May 31, 2017. KELLEY KIDD. From time to time I believe I see an opportunity for Israel to make peace with its neighbors. This seems to me to be such a time. Netanyahu has a chummy relationship with the President. Trump’s daughter is married to a man who is practically a member of the family of the Prime Minister, and she is her father’s best asset right now. The sheiks of Araby and the potentates of the Persian Gulf are waiting in line for Trump’s blessing. Iran has a new and relatively moderate government that is on a flexible leash with trade prospects holding the other end of the leash. No intifada in sight. Time for Israel’s government to seek peace and to do so from a position of strength. The only question is whether Netanyahu can climb out of his tower of belligerence long enough to take some initiative for peace. Ben-Gurion used to quote the Talmud for the proposition that it is better to make a bad peace than to win a good war. Maybe Ben-Gurion had few opportunities to live up to that idea, but Bibi has one now. Please God.
May 31, 2017. Jacob ben Abraham. An acquaintance recently hailed me on my way to court, where my usual work involves representing poor folks accused of crimes. The acquaintance had been waiting outside the office of a private attorney whose work also involves frequent representation of more affluent accused persons. Was I in favor of recreating the Drug Court of Bulloch County, which had operated for a decade before lapsing with the retirement of the judge who had started it? I only had a moment to respond at that time because I was due to be in court to represent several drug offenders. I promised a more complete response when I could take the time to reflect. After some reflection I decided to try to put my thoughts about this subject into writing. I have long agreed with Flannery O’Conner that “I don’t really know what I think until I see what I say.” Since my experience deeply informs my opinion on such matters, I here use my alias Jacob ben Abraham to protect my anonymity as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. As you will see I think well enough of my experience and my conclusions to believe I should publish the result in the Journal of Public Law.
ACCOUNTABILITY COURTS IN GENERAL AND THE LOCAL DRUG COURT IN PARTICULAR.
Memorial Day 2017. KELLEY KIDD. This is my first posting since before the Trump inauguration on January 20. On the inauguration day I travelled from South Georgia through the capitol on the way to a memorial service for a friend in Baltimore. I hit the D.C. boundary about an hour before the swearing in of the new president, and was moving up the highway during the speech.
Now you would think that nothing in that speech could surprise me. I am 74 years old and have been studying politics since my civics course in the eighth grade. Sixty six years of watching American politicians, including some very colorful presidential candidates and presidents. But I admit I was taken off guard by this speech by a man whose utterances and books I have followed since TIME TO GET TOUGH came out in 2012. Even earlier I had seen a few of his performance as the demanding chief executive who fired almost everybody as the regular entertainment of his TV show. But I am accustomed to presidential speeches which sound presidential, that is the speaker uses “we” and “us” language that purports to embrace the people he now has the task of leading. This was very different. It damned government and politicians and past presidents and foreign nations and cities and everyone except the idealized suffering real Americans the speaker purported to embody in his own person. His tone was not presidential, but monarchical. The future and the present were being transformed by his will, and only he had the ability, the vision and the power to transform. It was the kind of authoritarian that any dictator would appreciate, and only those who needed a dictator would enjoy. It was chilling. My mind kept turning to memories of drill sergeants and school yard bullies. Misplaced manhood and testosterone poisoning were recurring phrases in my thoughts. This was a man asserting the invincibility of his manhood, the potency of his sexual prowess, the dominance of his masculine determination and will.
After the speech I drove into Baltimore, where I was met almost immediately by beggars approaching cars as they slowed for the downtown traffic lights. After the bleak description of the country Trump had given, the presence of these sad desperate people seemed to fit. As a former resident of downtown Baltimore for two decades I was not a bit surprised by beggars. That night I watched Trump lead of his celebration balls by dancing to “I Did It My Way”. Before I retired I turned off the lights in my room at a luxury hotel. Across the street homeless people tried to bed down in the doorways of shops. I knew that these homeless folks would have to move on before the shopkeepers arrived in the morning. And I knew that in four more years there would be more such forlorn echoes of the futility of tyrants suffering from misplaced manhood.
The next morning I drove back through D.C. as the crowds were gathering to respond to Trump’s coronation. Unlike the relatively modest traffic of the day before, the morning after saw huge throngs of buses filled with people. A tide was beginning to rise, led by and mostly composed of women. I had not slept but now I was not afraid or despondent. On Mother’s Day 2017 we had survived more than 100 days of truly insanely insensitive power posturing by the president and his allies. The proposals of the new administration matched the militarism and opulence of the President’s selections for cabinet. But women had begun to stand up to him. Sally Yates and Maxine Waters had led the opposition. Unconstitutional orders had been nixed by courts and off season elections had begun to show that the American people were already tired of the Trump bullying of the poor and the stranger. January 20 just might be the beginning of the end of the same era it symbolizes.
Memorial Day. 2017. KELLEY KIDD. I have posted nothing since January 20, the day I went to Baltimore to a memorial for a friend who had just died from cancer or, more importantly for me, to visit with a sister of the friend who had died. It was inauguration day and my return the next day took me along the same highway through the nation’s capitol. Although my attention on those days was largely on Baltimore, my experiences with events in D.C. have led me to reflection more than to the sort of clarity that leads me to write.
The trip put me travelling through the nation’s capital on the inaugural day during the hour before the swearing in of the new president. So I was nearing Baltimore as he delivered what most Americans had hoped would be a successful effort to heal some of the wounds of the political campaign. The traffic was moderately heavy and moved well. Then the speech! It took me by surprise. After hearing many Trump speeches and reading several of his books, I was still unprepared for the belligerence of it, the attack that blamed all other elected officials for mistakes he alone could correct, and the no-holds-barred contempt for every nation other than his own. That night the enormously narcissistic tone of this inaugural was continued as the new President led off the dancing at two of three inaugural balls with dancing to “I Did It My Way.”
I attended the memorial service for my friend that evening. It was a backyard tribute to a woman whose kindness had once played a role in saving my life, a quiet recognition that the humble contributions of her life had been vital to those who received.Most of the recipients and mourners had been other women. Early the next morning I drove back through the Capitol on the way home to Georgia.