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Posts Tagged ‘Rule of Law’

Our government is truly sick, and not just in the Democrat party. Long-time Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican, seems to have been John Roberts-ed in regard to his vote in favor of mr. Obama’s nominee for Attorney General — the top law enforcement official in the country — despite her testimony in support of the president’s illegal and unconstitutional Executive-branch amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants inside the United States, an act so unlawful that even he said he did not have the power to do it several years ago (he still doesn’t).

First, let’s review Ms. Lynch’s answers to direct questions about whether she respects our nation’s laws <WND, link:

The first contentious exchange occurred when Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., asked whether Lynch thought immigrants entering the U.S. illegally had a right to claim U.S. citizenship under equal protection laws, claiming citizenship was their “civil right.”

I believe the right and obligation to work is a right of everyone who comes here regardless of status, and I would prefer people to be in the workforce than not.

Sessions pressed: “Does an illegal immigrant have a right to demand a job? Do you think a person here illegally has a right to work in the United States when the law says it’s illegal to hire someone who is here illegally?”

We want everyone in the United States to be able to seek employment.

Sessions asked further: “If a person comes here illegally and has a right to get a Social Security card and a work authorization, is an employer still free to give preference to hiring someone who is here legally? Would you take action against an employer who did not hire someone given a work permit under the president’s executive actions?”

I would look forward to speaking with you and working with you as we try to address this point in the future.

These answers are worse than inadequate.

They are the equivalent of saying that our nation’s laws do not matter, that the Rule of Law does not matter.

And a person who has is interviewing for the job of United States Attorney General who makes such a statement absolutely cannot and should not be confirmed as Attorney General.

“HI, MY NAME IS _______ AND I WANT TO BE THE NATION’S ATTORNEY GENERAL, BUT DON’T BELIEVE IN THE RULE OF LAW. PLEASE CONFIRM ME FOR THE POSITION, THANK YOU.”

And yet:

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to confirm U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch as the next attorney general, paving the way for her likely confirmation by the full Senate, which is expected to vote on her nomination in the next week or two.

Sens. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) voted with the committee’s nine Democrats to approve Lynch’s nomination. <Washington Post, link>

What world are we living in, where Republican Senators could actually vote in favor of a candidate who is against the Rule of Law.

Orrin Hatch looks scared -- is he hearing footsteps?

Orrin Hatch looks scared — is he hearing footsteps?

Orrin Hatch, alleged Republican, had this to say in support of her nomination:

The case against her nomination, as far as I can tell, essentially ignores her professional career and focuses solely on about six hours that she spent before this committee on Jan. 28.

Uh, no, Orrin, no one is ignoring her professional career, and you know it. The simple fact is that she supports an executive branch that is behaving in direct violation of the Constitution, and you know this too.

Why are you doing this?

Do you hear Obama’s footsteps, as John Roberts likely did when he affirmed the disaster known as Obamacare?

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) gives us all a very clear message on why the Lynch nomination must be opposed, and you need to listen, Mr. Orrin Hatch:

The Senate cannot confirm someone to this post who is going to support and advance a scheme that violates our Constitution and eviscerates congressional authority.  Congress makes the laws, not the president—as every schoolchild knows.
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The House passed a bill today to push back against Barack Obama’s unlawful actions on illegal immigration, and Speaker John Boehner made a beautiful and concise statement explaining what this is about: reigning in a president who has violated, and continues to violate, his oath of office. <Yahoo News, link>

This executive overreach is an affront to the rule of law and to the Constitution itself. The people made clear that they wanted more accountability from this president, and by our votes here today we will heed their will and we will keep our oath to protect and defend the Constitution.

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, January 14, 2015.

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This president, Barack Hussein Obama, has a strong connection to the word “illegal”, and a bipartisan group just confirmed again what we all knew, which is that Obama’s prisoner swap of the Taliban dream team — five senior commanders — for the traitor Bowe Bergdahl was illegal.

The Pentagon broke the law when it swapped Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban leaders, congressional investigators said Thursday. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office said the Defense Department failed to notify the relevant congressional committees at least 30 days in advance of the exchange — a violation of the law — and used $988,400 of a wartime account to make the transfer. The Government Accountability Office also said the Pentagon’s use of funds that had not been expressly appropriated violated the Antideficiency Act. Five senior Taliban members were released from the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for Sergeant Bergdahl, who disappeared from his post in Afghanistan in June 2009. <New York Times, link> <emphasis added>

Perhaps mr. Obama should change his middle name to “Illegal”, as in “Barack Illegal Obama”, given the long list of willful law breaking he has committed, including repeated re-writing of the ACA healthcare law, refusal to enforce existing immigration laws, and refusal to answer congressional subpoenas. (But then, I’ll bet Barry is happy to keep the middle name “Hussein”, don’t you think?)

NatGeo MedievalI was reading National Geographic this weekend (“Inside the Medieval World”) and found a beautiful description of the Magna Carta, that great foundational document of the anglo-saxon tradition of the Rule of Law.

Here are some excerpts from the copy:

“King John lost England’s French holdings after a series of unwise political moves.  In an attempt to wage war and reclaim the lands, he bore down on his subjects, collecting exorbitant taxes.  His frustrated barons rebelled in 1214 under the organization of Stephen Langton, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who proposed that they present their demands to the king in a “great charter.”

The nobles drew up a list of grievances that formed a contract between the king and the nobility, guaranteeing the latter certain customary feudal rights…King John’s initial refusal to sign didn’t last long, due to the nobles’ threatening 2,000-knight army.

On June 15, 1215, King John signed and put his seal on the Magna Carta–marking the end of absolute monarchy.”

Note the prelude to this historic document of liberty: exactly 800 years ago, an unchecked central power was “bearing down” on “subjects” through “exorbitant taxation” to make up for its pushing the nation towards bankruptcy. Sound familiar?

And now, the key next sentence:

“It limited the ruler’s power to the written laws of the land and set a precedent for representative government.”

Isn’t it obvious that Barack Obama’s repeated circumvention of our nation’s laws, including the very Constitution itself, puts him squarely on the side of kings and against us all — the 99%?

Despotic regimes - Obama and King John 800 years apart

But lately we also see our institutions pushing back against this man and his destructive intentions and actions.

Regarding the Obama Justice department’s refusal to turn over documents relating to Obama’s gun-walking of 2,000 assault weapons into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, this ruling just came down:

A federal judge has ordered the Justice Department to provide Congress with a list of documents that are at the center of a long-running battle over a failed law enforcement program called Operation Fast and Furious. <Fox News, link>

This ruling, although limited to providing a list rather than the documents themselves, is important in at least two ways, the first being its obvious check on Obama’s abusive and obfuscatory executive branch.  And the second way is juicy indeed: so often, the rulings of judges are themselves political in nature, and one wonders if our collective political lives are never able to transcend party affiliation, but in this case, we have cause for great joy:

Jackson, the judge in the current case, is an appointee of President Barack Obama.

Congressman Darrell Issa, Chairman of the Congressional Oversight Panel, had this to say about the ruling <Politico, link>:

This administration has been so intent on hiding the contents of these documents that it allowed Attorney General Holder to be held in contempt instead of just turning them over to Congress. The privilege log will bring us closer to finding out why the Justice Department hid behind false denials in the wake of reckless conduct that contributed to the violent deaths of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and countless Mexican citizens.

And let’s not forget the House of Representatives lawsuit against Barack Obama in which the defendant stands accused in a very formal way of repeatedly breaking the laws of the land.

Unlike mr. Obama, who violates his oath of office on a near-daily basis, Congressmen and women and several federal judges are upholding their oaths of office by attempting to reign in this heinous and damaging executive regime.

Their actions are in the true spirit of the Magna Carta, and of the United States of America, in which no man is above the law.

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The USA was founded by men who violently threw off the yoke of a King and his courtiers and who then founded a new system of government in which a petty despot could not so easily run the lives of millions of people and turn them into pawns in his selfish and childish games.

These enlightened men created a national government OF, BY, and FOR the people, and elevated the Rule of Law far above the rule of a power elite and their byzantine systems of patronage.

Do these words mean anything any more, in this era of Barack Hussein’ Obama’s “You Didn’t Build That (the government did)”?

Maybe a quick look at the military coup in Thailand will break through the Liberal brain fog more easily than the lofty ideals of the Founding Fathers.

Thailand has been unable to break out of a cycle of military coups to achieve true democracy. A military man has led Thailand for 54 of the 82 years since the Southeast Asian country ended absolute monarchy in 1932. It continues to bounce between coups and fragile democratic governments…<Associated Press, link>

Yes, democracy is fragile, as are most gifts bestowed upon mankind.

But how exactly is freedom crushed by central power? Marc Saxer of the Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung, a German foundation promoting democracy, offers a nice description of the heart of the beast:

Patronage relations dominate all aspects of Thai society and have a crippling effect on democratic institutions and political culture. Never mind the democratic facade, key decisions are made by a network of patrons in the backroom.

And who manages these patronage relations? The ‘bosses’ of course — the “power brokers” who

…dole out rewards to subordinates whose loyalty flows to them rather than to state institutions.

This last bit is instructive because it echoes the destruction of American institutions being led by Barack Obama: the Veterans Administration, the IRS, Immigration & Customs Enforcement, and most especially the United States Congress itself; all are being undermined and twisted by his wanton disregard for the rule of law and the Constitution.

For mr. Obama knows that to “fundamentally transform” the Pieta that is America, he must weaken and destroy its government institutions and replace them with systems of power brokers and patronage (just wait for the Independent Payment Advisory Board in 2017, and you will experience directly the truth of my words).

His is not a military coup, but something far worse: a nearly silent suffocation of American heritage, American culture, and American government.

 

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I am in a rapture at having seen The Grand Budapest Hotel, a movie by Wes Anderson.

Peter_Strain The_Grand_Budapest_Hotel

It is a master work: a suspenseful story, artfully told, and also a brilliant exposition of the difference between high civilization and the depths of human depravity and how the two are constantly wrestling for the human soul.

Like the tides of the oceans, human society rhythmically rises (Periclean Athens, Republican Rome, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, Germany in the early 20th century), and falls (Imperial Rome, the Middle Ages, 20th century fascism in Europe, Russia, and Japan).

These forces exist also in each one of us: the good, and the bad, swirling around all the time. Life is about leaning in one direction or the other, and from this collective leaning, civilization is made or destroyed.

Wes Answerson, who wrote and directed The Grand Budapest Hotel, has given us the joy of a main character — Gustave, played by Ralph Fiennes — who is the personification of civilization, and what a beautiful personification it is.

<Spoiler Alert>

Joseph Campbell's master work.

Joseph Campbell’s master work.

This is for many reasons, including that he exhibits and practices a code of living based on uncompromisingly high standards of excellence, courtesy, manners, higher learning, joie de vivre, love, loyalty, grace under pressure, and courage in the face of direct and indirect challenges to all these qualities. And this is the genius of the film: Gustave is not just cultured, he is severely, brutally tested by the dark forces within all human beings, including himself. And he triumphs, and I love a happy ending. His is a hero’s journey, as Joseph Campbell wrote about definitively (if you have not read The Hero With A Thousand Faces, you must do so immediately, or at least start with his interviews with Bill Moyers in The Power of Myth).

In the hero’s journey, a person is cast out of his comfort zone (voluntarily or by force or trickery) and into a series of trials. He faces the trials as best he can, and eventually returns to his starting point, hopefully intact and with higher consciousness, but not necessarily so.

Gustave’s journey in this movie is a perfect model of this archetype, and perhaps Wes Anderson created him with this intention. Screenwriters are generally aware of these archetypes and you’ll find them in just about every movie that gets made, but the genius of Anderson’s artistry is how well he did it here. The lesson is quite clear, but not so much that you can’t be swept away by the madcap events of the story.

I will also admit to loving this movie as well for the way it speaks to our present moment in the United States and the world. In 2014 we find our civilization under daily assault and our humanity being tested sorely. And we are losing.

But back to this wonderful piece of art.

Gustave’s Bona Fides

Gustave is, as the narrator says towards the end, “civilization itself”. Anderson reinforces this in the character in so many ways, including giving him the attributes mentioned above.

But also in some other key ways, such as Gustave’s refusal to be a victim during his jail time. He fights, gets beaten up, but gives as much as he gets; he is such a long way from life in his beloved hotel, and yet his spirit is unbowed and he never loses or surrenders his agency.

He continuously displays courtesy and manners even in the face of openly hostile people (or people who only appeared to be hostile, but then turned out to be allies when he needed them the most) and in the most abhorrent situations, such as after he emerges from a sewer through which he escaped from the jail.

He is willing to put himself in harm’s way to protect his vulnerable charge, Zero (the lobby boy).

XXX GRAND-BUDAPEST-HOTEL-MOV-02.JPG A ENT

Uniforms, art, beauty, standards, a rose, a partnership

And he is also capable of weak moments and apologizing when appropriate. In a key exchange, he verbally abuses Zero, clearly as a result of his own exhaustion and suffering at that point in the story. But when Zero stands up for himself, Gustave realizes his error and apologizes in a heart-felt manner. I found this to be very important for the character: no one is perfect, and indeed Civilization is not perfect. But which way does a man lean? Towards cruelty, or towards compassion and human connection?

The Decline of Civilization

I absolutely love the way The Grand Budapest Hotel portrays the decline of civilization (the era depicted, a facsimile of 1930s Europe during the rise of Hitler, could stand in for aspects of our present moment). Anderson conveys the decline by using the same motif twice: our main characters, Gustave and Zero, are traveling together in a rail car through the beautiful countryside of Europe, and each time they are subjected to a harsh interrogation by hyper-aggressive law enforcement / military figures who board the train to check passports.

A civilized ride, and then challenge.

A civilized ride, and then challenge.

In both cases, Zero does not have proper papers, and this provokes actual physical violence against him and Gustave (after Gustave, out of loyalty to his companion and with no hope of overpowering the adversaries, attempts to intervene).

But in the first instance, the police chief, also on the train, catches up with the commotion and calls off his dogs: he knows Gustave, and such sadistic and impersonal treatment will not do. The opposite of bureaucracy, in other words.

The second instance takes place much later in the story, and plays out very differently <spoiler alert again>. We see Zero knocked unconscious by the butt-end of a rifle, and later learn that Gustave is shot and killed in the aftermath of the episode.

In these two renditions of the motif, we see the same high culture (Gustave demonstrating loyalty and courage against sadistic, violent men and overwhelmingly bad odds), but not the same outcome because something crucial is missing the second time around. The police chief and his human connection to a particular citizen are gone, and the result is a spasm of violence and the senseless death of a beloved man.

This is why central governments, manned by armies of bureaucrats, are dangerous: there is no humanity in them, and without humanity, the raw struggle for survival is all that is left (the kill-or-be-killed nature of the animal world).

Joseph Campbell called it “the end of life and the beginning of survival” (he was quoting a great Indian chief, who was cautioning against abandonment of spirituality).

This is a way of saying that human life is not life unless it includes love and compassion (unity) and transcends the animal world of eating, fighting, and fucking (survival). The zero-sum game of survival is truly hell on earth.

The Rule of Law

And while we are on the topic of the Decline of Civilization, would you believe that a Hollywood filmmaker could make one of the most powerful cases for the Rule of Law that any of us has seen in recent years?

Well believe it, because one of the most powerful narrative arcs in the movie (for me anyway) is that of the attorney, played by Jeff Goldblum.

Attorney

An extraordinarily rich woman has died (or was murdered, apparently), and her will must be administered — no easy job with dozens of hungry relatives circling like vultures throughout the proceedings. This falls to the attorney, and just look at the way Anderson presents him in the above picture.

Three piece suit. Surrounded by hundreds of books. A thorough and exhaustive reading of hundreds of documents to sort out the estate. These are not mere props, as the man’s conduct and character match his surroundings. This is a man who has respect for due process, for hard work, for not taking short cuts, even under pressure.

And oh, does he get pressure. The most aggressive would-be heir, played by Adrian Brody, challenges him in a fundamental way by asking him the question “Aren’t you supposed to be representing US?” To which he responds, “…actually no, strictly speaking I represent the deceased…” (or words to that effect). An attorney must always remember who his client is, and this one does very clearly, and the answer is not at all what the bully wants to hear.

Two violent men confront Civilization.

Two violent men confront Civilization.

And so he escalates his bullying and demands that the attorney bend the rules. His reply to the demand is simple and straight forward: No, I cannot do that. I am an attorney and I must follow the law.

This is civilization. This is what keeps societies from destroying themselves in an orgy of street violence.

The Goldblum character is a beautiful rendition of it, and Anderson then shows just what is at stake in today’s American culture: the attorney is stalked by Jopling, a murderous thug played by Willem Defoe, and flees into a museum (I’m sure this was no accident, as a museum is another institution of culture and learning). Jopling murders him in cold blood inside the museum, and it is no leap to say that Jopling’s character and those of his ilk (might makes right) represent the murder of culture as much as the murder of the man.

Jopling

Murdering the Rule of Law.

Anderson is saying that the Rule of Law is important, but that it is also vulnerable (the attorney’s persian cat is another nice touch — the law is strong, but delicate). Without it, civilization cannot survive.

The Rule of Law: Refined. Strong. Delicate.

The Rule of Law: Refined. Strong. Delicate.

Again I will admit that this hits home for me, as I watch our country get dragged down a path of selective enforcement of the laws (or none at all in some cases) by a president who does not respect the law of this land. Or rather it would be more correct to say that he respects the laws he likes, and ignores or tramples on the laws that he does not like. His actions bludgeon the foundation of our civilization.

In Closing

Gustave’s journey begins at the hotel, where he is happy and fulfilled in his role as Concierge extraordinaire, and then moves into his trials, including a violent stint in jail, an audacious escape, a confrontation with Jopling in which he and Zero are the improbably brave pursuers and in which he faces death and recites poetry before he makes it through to safety, and a successful trial that allows him the inheritance, and then back to the hotel where his joie de vivre may flourish again (the hero’s return).

Grand Budapest Joie de Vivre

Joie de Vivre uber alles

Watching the complete cycle was thrilling and a joy.

And the movie is important.

As I debate various members of my family about the increasing consolidation of central power by our government and the terrible consequences of it that we are already experiencing every day, I am constantly met with a kind of mushy indifference (“all presidents do this stuff”, etc etc).

All I can say is that humanity has spent many more years living under tyranny than freedom, making the pull towards survival relatively more powerful (and the sadism and cruelty that come with it).

Luckily for us, our American Experiment has blessed us in this lifetime with a truly glorious era.

But we are losing it.

To my Liberal friends I say: if you don’t want the butt of a rifle smashing into your foreheads, open your eyes to the men and women, including Barack Obama, who would gladly put all our necks into so many yokes.

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Congratulations are due to Meg Whitman, who has recovered from her schizophrenia on the issue of illegal immigration (she has appeared to be on all sides of the debate during her campaign for Governor of California).

How has she recovered? By coming to a clear and sensible position – in fact the only rational position an American citizen can take.

…Greta Van Susteren, who asked Whitman on Wednesday whether the former housekeeper, Nicandra Diaz Santillan, should be deported.

“Well, the answer is: It breaks my heart, but she should be deported, because she forged documents and she lied about her immigration status,” Whitman said.
She reiterated her argument that Diaz Santillan was used as a pawn in a political stunt but added: “The law is the law, and we live in the rule of law. It’s important.”

That’s it.

Simple.

Easy.

Right.

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