Ragtime and the Seven Branches

Ragtiimeby Deana Chadwell    3/7/14
Just after Christmas of 1998 I was in New York with drama students to see plays. One of the best shows we saw that trip was Ragtime. I’ll never forget the opening scene – three groups of people swirling toward each other – the blacks, the upper class whites, and the immigrants. They spun into the center, spiraling ever tighter, circling each other – both menacing and inviting, perfectly picturing the social tangle that was turn-of-last-century society.

I thought of that show tonight when I was listening to Jonathan Turley decry the precarious state of the union and the need for the three branches of government to balance and patrol each other. As he talked I could just see the judiciary in their black robes, all 535 congressmen and women in their suits, and the president and vice president in their – well, in their crowns. I hate to admit it, but my mental image featured crowns on the executives.[pullquote]If we take the Senate in November some of the movement may settle down a bit, but it won’t rid the stage of the bureaubots; it won’t pump any integrity into the press; it won’t rattle the judges who will just keep scurrying around and around, more or less unaware of and detached from the melee.[/pullquote]

Those three groups are designed to police the goings-on in the other branches – otherwise why have them? A tripod government can’t possibly be as efficient as a monarchy. It has to be more expensive – all those salaries and pensions, all that pork to ensure ensuing elections. I’m beginning to be afraid that, brilliant as our founding fathers were, they may have misjudged one factor.

Essentially our government stands on 7 legs – not on three.

We’ve long referred to the press as the “4th estate,” but the Constitution doesn’t overtly refer to it other than in the text of the 1st Amendment. It’s becoming obvious that the decent, good-hearted, earnest men of the Constitutional Convention either didn’t see the possibility of a press that would coalesce on one side of the political spectrum, or they couldn’t imagine a group of educated people so uninterested in truth, so willing to throw “facts” around like so much confetti. I’m afraid that those mighty men didn’t foresee the evil we face today.

So add corrupt journalists to that stage. Corrupt journalists and, having perhaps even more pull with the public, Hollywood celebrities. They aren’t in their own separate group, but have surrounded the president, are carrying his ermine cape, handing him his scepter, adjusting his diadem. Some rush ahead of him and try to trip select members of the other groups. We’ve all been watching this unfolding as our newspapers never cease distracting us with stories about movie stars and gay athletes. The press is just the manufacturer of smoke and mirrors.

And the fifth leg? The fifth branch of this overblown government are the lobbyists and the corporate cronies that pull their puppet strings. On stage they clatter around harassing congressmen, checking in with the throne, waving fistfuls of money under everyone’s noses. One wonders what influence they have over the guys in black.

The stage is now way too crowded to be anything but a mess, especially considering the fact that over half of these bad actors are heading stage left and the others are still trying, though half-heartedly, to move stage right. Lost is the smoothly choreographed tri-partate gyre. They’re making so much noise that the music has almost disappeared. It’s getting hard for the audience to tell what’s happening.

But we haven’t even seen the biggest contingent – the bureaucracy. The 6th branch marches in lock-step. At first the unison movement is a relief, but they don’t keep time with the music; their movements are sluggish, uninspired, robotic. And there are thousands and thousands of them. They worship the executive because it is he who gives them their jobs, their marching orders, their security. Once on stage they gather under him and lift him high – high above the clamoring press, high above inquisitive congressmen. They form a heavily-armed fortress around him – or is it a prison? Are they the ones driving him? There’s so much confusion and congestion on the stage that it’s hard to tell.

And behind it all, like the Wizard of Oz is the Fed. The seventh branch just sneaks around backstage printing the money the lobbyists throw around, the money the bureaucrats recklessly spend and the money the executive branch promises to everyone.

We can, however, be sure that one thing will happen – it’s all going to spill over and land in our laps. Once I had a front row seat to see the Toronto Ballet. It was a wonderful performance, but I learned not to sit there again; every time a dancer spun around or landed a leap in front of me, I got sprayed with sweat. This will be worse.

If we impeach the president, which he roundly deserves, and even if we could dismiss the vice president simultaneously, the stage would still be filled with bad dancers – like a giant stoned mosh pit. We’d still have judges who can’t be trusted to act in the interests of the audience, congressmen holding hands with the lobbyist puppets, who are married to either journalists or high-ranking bureaucrats and all them out of their own control, let alone anyone else’s.

If we take the Senate in November some of the movement may settle down a bit, but it won’t rid the stage of the bureaubots; it won’t pump any integrity into the press; it won’t rattle the judges who will just keep scurrying around and around, more or less unaware of and detached from the melee.

We could just get up and leave before they all fall off the stage. The nullification movement is heading that direction. Though that may infuriate the great monolith of agencies and unnecessary departments and from up there on stage they’ll have a good shot at each of us as we head out the door.

I wish I could hear the music, wish I had read the novel this play was based on. But no nation of this size, of this power and wealth, has ever existed, let alone fallen off the stage of history. Only God knows how this will play out, and it looks like the crescendo of the last act is building….
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Deana Chadwell blogs at ASingleWindow.com. • (1645 views)

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Deana Chadwell

About Deana Chadwell

I have spent my life teaching young people how to read and write and appreciate the wonder of words. I have worked with high school students and currently teach writing at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. I have spent more than forty years studying the Bible, theology, and apologetics and that finds its way into my writing whether I'm blogging about my experiences or my opinions. I have two and a half moldering novels, stacks of essays, hundreds of poems, some which have won state and national prizes. All that writing -- and more keeps popping up -- needs a home with a big plate glass window; it needs air; it needs a conversation. I am also an artist who works with cloth, yarn, beads, gourds, polymer clay, paint, and photography. And I make soap.
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7 Responses to Ragtime and the Seven Branches

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    Yes, the United States has been conquered by an internal enemy that created its power by infiltrating the communications media and education, and combining with the politicians who naturally seek more power. In a post on NRO, I suggested that it’s time to declare open season on the minions of the Obama Gang, but the enemy is far vaster — probably far more numerous, sad to say, than my notion that the “number of the beast” from Revelation referred to 666 radical leftists busily poisoning the nation (“the last, best hope of mankind”). But those 666 would at least be a good start. There’s a reason one of my earliest articles here was a review of A Planet for Texans, which featured a political system allowing such violence against politicians when justified.

  2. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    In their pursuit to overthrow the many petty tyrants, real or imagined, which they believed existed in various state and local governments, as well as in other institutions around the country, Leftists have created a huge tyrant in the Federal government which is able to wreak much more uniform havoc on many more people, than the mini-tyrants ever could.

    Montesquieu understood this.

  3. Glenn Fairman says:

    While meditating on the Progressive contagion that assaults us from every vector, I could not help but think of the tale of the Hydra. How do we kill it? Cut off a head and two more take its place. It became necessary for Jason to pierce the very heart of the creature in order to destroy it. That Demonic heart which we seek is the Myth of the Ideological Collective: beginning with the innate or malleable Goodness of Man, and culminating with the Gnostic notion of the perfectible Human City.

    In time, these mendacities topple like clay footed idols, and as Nietzsche said, “That which is falling should be pushed.” The best way to help topple a lie is to confront it with the truth. Conservatism’s great commission must be to check its soul and to speak the truth—and it must be ready to smash to pieces the smooth lies that it has taught itself—-that economics alone are sufficient. Man cannot live by bread alone.

    • I was just hearing this very point discussed the other night. Laura Ingrahm was holding forth on the idea that in the coming elections we just have to hammer away about the economy — not Benghazi and foreign policy, nor the IRS, NSA, DOJ scandals — just the economy. I agree with you on this. It’s all equally important, and if we win on the economy alone, we won’t have won for long.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        There are priorities, and the main focus should indeed be on the economy and Obamacare. But all the other abuses and misdeeds should also be brought up as well, particularly the Obama Gang’s blatant hostility toward the entire Bill of Rights, at least for those who dare dissent against the Leader.

  4. Timothy Lane says:

    A bit of a correction here: defeating the Lernean Hydra was one of the tasks of Herakles (aka Hercules, which is the Latin version of the name), and he did it by cauterizing the necks after cutting off the heads, thereby preventing it from growing new heads. (Because he had help on that task, and on dealing with the Augean stables, King Eurystheus insisted he do 2 more tasks, for a total of 12 rather than the original 10.) My 6th grade teacher (this was while we were in Greece), who had a fascination with the Greek myths that she tended to pass along to her students, suggested that this might originally have involved some sort of swamp-clearing.

  5. Glenn Fairman says:

    I was thinking of the film Jason and the Argonauts, which I am sure did not follow the Myth. In the film, the Hydra guarded the Golden Fleece, and Hercules did not complete the journey, having disobeyed the Gods and brought wrath down on the warriors. You are, of course, correct here sir. I never let facts get in the way of making my point, I’m afraid.

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