Lawless America

I was watching the dramatisation of the Nuremberg Tribunal (the one with Alec Baldwin) last night, and it made me think.

First, with the immigration status, and such, how far is Germany again from the maelstrom that existed under Weimar? And what will happen this time? We know history doesn’t repeat, exactly, but it does rhyme. Something to think about, for us all.

But my stronger feeling was that America may be circling that same drain, for all the reasons that Bob Livingston writes of here. It doesn’t mean that it has to happen, or that it has to happen this way, but it means that we have a serious problem with this, and we’d best be thinking about a solution.

America is a nation of thousands if not millions of laws, yet it is a lawless nation.

A lawless nation is no nation at all. It is merely a Third-world backwater where those in power who lord over the people and abuse them for their own gain, for the gain of the bureaucrat class, and for the benefit of the banksters and the crony corporations who fund the charade elections every two or four years.

So those thousands or millions of laws written “for our benefit” – at least that’s what we’re told each time another edict from the District of Criminals becomes “law” – are employed against us while those in power are given a pass on them. Beyond that, those in power make the laws arbitrary by enforcing them or not enforcing them on a whim.

Last week, Brandon Judd of the National Border Patrol Council told  a House Judiciary Committee that the Barack Obama Department of Homeland Security had instructed U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to release illegal immigrants and no longer order them to appear at deportation hearings. The stand down order includes a requirement that the whereabouts of illegals not be tracked, the Washington Examiner reported.

Judd said the new policy was implemented because only about 40 percent of illegal aliens apprehended and given a Notice to Appear (NTA) before an immigration judge actually show up. The process became so farcical that Border Patrol agents began calling them Notices to Disappear.

So in order to avoid the embarrassment of admitting that 60 percent of all illegals apprehended fail to appear before an immigration judge as required, the DHS and the Attorneys from the Department of Just(us) decided that any illegals apprehended who had no felony convictions and who claim to have been in the U.S. since January 2014 are to be released without an NTA.

Judd further testified:

Not only do we release these individuals that by law are subject to removal proceedings, we do it without any means of tracking their whereabouts. Agents believe this exploitable policy was set in place because DHS was embarrassed at the sheer number of those who choose not to follow the law by showing up for their court appearances. In essence, we pull these persons out of the shadows and into the light just to release them right back to those same shadows from whence they came.

Let me give you an example from my sector in Montana. Several months ago we arrested an illegal alien with a felony domestic violence arrest from another state. He was released because his trial had not occurred and therefore had not been convicted. Mind you he had not been acquitted either but we had to let him go all the same.

Under the law he should have been set up for removal proceedings, but under the policy he was let go. And he was let go even though he first proved that he cared so little about our laws that he entered the United States illegally, and once here, he proved further disdain by getting arrested for a serious violent act against another. What did we teach him and everyone else he undoubtedly told about his experience? We taught him our laws mean very little, but policies mean everything.

via Lawless America – Personal Liberty®.

Answers? I’m not sure I have any, but until we define the problems that doesn’t matter, so let’s get to defining!

Of Super Bowls and Common Markets

Well, I did end up watching the Super Bowl, and enjoying it. It was my sort of game, but then long ago, I was a defensive tackle, who loved to see quarterbacks sacked, sometimes including our own (his ego was pretty much outsized!)

But in truth what I liked was that both teams, but especially Denver, are teams, not a few stars with a supporting cast of thousands. And that is what football is so good at teaching–that when we subsume ourselves in a team, the team can accomplish amazing things. So it was last night.

On the other hand, if we look at politics, we nearly always see so-called stars and their unknown supporters, and I’m inclined to think that sacking the quarterback a few (dozen) times might improve their attitude. And from what I hear from Americans, I don’t think I’m alone, and that a majority of Americans, in either party, or none, think the same thing. As always, football teaches life lessons.

In particular, I’ve been watching Cameron’s EU sell-out. Maybe Americans are particularly sensitive to our sovereignty–after all, that was the reason that we didn’t ratify the Treaty of Versailles after World War 1. But the real reason was that we realized that we had built something very special here, and we meant to protect it. Many of us still do.

The same is true for the people who live in Great Britain. After all, most of the sources of the American Experiment are British, as our founders were proud to be. So we watch in sadness, as the cousins increasingly turn their backs on our common heritage to become just more European trash. Suzanne Evans had something to say the other day about Call me Dave’s simple dishonesty in presenting the choice.

So, we finally get to see Dave’s ‘EU reform’ package, and it’s not exactly huge, is it? He promised to go to Brussels and ask for a Bentley, but actually asked for a Suzuki Alto. What he’s come back with are the seat covers for a battered second-hand Trabant, and even those are only on the promise of a loan.

Failure, farce, or both? Let’s face it: Dave didn’t ever even intend to try to win significant reform. To me, the most astonishing feature of his statement to the House yesterday was his ability to tell the most incredible porkies about the ‘strong and powerful’ success he’d achieved, while keeping a straight face.

Two years ago, when Ukip was rising quickly in the polls and Tories nationwide were leaving Dave for Nigel, Dave made a big speech on the future of the EU at Bloomberg and promised an in-out referendum. “Nothing should be off the table,” he said, and laid out reforms he said were necessary, on migrant jobs and benefits, immigration, justice and human rights, and returning laws on energy, environment, crime, social affairs business and employment, so the UK parliament had the last say. The sensible and honest among us shook our heads, knowing he didn’t stand a chance of getting even this, which still left out a whole swathe of issues in which we are in hock to Brussels, not least farming, fishing and financial services.

But on went the charade. Slowly the big issues he’d pledged to tackle were dropped.

 

via Suzanne Evans: Dave’s European pantomime. A straight lift from slippery Harold Wilson’s playbook – The Conservative Woman.

And that’s part of what really irritates me here: The sheer ignorance of thinking his electorate is so stupid as to follow his self-servicing lies at all, let alone willingly and enthusiastically.

Time for our British friends to sack the quarterback, I think.

Super Bowl Sunday

So for the 50th time, it’s Super Bowl Sunday in America, and around the world. Might be a good game, occasionally it is (for whatever your definition of good is). Best one I ever saw was Super Bowl XX: daBears against the Pats, about which it was said, “If they don’t score, we can’t lose”. But I grew up with The Monsters of the Midway, and even now, when I’ve rather soured on professional sports, I have a soft spot for them (and the Cubs, as well).

But there was one, where I couldn’t tell you a thing about the game, but like a large portion of America, I was in tears before it ever started. That was Superbowl XXV, and it was only a couple days after Desert Storm had started.

Here from ESPN is the story of a legendary performance.

You have to understand.

You have to remember.

This is 1991. Before six people died in the World Trade Center bombing. Before 168 died in Oklahoma City. This is before 111 individuals were injured by a bomb made of nails and screws at the Atlanta Olympics. Before backpacks stuffed with pressure cookers and ball bearings blew limbs from people at the Boston Marathon.

Think back.

This is the tippy-top of ’91. Way before Connecticut elementary school classrooms in Newtown were strewn with bullets. Before a Colorado theater was tear-gassed and shot up as The Dark Knight Rises began. Before 18 people were shot in an Arizona parking lot, along with a congresswoman who took a bullet in the back of the head. You have to understand. This is before a young married couple in combat gear killed 14 at a holiday party in San Bernardino.

This is a generation ago. A full decade before the United States of America came to a brief but full stop — 2,977 people dead and more than 6,000 injured in three states. This was before three New York firefighters raised a star-spangled banner amid the sooty rubble of ground zero. In 1991, ground zero was just downtown Manhattan. If you were alive — if you were over the age of 5 — you must make yourself remember the time. In 1991, people are jittery, but no one stands in line in bare feet at airports. There are no fingerprint scanners at ballparks.

This is, like, pre-everything. There’s no Facebook — barely a decent chat room to flirt in. The Berlin Wall? Buzz-sawed, climbed over and kicked through. Mandela is free, and Margaret Thatcher is out. This is one-way pager, peak Gen X quarter-life crisis time — and it wasn’t called a quarter-life crisis back then. North and Saint West’s late grandfather had not yet read his friend’s letter to the world: “Don’t feel sorry for me,” attorney Robert Kardashian said to flashing bulbs. “Please think of the real O.J. [Simpson] and not this lost person.” This is the year Mae Jemison preps for the Endeavour, Michael Jordan is ascendant and In Living Colorand Twin Peaks stamp the kids who make prestige TV glow in 2016. Beyonce is in elementary school. Steph and Seth Curry are in a Charlotte playpen. Barack Obama is the first black president — of Harvard Law Review. The (pre)cursors are blinking.

“This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait,” President George H.W. Bush says in August 1990, and by the dawn’s early light of Jan. 17, 1991, a coalition of countries led by the United States drops real bombs on real people and real places in real time on four networks. This was the first Gulf War. There are no color-coded threat level advisory posters on airport walls, but the State Department and the Secret Service agree: The possibility of a terror attack is high, and Super Bowl XXV — the Giants vs. the Bills, scheduled just 10 days later — is a soft and glaring bull’s-eye.

The Goodyear blimp? Grounded. A Blackhawk patrols instead. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue’s annual Super Gala gala? Canceled. Concrete bunkers gird the parking lot of old Tampa Stadium, and a 6-foot-high chain-link rises quickly behind that. Canines sniff chassis, and ushers wave metal detectors. SWAT teams walk the stadium roof with machine guns. Alternate dates, due to a fear of mass casualties, are considered. For a Super Bowl.

“[It] was the shape of things to come,” former defensive back Everson Walls recalled in 2013 for USA Today. “The security was incredible. I think that’s the first time they checked bags and really were concerned about terrorist threats.”

It was tense. “Players were discussing privately if there would be a draft,” former Giants tight end Howard Cross said last year in the New York Post. “And whether our younger brothers might be drafted.”

There is a ghost game hovering too — the one played two days after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. It is known as the NFL’s “mourning game” and opened with a lone bugler playing taps. Pete Rozelle was ravaged in the media for going through with it. He’d struggled with the decision, and it haunted him his whole career. But Commissioner Tagliabue will not have the regrets of his predecessor. Tagliabue — a Jersey City basketball-playing attorney who’d represented the league against the USFL — arrived at Super Bowl XXV in a flak jacket. And he had Whitney Elizabeth Houston.

But there are more than 1,700 security professionals on the grounds. And if it seems every person is waving a tiny U.S. flag, that’s because a tiny U.S. flag has been placed on every seat. The field is a kaleidoscope of honor guard uniforms and team uniforms and kids doing a red, white and blue card stunt. Central is the entire Florida Orchestra — standing in full dress, signaling serious and formal.

Then Whitney Houston steps onto a platform — it looks to be the size of a card table — in a loose white tracksuit with mild red and blue accents. She has on white Nike Cortezes with a red swoosh. No heels in which to step daintily, and definitely not a gown. Her hair is held back by a pretty but plain ivory bandanna — there are no wisps blowing onto her face. No visible earplugs to take away from the naturalness of the moment. Everything is arranged to convey casual confidence.

Here we begin. Snare drums so crisp. Bass drum so bold. Houston holds the mic stand for a moment but then clasps her hands behind her back — it reads as clearly as a military at-ease. Her stance says: We came to play. Says, in the parlance of the ‘hood, and on behalf of her country: Don’t start none, won’t be none. All we have to do is relax, and we’re all going to win.

Like the best heroes, Whitney — the black girl from Jersey who worked her way to global stardom, made history and died early from the weight of it — makes bravery look easy.

Do continue reading The story of Whitney Houston’s epic national anthem performance at 1991 Super Bowl.

But one of the unique things about the Star Spangled Banner is that it ends with a question, the eternal question of America, “Does that Star Spangled Banner still wave over the home of the free and the brave?” It’s a question that every generation of American has been called on to answer, and so are we.

Enjoy the game, the food, the beer, and the camaraderie. Only happens once a year!

Playing the political game

George-Washington

Part of the problem with politics, highlighted in Neo’s posts this week, is that frankly most decent people don’t want to touch it, and those that do tend to be tarred by the pitch they have touched. It takes a very strong character to resist the temptation, a thick skin to bear the slings and arrows, and the patience of a saint to deal with your fellow politicians. Such men, and women, come along infrequently. To my mind George Washington, despite sniping from various historians, fits the bill to a tremendous degree. He could quite easily have become king, or at least president for life, instead he retired to Mt Vernon. He was the American Cincinnatus. In their positions, most men would have held on to absolute power; they did not. The American Constitution, knowing that it is too much to hope for another Washington, wisely imposes term limits on the President; it is more than time to do the same for the Senate. Two terms are more than enough to do any good a Senator is going to do. Congressmen might also benefit from the same system, as would Governors. The fact is that power does, as Lord Acton wrote, tend to corrupt.

By that, Acton was not just meaning what we tend to mean – graft, peculation and monetary misdeeds, he was also referring to the subtle corruption of the character. Surround a man, or woman, with people whose self-interest lies in telling them what they want to hear, and they will soon lose their natural judgment. Politicians are even worse than the rest of us for thinking they are right, so tell them that and their big heads get even more swollen. Now there is the fame thing. Harry S Truman could walk down the street in DC and most people wouldn’t even have recognised him, he and Mrs T could dine at a restaurant without being bothered by the media. That all changed with TV and JFK, and now POTUS is a ‘celeb’. This is not good for the ego or the character.

Then there is the art of winning elections. There is no reason elections have to cost so much, and in the UK we have a limit of £18,000 (about $26,000) per MP per campaign. The main parties can spend whatever they can raise, and it would be better for them, and for the trees, if they were similarly limited. We all know most of it is ‘spin’, which is weasel-speak for telling lies. It encourages politicians to treat the process like a game, the objective of which is to get elected – at literally any cost. We fall for this time and again, but like a drunk the morning after, wake with a hangover proclaiming ‘never again’ – until the next time.

It’s easy to romanticise the past. Politics was in one sense cleaner when it was an affair of landed gentlemen arguing over power – men too wealthy to be ‘bought’. Democratic politics has always tended to be ‘down and dirty’. Neo was right earlier in the week when he reminded us of the importance of character. Viewed from my side of the Atlantic, Hillary looks to me like a bridesmaid determined to be the bride – no idea what she’s do if she was, but thinks it’s her turn now; you can see why, it would make all that putting up with the public humiliation from Bill sort of worth it. Bernie Sanders is a familiar type to us in the UK – an impractical socialist who wins easy support from the young by promising free stuff and who will get nowhere. As for ‘The Donald”, straight out of ‘Citizen Kane’, but souped up for the modern era. He’s a Republican? Really? Last time I looked (which was admittedly a few years back) he was still a Democrat. Rubio’s a good-looking boy put up to stop Cruz, because Cruz is dangerous – he seems to believe what he says, and we can’t be having that!

Not long now till Super Tuesday and these things get sorted – but I can’t be the only one to think that America ought to be able to find better than this?

Lacking conviction?

code pink on Iran

Neo and I have sometimes quoted Yeats’ lines from The Second Coming:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.
This is because they seem as relevant to our times as they did to the 1930s. T.S. Eliot expressed it less pithily but with more exposition in his Idea of a Christian Society which was written around the time of the Munich Crisis of 1938. He, like many, was shaken by what had happened, and penitent and critical. But as he explained:

It was not…a criticism of the government, but a doubt of the validity of a civilization. We could not match conviction with conviction, we had no ideas with which we could either meet or oppose the ideas opposed to us. Was our society, which had always been so assured of its superiority and rectitude, so confident of its unexamined premises, assembled round anything more permanent than a congeries of banks, insurance companies and industries, and had it any beliefs more essential than a belief in compound interest and the maintenance of dividends?

Those words are I think even more relevant now than they were then. Back in the 1930s our civilization retained many of its Christian characteristics, and its morality and standards were those of our Judeo-Christian heritage – we did, in short, as we found in 1940, have some ideas to pitch against those of the Nazis, as we would, for the long Cold War, against the Communists. But what have we now?

I’m struck and penitential about the way in which so many feminists are quiet about what has happened in Cologne and elsewhere – it is clear that for them fear of being called ‘racist’ outweighs the principles they claim to stand for. Their ideas are not held with as much conviction as those of ISIS sympathisers. But they are hardly alone. Our governments do, indeed, seem to care only for banks and profit and not for anything higher. It leaves us, literally, vulnerable against those who hate our civilization and all it stands, or stood for. The reason I singled out feminists a moment ago was that they at least know, passionately I thought, what they stand for, but it is easy to be passionate when faced with an ‘enemy’ which isn’t really that. Western men can be misogynistic, but that fades when compared to the attitude of many Muslims – but best not cross them because unlike Western men, they will turn round and harm you. Is it cowardice? Or is it just that they are not that passionate?

It sometimes seems as though the effort of staying alert for so long against the enemy of Communism has sapped us of our energy. Was it too much for too long? No doubt it would be nice if the world was a better place where we did not face real enemies, but those liberal pieties are not true, they are a delusion. Perhaps Eliot was right, and we do not have values which will stand when the wind blows? But so it seemed in the 30s – and when the moment came, so too did the man – Churchill. We shall have to hope there’s one in the wings.

A Question of Interpretation

'Truth Presenting a Mirror to the Vanities', Dutch, c.1625

‘Truth Presenting a Mirror to the Vanities’,
Dutch, c.1625

This is interesting. Here we base most of our stories on history, whether it is that of a British regiment, or the church, the American Revolution, or politics, or whatever. We firmly believe that we should make decisions based partly on what happened when similar decisions were made in the past.

If there were no other reason, and there are many, it would be sufficient to say that it reduces the scope of ‘the Law of Unintended Consequences’ because some of them have already happened. That’s partly why those who want to make unprecedented change almost always denigrate history, such as the often heard disdain for ‘old, dead, white men’. Thing is, those guys have something to teach us because they had many of the same problems we do, and often hit on the same solutions. So, they provide a guide as to what works, and what doesn’t, if we read and learn.

Yet those lessons can often be clear as mud. Why? Because history is an interpretation, it’s not the complete story. It can’t be. There was a Republican debate just last night, maybe you watched it, as I did. If we wrote the lessons we learned from it, they would likely be quite different. That’s last night. Now, what if it was between Charles I and Oliver Cromwell about 400 years ago. And all we have to go on is what the published reports said. If we spin those reports enough, we probably can posit almost anything.

And that is in some ways what historians have to work with. In my experience, most (but not all) do a very good job of trying to being objective, and writing the truth, as it presents to them. Some, like politicians, serve an agenda rather than the truth, but they are, usually a minority. If they become the majority, history becomes essentially useless, and reputable historians know it and pay attention.

One of those very reputable ones is Suzannah Lipscomb, Head of History at The New College of the Humanities, London, and she explains this very well, I think.

[…]

In the term before Christmas I was teaching first-year undergraduates. At the end of each term those who have been lecturing and tutoring get together with each student to talk about how it has gone. They are bright students who made great progress, but a repeating theme that emerged from this general round-up was the need for them to develop their own voices in the midst of the historical argument: to imagine, with each essay, that they take their seat at the dinner table of historians who have written in that field and then join in the debate. This is no new counsel. I remember a comment written on one of my undergraduate history essays at Oxford by my then-tutor, Susan Brigden, with her characteristic elegance of phrase: ‘Don’t bow with such becoming submission to the secondary authorities.’

History is debate, history is discussion, history is a conversation. Hugh Trevor-Roper wrote in 1957, ‘history that is not controversial is dead history’. While some of this controversy comes from the pronouncements of historians as public intellectuals addressing the present day, much of it comes from them arguing with each other. The collective noun for historians is – honestly – an ‘argumentation’.

Continue reading:  A Question of Interpretation | History Today.

I love that phrase, as well as the admonition:

‘Don’t bow with such becoming submission to the secondary authorities.’

That’s some really good advice, even when you apply it to me!

 

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