First Amendment Rights

We are in California now, visiting my father and Chris. Unlike in past years, everything is green around here. All those atmospheric rivers that had descended upon this state, earlier this year, have had a telling effect. The first part of our journey west involved a couple of flights west. We started ungodly early but landed here at noon. While still in Saint Louis, headed towards security, we came upon this little oddity, tucked away in a quiet part of the airport. I had never noticed this place, even though it has been at the airport for as long as I have flown to and fro from Saint Louis. Back in the eighties, the Hara Krishna had fought and won in court the ability to be able to solicit donations at Lambert. Part of their arguments involved freedom off religion and part of them were based in free speech rights. All they wanted was to be able to ask people for money at the airport. The city fought them though and it went to the Supreme Court before the Hara Krishna won. Their victory was somewhat pyrrhic though, because before the court case they could stand at the airport’s main entrance and accost everyone. After their Supreme Court victory, they were sequestered to three similar booths, all placed in out of the way locations around the airport, where only a few people would ever see or hear them speak. Talk about winning the battle but losing the war. That is Saint Louis. Also, bring your own chairs.


Magdalen as in Mary

Last Friday Night’s entertainment—Lenten Catholic fish fry, with a sing-along performance of traditional Americana favorites by a friend with her dulcimer.

Yesterday, in just a little over an hour, my insurance claim went from claim denied to, we are cutting a check. I first got a call from the Toyota shop that they had received an email from my insurance company denying my claim for last week’s squirrel damage. They had not. I called the insurance company and they denied they had denied my claim. They claimed that my claim was under final review and a settlement would likely be issued by early next week. Actually, they seemed most concerned with getting the name and address of the Toyota dealer, so that they knew where to mail the check. Their representative explained that they wanted to put both the dealer’s name and mine on the check due to its large size. It seems that the confusion extended from a quibble that they had, they wanted to substitute an Other Equipment Manufacturer’s part for one of genuine Toyota parts that had been requested. Good news—check is in the mail. Bad news—since the check is made out to Toyota too, there will be no all-expenses paid trip to the riverboat casinos. 😉

Well, the dam has finally broken, and the first of many long-awaited indictments have fallen. Some pundits warn that this event is a solemn occasion for the country, others advise to drink responsibly. I cleave more towards the latter bit of advice than the former and have been reveling in the parade of memes that have since sprung forth, fully formed, from the brow of Twitter, after yesterday’s announcement. Even more delicious is that the perp (Too soon? I mean he is supposed to walk next week.), first indicated that he could not even spell indictment and then stayed up past three last night, desperately, Captain Caps Lock tweeting, “WHERE’S HUNTER?” Does he know what this behavior looks like? Does he care? Every good story needs a good villain, and this is all we got.

I’m so indicted,
And I just can’t hide it,
I’m about to go to jail,
And I don’t like it…
— Apologies to The Pointer Sisters

Lock Him Up!

New York County Courthouse

On Friday, the International Criminal Court indited and issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin, for war crimes. Today, it was reported that the Manhattan DA is coordinating with other law enforcement agencies on the imminent arrest and indictment of Donald Trump, as early as next week. Never one to pass by a dumpster, without lighting it on fire, Trump poured gasoline on this story by crying foul that he should be held accountable for his crimes, “THE FAR & AWAY LEADING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE & FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, WILL BE ARRESTED ON TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK. PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!”

He has been leaning heavily on his caps lock for some time now. In both Putin’s and Trump’s cases, an indictment is a long way from a conviction. For Putin who is already a world pariah, the ICC arrest warrant little limits his freedom. For Trump, who has evaded accountability all his life, news alone of this impending indictment should not alarm him as much as it seems to be doing. Except that this indictment is not a singular event. It is simply the first among a raft of other legal woes that are now bearing down upon him. Already Trump’s lawyers are playing off one competing legal proceeding against another with the scheduling conflicts of their respective court dates. Still, NYC DA Alvin Bragg is the first one through this seemingly impenetrable barrier on the road to justice. As the first one through the wall, Bragg is likely to get bloodied. He may fail, but others will pick up his fallen standard and eventually Donald Trump will face justice for at least some of his many misdeeds.

The motto atop the lintel of the New York County Courthouse, where Bragg is slated to litigate the former president, states, “The True Administration of Justice is the Firmest Pillar of Good Government.” In the same message that he tips off his impending indictment, Trump challenges this motto with another call to protest that echoes the call he made before the Capitol riot that he fomented on 1/6. It is fitting that at least here in Missouri, Tuesday is also Election Day, because in this country all political power ultimately stems from the will of the people. Here the people being the majority, not some wingnut minority.