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#306384 - 04/13/18 06:40 PM The Rule of Law
NW Ponderer Offline
Moderator
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/09/11
Posts: 16060
The Rule of Law is the quaint notion that, "law should govern a nation, as opposed to being governed by decisions of individual government officials. It primarily refers to the influence and authority of law within society, particularly as a constraint upon behaviour, including behaviour of government officials."

I say quaint, because it clearly is not a notion that occurs to Donald Trump and his minions, Cabinet Members, or cronies. To demonstrate how far we have strayed from the concept, Trump issued a Pardon for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. As many have speculated, the point was quite clear - the President is trying to send a message to key figures in Mueller's Russia probe. And that message is "loyalty to me is more important than the law."

But we were aware of the President's proclivities long before this. His appointment of those most hostile to "the law" to posts they are unqualified - and even hostile to - occupy. Scott Pruitt, Tom Price, Betsy DeVos - these are familiar complaints. His history of skirting and breaking the law in his previous life is infamous. His pardon of Joe Arpaio is a previous example. These are not the actions of someone who respects "the law" at all.

Recently Bill Kristol launched a new initiative, "Republicans for the Rule of Law." It's an effort that is WAY too late, but may, possibly, be well-intentioned. It is hard, however, to take it seriously from the party that gave us the Tax bill, the rejection of Affordable Care, deficits for decades, Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, Mitch McConnell, Richard Nixon, George W. Bush, and now Donald Trump. Their concept of "Rule of Law" is antithetical to the principle.

The impetus for, and much of the text of, the Declaration of Independence were the many impositions of King George III upon the operations of the colonies - abetted by the Parliament of his age. It was informed by "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind" which impelled them to "declare the causes which impel them to the separation." Then, as now, "a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism". We are, truly, facing that right now.

And it should not be forgotten, that King George, like Donald Trump, was abetted in his depredations by a pliant Parliament not dissimilar to the Congress under the auspices of the Republican party. They have installed numerous uniquely unqualified persons to high offices, abused the "regular order" even to undercut the constitutional obligations of a President of the opposite party (Merrick Garland), and failed to check these abuses - even abetting them for political ends (Devin Nunes).

The Rule of Law may yet prevail, but we are facing a very dark time.
_________________________
A well reasoned argument is like a diamond: impervious to corruption and crystal clear - and infinitely rarer.

Here, as elsewhere, people are outraged at what feels like a rigged game -- an economy that won't respond, a democracy that won't listen, and a financial sector that holds all the cards. - Robert Reich

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#306401 - 04/14/18 05:38 PM Re: The Rule of Law [Re: NW Ponderer]
jgw Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 05/22/06
Posts: 2033
Loc: Port Angeles, WA
I think that, very soon, the Republicans are going to have to stand up or simply accept the perception that they lack any integrity, honesty, or anything else along those lines, and are quite willing to sacrifice all in support of their Great Leader. I am basing this on the simple fact that the Mueller investigation seems to be leaking, and the stuff coming out would indicate that the Jackass is going to be in what any normal person would assume to be big trouble. On top of that the Jackass is also going to try and shut down Mueller and, basically, the justice department when it comes to the Jackass.

It will be interesting to see what the Republicans do in the face of real evidence and facts. My own thought is that they are going to support their Great Leader and any efforts to defend Mueller will be for nothing.

Then, we are told, we are going to have a constitutional crisis. I am not even sure what that actually means! I think, however, it indicates that we have a very serious problem that is going to need fixing and there may not be any solution that can do that.

I really hope that I am wrong on this one.................

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#306411 - 04/14/18 11:19 PM Re: The Rule of Law [Re: NW Ponderer]
Jeffery J. Haas Offline

Pooh-Bah

Registered: 08/03/04
Posts: 13202
Loc: Whittier, California
The phrase "constitutional crisis" isn't a legal term at all, but it does serve to describe several well known and acknowledged types of government, legal, national security and executive emergencies.
But in the end, wouldn't it be fair to say that "constitutional crisis" means to the Constitution what "psychotic lapse" means to mental illness? Even a seasoned medical professional might struggle a bit to lay out the specific set of morbidities that clearly define such a lapse but they can certainly tell one when they see one.

If congressional Republicans fail to hold Trump accountable for firing Mueller, I daresay that would accurately describe a crisis of fidelity, but it would naturally follow that if we are in a crisis of fidelity, then we must by necessity also be in a concomitant operational crisis, because the former paints us into the corner where we are confounded by the latter, thus the two are inseparable.

Political scientist Keith Whittington describes it as a set of “circumstances in which the constitutional order itself is failing.”
In government itself, an "operational crisis" might be when the Constitution can't tell us how to resolve a political dispute.
Or, there is a "fidelity crisis" where the Constitution lays out the rules to tell us what to do but those rules aren't being obeyed.

But what about when the Constitution fails to constrain political disputes within some accepted semblance of normalcy?
Representatives and leaders from both parties insist that they are acting constitutionally, but that it's their opponent which is not.
You might be reminded of The Civil War.

Clearly the one thing that all of these have in common is some kind of tipping point, where most if not all are forced to recognize that we are testing the legal and constitutional order of governance.
Maybe it is better to use a term like "constitutional rot" instead, where faith in the values and structural integrity of the Constitution itself have clearly eroded despite the legal structure remaining in place.

But if a president is attempting to fire his way out of facing the wheels of justice, does that legal structure still have the necessary integrity to uphold the values in the Constitution or not?

Constitutional rot therefore must eventually lead to a constitutional crisis, both of fidelity and in terms of operation itself.
A termite infested building might stand for decades after the bugs have set in but one day your Aunt Claire might go crashing through the kitchen floor and wind up head over heels in the basement among the rotted timbers.

A host body cannot restore life after a parasitic infection has hollowed out and destroyed the organs.
If we do not apply prophylactic measures, the host body succumbs needlessly for want of antibiotics and one reaches the tipping point where it is too late, and the victim dies.

Termite infested wood does not grow solid again.
Rancid meat doesn't return to freshness.

Fidelity can be restored.
Rot however, cannot.
_________________________
"He wakes up in the morning, ****s all over Twitter, ****s all over us, ****s all over his staff, then hits golf balls."
---Congressman Peter King

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#306416 - 04/15/18 07:09 PM Re: The Rule of Law [Re: NW Ponderer]
jgw Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 05/22/06
Posts: 2033
Loc: Port Angeles, WA
I watched somebody explain impeachment the other night. They pointed out, for instance, that Clinton was impeached but continued to serve. To actually get rid of a president you have to impeach and then pass a veto proof bill to fire the guy. The person explaining all of this said that she didn't see that even if the jackass was impeached that the congress of the United States had the backbone to actually get rid of the man.

I tend to thing that is probably, and unfortunately, the truth. Hopefully I am flat out wrong on this one.

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#306425 - 04/16/18 04:18 AM Re: The Rule of Law [Re: NW Ponderer]
Jeffery J. Haas Offline

Pooh-Bah

Registered: 08/03/04
Posts: 13202
Loc: Whittier, California
Everyone knows that he claims he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose votes. He could also grab a baby and use it as a human shield and not get impeached.

But I still think that he can be forced to resign.
He may not lose votes or supporters but he doesn't have enough wealthy supporters to replace the ones he's going to lose as clients.

I don't think Donald Trump's political teflon extends to his ability to make money at a rate sufficient to cover the damage he is doing to his brands and his overall business ventures.

Even in Russia, he will eventually reach a point where he will be regarded as having hit too low a point in both credibility and stability. Russians aren't hesitant to pronounce someone as
mentally ill.

_________________________
"He wakes up in the morning, ****s all over Twitter, ****s all over us, ****s all over his staff, then hits golf balls."
---Congressman Peter King

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