Interesting Times

This is a political post.  If you don’t like political posts on a blog set up as a writer’s space, then skip this one and find something more to your taste.

It’s January 12 as I write this.  In ordinary times I’d be a week further along in the revisions and at least halfway done with the annual wildlife management report required by our county’s tax appraisal district.   But as it became obvious (certainly very clear by January 5, when they started pouring into Washington, D.C., and the more extreme Republican politicians, including the President, were urging on their extreme followers) that there would be an assault on the Capitol building the next day, and it could become very bad indeed.  How bad, we’d have to find out in medias res, as it were.

I know some of you are not US citizens and thus some things may not be obvious to you, so I’ll try to add in some [boxes] that those who know already can skip over.  We don’t have a working TV, and I knew reportage would be chaotic anyway.  I’m a little over 1800 miles [2240 kilometers] from D.C. which means no matter what happens I can’t affect it.  I had been emailing my U.S. Congressman (John Carter, Republican) and both Senators (John Cornyn, Ted Cruz)  over the previous week, but they’re all stone Republicans and never act as I’d wish.  So instead of watching what news was available online, I spent the day mostly in prayer, on the National Cathedral site.  They have lots of material up to read, watch, or listen to, and it was calming indeed.  (I may suggest to them that putting up some music files would be really useful at times like this.  Late in the afternoon, after the horses’ evening feed, I went back online and learned what had happened and what was still going on.  I’m assuming most of you have seen/heard enough by now to have a rough idea, but I don’t know what newsfeeds you were able to get, or if you’ve followed some (any) of what’s been learned since.

First, my background and biases.   I first went to Washington on a trip with my mother at age 11.  We were in Washington for about 3 days, I think, and there was no way we could see everything, walk around everything.  We arrived by bus, stayed at a modest hotel, took a quick taxi ride around the monuments, visited the National Gallery, the National Archives (Constitution and Declaration of Independence), parts of the Smithsonian, saw the Capitol from the outside and I think went in and looked up in the rotunda (I kindasorta remember that) and the White House from outside.  We didn’t have time to sign up for a tour of that.  We had a short time at the National Zoo (where my mother backed away from a scary snake in the reptile house and didn’t realize she’d edged around a warning post until a snake in confinement *behind* her struck the glass.  It was a King Cobra, and the first time I’d ever seen my mother really afraid.  We left the reptile house immediately.)  The National Zoo had a baby giraffe, I remember.  We also took a combination boat and bus tour out to Mount Vernon and back.

The next time I went to Washington, D.C. I was in uniform,  stationed at Headquarters Marine Corps and assigned to the Systems Design and Programming unit, to head a miniscule group (myself and two enlisted personnel, later increased for a time to three) working on converting two paper-based accounting messes to neat, tidy computer files you could random access.  That’s another fifteen or twenty stories. We were housed across a highway from the Pentagon for the first year, and then moved to a different building almost on the Potomac, downstream of most of the city.  There was no on-base housing for me, and I was lucky to find an apartment in Alexandria that I could afford.  This was during ‘Nam.   I traveled by bus or car to and from the WWII “temporary” buildings we inhabited.  They aren’t there now.  As an outdoor semi-country girl, I spent most of my free time out in the country, a lot of it in Shenandoah National Park, hiking.  But I did take a couple of night classes at the Smithsonian, visited museums, etc.  I became comfortable in D.C., though not driving in its city traffic.  I’ve always preferred driving back roads, however twisty and rough.

As I said, during ‘Nam.  Stationed there from about September ’69 through leaving active duty in (June?  July? not sure) ’71.  Yes, there were demonstrations.  A bus I was in had rocks thrown at it, but not dangerously.  It was a curious mixture, on the streets or in stores, etc, between extreme almost fawning admiration for military personnel and extreme nastiness and hatred for us.  Away from demonstrations, mostly civilians and military were careful to avoid starting trouble, but not always and one needed to be careful.  R- was at a different base at first (he was Army, not Marines), and then in ‘Nam for a year and then returned, left active duty, and went to work as an orderly at one of the hospitals; I don’t remember which.  A couple of days before we were going to head back to Texas, he got word he’d been called up for his summer training with the Pennsylvania National Guard at a place that resembled, he said, “Camp Swampy” in the old Beetle Bailey cartoons, down in Virginia someplace.  Another set of stories as are many other things in the decades since.

So what the heck went on last Wednesday and why did it happen like that?   Armed insurrection, a seditious attempt to interfere with the legal and required government procedures leading to an orderly transfer from one Administration to another, an illegal and violent invasion of the Capitol building by a large and unruly mob, stiffened by cadres of trained military and paramilitary personnel that almost led to members of Congress being in immediate danger from armed invaders.  It was incited, and enabled, by the corrupt, dishonest, and treasonous Trump Administration, including Trump’s post-election appointees in the Pentagon, who prevented any adequate protection from reaching the Capitol for two or more hours.  It was essentially unopposed that’s what Trump wanted, and put in place, with the help of those who knew exactly which levers to tie down.   Some current members of the House and Senate incited this riot; some showed up and cheered on the participants as it happened; some colluded with the insurgents from within the Capitol building (for instance, tweeting Speaker Pelosi’s whereabouts when the individual knew she was on the insurgents’ hit list.) So did some off-duty law enforcement and military personnel, and some former military.

This was not only illegal but unethical.  The President, like every other person in government, swears an oath of office, and all those oaths contain one or another wording of “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”  Every military officer.  Every law enforcement officer.  Every sheriff.  Every legislator. Others swear a similar oath (referring always to the Constitution) but may also include vows of loyalty or obedience to lesser authorities.  Military officers–including me and the oath I swore the day I was commissioned–swear to support and defend the Constitution.  Intentionally, they do not swear obedience to any higher authority.  Same with Presidents and Vice-Presidents.  We are swearing loyalty not to the flag, or a branch of service, or officers senior to us, or even the President…but to the Constitution. And quite a bit in the military law course we were given as officer-candidates dwells on what this duty means, and how it is parsed in practice.  It means we have the duty to notice whether the orders we’re given are legal or not…and if they are not, we have the duty to inform the giver of the orders that they’re illegal.  And then the duty to refuse to obey them.

Members of Congress have the duty also to support and defend the Constitution “against all enemies foreign and domestic.”  They have a duty to the Constitution that is supposed to transcend party, location from which they were elected, and any pressure from constituents or donors to their campaigns.  Attempting to overturn the proper business of government (like the presidential election) or interfere with it (by invading Congress and trying to scare them into not accepting the Electoral College results)  is exactly opposite to their sworn duty: it is neither supporting nor defending the Constitution, but trying to nullify it.   So members of  Congress supporting the insurgents, cheering them on,  helping them find things they want to trash or people they want to kill…is proof that they have broken (abandoned) their oaths of office.   In regard to impeachment, keep in mind that voting for impeachment is voting for the basis of our law, law & order generally, and voting against impeachment is voting for rioting, vandalism, theft, murder, threats, and the destruction of our government.

Back in 1968, when I joined the Marine Corps and made it through OTC (which amazed my mother–she knew what a disorganized scatterbrain I could be) and was commissioned, I took that oath I’ve been talking about.  Here’s the whole thing:  “I, [full name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”  The oath is for an indeterminate period.  Some who abide by it well shrug it off when they leave the military: that was then, this is now.  Others feel in their heart and soul that it’s not just indeterminate but lifelong.   I’m in that group.  Quite a number of Marines are.  After all, our motto is Semper Fidelis, always faithful.  Faithful to what?  To our promises, our oath…THAT oath in particular.  That saying “There’s no such thing as a former Marine” is, for some of us true.   You can leave the Corps; the Corps doesn’t leave you.   The Corps changed me.   I was not, by the way, a perfect specimen by any means….and I’m sure not a perfect specimen now, at almost 76.   Nor was the Corps the only influence in my life.   But with respect to citizenship, and my commitment to the Constitution above state, above party, above person, there it is, always in my head: Semper Fidelis…support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic….ALWAYS faithful. 

So when I observe a President, a Commander in Chief, complaining that the Constitution is “inconvenient” and when I see him encouraging his followers to go to the Capitol and fight, force Congress to do his will…and I know this is not the first time he’s broken faith with his oath of office…I become…well, no word for it but angry.   When I see Senators and Representatives, who took that same oath ignoring their duty to the nation, to the Constitution, and supporting him, defending him, instead of the Constitution…the anger grows greater with every seditious and treasonous and disgusting phrase.   So a small warning to you, friends near and far, foreign and domestic.  This is not a topic I can easily discuss (this took hours and hours to write) and I do not want to “argue” it.   Best to just walk away, if you want to argue it, and go find someone else.  My heart is sore, grieving for this, that I couldn’t prevent it, that I couldn’t make a dent in the solid Trumpism of my own Congressional Rep. and the two Texas Senators.   But this is where I am, and you’re safer knowing that the bear has a very, very sore nose that should not be tweaked right now.  I have a whole category of language you haven’t heard me use (guess where I learned it)  and would prefer not to have that particular Pandora’s box unlatched until I’m calmer.   Semper Fi.

And I have to get the wildlife management report to the county tax appraisal district office by Jan 31 or else.  So tomorrow starts…er…later today starts the home stretch push on that one.

15 thoughts on “Interesting Times

  1. Hi – hang on to your safety and sanity.

    Very powerful and well written, of course. We can only hope that the hypocritical and sycophantic republican party and its elected officials get their comeuppance.

    I will be 76 in a few weeks. I always say that I have seen everything in politics – from assignations to resignations to presidents who need naps – and now to crooks and cronies. Amazing – but I do feel that the republic will weather this too.

    But we should not accept the plea to come together from these miserable republicans. They lost so now they want to make nice!! We have forgiven too much and too long. I am not a Christian so I am not bound by this turn the other cheek business – but we have run out of cheeks to turn.

    I was in the Navy during ‘Nam – but even now I have a little pride swelling when I see the Marines – especially in a dress uniform. Oaths do have meaning – with no expiration date. Kieri Phalen offered to release Paks fully from her oath but she demurred and initially accepted only a year’s leave.

    Enough of my own ranting.

    Stay safe and stay sane

    Jonathan up here in chilly New Hampshire

    1. I wish they hadn’t given up the dress whites. My CO let me go meet my mother at the airport dressed up in my whites, and my mother didn’t recognize me. Proud moment, that. She said she thought I was a recruiting poster. Heh!

      I’m not having a problem staying sane, really, if you allow for some rise of blood pressure when certain persons spout treason or defense thereof.

  2. Thank you. I thank you for your service, your words, and your faithfulness to our Democracy. I’m hoping the Senate does the right thing and convicts this time – there must be consequences for traitorous behavior.

  3. Thank you. I am still enraged. I never served, but my family has a history of service. And January 6th went beyond the pale. The peaceful transition of presidential power is a cornerstone of our American Democracy. Sometimes the result may not be what we want, but, damn it, our loyalty as Americans is to the system, not to the individual.

  4. Thank you. I never served, but my family has served.

    And I am, frankly, still enraged. The peaceful transition of Presidential power is a cornerstone of our American Democracy. I may not always agree with the election results, but storming the Capitol to interfere with the ratification of election result based on bogus conspiracy theories? I don’t care WHO is behind this. They crossed a line. And that is utterly unforgivable.

    1. Joyce, I’m sorry your posts where hung up in moderation so long…I’ve tried to write replies and either I hit the wrong button (happens more than it used to) or was interrupted before I replied when it was late (like now.) This is another try at making sure you get an answer…we’ll see.

  5. Thank you. I was not in the military but am a descendant of generations of people who built this nation with their sweat and blood. We recite the American’s Creed written by William Tyler Page in 1917 at meetings of the lineage societies that I have joined and in the past few years, it has come to mean much more than just a paragraph to recite:

    “I believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed, a democracy in a republic, a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes. I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.”

  6. Ms. Moon,
    While I did not put on the uniform, I took and was faithful to that same oath as a civilian member of DoD for 20 years and I agree that I took that oath not just for my time of employment but forever. As an Episcopal priest who believes in justice and mercy, I struggle with what is happening. Those who attempted a violent overthrow of the legal process of government, they must be arrested and tried and that includes the 45th president who orchestrated this event and prevented backup police assistance from reaching the capitol. For now, like you, contacting my elected representatives and prayer are what I have available to me to try to influence the direction that our country goes.

    1. Rev. Cornell: One thing you, as a priest, can do that I can’t is discuss with your flock very clearly how important the whole concept of vow/oath/promise is…and that children need to experience, in the family, the making and keeping of promises, the car not to promise what you know can’t be delivered. We have had generations of broken promises, to the point where so many people don’t know, have never experienced, the comfort of a relationship in which promises are kept. And do not realize that to have one means constantly trimming the balance, working to be sure the parties communicate what they mean, that they hear and are heard, know what are promises and what are not. Without that, how can someone know what trust is?

      I was estranged from the church–from all organized religion–for several years for reasons that aren’t pertinent now–but had enough experience as a child of adults who kept their word to children (it surprised some of my mother’s friends that if she’d promised to take me fishing, we went fishing, even if her friends wanted her to play cards with them.) So when I came back, that Christmas Eve in the cathedral, I was capable of making a promise I could keep, and have kept, along with the oath of office I’d taken during the “out” period. (And my husband and I, both not in tune with churches, though brought up in them, wanted a church wedding because we wanted that kind of weight to the vows. We’re over 50 years into it now.)

      If you are willing, could you tell us where you are now? (OK, too, if you don’t want to.) Austin has been our church home for about 25 years now, at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, and then I spent 17 of those years singing downtown at St. David’s while husband and son continued at St. Matt’s. Now I can’t drive at night safely, so I can’t sing in the choir…and in the pandemic everything’s virtual anyway. I feel at home in both of those. Grew up on the Border, Trinity Episcopal in Pharr, Texas, and later at St. James in McAllen, and when we were in San Antonio, at St. Mark’s downtown.

  7. Can you share your source regarding Congressmen/women that helped find people they wanted to kill and items they wanted to destroy?

    1. First saw it a couple of days ago, regarding one member of Congress, w/miliary background, who had seen several GOP members showing groups around…at a time when the Capitol was not supposed to be open to the public. It’s since been discussed in the New York Times, WAshington Post, and at least ABC, as other members who’d seen this and only connected it to the invasion the next day after the first one brought it up. From this a list of those members who’d done it came out. You can easily find links online by asking your browser for “members of Congress who gave tours on January 5.”

      It had become obvious early on that the invaders had inside information on the locations of offices, the “panic buttons” on desks, contents of closets, etc.

  8. I was administrative support for a State’s Attorney for a while. I took an oath of office, myself. All through IQ45’s administration, time and again, I’ve watched in outrage that the US Constitution was repeatedly suborned.

    That so many people were so willing to treat their oaths of office as if they were meaningless… and then turn around and cry that impeachment and holding that treasonous, sedition-intent crowd will only further divide the nation?

    If those responsible and those participating are not held accountable, the next time will be far worse.

    1. Exactly. They take the oath lightly, easily, a gabble of words that they don’t think matter because they don’t know what an oath is, or a promise for that matter. It’s just words, everything’s negotiable, everything’s whatever you want it to mean when you say it, accountability is what you demand of underlings. Lies, repeated lies, debts, loans taken with no thought of repayment, marriage vows, oaths of office, fiddle-de-dee, who cares? (I care.)

      In the older ways of speaking, they have no honor. Which means no center. No roots. No stability at all. Straws in the wind.

      Yeah. We must, and we can, pluck them one by one out of our government with intense and laborious effort to elect better (won’t be hard to find better) in the face of an electorate who has become used to this utter contempt of truth, or justice, or fairness, or right.

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