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Two Constitutions In Peril

February 10, 2018 Frontpage No Comments

By CHRISTOPHER MANION

The recent revelation of malfeasance by the FBI and Justice Department dating from the Obama administration are unfortunate but unsurprising. When unchecked by civic virtue and personal morality, the temptation to use of power and position for personal agendas can seem irresistible. And, once embraced, the bad habit of abuse of power is hard to break, especially when unchecked by exposure and stern punishment.
Today, as far as the U.S. government’s permanent bureaucracy is concerned, members of Congress and the Senate are just political appointees who come and go. Even the president qualifies as little more than a temporary employee — a poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.
Cabinet secretaries are quickly brought to heel by their “career” staffs, affirming James Burnham’s classic analysis 75 years ago in The Managerial Revolution: As bureaucracies grow ever stronger, he predicted, bureaucrats will become increasingly more loyal to colleagues in their various professions than to the employers who pay their salaries.
As a result, for the permanent government, the policies and priorities of the elected officials they “serve” are full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Yes, they might know their Shakespeare, but they don’t know the Constitution. What they do know, very well, is how to obstruct and even pervert the law and the public weal while protecting themselves and their agendas as they burrow in for life. In fact, many of those brazen boors leaking today to the billionaires’ blogs (once known as the press) are proud to identify themselves with the “resistance.”
They do so at their peril, for the Constitution is clear. The Founders defined the powers of Congress in Article One because they meant Congress to be the most powerful branch, being the one closest to the people. After all, Congress created the FBI and the Department of Justice, funds them, and has the power to oversee them and correct any deficiencies. The recent scandals have revealed an indelicate but adamantine habit of casual defiance by rogue officials and their allies in the media to insist that they are “independent” from the president and from Congress. They are begging for a slap-down.
And then we have Article Two, defining the powers of the executive branch, powers which are coming into their own as The Swamp is drained. Behold — agency officials serve not at the pleasure of the Fake News Media and the Deep State but the pleasure of the president, who has the sole legitimate (and often necessary) executive power to fire at will anyone who breaks the law or steadfastly tries to pervert it — and the Congress can choose not to fund rogue operations and operatives in the same constitutional spirit.

The Constitution On Trial

In the scandal now roiling the capital, key officials apparently withheld critical evidence from a secret judicial court in their effort to spy on an American citizen and, ultimately, to reverse the election of a president they deemed an intruder. Whatever their motives, the fact pattern vividly reveals criminal malfeasance. In the late 1970s, Congress had created that secret court in order to curb the temptations of executive branch officials to spy on their fellow Americans.
In 2016, certain officials wanted to conduct that illegal spying in order to prevent the election of Donald Trump, rather than protect the American people from dangerous terrorists. When the dust settles, all those guilty of participating in the deceptive enterprise should go to jail.
That prospect strikes a pang of fear in Nancy Pelosi, who realizes that such a scandal would reveal her party’s alliance with the Deep State, a revelation that could destroy any credibility that she and her fellow Democrats might have left. Fomenting the fog — a common refuge of Washington scoundrels — Pelosi responds with a dark hint of a “constitutional crisis” if Republicans continue to pursue the facts in the case.
Surprise! She is right — but for the wrong reason.
There is a crisis indeed. Deep State Democrats threaten justice in the realm, and the Constitution prescribes the solution: Follow the law. Several committees in Congress and the Senate have done just that, exercising their legitimate power and demanding damning records from the agencies they oversee. The agencies are resisting, defying the powers of both the Congress and the president, who has full executive power over the rogue agencies in question. The Deep State stares at the prospect of its Waterloo, and cringes.
A cautionary note: The Deep State has won before. Eight years of Obama’s casual lawlessness has hammered into stone bad habits with roots that stretch back for decades. Bill Clinton used the IRS to harass his critics (including this writer), and his wife — without the required clearances — had over 100 files of those on her enemies list in her private library in the White House.
Curiously, a quarter-century ago, President George H.W. Bush had the power to clean up the Deep State with his powerful and adroit henchman, James Baker. Baker knew there was a problem, and he was bent on having an executive branch obedient to the president. But Baker, the essence of the Establishment, aimed at the wrong targets — Ronald Reagan appointees — and fired virtually every one of them. The Deep State, left comfortably intact, must have marveled at its narrow escape.
But Baker acted on private resentments and not the public weal, an all-too-common defect in all the halls of power. And the Deep State just got deeper.
Lenin’s question rises again: “What is to be done?” Well, no one should play the Queen of Hearts: There should be no verdict before the trial.
But there must be a trial!

Lumen Gentium’s
Light Goes Out

“Wow — Look! It’s the Original Ten Commandments!” — American teenager, as she came upon the Rosetta Stone in the British Museum last week.

+ + +

The Church has a Constitution too — Lumen Gentium, adopted by the Second Vatican Council and formally titled “The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church.” Today, the Church’s Constitution, like America’s, is being ignored, defied, and even broken — especially by the bishops’ Deep State, aided and abetted by a few politicized bishops for whom Lumen Gentium is apparently too “rigid” and “legalistic.”
Imagine what a powerful impact, what ineffable good, could be wrought if our beloved bishops and their conference bureaucracy would champion the teachings of Humanae Vitae with the same passionate perseverance that they display when advocating amnesty for illegal immigrants, sanctuary cities for criminal foreigners, and government funding for their welfare agencies!
Dream on. They cannot even bring themselves to condemn the fourteen Catholic Democrat senators who recently voted to continue killing unborn children capable of pain inside the womb and life outside of it.
Behold our Princes of the Church. What is the matter with these people?
Their president in 2012, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, admitted that our bishops have long suffered from “laryngitis” regarding those tough teachings. He admitted that the young are “hungry” for those tough truths — well, why not teach them? Champion them? Lumen Gentium places practical politics — like immigration law — firmly in the realm of the laity. To invade it, as the bishops have for half a century, is rank clericalism, condemned by countless Popes (including Francis!) for centuries.
The laity is hungry indeed for a return to fundamental truths. We have been pleading with the bishops to do what only they can do: Use their consecrated authority to teach the faith so unpopular in the culture ruled by the Dictatorship of Relativism — and to defend it by implementing the canon law of the Church to expose and condemn scandalous and incorrigible dissenters, whatever their station.
But such a homecoming will take a sea change, from the Barque of Peter on down. Today countless prelates are deaf to the pleas of the faithful. All too many champion not magisterial truth but the outright breach of civil and criminal laws that they don’t like. One gets the impression that they’re just as clueless as that teenage schoolgirl. They condemn critics of criminal aliens with epithets borrowed from the Marxist lexicon of class warfare. But they don’t condemn the criminals.
Consider: Rarely do we hear our bishops champion the Ten Commandments when they’re counseling illegals: “Don’t steal (Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses, government benefits). Don’t lie (on welfare and employment applications).” Instead, bishops are using the faithful’s donations to hire lawyers and lobbyists to protect illegal aliens from U.S. law enforcement and judicial courts. They are either ignorant of, or indifferent to, the resulting lawlessness and crime.
What is to be done? Continue to plead, continue to pray. But recognize as a sad fact that the movement to resuscitate Humanae Vitae, like the pro-life movement itself, is a lay movement, with most bishops leading from behind if they’re leading at all.

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