Thursday, June 30, 2022

Everyone Needs A Break - Peonies Are Starting To Bloom At The Alaska Botanical Garden

The early peonies are blooming - some finishing.  Others are still at the bud stage.  And there are two other flowers included in the mix.   

That's all.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Choking The Secret Service, Smashing China, Taking Down Security Magnetometer - Thoughts From Today's Jan6 Committee Hearing

The headlines are expressing surprise at how much the the January 6 Hearings are revealing and Republicans are claiming not to have understood how serious things were.  

From @PalmerReport:

CNN says many Republican officials are “stunned” by today’s bombshells about Trump. No. They knew he was every bit this evil. They’re only stunned that the January 6th Committee was this successful at digging it all up.

No one who has paid any attention whatsoever, didn't know how bad it was.  Only those who had a  vested interest in believing Trump should have known.  

Here are some thoughts which I started jotting down after the first break today:

1.  Most pressing question for me was: what motivates a person like Cassidy Hutchinson, who has served a number of far right politicians before moving to the White House, to now testify about what she saw?  How did she make the decision?  I understand that we tolerate flaws in people we love or people we hope will achieve important outcomes.  Democrats defended Clinton during his impeachment trial because they thought his presidency was more important.  I'm just curious how people decide their hero has cross one line too many?  

Later, Hutchinson actually told us it was watching the her big boss actually encouraging the insurrection.  

 "As an American, I was disgusted. It was unpatriotic, it was un-American. We were watching the Capitol building get defaced over a lie,".  

2.  Dripping Ketchup, Smashing China:  In regards to that first question,  I'm sure there are some very proper GOP women who will finally be convinced after hearing that he smashed the china against the wall.  

Hutchinson testified that T was so mad at Barr for an interview with the media (AP I think) that he threw his lunch against the wall, getting it full of ketchup, and breaking the (White House presumably) china.  

They might think that groping 'those kind of women' was just boys being boys.  But visualizing the ketchup dripping down the wall and seeing the broken china pieces on the floor will be enough for some to draw the line.  

3.  The Magnetometer,  steering wheel, and the neck.  Hutchinson testified that Trump learned the audience for his speech wasn't as big as he wanted because his supporters didn't want to go through the Magnetometer machines and have their weapons confiscated.  He said they weren't going to hurt him and should keep their weapons and take them to the Capitol

“I don’t fucking care they have weapons,” he allegedly said. “Take the fucking mags away.” Then in his speech, he urged those same supporters to march down to the Capitol. 

And then when the secret service refused his order to drive to the Capitol, Hutchinson testified that he grabbed the steering wheel and the neck of the secret service guarding him trying to get them to turn around and drive to the Capitol with the mob.  

"“I’m the f—-ing president, take me to the Capitol now,” he told his staff, according to Hutchinson. The president lunged for the steering wheel, Ornato told Hutchinson, and when Engel tried to restrain him, Trump lunged for Engel and tried to grab him around his throat area."  (MSNBC)

I'd note T has denied these events ever happened.  Of course.  Maybe he should call up Rep. Thompson and volunteer to testify under oath.  

4.  Hanged versus Hung.  She talked about T encouraging the people who wanted Pence 'hung.'  Just for the record, pictures and clothes and even juries can be hung.  But when talking about people executed with ropes around their necks, the right word is 'hanged'.  I don't think it matters too much, but it is a curiosity of the English language.  

5.  Cassidy Hutchinson is merely 25 years old and has had positions working for various powerful Republican politicians since graduating from college.  She was remarkably composed at the hearing today.  

People might tell you we need to get past this and just move on. We don't do that for most crimes where there's an accused unless the prosecution doesn't think there is enough evidence, or the accused is a white police officer or very wealthy and/or well connected.  

Not enforcing the law vigorously against those who tried to overthrow the election and end American democracy as we know it, by people who continue to call the visible leader of that movement their hero and want him to run again in 2024, only encourages such behavior to continue. Putting every insurrectionist  in  prison isn't going to change their minds, just as imprisoning a murderer isn't going to change his mind.  We put them away to stop them from committing more crimes. Though a civilized country would find far more humane and effective ways to deter and rehabilitate then the US prison system. 

And for those Republicans, particularly in Congress, who want to just let it go, I'd remind them that there were ten Congressional Benghazi investigations from April 2013 to December 2016.

"Despite numerous allegations against Obama administration officials of scandal, cover-up and lying regarding the Benghazi attack and its aftermath, none of the ten investigations found any evidence to support those allegations."

And then there was the Clinton email investigations.  The Republicans are less effective in investigations that end up in prosecutions.  They're more effective in creating 'scandals' to hurt their opponents' election chances.   

Finally,  John Durham is still investigating the FBI investigation of the Russian connections to Trump.  He was appointed in May 2019.  The recent trial jury in that investigation found attorney John Sussman not guilty.  That's over three years for people whose math is rusty.  At about $1 million per year.  

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Anchorage Rallies In Protest of Supreme Court Election Decision

This afternoon, people gathered at the Parkstrip and marched to the Anchorage Town Square to protest Friday's Supreme Court decision on abortion.  My rough estimate of the crowd is 400-600.  

Observations:  The crowd was younger than the demonstration on May 8, 2022 when the decision was leaked.  The organizers also talked a lot about voting this time, which was missing at the previous demonstration.  Including voting no on whether Alaska should have a constitutional convention.  (The constitution requires such a vote every ten years.)  Conservatives want such a convention to do (at least) two things:

  1. Remove the right to privacy in the constitution 
  2. Change how judges are selected in Alaska (by a non-partisan commission which evaluates people applying for judgeships by reviewing surveys of judges, attorneys, juries, court employees, and court watchers.  Top candidates are passed on to the Governor to choose from.

During the 1960's the protesting against the Vietnam war was invigorated by the fact that all 18 year old men had to register for the draft and stood a decent chance of being sent to Vietnam to fight.  All their friends and family had a very personal interest in the war ending.  

Today's young folks have been give an equally important stake in fighting Dobbs v. Jackson's Women's Health Organization.  This time it's all women of child bearing age who are on the line, but since women don't need an abortion unless a man has been involved, men too have a vital stake.  And if the Vietnam War protests are any predictor, the people fighting to make abortions legal again aren't going away. 

Here are some photos from today's protest.

Facts of the case
Carrie Buck was a "feeble minded woman" who was committed to a state mental institution. Her condition had been present in her family for the last three generations. A Virginia law allowed for the sexual sterilization of inmates of institutions to promote the "health of the patient and the welfare of society." Before the procedure could be performed, however, a hearing was required to determine whether or not the operation was a wise thing to do.

Did the Virginia statute which authorized sterilization deny Buck the right to due process of the law and the equal protection of the laws as protected by the Fourteenth Amendment?

The Court found that the statute did not violate the Constitution. Justice Holmes made clear that Buck's challenge was not upon the medical procedure involved but on the process of the substantive law. Since sterilization could not occur until a proper hearing had occurred (at which the patient and a guardian could be present) and after the Circuit Court of the County and the Supreme Court of Appeals had reviewed the case, if so requested by the patient. Only after "months of observation" could the operation take place. That was enough to satisfy the Court that there was no Constitutional violation. Citing the best interests of the state, Justice Holmes affirmed the value of a law like Virginia's in order to prevent the nation from "being swamped with incompetence . . . Three generations of imbeciles are enough."

Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965)

Argued March 29-30, 1965

Decided June 7, 1965


Appellants, the Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut, and its medical director, a licensed physician, were convicted as accessories for giving married persons information and medical advice on how to prevent conception and, following examination, prescribing a contraceptive device or material for the wife's use. A Connecticut statute makes it a crime for any person to use any drug or article to prevent conception. Appellants claimed that the accessory statute, as applied, violated the Fourteenth Amendment. An intermediate appellate court and the State's highest court affirmed the judgment.


1. Appellants have standing to assert the constitutional rights of the married people. Tileston v. Ullman, 318 U. S. 44, distinguished. P. 381 U. S. 481.

2. The Connecticut statute forbidding use of contraceptives violates the right of marital privacy which is within the penumbra of specific guarantees of the Bill of Rights. Pp. 381 U. S. 481-486.

Eisenstadt v. Baird

DECIDED  Mar 22, 1972

Facts of the case

William Baird gave away Emko Vaginal Foam to a woman following his Boston University lecture on birth control and over-population. Massachusetts charged Baird with a felony, to distribute contraceptives to unmarried men or women. Under the law, only married couples could obtain contraceptives; only registered doctors or pharmacists could provide them. Baird was not an authorized distributor of contraceptives.


Did the Massachusetts law violate the right to privacy acknowledged in Griswold v. Connecticut and protected from state intrusion by the Fourteenth Amendment?




In a 6-to-1 decision, the Court struck down the Massachusetts law but not on privacy grounds. The Court held that the law's distinction between single and married individuals failed to satisfy the "rational basis test" of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. Married couples were entitled to contraception under the Court's Griswold decision. Withholding that right to single persons without a rational basis proved the fatal flaw. Thus, the Court did not have to rely on Griswold to invalidate the Massachusetts statute. "If the right of privacy means anything, wrote Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. for the majority, "it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child."

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

New Season Of Sopranos Debuts At House Jan 6 Insurrection Hearings

 The new season stars DJT as Tony Soprano and his head honchos trying to persuade elections officials to change elections results.  With visits to Arizona and Georgia, threatening phone calls.  It's all there including thugs sent out to intimidate election officials and their grandmothers.  

Here's the full hour long audio recording of the then president's phone call to Brad Raffensperger, Georgia Secretary of State pressuring him to find enough votes to swing Georgia over to Trump.  (They only played a snippet at the hearing.)

Later in the episode we heard from two election workers - mother and daughter - who had been named by Trump and accused of counting fraudulent Biden votes.  These women had T thugs at their homes harassing them.  Even going into the grandmother's house looking to make a citizens arrest of the two women Trump had accused.  Imagine how an older black woman in Georgia might react to a crowd of angry white men breaking into her house.  She lived when lynchings were still happening on a regular basis.  

Here's Faye Moss' testimony:

What the hearing left out - or I just missed - was that these two women have filed two lawsuits over this.

"Protect Democracy, through its Law for Truth project, represents Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Wandrea Moss in two landmark defamation lawsuits. Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss served as election workers in Fulton County, Georgia during the 2020 election. False claims that they engaged in ballot fraud in that capacity have caused them to suffer extensive harassment and threats of physical violence.

The first suit names The Gateway Pundit, a website which the complaint calls “among the leading purveyors of false information in the United States.” Law for Truth has undertaken this representation in partnership with the law firms DuBose Miller LLC, Dowd Bennett LLP, and Kastorf Law, LLC and the Yale Law School’s Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic. The Gateway Pundit, along with its founding editor Jim Hoft, and contributor Joe Hoft, knowingly disseminated blatantly false stories claiming that Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss were involved in a conspiracy to commit election fraud, and continued to publish these untruths long after they were proven to be false. 

The second suit names Herring Networks, Inc., which owns and operates One America News Network (OAN), OAN CEO Robert Herring, OAN President Charles Herring, OAN staffer Chanel Rion, and frequent OAN guest Rudolph Giuliani. The suit alleges that the defendants have knowingly and repeatedly disseminated false information about Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss and their work for the County on election night. In this suit, Law for Truth represents Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss, in partnership with the law firms Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, DuBose Miller LLC, and Kastorf Law, LLC."

Sitting behind Ms Moss in the opening of the video is Mike Gottlieb, Ms. Moss and her mom's attorney. who has been filing suits for other election workers defamed and attacked.  

Here's a link to the actual suit against OAN.  It was filed Dec. 21, 2021.  

Did the committee not mention these lawsuits to gain greater pity for Ms. Moss?  I don't know.  But I personally feel much better knowing that steps are being taken to punish those who knowingly spread lies like this that cause great harm to people doing their jobs.  Jobs that are fundamental to democracy.  (It was amended in May when OAN OAN retracted its claims about Georgia, Moss, and Freeman.  That's good, but were there no consequences other than the expenses of hiring a lawyer for the harm they've done these women?  And what about the people who harassed them and entered the grandmother's home?  If there are no consequences they become emboldened to do it again.  Our system is failing.)

We need as many strong, upstanding citizens as possible to work and volunteer at voting places in every election to make sure elections are not stolen by the likes of Don Soprano.  

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Best Book In Many Years: Apeirogon Part 1 - Hoopoe


Been reading marathon like to finish this by book club Monday night.  

It's fantastic!!  Yesterday I'd read the 500th section and at the Juneteenth Festival I was telling everyone I met about the book.  

You're going to hear more about this book in coming days here.  But for now, this its sort of a diversion.  

The cover is full of birds. And birds fly in and out  throughout.  This is not a book about birds, it's just that the author brings in all sorts of topics that are relevant to the key tale, which is about an Israeli Jew whose daughter was blown up in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem and a Palestinian Muslim whose daughter was shot in the head by Israeli police.  Both meet at a group called the Parents Circle - an organization that gets parents who have lost children in the battles between Israelis and Palestinians.  They connect and then start making presentations to groups all over the the world, But mostly in Israel and Occupied Palestine.  

It's a fictionalized account of real events.  Perhaps telling us more truths than a non-fiction account could.  It's divided into 1001 sections. Each of different lengths.  Some span half a dozen pages or more.  Others are just one line.  They number 1 -500. The next one is 1000,  The next one is 500 again and the rest go back to 1.  It's almost like a book of many, many short stories.  Sections 500 are perhaps the crux of the book,  all the bits and pieces we've already heard about in previous sections, but knitted together.  The first section 500 is the talk given by Rami, the Israeli, at the Cremisan Monastery at Beit Jala in the Occupied Territories.  The second section 500 is the talk given by Bassam, the Palestinian, the same night and in the same place.  

But I want to save 500 for later.  In this post I want to mention birds.  Particularly hoopoes.  

Section 3, on page 4 (Section 1 starts on page 3) begins 

"Five hundred million birds arc the sky over the hills of Beit Jala every year.  They move by ancient ancestry:  hoopoes, thrushes, flycatchers, warblers, cuckoos, starlings, shrikes, ruffs, northern wheatears, plovers, sunbirds, swift's, sparrows, nightjars, owls, gulls, hawks, eagles, kites, cranes, buzzards, sandpipers, pelicans, flamingos, storks, pied bush chats, griffon vultures, European rollers, Arabian babblers, bee-eaters, turtledoves, whitethroats, yellow wagtails, blackcaps, red-throated pipits, little bitterns.  

It is the world's second busiest migratory superhighway:  at least four hundred different species of birds torrent through, riding different levels in the sky.  Long fees of honking intent.  Sole travelers skimming low over the grass."

Already in this section, though I didn't realize it at the time, it prepares us for that talk at the Cremisan Monastery in Beit Jala.  And sections like this put the present day events into perspective. The birds have been flying by here for thousands of years.  Many, many young girls have died during that time span in this place.  While the book focuses on two particular girls, Smadar and Abir, all the other girls' lives were important too and at the same time all those birds flew by totally unaware.  

And the book is like that.   Fragments of life spiral in and out of center stage, all adding rich links, illustrating the interconnection of everything.  

But this post is about hoopoes.  (Did you catch that hoopoes are the first bird mentioned in Section 3?)

We hear about them again in Sections 469 - 471.  469 is about a group of actors (including Helen Mirren) who travel through rural Algeria.

"The troupe journeyed through the desert, stopping in the evenings in the smallest and most isolated villages they could find.  They unfurled a large carpet and set up a series of corrugated boxes while one of the actors sounded out a drum call.  An audience formed, and the troupe began their performance of an adaption of The Conference of the Birds, based on an allegorical poem by Farid ud-Din Attar, using hand puppets to illustrate the story of a gathering of the world's birds trying to decide who should be their king.

In the play, each bird represents a human fault which prevents man from attaining enlightenment.  The wisest bird among the, the hoopoe, suggest that together they try to find the legendary Persian Simorgh to gain enlightenment for themselves. . . 

The village crowds reacted variously - some cheered, others laughed, while a few stayed silent . . "

[As I think of my two years in a rural Thai town, itinerant troops of actors would come through, set up their stage, and perform for folks in the evening - Thai dramas and Chinese opera perhaps the most popular.] 


"The Conference of the Birds was written in Persia, at the end of the twelfth century.

When the last birds - thirty of them - finally get to the home of the Simorgh, exhausted, they gaze into a lake and instead of meeting the mythical creature they've been searching for, they find only their own reflections."


"On the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of Israel, the hoopoe -the loquacious, dappled, with a long beak and slicked-back tuft of hair - was chosen as the national bird.

During the vote, Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, said he was only sorry that the most Zionist of birds, the dove, had not made the final cut.  

It was, said Nurit [wife of Rami, the Israeli father] one of the most perverse lines she had heard in her life, although it was, she added, apt that the name Peres in Hebrew meant bearded vulture."

In a sense, this is a book of 1001 short stories that all intertwine.  

The hoopoe references are among the least intertwined into the story itself.  

But the hoopoe is a bird that has fascinated me since I first saw it in the Hong Kong Bird Guide I bought in 1989 when I was teaching there.  The picture from that book should help you see why I was so taken.

Those are all cool looking birds, but the hoopoe is in a class all by itself.  I never saw a hoopoe in Hong Kong.  But in 2006, after giving a paper at a conference in New Delhi, we went to see the Taj Mahal.  I couldn't imagine that after seeing pictures of the Taj all my life, that the real thing would live up to my expectations.  I was wrong.  It was amazing.  

We were sitting on a bench in front of this exquisite love letter in the form of enchanting white curves, when a strange bird caught my attention.  As I looked closer, I suddenly realized, whoa, that's a real live hoopoe.  

There were a bunch of them on the lawn.  The history of the Taj would have to wait a bit. 

So, there you have an appetizer for Apeirogon.  There will be at least one more post on this book.  But I still have about 40 pages to go.  I'll let you know if the hoopoe makes another surprise appearance at the end.  

 NOTE July 5, 2022:  I've put up a second, meatier post about Apeirogon here.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

History's Verdict, SCOTUS & Presidential Elections, Right Has Good Reason To Hate Pelosi, Judging Others

There's guns, abortion, Ginni Thomas, Jan 6, COVID, Louis DeJoy still running the post office, the high rejection rates in Alaska's recent all mail in election, climate change related fires and storms yet no serious action to curb carbon emissions, Ukraine, attacks on LGBTQ,  . . . 

There are just too many fronts for anyone to meaningfully comment about much.  

So I'm limiting this to a couple of very narrowly focused thoughts.  

1.  How Will History Report All This?  People have been talking about how history will judge things that are coming to light at the Jan 6 hearings.  But I've been concerned that if gerrymandering and misinformation and voter suppression work, those in control will be the people who will write history in T's favor.

But then I realized that historians around the world will also be writing this history and if we're lucky, they'll preserve the real story.  And if we're even luckier, the hearings - like the Watergate hearings did eventually - will shock enough people into realizing how close we were to a coup.  And we'll have a repeat of the post-Watergate cleaning up.  

2.  The Supreme Court And Presidential Elections.  As I watched Twitter today there was a lot of attention on Ginni Thomas, Tom Eastman, Clarence Thomas, and Alito.  Now people may think this is all just wild speculation, but I've been fairly careful with who I follow on Twitter, and I've found Twitter gives me a one to three day heads up on what gets covered in the mainstream media.  But as I was listening to the chatter that suggests Eastman thought that if the ratification of the election got delayed a week or so, then Thomas and Alito would support the T position.  Far fetched?  

Then I thought about how the Court intervened to interrupt the Florida recounts to declare Bush president.  They've done this before.  John Roberts was on the Bush side of that verdict. And I began to think about how that too was probably planned out in advance.  Scary stuff.  Maybe some researchers will get some of those involved to offer more on how that was pulled off.  

3.  Nancy Pelosi, an American Hero.  Several people gave Pelosi a lot of credit today.  First, for calling Congress back after the insurrection so they could finish ratifying the election.  Not giving the Court any time to intervene.  Second for going ahead with the Jan 6 hearings.  That she'd even pulled a fast one of McConnell who refused to participate in a joint Senate and House hearing that would have give T Republicans much more power. (As someone said, they would have subpoenaed Hunter Biden and interrogated him for three months to block everything else.)  But McConnell said no, and now the Democrats can do what they want and they're doing it well.  With the considerable assistance of Liz Cheney.  

4.  Lessons in Making Judgments About People - Exhibit 1:  Liz Cheney.  I totally disagree with most of her policy beliefs.  Never expected to be saying positive things about her. But I do share her belief in the rule of law.  And the various T insiders who have been testifying remind us that despite the many morally questionable decisions they had to make to serve Trump, they did have some red lines they wouldn't cross.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Labor Shortage, Law Enforcement And Teaching In Alaska

 This has been flashing at the State Troopers Headquarters at Tudor and MLK

Now Hiring State Troopers

$20,000 Hiring Bonus

Starting Salary $74,693-100,630

Apply Online Today

Here are the qualifications listed online:

The minimum qualifications for the position of State Trooper Recruit/Lateral are outlined below.

General Qualifications

  • Must be a citizen (including US Nationals) of the United States of America.
  • Must be 21 years of age or older* at the start of the academy .
  • Must be conversant in both spoken and written English.
  • Most possess a high school diploma or have passed a General Education Development (GED) test.

* There is no upper age limit; if you can pass the physical fitness test and medical screening,  you could be hired.


  • Must possess a valid driver’s license issued within the United States or its Territories.
  • Must be free of excessive moving violations and recent license actions (canceled, revoked, suspended, limited, or SR-22 requirement).


Drug use/abuse is closely scrutinized and recent drug use may be cause for elimination from the hiring process, including:

  • Marijuana use within the last year
  • Use of illegal narcotics within the last ten years
  • Manufacture/sale of illegal narcotics as an adult
  • Illegal drug use while employed in a law enforcement position
  • Prescription drug use without a prescription unless there was an immediate, pressing, or emergency medical circumstance to justify the use

Criminal History

  • Adult criminal history is closely scrutinized and the following may be cause for elimination from the hiring process:
  • Felony conduct as an adult
  • Misdemeanor convictions within the last ten years
  • Any conviction related to domestic violence

So a high school diploma or GED is all you need to get a starting salary of

In comparison, here's the salary schedule from the Anchorage Education Association  Contract - teachers.  This is for the 202-1022 school year.  There is a bump up each year, but the highest starting salary is $55,158 and the highest top salary is $97,238.  


2021-2022 Salary Schedule






































































































































Here are the qualification requirements for an elementary school teacher:

Job Requirements
The following are required:

  1. A valid Alaska initial, professional, or master teaching certificate.
  2. Evidence of content knowledge shown by:
    1. a posted degree in the content area of this position; or
    2. a posted minor in the content area of this position; or
    3. passing Praxis Subject Assessments scores (formerly Praxis II) in the content area of this position; or
    4. a certificate endorsement in the content area of this position

What's required for a teaching certificate?  There's a lot of different ones listed, but here's for someone who has never taught in Alaska:


To qualify for an Initial/Program Enrollment teacher certificate, an applicant must meet the following requirements:

  • Has never held an Alaska teacher certificate
  • Completion of a bachelor’s degree from a regionally or nationally accredited university;
  • Offered a certified teaching position by an Alaska public school district.

I've had comments in the past that argued that having a Bachelor's degree is no guarantee that someone can do the job better than someone without one.  That requiring such a degree is elitist.   I would say that depends on the kind of job you're hiring for.  And the quality of the degree one has.  
But I would argue that a good Bachelor's degree forces one to challenge one's world view, to be exposed to alternative ways of thinking about things, to develop thinking and logic skills, and to spend time working through ethical problems.

I suspect that if qualified teachers applied for and got State Trooper positions, the quality of our state law enforcement would improve greatly.  I also think that if our teacher pay scale were to be more like the trooper pay scale, we'd have better teacher applicants.  But I would also acknowledge that there are both troopers and teachers who would apply for those positions regardless of the pay, because that's what they really want to do.  In both cases, I would hope the hiring authorities make sure that the want to pursue those careers for the right reasons.  

Sunday, June 12, 2022

As Someone Who Closely Followed The Live Watergate Hearings, This Is Really Different

 I started this post while I was watching what I thought were the live Jan 6 hearings Thursday.  I was watching on YouTube, but I also followed the Twitter feed on the hearings and people were commenting on things I wasn't seeing.  In the long run, that's good, because what I was watching was not what I would expect after the committee hired a consultant to help them make the hearings more compelling.  

Turns out what I was watching was live in July 2021.  For anyone objecting to the committee getting professional help, just watch the old hearing.  You'll be thankful.  Same sort of thing - four law enforcement officers telling their stories, comments by committee members - but dragged on too long and was repetitive.

Then I found rerun of Thursday's hearing and things made sense.  It was significantly tighter and more compelling that the first one.  

But, it still was a very different experience than the Watergate hearings.  Those hearings had both Democrats and Republicans (a lot more even numbers) who took turns questioning witnesses.  Yes, like most committee hearings, they had already questioned the witnesses in private and pretty much knew what they were going to say.  But Republicans were able to do a sort of cross examination of the witnesses, softening the edges of those testifying against Nixon and bringing out more context in general.  

Also, revelations came out over time.  While the committee knew what was coming each day, often they only learned things a day or two before.  Like when Alexander Butterfield revealed that Nixon had a secret recording system in his office.  That was a blockbuster discovery.  It meant everything that people testified had been said could actually be checked on tapes.  Nixon went to the Supreme Court to prevent the release of the tapes claiming executive privilege.  No one knew what the Court would say.  But when they said the tapes weren't protected, it was pretty much over for Nixon once they started comparing the testimony against the tapes.  Lots of lying about what people knew and when they knew it.   Here's the part where Butterfield reveals the existence of the tapes.

This looks more like Trump impeachment hearings than the Jan 6 hearings, except the Republicans weren't stonewalling the whole event.  The interrogator in the clip is Fred Thompson, on the Republican staff, and later a GOP Senator from Tennessee.  In those days GOP staffers and members of Congress who helped investigate the GOP president weren't shunned by their party. And I don't recall any women or people of color involved.  Lots of Southerners, who were mostly Democrats in those days.  

The event Thursday night seemed more like the prosecution making their opening or closing argument before the jury.  Lots of gushing over the witnesses.  It was a strong, logical, evidence backed argument, but I can understand why GOP viewers might think it was partisan.  The tone of the Watergate hearings was much more formal.  While witnesses were thanked, they weren't fawned over.  

I'd also note the timing of  the events.   

  • The break-in occurred May 28, 1972 (50 years ago last month).  
  • Nixon was reelected in November 1972
  • Alexander Butterfield testified before the Watergate Committee on July 16, 1973.
  • Nixon resigned August 9, 1974.

These events just plodded along.  Here's a detailed timeline.  

The break-in didn't happen on national television like the insurrection did, but it took over two years before Nixon left office.  He resigned rather than be impeached.  Had he not resigned, it would have taken much longer. 

Two years for our current scandal will be January 2023.  And while Nixon supporters stayed loyal until the end, when it became clear he had lied to the American public, House and Senate Republicans did NOT rally to support him. (A few did, but most let him know he was going to be impeached if he didn't resign.)  

 [I realize as I write this there could be readers who don't know details beyond the word "Watergate." The Watergate housed a then new luxury hotel and office space and apartments.  The Democratic National Committee had an office there and Nixon operatives broke into those offices to spy on the Democratic campaign headquarters.  Sort of like breaking into the Democratic National Committee's computers in 2016]