“Non Possumus,” No, Unfortunately, We Cannot.

A group of scruffy, naaasty, vermin-ridden (kinda like the occupy Wall Street folks according to Gingrich and Santorum), early Christians invoked the Latinate phrase Non Possumus to express their dismay when that mean old bastard Diocletian–the Roman Emperor of their time–decreed that there would be no more scriptures and no more Sabbath worship on pain of death or being decorated with heathen tattoos that everyone would see. We Cannot, the Martyrs of Abitina said just before they received their wish and became martyrs. Sine dominico non possumus, “we cannot live without Sunday,” they wailed. Diocletian agreed; thus, the Christians were transported into the realm of the heavenly spirit, probably after jackbooted guards performed a body cavity search.

Non Possumus, which translates as We Cannot, has been invoked many times during the seventeen or so centuries since the Abitinians went away. Then, there are the derivatives of We Cannot. Just four years ago, we–thee, mee, ‘n wee–were inundated with chants of Yes, We Can. Well, dude…non possumus appears to back in vogue as the operative phrase of 2012. We Can turns out to be We Cannot, particularly after being attacked by the resurgent neo-conservative right. Example: The black-garbed money-monkeys of the Supreme Court appear poised to knock down the one, real, positive, has an effect on the lives of many Americans achievement of the Obama administration. Many legal scholars–look it up, the search will reveal arguments for either side–believe that Obama’s signature health care act is, in fact, constitutional and, if the Supreme Court overrules it, they, in fact, have engaged in an extra-constitutional interpretation of their duties.

Should we be surprised? Hardly. The performance of the court during the Bush/Gore debacle was merely a precursor of their future direction. Now armed with Roberts and Alioto to firm up the bench’s neo-conservative element, this court will direct, even order us in the way they want us to go regardless of the constitution. Fuck ’em (a well-known and easily comprehended term of Germanic derivative) doesn’t apply in this case. It’s fuckus instead. A cop or a correctional officer (the latter are particularly known for their intelligence and diligence in respecting the dignity of their wards) wants to peer up your anus not because he thinks you have contraband after you were apprehended for failing to pay a parking ticket but due to your insistence on having something naively referred to as rights. According to the Supreme Court of the United States, the cop has a right to order you–and, if necessary, to force you–to spread your cheeks. You have a right to spread ’em. You do not have the right to expect anyone to listen to your whining if you complain about this cavalier treatment by the minion of the law.

After all, decent people don’t get arrested.

All of this began when the supremos were asked by a black auto dealership employee to protect his rights and his dignity against the intrusions of the law after he was tossed rather unceremoniously in  the hoosgow for not paying a fine (which it turns out he had already paid).  Non Possumus, the judges chanted, five conservative basso-profondo voices overcoming the warbly tenors of the four court liberals. We cannot help you.

Reasoning behind this recent rear-looking decision of the court? Justice Anthony Kennedy reasons that We don’t want to second-guess the law enforcement officers on the scene. One might wonder just who can be called on to second guess the cop? Second guessing hasn’t bothered the esteemed justices in any of the other thousands of cases they’ve considered or decided not to consider. Why now?

Decisions of the courts are only one element of the non possumus attitude adopted by our government. Our drooly-elected legislators say We Cannot when confronted with the need to control banks and other financial institutions…We Cannot when asked to collect increased taxes from giant corporations and the obscenely rich…We Cannot when asked to provide succor to the poor, the sick, the unemployed…We Cannot when tasked with protecting the environment and the health of the very planet we live on.

We–me, thee–need to say Non Possumus when it comes time to vote for these buffoons. That or we shall be forced to fall back on another Latin phrase that I find appropriate for many occasions: Noli umquam oblivisci, Carole, pecuniam sapientem esse.

Never forget, Charley; money is wisdom. Maybe these words should replace E pluribus unum.

 

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