Sunday, August 14, 2011

Judges, Kings, and Select Committees

Failure of Congress
Judges, Kings, and Select Committees
Help, Help!
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

     As our country anticipates the return of elected representation to Washington, we must all be struck with the irony of the pending action of what we are told will unlock the gridlock of our government.  From out of nowhere a new governmental body has been invented . . . the Select Committee.
     First Came Judges
     I must confess that it is a good thing there is no requirement for my operating manual to be selected on the basis of choice between the Old or the New Testament.  It is only on the faith that truth reigns supreme in both works that I admit that those guys in the Old Testament would have probably been my preferred childhood friends!
     Raw human spirit and emotion, epic battles, wisdom, love stories, the smell of horses, the strength of youth, courage, and God’s high expectations in the action and loyalty of his creation all form the immense backdrop of those times.  In the end, man’s inability to achieve and hold standards of conduct that reflected those expectations prevailed.  Darkness would return time and again.
      From the midst of the ebb and flow of the good and evil, mortal man cried for help.  “We need judges down here to maintain order and justice!” was the plea.
       When I read from the book of Judges my take is that the plea for mercy was met with the recurring reminder that judges weren’t necessary.  Man had been given all of the tools he needed to uphold the will of God, but man didn’t think so and his actions certainly didn’t display it. 
    In the end God relented and judges were not only allowed, they were, more often than not, appointed by Him.  Those people, men and women, were more than legal advisers.  They were leaders and enforcers of standards that maintained and managed society. 
     Some were good and some were not.  They were human.  They were influenced by their culture and the company they kept. 
     What can be discerned, however, was that the people tended to follow the examples of the judges.  Those that exhibited characteristics and traits of goodness projected those traits into the lives of their community.  Those that didn’t promoted unrest and chaos.
     Bring on the Kings
     The Book of Judges magnifies a fact of human nature.  Left unto itself, society predictably returns to tendencies of corruption and self destruction.  The appointed judges were not rulers.  They were moderators, enablers, and deliverers, and the results of their influences were often insufficient and disappointing.  The people clamored for more fairness and equality.
    “We must have ultimate authorities down here!” was the cry of the masses.  “These judges are not adequate to get this thing right.  We need some real authority.  We need a king!”
     Again, the lessons and theme of the Old Testament were not in agreement with that human outcry.  God reminded the folks repeatedly they had all the tools and capabilities they needed to uphold His will.  In the end, He relented.  He allowed the people to have their kings.  They weren’t needed, but the combined shortcomings of those cast in His image had to have something to make things better . . . they weren’t getting it done on their own.
    Teachings from the books
     The books of Kings are, with all intents and purposes, a recapitulation of the Book of Judges in terms of results.  The cycles of good and bad were predicated on the character of the king at the moment. 
     Distinct cycles of spiritual relationships gave rise to cycles of peace and prosperity and or anguish and hopelessness.  Pragmatic glimpses of distinct forms of wisdom were also elevated into the narrative.  Wisdom came in two forms.  One was of the world and the other was from God.
     History has demonstrated the former ultimately prompted self destruction and corruption.  The latter gave rise to peace and periods of enlightenment and charity.  In the end, all forms of human governance failed and God had to resort to the ultimate solution and  . . . the ultimate sacrifice.
     To the Select Committee
     The next drama we will watch nightly from Washington will be the closed door negotiation of the newest branch of government, the Select Committee.  We will also hear the anguish cry from the majority of the elected crying foul play in exempting them from the process. 
     This is a cry, though, from the ages.  It was first chronicled in the Book of Judges and repeated in the Books of Kings.  It is not new, and  . . .  it is long past tedious. 
     “Help . . . help us (me) out down here.  We (I) need fairness and equity!  Nobody is listening to me, uh, I mean us!”
    The reality is that the suggestion of “us” was never an issue.  It wasn’t in the days of the Old Testament and it isn’t today.  It is code for ‘me’.
    Our government has proven to us without a doubt they are incapable of fixing the greatest problems of our time.  They are the problem.  They were in the collapse of 1928.  They were in the Oil embargo of 1973.  They are in the teetering world economic collapse of 2011.    
     Leaders become followers
     Even the political impasse that is represented by the Republican/ Democratic split is nothing new.  Old Testament Israel was tragically split by similar philosophical differences.  Sometime just before 900 BC, northern Israel became ‘Israel’ and southern Israel became ‘Judah’.  The result was a division of peoples united in blood and faith, but confounded by worldly differences and disputes. 
     Several of the Founders worried about that very threat of fracture.  Adams adamantly warned against political parties.  He believed such a political course could spell the destruction of the union.  His belief was that as long as leaders were responsible for their actions personally as judged by their electorate rather than a political mob, they would fight for the sovereign rights of the individual. 
     His model for a leader was one that did not allow the elected to seek a safe haven within the midst of any mob.  Standing alone was the only way the high road would be traveled.  It would only be there that societal truths would remain unfiltered and unadulterated from productive citizens of home districts and states back to Washington.  It was only there the most basic building block of the union, the sovereign individual, would remain strong and inviolate.  Arguably, history has concluded he was right.
     Words not truths
     As I write, a copy of the Constitution sits within six inches of my right hand.  I like it there.  It is symbolic of a relationship I want to maintain with another group of men that appear to me to have had more than a trifling propensity toward Old Testament tendencies. 
     Curiously, though, I am less prone to wave it as a banner.  Yes, leaders need to swear their historic oath to defend it just like they should proudly pledge allegiance to our flag, but those things are immaterial if they are predisposed to defend it on the basis of symbolism rather than defend it to their death on substance.  We can afford only leaders who have it imbedded in their hearts and souls.
     It is time to call it for what it is.  A mob rule has prevailed in Washington and they have robbed and spent the national treasury with pitiful disdain. 
     There is not a single member of the House or Senate who could stand in judgment alone and explain to anybody the justification of an equation that shows income of $2.17 trillion, expenditures of $3.82 trillion, and a national debt of $14.3 trillion.  Only the mob of the House and Senate can justify such disregard for the American people.
     Back to basics
     Sovereignty of the faithful individual is ageless.  It is the building block that long predates our modern world, but time and again it has been ignored and minimized.
    This crisis will affect Washington leadership.  When the money is stripped away this time individual leaders are going to stand in judgment.  History teaches us that such a process fails to eliminate the real challenge, but is does counter the cycles.
     In the meantime, the Select Committee drama will be played out in Washington.  It will be interesting to watch, but the collective, failed leadership is now a bigger issue.  The cry of ‘Help, Help’ is no longer acceptable.  The folks who are now intently watching from the hinterlands are methodically filling their quivers, grooming their horses . . . and polishing their chariots! 

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico.  “Has the patience of productive Americans been stretched enough to make wholesale changes in Washington?  If it has, the glad handing Communists of the Democratic Party are in trouble . . .  but so are the Republicans who represent their constituencies with conciliatory, rear guard leadership.” 


Congress. What Congress?  These folks haven't passed a budget in two years, delegate their law-making authority to bureaucrats and have let the President wage war without a Congressional declaration.

And now this Select Committee with twelve members, six from each party.  This is nothing but political theatrics to try to convince the voters they are really doing something.

However, I'll be the first to say this committee will lower the lobbyists.  Instead of having to lobby 535 members they can now limit their efforts to the select 12.  But these 12 will know how to handle it, because between them they've received $3 million in contributions over the last 5 years:  $1 million from the health care industry, $700,000 from defense contractors, $600,000 from agribusiness and $580,000 from the labor unions according to the AP.

They are supposed to deliver their recommendations by Thanksgiving and Congress must vote on them by Christmas.

So don't be expecting a Silent Night. 

They'll all be wanting to play Santa Claus, but not for you or me or anyone else seeking fiscal sanity.

Our Christmas stockings will be as bare as the federal treasury.


Border Watcher said...

Such a crisis we have never seen. There is no way our Defense isn't strangled. As Wilmeth notes, the Communists will fight to the death for their wealth distribution preferences. The discretionary spending with our Defense budget is going to be shredded. There is only one silver lining and it is the likelihood the land agencies are going to get shredded as well.

ADavis said...

It is interesting to note the president was not mentioned, but we don't have a president, do we?

ABQualls said...

Mr. Davis is correct in his assessment of the literal interpretation of the definition of this president. The catastrophic danger is that we have man of gargantuan powers in that office.

Anonymous said...

I am reading from my teleprompter right now and it says SONS-OF-BITCHES!!!

Anonymous said...

Let's assess this deal. The Associated Press has a piece out today that suggests that the members of the select committee were picked 'for their integrity and experience with complicated budget matters". Has anybody looked at the Democrats? Kerry, Murray, Becerra, Clyburn, Van Hollen, and Baucus. Holy Cow! Talk about truth in reporting! Are these idiots from the Associated Press all card carrying Commies?

Brett said...

Excellent column, as always. George Washington warned of the dangers of political parties in his farewell address:

I was not aware of Adams' concern over the emerging two party system, but apparently he was. People who are interested can find his writings on the matter here via the TAC:

SLWilmeth said...

I make reference to John Adam's antagonism to political parties in part to the following quote:
"the favorites of parties, although they have always some virtues, have always many imperfections. Many of the ablest tongues and pens have, in every age, been employed in the foolish deluded, and pernicious flattery of one set of partisans, and in furious, prostitute invectives against another; but such kinds of oratory never had any charms me; and if I must do one or the other, I would quarrel with both parties and with every individual of each, before I would subjuegate my understand(ing) or prostitute my tongue or pen to either." Yes, and curiously, President Adams did join the Federalist Party as President, but, like Washington, considered himself above parties.

Anonymous said...

In "President John Adams and His Times" there is also the reference to political parties when Adams called the establishment of political parties as "the greatest political evil under our Constitution." The question of why he joined the Federalists which were heavy handed central government supporters may have been a simple matter of antagonism directed at several of his peers which certainly included Franklin, Hamilton, and Jefferson. Hamilton conspired to strip Federalist votes away from Adams to get Jefferson elected and send Adams home.