[FRIAM] The lies of Trump and ecDNA

David Eric Smith desmith at santafe.edu
Thu Feb 29 13:26:12 EST 2024

I don’t suppose I want to make some strident argument about his being or not being on the ballot, since there are good reasons a careful system of laws might want to allow someone to run for an office even from a prison (didn’t Lula da Silva have to do that?)

But trump needs to get his ass hauled into a proper court, and that promptly, for two reasons that have nothing to do with hail Mary’s to keep him out of office.  

1. It has been extravagantly exhibited what many people already gripe about both substantively and out of habit: that the notion of “rule of law” is so strained in this country by the deferences given to the rich and the powerful (particularly the politically powerful) as to approach bitter irony.  But to those who love nothing so much as to complain and cast judgment: things can be worse, and gangster countries or absolute information-firewall countries make that visceral lest we forget.  In order that what is already not good, not get much worse, at some point we have to find that there is _some_ limit to the indulgences given.  Otherwise we just let it all go and aren’t even going to try.  

2. Also “of course”, but surprisingly hard to get heard in a crowd: the letter of law doesn’t do much good if we are in Humpty-Dumpty world where any word is allowed to mean anything, and many words can simply be ignored on the premise that they mean nothing at all.  There is a sense of good-faith interpretation of law, which is by nature not written into the letters of laws that the good faith is needed to protect — although good law systems do use the letters of the law to get as much robustness per unit of good faith as possible, by feeding back to education, certification standards, incentives, visibility, and so forth.  It is not enough to haul his ass before judges and juries, they have to be real judges that feel obliged to good faith and competence.  And any juries have to somehow be protected from brownshirts, at least so we don’t have to rely on heroes to even accept the jury assignment without fleeing the country for their own safety.  Again, one could sort of sit on the sidelines, and suppose that whatever currently happens is about all there can be, but with SCOTUS giving near-weekly examples of the Humpty-Dumpty version, we are reminded that among degrees of sub-optimality, some are clearly way worse than others, so there is still something to actively work to hold onto.

To the extent that anything might bear on keeping him off the ballot, I don’t at all mind that the 14th amendment has some detailed language tailored to some Civil War insurrectionists that could lead to that outcome.  But since this is a federal standard, applying to a federal office, and since the question of whether one has engaged in insurrection is not a mere matter of fact like age or citizenship, but a matter of legal interpretation, it seems pretty simple to require that any decisions on that matter should probably be made in a federal court.  (It is so weird that, with all the noise I have heard on this matter from talking heads, I haven’t heard the above thing just said that way, which seems to me the smallest and most elementary place to start.  Not sure why.)

I haven’t tried to read (and don’t have the education to understand technically) what is in Smith’s charges of trump, and even Humpty-Dumpty aside, I don’t know how their specific language would interact in law with the language of the 14th.  But until there is some federal commitment on the charges that are currently indicted, I don’t see how any substantive conversation on any of that gets anywhere.  If he should get convicted of some palette of the charges, and some court should decide that those charges are suitably close to what the constitution wants in terms like “insurrection”, and they throw him off, that’s fine with me.  Or of there is some legal argument that you have to have actually been a general in a bona fide war to count as an insurrectionist, that would be a shame to have to let it go so far, but I could listen to why it is argued that way and try to decide whether there is some protection in such leeway that I can understand.  trump is not that important in a long-term sense (though even sudden cardiac death only lasts a few minutes, and yet has certain long-term impacts), and keeping him out by the vote long enough that he dies of MacDonalds also doesn’t solve the problem of the run to fascism in the U.S., which is very obviously a social phenomenon even if it includes institutional assistance.  But I guess to return to the theme at the start: there is some notion of a worldview upheld by some minimal set of planks of basic sanity, and if everything is just left to drift until none of those remain, we have much less to work with than the naturally-selected norms of wild animal populations to underpin life.  To just watch that happen and do nothing seems blame-worthy.


> On Feb 29, 2024, at 10:07 AM, glen <gepropella at gmail.com> wrote:
> This is exactly why Trump needs to stay on the ballot(s) and be defeated by a "normal" election. Every cry of Martyr is more fuel for the much smarter younger traitors waiting in the wings. Or, if he is elected again, those of us in a position to bolster whatever Rule of Law we have left will need support.
> On 2/28/24 20:11, Roger Critchlow wrote:
>> I went looking for depressing news in 1924, you know, lying politicians and cancerous social movements:
>> April 1 <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_1>
>>  * Adolf Hitler <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler> is sentenced to 5 years in Landsberg Prison <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landsberg_Prison> in Germany for his participation in the 1923 <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1923> Beer Hall Putsch <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beer_Hall_Putsch> (he serves less than 9 months).
> -- 
> ꙮ Mɥǝu ǝlǝdɥɐuʇs ɟᴉƃɥʇ' ʇɥǝ ƃɹɐss snɟɟǝɹs˙ ꙮ
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