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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Tearing Down Statues Of Tyrants

Once you rip 'em down, what do you do?

After the Declaration is read to the troops:

Last Night the Statue on the Bowling Green representing George Ghwelph alias George Rex...was pulled down by the Populace. In it were 4,000 Pounds of Lead, & a Man undertook to take of 10 oz of Gold from the Superficies, as both Man & Horse were covered with Gold Leaf.

The Lead, we hear, is to be run up into Musquet Balls for the use of the Yankies, when it is hoped that the Emanations of the Leaden George will make as deep impressions in the Bodies of some of his red Coated & Torie Subjects, & that they will do the same execution in poisoning & destroying them, as the superabundant Emanations of the Folly & pretended Goodness of the real George have made upon their Minds, which have effectually poisoned & destroyed their Souls, that they are not worthy to be ranked with any Beings who have any Pretensions to the Principles of Virtue & Justice ; but would to God that the unhappy contest might be ended without puting us to the disagreeable Necessity of sending them to dwell with those beings for the Company of whom alone their Tempers & dispositions are now suitable.

Indeed, part of it was made into precisely 42,088 balls (perhaps half of what could've been).  As Ebenezer Howard wrote to General Gates: [The king's] troops will probably have melted Majesty fired at them.

You fascist slavers wanna war?  No problem: we've got the balls, and you by the short hairs.

Pax tibi in christo,
ntodd

August 17, 2017 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

At Least Mike Pence Never Mortally Wounded Anybody

Got Burr?

ntodd

July 12, 2017 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Monday, July 10, 2017

Lord Dampnut's Favorite President Hates These Banks!

When President Andrew Jackson vetoed the Second Bank of the United States on this date in 1832, he noted:

The Congress, the Executive, and the Court must each for itself be guided by its own opinion of the Constitution. Each public officer who takes an oath to support the Constitution swears that he will support it as he understands it, and not as it is understood by others. It is as much the duty of the House of Representatives, of the Senate, and of the President to decide upon the constitutionality of any bill or resolution which may be presented to them for passage or approval as it is of the supreme judges when it may be brought before them for judicial decision. The opinion of the judges has no more authority over Congress than the opinion of Congress has over the judges, and on that point the President is independent of both. The authority of the Supreme Court must not, therefore, be permitted to control the Congress or the Executive when acting in their legislative capacities, but to have only such influence as the force of their reasoning may deserve.

I have, in the past, argued that the Bank, just like the Fed, is constitutional, but I can't take issue with Andy's essential logic.  Everybody in government--that includes voters--must interpret the Constitution and act accordingly.

It's true that the constitutionality of the National Bank was challenged and upheld in McCulloch v. Maryland (1819):

Let the end be legitimate, let it be within the scope of the constitution, and all means which are appropriate, which are plainly adapted to that end, which are not prohibited, but consist with the letter and spirit of the constitution, are constitutional.

Yet this did not prevent Jackson from vetoing the early renewal bill and letting the old charter expire.  SCOTUS might have found the Bank to be allowed, but that opinion carried place obligation on the Executive, who can veto whatever he wants for whatever reasons.  What's permissible doesn't necessarily translate into policy (wise or otherwise).

As an aside, Jackson provided fodder for Lincoln in debate with Stephen Douglas.  He called out the latter for inconsistency regarding Dred Scott.

Anyway, Old Hickory was hardly alone in his resistance to a national bank.  Thomas Jefferson wrote to John Taylor of Caroline in 1816, about a month after President Madison signed legislation chartering the Second Bank:

The system of banking we have both equally and ever reprobated. I contemplate it as a blot left in all our constitutions, which, if not covered, will end in their destruction, which is already hit by the gamblers in corruption, and is sweeping away in its progress the fortunes and morals of our citizens. 
...
And I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies... 

Taylor later wrote a response to McCulloch that boiled down to this: if Congress can incorporate a bank, it can end slavery.  And we can't have that!

Leading up to the Bank Act, the debate included this little morsel from Representative Randolph, another Democratic-Republican from Virginia:

All banking institutions were alike in their desire to swell their profits to the greatest extent, howsoever correct and virtuous the directors might be in their private characters; and he would guard against every public robber of every grade, whether he be a Governor General of India or a Bagshot highwayman. He would put it out of the power of this bank to commit frauds on the community, without ruin to itself.

Interestingly, Virginia's House members split on the final vote, 8-10 (it passed 80-71), whilst both Senators voted in favor (it passed 22-12).  A more interesting development, however, is that James Madison supported the Second Bank whilst leading opposition to the First.

Turns out that the War of 1812 created a great deal of chaos in our nation's financial state.

The war had...led the federal government to rack up significant debt. Without the First Bank, the government had to rely more heavily on state banks to help finance the war. The influx of federal government deposits to these institutions led them to issue greater quantities of banknotes and loans.

The proliferation of banknotes increased money in circulation and resulted in inflation, because too much money was chasing too few goods. Without the First Bank’s ability to limit the state banks’ issuance of paper currency, there was no longer an entity that could control the amount of money created. In addition, strong demand for loans during the war increased interest rates and thus bank profits. Without the restraining hand of the Bank of the United States, state banks became less cautious in their lending habits and credit expanded rapidly.

In effect, the country found itself in circumstances similar to those after the Revolutionary War: mounting debt from a war with England, soaring prices, and devalued money from rising inflation. These problems and the resulting economic consequences would soon lead the United States to make another attempt at creating a national bank. In 1816, President James Madison signed the bill that would create the second Bank of the United States.

So in President Madison's 7th Annual Message to Congress on December 5th, 1816:

Although the embarrassments arising from the want of an uniform national currency have not been diminished since the adjournment of Congress, great satisfaction has been derived in contemplating the revival of the public credit and the efficiency of the public resources. 
...
The arrangements of the finances with a view to the receipts and expenditures of a permanent peace establishment will necessarily enter into the deliberations of Congress during the present session. It is true that the improved condition of the public revenue will not only afford the means of maintaining the faith of the Government with its creditors inviolate, and of prosecuting successfully the measures of the most liberal policy, but will also justify an immediate alleviation of the burdens imposed by the necessities of the war.

It is, however, essential to every modification of the finances that the benefits of an uniform national currency should be restored to the community.

In response, the Senate created a select committee on finance and a uniform national currency (predecessor to the standing Finance Committee created the following year).  The House did, as well, and John C Calhoun (a Democratic-Republican) reported out a bill that eventually made it through the sausage grinder.

Oddly enough, Calhoun would later resign as Vice President under Jackson so he could run for Senate to defend nullification.  THAT was definitely unconstitutional...

ntodd

July 10, 2017 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Sunday, July 09, 2017

Imagine There's No Amendment

July 9, 1868, an amendment was allegedly ratified:

My quaint American history blogging duties now complete, I shall return to researching whether my 10,000,000 ruble war bonds from 1915 are worth anything in Putin's America...

ntodd

July 9, 2017 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Saturday, July 08, 2017

The Disgust Against Its Humility Was General

Congress gave a signal proof of their indulgence to Mr. Dickinson, and of their great desire not to go too fast for any respectable part of our body, in permitting him to draw their second petition to the King according to his own ideas, and passing it with scarcely any amendment.

 - T Jefferson, Memoirs


Hardly a man is now alive who remembers Congress met on this date in 1775:

The Petition to the King being engrossed, was compared, and signed by the several members.

Historian Weldon Amzy Brown describes the situation:

Despite [John Dickinson's] gloomy apprehensions from the failure of the first petition, he did not despair of effecting a peaceful solution of the troubles and advocated a second petition to the King. A majority of the delegates again sanctioned his policy of conciliation. Dickinson and his friends supposed that the King and ministers had learned their lesson from Lexington and Bunker Hill, but John Adams thought that the dignity and pride of Great Britain would not tolerate another vacillation toward reconciliation. Thus a second petition would be a useless gesture, evidence of colonial fear and weakness.

[T]he fact that Dickinson was the chief spokesman of reunion and that he wrote the second petition, approved by the Congress, reveals his importance as a peace advocate. No other delegate so consistently pleaded for a peaceful solution and no other delegate received greater consideration when speaking for reunion than he did. Dickinson protested against Jefferson's original draft of the petition, because he thought it was filled with too many offensive statements. Jefferson wrote of Dickinson:

He was so honest a man, and so able a one, that he was greatly indulged even by those who could not feel his scruples. We therefore requested him to take the paper, and to put it into a form he could approve. He did so, preparing an entire new statement, and preserving of the former only the last four paragraphs and the half of the preceding one. We approved and reported it to Congress.

However, the second petition enraged New England and brought on a debate which showed all the bitterness of sectional jealousies.
...
The second petition widened the gulf between the party of Dickinson and reconciliation and that of John Adams and independence.  Thenceforth Adams found nothing favorable to say of Dickinson.

Indeed, Adams called him "a certain great Fortune and piddling Genius" in an unfortunate letter which, along with another to his wife, was intercepted by the British.  For some reason, they found this a tad inflammatory:

We ought to have had in our Hands a Month ago, the whole Legislative, Executive and Judicial of the whole Continent, and have compleatly moddelled a Constitution, to have raised a Naval Power and opened all our Ports wide, to have arrested every Friend to Government on the Continent and held them as Hostages for the poor Victims in Boston. And then opened the Door as wide as possible for Peace and Reconcilliation: After this they might have petitioned and negotiated and addressed, &c. if they would.—Is all this extravagant?—Is it wild?—Is it not the soundest Policy? 

One Piece of News—Seven Thousand Weight of Powder arrived here last Night—We shall send along some as soon as we can.

And this probably didn't help:

When 50 or 60 Men have a Constitution to form for a great Empire, at the same Time that they have a Country of fifteen hundred Miles extent to fortify, Millions to arm and train, a Naval Power to begin, an extensive Commerce to regulate, numerous Tribes of Indians to negotiate with, a standing Army of Twenty seven Thousand Men to raise, pay, victual and officer, I really shall pity those 50 or 60 Men.

Anyway, from the very beginning, our nation has always had incivility, rivalries, petty jealousies, minor intrigues, factional disputes, etc.  Yet we still managed enough unity to get some heavy lifting done.

Of course it all took a lot of time.  It's not like the Rich White Guys Wearing Powdered Wigs woke up one sunny day in July and said, "hey, let's declare independence for shits!"  Grievances arguably dated back to the Proclamation of 1763, and all those sundry revenue acts and whatnot angered people who resisted with varying degrees of success, all the while wanting to remain British subjects with a say in their own governance, until they were officially branded rebels.

Simply posting about reconciliation in light of legitimate constitutional wrongs really ought to be regarded as an act of rebellion, just like tweeting the Declaration...

ntodd

July 8, 2017 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Washington. US. of America. July 4. 1803

T Jefferson to M Lewis:

In the journey which you are about to undertake for the discovery of the course and source of the Missisipi,[1] and of the most convenient water communication from thence to the Pacific ocean, your party being small,[2] it is to be expected that you will encounter considerable dangers from the Indian inhabitants.[3] should you escape those dangers and reach the Pacific ocean, you may find it imprudent to hazard a return the same way, and be forced to seek a passage round by sea, in such vessels as you may find on the Western coast. but you will be without money, without clothes, & other necessaries; as a sufficient supply cannot be carried with you from hence.[4] your resource in that case can only be in the credit of the US. for which purpose I hereby authorise you to draw on the Secretaries of State, of the Treasury, of War & of the Navy of the US. according as you may find your draughts will be most negociable, for the purpose of obtaining money or necessaries for yourself & your men: and I solemnly[5] pledge the faith of the United States that these draughts shall be[6] paid punctually at the date they are made payable. I also[7]ask of the Consuls, agents, merchants & citizens of any nation with which we have intercourse or amity to furnish you with those supplies which your necessities may call for, assuring them of honorable and prompt retribution. and our own Consuls[8] in foreign parts where you may happen to be, are hereby instructed & required to be aiding & assisting to you in whatsoever may be necessary for procuring your return back to the United States. And to give more entire satisfaction & confidence to those who may be disposed to aid you, I Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States of America, have written this letter of general credit for you with my own hand, and signed it with my name.

The announcement of the Purchase treaty hit the papers on July 4th and 5th as well.  Our own trek followed the Oregon Trail more closely, but we did get to the Gateway Arch...

ntodd

* 14th Blegiversary: wanna help feed our oxen? *

July 4, 2017 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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The good Lord has a sense of humor

People remember Abe's Gettysburg Address, naturally, but let us also recall what he said earlier in 1863, just following the events at Gettysburg and Vicksburg:

[O]n this last Fourth of July just passed, when we have a gigantic Rebellion, at the bottom of which is an effort to overthrow the principle that all men are created equal, we have the surrender of a most powerful position and army on that very day, and not only so, but in a succession of battles in Pennsylvania, near to us, through three days, so rapidly fought that they might be called one great battle on the 1st, 2d, and 3d of the month of July; and on the 4th the cohorts of those who opposed the declaration that all men are created equal, "turned tail" and ran.

Lost Cause, indeed...

ntodd

* 14th Blegiversary: wanna help feed our oxen? *

July 4, 2017 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Patriotic Coffee

Brother-in-law's family came over for a while.  He asked, "what've you been up to today?"  Drinking coffee, of course, as the Founders intended.  Moving on to harder stuff now...

ntodd

* 14th Blegiversary: wanna help feed our oxen? *

July 4, 2017 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Monday, July 03, 2017

These Truths Are Self-evident, Are They Not?

Editing the Declaration in John Adams:

Adams wrote years later to Timothy Pickering:

Mr. Jefferson came into Congress, in June, 1775, and brought with him a reputation for literature, science, and a happy talent of composition. Writings of his were handed about, remarkable for the peculiar felicity of expression. Though a silent member in Congress, he was so prompt, frank, explicit, and decisive upon committees and in conversation, not even Samuel Adams was more so, that he soon seized upon my heart; and upon this occasion I gave him my vote, and did all in my power to procure the votes of others. I think he had one more vote than any other, and that placed him at the head of the committee. I had the next highest number, and that placed me the second. The committee met, discussed the subject, and then appointed Mr. Jefferson and me to make the draught, I suppose because we were the two first on the list.

The sub-committee met. Jefferson proposed to me to make the draught I said, "l will not." "You should do it." "Oh! no." "Why will you not? You ought do it." "I will not." "Why?" "Reasons enough." "What can be your reasons?" "Reason first--You are a Virginian, and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason second--I am obnoxious, suspected, and unpopular.  You are much otherwise. Reason third--You can write ten times better than I can." "WelI," said Jefferson, "if you are decided, I will do as well as I can." "Very well.  When you have drawn it up, we will have a meeting."

A meeting we accordingly had, and conned the paper over. I was delighted with its high tone and the flights of oratory with which it abounded, especially that concerning negro slavery, which, though I knew his Southern brethren would never suffer to pass in Congress, I certainly never would oppose. There were other expressions which I would not have inserted, if I had drawn it, particularly that which called the King a tyrant. I thought this too personal. I never believed George to be a tyrant in disposition and in nature; I always believed him to be deceived by his courtiers on both sides of the Atlantic, and in his official capacity only, cruel. I thought the expression too passionate, and too much like scolding, for so grave and solemn a document; but as Franklin and Sherman were to inspect it afterwards, I thought it would not become me to strike it out. I consented to report it, and do not now remember that I made or suggested a single alteration.

We reported it the committee of five. It was read, and I do not remember that Franklin or Sherman criticized any thing. We were all in haste. Congress was impatient, and the instrument was reported, as I believe, in Jefferson's handwriting as he first drew it. Congress cut off about a quarter of it, as I expected the would; but they obliterated some of the best of it, and left all that was exceptionable, if any thing in it was. 

Walter Isaacson, in his biography of Franklin, writes:

The most important of his edits was small but resounding. He crossed out, using the heavy backslashes that he often employed, the last three words of Jefferson's phrase “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable” and changed them to the words now enshrined in history: “We hold these truths to be self-evident.”"
The idea of “self-evident” truths was one that drew less on John Locke, who was Jefferson's favored philosopher, than on the scientific determinism espoused by Isaac Newton and on the analytic empiricism of Franklin’s close friend David Hume. In what became known as “Hume's fork,” the great Scottish philosopher, along with Leibniz and others, had developed a theory that distinguished between synthetic truths that describe matters of fact (such as “London is bigger than Philadelphia”) and analytic truths that are self-evident by virtue of reason and definition (“The angles of a triangle equal 180 degrees”; “All bachelors are unmarried”). By using the word “sacred,” Jefferson had asserted, intentionally or not, that the principle in question—the equality of men and their endowment by their creator with inalienable rights—was an assertion of religion. Franklin's edit turned it instead into an assertion of rationality.

We could use more such assertions of rationality in the Trump Epoch...

ntodd

* 14th Blegiversary: wanna help feed our oxen? *

July 3, 2017 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (1)

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Principia Americana

[T]he more ignorant we become the less value we set on science, and the less inclination we shall have to seek it.

 - T Jefferson to J Adams, 25 May, 1795


To be anti-science is to be anti-American:

[W]hile team Trump is the most anti-science administration in U.S. history, it’s worth remembering this week that the Declaration’s drafters were undeniably men of science.

In sharp contrast, Trump has embraced the most anti-scientific climate denial imaginable — and surrounded himself with a team of deniers who have purged science from government websites and removed scientists from EPA advisory panels to make space for industry advocates.

In his most consequential anti-scientific act, Trump abandoned the Paris climate deal, whereby 190 nations had unanimously banded together to save themselves (and us) from catastrophic climate change.
...
Jefferson’s masterpiece famously begins “When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people,” to break free of tyranny and “assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them,” they should explain why they are impelled to do so:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The double appeal to “Nature” — including the explicit appeal to “the laws of Nature” in the first sentence — is particularly salient. After all, Sir Isaac Newton’s landmark 1687 text, “Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica,” famously lays out his three laws of motion, which many at the time called the “laws of nature.”

How familiar was Jefferson with the Principia? Very. Jefferson had studied it so closely he even wrote a letter identifying what he calculated to be a tiny mathematical error in it. For nearly two decades — including the entire time he was vice president and president — Jefferson was also president of the nation’s oldest scientific society, which was founded by the great American scientist Ben Franklin.

Jefferson and Franklin grounded the Declaration in the scientific laws of nature. That’s clear from a crucial edit made by Franklin. As Historian Walter Isaacson explained in biography of Franklin:

The most important of his edits was small but resounding. He crossed out, using the heavy backslashes that he often employed, the last three words of Jefferson’s phrase “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable” and changed them to the words now enshrined in history: “We hold these truths to be self-evident.”

The truths were “self-evident,” which is to say axiomatic.

Today, it is the laws of nature, studied and enumerated by scientists, that make clear we are poised to render those unalienable rights all but unattainable for billions of humans on our current path of unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions. It is the laws of nature that make clear Americans can’t achieve sustainable prosperity if the rest of the world doesn’t, and vice versa.

Just remember, Trump loves "the poorly educated."  Make America iGnorant Again!

ntodd

* 14th Blegiversary: wanna help feed our oxen? *

July 3, 2017 in Biofuels, Bitches!, Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

You're A Grand, Old Blog

Congress tackled the biggest issue of all facing our new nation on June 14, 1777:

Resolved, That the flag of the ∥thirteen∥ United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white: that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.

And on June 14, 2003, I started tackling the biggest issues of our time via my powerful blog.  There are many, many excellent reasons to support DM Industries at the Bog Road Compound.  Actually, there aren't, but if it works for Lord Dampnut, why not for me?

Anyhoo, if you'd like to do something financially, Paypal is fast and easy (snail mail addresses can be requested at ntoddp@gmail.com). 

So it's been 14 years on this June 14th.  Why not contribute 14 dollars?  Or 13 bitcoins for the 13 stars on Flag Day?  Or 614 Euros for today's date?  1990 for all the oxen we're gonna lose on our way West?  LOL.  Ahem.

ntodd

* 14th Blegiversary: wanna help feed our oxen? *

June 14, 2017 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Monday, June 12, 2017

One Pill Makes You Traitor, And One Pill Makes You Trump

On June 12, 1775, General Gage declared martial law in a certain unruly colony:

The authors of the present unnatural revolt, never daring to trust their cause or their actions to the judgment of an impartial publick, or even to the dispassionate reflection of their followers, have uniformly placed their chief confidence in the suppression of truth...not only from the flagitious prints, but from the popular harangues of the times, men have been taught to depend upon activity in treason, for the security of their persons and properties...

In this exigency of complicated calamities, I avail myself of the last effort within the bounds of my duty, to spare the effusion of blood; to offer, and I do hereby, in His Majesty' s name, offer and promise his most gracious pardon to all persons who shall forthwith lay down their arms, and return to their duties of peaceable subjects, excepting only from the benefit of such pardon, Samuel Adams and John Hancock, whose offences are of too flagitious a nature to admit of any other consideration than that of condign punishment. 

He didn't come right out and say it, but it seems clear that Adams and Hancock, called out specifically by name, were to be arrested and transported to England to be tried for treason.  As early as 1773, for example, a representative met with Adams to bribe and threaten him:

[H]e was authorized from governor Gage to assure him, that he had been empowered to confer upon him such benefits as would be satis-factory, upon the condition, that he would engage to cease in his opposition to the measures of government. He also observed, that it was the advice of governor Gage to him, not to incur the further displeasure of his majesty ; that his conduct had been such as made him liable to the penalties of an act of Henry VIII. by which persons could be sent to England for trial of treason, or misprision of treason, at the discretion of a governor of a province ; but by changing his political course, he would not only receive great perso- nal advantages, but would thereby make his peace with the king.

By early 1775, Lord Dartmouth was exhorting Gage:

[T]he essential step to be taken toward reestablishing government would be to arrest and imprison the principle actors and abettors in the Provincial Congress (whose proceedings appear in every light to be acts of treason and rebellion)...

And:

As the 5th of March drew near, several British officers were heard to declare that any one who should dare to address the people in the Old South Church [at the annual remembrance of the Boston Massacre] would surely lose his life. As soon as he heard of these threats, Joseph Warren solicited for himself the dangerous honour...
The boldness of Adams and Hancock in attending this meeting was hardly less admirable than that of Warren in delivering the address. It was no secret that Gage had been instructed to watch his opportunity to arrest Samuel Adams and "his willing and ready tool," that "terrible desperado," John Hancock, and send them over to England to be tried for treason. Here was an excellent opportunity for seizing all the patriot leaders at once; and the meeting itself, moreover, was a town meeting, such as Gage had come to Boston expressly to put down.

Having received his orders (which rebels had apparently learned of before), Gage prepared to march on Lexington and Concord, but:

His written orders for the expedition said nothing about seizing Whig leaders, despite explicit instructions from London for their apprehension.

Regardless, after actual hostilities erupted, Gage seemed more than comfortable singling out Adams and Hancock as traitors.  And his King followed suit later in the summer:

[W]e do accordingly strictly charge and command all our Officers, as well civil as military, and all others our obedient and loyal subjects, to use their utmost endeavours to withstand and suppress such rebellion, and to disclose and make known all treasons and traitorous conspiracies which they shall know to be against us, our crown and dignity...

Before being officially branded as rebels, Congress had tried to offer one last ditch olive branch, and even afterward still were less inclined toward becoming independent than trying to avoid the "calamaties [of] civil war."  But it's hard to put the genie back in its bottle when you declare people guilty of treason, and sure enough, 364 days after Gage put his foot down, the traitors named a committee to begin work on declaring themselves free and independent.

Then Putin's hackers got in the game...

ntodd

* 14th Blegiversary: wanna help feed our oxen? *

June 12, 2017 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Worse Than Whitewatergate

I've told you people before, my first political memory is Nixon's waving just before boarding Marine One for the last time.  Sam's won't be Lord Dampnut's doing the same, but one hopes it'll be a close second.  His first will be that dark morning after election day, a play in one act:

Sam to Principal Dodge: Donald Trump won the election last night.  We're all gonna die.

Principal Dodge to Sam: Let's go sit down and talk a bit, Sam.

ANNNNNND.....scene!

ntodd

* 14th Blegiversary: wanna help feed our oxen? *

June 11, 2017 in Constitution, Schmonstitution, Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Thursday, June 08, 2017

Thomas Jefferson Stole A Lot From Himself, Too

As I've noted in the past--like when I first blogged this post years ago--one could call this Conception Day for our Bill of Rights (everything else in the state ratifying conventions was just a glimmer in George Washington's eye).  James Madison ultimately introduced his proposals based on Virginia's suggestions to the House.  But he was given the blow off before he could started by several other Representatives with varying levels of disdain for the idea of amending the Constitution (some were for it, but not so early):

Smith
Jackson
Goodhue
Burke 
[Madison gets a word in]
Sherman
White
Smith
[Page is fairly supportive]
Vining 

He soldiered on, though:

I am sorry to be accessary to the loss of a single moment of time by the House. If I had been indulged in my motion, and we had gone into a Committee of the whole, I think we might have rose and resumed the consideration of other business before this time; that is, so far as it depended upon what I proposed to bring forward. As that mode seems not to give satisfaction, I will withdraw the motion, and move you, sir, that a select committee be appointed to consider and report such amendments as are proper for Congress to propose to the Legislatures of the several States, conformably to the fifth article of the constitution.

I will state my reasons why I think it proper to propose amendments, and state the amendments themselves, so far as I think they ought to be proposed. If I thought I could fulfil the duty which I owe to myself and my constituents, to let the subject pass over in silence, I most certainly should not trespass upon the indulgence of this House. But I cannot do this, and am therefore compelled to beg a patient hearing to what I have to lay before you. And I do most sincerely believe, that if Congress will devote but one day to this subject, so far as to satisfy the public that we do not disregard their wishes, it will have a salutary influence on the public councils, and prepare the way for a favorable reception of our future measures. It appears to me that this House is bound by every motive of prudence, not to let the first session pass over without proposing to the State Legislatures some things to be incorporated into the constitution, that will render it as acceptable to the whole people of the United States, as it has been found acceptable to a majority of them

The Father of the Constitution laid out what ultimately became 17 articles of amendment in the House, boiled down further to 12 articles by the Senate, and eventually after a bit more back and forth haggling, agreed to in September.

Before they got to that point, Congress debated everything about the proposal, including whether they should be talking about amending the Constitution at all.

Should the Preamble be altered?

Mr. Page thought the preamble no part of the constitution; but if it was, it stood in no need of amendment; the words "We the people," had the neatness and simplicity, while its expression was the most forcible of any he had ever seen prefixed to any constitution. He did not doubt the truth of the proposition brought forward by the committee, but he doubted its necessity in this place.

Mr. Madison.--If it be a truth, and so self-evident that it cannot be denied; if it be recognised, as is the fact in many of the State constitutions; and if it be desired by three important States, to be added to this, I think they must collectively offer a strong inducement to the mind desirous of promoting harmony, to acquiesce with the report; at least, some strong arguments should be brought forward to show the reason why it is improper.

My worthy colleague says, the original expression is neat and simple; that loading it with more words may destroy the beauty of the sentence; and others say it is unnecessary, as the paragraph is complete without it. Be it so, in their opinion; yet, still it appears important in the estimation of three States, that this solemn truth should be inserted in the constitution. For my part, sir, I do not think the association of ideas anywise unnatural; it reads very well in this place; so much so, that I think gentlemen, who admit it should come in somewhere, will be puzzled to find a better place.

Should the amendments be interwoven into the Constitution?

The House then resolved itself into a Committee of the Whole, Mr. BOUDINOT in the Chair, and took the amendments under consideration. The first article ran thus: "In the introductory paragraph of the Constitution, before the words 'We the people,' add 'Government being intended for the benefit of the people, and the rightful establishment therof being derived from their authority alone.'"

Mr. Sherman.—I believe, Mr. Chairman, this is not the proper mode of amending the Constitution. We ought not to interweave our propositions into the work itself, because it will be destructive of the whole fabric. We might as well endeavor to mix brass, iron, and clay, as to incorporate such heterogeneous articles, the one contradictory to the other. Its absurdity will be discovered by comparing it with a law. 

Would any Legislature endeavor to introduce into a former act a subsequent amendment, and let them stand so connected? When an alteration is made in an act, it is done by way of supplement; the latter act always repealing the former in every specified case of difference.
...
Mr. Madison.—Form, sir, is always of less importance than the substance; but on this occasion I admit that form is of some consequence, and it will be well for the House to pursue that which, upon reflection, shall appear to be the most eligible. Now it appears to me, that there is a neatness and propriety in incorporating the amendments into the Constitution itself; in that case, the system will remain uniform and entire; it will certainly be more simple when the amendments are interwoven into those parts to which they naturally belong, than it will if they consist of separate and distinct parts. We shall then be able to determine its meaning without references or comparison; whereas, if they are supplementary, its meaning can only be ascertained by a comparison of the two instruments, which will be a very considerable embarrassment. 

It will be difficult to ascertain to what parts of the instrument the amendments particularly refer; they will create unfavorable comparisons; whereas, if they are placed upon the footing here proposed, they will stand upon as good foundation as the original work. Nor is it so uncommon a thing as gentlemen suppose; systematic men frequently take up the whole law, and, with its amendments and alterations, reduce it into one act. I am not, however, very solicitous about the form, provided the business is but well completed. 

And so on.  This is one reason why I'm always amused by people who claim to know how "The Framers" thought, when they themselves squabbled over so much from the very start.  We have the end result of compromise and a lot of dissent--acting as though any particular person(s) back then spoke for the Truth of our Constitution is disingenuous and counterproductive.

ntodd

PS--Donald Trump might want to study up on what became the Fifth Amendment.

June 8, 2017 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Friday, June 02, 2017

This Is Intolerable

June 2, 1774:

WHEREAS doubts have been entertained, whether troops can be quartered otherwise than in barracks, in case barracks have been provided sufficient for the quartering of all officers and soldiers within any town, township, city, district, or place, within his Majesty’s dominions in North America: And whereas it may frequently happen, from the situation of such barracks, that, if troops should be quartered therein, they would not be stationed where their presence may be necessary and required: be it therefore enacted by the King’s most excellent majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, That, in such cases, it shall and may be lawful for the persons who now are, or may be hereafter, authorised be law, in any of the provinces within his MajestyÂ’s dominions in North America, and they are hereby respectively authorised, impowered, and directed, on the requisition of the officer who, for the time being, has the command of his MajestyÂ’s forces in North America, to cause any officers or soldiers in his Majesty’s service to be quartered and billetted in such manner as is now directed by law, where no barracks are provided by the colonies.

II. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if it shall happen at any time that any officers or soldiers in his Majesty’s service shall remain within any of the said colonies without quarters, for the space of twenty-four hours after such quarters shall have been demanded, it shall and may be lawful for the governor of the province to order and direct such and so many uninhabited houses, out-houses, barns, or other buildings, as he shall think necessary to be taken, (making a reasonable allowance for the same), and make fit for the reception of such officers and soldiers, and to put and quarter such officers and soldiers therein, for such time as he shall think proper.

Thankfully, we still have a Third Amendment, because the Colonials hated that shit...

ntodd

June 2, 2017 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Thursday, June 01, 2017

Traitors In Our Midst

In the present case, a sense of duty and a regard to candor oblige [the Commander-in-Chief] to declare that he considers [Major General Arnold's conduct] as imprudent and improper.

 -  George Washington, April 6, 1780

So it begins:

PROCEEDINGS OF A GENERAL COURT MARTIAL OF THE LINE, HELD AT RARITAN, IN THE STATE OF NEW-JERSEY, BY ORDER OF HIS EXCELLENCY GEORGE WASHINGTON, Esq General and Commander in Chief OF THE ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, FOR THE TRIAL OF MAJOR GENERAL ARNOLD, JUNE 1, 1779.

Major General HOWE, President.

PUBLISHED BY ORDER OF CONGRESS.

THE court having met, the judge advocate produced his excellency the commander in chief's order, dated May 29, 1779; which being read, is as follows:

Head-Quarters, Middletown, May 29, 1779.

A GENERAL court martial of the line is to be held on Tuesday next, the first of June, at the usual place, for the trial of major general Arnold, as directed by a resolution of the honorable the congress, passed the third of April, 1779.

Major general HOWE, PRESIDENT.

Brigadiers general Smallwood, Knox, Woodford and Irvine, colonels Wood, Harrison, Hall, Gunby, Moylan and Butler; lieutenant colonels Popkins, Simms and Harmar, members.

Before the court was sworn, major general Arnold peremptorily objected to brigadier general Irvine, colonel Butler and lieutenant colonel Harmar, which objection was allowed by the court The president and members then adjourned the court until to-morrow ten o'clock.

Tomorrow would be...December 23, 1779.  Arnold was aqcuitted of everything 'cept a couple minor charges, then went on to betray his country.  Treason!  Whiskey!  Covfefe!

ntodd

June 1, 2017 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Monday, May 29, 2017

The Perverse Sister

Rogue Island, who didn't send a delegation to Philadelphia, finally got on board with Lord Dampnut's least favorite document:

Under these impressions, and declaring, that the rights aforesaid cannot be abridged or violated, and that the explanations aforesaid, are consistent with the said constitution, and in confidence that the amendments hereafter mentioned, will receive an early and mature consideration, and conformably to the fifth article of said constitution, speedily become a part thereof; We the said delegates, in the name, and in the behalf of the People, of the State of Rhode-Island and Providence-Plantations, do by these Presents, assent to, and ratify the said Constitution. In full confidence nevertheless, that until the amendments hereafter proposed and undermentioned shall be agreed to and ratified, pursuant to the aforesaid fifth article, the militia of this State will not be continued in service out of this State for a longer term than six weeks, without the consent of the legislature thereof; That the Congress will not make or alter any regulation in this State, respecting the times, places and manner of holding elections for senators or representatives, unless the legislature of this state shall neglect, or refuse to make laws or regulations for the purpose, or from any circumstance be incapable of making the same; and that n those cases, such power will only be exercised, until the legislature of this State shall make provision in the Premises, that the Congress will not lay direct taxes within this State, but when the monies arising from the Impost, Tonnage and Excise shall be insufficient for the publick exigencies, nor until the Congress shall have first made a requisition upon this State to assess, levy and pay the amount of such requisition, made agreeable to the census fixed in the said constitution, in such way and manner, as the legislature of this State shall judge best, and that the Congress will not lay any capitation or poll tax.

Done in Convention, at Newport in the County of Newport, in the State of Rhode-Island and Providence-Plantations, the twenty ninth day of May, in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety, and in the fourteenth year of the Independence of the United States of America.

Apparently had something to do with the US Senate passing a bill to fuck the state's shit up earlier this month...

ntodd

May 29, 2017 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Friday, May 26, 2017

It Was A Lousy Impeachment, Anyway

May 26, 1868:

The President pro tempore announced that at the hour of 12 o'clock, to which the Senate stood adjourned, being the hour fixed for the sitting of the Senate for the trial of the impeachment of the President, under the rule the legislative business of the Senate was suspended; and

The Senate, sitting for the trial of the President upon articles of impeachment, resumed its session; and after proceedings had therein as stated in the record,

The President pro tempore resumed the chair.

On motion by Mr. Doolittle, at 1 o'clock and 30 minutes p. m.,

That the Senate adjourn,

It was determined in the negative.

Missed conviction by one vote, 35-19, again.

ntodd

May 26, 2017 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

So It Began

Philly, 1787:

Seven States were not convened till, Friday 25 of May...

Mr. ROBERT MORRIS informed the members assembled that by the instruction & in behalf, of the deputation of Pena. he proposed George Washington Esqr. late Commander in chief for president of the Convention.

Mr. JNo. RUTLIDGE seconded the motion; expressing his confidence that the choice would be unanimous, and observing that the presence of Genl. Washington forbade any observations on the occasion which might otherwise be proper. General WASHINGTON was accordingly unanimously elected by ballot, and conducted to the Chair by Mr. R. Morris and Mr. Rutlidge; from which in a very emphatic manner he thanked the Convention for the honor they had conferred on him, reminded them of the novelty of the scene of business in which he was to act, lamented his want of better qualifications, and claimed the indulgence of the House towards the involuntary errors which his inexperience might occasion.

[The nomination came with particular grace from Penna. as Docr. Franklin alone could have been thought of as a competitor. The Docr. was himself to have made the nomination of General Washington, but the state of the weather and of his health confined him to his house.]

Mr. WILSON moved that a Secretary be appointed...

On reading the credentials of the deputies it was noticed that those from Delaware were prohibited from changing the article in the Confederation establishing an equality of votes among the States.

The appointment of a Committee, consisting of Messrs. Wythe, Hamilton & C. Pinckney, on the motion of Mr. C. PINCKNEY, to prepare standing rules & orders was the only remaining step taken on this day.

Christ, what a bunch of assholes.

ntodd

May 25, 2017 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

In A Fit Of Kulturkampf

Romer, on this date in 1996:

'Equal protection of the laws is not achieved through indiscriminate imposition of inequalities.'" Respect for this principle explains why laws singling out a certain class of citizens for disfavored legal status or general hardships are rare. A law declaring that in general it shall be more difficult for one group of citizens than for all others to seek aid from the government is itself a denial of equal protection of the laws in the most literal sense.

And Fat Tony is still dead as a doornail, equal to all the other dead haters in a most literal sense.

ntodd

May 20, 2017 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)