Pumpkins and Prosecutions

This weekend, we are right there, at the point before two significant events. Thought it appropriate to note the two and see what the hoopla about each of them is.

Halloween

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Photo by Javier Molina / Unsplash

Halloween is the now familiar annual celebration of carving pumpkins into eerie shapes. Also carves big chunks out of your bank account, to deal with all the dental fillings that your kids develop from overindulging in sugar-laden treats, and which don’t provide sustenance or offer any long-lasting benefits. But, yes, by all means indulge away. Let’s keep in mind where the tradition came from though.

In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints; soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating and carving jack-o-lanterns.

There you go. So, that’s all we need to say, right? Not quite. There are a number of little known facts about the tradition. For starters, the overindulgence in treats is not imaginary. As noted by Katla McGlynn 1, Halloween is the second most popular and commercialized holiday behind Christmas. Depending on exactly how much parents are willing to invest for their munchkins, and given the market situation in a given year, we are talking about an average of $50 - 66 per shopper, each year, for Halloween alone.

If you consider the number of families in the country who participate, that is a lot of treats! As Katla notes, a quarter of all annual candy sales in the country also takes place during this single event. So, yes, it’s a big indulgence. Protect those young pearly whites.

FUN FACT: in the past, pumpkins aren’t the only thing that people used to carve: More Than Pumpkins.

Indictments in Special Counsel Investigation into Russia

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Photo by Luke Michael / Unsplash

This weekend has also been a raging inferno of speculation about what are thought to be the first criminal indictments coming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of all things Trump and Russia related. The simple fact, according to Snopes 2, is that the rumor mill is at the moment unproven. As average citizens, why do we care? Living in the USA, we obviously do care because of the potential impact to everything around us.

Remember a sitting President of the USA who was accused, tried, and convicted? No, not ringing a bell here either. There have been only two who have actually been impeached: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 3. John Tyler came close to impeachment in 1842 as did Richard Nixon in 1974, with the former escaping because the impeachment initiative against him failed 4, and the latter escaping because he resigned. Impeachment is a political move to remove a sitting President.

So with the current President, what is different? As the Snopes fact check points out, as a matter of law, a sitting President is constitutionally immune from indictment and criminal prosecution, and no court has to date addressed the question. No one knows yet who the indictment targets. However, the fact that Mueller has taken specific steps towards a legal process means that things have gone beyond politics, to rules of evidence and establishing facts 5. In other words, this is quickly moving towards prosecution along the lines of what one might see with a mafia family or drug cartel. That is telling! So, what can we expect this coming week, and in the weeks and months to come?

Let’s take a look at Mueller’s own thoughts. For example:

Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity set the expectations for behavior; they set a standard for our work. More than just a motto, for the men and women of the FBI, Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity is a way of life.

and:

I love prosecuting cases, and I love doing investigations, particularly homicide investigations and the like, and that's why I became a prosecutor.

So, we can expect that this may be only the beginning of a sequence of indictments and prosecutions that will stretch into 2018. We know what people in this country are losing sleep over. But even in other countries, the events unfolding at the top levels of the U.S. government are a cause of concern. The leader of the free world is “frustrated” that the “witch hunt” has gone on for so long. The looming indictment(s) are likely to put a hole in the sails of an administration looking to unveil significant tax legislation, announce its pick for the Federal Reserve chair, and launch a 12-day-long foreign trip to Asian countries 6.

The overseas trip includes a visit to South Korea at a time when tensions run high, as much as they ever have, over fears of an attack by North Korea. Judging by the uptick of posts from the tweeter-in-chief 7 over the past few days, something is up. Other strange activity taking place in the past few days include: Roger Stone getting banned permanently from Twitter 8, the sudden resignation of federal prosecutor Boente 9, and this very interesting proposition in spite of Presidential immunity from prosecution 10.

The question now is how much the governmental body’s immune system can be compromised by the viral forces that attack it, while caught in the middle of an ever more chaotic environment? Why aren’t we already tired of all the venom, crassness, stupidity, hatred, anger, and irrationality that now pollutes the news, our reading materials, our entertainment, our workplace, and our very existence? Had enough winning yet? Buckle up, let’s lock the negatives up! Far away from the inner peace of our own minds!

May the covfefe be with you!

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