack Obama).


--Sarah palin used that email account for official business precisely because she believed she could get around the public records laws.--

Whether this is true or not isn't up to us to decide here on the streets. I know I bullshit here a lot, but its the laws we have now that helped get me to where I am today, in spite of the way some might feel about how I look or where my ancestors came from.

Do I think she's wrong? Hell yeah! Do I think she's an idiot? Hell yeah! Would I have liked to display her email account to the world? I could say yes, but it would be an uneasy yes - nothing as enthusiastic as the other answers - because I know somewhere inside me that I was raised to be a better man than that.

Maybe I'm over-lawyered - I live with one, all my close buddies are lawyers, or used to be - which makes me a little more sensitive about legal stuff than the average person.

But I definitely appreciate your visits to my site. I'll be in and out of here the rest of the day, so if this answer isn't clear, let me know, and we can keep digging.

Anonymous said...

you and are in absolute agreement in re the rule of law. the problem is, when politicians act outside of the law as palin has with regard to her use of a non-governmental account to conduct government business, there is often no other way of forcing the issue than to step out of bounds.

where would we have been in the 1970s without the pentagon papers?

i'm not suggesting that the hacking of her email account is as significant as the publication of the pentagon papers but it is a similar gesture.

the thing with people like you and me is that we are believers in the rule of law as well as the smaller niceties of social intercourse which make everything run smoother. in politics that is a losing proposition. i think that is where we diverge.

i'm struggling to explain it succinctly. it's so much easier to be coherent when you're laying in bed.

basically i think we agree that if everyone behaved well, that would be great. the problem is everyone does not behave well, in recent american politics that is usually the republicans. and they do it on such a scale and to such a degree that most of the time they get away with it.

their latest favorite game is to run out the clock. they're trying to do that with palin. the email hacking was a thwarting of their attempt to hide palin's illegal activity.

there are so many things to highlight if one is going to talk about working outside of the rule of law but this email hacking example is pretty small potatoes.

i guess that is really why i responded so hotly to your post. to highlight a single incident where "the left" did something illegal in the midst of rampant law-breaking by the right seems a little harsh on your part.

i am not sure i made myself particularly clear here and i am in a rush to get out the door but will come back later to see if there is more discussion or we move on to another topic.

as i think i said at the top, we are in agreement in general on the rule of law, but i think people on the left have to begin pushing back against some of the more egregious nonsense shoved on the country by the right.

Brown Man said...

*****i guess that is really why i responded so hotly to your post. to highlight a single incident where "the left" did something illegal in the midst of rampant law-breaking by the right seems a little harsh on your part.*****


I.m pretty middle of the road, so I guess I didn't see this as a action of the "left", and, as I stated, was not sure, although I couldn't put my finger on it at the time, that this was even a legitimate "outing" or something trumped up by Republican operatives.

And if you read yesterday's post about the SEC, I am ready to roast anybody when they start trying to give the public the okie doke. THIS is my issue of the week, and will probably be for the rest of the month, this bullshit blame game rhetoric that ignores the simplest 1-2-3 A-B-C truth out there - THEY GAVE THEM THE KEYS TO THE FUCKING CANDY STORE! I'm STILL hot about that.

But back to Palin's email account.

The thing that stands out more now is the type of emails that were released - just revealing enough to show it was her account, but with no juicy anything. I'm just not buying this "hacker with a conscience" thing, the more I think about it.

One of my old bosses would scan the email accounts of people he fired. "I gotta have some way to get my jollies" he told me one day as he called me over to read a personal email from a fired employees wife that ripped him to shreds. He could ferret out the dirt, even if there were thousands of emails, in less than ten minutes.

So I am getting more skeptical by the day about the whole email thing.

What upset me wasn't the size of the transgression, it was the feeling that the little bit of decorum and civility we who are the public at large have left in the world had taken a huge, and I mean huge hit. A last straw type of thing for me, after weeks of outrage about the peccadilloes of the Palin family, that had me feeling that we had begun to lose our collective minds. That had me thinking that this unbridled blood lust meant defacing property was next on the list, with firebombing not far behind.

I won't accept a free-for-all mentality. We are better than this.

The vise that the Obama campaign has the McCain campaign in is one they cannot escape, cannot buy their way out of, cannot do anything, really, except appeal to that part of us we hate to admit we possess.

All that being said, I will have to say that after doing a little reading on the Pentagon Papers, I have no problem with seeing your point. I can even see how this kind of action "anonymous" took COULD be justified as an obligation a citizen has to himself and fellow citizens.

I think the thing that set me off was the creepiness of the whole thing, happening on the very internet I use every day, by some party or parties unknown who, at least at this point, seem to be operating under the assumption that they will not be prosecuted.

I don't mind the pushing back by the left at all, but you have to use the law as your hammer. There are enough of them out there to ensnare just about anybody if you really look hard enough.

The Dems problem is a lack of relentlessness. They haven't been willing to go to the ends of the earth for what they believe, like they seem to be this time in a long time. To stay on their opponents like white on rice, the way they are this time, tit for tat, practically before they take the next breath.

The right isn't used to this, and it is starting to show. You will begin seeing more and more unforced errors in the next few weeks as they become more combative, more overbearing, more accusatory, until they literally talk themselves out of the election.

The thing that impressed me the most early on about "choirboy" Obama was the way he has gamed the system himself, using little known laws and little used techniques to manipulate outcomes in his favor. He has avoided being tagged as an "operator" so far by selling an image to the public that counters his true nature, because "slick" doesn't sell well to the public.

The electoral vote race is a chess game - a lot of these troops they have in the middle of nowhere are meant to make McCain play a defense he can't afford, which means he can't focus solely on two or three big states.

My main thing with the Palin email account is that there are bigger fish to fry. There is no magic bullet for either side this time that will take the uncertainty out of this election - race is the wild card that nobody can predict.

Palin, in many ways, provides clarity to those who were teetering before, giving them a strong impetus to head in the other direction.

Anonymous said...

bravo.

you said it well.

to me, given the questionable stuff that goes on in politics, obama's "gaming" is a non-issue -- it's a political thing, and he is in fact working within the rules and taking his opportunities to move himself forward. that's how politics works.

certainly he is not a perfect candidate but he is certainly the best we have seen in a while, and the fact that he has a close working knowledge of the constitution, gives me confidence that at the very least, under an obama administration, we would see a roll-back of some of the more egregious unconstitutional policies and activities of the bush administration.

it may be that your expectations of obama are higher than reasonable. i am all for high standards but given where we find ourselves, i'm happy to cheer on the person who appears to have the best interests of this country in mind.

i like you, brown man. i appreciate your engaging in this small conversation. and i greatly appreciate your unwillingness to settle for what is but to push on to make a better day.

Brown Man said...

Now Bill O'Reilly's website has been hacked in retaliation for O'Reilly's stance against the hack of Palin's emaol account.

This is what I'm talking about.

We CANNOT stand for this Wild Wild West shit.

And I think that Bill O'Reilly acts like a complete and utter moron, "acts" because I know he knows better, to keep his show on the air.

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