“Whatever the learning or acuteness of a great lawyer, our chief respect for him depends on our belief that, set in a judge’s seat, he will strive to judge justly, come of it what may. Could we suppose that he would take bribes, and use his acuteness and legal knowledge to give plausibility to iniquitous decisions, no degree of intellect would win for him our respect. Nothing will win it, short of our tacit conviction, that in all important acts of his life justice is first with him; his own interest, second.” -John Ruskin
“I confess that the only fear I have in regard to republican institutions is whether, in our day, any adequate remedy will be found for this incoming flood of the power of incorporated wealth.” -Wendell Phillips
“Because you’re a nobleman you think you’re a great genius. Nobility, fortune, rank, status: so much to glory in. But what did you do to get where you are? You took the trouble to be born, and that’s all.” -Pierre Beaumarchais
“In [Shakespeare’s] England…Long before they found that some men were black, Englishmen found in the idea of blackness a way of expressing some of their most ingrained values…White and black connoted purity and filthiness, virginity and sin, virtue and baseness, beauty and ugliness, beneficence and evil, God and the devil.”
"I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the President of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power.”
-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, April 20, 2017
"I think every American should be concerned about what the Russians did. From my point of view, there’s no doubt in my mind it was the Russians involved in all the things I just described -- not some 400-pound guy sitting on a bed, or any other country. Russia is up to no good when it comes to democracies all over the world."
–Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC), May 08, 2017
The Republican Party’s worship of corporate power, and the CEOs who wield it, has borne bitter fruit in the first 100-plus days of the Donald Trump presidency, but none so bitter as the fate of the United States’ Justice Department under his hand-picked, racist-in-chief, Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“Motive” and “Opportunity” are two of most operative terms in determining the commission of a felony, whether it be murder or obstruction of justice.
The opportunities for a President or an Attorney General, of course, are always at hand, but our system of Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence and American democracy has depended upon selecting and electing men and women whose ethical standards make them loathe to abuse such power. In May, 2017, that would no longer seem to be the case.
In the case of President Donald Trump, only the motives of a monstrous ego are required. Our country has raised to power a “malignant narcissist,” (Erich Fromm) who combines a belief in “the divine right of money bags” (Aldous Huxley) with a contempt for the rule of law more common to common criminals than to respected rulers.
His specific motives don’t really matter anymore, for, as Shakespeare wrote: “Action is eloquence.”
It now remains to be seen whether key Republican leaders in Congress will step away from their disastrous embrace of the nihilism of the Tea Party and join Democrats in using the opportunities and power granted to them by our Founding Fathers. Waiting until 2018 could be a mistake.
As for the current “to recuse or not to recuse” Attorney General, motivation can be found in his devotion to a white, Anglo-Saxon, protestant, male supremacy that can only be enforced in 21st century America by a resort to overt or covert totalitarianism.
There is a direct line from former Alabama Senator Sessions’ disparaging of Hawaii (and -- HINT, HINT -- all those brown and yellow people) in 2017 that goes back to May 12, 1944 and Mississippi Senator [D] Theodore Bilbo’s disparaging of black Americans, by suggesting to Senator William Langer [R] of North Dakota that Abraham Lincoln advocated sending them all back to Africa (Liberia) [See HPR, April 19, 2017].
Along that disgraceful color line we can trace the career of Alabama Governor George Wallace and his demonstration in the Democratic Presidential Primary of 1968 that racism was an “equal opportunity employer” in northern States like Wisconsin as well as in the South, East and the West.
Current Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and his executive, legislative, and judicial minions have apparently taken the Wallace message to heart, by disenfranchising thousands of black voters in Wisconsin in the 2016 elections, under the fraudulent [and patently un-American] Republican Party policy of systematic voter suppression throughout this country.
Now that it is clear that Governor Walker’s domestic efforts to interfere in the American electoral process in one state have been emulated by a foreign superpower, President Putin’s Russia, across our entire nation, and we face a challenge every bit as daunting as that of the Cold War.
Putin’s motives include contempt for any form of democratic process, at home or abroad, and he took his opportunities where he could find them, most notably in short-term memories of the American people. How soon we forget about the motivations of Russian rulers, from tsars and commissars to the present combination of American-style robber barons and European-style dictators!
I am heartened by the opening statement by Senator Lindsey Graham to his Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, that acknowledged once and future Republicans as well as past Democrats as targets in the war against American democratic institutions by Russia’s Putin, a former secret police (KGB) warrior for the Soviet Union.
Several more Republican Senatorial backbones will have to evolve quickly from the jellyfish they have been over the past few decades, but an aroused and truly angry electorate (“Why don’t you behave more like an American, instead of a politician?”) should be all the motive they need.
I am also heartened by the participation of some of America’s most potent corporations, the national media, in defense of an American Constitution that benefits them as much or more than the rest of us. Their opportunities have always been there, as long as they had the guts to take them. President Trump’s attacks on them as “fake news,” are all the motive they need, and they are responding.
If Senator Graham’s and other Republican’s deeds match his words, the Republican Party can begin to restore a bit of the honor they have thrown away in the past thirty-plus years by worshipping power “not wisely but too well.”
Democracies move slowly. So does the rule of law. But we have impeached tyrants before. It is one of those American sports that bewilders and fascinates the rest of the world as much as our brand of football.
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