Even small fry like myself sometimes have “experts” in my circle. Alan sent this yesterday: “Fans of obscure nineteenth century British aphorisms tend to like William Shenstone, who once said that the world may be divided into people that read, people that write, people that think, and fox-hunters*.” Indeed.
47 years ago – it was March of 1972 – I began my career representing people as a teachers union field representative. I didn’t seek the job; like most of my colleagues, I learned by doing during the first year that all Minnesota public school teachers had the legal right to negotiate collective bargaining agreements in Minnesota. The process, as you might expect, was imperfect. The old rules were changed for all “sides” and mistakes were made. But we worked through it, not always easily. Most every year for the last 20 years, I’ve gone out to the old school district, Anoka-Hennepin, for the teachers union annual dinner, where a dwindling few of us can share ever older stories. This year, the program said, there were 20 of us retirees in attendance; another was unable to attend; seven were “kids” – people who I didn’t know during my ten years there, now long ago.
There were many lessons to learn in those first ten years. Most of the first were in what we used to call “teacher rights and responsibilities”, many of which were statutory, to be interpreted by lawyers and if the issues couldn’t be resolved by arbitrators or judges.
Perhaps the earliest lawyer word I learned was “clearly”. Lawyers are almost always, unfortunately, advocates for a “side”, and when they encounter a case a favorite word is often “clearly” – they can make a strong case for their client. The simple analysis is almost never true, of course. Hundreds of years of laws and their interpretation, mostly written by lawyers, make the “law” much like swiss cheese. Everything is open to interpretation and most everything to appeal. There was a reason why I asked a lawyer in 2017, “WWDTD. What would Donald Trump do?” Trump had just taken the oath of office to be President of the United States.
It isn’t quite so easy to win in court as it appears.
Which brings me to the present day, in Washington D.C. where the essence of the many cases can, in my opinion, be boiled down to this conflict:
1. Words taped to the front of the Presidents lectern in the Rose Garden at the White House yesterday: among which were: “NO Collusion”.
2. And a book which I bought recently, and I think everyone should have as a ready reference in coming months:
My copy of The Mueller Report is 729 pages, and not meant for digesting in a single marathon sitting, but time well spent by picking out even random bits and pieces. It is for people who read, think and write….(You might remember it being summarized by Attorney General Barr by extraction of a few words from its text and a misleading summary; the actual report is very explicit.)
But the “NO Collusion” group (#1 above) really could care less about the reality of the report.
We – all of us – are the ones who have created this mess in which we find ourselves by our own very sloppy decision making. We vote, or we don’t, with knowledge of the consequences, or not. Here we are.
“Clearly”, we are the ones to blame, by our own sloppiness and laziness.
Chew on that for awhile.
- – Fox hunters, as defined in the article referenced in the first paragraph: “That’s a British thing. Those brutal and cruel, or sporting and aristocratic, fox hunts have been an issue for ages. On this side of the pond we don’t concern ourselves with such things. For ritual blood sport NASCAR and the NFL will do just fine. But of course the Shenstone quip can make Americans smile. The world can be divided into those who do a lot of reading, to try to understand what is going on, which is endless research, and those who try to explain things to themselves, and to others, by writing things down in this order or that, which is careful analysis and re-analysis, and then those who don’t get around to either but do think long and hard about issues, and then those who just go out and do mindless things, because one ought to do something.“