Indicted and arrested at long last

Picture taken by slowking4, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

In lieu of the usual link to a given news source for this, I’m instead going to link to the Wikipedia article “Indictment of Donald Trump” for reference. It is becoming more difficult to find news sources that don’t appear to be biased one way or the other.

In the past few days, we have finally seen the arrest and indictment of our former president (who I really don’t think is worthy of the title, but that’s another story). The charges are 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, each with a possible four-year sentence to be served consecutively, for a total of 136 years. From the Wikipedia article:

On March 30, 2023, Donald Trump, the president of the United States from 2017 to 2021, was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury for his alleged role in a scandal stemming from hush money payments made to the pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 U.S. presidential election,[2][3][4] making him the first U.S. president to be indicted.[5][6][7] Trump faces 34 charges of falsifying business records in the first degree.[8][9][10] In New York, falsifying business records is a misdemeanor, but can become a felony if done to further another crime.[11] The indictment raises novel and complex legal issues.[12][13]

While I believe it is unfortunate that an indictment of a former president was necessary, it is a relief to see that some government, somewhere, is finally willing to make a statement that nobody is above the law.

For the entire four-year term, and clearly for worse, Mr. Trump ran his presidency with the attitude that he was above the rules. With the New York indictment and the ongoing Georgia and federal investigations, it is finally coming to light just how far above the law Mr. Trump was willing to go.

I know in years past I have often been critical of certain actions by law enforcement and our court system. The reality is that when the laws are enforced equally and fairly and judges make reasonable decisions, I don’t have any issues. Some of the more prominent examples of law enforcement not acting in such a fashion, from past posts, would be when they shoot innocent dogs (and again a couple of years prior) and running a questionable crosswalk enforcement trap.

I don’t think the arrest and indictment of Mr. Trump falls into the category of a law enforcement screw-up. This is our legal system doing its job. This doesn’t mean Mr. Trump is guilty just yet; he is entitled to the same due process of law as the rest of us. Unfortunately, the next in-person hearing is not until December 4, meaning this will be anything but a speedy trial (though there is no guarantee it will go to trial, it is definitely expected).

Perhaps due to his high profile and the lack of likelihood he will become a fugitive, Mr. Trump was allowed to return to Florida right after the hearing. Due to bail reforms in New York (state), he was probably not required to post a bail bond, for better or worse. (The nice part about this is some of the conservatives might shut up about bail reform for a while.) Usually bail bond companies will require a defendant released on bond to call and/or sign in at the office periodically (often once per week). I’m not that worried about Mr. Trump as a flight risk, though some conditions should have been imposed on his pretrial release, as the events of 2021 January 6 have shown that he can be quite dangerous.

He was fingerprinted but no mugshot was taken; to be fair, I think we all know what he looks like by now. Again, I would suspect the mugshot to be another safeguard against a potential escape; however, I do think it would have helped send a clear message to Mr. Trump to have a mugshot taken that yes, we as a society are treating you like a criminal, former president or not. Fingerprints alone may or may not have accomplished this, as these days fingerprinting is also used for identification for professional licenses.

In summary, while this is an unfortunate chapter in American history in many respects, I fully support the district attorneys and court system in New York state in this effort, and believe the world will be a better place as a result of due process of law in this matter, including the trial.

Maybe the long nightmare is finally over?

For better or worse, it’s been an interesting past couple of weeks here in the US. I have not weighed in on the domestic terrorist attack on the US Capitol–and let’s just be honest with ourselves here, that’s what this was–or anything to have happened since. Many of the former social media accounts of Donald J. Trump have been suspended, possibly permanently. This is something that really should have happened long ago. Unfortunately, the occupant of the office of president had to actually incite a riot to make it happen. (Twitter, at least, gave “world leaders” a bit more latitude in regard to the rules. I can understand why but the result is still unfortunate.)

A lot of it is very sad. Five people died in the attack on the Capitol that should not have. Our country is probably just as divided as ever. People still think there’s some kind of massive election fraud going on, just because DJT tweeted it (there’s not).

We’re now looking at a most unlikely outcome: for Donald J. Trump to finally be impeached and convicted (post-term). This is only possible since the new Senate will now have a Democratic Party majority (once Vice President Kamala Harris takes office tomorrow). As it stands, DJT is the first occupant of the office to face impeachment twice in one term–something even Andrew Jackson wasn’t able to make happen, and he pissed off a lot of people back in his day.

That part is good, but then there is one that really isn’t. The infamous (anti-)social media site Parler is closer to finding a new home. Parler has been offline since January 12, the day that Amazon booted them off the company’s servers. Google and Apple have already taken the former Parler apps out of their respective online marketplaces. This makes a total of three tech giants giving the Twitter alternative a vote of no confidence.

And I think it is for better that the respectable tech companies in the US give Parler the boot. I support responsible free speech, but not “frozen fruit”. We cannot allow any social media platform to facilitate the type of violence that took place on January 6 and then disclaim liability under the guise of “free speech.” The protections of the First Amendment simply do not stretch as far as Parler’s owners would have us believe. What took place online that led to the riot was thousands of times worse than the proverbial shouting of “fire” in a crowded movie theater. If you abuse your rights to free speech, you are responsible for the results. If you amplify the unlawful or reckless “free speech” of others, as Parler did, you are responsible for what happens as a result.

Parler and the people behind it (John Matze, Rebekah Mercer, Jared Thomson, among others) contributed to the domestic terrorist attacks that took place on January 6. This is unfortunate, but true. I place most of the blame on Donald J. Trump, and possibly others within the Republican party. However, we as a society simply cannot ignore the role of Parler (and possibly other “alternative” social media). Until and unless the problem with the Parler machine is fixed, Apple, Google, Amazon, and any other companies in the appropriate position are fully justified in keeping it locked out and tagged out.

Chaos in the Capitol

In most of the other Presidential elections of my lifetime, the Congressional certification of the Electoral College vote count is a non-event. Like just about everything else lately, though, there was nothing routine about it this time around.

Among many other outlets, CNN reported on all hell breaking loose as protests over the certification of the vote totals turned into riots and protesters breaching the walls of the Capitol building. It got so bad that the mayor of Washington, DC, instituted a 6 p.m. curfew in an attempt to quash the remaining violence. Eventually, Congress was able to get back to work and certify the vote as originally planned.

Honestly, I’m still in shock over seeing and hearing what I saw on the news broadcasts. This is the United States of America and we aren’t supposed to have this kind of hooliganism over election results here. Over in Eastern Europe, parts of the former USSR, the Middle East, parts of Africa, sure… but not here. Not in the country born in 1776, known for its stability and enduring democracy.

All I know is that this riot, this attack on our democracy by domestic terrorists, would never have happened if the outgoing president were someone like Mitt Romney or even Ted Cruz. I really didn’t like any of the Republican candidates, but I could have lived with someone that had some experience, some qualifications, and some intelligence. Someone with the decency to not try to treat running the government like a reality TV show. Someone that’s not a de facto anthropomorphic pig, that doesn’t break laws like the one prohibiting treason the way some people commit minor traffic violations.

Even for this last election, Joe Biden was not my first choice, as I’ve said before. But he at least has a sense of decency and given some of the many gaffes by our outgoing occupier of the White House, I really believe there is nowhere to go but up. And I really think it’s time for Donald Trump to make the transition from “commander”-in-chief to defendant-in-chief, and start answering to some of the many insane and odiously egregious violations of the law over the past four years. I’m disgusted and horrified that there’s a small chance he may never have to face the music.

The “impeachment” trial still disgusts me. I knew we were in trouble when “Senator” Mitch McConnell, whom I refer to as Yertle the Turtle, refused to allow any of the evidence to be presented. How can you have a meaningful trial without any evidence? It’s absolutely preposterous!

I think it’s time to impeach Donald Trump again, now that we have seen just how dangerous he can be. Maybe this time we can get a conviction. I know it’s mostly symbolic, but we need this for the record, just to repudiate his “presidency” once and for all.

At least Richard Nixon had the decency to resign when it became obvious what was about to happen. If we don’t impeach Donald Trump, he will leave the office feeling as though he is above the law. That’s unacceptable to me and no doubt many other people as well.

The last straw: harassment and endangerment of the campaign bus

I know I’ve been relatively quiet lately. I’ve had a lot going on in my personal life so I haven’t been able to comment on events as they’ve been happening. I still have a post from the start of the pandemic I have been working on that I will try to get up shortly.

I didn’t watch either of the debates, but I think it speaks volumes that CNN’s Dana Bash called the first debate a “shit show” on live cable TV, quickly clarifying “we’re on cable, we can say that.” I don’t blame Dana for not mincing words. I’ve never heard of a presidential candidate rudely interrupting his opponent so many times and making the moderator’s job so difficult. How hard is it to understand how a debate works? The moderator asks the question or provides the talking point. One person talks while the other shuts up and listens. The other responds while the first person shuts up and listens. Then the moderator asks the next question, etc.

Are people really voting to re-elect someone to lead our country who cannot even grasp basic elementary-school-taught manners?

For that matter, in many ways, ***’s conduct and attitude during the debate is a microcosm of his presidency so far. This whole presidency to date has been a shit show, as much as I would prefer not to use that kind of language to describe it.

Perhaps the most damning strike against *** is the one I allude to in the headline. A few “supporters” decided to harass and intimidate the Biden-Harris campaign bus on its trip between Austin and San Antonio. What does *** do right afterwards? He gets on Twitter and tweets “I LOVE TEXAS!!!” with a video of this dangerous criminal act committed in the name of his presidency and campaign. Any president worth anything would have immediately condemned this. These so-called “patriots” are the reason I’m a bit ashamed to be a Texan right now. Honestly, for me, this is the last straw.

And then, of course, there is the most egregious broken campaign promise I have ever seen. “When I’m elected I won’t have time to play golf, I’ll be too busy working.” Yet *** has spent more time out there on the golf course playing “ah shit” golf you’d think he was trying to become the next Arnold Palmer–at taxpayer expense, at that! At least Barack Obama took into account that the taxpayers pay for the Secret Service (and he didn’t own the golf course and surrounding resort either– I really have to wonder if that has something to do with it as well).

I get that a lot of people think Hillary was (and probably still is) unelectable as president. Joe Biden certainly has at least a decent chance; certainly his campaign team understands what’s at stake. Joe isn’t the perfect candidate, but if we tried to find the perfect candidate every election we’d never elect anyone.

Four years of this was four years too many. We can’t stand to have another four years of it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go vote.

Thoughts on the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, and the path ahead

So it’s a little over half a day since the election results became final. President Barack Obama spoke about the election results earlier today (he gave an incredibly gracious and above-board speech about a president-elect committed to destroying his legacy), and Hillary Clinton also gave her concession speech (which I did finally watch in its entirety, as difficult as that was).

I didn’t even mention in the previous posts that President-elect Trump never released his tax returns. That was an important “highlight” I left out, along with some things like the “7-11” gaffe. Then again, what I did mention pretty much stands on its own. The only thing left to do now is hope that Mr. Trump is a better president than candidate. The entirety of his campaign left a lot to be desired. Mr. Trump’s campaign, from the beginning, seemed more like a joke campaign than an earnest campaign for president.

As I’ve said elsewhere (and which I’ll probably repeat), the White House is not the set of the next season of The Apprentice or some other reality TV show, this whole president thing is reality and reality is way different than a reality TV show. Reality television is more television than reality, and perhaps can be more accurately called reality-flavored television. The reality “flavoring” of reality TV can be compared to that artificial barbecue or sour cream and onion flavoring on potato chips. Those flavorings rarely, if ever, taste like actual barbecue or sour cream and onion; in much the same way, reality TV rarely if ever reflects the actual reality of what happened, especially when “creative editing” comes into play. It resembles reality just enough that some people mistake it for that.

We have a little over two months left before President Obama’s term officially ends. If Mr. Trump really intends to be a “president for all Americans” as he said in his victory speech, I certainly hope that he realizes just what Obama’s legacy means to all of us who voted for him, and to many of us who voted for Hillary Clinton in the hope that legacy would continue be honored.

I don’t know how many readers I have left from the early days, but you’ll notice I do tend to lean left on most issues. (If you’re just now finding this blog, I do keep the archives up for a reason.) The inauguration of Donald Trump as our 45th President on 2017 January 20 will also begin a new era for Rant Roulette, as it will be the first day this blog has existed in its current form under a Republican president. (There was a brief period for the first two months of this blog, before I settled into to the current format, where George W. Bush was still the sitting president prior to the inauguration of Barack Obama.)

This is not unlike the situation faced by, say, Rush Limbaugh after the inauguration of Bill Clinton. Far from being the end of Mr. Limbaugh’s infamous radio show, it was a new beginning (he was even on TV for a while). In the same vein, some may have thought, somewhat naïvely, that this is the end of Rant Roulette. Rest assured this is most definitely not the end of Rant Roulette, in fact in all likelihood it’s going to be a new beginning. Whether President-elect Trump fulfills his campaign slogan and truly “make[s] America great again” remains to be seen. But certainly, it’s going to be my goal over the next four years to make Rant Roulette worth reading again, and I will definitely have a lot more to write about come next January. I compare the election of Donald Trump to being handed a bucketful of lemons; there’s plenty of lemonade to be made in the years ahead.