Projecting Virtue Where None Exists

Ponder an absurd exchange. Suppose you are having dinner with a contract killer. You know he’s a contract killer because he’s made a point of making sure you know. He’s whipped out his cell phone to show you video of his work. He has more than one example.

“Look at this one,” he says. “That’s where I shoot him in the back of the head. And look there. That’s me. I’m smiling for the camera.”

To whatever extent, on such an occasion, you might be able to summon a rational thought, I’m guessing you wouldn’t attempt to shame or reform the man by saying, “you’re a murderer.” That much has been established.

Obviously, he’s proud of what he does. In the presence of such evil, rebuke is less rational than escape or arrest. A homicide detective wouldn’t respond to this by saying, “you’ve been a bad boy,” unless his pistol was cocked and aimed. If someone no longer has a conscience, there is no sense in appealing to it.

Our “Justice”

I think I’ve been nursing an absurd assumption. I’ve projected my own sense of fair play onto my ideological opponents.

A few years ago, when Democrats accused Donald Trump of colluding with Russians, it felt like such bald character assassination that it seemed almost like a practical joke. That was the first of many bad assumptions on my part. They were dead serious. They demanded a special counsel, spent tens of millions of dollars, dragged the entire Trump family through the mud, made process-is-the-punishment wreckage of innocent Trump associates, and found precisely nothing.

While I didn’t expect an apology from the politicians involved, I thought the Justice Department, along with “straight-arrow” guys like Robert Mueller, might pause for a moment to consider the consequences for their institution’s credibility. Were we to assume that government employees deceiving a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge was standard  protocol? Should the American people warmly embrace the FBI helping one political party spy on the other? Surely, someone  at the Justice Department feels awful about this. Right?

In recent weeks, when it became clear that lawyers employed by Hillary Clinton’s campaign had lied to the FBI, the FBI knew it was being lied to, and the Steele Dossier was merely partisan opposition fiction, then surely the Justice Department would need to make some show of cleaning house, right? Even if they are primarily Democrats, they at least need to look like they care about an even standard. Right? How would the average American ever again believe in the equal application of the laws if the Justice Department appears unconcerned?

It seems to me that when you confront a judge, or an FBI agent, or the attorney general with incontrovertible evidence of corruption, some corner of their officer-of-the-court psyche must be registering a moral alarm of some sort. If the institution’s credibility is at stake, shouldn’t their jobs be on the line, too? If the foundation isn’t sound, the building will collapse.

Guess what? They don’t care. They aren’t that much different from the contract killer who chuckles at your moral disapproval with the words, “I didn’t kill anyone who didn’t need killin’.” If you thought they actually wanted a ministry of justice, you were wrong. They want a ministry of targeted terror. They don’t care about abstract principles of fairness, because they own that ministry of terror and they don’t plan on giving it back.

This should be far more frightening than even the corruption itself. Not only are they corrupt—they are proud of being corrupt. Ponder the quiet confidence of a fellow like Michael Sussman, absolutely certain he will never see the inside of a federal prison. What D.C. machine jury, or D.C. judge, will ever consider lying to the FBI, on behalf of Hillary Clinton, a crime? You poor, innocent fool. The FBI itself lies for a living. Don’t you get it? “Corruption” isn’t a crime anymore. It’s just our tribe against your tribe, and our spears are sharper.

Our “Democracy”

Have you ever pondered how your stubby, index-finger signature looks like on one of those electronic signature pads? Depending on how much grease and grit is left behind by previous signers, mine looks like a broken strand of rasterized spaghetti. I’m unsure how anyone could reliably compare that mess to any signature I’ve ever put to official documents. And yet I naively ask the poll worker, “you mean to say this is how you know I was here to vote?”

“Yes,” I am told, with great institutional confidence. “Exactly. They compare it to your other signatures.”

“How?” I respond. “That doesn’t look like my signature at all.”

The poll worker puts on her cheater glasses.

“I guess you’re right. They all look a little messy.”

Obviously, she had never even considered the question, but, clearly, it didn’t bother her. She was busy finding my “I Voted!” sticker and brightly thanking me for participating.

But had I? Had I really participated? In California, there are something like 1.5 million dead voters on the rolls, (moved, dead, bad address). My adult son, who moved to Ohio, continued to receive ballots for years after his departure, despite having registered in another state. Without voter ID, without even a reliable signature at the polling place, and with millions of safely dead ballots, who are we kidding?

Voter fraud is nearly as old as America. John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s maternal grandfather, Boston Mayor John Francis “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, committed so much voter fraud in a 1918 congressional race that the House wouldn’t seat him. That may have been the last time anyone actually cared about the problem. JFK told his friend from the Washington Post, Ben Bradlee, that Mayor Richard Daley had delivered him Chicago, and thus Illinois, in his razor-thin presidential election in 1960.

You care about that? You poor, ignorant fool. Liz Cheney isn’t the only “Republican” who thinks questioning election integrity is un-American. The “smart” money contends that voter fraud would be impossible to coordinate, and if you’re talking about sending people to the polls under false identities, you would be absolutely right, but that’s concentrating on the mosquito and ignoring the whale.

What would you call voter registration without proof of citizenship? That’s simply fraud by virtue of likely party affiliation. What would you call nonprofit organizations filling out ballots for elderly resthome patients incapable of communicating? That’s fraud with a civic-minded face. What would you call millions of dead ballots in a mail-in voter year? A chance for fraud on a scale we can’t even imagine, much less audit.

And that’s the point. They have designed systems that can’t be audited. What good do you accomplish recounting a stuffed ballot box? How do you really know that pallet of mail-in ballots from a conservative precinct didn’t go missing? If we aren’t required to show up in person with tamper-proof ID, how can we account for all those ballots consigned to the mail? Are you really telling me one postal worker couldn’t forget to deliver the 10,000 votes it might take to swing a congressional district? Aren’t you at least a little bit worried about the “2,000 Mules” reality—single individuals making hundreds of ballot drops?

I made the mistake of thinking someone on the other side really cares. They don’t. They have no problem with voter fraud because it serves them. If it served us, they would care mightily about it.

Meantime, we project virtue where it doesn’t exist. They are at war, and they use the conventions of war to justify breaking all 10 of the commandments. We watch them do it without apology, and we think “asking nicely” will appeal to their conscience, but that was destroyed years ago. They have stolen most of our public institutions. The very institutions you thought were protecting you have been made over in their image.

So, no matter how we choose to fight them, and whatever tools we use, we need to remember this: they see themselves as soldiers in a battle, where any and all mayhem is allowed. We need to act accordingly

About James Patrick Riley

James Riley is the owner and operator of Riley's Farm in Oak Glen, California and the creator of "Courage, New Hampshire," a television drama seen on PBS stations across the country. The father of six children, Riley performs "Patrick Henry" and supervises a living history program visited by hundreds of thousands of school children. He holds a degree in history from Stanford University.

Photo: iStock/Getty Images

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