Of all the things to get put on moderation for, apparently Robert A. Vella of the Secular Jurist has no stomach for being disagreed with. To his mind, a frank discussion of potential consequences of a Trump-led fascist regime is nothing more than the expression “of anxiety over the legal crisis embroiling Trump” Editorial: Lamenting the absurdity of the Anti-Anti-Trump Left.
I was unable to respond in that thread. I discovered I was on moderation, because of an earlier thread you can find here: Critics fear Trump’s attacks are doing lasting damage to the Justice System. In this thread, he was questioned by someone else who noted the one-sided, intentional generalizations, and also noted it was unhelpful to the Left. Yeah, I’ll say! Or wait, no. Moderation.
To which Mr. Vella says: “Perhaps, but not as unhelpful as the Left’s political disunity especially concerning the serious criminal investigations of President Trump and his associates“. Political disunity? When did the Left become a radical cult where frank discussion is not only unwelcome but grounds for silencing others for speaking facts that are just as much, if not more independently verifiable than your own?
Why was I silenced through blog moderation and then vague posted about in an “editorial”? And to be clear, I do not assume that I am the ONLY one he was referring to with that editorial. Clearly not; but he was hiding his silencing of ME by keeping to generalities. Also, it’s his blog, his rules, he can silence me if he likes. But this is MY blog, and MY rules, and if you are going to silence me I am going to call you out for it.
Since being placed on moderation Because of the comments I made to Critics fear Trump’s attacks are doing lasting damage to the justice system I have had some time to review those comments and give this whole matter some thought. I’ve been in worse worse disagreements before, both on and off the internet. Most of the time it gets resolved. This one was polite for one that ended in me being put on moderation.
If the situation were reversed, I’d have just agreed to disagree with the man and let the matter drop. He would have been fine to continue speaking since I happen to agree that everyone is entitled to their own subjective opinion. He even acknowledged that much in one of his comments. He implies that what he says is “independently verifiable fact”, while what I say is “subjective opinion”; that I fail to cite any sources.
I did not see any sources cited in any of his work, at all, since I started reading his journal, therefore I did not expect to need to drop in-text citations and a reference page to prove what I was saying, which can certainly be independently verified. I daresay that some of what he says is actually minus a few important details, therefore borders on misleading, but that is a whole other argument altogether; no need to digress.
The points of contention in the original thread are:
- That Trump can be impeached and will be removed from Office.
- That he will be removed from Office before his first term is up because he has broken laws.
- That the GOP and the whole of the rest of the Federal Government are legally mandated by the Constitution to impeach the President, remove him from Office, and see him Tried and Sentenced because NO ONE is above the Rule of Law.
- That this is so because Richard Nixon resigned his Presidency rather than face impeachment which had been put in motion by the House of Representatives.
- A fascist shift cannot take place in the U.S. because of the Constitution, the Rule of Law, and massive horde of Government officials working for the DoJ etc.
Technically, I don’t disagree with most of this on grounds that there are way too many variables that simply have not happened yet, that are wholly dependent on them moving from a future tense, to a present or past tense context. However, as it stands right now, at this particular moment in time, it is my educated opinion this will not happen. Mr. Vella engages in wishful thinking.
It is a verifiable fact that the majority of the GOP has moved collectively on major legislation along partisan lines since the 1970’s according to Forbes here: A Growing Cancer on Congress: The Curse of Party-Line Voting The New York Times article about the partisanship of judges, ‘Politicians in Robes’? Not Exactly, But. And the Washington Post here: A stunning visualization of our divided Congress.
The above is important because the GOP currently controls the House of Representatives and the Senate. We don’t know how things will go in the mid-terms. But I can tell you it is a verifiable FACT that THREE Presidents have been impeached by the House; but not one of them was impeached by the Senate or removed from Office. Not one. Nixon resigned, and I won’t speculate on what might have been there. Look it up; go ahead.
Andrew Johnson was acquitted by the Senate. Bill Clinton was acquitted by the Senate. In 1974, the United States Senate (93) were both held by Democratic majorities. THAT is why Mr. Vella speculates that Nixon might have been successfully impeached IF he had not resigned; and incidentally, he was pardoned Gerald Ford anyway. But where were Mr. Vella’s citations on any of this? Why didn’t he ask me for citations sooner anyway?
Instead, he visits my intentions and accuses me of attempting to influence others, holding a difference of opinion, apparently too difficult for HIM to resolve, belaboring an opinion likely to be negatively received by others (obviously himself). Why would he care if any of his other readers takes my opinion negatively anyway? One would think he would welcome it, resistance in opinions, like misery, loves company.
First, attempting to sway others is what Mr. Vella endeavors to do on his blog, and apparently if one fails to be properly swayed then it’s off to the moderation box lest the readers get mindlessly led away from his vastly superior intellect. So impeccably credentialed is he that he need not put forth so much as a single link of worthwhile evidence for his position, but all others damn well better document their dissent.
Fair enough I suppose; his blog, his rules. But how rude and annoying to be silenced by a guy, political blogger at that, who can’t handle being disagreed with or having it pointed out to him that if he is going to ask for supporting evidence to support a subjective opinion, then one should maybe supply the same kind of supporting evidence to support a supposedly objectively verifiable opinion, s’cuse me, “fact”.
Let’s return to the points of contention. It will take the GOP no longer holding a majority of the House of Representatives for Congress to move on articles of Impeachment. It will take the GOP losing the majority of the Senate to the Democrats to actually ratify the Impeachment; something the Senate has never done before. See Andrew Johnson: Why Was Andrew Johnson Impeached? See Bill Clinton: William J. Clinton.
Am I saying it’s not possible? No. I am saying the mid-terms have not happened yet, and I have no idea (though I have my doubts) if the Democrats will take the majority in the House or Senate. And then there is the matter of Brett Kavanaugh; the GOP (the same GOP Mr. Vella expects to obey the law) is currently trying to get confirmed to the Supreme Court. There is a reason why they want him confirmed before mid-terms.
Brett Kavanaugh believes that a sitting President should be able to defer criminal prosecutions until out of Office. Why is this important? Because during the Clinton impeachment, Clinton’s legal team asked to defer Clinton’s civil cases until after he left Office and the Supreme Court said NO. Kavanaugh being confirmed would give the GOP control of the Supreme Court. Luckily it was a unanimous decision. For civil cases.
See: The Partisan Battle Brett Kavanaugh Now Regrets and Trump borrows Bill Clinton’s legal strategy as he battles defamation lawsuit and this one: Justices appear to seek to defer Clinton lawsuit. And here: Wikipedia: Clinton v. Jones. Yeah, citing Wikipedia is not my preference either, but take a look at its reference list. The GOP knows who Brett Kavanaugh is and where he stands on removing sitting Presidents from Office.
Basically, 1-4 of the points of contention are moot until we know who has control of the House, the Senate and the Supreme Court after the mid-term elections. But Mr. Vella’s arguments hinge on Nixon and Watergate and neglects to mention Democratic House and Senate majorities that made impeachment possible. Brett Kavanaugh wasn’t a variable in play during Watergate; he was a GOP loyalist in the Clinton impeachment.
Point of contention 5 is where my apparent “political disunity” comes into play. Mr. Vella says the Rule of Law is not “ideological” and he is right…at least to a point. I don’t contest that, but you know, plenty of other countries have Constitutions and Rule of Law and they are still fascist states. Failed states had Constitutions and Rule of Law too, but now they can’t enforce them. History and current events prove it resoundingly.
And of course there is the whole problem of human nature. Mr. Vella likes to kid himself that people, especially those in large groups, will work toward an ideological greater good. Most of the time he is right, except when self-preservation and self-interest takes a priority, as it tends to do in situations involving obedience and authority. I was not promoting this viewpoint. Stanley Milgram proved it decades ago.
About Stanley Milgram: Stanley Milgram. You can see for yourselves in the thread what I said, unsourced and uncited because I didn’t realize I was being tested by Doctor Professor Vella, at least not until just before he tossed me into moderation. Part of my argument was that the GOP is acting like some kind of cult and does not care about the Rule of Law. This would be one reason for my purely “speculative opinion”:
That is a piece of bone fide real live investigative journalism conducted by a Jeffrey Sharlet and published in 2003 about a Dominionist evangelical Christian cult operating in Washington D.C. One that recruits and has for years, eager young politicians willing to sign their souls over to Jesus for rank, status, wealth and privilege. It was one of the links I tried to post to Mr. Vella when I found out I was forbidden to speak on his blog.
Read that article and then Google search “Tuesday Prayer Breakfasts”.
The other links were these: Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Both of these organizations document human rights abuses all over the world; much of it involving political dissension, violence and genocide in authoritarian or failed states. I also posted the link to the reference page here too. Did you know there is a reference page? It’s right here: Reference and Reading List. It’s not complete yet, work in progress.
Why? What is the point of those links? That’s the present tense proof of what happens to people in other countries when their governments turn fascist or the government goes under, rendering the state failed. Social breakdown happens and is happening, in other countries, and as Mr. Vella was quick to agree, quoting Sinclair Lewis, yes it can happen here. We don’t really disagree all that much.
He has more romantic notions about upright citizens in Government doing their due diligence and enforcing the Rule of Law, and I am not saying they won’t try. According to Milgram and those who independently verified his findings, about 1/3rd of our finest will at least TRY. Just like they did in Germany under Hitler, And the U.S.S.R. under Stalin, Italy under Mussolini, Spain under Franco, Cambodia under Pol Pot. etc. ad nauseam.
Oh excuse me, beg pardon; citations: The Nazification of Germany Revelations from the Russian Archives. UCSB Sociologist Deconstructs Fascism Under Mussolini. Surveillance and Student Dissent: The case of the Franco Dictatorship and Pol Pot and the Marxist Ideal.
That’s the past tense evidence of what could result from an American version of a fascist shift. There’s plenty more: Russia, China, North Korea, and those aren’t even the failed states or the absolute monarchies. Those are just the authoritarian style governments that Trump thinks so highly of. But so far, Trump and the GOP haven’t (yet) dispensed with the Constitution and the Rule of Law.
Suggesting they could, or that they might, should not get me arbitrarily silenced simply because I point out there could be dire consequences coming if they do, for those who dissent. How is pointing out international historical and current precedence a matter of implied threat against some blogger on the internet who basically acts like he has his head in the sand anyway. Rule. of. Law. Must. Not. Fail. Yeah…, no shit Sherlock.
No I don’t think there will be an impeachment. If there is, it won’t likely include Trump being forcibly removed from Office in handcuffs. I think that’s a lovely fantasy and we will likely be strung along on it for a while to come yet. I also believe Robert Mueller will totally do his best job, because that is the kind of man he is. He will be meticulous about it. But what will happen after that, what will come of any of it?
I don’t know.
Robert A. Vella doesn’t know, but for someone who supposedly studied politics, Constitutional law, psychology and whatever else he has studied, I did have high expectations of his ability to prove expertise; that he show his work. It wouldn’t have bothered me in the least if he had said “hey, I don’t know. What are your sources?” and then we could have discussed it further and compared notes. Politely. Equitably.
Instead, he assumes I am telling people not to dissent. That if they do Trump might come and kill them. He assumes my intent is to scare them unnecessarily. He tosses me on moderation so I can’t provide any citations and references. Discussion ended. Then he goes and writes some lame “editorial” full of generalizations. What was the purpose of that? Making sure nobody else got any funny ideas he doesn’t approve of?
Apparently, if you read his blog and comment, you forfeit any opinion he didn’t give you. I didn’t see that in the fine print anywhere, but surely it must be there somewhere. If you disagree to that, moderation for you. That’s fine. It’s extremely cowardly to silence someone on your blog, then vague post about it so you can ego stroke yourself without any further argument from anybody, but hey, different strokes for different folks.
The fact that he thought this was a morally upstanding thing to do to someone who only mildly disagreed with him makes me wonder just what the hell his agenda is. What does he do for major disagreements? For someone who complains the Left “isn’t unified”, he sure knew how to make sure I would never take anything he says seriously again. See, I extend respect, free of charge, until you spit on me for it. After that…~shrugs~.
See here is the thing. IF a fascist shift happens…this should be discussed. What will it look like, because this isn’t the 1920’s, the 1930’s, the 1940’s anymore. Right now, dissent is still legal; and the Rule of Law is still in place for most of us anyway. I am not so sure about those who clearly think they are above most of us. We assume this fascist shift business would even require dispensing with the Constitution and the Rule of Law.
Would it? Are you sure? Why not just leave it in place? Who is going to notice?
Supposedly, George W. Bush was going to declare Martial law and appoint himself Emperor for life. Supposedly Barack Obama was going to round-up everyone with guns and herd them into FEMA death camps under local Walmarts then rule for life. Neither of those things actually happened. Just conspiracy theories to keep us all up at night. But do you remember the Abu Ghraib investigation? That was no theory.
The investigation implied that responsibility went all the way up to the G.W. Bush White House; the language was careful, neutral, professional. Where was the Rule of Law? Prosecuting the soldiers involved directly in that scandal but what about the people giving the orders? Rule of Law was where? Abu Ghraib Investigation 2004. This might be interesting too: Inquiry into the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody.
I come by my “subjective opinions” honestly; I am open to discussion and debate, especially if it involves whipping out references and citing sources. But try to visit my intentions, hold me to standards you don’t hold yourself to; try to silence me because you don’t want anyone being “swayed away” from whatever opinion of yours you want them to swallow without a second thought… how unethical. I wonder why.
Mr. Vella do you have something more to say? Do say it where I can respond. At this point you can keep me on moderation at The Secular Jurist. You come over here and comment to me directly, I don’t fear anything you have to say; I have no pretensions here, no illusions of grandeur. My readers make up their own minds for themselves and the moderation is only to keep the spammers at bay, not you. I’ll let you speak sir.
I won’t treat you with the contempt you showed me (and whomever else you might have also tossed into moderation) with that vague post “editorial”. Do bring your citations and references though. I shouldn’t have had to do your homework for you in the first place, and if if you are going to demand it of others, you will be held to that standard as well. Do have a nice day.
And back to the regularly scheduled program.