The false premises of the promised land that failed

(This note was written before the announcement of the Supreme Court on abortion and the latest massacre of children.)


Donald Trump had at least one thing in common with Jesus of Nazareth.  His mission was to overthrow the establishment.  The jury is out, as they say, on Trump’s efforts; but those claiming to follow the teaching of Jesus have created establishment rubrics of their own.  They are far uglier than the one that faced him – and which put him to death.  But by the time they finally got Trump out of the White House, we were left with one question.  Who was better at road-testing the credulity of his people – Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin?

We are all ‘very prone to credulity’.  Spinoza made this remark at the end of a very long sentence with which he began his great tract on religion and politics.  We are ruled by superstition, he said, because we are ‘frequently driven into straits where rules are useless,’ and we are often ‘kept fluctuating pitiably between hope and fear’ by our uncertainty.  In adversity, no plan is too futile, absurd or fatuous for us.  Superstition is ‘engendered, preserved, and fostered by fear… ‘The mob has no ruler more potent than superstition’’.  By superstition, he meant an unreasoned awe or fear of the unknown – which, he may have added, is the moving source of most religious belief.

Spinoza’s book was published in 1670, and it is a comfort now for those who think that the world was turned upside down with the ascension of Donald Trump.  We have seen and endured worse.  What Spinoza was saying would find an echo in two observations that have since become famous. 

The Pensées of Pascal were also published in 1670.  Pascal said that ‘I have discovered that all the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber.’  Well, there was Trump, in all of his fearful squalor, centuries before the event. 

What about his credulous followers?  Keats idolised Shakespeare and he spoke of people ‘being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.’  His phrase was ‘negative capability’ – and that is anathema to those on parade under their flashy red MAGA caps.  They crave and get instant certainty.

We can put the role of fear in its American context.  H L Mencken said that the ‘whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.’  Richard Nixon, as was his wont, gave the unvarnished view.  ‘People react to fear not love.  They don’t teach that in Sunday school, but it’s true.’  That could have been said by Putin – or worse.  (Both quotes come from Wildland, The Making of America’s Fury, by Evan Osnos, the learning in which has prompted this note.) 

(We are naturally familiar with the politics of fear here in Australia.  The party that calls itself conservative routinely puts the frighteners on an innately timid populace – the current war in Europe is a gift from God for the Hillsong crowd – who are big on miracles generally.)

Spinoza wondered how people who claimed to follow the teaching of the holy man who preached the Sermon on the Mount could ‘quarrel with such rancorous animosity, and display daily toward one another such bitter hatred, that this, rather than the virtues that they claim, is the readiest criterion of their faith.’  He said that ‘faith has become a mere compound of credulity and prejudices…which completely stifle the power of judgment between true and false…and become a tissue of ridiculous mysteries.’

Well, there you have a snap of the cancer and the pain of the United States today, and it prompts reflections on the false premises of a land that has so badly failed to deliver on its promises.  


It all began with the Puritans.  England was glad to see the back of them.  (It was a close-run thing when Oliver Cromwell decided to stay in England.)  The English take their politics too seriously to let God interfere with them. 

The English got their religious Home Rule in place in the 16th century.  That was all about politics and it had nothing to do with religion.  They have seen zealots – under Cromwell, the Puritans wanted to close the pubs – but zealots rarely last there. 

The English finally settled with the Crown and the Church in what they call the Glorious Revolution in 1689.  They have had no real trouble from either since then.  It would be hilarious to suggest that the Archbishop of Canterbury might cause discomfiture in 10 Downing Street.

The Queen is the head of the State and the Church – and defender of the faith.  That would be unthinkable heresy in the U S.  But the church plays next to no part in English politics – while God’s fingerprints are all over the mess in the U S.  So much, then, for doctrine – and high-flown constitutional phrasing.

One big difference is that the Puritans had the numbers in America.  They could make laws out of their Godly zeal.  On the way over the Atlantic, they made covenants with God.  Well, even though there was a precedent, that was no small thing.  Nor is standing by God, or being chosen by God, a prescription for humility. 

But we see this notion of contract or assent at the founding of the settlements.  Together with the solemn standing of the individual.  But as well as hostility to Rome, there are the seeds of distrust of laws made by people and the people who make and enforce such laws.  That stuck.

Such people are hard to govern – with God on their side, they are nearly impossible to restrain.  And the trouble then is that since that faith is founded on revelation, and is beyond logic, let alone proof, some people just opt out of all sensible discussion, and lose any sense of tolerance or restraint.

The great jurist Roscoe Pound was in no doubt about the Puritan impact on the American polity.  Equity is that part of Anglo-American law that was developed to soften the rigour of the common law and to allow relief for the poor and the afflicted.

The Puritan has always been a consistent and thoroughgoing opponent of equity.  It runs counter to all his ideas.  For one thing, it helps fools who have made bad bargains, whereas he believes that fools should be allowed and required to act freely and then be held [to account] for the consequences of their folly.  For another thing, it acts directly upon the person.  It coerces the individual free will.

There are two things there – the hard Darwinian streak that appals people who have never set foot in the States, and ideology, which is something that the English happily foreswear.

But the Puritans brought a darker problem with them.  Theirs was a commercial enterprise.  When does your hunger for a dollar come between you and God?  How do you establish a commonwealth dedicated to building a wealthy establishment based on the teaching of a penniless, tearaway Jewish hasid, who was sent to put a bomb under the status quo, and who signed his own death warrant when he took the lash to the money people in the temple?

Your answer to that question will depend on where you stand, but very few outside America believe that the Americans have come even close to a coherent, let alone decent, answer.  And they have looked on in horror at people who claim to profess that faith coming under the thrall of the closest thing that people have ever seen to the Anti-Christ.

There, then, was one false premise, or bad foundation, of the new born nation.


Another was of course the Original Sin of the Union – the barefaced lie that all people are equal.  (An equally untrue statement would be that the Founding Fathers believed in ‘democracy’ in any meaning known to us now.)  The Union has never been able to erase the stain of slavery, not even with the blood of 600,000 dead in the Civil War, or the saintly genius of Abraham Lincoln.  Other former colonies have brutalised the indigenous peoples in the Americas, Africa and Asia, but none is so morally maimed by an abiding sense of racial superiority as the United States.

Dregs come to the surface during unrest.  Look at Titus Oates in the events in England leading to 1689 or at Jean-Paul Marat in France after 1789.  What Trump did was to allow creatures like this to ‘come out’ of the closet.  The MAGA folk said that Trump said what they felt.  And all Europe was revolted by the sight of torchbearers at Charlottesville chanting about Jews, and it was even more revolted by the reaction of Trump.  And then a white police officer killed a man of colour by kneeling on his neck – murder in cold blood and plain sight in the Great Republic.

Loud, bullying lawyers attract loud, bullying clients.  The same may hold good for politics.  When ambition turned a Scots aspirant to crime, he very soon found himself consorting with people who were so incensed by the ‘vile blows and buffets of the world’ that they were reckless what they could ‘do to spite the world’ (Macbeth, 3.1.108 ff).  In a regulated economy, Trump could never be appointed as a director of a public company because of the company he keeps.  His associates, all of limited duration, are as devoid of truth and decency as the satraps of Putin.


The Declaration of Independence carried another falsehood that is less often remarked on, but which is very revealing about the national psyche. 

If I hire somebody to deliver my newspaper, and he later says that he will not deliver the paper if the temperature falls below a certain point, or on his Sabbath, I may say that if you are not prepared to play your part, I will regard the contract as being at an end – and I will get someone else to do the job (and bill you for any price increase).  In the language of our law, I have elected to accept your repudiation of the contract, so that it is discharged on breach.  If I was in business, I would probably get a lawyer to document the process by cataloguing the breaches of contract on your part and the rights that I assert that I got as a result.

Charles I tried to rule England without parliament.  That ended with his execution after a civil war.  James II also sought to take the place of parliament.  That led the English to say that he had repudiated his agreement with the nation and that they would get someone else to be king. 

A young barrister named John Somers was retained to draw up what became the Bill of Rights – which is now more celebrated in the U S than the U K.  Somers, and others, did a fine job in listing the ways in which James II had subverted the English constitution and deprived the people of their rights. 

So, when the rebel American colonists asserted their right to terminate relations with the English, they got a lawyer named Jefferson to do the paperwork.  And, as lawyers are wont to do, Jefferson turned to precedent.  And he had one ready-made for that purpose.  He could just change a few dates, places and events – and there you had the Declaration of Independence – the foundation stone of the Union that would become the most powerful nation on earth.

What led to the rupture with the mother country?  Tax.  That’s not at all odd.  Bad divorces are usually about money.  How did Jefferson deal with it?  Reluctantly and evasively.  We need not trouble with some of his tasteless nonsense that was too much even for Congress.  The alleged crimes or wrongs of England – or its king – are set out.  But you have to wait for about number 20 on the charge sheet before you get to the word ‘tax’. 

And then the author gets it dead wrong.  He alleges that it was King George III who levied the taxes that set the colonies on the road to rebellion.  But – and as Jefferson of all people well knew – the whole point of the Glorious Revolution was that the king of England did not have the power on his own to levy taxes.  The very precedent that Jefferson drew on said point blank that the ‘imposition of any taxes by the Crown without the permission of Parliament is illegal.’

It is hard, then, to see how Jefferson could resist a finding that he had said something knowing it to be false.  Nor can this be dismissed as mere window dressing laid out to placate the locals.  Nation building, like marriage, is not something to be entered into lightly or ill advisedly. 

But here we have a coyness, a want of candour, on a crunch issue that has persisted.  Judges are known to remark to witnesses that when the subject of tax comes up, a kind of mist or a set of blinds descends over the eyes of the witness or the windows of the court room.  We see that today when the subject of tax comes up with Americans in government.  The feeling is at best one of uneasy discomfort.  People shuffle their feet and look askance.

But there is more to it.  The Declaration says that one unalienable right is ‘the pursuit of Happiness.’  One object of the Union declared in the Constitution is to ‘promote the general Welfare.’  That comes as something of a shock to people in Europe, because that is what they believe that all governments of the United States have resolutely refused to do – look after the ‘welfare’ of the people. 

But, on any view the pursuit of happiness or the promotion of the general welfare of hundreds of millions of people will require money – and lots of it.  That means taxes – and lots of them.  But the peoples and governments of the U S have not been able live with this inescapable call on their pockets.


That brings us to the final flaw in the make-up of the new born nation. 

The English constitution is in writing, but it is to be found in a number of sources – including Magna Carta, the writ of Habeas Corpus, and the Bill of Rights – and the whole of the common law. 

The relevant law is clear there – all parts of the constitution are subject to the will of the people as expressed by their Parliament.  That is the doctrine of parliamentary supremacy.  The governance of England is subject to judicial scrutiny under the common law, as affected by statute, but the English Supreme Court has nothing like the power of the American Supreme Court to strike down whole statutes as invalid under their constitution.  Any such notion was dead in England well before the American rebellion.

The U S constitution is set out in a single document. It has entrenched written guarantees – entrenched in the sense that Congress cannot alter them.  That can only be done by the people at large – who were the original source of power. 

It follows that in breaking away from the mother country, the colonists were doing much more than making a claim to sovereignty – a tricky enough notion at the best of time.  They were embarking on a diversion of juristic thought of a kind that was and is wholly alien to the mother country.

We have not given sufficient attention to this difference in political and juristic thought between England and America.  It resembles in some ways the difference in outlooks on either side of the English Channel.

The Roman law derived from codes and codification is its preferred mode of growth.  Roman lawyers look for formal elegance.  The Code Napoléon is the paradigm.  (Flaubert used to study it before starting to write.)  The common law cares little for theory, grand designs, and codification.  It arrived, as if by accident, over a period of time – the product of trial and error.  One is the rationalist view of the world.  The other is the empirical.  Oliver Wendell Holmes said that the ‘life of the law has not been logic, but experience.’ 

The English lawyers learned on the job, and were taught by lawyers in practice.  Roman lawyers studied at universities.  The judges were trained by their government.  English judges came from the Bar.  For centuries it was a source of principled opposition to the Crown.  There is a collegiate closeness between the Bench and the Bar that you do not get in Europe or the U S – in part because they have no bar as we know it.

The English had little time for intellectuals – that is still the case.  The juristic and political tone is subject to the profession in practice – not to the academy – not even Cambridge and Oxford.  One of the differences in practice is that the English prefer the adversarial and the French and Germans prefer the inquisitorial mode of trial.

The political divide hits you right between the eyes.  In 1789, The Social Contract by Rousseau – whom Carlyle called the Evangelist – contained high theory that engaged those in leading the revolution and in creating the French Bill of Rights.  In 1689, the English just got rid of the Stuarts, with the help of a Dutch army, and then went on with their lives.  As it happened, a philosopher, John Locke, wrote a rationalisation after the event – which almost no English MP has ever heard of.  That revolution was successful.  The English never had another – and Macaulay purred over that success.  The French were in for a century of agony, and people lost count of their models of government. 

The English just want to know if something works – the rest doesn’t really matter.  Then you could look at Russia.  What a noble statement of human values lies there! 

Does it all then just come down to a state of mind?  What we do know now is what we had only suspected might be the case – that a polity founded on many centuries of movement and learning could be cast adrift well inside one generation. 


Well, things can get very different from the English model under an encoded constitution that lays down large statements about the rights of man.  That sounds more French or German than English.  It leads to very different intellectual and juristic processes – that those trained in the common law are just not equipped to handle. 

We in Australia found that out very soon and very painfully.  Someone had written in our constitution that trade between the states should be ‘absolutely free’.  Could they have picked a more dangerous double?  The result got very ugly – for the best part of a century.  It resembled someone serving an Irish Stew – of the dark variety – poured all over a Passionfruit Bomb Alaska.

To common lawyers outside America, the consequences there have been less than pretty.  The United States was born a juristic bastard child.

The constitution, especially the Bill of Rights, has lent an intellectual and ideological tone to legal and political thought there that is more European than our common law tradition.  We are not used to dealing with absolutes – and our trying to work around them gives rise to something sadly like sophistry.  And that just smells in our political forums or law courts.  You will see that in talking of human activity being ‘absolutely free’, we cracked the double – each word can be so loaded as to be explosive.

‘Freedom’ is now the most debased word both here and the U S.  It found new lows in the epidemic. 

If the law requires me to wear a mask, that law restricts my freedom.  So does a law that requires me to stop at a red light in traffic.  All laws restrict freedom.  That is what they are made for.  That is part of the cost of living together in ways not known to gorillas.  My freedom stops when your injury begins. 

The call for the law – its justification – in a democracy comes from the majority.  If you are in the minority, and you are aggrieved, that is part of the price of living in a democracy.  You are not ‘free’ to ignore the law.  You can’t just opt out from to time.  Conscientious objection does not run in this kind of war.  Living with other people means that you cannot always do what you want to do.  Any law necessarily impedes the freedom of those who make it.

These are not difficult notions. To complain of a law on the ground that it restricts your freedom to do what you want is like objecting to a German Shepherd because it is a dog. 

When thousands were dying from Covid each day in the US, the governor of a western state, who objected to wearing a mask, set a new standard of inanity.  ‘My people are happy because they are free’.  Well, yes Madam – but the pursuit of happiness becomes a little trickier when you are dead.

This is a simple case people of putting their personal interests over those of their community.  That is called being selfish.  And it comes about because people prefer a dodgy syllogism about a wobbly political value to common sense and plain decency.  That is, they put logic over experience.  That is not how the common law works.

Allow me another example where Australians believe Americans have let ‘freedom’ run amok.  Our notion of democracy is simple.  We elect people to make laws.  And we appoint people to determine if someone has broken the law.  We therefore have parliaments and juries.  We are legally obliged to participate in both processes.  I cannot just opt out of doing jury service and I cannot just opt out of voting for parliament.  That is part of the price of democracy.  Having to stop at a redlight is part of the price of being allowed to participate in an activity that kills thousands of people every year.  Otherwise, the system will not do what it was set up to do. 

But that is not for America.  A combination of queerness about freedom and rigging the system denies to the American people this elemental part of the machinery of government.  Between them, George Orwell and Tammany Hall have produced the worst electoral system in the world – one that could have been designed by God to ensure that the people of America get what opponents of democracy have always feared – the lowest common denominator. 

And just think of the national – the international – disasters that could have been avoided had they let sense overcome the silly and the crooked – starting with Donald Trump.


The worst American case of ideology run off the rails for foreign common lawyers is the right to bear arms and the resulting slaughter of children. 

The relevant clause came originally from the English Bill of Rights.  The English put it in while telling the king he could not have a standing army without the approval of parliament.  (That right was of course reserved for Protestants.)  It served its purpose and it lies now in peace in history. 

Only a lunatic would suggest that it might support a right to carry handguns in self-defence – by a Catholic or Protestant.  The use of hand-guns in London had been banned by royal proclamation under the Stuarts.  (The Supreme Court in the U S may not have known that.)  How far back do you want to go in quest of some doctrinal ‘original’ purity?  And do you just cover up the hiccup about this wonderful right of man being denied to those of the then wrong faith?  Do you really want to cede modernity or even relevance to the Stuart kings of England?

But that is the murderous law in force in America today, and it is a law that revolts almost all people outside America, and leaves Americans looking like greedy, backward, violent hillsmen and gangsters.  And it is also a law made by unelected judges of the most pretentious body of elder guardians since the passing of the Spartan Gerontia.

Perhaps we might go back to the statement of the purposes of the Union in the Constitution. 

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The supporters of the current gun laws, including the Supreme Court – and all its justices are answerable – might at least concede that the United States have manifestly failed to ‘establish Justice’ or ‘insure domestic Tranquility.’ 

And ‘insure’ in that context is not a weak term.


And while they are in a confessional mood, the triumphal freedom-fighters across the water might own up to another failure that is equally as shocking, if not more so, to people in Europe.  That is the failure ‘to promote the general Welfare’ – which would be part of the general pursuit of happiness.

In June 1908, the son of a Welsh cobbler introduced a bill for an old age pension to the House of Commons.  In doing so, he stated the premise of what came to be called New Liberalism.

These problems of the sick, the infirm, of the men who cannot find a means of earning a livelihood … are problems with which it is the business of the State to deal. They are problems which the State has neglected for too long

That MP and another who was a scion of the working class, and the son of an American woman, a man who would boast that he ratted twice, got that law through parliament over a ferocious opposition that could easily have exploded into revolt.  It was avoided when the king, on the advice of his ministers, threatened to create enough peers to get the bill made into law. 

The aristocracy was finally neutralised, and it has behaved itself ever since.  England saw the beginning of the Welfare State.  (They were in truth spurred on by the example of Bismarck in Germany.)  And all that happened under a party called the Liberal Party – when the Labour Party in England was in its infancy.

Lloyd George led the British people through the First World War.  Churchill led them through the Second.  They were two of the nittiest, grittiest politicians that the world has known.  But each of them had something that we just no longer see – a principled vision of what was best for the people they served, and a fierce determination to try to get it for them.  (Roosevelt is the only other person you could mention in the same breath for the whole century.)

The general principles of the Welfare State are now accepted as essential to a civilised community across the western world.  Except for the United States.  And it’s about time they acknowledged what a grubby, cruel, little duckpond they preside over.  The United States are at least a century behind Europe on welfare; and centuries more behind on guns and keeping the peace, the first function of the law.

As I see it, most people living now in London, Paris, Berlin, or Melbourne would never wish to settle permanently in the U S.  They may not fear race riots, or being unable to afford health care, or seeing their children in danger of being shot.  They would just rather not live among people who are content to think and vote along lines that produce such a community.

But there may not be much point in saying that over there.  In 1838, a visiting French man, Alexis de Tocqueville, was unsettled by two aspects of the young nation.  First, he knew of no country where the love of money had taken ‘a stronger hold’ on people.   The other was ‘this irritable patriotism of the Americans’ – especially if a stranger is rash enough to venture a criticism of them.


Lloyd George and Churchill got their budget passed after the king, under huge political pressure, threatened to swamp the House of Lords with new peers who would pass the law.  This was the second time the Crown had invoked that power to avert what could have been revolution.  The first came with the great Reform Bill in the previous century.

Here then was one of the ‘checks and balances’ of the English constitution.  That term is now debauched in the United States by unprincipled people who play games not just to frustrate government but to make it impossible.  They don’t just wish to put a spoke in the wheel – they want to send the whole train right off the rails. 

In the hands of someone utterly without principle or shame, like Ted Cruise or Jim Jordan, the result is a disaster that brings the whole nation into contempt – at home as well as abroad.  These people revel in stunts that in a decent court are dismissed as vulgar humbug not to be repeated by anyone who wants to retain the right to be heard and seen in decent company.  They play the kind of games indulged in by spoiled children who have never learnt any better.  And they involve a denial of the premise of any decent governance – restraint and tolerance, and an understanding that all governance rests on conventions that people can breach for short term gain and long-term loss.

That is always the risk when you pile on too much law.  Then people who think they are clever – a death knell in any decent court –act as if the inevitable gaps in the written fabric allow them to flout the assumptions that underly the whole show.  We are then left wondering whether people like Trump, Cruz or Jordan have any idea of what good faith or bona fides might mean.  Their whole lives are just forms of cheating.  Like little boys cribbing at marbles in the sand-pit behind school.

And just look at all the blather about the rigid separation of state and church.  England has an established church, which puts the Crown right in line for a conflict of interest, and it has no constitutional guarantees about religion, but it is utterly untroubled by any tension between God and Caesar.


God is all over politics in the U S – not as permeating as with the Puritans, but a form of curse nevertheless. 

Abortion may be politically sensitive in countries with a strong Catholic presence – like Ireland, Poland or much of South America – but God has made it venomous in the U S.  In the result, many people cast their vote for President, the head of the executive branch, on the footing that the candidate they favour will appoint judges to the Supreme Court, the head of the judicial branch, who will de facto make laws about abortion, an area that is not subject to a grant of power to Congress, the legislative branch. 

In the result, the rest of the world looked on while people claiming to follow the teaching of the man Einstein called the luminous Nazarene voted for and supported a man whose every breath is a denial of all that Christ stood for.  They did so in the faith and hope that he might appoint judges who would make the law accord more with their religious beliefs – on a subject upon which Christ was utterly silent.

Any ship that is so randomly steered is likely to end up on the rocks.


And that is just what happened on 6 January 2021, when the gutter erupted over the Capitol, and rehearsed the old truth seen by Spinoza that the ‘mob has no ruler more potent than superstition’.  One crazed hoodlum was even heard to utter – ‘Where is my pursuit of happiness’? 

Was this what it was really like when Constantinople fell in 1453?  Was this the promised end?

It is neither captious nor irreverent to repeat the great question put by the greatest American of them all – can a nation so conceived and dedicated long endure? 

What do you do with people so beguiled by what Spinoza called superstition that they are beyond persuasion?  Among the people near the Capitol that day, the concept of truth was ridiculed below after having been repudiated above.  When does derangement become madness?

Differences in wealth are amenable to political management and treatment – at least in theory.  But differences of race are differences of caste.  We are reminded of the distinction between rebellion and revolution. 

The various lesions and fissures in the Union must find release.  Carlyle said this of France at the start of 1789:

While the unspeakable confusion is everywhere weltering within, and through so many cracks in the surface sulphur-smoke is issuing, the question arises: Through what crevice will the main Explosion carry itself? Through which of the old craters and or chimneys; or must it, at once, form a new crater for itself?

Well, only God knows the answer to that question, but the speed and gravitational pull of the descent of the Union so far has frightened a lot of people.  And we have no idea what might be in store if the fall resumes or continues. 

The U S celebrates 4 July for different reasons to France on 14 July.  Might they come to the same conclusion –after years of inhuman repression, absurd inequality, and burning resentment, might a whole caste rise up and obliterate the whole of the ancien régime?

And the current decline has encouraged a few others.  Messrs Putin and Xi obviously thought that the world had changed sufficiently for them that they could pursue ruthless expansion in ways that would have been unthinkable five years ago.


And then we have witnessed a most dreadful moral failure.  People like Cruz and Jordan are serial pests who have never learned any better and who are distrusted and unloved on their own side.  They are just ballast for the dustbin of history.

But people like Mitch McConnell and Lindsay Graham are different.  They were once respected.  They saw themselves as like the senators of ancient Rome, avuncular elders worthy of the trust of the people and of the Republic.  They knew all about Trump and they were capable of doing something to restrain him.  They were obliged to do so under the offices that the people appointed them to hold.  They failed in their duty and they failed their country.  They ratted.

These disgraced relics of American times passed bring to mind one of my favourite anecdotes from our history.  Alfred Deakin and Billy Hughes each became Prime Minister of Australia.  They were very different.  Deakin was a man of letters and conscience.  Hughes (who was also of Welsh descent) was a gutter fighter.  Hughes savaged Deakin for changing sides on one issue.  He said someone had mentioned Judas.  That was unfair.  It was unfair to Judas!  Judas had at least had the courtesy to toss away the silver and then hang himself.

The threatened abolition of the constitutional law on abortion by the U S Supreme Court shows off the grosser flaws in the U S polity – the infection of religious dogma; a law-making contradiction in terms; an institution being undermined to the point of distinction by party politics; and ideology masked by outright duplicity from people who really should know better.

Well, then – our politicians in Australia are mediocre, and our politics are tedious – but we are not mad.

U S – Bill of Rights – gun laws – abortion – failed state – failed God – constitution.

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