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The Judge

Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) is a Chicago trial lawyer at the top of his game. Prosecutors hate him, and the guilty who can pay his fees love him, because he helps them go free.  He has money, and the trappings of success, but a cynicism that cannot be disguised.  You realize very early on that he is a damaged person, and I found myself wanting to know why.

As the movie opens, he’s about to do it again, when he answers his cell phone as the Judge comes to the bench and calls the court to order. He asks the Judge for a continuance, as he has just learned that his mother passed away.

As he prepares to go back home, we learn that while he is talented and obviously wealthy, his marriage to the trophy wife with “the ass of a high school volleyball player” is on the rocks because she is sleeping with an old boyfriend, and while he blithely discusses their inevitable divorce, he tells her that he will be getting custody of their daughter.

Home, as it turns out, is Indiana, and as we begin to learn, he is less than welcome there. His father, Joseph Palmer (Robert Duvall) is the local judge, and dispenses justice as only a small town judge can, as we see when Hank visits the court on his arrival in town. Their grief is shared by Hank’s older brother, Glen (Vincent D’Onofrio), and their retarded little brother, Dale (Jeremy Strong). There is no love lost between the Judge and his middle son, yet Judge Palmer manages to muster a modicum of civility when addressing the son who left, and didn’t speak to him for years. Having witnessed the Judge’s performance in the courtroom, however, Hank suspects that his father is drinking. On the evening after the funeral, the Judge leaves after thanking Hank for coming to the funeral, claiming he needs to buy eggs. The Palmer boys, however, go to the local watering hole, and stay to close it down. The next morning, Hank happens to discover that there is significant damage to the front of the Judge’s car, and the local Sheriffs want to question him regarding the death of a man he had sentenced to prison years earlier who had coincidentally been run down on the previous night.

As the story unfolds, so does Hank’s history. Downey is the right person to play the character, not because he does brash and confident well, but because he has such a deft touch playing the brash and confident ace attorney who is brought back to confront a past that he has spent decades running from. His little brother’s film hobby ends up causing him to confront both the good parts of his past, which include happier days when the Palmer boys were still boys, images of fishing with the Judge, and his older brother throwing the winning pitch at the state high school championships, and the car accident which ruined forever his big league dreams because Hank was high while driving. But it is a stray image captured by his little brother’s movie camera which provides the clue to a secret that his father has kept from everyone, and which would exculpate him from the first degree murder charge that his father was making it nearly impossible for Hank to defend against.

It clearly is a trying time for Hank, whether it was hosting his daughter, who was meeting her Grandpa for the first time, running into an old girlfriend, and trying to remain on an even keel when presented with the opportunities that the encounter offered, or dealing with the most difficult client he has ever had, with the weight of his brothers’ expectations being as heavy as can be, along with his own realization that, perhaps for the first time in his career, he actually is feeling the responsibility of having his client’s life in his hands.

Anyone who has lived more than a handful of years can tell you that family can be hard…probably because you don’t get to pick them. I enjoyed this movie because it didn’t sugar coat the difficult events between the members of the family, or how they struggled to remain family in spite of them. D’Onofrio’s older brother seems resigned to a life much different from the one he’d expected. He seems to be at peace with Hank’s role in making him the town’s tire shop owner rather than big league pitcher that he was on track to be, and while he does harbor some resentment when it becomes clear that he is going to have to take in his little brother  soon, he still appears to be duty bound to do so.  In a very revealing scene toward the end, Hank’s ex girlfriend sums up why it is that she still loves him, and in a way, it’s why I could watch the movie, and like him too. The screenplay doesn’t leave him any outs. He has to confront his past, and make peace with it, and along the way, he makes peace with the Judge, too, as an anecdote in an unguarded moment explains all the hopes and dreams he’d had for his middle son, and a gut-wrenching testimony on the witness stand in his own trial explained why he had become so distant from the son he loved at one time. Duvall doesn’t disappoint, as he plays a man of duty and conviction who in the twilight of his career, and the twilight of his life becomes reconciled with his prodigal son, while that son learns that while redemption doesn’t make everything alright, it does free you to move forward without the weight of the past forcing you to run away, or dictating your next action.

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Well, this week brought another series of murders in the name of “The Religion of Peace”.  These acts of savagery have become regrettably commonplace, but the reaction was different this time, because our betters, the relativist preachers and lecturers of the media were kin to those brutally murdered to avenge the honor of a god and prophet too impotent to tend to his own vengeance.  The chaos and confliction endemic to our “thought leaders” was telling.

We witnessed  large media outlets publicly take pains to be careful how they reported the story, out of fear of offending people who have a nasty and largely unchecked habit of killing anyone who offends them…in other words, pretty much anyone else.  Despite the near toxic irony of these media outlets being in a business that relies of the freedom of expression, including the freedom not only to offend, but to gore sacred cows with impunity, this was unsurprising, as these same outlets have been willing participants in a movement to shame, ostracize, and ultimately silence others who “offend” those who have been deemed by our betters to be beyond the reproach, criticism, questioning or mockery of others.  While the New York Times, MSNBC, and social justice warriors in every walk of society haven’t yet taken to killing those who have offended their delicate sensibilities with words, they have displayed absolutely NO reluctance to use their fainting couches as bludgeons against anyone who dares to utter anything that they deem unworthy of being said.  While cries of “racism” are the general default silencer, they have been unafraid to use “intolerance” and “white privilege”, and “______phobia” as well.

I would like to say that I’ve enjoyed seeing the bludgeon of “offense” used against the very people who have brought this perversion of our fundamental freedoms into favor, but I can’t.  Instead, I’m infuriated.  As a white Christian male, husband, and father, it has been open season on me, in my own culture, for most of my life.

And in response, I HAVE KILLED NO ONE.

I haven’t killed sitcom writers, who portray me as a bumbling idiot, worthy of derision from my wife, and contempt from my children.

I haven’t killed self-designated feminists, who seek to blame me for the oppression of women in a society in which I could, and have, worked for women, and in which I have known them as intellectual and spiritual equals.

I haven’t killed African-Americans, despite the ubiquitous claims of my personal practice of oppression, or enjoyment of it because “racism” and “white privilege” from racist grievance pimps, race hustlers, and their willing accomplices in academia and the media.

I haven’t murdered schoolchildren and other innocents, or suffered a massive psychotic break, despite believing in the Second Amendment and deeply resenting government’s numerous violations of it, and intrusions on to my right to bear arms, and the portrayal of myself and others who hold such beliefs by opportunistic politicians, media figures, and “academics”, as a wackjob and loon.

I haven’t killed those who maintain that I, and others like me are “bitterly clinging” to our Bibles and guns, and that we are members of an oppressive religion.  In fact, for a member of an “oppressive religion”, I am a failure, a characteristic I share with many others like me, as we haven’t “persecuted” anyone, despite continued infringement of our First Amendment rights by our own government, and a judiciary determined to ignore history, re-write the Constitution, and impose an interpretation of ten tortured words that would be completely foreign to those who penned them, and the man misquoted and misapplied to invoke this bizarro conception of what they had wrought.

If we were to compare grievances, I’ve just demonstrated that the “offences” to me, and others like me far exceed the followers of Islam, who “unexpectedly” are at the heart of every act of bloody savagery committed for the honor of a religion or its prophet in our world today.  And yet, here I stand, not yet having beheaded a single person, or not strapping on a bomb, and detonating it, and myself in a public place,and not attacking another religion’s house of worship…such as a Buddhist temple, synagogue, cathedral, or even  the offices of NPR or the New York Times ( I wouldn’t want our secular humanist brethren to feel left out).  This isn’t an accident; this is by design.

Because our betters have been so successful in using the fainting couch to cow us into creating a right “not to be offended” out of whole cloth, and elevating it to a position where it is far superior to all other rights, they have created their own gag, and contributed to the Barbarian’s belief that they are entitled to act like Barbarians, without thought or concern to consequences for doing so.  They have contributed to the “easy” response.  I’m not shocked, in the era of hashtag “diplomacy”, that I’m seeing “Je suis Charlie” all over the web.  But I’m not impressed.  The Fourth Estate surrendered its legitimacy, and surrendered its duty as a stalwart defender of freedom of expression.  It did this when it tried to stifle speech, rather than engage in it.  It did this when it tried to shut down the marketplace of ideas, rather than compete in it.  It did this when it exceeded its authority and tried to make a new right, not defend the ones central to their purpose.  And because they did this, they conceded our rights to the Barbarians.  They gave the enemies of civilization a veto.  And if civilization is to survive, we are going to have to step up, and do what our self-appointed betters no longer have the courage to do.

If your god commands that you kill to defend his honor, he’s a pretty impotent god.

If your god tells you that anyone who doesn’t believe in you is worthy of any punishment you care to make them suffer, he is a petty and impotent god.

If your god demands that you kill anyone who leaves his service, he’s a bloodthirsty and impotent god.

If your god has offered to reward murders in his name by giving you other humans for your pleasure in the afterlife, he is a barbaric and impotent god.

If you believe that it is your duty and obligation to behead those who insult Islam, then you are not worthy of the company of human beings.

And if you would use the tolerance and conventions of civilization as a means to infiltrate and undermine society until you have the numbers to assert yourself by bloodshed, then you deserve an extreme segregation from civilization that must be exacted to make it happen…until you learn, or until you aren’t a threat to others.

Mohammed

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What I learned from Barry the Usurper’s speech:

1. Progressivism sees the ultimate aim of government as the removal or mitigation of consequences for those it has deliberately enslaved with gilded shackles.

2. Logic has no place in the actions of government. You MUST believe that deportation is physically impossible, but verification of tax status and criminal background checks for the very same people can be accomplished with the wave of a wand.

3. “New tones” and “civility” only apply to discourse directed toward the monarch and his prerogatives; he will be as insulting, as condescending, and as reckless with the truth as he likes. He may impugn the character of his opponents, and assassinate any character he choses without acknowledging that he never had a right to claim the moral high ground that he has. And if you expect something different, that’s your problem, not his.

4. Breaking the law should never be rewarded, unless the Monarch deems it proper to do so.

5. Redefining terms and words in order to rhetorically spin dross into gold is acceptable linguistic alchemy.

6. Claiming cover based on the actions of predecessors whom you have reviled and disrespected at every turn isn’t despicable and toxically ironic when the Monarch does it.

7. If Congress doesn’t pass a law that the Monarch wants, the Monarch can refuse to enforce the law that exists…and such a trick is capable of repetition.

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When I was a young man, about a week or so out from high school graduation, my friends and I piled in a Suburban and went up north to Hammond Bay for a few days of sailing and fishing.  On the second day, we all woke up, and everyone was eager to get on the boat and do some sailing.  Except me.  I could smell rain, and I suggested that we wait.  After some grumbling back and forth, we agreed to go over to the port, and hang out there for a while.  I grabbed my fishing pole and went to the end of the pier.  I sat there, casting my line out, and slowly reeling it in, while watching the sky along the coastline to the north.

After about ten minutes, one of my friends sat down next to me and was doing the same.  We sat there, casting, reeling, and looking north, while listening to the sound of the reels and the rising waves.  Twenty minutes later, we could see a wall of rain about a mile off to the north.  The wind picked up, and a small power boat came into the middle of the harbor, dropped anchor, and zipped everything up.  “It’s raining pretty hard up there.” my friend observed.  “Yup.” was my only reply.  The casting and reeling continued for another twenty minutes.  The wind was blowing harder, the temperature had dropped, and the wall of rain was only a half mile or so away.   My friend looked up and said “It’s raining pretty hard up there.”  I looked up, and said “Yup.”, and continued to cast and reel.   Ten minutes passed.   Two more boats came in, and tied up, their passengers rushing off to their cars waiting in the parking lot.  The wall of rain was now less than a quarter mile away.  My friend stopped reeling, and stared at the rain as he said “It’s raining pretty hard up there.”  I stopped, and shivered in the wind as I regarded the rapidly approaching wall of rain.  “Yup.” was my only reply.

Three minutes later, a raindrop the size of a half-dollar slammed into my forehead, followed by another.  And another.  We got up and ran as hard as we could for the Suburban, but in the minute or so it took us to get there, we were drenched.

Why am I telling you this story?  Because our government is doing the same thing.

Just as it was utterly predictable that we would get wet if we didn’t react to the obvious threat, our government refused to react to the obvious threat of a terrible disease, and suspend air travel from the affected area in west Africa, and the inevitable happened.  It flew in with a passenger from the affected area.  And while that passenger has since passed, he didn’t do so without infecting Americans with a disease that has a 70% mortality rate, according to the new data from the World Health Organization.

The government, facing the obvious question, has decided that rather than stopping the flights now, it is imperative to keep these flights going, because stopping them will make us less safe from the virus.  This causes anyone with three brain cells and the knowledge that England and France (FRANCE!!!) believe otherwise to stifle a collective “That’s quite possibly the dumbest thing we’ve ever heard.” , but actually, this makes a perverse sort of sense when you consider that this excuse originates in the same town where not spending more on an agency or program than we spent last year is somehow a “cut”.

The fact is that a travel ban from West Africa would lead to questions about other immigration…and those questions would lead to questions about Enterovirus 68, which has killed several American children, and the emergence of which corresponds to the resettlement of all the “children” from south of border. (Unexpectedly!) and then people would be questioning an ideological touchstone of this Administration for reasons that could not logically be defined as “racist”.  And they can’t have that.  The illusion of the naked emperor’s resplendent garb is simply too precious, especially to the emperor himself.  Protecting the first failure, which ignores the wisdom of previous generations who saw the wisdom in health screenings as a condition of entry into this country, means committing more errors, which will, in turn, cost more American lives.

To combat this obvious failure, which would even cause Helen Keller to say “What the hell…?”, the meme has been floated that being  concerned about this silly, given that tobacco, alcohol, and obesity kill tens of thousands more in this country annually, so being concerned this government’s stubborn insistence to continue to allow people from affected areas to travel to this country and potentially infect Americans with a dread disease with a 71% mortality rate that heretofore was unseen among our population is somehow foolish “panicking”.  “Panic” is of course, hyperbole.   Panic is afoot in this nation today, but it is found in the offices of Democratic incumbents seeking re-election to the United States Senate, not among the average American who realizes that common sense and logic are being deliberately suppressed in favor of purely political considerations that have already needlessly cost the lives of Americans, and place countless others at risk

It isn’t panic that most Americans feel about this, it is ANGER.  Justifiable, controlled, and focused ANGER.

And when the response is to draw comparisons to other causes of death, such as from alcohol, tobacco, and obesity, they have a right to be even angrier, as the lyric “One of these things is different from the other/One of these things is different from the rest.” plays loudly in the radio of their minds.  The fact is that we are all dying, a  little bit each day, and for most Americans, these causes are also incremental.  They kill, but because they are patient, and slow, they feel like they are contributing factors, and not direct causes.  And more importantly, they are the result of choices WE make, not choices that our government refuses to make.   That is the difference, and it is an even greater irritant when we consider the steps that government takes to “protect” us from these incremental harms.  Minimum ages in order purchase the products.  Taxes to discourage purchase.  PSAs.  Fitness and nutrition programs.  Millions and millions of dollars spent annually to “protect” us from cutting off the years we would otherwise spend in wheelchairs, warehoused in a “home” somewhere, staring off into space, exhausting our resources, and more commonly, the taxpayers’ money, and yet this same government, afraid to threaten a source of new votes purchased with our money refuses to take common sense measures to reduce the number of Americans exposed to and infected with a disease that will cause fever, liquefied internal organs, seizures, and death while bleeding out of every orifice, all in a span of days.  That kind of dual-mindedness would hopelessly confuse Bob Arctor.

And when the government decides to do “something”, it is to appoint a political hack to “take the point” (and the blame) for an executive who’d rather be golfing, until it’s time to blame someone for the inevitable failures.

We have a right to be angry.  And they are the ones who should be panicking.

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The most powerful word in the country today is… “Offensive”.

The words of a Facebook acquaintance hung there on the group page, taunting my mind away from a more basic Sunday morning meditation.   It worked, and my mind started milling the words, prompting my immediate rejoinder “If that were true, it would work for everyone, non?”

But the more I thought about it, the more I came to consider the “wrongness” that lead to the statement being made in the first place.  I realized that it isn’t about the rank hypocrisy that sees nothing wrong with an entitlement for some people to invoke “offense” as a means to stop discussion, debate, questions, behavior or beliefs they do not like, but is incapable of even considering that other parties might be offended by the discussion, debate, questions, behavior or beliefs of the those invoking “offense”, let alone capable of invoking “offense” themselves.

Don’t get me wrong.  I think being able to end all discussion, debate, questions, behavior, or beliefs by claiming to be “offended” is unhealthy for a free society, offensive to liberty, and childish in the extreme.   As long as it is impossible to have an honest conversation, because it will almost certainly “offend” someone, it will be impossible to address any issue of import.  It doesn’t take long before this will lead to financial impairment, social impairment, and impairment of national security. (See President Obama, Second Term)

But the really, really odious part if this is that I often hear “Offense” uttered like an incantation from many of the same people who speak of “reason” being superior to faith, and a basis for them to assume an intellectual superiority that they clearly haven’t earned, while they often put faith in “facts” that have expiration dates due to constantly changing nature of scientific paradigms.  The illogic of presuming that rights which are guaranteed by law are subject to override if only they can apply their completely subjective responses to the exercise of those rights would be laughable if it wasn’t pursued with such zeal and dedication.  Orwell himself couldn’t have conceived of the sheer scope of the vanity and delusion that have combined to impose a bizzaro-world rhetoric to such a degree that sincerity and directness are relegated to criminal status.

The saddest aspect to this current state of affairs is that too many of us allowed ourselves to be cowed by this practice, as if offending someone, or at least those granted a de facto privileged status by the arbiters of acceptability, is a combination of the worst sin and the worst crime that a person can commit.  The fact is that this extraordinary power and cancer on society wouldn’t be powerful at all if we didn’t let it.  But this requires a boldness to push back, that too few have the backbone to exhibit.  Start responding by saying “SO???”  Ask them to explain why they are suffering from the alleged “offense”.  Put the onus on them to prove why it should matter to you, and to everyone else, rather than giving what has morphed into a generic and reflexive complaint the presumption of legitimacy without the burden of proving it.  It is your duty as a citizen and a member of society to engage people who don’t want you to engage in an honest discourse.  It is your birthright to be able to do so without the threat of sanction by government, or those who want to destroy the very way you live, and censor your very thoughts.

STAND.  BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.

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“The opposite for courage is not cowardice, it is conformity. Even a dead fish can go with the flow.”Jim Hightower

“To see the right and not to do it is cowardice.”–Confucius

So if impeachment simply isn’t an option, because those in Congress are afraid of losing their jobs because they might actually DO their jobs, then why bother with the ongoing investigations of the weaponizing of the IRS, of Benghazi, and of Fast and Furious? Seriously. If you’re willing to let an Executive usurp your power with his pen and his phone without lawful and rightful consequence provided for in the Constitution, then why pretend that anything else done by government on his behalf (and likely at his behest) is of any consequence?

And if we have so many of our “countrymen” willing to clap and cheer an Executive all but DARING Congress to publicly wallow in it’s impotence in the face of this brazen flouting of our most basic law, do we really have a common ground with those who willingly trade their sovereignty and lawful authority for a despot bearing “gifts” paid for by others?

Seriously, if Congress is willing to neuter itself in order to avoid a confrontation over whether we are going to be a nation of laws or a nation of [small, petty, vindictive] “men”, then the coup is complete, and every day that passes in which no one in authority is willing to publicly pronounce this brings us closer to the purge which must inevitably follow. And if we can expect no courage now from the ones we have elected to be our voices, we have no right to expect any from our neighbors on that black day.

One can only hope that the deepest, darkest, hottest reaches of Hell are reserved for those who could have taken a stand, and instead decided that they only needed to be courageous as soon as we elected enough others like them, for the future of freedom itself rested upon their slight shoulders, and either by a lack of character, or just weak ones, they shrugged.

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So I heard President Sub Par on the news at lunch making all sorts of demands in relation to the Malaysian Air shoot down…a cease fire in the area between all parties, access to the crash site for investigators, blah, blah, blah blah, and all I could think was “Who does he think he’s kidding?”

During his tenure in the Oval Office, he’s squandered any authority that the Presidency  might have still carried over from his infinitely more qualified predecessors, and has done his best to ensure that he has built none of his own.   I physically cringe whenever I hear this pretender adopt the manner of an irritated professor, and presume to lecture anyone, let alone foreign leaders who have already tested him, only to learn that the force of his conviction will never take him any farther than he can comfortably hear his own voice and the approval of his reality-challenged sycophants.

It scares me that he can walk out in front of cameras and the presstitute corpse, and pretend that he’s really felt all along that the shoot down was an “outrage of unspeakable proportions” when yesterday, while in campaign mode, he spent all of less than a minute to pontificate that it “may be a terrible tragedy”, before launching back into a scripted speech that contained a number of attempts at jokes.   Anyone observing the Great Narcissus for any period of time at all would have to wonder if he at least waited until he got off the podium before he could concentrate on how Presidential and Important he looked, or how he could get his golf handicap down.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  As a President, he is most unserious man to ever hold the office.  His ME-centric approach to all things domestic and foreign is embarrassing, as is his contempt for the America that was worthwhile and a beacon of hope to people all around the world.  When he offered his unsolicited opinion on the events in Israel, I was not surprised by what I heard.  Much like his criticism of the Cambridge Police revealed his willingness to weigh in on that matter without having a clue what he was talking about, his comments about the need for Israel to “show restraint” revealed to the world that he either hasn’t bothered with his security briefings (something REAL Presidents get out of bed in the morning and attend before going to do actual work), or that he didn’t pay attention to any briefing given.  Either way, he is an embarrassment and the primary reason for our current tarnished prestige in the world today.  I find myself somewhat disheartened when I hear some pundits try to craft an analogy that would serve to make the situation clear to anyone capable of logic independent of ideology.  “What if it was Mexico lobbing missiles in at U.S cities?”  they ask.  I just shake my head.  “How is that different from allowing passage through their country to ours by a wave of people utterly willing to break our laws as if it is their right to do so?” I ask in reply.   If President Selfie didn’t want to go see the chaos on the border himself when he had a chance, because he didn’t “want a photo-op”, why do you think that other threats to this country would affect him in any meaningful way?  He doesn’t understand America.  Whether it’s been “at some point, you’ve just made enough money” or berating citizens who “bitterly cling to their Bibles and guns” or his curiously selective recitations of the Declaration of Independence or his fundamental mischaracterization of American exceptionalism, he revels in demonstrating that he doesn’t get this country.   If it were Mexico lobbing missiles at American cities, I’m sure that he would summon members of La Raza and Mecha to the White House so he could publicly and abjectly apologize to them “on behalf of all Americans” and then try to find a way to surrender to them.  For him, the only times tragedies happen is when someone asks him a real question and he just wants to finish his waffle, when he is asked a question he’ll pretend is above his pay grade, despite his previous expressions of clear opinions addressing the matter from another side, or when his subjects expect him to do his job and he just wants to enjoy his taxpayer-funded Hawaiian vacation.

Like previous expressions of outrage, and breathlessly declared red lines, I expect nothing will come today’s remarks.  After all, we’ll soon be paying for yet another lavish vacation on Martha’s Vineyard for him and his family, far away from the relocation centers all over the country where the last stage of ICE’s “Catch and Release” kabuki theatre is being played out.  Besides, he has more important things to worry about.  Like the nagging grocery carts his wife wants to put in our grocery stores around the country…because it would be impossible for us to properly feed ourselves without her enlightened guidance.  They only have to make sure we do what they say, and not what they do.

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