Monday, December 31, 2012

Preparing for armed rebellion

The post-Newtown debate on the right.

Brett Joshpe is wrong that the 2nd Amendment guarantees an individual right only to have a weapon in one’s home and only “for limited purposes including self-defense.”

Williamson is right about the sorts of weapons covered and the political and military purposes envisioned in the amendment, itself, although he overstates the domestic side of the thing.

With amusement I note that, writing in a magazine devoted to neocon propaganda, this fan of the 2nd quotes Story with approval on these matters though Story’s argument relies heavily on the notion that standing armies cannot be trusted by a free people and are wholly unacceptable.

Too, he ignores the prompt refutation of Story’s and his own viewpoint, and indeed the very purpose of the 2nd, by the outcome of the Whiskey Rebellion (utter defeat for armed civilians resisting “government tyranny”) and the whole course of the War of 1812 (the Brits spent the war spreading havoc in the US that our forces, militia and regulars combined, could not prevent).

As does the entire tribe of conservative blowhards bragging inanely that they and their little crackpot militias are all that stands between us and those would be tyrants, the commie liberals in Washington.

The likelihood of armed rebellion even making the least sense in the US is vanishingly small, and the likelihood it would in such a case do the least good is null.

The 2nd was a stupid mistake from the beginning and has been nothing but a source of trouble for a very long time.

Indeed, all the more so since the Supremes got a bit more honest about its meaning (individual right, but not to much) while remaining dishonest enough to apply it to the states and their subordinate jurisdictions (incorporation).

Still, Williamson was right about this.

“Brett may think that such a notion [as the political and military purpose of the amendment] is an antiquated relic of the 18th century, but then he should be arguing for wholesale repeal of the Second Amendment rather than presenting — what’s the word? — disingenuous arguments about what it means and the purpose behind it.”

On the other hand, why bother when Scalia has already effectively denied its political and military purposes, anyway?

Now if we could just get the courts to back away from incorporation of the 2nd into the due process guarantee of the 14th, things would be a lot better.

Not great.

But a lot better.

Joshpe relies on Scalia to vindicate a much-diminished view of the right created by the 2nd.

He is mistaken, as was Scalia, I think.

The Lesser Evil and his “balanced” approach to a Grand Bargain

Digby’s paraphrase of what the president has been saying and her explanation of “balanced.”

“We need to cut programs that are ‘really important to seniors, student and so forth,’ but we also need to get some chump change from millionaires who won't even miss the money.”

That's what "balanced" really means.

Oh, as Krugman has said, it isn’t so much a Grand Bargain as a Grand Scam, anyway.

And that would be a Grand Scam involving a Democratic president doing the Republican Party’s dirty work for them undermining Social Security and Medicare and thereby helping the Democrats become a second neoliberal party differing from the first mostly by being secular and sociolib rather than clericalist and sociocon.

Which is pretty much what people like Booman have said he and the Democrats ought to do, anyway, under cover of urging the party to dump “exurban and rural whites” for their unforgivable racism, or more frankly to dump the white working class altogether for its unforgivable racism.

And what feminists have been urging as a matter of disempowering that especially hateful class of white male bastards with whom they have been so at war for so long.

Liberals generally, for that matter, have for quite a while been describing the significant contrast between the Democrats and the Republicans in sexual and racial terms rather than class terms.

The Republicans, according to them, are the party of white males standing for the power of white males.

The Democrats are the party of everybody else and stand for empowerment of everybody else.

As if the Democrats could dump the white working class without just dumping the working class, regardless of color, and thus doing about as much harm as it possibly could to the vast majority of the non-whites of America in the name of an “eeeuuuu” reaction to the icky racism of those icky Archie Bunker white people.

And in the name of feminist man-hating.

Booman, by the way, has gone public as being little more, really, than an equal-opportunity liberal of the hand-wringing rather than the fighting kind who will be glad to hold the president’s coat as he surrenders round after round in his fake boxing match with the Republicans.

PS. TPM last evening reported the Republicans have given up their demands for cuts in Social Security because the Democrats in Congress would not allow them. No mention of Medicare.

Here’s Robert Reich.


Even if it’s not a big deal it’s certainly more of a big deal than a bad cold.

And it could be a very big deal.

It could be fatal.

And even if not the consequences could make her a permanent invalid and end any lingering hopes for the presidency.

Those would be hopes lingering among the PUMAs despite her repeated declarations that after being Secretary of State she would be done.

Note that the article says brain injury doctors have speculated a clot may have developed in her legs from inactivity while recuperating from her flu and concussion.

Not that the whack on the head caused intracranial bleeding or otherwise (how?) directly caused the clot.

Is it me or are the liberal bloggers now sneering at Republicans for jeering at her illness - it was her excuse for not testifying to Congress about the Benghazi matter - intentionally making too close a connection between the clot and the concussion?

Yes, the are.

No, it's not me.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Value, virtue, and morals

The belief is common that the analysis of human valuation must be all of a piece.

By “beautiful” one supposes is meant something like “good to look upon.”

By “good” in expressions like “good to look upon,” “good car,” and “good hammer” one supposes must be meant something very like what is meant in “good man.”

And by “good man” one thinks must be meant something much the same as “virtuous man,” “right-doing man,” or “a man who does no wrong.”

So if we think it is an error that “wrong” in uses such as we see in “a man who does no wrong” denotes and so it is also an error that “man who does no wrong” is a meaningful description, we must think much the same of such uses of “good” as cited above.

But I think this is not true and that valuation in non-moral cases is not to be understood through any variant of a Mackie-like error theory.

[J. L. Mackie, Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong]

Instead, I think something closer to subjective naturalism is right.

Although not everything thought good is thought to be good for something, when someone describes something as good he generally means, broadly, that it is suitable, it being defeasibly understood when appropriate that he has in mind the sorts of uses, purposes, or ends for which such a thing is ordinarily wanted and that form a context with reference to which such things are normally evaluated.

Hence, given a degree of commonality of purpose and of understanding of one another, one man’s valuations can serve as a guide, certainly better than none even if only rough, for another’s choice.

And hence the much greater diversity of judgments when there is no context, or no obvious and clear context, of use or purpose with reference to which the goodness of the thing is evaluated, when the person making the judgment is inexperienced or lacking in relevant knowledge, or when there is nothing much to goodness but whether one likes the thing.

Whether something is good or suits  – me, you, most people, or whomever – is a matter of fact as much as any other.

And we can be as ignorant or mistaken about what does or will suit us as anyone trying to decide what to buy us for Christmas.

We can be wrong, for example, about which of an array of hammers we would find best to work with for days at a time as we put up a deck.

And one that suits at a given period in life may not work out for the long haul.

Continuing the example, arthritis or an illness leaving me weaker after recovery may mean the hammer I am used to is now too heavy and I need to switch to a lighter one.

Our judgments about what would be suitable for others can also be liable to error.

Is the hammer too heavy for a child so small?

Is the doll too scary looking for your cousin’s little girl?

Is the toy drum too noisy for your cousin to tolerate the child banging on it?

In any case there can be and usually are a variety of factors at work that bear on suitability.

And often, as to them, one can do little better than shrug and hope for the best.

But in every case one of the factors – in fact the ultimate and only deciding factor, whether the thing is wanted for something or not – is simply whether it is wanted or, in the relevant sort of case, preferred.

And it is this connection with desire, with preference, with human conation that makes goodness – or badness, for that matter, understood in a manner that fits what I have said about goodness – , though a matter of fact, a matter of subjective rather than objective fact.

Looking at the matter from another angle, putting it another way, we do not value anything because it is good; it is good because we value it.

I value my car and am glad I bought it because it is so reliable, gets great mileage, always starts on the first try even in the worst of winter, is quiet and easy to drive, and is good looking and comfortable to ride in.

I do not value it because it is thought to have some swell, special, and important property purportedly but  not denoted by "good."

And my valuing it certainly does not mean or entail either that I think it has some such property or that any sentence alleging it does have such a property is true.

To the contrary, "it is good," to put it in a nutshell, said of a car, or a smart phone, or an air conditioning system, just means we value it.

Now, to understand “good” and “bad” when used to judge people it seems to me that, in the rare situation in which for whatever reason we feel called upon to say whether someone is a good man, a good woman, or a good person, the judgment may either approach or even ultimately be a moral one.

Our understanding of such a judgment will be different depending on which of the two cases we are in; in the former case we have a judgment expressing a non-moral evaluation, as discussed above; but not, it is true, in the latter.

It will be convenient to illustrate the former case with parents who think theirs is “a good kid.”

That, of course, is a kid who does not much get into trouble and minds his parents and other adult authorities fairly well.

He does not abuse his siblings.

He does not start fights with other kids at school.

He doesn’t rob the other kids or steal their toys or other belongings.

And so on.

Note we can relevantly describe such kids without reference to supposed moral standards, to anyone’s moral beliefs, and in particular without reference to their moral beliefs, if any.

And we can do it without ourselves making any moral claims.

All the same, those traits – not abusing others, not stealing, not getting into trouble, and minding adults – do take us in the direction of moral territory since, as we know, people’s moral beliefs are apt to include condemnations of aggression, stealing, defiance and the like.

And they are apt to include commendation of non-violence, respect for the property of others, and a measure of willing obedience to authority.

In such and the like cases where the traits that form the basis of assessment are themselves extraneously or coincidentally objects of well-known moral views, judgments that someone is good or bad approach being moral judgments.

But they aren’t that, all the same.

On the other hand, if we hear someone referred to as “a good man” we know that what is at stake is generally not so simple, though it might be, and the temptation to understand this case on the model of the former is what accounts for moral theories like Hume’s theory of virtue and vice.

Hume thinks various traits disposing one to conduct endorsed by common moral belief are and are to be accounted virtues simply as traits that can be identified without making reference to moral beliefs or using moral terms, that we are apt to prize in certain contexts of judgment.

But Hume’s theory does not work for all the supposed virtues of his time or all traits disposing to conduct endorsed by popular moral opinion of his time or ours.

For example, it runs afoul, as he knows, of what he calls “monkish virtues,” traits commonly accounted virtues in his age – the Scottish Enlightenment, though very Christian for all that – that don’t suit his theory.

Ultimately, that is because people's moral opinions are by no means unfailingly such as to endorse or condemn traits, actions, or kinds of actions one might plausibly prize or deplore on such non-moral grounds as those of utility envisioned by Hume and so many other British moralists.

To return to the question of what it means to be a "good person," people in fact understand “virtue” to mean “a settled disposition to do what is right” and “vice” “a settled disposition to do what is wrong.”

Indeed, some would go further.

Some understand “virtue” to mean “a settled disposition to do what is right because it is right” and “vice” “a settled disposition to do what is wrong despite knowledge that it is wrong.”

And that being so, we have to understand that, sensu strictu, "virtue" has no meaning.

And that neither do judgments ascribing particular virtues, each defined in a manner suitable to this understanding of "virtue," or of virtue in general, to individuals.

Nor even, thus understood, does the claim that someone is a "good person."

But all the same, given what we know of the moral opinions of others and which of these might be relevant to the case at hand, telling us someone "is good," “is virtuous,” or better yet that he has some particular virtue nevertheless conveys real and useful information about what is to be expected from him.

And it perhaps as well tells us something about his moral opinions, assuming we understand those of the person making the judgment.

If it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger

Shoveling snow, if you’re a man in your sixties.

Counting today, we have had 3 significant snowfalls - enough to scare the National Weather Service into an alert and make you dig out your car - since the Friday before Christmas.

We are due for another on Tuesday.

This is already past annoying and into really irritating.

Or the other way around.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Just saw Spielberg's Lincoln


See Mr. Lincoln's war, revisited

Lincoln's was the political faith of the Declaration of Independence, a faith to which he gave a ringing and unequivocal affirmation at Gettysburg.

His party today chooses to disavow the Declaration expressly because of its central tenets of democracy and equality, recalling its affirmations of God-given rights only to berate contemporary secularists and betray the spirit of the First Amendment.

But not Lincoln.

And perhaps he did not ridiculously exaggerate the stakes in this, his most famous speech.

The film begins with black and white soldiers struggling to remember his exact words.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

We are met on a great battle-field of that war.

We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.

It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground.

The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

And then without a break the movie shows us the president's struggle, in the first months of 1865, to cement in place the defeat of slavery with the passage of the 13th Amendment.

He would succeed.

And then he would die for it in April, the same year.

What’s in a name? Amoralism, nihilism, and moral skepticism

I have used “amoralism” to refer to a view of morality that rests upon the thesis that the central terms of moral evaluation such as “right,” “wrong,” “just,” “unjust,” “duty,” and the like fail to denote when uttered in moral use.

This I take to be the best explanation of the relevant realities not only of our social situation but also of academic, meta-ethical thought.

The question might be asked why not call this view “moral skepticism” or perhaps even “moral nihilism”?

But neither would be quite right.

As I have developed it from the above, amoralism involves such additional claims as these.
  • Declarative sentences in which moral terms are thus used such as “slavery is unjust” or “child abuse is morally permissible,” though purporting to express moral propositions and to be all of them either true or false, express no propositions and are none of them either true or false.
  • Hence no such sentence can or does express a reason for or against any action or a consideration in favor of or against any institution, law, policy, constitution, form of government, or indeed anything at all.
  • Hence while “that snow is white” denotes the fact that snow is white “that murder is wrong” does not denote either a falsehood or a fact.
  • There are no moral facts; nor, indeed, any moral falsehoods.
  • There are no moral reasons for or against anything.
  • There are no moral considerations.
  • And there is no moral knowledge.
Neither, come to that, are there moral beliefs, sensu strictu, given that the objects of such beliefs, were there any, would be propositions expressed by sentences of the above sort.

They would be moral propositions.

But there are no moral propositions.

What are mistaken for moral beliefs are in fact beliefs – false beliefs – about declarative sentences in which terms of moral evaluation occur in moral use.

Beliefs such as that “slavery is unjust” is true, expresses a true moral proposition, expresses a fact, and expresses a decisive consideration against the institution of slavery as well as a reason to use coercive power to suppress or punish it.

But also such beliefs as that “homosexuality is wrong” is false, expresses a false moral proposition, and for that reason does not express a fact, a valid reason against engaging in homosexual activity, or a valid consideration against the legal toleration of it.

But of course in something other than sensu strictu we can and should speak of these very beliefs about such sentences as moral beliefs.

It is they, after all, that account for and furnish the conscience of the moral believer.

So, why not call this view “moral skepticism”?

Because as these things are generally, though not exceptionlessly, understood the skeptic disbelieves – that is, he thinks to be false – what is asserted, and that is not the position here.

A skeptic regarding the occult, for example, disbelieves in magic, demons, spirits, ghosts, etc., and in the claimed powers of mediums, magicians, witches, and sorcerers.

He thinks it is false that these things exist and it is false that people have the abilities claimed by these folk.

A skeptic about religion disbelieves that gods, demons, angels, God, Jahweh, or Allah even exist, and hence also he disbelieves the stories and myths about them.

But the amoralist does not disbelieve the moral claims of the believer.

His position is instead on all fours with that of the anthropologist considering the claims of the Islander.

The Islander says “You cannot eat that fruit. It is taboo.”

The anthropologist does not think the Islander’s sentence is true.

But that does not mean he thinks it is false.

Rather, he thinks it without meaning and so neither true nor false.

The skeptic would disbelieve the Islander and say “The fruit is not taboo.”

But the anthropologist would believe the skeptic’s sentence also meaningless.

Moral nihilism is in a like case with moral skepticism, being equally committed to the truth of sentences the doctrine here declares meaningless.

“Nothing is wrong” and “everything is permitted,” both commonly taken as definitive claims of moral nihilism, are neither of them true.

Both are as meaningless as the most orthodox affirmations of the most abject moral conventionalism they are meant to reject.

So both labels are, each in its own way, unsuitable.

On the other hand, “amoralism” comes very close to meaning doing without morality in evaluation and decision.

And that is indeed what we must do, if the doctrine I have called “amoralism” is true.

We must make do, in evaluation and decision, without specifically moral reasons and without specifically moral considerations, since there are none of either.

[Update 08302014.

I have lately learned there is an Aussie philosopher, Richard Joyce, whose work I have not read but who, supposedly, takes the same view I do.


Update 05192015.

I have since checked and his views are by no means the same as mine.]

Hence the suitability of the name.

All the same, the view espoused here does of course qualify as moral skepticism on some acceptations of that term.

Nihilism, too, I suppose.

For example, the position here frankly disbelieves that there are properties denoted by "wrong," "right," and the like in moral use and flatly rejects that there are moral facts and that any moral assertion is true.

Hence it also disbelieves and denies that there are moral reasons or moral considerations or even, strictly speaking, moral convictions.

Regarding all these things the position is skeptical of much that moral believers believe.

Indeed, these things are the very foundation of the moral faith.

But they all concern what philosophers call "meta-ethical" points.

So the position is aptly described as a form of meta-ethical skepticism and a form of meta-ethical nihilism.

But those are really not, respectively, the same as moral skepticism and moral nihilism and, in fact, the meta-ethical and the normative positions are contraries.

Mackie's embrace of skepticism on both the normative and meta-ethical levels is a serious flaw in his ground-breaking and influential book.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

It’s just as bad when liberals do it

Booman soon to be a social scold

He writes,

I think we need to talk about the social problem. . . .

We need to figure out what this country is really all about.

What it should be all about.

He explains,

I think progressives need a moral narrative beyond fairness, beyond equal opportunity, and beyond license.

We need a moral narrative for our role as citizens and for our county's role in the world.

We need a vision for de-fracturing some significant part of our culture and giving it higher collective purpose. 

Among the most repulsive features of people who care about politics is their casual totalitarianism.

Control freaks on steroids, most of them.

Every bit as bad, some of them and in their own ways, as the Islamists tearing up the Muslim world, these days.

And it’s by no means only the clericalist conservatives who aspire not only to control the moral outlook of the nation but to define a mission, a global mission, for our country and lead us all on it.

This is something the libertarians surely have right.

Freedom is not being drafted - figuratively but more especially literally - into some national mission cooked up by someone convinced that life, or anyway our national life, has no meaning without one – and that our national life definitely needs to have meaning.

Or that his nasty little "moral narrative" demands it.

Didn't I warn you morality is about coercion, force, and bloodshed? 

Yes, I did.

Freedom is most certainly not being subjected to somebody’s vision of a so-called “higher collective purpose.”

Democrats (small “d”) like me want to empower people (including ourselves, thanks) against those who would oppress or exploit them, but otherwise let them be.

Liberals like Booman want to give people marching orders.

And, come to that, far too often this is literally true.

So great is their will to power that liberal globalism includes an unwavering commitment to military meddling, everywhere.

Amazing how far our freedom relies on the natural indifference of others, isn’t it?

People who don't give a hang about politics or about what we are doing?

Or whether our lives measure up to their standards of meaning, purpose, or morality?

Man’s lack of interest in his fellow man doesn’t only have a downside.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012



Moral philosophers commonly divide egoism into two types, psychological egoism being the claim that each person has only his own welfare as his ultimate aim and ethical, also known as normative, egoism being the claim that our one moral duty is to pursue our own welfare as our only ultimate aim.

Other variants include what is sometimes called the economic theory of rationality according to which what it is rational for anyone to do is seek to maximize his utility, defined in terms of satisfaction of his own desires or preferences, with no or few claims being made about what people do or ought to desire or prefer.

A more traditional predecessor of the economic theory holds that what it is rational to seek is only the maximization of one’s own happiness, it being understood that one is happier or less unhappy according as one experiences more pleasure or less pain.

Historically related to these has been the empirical claim – a variant of political realism – that people in fact care very little and generally not at all, one way or the other, about the welfare, fortunes, or fates of others, leaving aside how their welfare, fortunes, or fates may bear on their own aims or concerns, exceptions made in some degree for friends, family, or others similarly close.

This empirical conviction has been foundational for the views of a great many moral philosophers according to whom in one way or another morality is best understood as a device for counteracting limited sympathies, aimed almost if not quite exclusively at stopping us riding roughshod over others in pursuit of our personal goals.

On the other hand, the empirical conviction does not necessitate that opinion.

And it is obviously compatible with the view that morality is an evolving complex of socially ingrained delusions enabling intimidation and coercion that has by no means always seemed most notably a device for counteracting limited sympathies but rather, in varying degrees at different times and places, a device for facilitating domination or for harnessing human sexuality to the perpetuation of human communities.

Much like religion.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

One of my favorite examples

The Incorporation Doctrine

Like the right to privacy, the incorporation doctrine is a sustained lie upon which much good law has been built and imposed on America by a usurpatious institution, the US Supreme Court.

They've done grand things with equal protection, too.

Most of the important and valuable liberal legal doctrine is lies, or built on lies.

Baseless and irresponsible judicial absolutism has been good for America, in recent decades.

A kind of black-robed benevolent despotism.

Democracy is a good thing as far as it enables the people to defend themselves and enlists their acceptance and support for government.

Well, anyway so far as it diminishes futile or harmful popular turbulence.

Beyond that it is risky and often deplorable.

A measure of despotic anti-democracy can be a good thing.

And I'll bet he has a limousine


"As a white Protestant man with three Mayflower ancestors who grew up in an elite Ivy League town as the son of an advertising agency executive, I could have considered this country as somehow belonging more to me than to everyone else."

Booman on the NR cruise.

What do you think?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Living with an 18th Century relic

I left the below comment.

"The right has always been unnaturally strong in this country."

It was supposed to be strong; there is nothing unnatural about it.

6 year terms in an anti-majoritarian senate selected by state legislatures and whose members never face the electorate all at one time.

Life tenure for Supremes appointed by the president and confirmed by the senate.

Presidential electors selected by the states in whatever manner pleases them; electors free to vote for anyone; congress free to certify their vote or not.

Marbury vs. Madison.

Extra seats in the house for slave states.

Sure, it was the most democratic constitution in the world when adopted since it rejected monarchy, hereditary office, lords spiritual, and even hereditary prestige.

But it went as far as humanly possible within the framework of 18th Century republicanism to exclude the people from power and permanently cement government of the powerful, by the powerful, and for the powerful.

In contrast, the parliamentary regimes that resulted "by accident" as European monarchies and aristocracies were shorn of power within structures of state inherited from feudalism are generally much more democratic than what we Americans endure.

And to this day many Democratic pundits with reputations for solid liberalism would oppose most of the democratizing reforms now and again suggested by political scientists and constitutional scholars of progressive bent.

You, for example.

For readers who don’t realize, Booman has repeatedly urged repeal of the 17th Amendment and written against majoritarianism in the senate.

Just as libertarians and paleocons whose ideology empowers plutocracy whine endlessly about the self-enriching uses plutes make of their power, Booman revolts against the inequality that he knows is a result of our most undemocratic constitution even as he rejects democratic reforms.

The ability of the Republican Party to ensure it will continue to control the house though their candidates consistently get fewer total votes than the Democrats is just another example of counter-democracy at work empowering the powerful and disempowering the people.

And yet, most pundits of both parties would resist and have written to oppose democratic reforms of our constitution that would move us toward the level of democracy enjoyed in European, parliamentary regimes, despite their apparently deathless concern for the advancement of democracy in foreign lands not yet liberated by our conquering armies.

Just once I would like to hear a so-called liberal Democratic leader, even a president, react to conservative idolization of the Framers and their constitution with the public scorn and ridicule it deserves.

What the Framers gave us, after all, was so wonderful that they had to fix it, right away, with ten amendments they resisted as wholly unnecessary but without which we would not have freedom of speech and religion, the right to representation by an attorney at a public jury trial, and many others of the basic liberties for which the Framers get but do not deserve the credit.

And then after that we had to fix their constitution several times more, using those same incredibly inapt and clumsy tools they provided in Article V, with an amendment (after a war!) abolishing slavery, another providing women with the vote, yet another guaranteeing the vote to anyone at least 18, another providing for popular election of senators, and another allowing disproportionate taxation of the rich.

And the truth is we are far from done having to fix it.

It is still too much like what it originally was, an 18th Century junk-pile clapped together to guarantee the power of rich white males and nobody else, and most of them slavocrats.

The one besetting sin of the constitution from the first day was being deliberately constructed to prevent democracy and deny power to the people.

The one and only cure is and has always been democracy and then more democracy, again and again added by a succession of reforms put in through an amendment process that itself needs to be drastically reformed.

And we have a long way further to go.

On the other hand, who, seeing how terrified of democracy are even the most radical pundits of the “party of the people,” can be optimistic about the prospects for democracy in America, today?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

To be governed

What should happen: All the cops are fired all the way up to the highest ranking who knew and did nothing.

The ones who actually did it go to jail as sexual predators.

What will happen: little or nothing.

By the way, why do we pretend it's OK when a woman does the search of another female?

What percentage of female troopers are lesbians, anyway?

Among the few I know it's 100%.

At the risk of running into a porn fantasy I ask is it OK for a woman to be violated by a lesbian cop but not by a man?


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Anti-Semite? Nah.

He’s not actually peacenik enough, for me.

But on Israel he would be quite a counterweight to Hillary, eh?

And better than what we have.

You know, if we would just mind our own business and let the rest of the world go its own way we would never have to decide in anything remotely like an official way who are the bad guys and who the good, in every quarrel on the face of the earth.

Just not our business.

Another step toward global government

If all the world lives the same way, will it be remotely compatible with your way?

And when power is that far away from your hands it’s in the hands of people who are already far too powerful.

When you get right down to it, liberals are far from being democracy's friends.

By the way, when will the troops of "the indispensable nation" be called upon to attack some African country to enforce this?

Your tax dollars at work.

And your draftees?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Liberals never give up.

Yes, I realize everybody lies about the constitution, and certainly not least the Supremes in their opinions.

But good grief.

Yes, the 2nd creates an individual right not only to keep firearms loaded in the home but to carry them about.

IHT here refuses even to see, let alone understand, the English words, “keep and bear arms.”


War for the lesser evil

In Shakespeare’s play of the same name King John, his nobles, and his allies confront the French King Phillip, his nobles, and his allies in a struggle for control of certain of John’s French lands.

Both the lands and the people on them that are held by these nobles from the kings own down are clearly regarded by them as just so much property, and the lands and people held by others as just so much prey.

All of them, from the kings right down to the lowliest knights, are in the fight for such gain, though some also have more personal motives including revenge and enjoyment of slaughter.

If Phillip wins he will reward his nobles and allies with pieces of John’s French possessions and John’s supporters are with him in a like hope to seize possessions of the French king to be distributed among themselves.

In particular, the issue of the fighting in the play is control of the town of Angiers in Aquitaine.

As for the troops the nobles lead, drawn from the people who live on their lands and inhabit their towns, they are in not much better case than so many slaves forced to fight to help their overlords seize more slaves, or keep the slaves they have.

At the beginning of the play, each king in turn solicits the town’s leading citizens for military support in the fight and the people, offered nothing at all by either and no arguments but gas about who has the better claim to own them based on feudal family law, refuse them both.

The kings accept that and their forces slaughter one another for a while, leaving the town out of it.

But then they grow tired of that and demand the town choose sides or be jointly and simultaneously attacked by both forces.

The canny citizens suggest instead a peace-making marriage between the contending sides and that deal is luckily accepted.

Were they right to do their best to simply stay out of the fight?

Or should they have chosen and fought for a lesser evil?

Might not the difference between the evils have been too slight to cover the sacrifice?

A fool’s gamble, like our state lotteries, but worse?

Could not a draftee in any number of wars after the feudal era have felt, with much justice, exactly the same?

And fought only because the costs of draft evasion were even greater?

Monday, December 17, 2012

The past is another country

One not much like ours and in no way better.

I’ve been reading Shakespeare, again.

The Merchant of Venice and Macbeth in the last couple of weeks with Titus and The Tempest in between.

And now I’m starting the histories with King John, a batch of plays I have not read, except for Richard III, since my college days.

The older I get the more the world of Shakespeare seems not only alien but worse.



Obsessed with female virginity?

They made a fetish of it. (So to speak.)


Oh, my, yes.


Unquestionably and even shockingly.

But the worst of it all is the bottomless, empty-headed, oblivious, and totally secure selfishness of the rich and the mighty who owned and ruled not only Shakespeare’s own world but the worlds in his past that he chose to depict.

Shakespeare was, indeed, a wonderful dramatist with a beautiful mastery of language that he put into the mouths of so many of his characters.

But who, today, would dare to claim as a leading critic once did that both playwright and plays display an “unerring moral sensibility”?

We are not used to seeing dramatic presentations of such rulers without even a hint that the author does or anyone might deplore their attitudes towards their own power.

Nothing short of disarmament can stop slaughters like this, he seems to think, but does not quite say

And Charles Cooke at NRO is quite right not only about that but that the federal government can’t disarm the country to any serious or helpful extent in the teeth of the 2nd Amendment.

And so?

Cooke writes,

American liberties, including the Second Amendment and the 40-plus state-level guarantees of the right to bear arms, pre-exist the federal government, and are defined and protected in the same document from which the state derives its authority and its structure.

The 2nd Amendment pre-exists the federal government?

The state derives its authority from a document?

Not from the consent of the people?

What is this document to which all humanity owes such servile obeisance?

Perhaps his regular readers know what he has in mind.

I don't.

In a free republic, the people cannot be disarmed by the government, for they are its employers, and they did not give up their individual rights when they consented to its creation.

In a free republic the people rule themselves and are not prevented from doing so by any institutional embodiment of someone else’s will.

And in a free republic – free in that regard, anyway – the will of the people would not be obstructed by anything like the 2nd Amendment.

There is no clause in our charters of liberty that allows for the people to be deprived of their freedom if and when a few individuals abuse theirs.

Yes, yes.

And no one thinks there should be.

Moreover, contrary to the rhetoric of many, America is not in the middle of a crime epidemic.

As laws have been liberalized over the last forty years, crime has dropped significantly.

The partial incorporation of the Second Amendment by the Supreme Court, along with the decline in public support for gun control and the passage of state-level concealed carry laws has done nothing to check this trend.

This could be right.

But as Cooke made perfectly clear at the top of his article, he understands perfectly well that the frequency of ordinary crime is irrelevant to the issue at hand.

And he also understands perfectly well that mass slaughters, already on something of an upswing, have increased dramatically since the Supremes began to combine 2nd Amendment honesty with the fundamental fakery of incorporation.

It is sad that all political factions in America, more and more, and including the faction of one that I am, have so much at stake in the secure and continued reign of utter fraud in our constitutional law.

NRO's editors write, espousing an interesting twist on Locke,

The irreducible challenge the Second Amendment poses to gun restrictionists is that it does not bestow upon the people a right they previously lacked.

It proscribes the government from infringing upon a right the people already have. 

It is not that the people are allowed to arm.

It is that the government is disallowed to disarm them.

This is perhaps their opening shot in what they fear may be an emerging movement for outright repeal of the 2nd Amendment, for which no public safety argument is better than the rising tide of mass murders by people both very well armed and mentally disturbed.

Locke and his usual followers, even among the American colonials, seem to have had no idea the right to keep and bear arms is an absolute natural right on the same short – and, of course, entirely imaginary – list as life, liberty, and either property (for Locke) or the pursuit of happiness (for Jefferson).

In the constitution, the actual text of the 2nd Amendment clearly does not take that view, the right being said to exist and require safeguarding because, as a practical matter and as the framers and ratifiers believed and said, a well-regulated militia is necessary (and sufficient) to the security of a free state.

Of course, the framers and ratifiers were wrong on that point, even in their own lifetimes, as the Whiskey Rebellion and the War of 1812 both made abundantly clear though the Revolutionary War somehow did not.

The former made it abundantly clear that the armed yeomanry could not possibly stand up successfully against trained regulars in defense of liberty; they could not even do it in defense of whiskey.

And the latter demonstrated the uselessness of militia against foreign regulars in wartime.

The Brits, you will recall, pretty much cleaned our clocks in a war that took place and caused significant devastation almost entirely on our territory and not at all on theirs.

Other reasons given for the necessity of such a right in the 18th Century included frontier defense against Indians, self-defense in a society without effective police, and the daily need to feed one’s family.

None of these considerations apply in our time, of course; nor would they, if reasonable, be important enough to justify a constitutional right.

And nor would they, in the absence of such a right, justify allowing the ocean of guns in private hands in America to continue to enable such horrific disasters as that at Newtown.

So we are left with a constitutionally protected right thought necessary by its original supporters only for reasons that do not apply and the effect of which – thanks in large part to a gratuitous extension of the gratuitous incorporation doctrine – is wholly harmful.

And a right that NRO’s editors, no doubt not alone, have decided to upgrade to the short list of absolute, natural rights – all of them God-granted, in their official view – the better to defend the amendment that protects it from repeal and the right itself from common sense.


Silence? Really?

Liberals who never stop talking about gun control are universally taking the line that the NRA has bullied them into silence.

But sometimes they talk a lot more.

Quite a long list of people urging this action.

People who have been bullied into silence, no doubt.


By no means do all the lies we tell each other on a fairly large scale have political or interested aims.

Sometimes we fabricate stories to provide meaning and consolation in a harsh world.

And sometimes it’s just horrifically bad taste.

Christmas combines all of these, wouldn't you say?

Yes and No

Yes, the Democrats already do without traditional Southern whites.

But those were not the people David Atkins referred to.

And, no, David Atkins’ absolutely vicious characterization of exurban, rural whites as racists and K’s own characterization of pro-gun rights folk as fanatics are both grossly unfair and unacceptable.

Add to that the fact that gun control in a country where tens of millions of people already own hundreds of millions of firearms is an absurd but vote-getting futility and the picture of liberal unfairness, fraud, and folly on this issue is complete.

You cannot make guns hard to lay hands on in America without repeal of the 2nd Amendment and widespread civilian disarmament.

And nobody’s even hinting at either on the liberal side of the street or the Democratic side of the aisle.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Something must be done


Not making Medicare premium free, free of patient liability, and available to all?

Not making the Social Security retirement age 60?

Not making the top tax rate at least 70%?

Not graduating the inheritance tax and putting the top rate at the same place?

Not getting our troops out, all of them, really out, of Iraq and Afghanistan?

Not putting a moratorium on immigration?

Not moving toward a more protectionist approach to American jobs, industry, and capital?

Not formally leaving NATO and beginning a gradual withdrawal of our troops from overseas bases to North America, north of the equator?

Not leaving the UN and asking them to move their global headquarters someplace else?

Not abolishing the senate?

Not ending life tenure for federal judges?

Not ending federal court constitutional review of federal actions?

Not instituting a federal recall?

Not allowing impeachment at will of federal judges?

It’s gun control?


That’s the most important thing he could fight for in his second term?

Well, the desires and concerns of the rich and powerful who run this country are rarely the least like my own.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

David Atkins just can’t get past race. It’s always his bottom line.

His response to the CT schoolhouse massacre is that the Democrats should abandon the “rural and exurban white male vote,” which he also calls “the Bubba vote.”

The sociolib priorities and class bigotries of educated liberals and the big money contributors – the “limousine liberals,” as the right used to call them, with a sneer – are driving the Democratic Party further away from the white working class they so openly loathe and whose votes they think they can do without because of the browning of America they have arranged largely for the purpose.

Gun control is Democrat sucker-bait and - benefit of the doubt - liberal self-delusion

I posted this comment.

If you urge hearings on repeal of the 2nd Amendment I will be with you, provided you also come clean that the problem is not easy sale of handguns but widespread ownership.

More than 300 million guns, they say, are owned by tens of millions of Americans; how many of them are already just what a mass murderer needs?

If we stopped all new gun sales tomorrow the problem would not go away for centuries, since guns generally stay in usable condition for a very, very long time and black market/homemade ammunition would remain available even if commercial sales were stopped.

The real objective has to be disarmament.

Short of that you're just throwing out sucker-bait for voters.

And the Democrats and the liberals who support them are well short of that and will stay well short of that.

 Yes, I meant it.

 Sucker-bait for voters.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Chris McGreal at The Guardian goes off message on Ms. Rice.

Here in America the left that is solid for Obama is solid for her, but CM says she is too hawkish in the wrong places (Iraq, Israel) and was not hawkish enough at the right place (Rwanda).

Odd how it’s nobody else’s fault that they did not intervene.

Russia, Germany, Sweden, Italy.

I could go on.

Nobody else’s fault.

We have to be The Indispensable Nation.

And the Brits have to be Tonto.

Or Poncho.

Or is it Sancho Panza?

Well, she’s out, now.

CM might be happier with John Kerry, but that's a reliable senate seat put at risk.

Remember what happened to Ted Kennedy's seat?

And how does CM feel about Chuck Hagel?

CH voted for the invasion of Iraq but got cold feet and voted for a resolution demanding withdrawal in 120 days.

Thereafter he was a critic of the Bush foreign policy.

He is said to be critical of Israel and is not a man to make neocons happy, but I have no idea what he thought or today thinks about Rwanda.

He is said to be a bit hawkish on Iran.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ah, the UN will protect our rights

Speaks for itself.

Just in the nick of time

More from the Arab Spring.

Democracy is such a wonderful thing, no matter what.

Says the article,

Kuwaiti MPs this week approved a law with a death penalty for Muslims who curse God, the Koran, all prophets and the wives of Islam's Prophet Mohammed. Non-Muslims who commit the same offence face a jail term of not less than 10 years, according to the bill.

Defendants who repent in court will be spared capital punishment but will get a jail sentence for five years and a fine of $36,000 or one of them, while repentance by those who repeat the crime is not acceptable, the bill says.

"We do not want to execute people with opinions or thought because Islam respects these people... But we need this legislation because incidents of cursing God have increased. We need to deter them," opposition MP Ali al-Deqbasi said during the debate.

Shiite MPs also demanded that the bill impose the death penalty on anyone who curses their sect's 12 revered Imams, but the Sunni-dominated parliament rejected their request.

Darn those Sunni bigots.

Climate what?

OK, first off, talk of justice is bullshit whether it’s climate justice or any other kind.

And it’s nasty, bullying bullshit.

To see why, start with the earliest posts with the label, “amoralism.”

You won’t have to read very far.

But apart from that, per capita pollution rights?


Within no nation do emissions limits work even remotely like that across provinces, states, cities, towns or even individuals.

National emissions standards on cars, for example, don’t vary depending on what subordinate jurisdiction you live in, whether this is your first car, how long you’ve been driving, or how many cars you have.

And older cars are generally exempt from newer, tighter standards that are always prospective, applying to new vehicles.

That last may allow greater per capita emissions among non-whites in America than among whites.

Yes, I’m supposing that the average age of cars belonging to whites is lower than that of cars belonging to non-whites, based on the assumption of greater wealth among whites.

Probably they’re generally kept in much better – and much more strictly legal – running condition, too.

OK, so maybe we have to ignore the statistical outliers with incomes in the millions to get our result.

But maybe not.

And, anyway, do you guess anybody on the left would tolerate the suggestion that the burden ought to be heavier on non-whites than on whites?

As for the whole idea of compensation for damages, nothing remotely like that happens inside any nation, either, with transfers being demanded by people who don’t own factories or cars from people who do.

Not even among victims of Sandy, trumpeted in nearly all the media as a piece of extreme weather caused by global warming.


Anyway, there is this at the Washington Times.

Those concerned about the climate also claim that weather events such as Hurricane Sandy and Typhoon Bopha, that hit the Philippines last week, were strengthened by man-made warming.

But empirical evidence shows that, on a global basis, neither the strength nor the frequency of hurricanes and tropical storms has increased over the last 35 years.

The theory of man-made global warming is increasingly suspect.

The 1990 First Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted a rise in global surface temperatures of 0.3oC per decade.

The report provided a “high estimate,” a “best estimate,” and a “low estimate” for global temperature rise.

But 22 years later, global temperatures sit far below the IPCC’s 1990 low estimate.

Recent data from the University of East Anglia do not show statistically significant warming in global surface temperatures for the last sixteen years.

No treaty!

The inequality of proposed constraints makes them an engine to enrich China, India, Indonesia, and other freshly industrializing nations at our expense and that of Europe - and maybe Japan - by crippling industry and severely penalizing investment and development here.

The compensation fund is pure global redistribution for its own sake.

Just say NO to Doha!

On the other hand, we really do need to slow and even reverse population growth or we will still end up facing an age of Soylent Green, though for different reasons.

Well, somebody will.

Lord knows how soon.

And what's up with the global ice?

Just catching up to the warming that did NOT occur more recently than 16 years ago?

Oh, wait.

NRO says,

Himalayan glaciers are growing, interior Greenland is not melting, summer Antarctic sea ice is near record extent, and seas are not rising any faster than for the past 100 years.

Or they could go for MORE white voters

By moderating the class war that still motivates many whites to stick with the Democrats.

Oh, wait.

That kind of color-blind move would improve their position with people of all races among the infamous 47%.

But ferocious class war is what the conservative movement is really all about, no?

That’s the core value for anybody calling himself a conservative, no matter what his views on ancillary issues like Israel, globalismo, trade, immigration, clericalism, or (yes, really) race.

Hence the current battle within the party to betray their main street, anti-immigration wing in favor of their open-borders, Wall Street wing.

But can they pick up more votes in swing Latinos than they will lose in anti-immigration whites?

Some of them, after all, are working class whites who might well decide that if suddenly the one party is as bad as the other on immigration they might as well go back to the Democrats who are still notably better, if wussy, on class.

Damned thing smoked like a tanker on fire at sea

Not for the first time, I got stuck this morning driving behind a Pittsburgh school bus billowing great clouds of pale blue, horrific exhaust that didn’t dissipate for blocks behind it.

The city, or maybe it’s the school district, really doesn’t want to pay what it needs to to keep these old wrecks of busses in proper shape and stop the damned smoke.

I have serious respiratory problems and I think of the billowing exhaust and the stench and my lungs closing up behind school busses, public transport busses, and way too many out of control trucks every time some stupid, tree-hugging kid insists we need more busses on the road and fewer cars because diesel is good.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Which is the lesser evil?

Now, the question asked is not really any of our concern, anyway, us not being likely to have to choose between the given alternatives for our own country, unless as a purely theoretical matter.

But doesn’t he change the question in his second sentence, taking a whole lot for granted about what counts toward making one better than the other?

He reports participating in a public debate, but can’t quite make up his mind what the point debated actually was.

Doesn’t he go back to seeing these as two distinct questions a bit later with this?

“The issue, rather, was which sort of ruler is the lesser of two evils, and can more easily be cudgeled to democracy.”

Damned silly, that, really, anyway.

After all, one of the two alternatives being debated actually is democracy, though the winning party is presumed not to please us.

Near as I can tell from the summaries and quoted passages here, all the participants had slush in their skulls and wouldn’t have been able to stay on point if their lives had depended on it.

And so far as they did debate something it seems to have relied on a false dichotomy of greedy dictators without political values versus ideology-driven Muslims elected to office but whose values, well, suck.

Certainly not fair to Ataturk.

Nor to the Egyptian presidents from Nasser to Mubarak.

Nor, really, to the Baathists of Iraq and Syria.

Probably not even fair to the long-gone last Shah of Iran.

But this fellow is paid very well to write waste paper like this.

And let’s face it, this is an article for NRO.

The lesser evil of two Muslim regimes, for them, just means a regime less unfriendly or dangerous toward Israel.

Not a view shared quite by everybody, though apparently by nearly everybody, in American politics.

Not for the first time, Obama apologist Booman is smoothing the way for another Obama let-down

The Democrats and the Republicans are equally stubborn about raising the age of eligibility for Medicare and raising taxes for the rich, he says.

So the only way to reach a deal is for both to make concessions, he says.

So that would be OK, he says.

This is the guy who a few weeks ago was cheering the O administration over the cliff.

Whatever he thinks they might want to do, he wants to smooth the path.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Smear on the other foot

Conservatives Blaming Democrats, or liberals, for the opinions of Harry Belafonte is like liberals blaming the Republicans, or conservatives, for the opinions of Anders Breivik.

Oh, wait.

They did that, didn’t they?

Telling it like it was

No known young black male in America displays anything remotely like the racial sensitivity demanded of whites as a matter of course, or makes any attempt to avoid open displays of fearless racial contempt.

Liberals will bypass all that and blame shift, headlining their reports, “Young, conservative, white chick plays race card.”

All the same, Foxx is telling it like it was.

So far as I know, every slave revolt in the New World involved unspeakable cruelty and totally indiscriminate slaughter of whites by the rebelling slaves.

The most famous case was the Haitian revolt.

But in the US, Nat Turner’s rebellion went much the same way.

Conservative historians say Jefferson blanched, wanted Napoleon to crush the rebellion, and stopped urging emancipation, after that.

The abolitionist movement in the South dried up.

The South came to fear terrible black on white violence in case of emancipation.

Violence that never materialized, as things actually turned out.

Until the mid-20th Century, a hundred years after emancipation, race riots in America were pretty much exclusively a matter of whites on the rampage against blacks.

Since then, of course, it’s gone the other way.

Two strikes

This is a ridiculous and hateful smear of conservatives and another volley in the liberal war against old, white men for being white and for being men.

Not, so far as I can tell, for being old.

It’s the conservatives who occasionally attack the old, denouncing them as selfish enemies of the young.

The Lesser Evil to strike again?

Rumors abound on the Internets that the O administration will soon be pushing for American troops on the ground in Syria.

The ostensible reason will be that Assad has – Gasp! – Mustard Gas!

Er, wait.

That’s “weapons of mass destruction,” to all you tykes born after the Cold War.

But, anyway, the real reason will be to deny control of the country to the al-Qaeda-led Islamic lunatics who are running the rebellion and to whom we have – inadvertently, one hopes – been supplying arms.

Then Syria will become the new Afghanistan.

Recall that O has repeatedly said that Afghanistan was the right war in the right place at the right time, in contrast to Bush 43’s invasion of Iraq.

And he never publicly backed away from that, whatever he may privately think.

Looks like he may be adding another right war, cut from the same cloth.

The one in Afghanistan has gone so well, after all.

And promises of withdrawal are exaggerated and, anyway, still just so much cheap talk.

What is actually happening?

The global war on terror is expanding.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A test for liberals

If you had to choose one concession from among these, which would you choose?

A. Let the Christians put up crèches on city hall lawns wherever they are solid majorities.

The rule would be:

Wherever they are the solid majority, people of religion X can put up celebratory symbols on public property for their major holiday(s), if any.

B. Let the Republicans raise the Medicare eligibility age by two years or means test it.

C. Let the Republicans pass a right to work law in one of the (still) more heavily unionized states.

Atheist though I am, I would go with A in a heartbeat.

Atheist, Marxist, and Globalist

OK, I can see the further left making this very nearly their theme song in preference to The International.

But liberals?

Like putting Che posters on your walls.

Knit one, pearl two

Just as the left ties efforts to limit climate change to massive global redistribution they tie efforts to protect Indian women to significant shifts in jurisdiction to the tribes.

When the right balks they complain how those vicious old rich white guys hate women – especially non-white women – and all their other poor, brown-skinned victims, world-wide.

But they don’t give an inch on the real agenda.

They don't need lessons in hardball from anybody.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Maybe if they’d quit trying to use climate change as an excuse to pillage the rich nations they could get something done

And maybe if environmentalists and the poorer nations were half as scared as they pretend to be they’d quit it.

They know damn well that’s what’s cooking the goose, time and again.

And I told you the left positively longs to transfer real power - sovereignty - from the US government to the UN and other global institutions.

Where it will be even further out of reach of the American people.

The crackpot right has their number, on that one.

A loophole big enough for a battleship

Daniel Webster made a speech in the House denouncing Madison and the Democrats both for starting the war of 1812 and for seeking to draft people to fight it, in December of 1814.

He declaimed drafting people to fight an offensive war unnecessary to the defense of their liberties, their country, their homes, or their families was unconstitutional.

He thus left open the possibility that a draft for a war to serve the nation’s vital interests could be constitutional.

And that makes one wonder what he thought of all those Brit troops who had invaded America and burned Washington DC to the ground.

Anyway, who has not heard of Cap Weinberger’s stunning declaration that there is no place so remote or insignificant in all the world that the US does not have vital interests there?

Who is not aware that the supporters of Mr. Wilson's war insisted America had to fight to make the world safe for democracy?

Or that, according to FDR's supporters, Hitler was out to conquer the whole world, America included, just as the Kaiser had been?

Or that, without America's cold war efforts, communism after WW2 (but apparently not after WW1) was a serious threat to overtake the whole world with Stalin-like tyranny, us included?

Madison, by the way, left Webster undisturbed, so far as I know.

Lincoln would not be so mild toward Clement Vallandigham.

Interestingly, Daniel Webster in his speech of 1814 rejecting the constitutionality of the draft directly addressed the claim that the bare necessity of the thing made it constitutional because the congress and the government in general had to be thought of as endowed with the power to do anything necessary to the achievement of its legitimate, constitutionally prescribed or allowed ends.

And he denounced that idea as Tommyrot.

He flat denied the power of the congress to raise armies, in particular and for example, entailed the power to do anything necessary to raise armies adequate to their admittedly constitutionally authorized purposes.

Yes, at the cost of losing.

What do you think of that?

Wouldn't you think that a claim that congress has so awful a power, so terrible in its impact on the people, on  individuals and on families, could and should be backed by some shred of text?

Surely Webster was right this is far too heavy a weight for the necessary and proper clause to carry?

Mr. Lincoln's war, revisited

Suppose Lincoln had forced the country through all that horror and loss and, in the end, let slavery stand.

Could any national leader have been more infamous in US or even world history for doing anything of more costly and unspeakably stupid futility?

The Articles of Confederation established a perpetual union of the subscribing states under itself, that union’s equally perpetual constitution.

The generation that wrote them blew off both the union and the Articles in flat defiance of several of them and wrote a new constitution far more national in nature – members voted as individuals in that new bicameral legislature instead of each state’s members voting together as a block, for example – that they were willing to see disrupt the union fatally and forever in case it was not ratified by them all, with states previously in now staying out.

The leaders of the southern Confederacy were no more cavalier about the constitution or the union than they had been, and anyway the claim to perpetuity had been discreetly, understandably, but not inconsequentially omitted from the Philadelphia document by its lawless creators.

Union forever?


It is clear as day, I think, that Lincoln’s bloody war to save the union would have been an outrage against humanity and the least common sense had he won and let slavery stand.

And if slavery had within a few decades been actually abandoned voluntarily in all the states that would only have made it worse.

But he did not let slavery stand and what the South feared at the time was very possibly true, though the neo-Confederates today deny it, that Lincoln from the moment the first shot was fired aimed both to keep the South in the union and to end slavery everywhere within it, though he could not at that time say so.

That is, and contrary to what had been the expressed views of many abolitionists before him, he meant to prevent the southern states breaking off and forming a powerful slave confederacy right on our borders, taking away a large part of our national strength and perhaps expanding into the Caribbean, inevitably becoming an enemy and perhaps a menace to the northern, free-state, rump union they would leave behind, as some who favored secession intended.

Many today speculate that had he let the southern states secede slavery would have died out among them anyway within a few decades, as at any rate seems more plausible than the nightmare of entrenched, vigorous, and spreading slavery I have hypothesized Lincoln fought to avoid.

Certainly it is difficult - though I think not impossible - to believe it could in that case have survived as a legal institution anywhere in the Occident up to our own day, though it survives even now illegally in many areas of the world and even legally in some parts controlled by Muslim religious law.

But even granting – and I think it is not certain – that slavery would anyway have disappeared before now it remains true that the Civil War did at any rate much shorten the life span of slavery in the southern states, themselves, and almost certainly elsewhere.

So, why could Lincoln not say so from the beginning if, as I have suggested, he meant to save the union and kill slavery within it from the start?

Because he thought he just might have a plausible constitutional case that secession was nothing but rebellion and he as president had a duty to put it down.

That was the view of the Republicans at the time whose outlook on the matters of federal power and states’ rights made them old-time Federalists on steroids.

But he had no case whatever and did not believe that the federal government under the then constitution had the least authority to disturb slavery in the South under any pretext whatever, and specifically not even under pretext of rebellion.

Though during the war he claimed and exercised the power of emancipation he applied it only to some of America's slaves and was by no means sure of its permanent effect.

Hence the need, eventually, to force through the 13th Amendment banning slavery to give the Civil War an indisputable meaning it would otherwise most certainly not have had.

Should Lincoln have done it?

Should he have fought this war?

The Democrats who opposed him were certainly right, I think, that he ought not to have fought merely to save the union, just as we mostly feel today, I think, that Canada ought not to fight to keep Quebec in, nor Italy to keep in an unwilling South Tyrol, nor anyone at all to keep the Flemings and Walloons from splitting Belgium as the Czechs and the Slovaks split Czechoslovakia.

And is not the UN, even today, defending the right of secession in the former territories of Yugoslavia?

Those who protest that admitting a right of secession is an absurdity in normative political theory are quite right, but they are missing that normative political theory is absurd in the first place and has little bearing on actual history.

See the earlier posts labeled “amoralism.”

In the real world not only secession but even the more radical step of partition are sometimes acceptable and even the only defensible course.

But assume that, though he said he was, Lincoln was not fighting, even at the beginning, merely to save a union half slave and half free.

Assume he aimed from the beginning both to save the union and to kill slavery within it, if he could.

Should he have fought this war?

Were those in the North and West who opposed him at the time actually right?

Especially the thousands of draftee immigrants forced to fight either meaninglessly to save a pointless union or wholly altruistically, tens of thousands of them dying to free slaves little worse off than the free men of their own working class in the cities of the North?

Everything I have ever read denouncing the draft as the most horrific and hateful servitude when the draftees are taken to fight for anything at all but the defense of their own lives and liberty, their country, homes, and loved ones - if perhaps not in that case - comes here to mind, inescapably, and I cannot but sympathize with them rather than him.

And a good deal of all that was written by American republicans sure the end of monarchy and placing the war power in the hands of a popularly elected congress had put an end to the normal feature of history, the powers that be dragging hundreds of thousands, again and again, to kill and die in causes not their own.

Or by anti-federalists opposed to ratification of the Philadelphia constitution, sure that a strong, national union would perpetuate in American that same ancien regime in which the common people fight endless wars for the empire and glory of rulers to whom they are but canon-fodder and cattle.


The neo-Confederates and, to be fair, other historians have pointed out quite truthfully that Lincoln was among the absolute worst of presidents for usurpation of power and trampling of liberty, democracy, and the Constitution to make his war.

Wilson’s suppression of dissent and infamous treatment of Debs was not worse, by any means.

And the Federalists who so infuriated Jefferson’s and Madison’s Democrats were cub scouts, compared to him.

Perhaps only FDR's internment of the Japanese in America was a comparable or even greater violation of constitutional rectitude.

And yet another afterthought.

The bulk of the evidence shows that Lincoln was a frank racist convinced of the inferiority of blacks to whites, intellectual and otherwise, though he rejected unto shedding rivers of blood that this justified slavery.

Where modern liberals claim to see contradictions others might see only nuance.