Thursday, November 23, 2017

The morning after

Monroe wrote to Jefferson, partly in code, expounding his dissatisfaction with the constitution produced by Philadelphia.

He was seriously annoyed by the equal representation of the states in the senate, but most bothered by the lack of a congressional veto on state laws, essential to prevent state violations of the constitution and encroachments on federal powers.

John Marshall would fix that by insisting the power to nullify state laws that conflicted with the constitution belonged to the federal courts.

A better solution, really.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The awful state of the union

The prologue has enough detail to horrify anyone who, looking back, would have wanted the union to succeed.

The government created by the Articles of Confederation was far from up to the job.

Not least threatening were the rebellions in the Northeast, most notably Shay's Rebellion, in which the rebels' demands were variously reported, reports ranging from tax relief for desperate farmers to complete abolition of all debts, public and private, and a complete, leveling redistribution of wealth.

The Articles gave the confederation no clear authority to put down rebellion, no navy, no power to tax, no authority to regulate foreign commerce, and an army of under 700 it couldn't pay any better than it could pay other officials or its own debts.

And, anyway, everything had to be decided by Congress, some things requiring the votes of 7 states and some 9.

But delegates from 9 states were rarely present and, often enough, not even from 7.

The prologue also contains summaries of various plans for a new national government sent to George Washington by friends who urged him to attend the Philadelphia convention as a Virginia delegate, and preside.

None of them thought the Confederation Congress could adequately reform the Articles, none had any faith in the amendment process of the Articles, and none had faith in the possibility of unanimous consent by the states.

All their models for a replacement for the government of the Articles featured separation of powers and a bicameral legislature.

The Confederation Congress itself called for the Philadelphia convention to do the drafting.

Ms. Maier is a fine writer, in a class with Barbara Tuchman and C. V. Wedgewood.


The soul of republicanism: no hereditary political power or office

Maier reports Washington's qualms about the Society of the Cincinnati in her prologue.

They had made membership in this influential body, an association of veteran officers of the Continental Army and Navy, hereditary, provoking Aedanus Burke to object that this "would lead to creation of an hereditary aristocracy, which was totally at odds with the republican system established by the Revolution," she says.

Later in the prologue, Maier writes of the situation in 1786, "The very future of the republic - a government without hereditary rulers, in which all power came from the people - seemed in doubt."


The Society became and remains hereditary, all the same, like the DAR.

But Burke's fear, though proved wrong, illuminates the meaning of republicanism in the America of that time, as does Maier's remark.

But note, too, the absence of offices reserved for clergy and, in the eventual constitution, of establishment.

Indeed there is no mention of God in it, and religion is only mentioned, in the unamended version, to exclude religious tests.

Historians, political scientists, and philosophers are sometimes more sanguine than lawyers

And perhaps more honest as well as more candid.

Pauline Maier, Ratification, 2010.


. . . Readers who want a careful analysis of The Federalist, for example, will have to go elsewhere.

Except for the state of New York, it was less influential in 1787 and 1788 than in later times, when it was too often read as if it were a dispassionate, objective analysis of the Constitution, not a partisan statement written in the midst of a desperate fight in a critical state.

She seems to think there is such a thing.

Fair enough.

Monday, November 20, 2017

It's not just Rex Tillerson saying things like this

Bozo is, well, Bozo.

Report: H.R. McMaster Says Trump Has The Intelligence Of A 'Kindergartner'

Buzzfeed is reporting they have five sources confirming that during a July dinner with Oracle CEO Safra Catz, McMaster mocked Trump as being an idiot and a dope.

"McMaster bluntly trashed his boss, said the sources, four of whom told BuzzFeed News they heard about the exchange directly from Catz. 

"The top national security official dismissed the president variously as an 'idiot' and a 'dope' with the intelligence of a 'kindergartner,' the sources said."

Denials that these exchanges ever took place have been flying out to the media.

How much of this really goes on?

Star New York Times reporter suspended for alleged sexual misconduct

Sexual harassment, though I don't see that the last thing mentioned in this snip actually counts as that.

A star political reporter at the New York Times has been suspended over allegations of sexual misconduct involving younger, female journalists.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Times called the allegations against Glenn Thrush, one of the newspaper's top reporters covering the Trump administration, "very concerning and not in keeping with the standards and values of The New York Times."

"We intend to fully investigate and while we do, Glenn will be suspended," the spokesperson said. "We support his decision to enter a substance abuse program. In the meantime, we will not be commenting further."

A story published Monday by the policy and politics website said that Thrush, 50, has "a history of bad judgment around young women journalists."

The story included allegations from three women, as well as the article's author Laura McGann, who together accused Thrush of "a range of similar experiences" that included unwanted groping and kissing and "hazy sexual encounters that played out under the influence of alcohol."

Maybe there's a lot more of this going on than is known to men who don't do it.

Maybe our wives and daughters and girlfriends and moms just never tell us.

About Michelle Obama's political future

Some people want her to run for president.

She has held no political office and has no more claim to our confidence than a stint as First Lady, apart from her personal qualities.

Hillary had the good sense to pursue the cursus honorem rather try to claim the presidency on the strength of having been a president's wife.

If such pursuit were mandatory Trump would never have got to The White House.

Freedom of choice in Australia

Australia says yes to same-sex marriage in historic postal survey

Australia has taken a decisive step towards legislating marriage equality by Christmas after 61.6% of voters in an unprecedented national postal survey approved a change to the law to allow couples of the same sex to marry.

The result, announced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday, will lead to consideration of a same-sex marriage bill in parliament with the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, promising marriage equality should be law by Christmas.

With a turnout of 79.5% the result in the voluntary survey is considered a highly credible reflection of Australian opinion and gives marriage equality advocates enormous momentum to achieve the historic social reform. 

Australia’s chief statistician, David Kalisch, announced the results at a press conference in Canberra at 10am on Wednesday, revealing 7,817,247 people voted in favour and 4,873,987 voted against.

Poll finds 63% of Australians believe both ministers of religion and celebrants should be able to refuse to officiate

In the US this is generally billed as a religious liberty thing.

But people are more varied than that, and just as some people have moral but not religious objections to war, some people may prefer not to participate for moral or other non-religious reasons, or no real reason at all.

So, an individual liberty issue?

Freedom to associate or not?

Are we past the time when we need or much want the federal government to prohibit racial or other forms of discrimination among parties none of whom are the government, itself?

Just asking.

Most Australians surveyed in the latest Guardian Essential poll think both ministers of religion and celebrants should be able to refuse to officiate at same-sex marriage weddings, while 43% think businesses should be able to refuse service.

The new weekly poll of 1,803 voters showed Australians were divided about whether additional protections are required when marriage equality is legalised by the Australian parliament following last week’s historic majority yes vote by the public.

A solid majority of the sample – 63% – supported allowing ministers of religion and celebrants to refuse to officiate same-sex weddings, with 27% opposed.

That concept had majority support across all major voting groups – Coalition (74%), Labor (56%), Greens (53%) and voters supporting someone other than the major parties (75%).

Nope, not quitting

Chaos in Zimbabwe after Mugabe fails to announce expected resignation

Bill Kristol on MSNBC with Andrea Mitchell said this is political corruption "in the deeper sense"

Kellyanne Conway on Roy Moore: 'We want the votes' for tax bill

Ms. Conway, like many other Republicans, is "supporting" Moore not by defending his conduct or denying the allegations, but by reference to the agenda, to what Democrat Doug Jones stands, and to the need for Moore's vote to support the GOP agenda.

That includes Alabama party officials, prospective Alabama voters, and many Republicans in DC.

It is to this that Kristol referred as "corruption".

Kellyanne Conway suggested that the White House remains open to Roy Moore's embattled senate candidacy on Monday when she told Fox & friends that "we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through" -- less than a week after Conway said that "no Senate seat is worth more than a child" in the wake of a series of sexual allegations against Moore.

Conway was interviewed by Fox News on Monday morning, and was discussing tax reform when she began hammering Doug Jones, the Democrat in the Alabama Senate race.

"Doug Jones in Alabama, folks, don't be fooled. He will be a vote against tax cuts. He is weak on crime. Weak on borders. He is strong on raising your taxes. He is terrible for property owners."

The "Fox & Friends" hosts seemed surprised by Conway's remarks, and host Brian Kilmeade cut in, "So vote Roy Moore?"

"I'm telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through. And the media -- if the media were really concerned about all of these allegations, and if that's what this is truly about, and the Democrats -- Al Franken would be on the ash heap of bygone half funny comedians," Conway said, referencing allegations made against the Minnesota senator.

That last bit about Franken makes it seem the Dems would be better off if he resigned, but it's doubtful.

Given the nature of the accusations (far less serious, so far, than the accusations of crimes against Moore) and the evidence (somewhat weaker, given the relative paucity of accusations), attempts to expel Franken would be premature.

Come to that, do we actually expect enough Republicans in the senate to vote for expulsion to make it happen, in case Moore wins the election?


So they care less about their own agenda than Ms. Conway?

As to accusations in defense of Moore that the Dems are hypocrites using a double standard, by what standard are Moore's sex crimes against a 14 year old and other young girls not over the line and a whole lot worse than planting an unwanted kiss and a groping a fellow adult?


Charlie Sykes on MSNBC just accused Conway of frankly embracing a pedophile for the sake of political gain.

No one has accused Moore of pedophilia.

I cannot believe Sykes doesn't know that, or doesn't know the meaning of the word.

I conclude he is a liar masquerading as a moralist.