Rules? How quaint

This is how “representative” our governments now are: apparently you no longer have to actually, you know, LIVE in the district you’re running to represent:

Democrat Jon Ossoff dismissed concerns Tuesday over the fact that he doesn’t live in the Georgia congressional district in which he’s running for a House seat.

“I grew up in this district; I grew up in this community — it’s my home. My family is still there,” Ossoff said during an interview on CNN’s “New Day.”

If having family in a district is enough to be a candidate, most people would have plenty of options to run.  That’s not how it works, though.  And no, I don’t care that he’s “10 minutes up the road,” and just living there to “support his girlfriend in medical school.”

At least Hillary Clinton had the decency to move to New York and pretend to become a New Yorker before running for the Senate.  (I’m pretty sure she’d have never achieved that in Arkansas.)

Either a rule is enforced, or it’s not a rule.   This is yet another example of how we are no longer a nation of laws.  And that’s not going to end well for anybody, no matter what short-term advantages someone thinks they see.

On a related note, it’s nice to see people reminding Congress they have to live with the laws they pass.  And on this particular issue, it’s about time the rules were applied. Vigorously.

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If all men are equal…

…then all bear close watching when given authority.  I say this because I see in some Trump supporters the same “man-on-a-white-horse” aspirations as Obama’s believers in the “Lightbringer” showed eight years ago.

That’s not to say there isn’t reason for optimism.  There have been some interesting aspects to this transition period, and it’s entirely possible Trump may meet or exceed some of the expectations people have for him to disrupt what has clearly become a government run by globalists with little concern for their own constituents.

But to be successful in the change many Americans voted for, they must make sure we don’t trade the cult of Obama for the cult of Trump.  In some respects, they are mirror images of each other.  Both have serious character flaws.  Both promised a lot of things in their campaigns.  Obama delivered on the “transformation” he promised, but many people now realize the changes were not in a positive direction.  We’ve yet to see how successful Trump will be in undoing his predecessor’s damage.

The bottom line, however, is this: a healthy republic does not run on the whims of any single person.  It requires the constant engagement of the citizenry… which is why it’s so hard to maintain.  As the quip goes: “most people don’t really want to be free… they just hope for a good master who takes care of them.”

These thoughts were already running through my head when I read this article:

The idea that a large, complex society enjoying English liberty could long endure without the guiding hand of a priest-king was, in 1776, radical. A few decades later, it became ordinary — Americans could not imagine living any other way. …

As American society grows less literate and the state of its moral education declines, the American people grow less able to engage their government as intellectually and morally prepared citizens. We are in the process — late in the process, I’m afraid — of reverting from citizens to subjects. Subjects are led by their emotions, mainly terror and greed…

For more than two centuries, we Americans have been working to make government subject to us rather than the other way around, to make it our instrument rather than our master. But that requires a republican culture, which is necessarily a culture of responsibility. Citizenship, which means a great deal more than showing up at the polls every two years to pull a lever for Team R or Team D, is exhausting. On the other hand, monarchy is amusing, a splendid spectacle and a wonderful form of public theater.

But the price of admission is submission.

We’ll know we’re succeeding in returning to the Founders’ vision of a limited federal government when it doesn’t matter as much who occupies the White House or Congress.  For now, though, the Executive has become quite monarchical (“I have a pen and a phone” sounds a lot like something George III would have said, had he access to either).  Congress, meanwhile, dutifully plays the roles of courtiers, many of whom have aspirations of eventually occupying the Cherry Blossom Throne themselves (HT: Vox).

I sincerely hope our people didn’t go through two centuries of hard work fighting for, debating, pushing, shoving and reforming representative government just so it could devolve back into an authoritarian regime.  Expect and hope for improvement under Trump, yes.  But let’s also redevelop that culture of responsibility that recognizes “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”

That goes no matter whether Team Elephant or Team Donkey is at the levers of power.  Remember that, in the end, “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  The more  powerful Uncle Sam has grown, the more corrupt his institutions.

Return  power to the States and the people!

A belated awakening

Millions of Americans are waking up to the fact the system is rigged to give the appearance of the Republic we once had, while functioning in reality as an oligarchy.  There are two sets of laws — one for the little people (even the not-so-little) and one for the self-appointed mandarin class.

Meanwhile, the trove of leaked emails reveal the web of relationships by which the media essentially takes orders from the Democrats, and the Democrats weaponize government agencies to harass their opponents.

If the ruling class can’t be bothered to even maintain an illusion of representing the average person, then why should those average Americans respect–or obey–the rotten system?  At least one former Army colonel is now convinced the system is too far gone to retain our loyalty:

We owe the system nothing. Nada. Zip. Instead, the system owes us fairness and honesty, and without them it has no right to our default acceptance of its results. That acceptance must be earned. This means that the system must aggressively police its own integrity, and this year it has utterly failed to do so…

Is this dangerous talk? Hell yes – but the danger doesn’t come from us pointing out the corruption. The danger is the corruption. I walked through wrecked villages in the aftermath of a civil war, so I sure as hell don’t need your lessons about what lies at the bottom of the slippery slope your ruling class is tobogganing down.

I could say the same: I deployed half a dozen times during my time in uniform.  I know a little of what war looks like, too, and that’s why I often tell people who seem a little too eager for war to become how we settle our differences here that they don’t know what they’re saying.

That doesn’t mean I’m not also wondering how much longer the charade will last.  The Declaration of Independence seems relevant here:

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Pray that we don’t have to travel that road again.  But prepare for the journey, just in case.

RIP, rule of law

In view of today’s FBI announcement, this is regrettably today’s mandatory reading.

Excerpt:

What do these moral abortions have in common? Short term political gain over principle. These people are so used to the good life that a society’s reflexive reliance on the principle of the rule of law brings that they think they can undermine it with impunity. Oh it’s no big deal if we do this, they reason. Everyone else will keep playing by the rules, right? Everything will be fine even as we score in the short term.

The Romans had principles for a while. Then they got tempted to abandon principle for – wait for it – short term political gain. Then they got Caesar. Then the emperors. Then the barbarians. And then the Dark Ages. But hey, we’re much smarter and more sophisticated than the Romans, who were so dumb they didn’t even know that gender is a matter of choice. Our civilization is permanent and indestructible – it’s not like we are threatened by barbarians who want to come massacre us.

If our society were still healthy, there would be record crowds in D.C. in short order, demanding the resignation of both the Attorney General and the Director of the FBI.  But we don’t live in a healthy society, and that’s been clear for years.

Yesterday we celebrated the statement, years ago, that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

As for me, I DO NOT consent to a two-tiered legal system that fails to apply the law to the well-connected, rich and/or famous.

I DO NOT consent to a government hell-bent on importing large numbers of people who are neither prepared for, nor interested in adjusting to, the traditional American way of life and organizing society.

I DO NOT consent to allowing this nation to be further subsumed into a lowest-common denominator globalist framework that enriches an interlocking class of international elites at the expense of the posterity of those who founded this nation.

I DO NOT consent to be governed by those who ignore the Constitution and their duties to their fellow citizens, acting instead like the absolute kings of old who believed they embodied the law, rather than served it.

I spent 24 years wearing a military uniform–including properly handling compartmentalized classified information–in defense of this nation, ostensibly from “all enemies, foreign and domestic.”  We have plenty of the foreign variety, many of whom our leaders are determined to bring to these shores so we have to fight their influence here, as well as in the many places in the world where we have unwisely intervened.  That, to me, is the very essence of a domestic enemy.  They do not respect our nation, its history, our founding principles, or our people.  They do not care what pain they inflict, economic, physical, legal, emotional or spiritual, in the pursuit of their own self-centered personal goals and gains.  They are not “public servants.”  Instead, they seek to be our masters.

Since they have broken the covenant of governance, whereby we delegate powers to them in exchange for their careful exercise of them for the common good, we can conclude that the experiment called the “United States of America” is dead.  Sure, it’s a dead man walking, but none of its key functions work as intended anymore.  There are no checks, no balances, no accountability — only the exercise of raw power, insider networking, and the trading of favors.

Which is why, as the linked article concludes, we owe these people nothing: not respect, not loyalty, not deference, and, increasingly, not obedience.  They are so insulated from the rest of us that I don’t believe they have a clue how today’s announcement is shredding what little was left of Americans’ faith that our government and its leaders can be held accountable.  They don’t realize that this continued thumbing of their collective noses at what they suppose to be the ignorant rubes in flyover country is only increasing the palpable rage that has fueled the unlikely candidacy of a man like Trump. They’ve never stopped their scheming long enough to ask “what have we done, that voting for Trump looks like a good idea in comparison?”

Even worse, I suspect, they won’t ask “what happens when even Trump’s candidacy fails, and people who love this country no longer believe that elections can make a difference?”

I only hope that if God allows even a remnant of this nation to reclaim the principles and values that once sustained it, that the hard lessons we are learning (and, I suspect are about to learn further) are fully codified for future generations.  Mankind has a lousy track record of learning from history.  That’s how we got here.  If we’re granted any sort of reprieve, we best do better than previous generations in making the most of it.

That means, in the future, cutting off the head of the snake as it tries to enter the garden.  Not waiting for officialdom to conduct a kabuki dance inquiry into its conduct after its insinuated its way into every aspect of the system.

The net effect

Many of the posts on this site deal with the symptoms of a much larger problem — the loss of the rule of law in the United States:

While it’s far from unheard of for public officials to apply less-exacting standards to their partisan allies, it’s unnerving that the segments of society charged with keeping those officials in check – namely, the media and the voters – now regard such lack of principle as so unremarkable that it barely merits mention. We have transformed into a country in which it’s difficult to imagine precisely what kind of official malfeasance would be met with more than a shrug of the shoulders.

While this trend has been at work for decades – you can thank both Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton for hastening the decline – it has reached escape velocity during the Obama years. The Justice Department, for example, already took a pass on prosecuting Lois Lerner, the IRS official at the center of the scandal in which conservative groups were singled out for special scrutiny by the federal government on the basis of their political beliefs. If there’s anything that ought to be a matter of consensus in American politics, it’s that holding the reins of power doesn’t give you carte blanche to turn the power of the state against your partisan rivals. Yet Ms. Lerner, having done that very thing, doesn’t seem to be much worse for the wear.

This hands-off trend isn’t limited by any means to the DOJ…

…the organizing precept of this era in American politics: The rules apply until they put those in power at a disadvantage. Because we’ve arrived at this point incrementally, perhaps we’re not conscious of how sweeping the transformation is. So let’s be clear about what’s at stake: This is a wholesale abandonment of the foundational American principle of the rule of law.

There are only two options available here: Either the country returns to a form of government bound by the strictures of the Constitution and its subordinate laws or we give up the ghost and accept the fact that our politics are now entirely about power rather than principle – that we live in a nation where the president, whether his name is Obama or Trump, is limited only by the boundaries of imagination.

There are a lot of ways to describe that form of government. “Constitutional republic” isn’t one of them.

Indeed.

Where are the handcuffs and perp walks?

With as many “law enforcement” agencies as we have running around, why is it taking so long to reach justice in some matters where justice clearly needs to be served?

Exhibit A:  Her Hillariness just got a lot less funny, now that it’s been shown the private email server she ran (already in violation of Federal policy) was used to transmit data that held some of the highest possible classification markings in the Federal government (i.e. major, big-time felony actions).  It appears this latest revelation is finally drawing more close scrutiny.  The FBI took possession of the extra-government computer equipment (which should have happened a LONG time ago) — only to find it has been professionally wiped!  I support taking the time to investigate this thoroughly — but from what is already public, if somebody doesn’t go to jail then there has been a major miscarriage of justice somewhere.  Note: David Petraeus was (properly) prosecuted for providing unauthorized access to sensitive government information, and while I have admired his effective service overseas, even I thought his penalty was too light for such a callously irresponsible action.  The alleged level of classification on the unsecured info in the Clinton case is orders of magnitude more serious, though you wouldn’t be able to tell from way various parties are trying to downplay it

Exhibit B:  The Environmental ‘Protection’ Agency “accidentally” spilled 3 million gallons of wastewater, containing toxic metals and other contaminants, into the Animas River in Colorado.  Had this been some eeeeeeeeeevil private business or landowner, is there any doubt there’d be a public clamor for a perp walk?  But while the head of the EPA says his agency takes “full responsibility” for this event, and assures CNN the agency will investigate itself as thoroughly (*cough*) as it would a private entity (*cough*), does anyone really believe we’ll see a public firing, or that anyone involved will be jailed or fined harder than a slap on the hand?  And doesn’t that say something about the absolute lack of accountability in our government ruling apparatus these days?

Exhibit C:  Despite the release of multiple videos over the last month or so showing clearly that Planned Parenthood Profiteering is illegally selling chopped-up viable babies as a menu of parts for medical research, not a single person has yet been arrested.  Indeed, there are efforts to change the subject and insinuate that a “coordinated, years-long” effort by the Center for Medical Progress to penetrate and expose this hellish enterprise is somehow more concerning than the activities they’ve documented!  Not to be outdone, the Federal Government is also “warning” States that they have no choice but to keep funding these Grim Reapers, just because they occasionally hand out condoms from the same locations where babies are slaughtered.  (And no, I will not mince words on this issue, so don’t ask.)

Exhibit D:  It is Day 826 — over two years — since revelations of the political targeting of conservative groups by the IRS, and NONE of that leadership has been held accountable under the law.  As with Hillary’s emails, this issue has been dominated by deception and stonewalling by people who clearly see themselves as above the law and unaccountable to the hoi polloi.  I am still of the mind that Americans ought to unite in their determination not to pay any Federal taxes until at a minimum the IRS is disbanded, its leaders jailed, its buildings bulldozed, and the ground salted for good measure.  After that, we can talk with Uncle Sam about less intrusive, abusive, or expensive ways of funding his legitimate Constitutional activities (which, by the way, includes securing the *&^% border, but does not include Federal funding of abortions — see Item C above).

So to sum up:  It’s OK to harass a dentist for shooting a lion, but don’t dare to demand the defunding of the murder, slicing and dicing of hundreds of thousands of babies every year.  Nobody in the current presidential administration seems accountable for anything, and the leading Democratic contender to replace him openly defied regulations with her communications, which seem to have included gross compromise of some of our nation’s most closely guarded secrets.  Meanwhile, many Americans (including me) shake their head in amazement at The Donald’s seeming domination of the early GOP primary race.  But the fact that an enterprising clown seems like a welcome relief to business as usual just underscores how seriously lost our increasingly lawless society is.

“And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”  Matthew 24: 12-14

Are we smarter than a medieval baron?

I fear we are losing the rule of law in the United States and in the West — the idea that all are equally accountable to external standards and that even the State must respect certain boundaries.  Eight centuries ago today, one of the great expressions of these concepts was signed: Magna Carta.  The nobles who forced King John to concede these principles knew something of human nature.  For all our pretenses at modern superiority, we seem to have forgotten many of the things they knew, and upon which succeeding generations built.

Those barons who pressured a king to give his seal to a document in an English field 800 years ago could not have imagined the extraordinary impact it would have on human affairs, reshaping not just England but also America and France and even inspiring activists as far afield as Africa and China. This shows that once it had been expressed, the fundamental idea contained with Magna Carta — that restraints are required to limit officialdom’s power — could not be suppressed; the genie could not be forced back in the bottle. More importantly, it shows that freedom must be fought for over and over again. Magna Carta on its own guarantees nothing. How could it? It is merely a piece of paper. Rather, it was the human urge for more liberty, the desire to enjoy choice and freedom and a private life away from the prying eyes and barging elbows of authority, that encouraged future generations to act on Magna Carta, to demand that it be respected and expanded and made into a living, breathing, constitutional reality.

The problem we face today is profound. Firstly, respect for legal rights is in short supply, as evidenced in everything from British governments’ assaults on the right to silence and the ‘double jeopardy’ rule to America’s undermining of the Fourth Amendment through its spying on citizens. And secondly, even worse, the spirit of freedom, the urge within citizens for greater liberty and autonomy, seems weak, too. In short, the two things that guaranteed Magna Carta’s historic, humanity-changing impact — first, the rights it articulated on paper, and second, successive generations’ determination to make those rights real— are waning. And so we are seeing the gains of the Magna Carta era, of the past 800 years of pretty much non-stop struggling for greater liberty, being slowly undermined.

We need a new and serious debate on freedom, on why it’s important and why we need more of it.

To survive, freedom must be valued more than many other things, such as government largesse (which always comes with strings), baldly seeking partisan advantage or an obsession with safety (which brings fearfulness that is exploited by those who would control). Freedom is not obtained merely by the risk of soldiers’ blood. It is secured by the willingness of citizens to assume responsibility for themselves, to adhere to a set of rules that transcend our momentary whims, and to challenge anyone who would dare direct their lives for them.