The Hippocritic Oaths

This morning I heard Rand Paul, the Junior Senator from Kentucky, deliver an angry message to his colleagues. The subject was their failure to obey their own rules. He mentioned their failure to pass a budget in nearly four years. But his outrage was really triggered when he received a six hundred page bill to be voted on later that day. It contained some last minute provisions that nobody but Harry Reid is aware of---to the extent that Harry is aware of anything but his own vast ego and lust for power.

It contained copious references to the more than a hundred million word document known as Federal Register and other mega documents containing the codified laws of the United States. These get amended every time new laws or regulations pass, often in unpredictable ways. There is zero chance that there are not filled with massive errors and unintended provisions.  It is likely that the total word count exceeds a billion.

No Senator could possibly understand the bill in much under a month. Senator Paul recommended, perhaps tongue in cheek, that all bills be allocated twenty days per page for Congress and its subjects (us) to study before passage. But that would be no more than some 7000 pages per year of new legislation unless the Senators learned to multitask. How could the Republic survive?

Each president recites the following oath, in accordance with Article II, Section I of the U.S. Constitution:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Each member of Congress recites a similar oath at the beginning of each of his or her terms in office.

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God."

Do these oaths really mean anything? I am unaware of any case where any elected official has ever been prosecuted for failure to honor the oath. No criteria are given in the oaths for what constitutes a violation. Short of a conviction for treason, it is hard to imagine the oath being enforced.  If it is not a criminal matter or even a civil matter (interesting thought), how can the oath be enforced? One way is for voters to enforce it at the ballot box. Perhaps it has been done many times. There is no way to know for sure.

As Congress and the President embark on a path to save or destroy the American health care system, depending on whom one believes, it is fair to ask if they are honoring their oaths of office. Physicians used to swear to adhere to The Hippocratic Oath. Alas, modern medical ethicists (people who think they know right from wrong better than the rest of us) have found the Oath to be a bit too restrictive. In particular the practices of euthanasia and abortion are forbidden by the Oath. Mere oaths cannot be allowed to be a barrier to progress.

Our progressive rulers have been violating their Oaths so thoroughly that it is hard to understand how they can look in the mirror without blushing. Ask yourself a question. If you hired an attorney to help you understand a contract and relied on her advice that you can sign it, how would you feel if it transpired that she never even read the contract first? That would be cause for disbarment for failure to follow the ethical imperatives of the legal profession.

How much more must a failure of our elected Congressmen to even vote for a piece of legislation be a violation of their Oaths of Office, if they have not bothered to read it?  If it is really necessary to have such long bills that not all of them can read these bills, then those who do not read, or who do not thoroughly understand it, it should vote Nay or abstain. Otherwise, how can they know they are bearing allegiance to the Constitution? The President gets to take one last look before signing it. The poor President had better be a speed reader.

This is hardly a new problem. But I would wager that it did not start during the administrations of Washington, Adams and Jefferson. As in the Emperor's New Clothes, once it becomes apparent, it can no longer be ignored. At first it was a bit of a joke, but as one thousand-page bill after another was passed with NOBODY in Congress reading it, with trillions of dollars of deficit spending being committed, the laughter has turned to derision. Just to rub salt in the wound, the progressive leadership decided that waiting a few days so that the press could try to understand what was in these bills would cause an intolerable delay. Do our elected officials really believe they are defending the Constitution from all enemies, like American citizens who disagree with them?

If you listen to the rhetoric from our progressive rulers, progress depends on bending their Oaths a bit.  After all, if anonymous young staffers fresh out of Ivy League law schools who draft the bills cannot be trusted with trillion dollar decisions, then who can be trusted?  Who is better equipped to risk the economic and physical health of the entire population? How refreshing it would be if those who took the Hippocritic Oath would answer these questions.

This morning I heard Rand Paul, the Junior Senator from Kentucky, deliver an angry message to his colleagues. The subject was their failure to obey their own rules. He mentioned their failure to pass a budget in nearly four years. But his outrage was really triggered when he received a six hundred page bill to be voted on later that day. It contained some last minute provisions that nobody but Harry Reid is aware of---to the extent that Harry is aware of anything but his own vast ego and lust for power.

It contained copious references to the more than a hundred million word document known as Federal Register and other mega documents containing the codified laws of the United States. These get amended every time new laws or regulations pass, often in unpredictable ways. There is zero chance that there are not filled with massive errors and unintended provisions.  It is likely that the total word count exceeds a billion.

No Senator could possibly understand the bill in much under a month. Senator Paul recommended, perhaps tongue in cheek, that all bills be allocated twenty days per page for Congress and its subjects (us) to study before passage. But that would be no more than some 7000 pages per year of new legislation unless the Senators learned to multitask. How could the Republic survive?

Each president recites the following oath, in accordance with Article II, Section I of the U.S. Constitution:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Each member of Congress recites a similar oath at the beginning of each of his or her terms in office.

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God."

Do these oaths really mean anything? I am unaware of any case where any elected official has ever been prosecuted for failure to honor the oath. No criteria are given in the oaths for what constitutes a violation. Short of a conviction for treason, it is hard to imagine the oath being enforced.  If it is not a criminal matter or even a civil matter (interesting thought), how can the oath be enforced? One way is for voters to enforce it at the ballot box. Perhaps it has been done many times. There is no way to know for sure.

As Congress and the President embark on a path to save or destroy the American health care system, depending on whom one believes, it is fair to ask if they are honoring their oaths of office. Physicians used to swear to adhere to The Hippocratic Oath. Alas, modern medical ethicists (people who think they know right from wrong better than the rest of us) have found the Oath to be a bit too restrictive. In particular the practices of euthanasia and abortion are forbidden by the Oath. Mere oaths cannot be allowed to be a barrier to progress.

Our progressive rulers have been violating their Oaths so thoroughly that it is hard to understand how they can look in the mirror without blushing. Ask yourself a question. If you hired an attorney to help you understand a contract and relied on her advice that you can sign it, how would you feel if it transpired that she never even read the contract first? That would be cause for disbarment for failure to follow the ethical imperatives of the legal profession.

How much more must a failure of our elected Congressmen to even vote for a piece of legislation be a violation of their Oaths of Office, if they have not bothered to read it?  If it is really necessary to have such long bills that not all of them can read these bills, then those who do not read, or who do not thoroughly understand it, it should vote Nay or abstain. Otherwise, how can they know they are bearing allegiance to the Constitution? The President gets to take one last look before signing it. The poor President had better be a speed reader.

This is hardly a new problem. But I would wager that it did not start during the administrations of Washington, Adams and Jefferson. As in the Emperor's New Clothes, once it becomes apparent, it can no longer be ignored. At first it was a bit of a joke, but as one thousand-page bill after another was passed with NOBODY in Congress reading it, with trillions of dollars of deficit spending being committed, the laughter has turned to derision. Just to rub salt in the wound, the progressive leadership decided that waiting a few days so that the press could try to understand what was in these bills would cause an intolerable delay. Do our elected officials really believe they are defending the Constitution from all enemies, like American citizens who disagree with them?

If you listen to the rhetoric from our progressive rulers, progress depends on bending their Oaths a bit.  After all, if anonymous young staffers fresh out of Ivy League law schools who draft the bills cannot be trusted with trillion dollar decisions, then who can be trusted?  Who is better equipped to risk the economic and physical health of the entire population? How refreshing it would be if those who took the Hippocritic Oath would answer these questions.