I have encountered many people over the years and as a general rule I would say that the nicest people I have met are self-made successes. Such people as billionaires, Nobel Laureates, famous scientists and major politicians are really pleasant people to talk to. Most of those people probably came from modest beginnings but all of them by their own natural talents, combined with hard work toward a worthy goal combined with some forethought as to how to get there and perhaps above all a naturally pleasing manner, achieved spectacular success. I don’t claim to have been close friends with these people but I did meet them and talk with them personally: J. R. Simplot, Art Linkletter, Rod Funseth, Orin Pilkey, Algernon Black, Eleanor Roosevelt, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Burris Cunningham, Yuan Lee, Ron Pelosi, Bill Murray, Ansel Adams, Wynn Bullock, Bret Weston, Wavy Gravy, Nina Jablonsky, Donald Johanson, Leslie Aiello, Ian Tattersall, Ray Kurzweil, Vint Cerf, David Brower, Duke Campbell, Dan Kammen, Harold Palmer-Smith, Jacques Bouchard, William Perry, Helen Greiner, Michael Marks and many more. Most of these people were not friends, but they were people whom I spoke to personally. What I want to emphasize is that they were all fine, warm, friendly people.
There is a common myth among people who haven’t had spectacularly successful lives that those who did have success were brutal cutthroats who achieved their success by cunning and viciousness. Nothing could be further from what I have personally observed. I haven’t met President Obama; I haven’t even seen him at a distance. And I haven’t met or seen John Roberts, nor have I seen Laurence Tribe. But I have seen each of these three men on TV in interviews and each of them responds to their interviewers with intelligence, courtesy and thoughtfulness, even when talking with Steven Colbert, who can be extremely confrontational with difficult issues. I believe they are all fine examples of human beings at their best. And yet even though I believe in their intelligence, honesty and good sense I also believe they of all people should realize they presently hold the wrong political positions of anyone in the entire world.
These very men are the champions of Constitutional Law and possibly the foremost authorities on the subject of the fifty billion people who have ever lived and yet they are personally violating the primary premise of the Constitution and the reasoning behind it. The purpose of the US Constitution is to protect the people of the United States from the excess concentration of power. Here is the problem: all of these men have known each other personally for a long time, and they all studied exactly the same subjects under the tutelage of the same teachers. These men are the bulldog of the world society (Obama), the watchdog of the bulldog (Roberts), and the intellectual master of both the bulldog and his supposed watchdog (Tribe). What is even worse, the bulldog is the one who gets to select the watchdogs.
I don’t doubt for a moment that each of those men feels he is being guided by the most perfect principles that can be conceived, and maybe they are right, but because the most powerful institutions which have ever existed are in the care of those three people, we the people of the entire world are in grave danger. At present there are no checks and balances on those holding absolute power.
…the chief ‘truth’ that guided the Founders was ‘that men were corruptible and that power always corrupted.’ They believed that ‘greed and lust for power … were inquenchable in mortal men.’ … The great concern of the Founders was tyranny. After all, they had just barely escaped the clutches of King George … The last thing they wanted was a power-hungry president, a domestic King George … The Founders did not trust men’s natural inclinations. … (they) envisioned a supreme legislative branch as the heart and soul of America’s central government. They assumed that Congress, drawn from all parts of the country, would initiate bills, set budgets, approve wars, provide national leadership, and if necessary, impeach and toss out a wayward president. After all, who would give supreme powers to one man, or woman?”
– From The Christian Science Monitor, “To the Founders, Congress was king,” by John Dillin (1/20/05) quoting from Dr. Carol Berkin’s book, A Brilliant Solution: Inventing the American Constitution.
“The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted.”
“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.”
We need to correct this over-concentration of power as quickly as possible, and if these particular men were not holding the Presidency and the Chief Justice positions, there is little doubt that they would wholeheartedly agree.