Law and Order (The Concept, Not the TV Show)

“Law and order” means order. Not law.

Since the federal indictment of Donald Trump, I see a lot of political commenters beating their breasts about his hypocrisy, how he’s spouted the language of law and order while flagrantly breaking the law and acting as if he’s above it. And yes, it’s hypocritical as fuck.

But the concept of “law and order” has been around for a long time. And it has never, ever, actually meant that.

For decades, from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump, public figures espousing “law and order” have shown a deep indifference towards the law. They think it doesn’t apply to them. They think they can break it with impunity, in the name of “national security” or “traditional values.” If they don’t break the law themselves, they support and even glorify when law enforcement officers flagrantly, violently break it.

“Law and order” means order. Not law.

Continue reading “Law and Order (The Concept, Not the TV Show)”

Law and Order (The Concept, Not the TV Show)

My Adult Trike and French-Style Grocery Shopping

Greta's adult trike with grocery bags in cargo basket, in front of produce stands

With the adult tricycle, the entire way I do grocery shopping has changed.

When I got the trike, the main thing I wanted to do with it was get groceries. The trike has a nice big cargo basket — it’s one of the main advantages over a bicycle — and I pictured myself like a quirky character in a movie, toodling around the neighborhood with grocery bags in the basket, a baguette and a bouquet of flowers poking decoratively out of the top. (Never mind the fact that I don’t like baguettes and we can’t have flowers because the cats will eat them.)

It is, weirdly, kind of like that. Life imitates art, sometimes. Except for the part where I’m still building my strength and stamina, and when the trike’s loaded with heavy groceries it can be a struggle. Sometimes I’m the cute old dyke on the tricycle gliding around the neighborhood saying Hi to people — and sometimes I’m the fat old lady straining and puffing to get up a two percent incline. It’s fine.

But I’ve had to re-think my entire strategy around grocery shopping. Continue reading “My Adult Trike and French-Style Grocery Shopping”

My Adult Trike and French-Style Grocery Shopping

The Difference Between Daniel Ellsberg and D****d T***p

Pentagon Papers book cover
Daniel Ellsberg died on June 16, 2023. He was famous for, among other things, the public release of the Pentagon Papers, top-secret government documents detailing a massive pattern of government lies about the Vietnam War.

Lots of people see him as a hero. I’m one of them.

So how does the illegal retention and dissemination of classified documents make Ellsberg a hero — and make T***p a villain?

I think it’s pretty obvious. But I want to spell it out.

One: Ellsberg retained and disseminated classified documents, not for his own personal gain or aggrandizement, but for a serious and important matter of principle.

Two: He did this at considerable risk to himself.

Ellsberg knew he was committing a serious crime, and accepted the consequences. He knew he was almost certainly going to prison, probably for a very long time. (He avoided prison only because White House staff illegally wiretapped him and ordered a break-in at his psychiatrist’s office, leading to the case against him being dismissed.)

He did all this because of the specific content of the Pentagon Papers. The Pentagon Papers showed that the U.S. government had been systematically lying to its citizens about the Vietnam War. Among many, many other lies: The government knew the war was not winnable. And they kept pursuing it anyway. Nobody wanted to be responsible for losing the war — so they kept sending people into the meat grinder.

Ellsberg could do something about it. So he did. At great personal risk.

I have no freaking idea why T***p took those classified documents. The inside of his head is chaotic and baffling, and his motive is one of the great mysteries of this case. Was he planning to sell them, or use them as leverage in power games? Did he simply like the feeling of power and entitlement they gave him? But whatever his motive was, it sure as hell wasn’t government accountability or the preservation of democracy.

That’s the difference.

The Difference Between Daniel Ellsberg and D****d T***p

Michael Corleone and Richard Nixon

Michael Corleone and Richard Nixon

I’ll admit, this is pretty random. I’m doing some deep-dive writing about the Godfather movies, and I’m watching the White House Plumbers show on HBO (hilarious) and reading Watergate: A New History (excellent). My media brain is steeping in these worlds, and of course it’s finding shit to compare and contrast. It’s what my brain does.

So. Let’s compare and contrast. Michael Corleone and Richard Nixon. Like a freshman English paper.

Richard Nixon had a seriously brilliant mind. He had real skills with people, despite his obvious discomfort with them. He had powerful political abilities, with an extraordinary ability to bounce back from defeat. He inspired great loyalty in people who worked for him. And he had something vaguely resembling a genuine interest in public service. The EPA, Title IX, detente with Russia, diplomatic relations with China — that all happened under Nixon.

And he was a total shitbag of a human being. He saw political opponents as enemies, and he saw enemies everywhere. He equated his own selfish interests with the interests of the country, treating threats against himself as threats against the nation. He rationalized his most heinous acts by convincing himself that his enemies were all doing it, too.* He pursued a vile and pointless war, a war he knew was unwinnable, because he didn’t want to be a loser.** And let’s not forget: obstruction of justice, abuse of power, bribery (giving and receiving), tax fraud, election tampering, innumerable violations of his oath of office. His ethics, his concerns about the law and the Constitution, varied from corrupt to nonexistent.

He’s a tragic figure. But it’s the tragedy of wasted potential. I don’t feel sorry for him, except to the degree that I feel sorry for anyone in pain. His tragedy is that he used his power to inflict massive damage, on the people near him and the world at large.

Now. Michael Corleone.

Do I need to spell it out?

Continue reading “Michael Corleone and Richard Nixon”

Michael Corleone and Richard Nixon