Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Quality of Mercy
President Obama Tries to Act the Part of Solon


In his tragic comedy, The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare has composed possibly the most eloquent indictment of legalistic, literalistic thinking and pharisaical interpretation of the law yet written since The Sermon on the Mount
The story involves the foolish promise of a young merchant, Antonio, to forfeit literally a pound of his flesh for failure to repay an outstanding loan to Shylock, a money lender. The matter has gone to court. The defendant has failed to repay the plaintiff, and the plaintiff has brought suit to demand the pound of flash rightfully owed to him according to the dictates of the law. Portia, the defendant Antonio’s girl friend, has disguised herself as a lawyer, and hopes to free her lover from his debt obligation with a demonstration of her heartfelt conviction that the deepest understanding of its purpose and most moral and compassionate interpretation of the law provides the only true justice. Her classic response to the vengeful plaintiff, Shylock, is always worth reviewing:
The quality of mercy is not strain'd, 
It droppeth, as the gentle rain from heaven 
Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless'd; 
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes: 
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes 
The throned monarch better than his crown; 
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power, 
The attribute to awe and majesty, 
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings; 
But mercy is above this sceptred sway, 
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings, 
It is an attribute to God himself; 
And earthly power doth then show likest God's 
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, [you],
Though justice be thy plea, consider this— 
That in the course of justice, none of us 
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy; 
And that same prayer, doth teach us all to render 
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much, 
To mitigate the justice of thy plea, 
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice 
Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there. 
It may disappoint most of my fellow conservatives, but I am with the president on his bold Executive Order to curtail any further attempts to deport illegal aliens who were brought here as young children who have never known any other home.
Obama is doing the Right Thing. He may very well be doing it for the wrong reasons, but that doesn’t stop it from being right. By all that’s humane and all that’s holy -- and by all that’s pragmatic as well -- it is surely the morally correct decision.
Deporting people who have been grown up in this country, and lived to all intents and purposes as Americans -- people who in most instances have little-or-no knowledge of their country of origin would certainly be “cruel and unusual punishment.” 
The strict, legalistic application of the law in these instances would be the equivalent of demanding “a pound of flesh” for failure to repay a debt. Such an action should be considered absolutely untenable to decent, right-thinking people who have any pretensions to fairness, kindheartedness and compassion.
The law should exists to serve the people –– not the other way ‘round. Slavish devotion to a literal interpretation of the law is flat out wrong in the many instances where, as Charles Dickens said through the unsavory character of Mr. Bumble, the Beadle in Oliver Twist, “If that be the law, the law is a ass –– a idiot ...”
I cannot help but agree.
~ FreeThinke


  1. FT,
    As you know, I have a different view on this topic. There are Constitutional restraints regarding a President's actions -- even if those actions may be "the right thing to do." Like it or not, government is not about "the right thing to do." Lady Justice is blind.

    Beak said something very accurate and important at that thread at my web site:

    Obama gets in front of the camera and says we aren't going to deport people we weren't going to deport anyway. He tosses in employment authorization cards for imaginary jobs and adds extra competition for the few jobs that are out there through attrition.

    Speaking governmentally, it is not necessarily lawful to do "the right thing."

    I know and know of a lot of illegal immigrants and their children here in the United States. No deportation proceedings have ever been instituted against these people -- and the children were attending school, both public and private school.

    Anyway, I have a personal reason for being biased against illegals, and I might as well tell that reason to you before your think me a Hard Hearted Hannay: The car accident that ruined my back was committed by an illegal immigrant who had been under a deportation order for over 20 years. To the court's knowledge, he had never otherwise broken the law until the day he rear-ended me at a four-way stop sign. Even though he had plenty of car insurance, his insurance company spent A FORTUNE to avoid a right-and-proper settlement with me for my life-long injury. The officer of the court (an arbitrator) stated the following to me, and I'll never forget the words as they are forever etched into my auditory memory:

    The sympathies of the court lie with the poor immigrant. If this accident had been the other way around and you had rear-ended Mr. A, he'd be taking you to the cleaners."

    This man who ruined my life was a cab driver -- and not the driver of a "gypsy cab." Keep that in mind the next time that you call for a cab. It won't matter what the "poor immigrant" does, you won't get justice.

    As a result of Obama's new immigration policy, America will now be infested with "anti-immigration guilt," much along the lines of "white guilt." As a result, the children of immigrants will be given preferential treatment to compensate for previous immigration policies. Get ready for it! It's coming!

  2. FT,
    Worthy of your consideration.

    Now, off to the grocery store with me. I myself may have to use the little cart for the handicapped! I can barely walk today because of the bicycle accident that I had yesterday. **sigh**

  3. I too think it is the right thing to do, but as you say, he's done it for selfish political motives and he's done it the wrong way.

    We are a democratic republic, not a monarchy where the king issues edicts and commands from the throne.

    I love the Shakespeare, btw. There's a lot of wisdom in his works.

  4. Well, AOW,

    This is the place where we are free to disagree,
    And I'm so very sorry to hear you hurt your knee.

    Your terrible experience with that judge only supports and enhances my contention that Dickens' blustering buffoon, Mr. Bumble, the Beadle, was perfectly correct when he said "The Law is a ass."

    ~ FT

  5. God works in mysterious ways, Kurt. He may very well have used the venal Mr. Obama as a cat's paw in order to right a manifest civil wrong.

    When both you an AOW acknowledge that the law is not in the business of "doing the right thing" if only increases my already abundant store of contempt for the judicial process.

    If a law fails to serve the dictates of a humane, benign, merciful concept of morality and justice, that law is no good, and must be disobeyed, rendered impotent and discarded.

    Laws are made up by men, they were not inscribed by lightning on stone tablets by the Hand of God.

    The acid test in evaluating legislation is how well it serves humane purposes.

    ~ FT

  6. As for Obama's "Immigration Ploy" adding as many as 800,000 to the unemployment rolls, I take that as Good News, because a marked increase unemployment is bound to hurt Obama at the polls in November.

    It would do my heart good to see The Finagler-in-Chief stewing in his ow juice. And wouldn't that add greater proof to my assertion that God may be working His purpose out as much though the villains as the heroes?

    Thanks for that link, by the way. AOW.

    ON A PERSONAL NOTE: I hope you have sealed gel-packs from the pharmacy in your freezer? These may be applied both cold and hot.

    I suggest first the application of an ice pack, well insulated by toweling, for no more than fifteen minutes at periodic intervals.

    Try to keep the knee mobile in the 'tween times, but don't force it.

    After the swelling goes down noticeably, start applying heat packs. To switch from cold to hot just use the microwave, but be careful not to let the gel get so hot that it burns you. Again keep the gel pack well insulated by toweling from direct contact with the skin.

    Meanwhile keep trying to move the joint and keep i as flexible as possible. You may want to consult a physical therapist. I've had excellent results with those people -- better frankly than I've had with many MD's.

    You've had too many concentrated doses of unpleasantness come your way from too many different directions in the past few months. You're long over due for a break. Let's hope his is the end of the "series."

    ~ FT

  7. What's at issue isn't the purpose of his 'edict' but the means and methods of attaining it. Obama has no more right to rewrite the law then you or I. In point of fact he bears the Constitutional burden that "he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed" ( Article 2 Section 3 )

    He has violated that stricture so many times, and in so many ways as to render it meaningless. That his motives in this instance, rather than being truly charitable, are are plainly cynical render his action all the more onerous. If we are to remain in Adams' words, "a government of laws not men" he needs to be stopped.

    "To what purpose are powers limited, and to what purpose is that limitation committed to writing, if these limits may, at any time, be passed by those intended to be restrained?" John Marshall

  8. FT,
    My knee is much better today although I have had a restless night's sleep for two nights in a row.

    Last night, I made the mistake of soaking in the tub. I almost couldn't get out of the tub! For a few panicked minutes, I thought that I'd have to phone 9-1-1!

  9. FT,
    If a law fails to serve the dictates of a humane, benign, merciful concept of morality and justice, that law is no good, and must be disobeyed, rendered impotent and discarded.

    On the state level, IMO, not at the federal level.

  10. Check out the pattern in THIS!

    Clearly, Obama is not showing the quality of mercy out of the goodness of his heart. Vile, really.

  11. I'll just post this statement I made earlier today over at Western Hero here to have it on record. It wasn't well received there. I understand the arguments against this thing very well and agree, but can't get away from the belief that a Higher Law should prevail regardless of the Constitution and existing Federal Law when the lives and fortunes of innocent people are at stake:

    "By our constitution, [changing the law] is the job of the legislature."

    Well then, hadn't we better go back and tell that to Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Earl Warren and his successors in The Imperial Judiciary, Lyndon Baines Johnson, and God-knows-who-all-else, so they can have the opportunity to undo the great injury each has visited on the Constitution ––––– always in the name Enlightened Thinking and making necessary adjustments to "Evolving Standards of Decency?"

    Far be it from me to defend Obama, but the fact remains that in THIS particular case he has done the morally right thing. His MOTIVES don't matter.

    Dubya did a whole lot of things I frankly despise, but I would never have supported the idea of impeaching him just as I would never support any efforts to stage a "recall election" such as the moronic, hate-based, wasteful exercise in futility we saw in Wisconsin so recently.

    As I've said before, if Obama has done something clearly and provably illegal in issuing this "Edict," then proceedings to have him ejected from office SHOULD start IMMEDIATELY.

    Considering the enormous amount of virtually unchallenged precedent set by former "Imperial" Presidents –– Lincoln, I believe was the first –– I doubt that too much could be made of this, even if congress had the guts to try.

    I'd MUCH rather see all our energy directed toward REPEALING that OUTRAGEOUS HEALTHCARE ATROCITY that was rammed down our throats and shoved up our fundaments than in wasting time dithering over something that ought to have been accomplished a long time ago anyway –– and WOULD have been done, if congress had an ounce of courage.

    Like it or not we need to get out of the realm of THEORY and start dealing with REALITY. In truth REALPOLITIK is all there is, the rest is just a DREAM VISION that's been growing more distant and unattainable by the hour for the past hundred years.

    If my neighbors had a child of fifteen who had lived in this country since the age of two, been educated side-by-side with my children, spoke English as well or better than my kids, did well in school and was clean, pleasant, bright, attractive and ambitious, it would be a CRIME for me to want to see that child deported to some stinking SHITPOT just because of a stupid legal technicality.

    When we start putting "the law" above genuine justice that favors real human needs, we deserve to fail.

    It's terrible to have to admit it, but in truth people resist progress with all their might and main. Because of our human propensity for short-sightedness and our slobbering devotion to narrow ways we've trodden all our lives, it becomes necessary every once in a while to FORCE an issue in order to correct a great wrong.

    Millions of people could get KILLED or die of DREAD DISEASE if we continue to sit on our hands and wait for CONGRESS to act. Those goddam bastards aren't going to do ANYTHING –– except STEAL from us, RESTRICT our ACTIVITIES and DIMINISH our CHOICES –– unless someone puts a stick of DYNAMITE up their you-know-whats and threatens to light it, if they fail to ACT.

    I detest Barack Obama, but I'd be just another lousy hypocrite or latter day Pharisee, if I didn't give the Devil his due.

    ~ FreeThinke

  12. FT.

    Our government was established with clearly delineated responsibilites for a very specific reason. King Obama ruling by edict is no different than King George ruling by edict, regardless of the motivation.

    By concept, laws are created by our congress, the representatives of the people. The President is not the representative of the people, he is the Chief Executive of the government. It is not his job to make law, nor is it within his purview to decline to enforce them.

    Your previous statement about congress and balls is correct. By all rights congress should impeach a president or cabinet member that refuses to enforce the will of the people.

    As far as a higher power goes, last time I checked, none sat in congress, the supreme court, or in the executive branch. One cannot resort to the higher power argument...whose higher power? Whose interpretation of the higher powers will? Certainly one can vote or act their conscience under what they see or interpret as their higher power's will. But alas, the higher power doesn't get to vote, of course if the higher power is willing to come down and take a seat, I'm sure we'd all be okay with that.

    As to mercy, that is a function of the courts, not the chief executive, except post facto. A court, jury or judge, based on circumstance and preference, ascertains guilt or innocence. Mercy's role is in sentencing, not the determination of guilt or innocence, or the decision to investigate or not. That is why we have judges... one could simply write a law that stated, shoplifting-two years, and once guilt was determined the whole thing would be over. That is civil law, not common law. If you want civil law, move to France or Louisiana.

    Precedent doesn't apply to executive decisions. What Lincoln, Roosevely, did is completely irrelevant. What one president issues another can reverse or delete.

    The president has no role in determining the justice of the law, not his branch's role. He does have the authority to grant pardons and reprieves, and is more than welcome to do so, after the determination of the court, not before.


  13. Hello, Finntann. Glad to see you here.

    You've eloquently stated the theorysupposed to be governed.

    I have merely stated the realities with which we must live regardless of theory.

    Congress has abdicated its responsibility. Wrongs must still be righted, ergo the Judiciary and now the president step in to fill the void with probably illegal, certainly inappropriate, but mostly well-meaning "solutions" they all-too-easily force on a generally apathetic populace.

    This is very personal with me. I am not willing to see the life of my neighbor's very bright, all-American 15-year-old boy -- and the lives of his charming, very lovable family -- destroyed just because he was brought here illegally at the age of two, and the law says he must be deported to Central America.

    I quoted Portia's famous speech from The Merchant of Venice in the article. If that does not move you to understand that what-I-refer-to-for-the-sake-of-convenience as "God's Law" has served as the spiritual foundation and guiding genius of our republic, and that God's Law in moral reality should -- and must -- supersede any of the perverse, Byzantine, self-serving claptrap we have devised subsequently, nothing ever would.

    Call me whatever you like, but I abhor the idea that even-so-much-as a single life deserves to be sacrificed just for the sake of a legal Principle.

    There is a huge gap between the Letter of the Law and the Spirit of the Law. No matter what we do, we are bound to err, so I, personally,long ago made a decision to try always to err on the side of kindness, understanding and acceptance.

    But, I understand -- and respect -- your point of view. I think we are probably both right -- and both wrong -- at the same time.

    It's a dilemma to be sure -- and an extremely painful one at that.

    Thanks for coming by.

    ~ FreeThinke

  14. FT,
    I can imagine that your comment wasn't well received at Silverfiddle's site.

    As for ObamaCare, the LEGAL difference is that ObamaCare was passed by Congress; Obama didn't create ObamaCare by fiat.

    And, actually, some elements of ObamaCare are indeed much needed reforms.

    How has the SCOTUS ruled on the immigration-laws issues in Arizona? If Obama believes that the SCOTUS will rule against him, then that would also help to explain why this "Dream Act" executive order.

    What will Obama do if the SCOTUS overturns ObamaCare in whole or in part? Then issue an executive order that is untouchable by both Congress and the SCOTUS?

    Continued erosion of the Constitution will mean the end of freedom on the Internet too. Goodbye, blogs!

    Obviously, you and I differ on this matter of the "Dream Act" executive order. Ah, well, c'est la vie!

  15. I don't like the way it was done anymore than you or any of the others do, AOW, but since it seems apparent that President Obama is not going to be challenged on this by that bunch of pusillanimous parasites we call "congress," it just seems better to take a positive view of the inevitability.

    IF in fact this "edict" really does make it impossible to deport young people who have lived their entire lives to all intents and purposes as Americans, I have to think of it -- as I've said repeatedly -- as God working in one of His mysterious ways by effectively using Obama as a "cat's paw" to do the thing that congress should have done many years ago.

    Examine, please, this scenario:

    Suppose, for instance, you had a son who had met and married the girl of his choice when they were both students in college not knowing she was "illegal."

    Can you imagine what the effects would be, if some petty official acting on sudden orders to "purge" the country of illegals, decided the young woman must be deported back to -- let us say Bolivia -- a place she has never known with a radically different culture from the one she has grown up with.

    Imagine further, if you will, that this happily married young couple had already given you two grandchildren.

    Do you REALLY think the US government should have the right -- or worse yet claim the DUTY -- to break this family up -- separate a mother from her children and a husband from his wife -- JUST for the sake of satisfy some asinine provision in the LAW?

    You know we agree almost completely on Obama, he is a turd, but this particular issue -- because of the hideous ramifications that go with it -- is much much larger than the throes of presidential politics -- or even the Constitution.

    I've already said it several times: Because our leaders have kept on "kicking the an down the road" for generation after generation, the darned thing has become so filled with stones, encrusted with burrs and infested with poisonous vermin it may not even be possible for us to pick it up and toss it in the trash any longer without suffering severe an deadly consequences.

    I can't see any simple, clean cut course of action to take on his one. It's a terrible mess -- but one of our own making. We did his to ourselves by ignoring the situation till it built to crisis proportions.

    ~ FreeThinke

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