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Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Original Corrupt Bargain

If only Andy Jackson had been able to tweetstorm about rigged elections at 3am:

[T]he Judas of the West has closed the contract and will receive the thirty pieces of silver. his end will be the same. Was there ever witnessed such a bare faced corruption in any country before?

But hey, how can you compete with a Founding Father like John Quincy Adams?


PS--Don't get me started on how Alexander Hamilton rigged the 1800 election against JQA's dad...

October 20, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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With the wisdom of Congress...

On this date, 1803:

The Senate resumed the consideration of the treaty and conventions, made with the First Consul of France; and, on the question, Will the Senate agree to the ratification of the same?

  • It passed in the affirmative,
  • Yeas, ... 24,
  • Nays, ... 7.

Those Who voted in the affirmative, are--Messrs. Anderson, Bailey, Baldwin, Bradley, Breckinridge, Brown, Butler, Clinton, Cocke, Condit, Dayton, Ellery, Franklin, Jackson, Logan, Maclay, Nicholas, Potter, Israel Smith, Samuel Smith, Stone, Taylor, Worthington, and Wright.

Those who voted in the negative, are‐Messrs. Hillhouse, Olcott Pickering, Plumer, Tracy, Wells, and White.

So it was,

"Resolved, (two-thirds of the Senators present concurring therein,) That the Senate do advise and consent to the ratification of the treaty, as well as to the ratification of the two conventions connected therewith, made and concluded at Paris, on the 10th day of Floreal, in the 11th year of the French Republic, (30th April, 1803,) between the United States and the said French Republic, by Robert R. Livingston and James Monroe, Ministers Plenipotentiary on the part of the United States, and Barbi Marbois, Minister of the Public Treasury of the French Republic, on the part of the said Republic."

Ordered, That the Secretary lay this resolution before the President of the United States.

The next day, Senator Breckinridge indicated he would bring in a bill that enabled President Jefferson to actually take possession of the Louisiana Purchase.  Interestingly enough, it's the same day that one John Quincy Adams was admitted as a member of the Senate, and what ultimately would become the 12th Amendment, fixing some serious defects in the Electoral College with the rise of our first party system post-Washington, was proposed.

Then Jefferson's opposition promised they'd never confirm any of his SCOTUS nominees, just like we've always done in America...


October 20, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

To the People of the State of New York:

Federalist 68:

The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.

It will not be too strong to say, that there will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters pre-eminent for ability and virtue. And this will be thought no inconsiderable recommendation of the Constitution, by those who are able to estimate the share which the executive in every government must necessarily have in its good or ill administration. Though we cannot acquiesce in the political heresy of the poet who says: "For forms of government let fools contest That which is best administered is best,'' yet we may safely pronounce, that the true test of a good government is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good administration.

I'll just note that even Aaron Burr abided by election results...


October 19, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ye cannot serve America and mammon.

When a people are corrupted, the press may be made an engine to complete their ruin.

 - John Adams, 1774

I think it's overstating things to suggest our Framers "foresaw" Trump, any more than businessmen in general trying to shake their wealth around, as opposed to trying to mitigate the possibility and impact of such a development through a variety of republican measures.  But yeah, fair enough.

They may have been rich elites, yet they served their country most of their lives, even dragged their kids along for the ride, and created deliberate mechanisms to allow public servants to learn and mature while doing good for their nation.  Something our complicit Both Sides Do It Media--which might just be waking up a little too late--and Trump lovers should reflect upon when President Clinton is inaugurated.


October 18, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Little Real Rebellion

Fans of using Thomas Jefferson to justify rebellion really ought to read more closely, rather than engaging in treasonous sedition.


October 16, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Sunday, October 02, 2016

Ratify This

The United States Senate, September 25, 1789

A message from the House of Representatives:

Mr. Beckley, their Clerk, informed the Senate, that the House of Representatives had passed a resolve, requesting "The President of the United States, to transmit to the executives of the several states, which have ratified the constitution, copies of the amendments proposed. by Congress to be added thereto; and like copies to the executives of the states of Rhode Island and North Carolina;" and that the House requested the concurrence of the Senate therein...

The Senate proceeded to consider the message from the House of Representatives of the 24th, with amendments to the amendments of the Senate to "Articles to be proposed to the legislatures of the several states, as amendments to the constitution of the United States;" and,

Resolved, That the Senate do concur in the amendments proposed by the House of Representatives to the amendments of the Senate.

Thus, President Washington wrote to the Supreme Executives of the States on October 2:


In pursuance of the enclosed resolution I have the honor to transmit to your Excellency a copy of the amendment proposed to be added to the Constitution of the United States.

I have the honor to be,

With due Consideration,

Your Excellency’s

Most Obedient Servant

You'll recall they were all men back then.  Our poor Framers would be so surprised to read of President Clinton's message to the governors asking them to ratify the Amendment To Take All Our Guns Away...


October 2, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Secretary Clinton's Predecessor

Jefferson was nominated by Washington to be our First SecState and affirmed by the Senate on September 25, 1789, and thus appointed on this date ('course he was in France at the time and didn't accept the honor until Valentine's Day).  He went on to become President, you might recall.


September 26, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Friday, September 09, 2016

How Things Get Their Names

Now one can ostensively define a proper name, the name of a colour, the name of a material, a numeral, the name of a point of the compass, and so on...

 - Ludwig Wittgenstein

Also on this date:

But what's in a name?


September 9, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Tuesday, September 06, 2016

A More Perfect Preamble

A friend on FB reminded me of the Constitution's perfect simplicity, and the fact that James Madison wanted to tinker with it in his original proposal of a Bill of Rights.


September 6, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Monday, September 05, 2016

Redesigning A Nation

John Adams wrote in his diary on this date in 1774:

At Ten, The Delegates all met at the City Tavern, and walked to the Carpenters Hall, where they took a View of the Room, and of the Chamber where is an excellent Library. There is also a long Entry, where Gentlemen may walk, and a convenient Chamber opposite to the Library. The General Cry was, that this was a good Room, and the Question was put, whether We were satisfyed with this Room, and it passed in the Affirmative. A very few were for the Negative and they were chiefly from Pensylvania and New York.

Then they checked out the closets and bathrooms, hired some interior decorators, and called it a day.  After that they started a bunch of trivial stuff like trying to reconcile with the Mother Country and whatnot.


September 5, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Monday, August 29, 2016

for want of sanction to the laws

We've had a lot of armed rebellions in our nation's history. They pretty much always fail, including the one by Shay and friends that started on this date.  Still, it's good manure, I suppose...


August 29, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Habeas, Schmabeas

When the Committee of Detail presented its report to the Philadelphia Convention on August 6, 1787, the section on the Judiciary (XI) contained no mention of habeas.  On August 28 somebody finally noticed the omission:

Mr. PINKNEY, urging the propriety of securing the benefit of the Habeas corpus in the most ample manner, moved "that it should not be suspended but on the most urgent occasions, & then only for a limited time, not exceeding twelve months"

Mr. RUTLIDGE was for declaring the Habeas Corpus inviolable. He did not conceive that a suspension could ever be necessary at the same time through all the States.

Mr. Govr. MORRIS moved that "The privilege of the writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended; unless where in cases of Rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it."

Mr. WILSON doubted whether in any case a suspension could be necessary, as the discretion now exists with Judges, in most important cases to keep in Gaol or admit to Bail.

The first part of Mr. Govr. Morris' motion, to the word "unless" was agreed to nem: con: -on the remaining part;

N. H. ay. Mas. ay. Ct. ay. Pa. ay. Del. ay. Md. ay. Va. ay. N. C. no. S. C. no. Geo. no.

Oh, South Carolina, the primary cause of Lincoln's suspension of habeas four score and some odd years later when they engaged in Rebellion and Treason in Defense of Slavery.


August 28, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Nat Turner Was A Second Amendment Hero

You know, because his rebellion was suppressed by armed whites, the way our Founders intended.


August 22, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution, RKBA | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Sunday, August 07, 2016

This Is For My Treasonous, Slavery-loving Neighbors

Okay, so I don't know if those folks down the road flying the Stars and Bars are racist, slavery-defending, traitorous bastards or not.  Doesn't really matter.  They've symbolically chosen to align with people who are, in fact, racist, slavery-defending, traitorous bastards.  People who enslaved fellow human beings, then went to war after losing a legitimate election per the Constitution.

What's more, THEY LIVE IN VERMONT.  Northern Vermont.  Which is not a part of any "Southern Heritage" that would be at stake, even if the whole fucking thing weren't about slavery in the first place.

And, you know, Vermonters were good Union-loving people who fought to destroy that peculiar institution:

I'll note that some of those who fought and died for real liberty and justice for all came from this town.  Several are buried a few minutes' walk up the hill from where that cursed cloth is now displayed.  Right next to the church that Sam & I walk to so we can wind the clock each week.  A few hundred feet from our new Town Office that has a real American flag in front of it.

But, you know, you go ahead and show us your true colors.


August 7, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (3)

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Thursday, August 04, 2016

In Fairness To Donald Trump

There was that time when Congressman John Conyers told us during a Judiciary Committee hearing that we weren't allowed to hold up pocket Constitutions...


August 4, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution, Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Tuesday, August 02, 2016

AG Candidate Deb Bucknam Is Wrong, But Aptly Named

Here's a candidate I won't be voting for!

Now Vermont Attorney General candidate TJ Donovan wants to turn back the clock and limit our free speech rights under the First Amendment to the Constitution. In 2012, Donovan called for an “overturning” of Citizens United v. FEC , a Supreme Court decision involving a group who dared to broadcast an anti Hillary Clinton video 30 days before an election. The group was prohibited from doing so by federal law, but the Supreme Court struck down the statute as violating the First Amendment Right to free speech.

Because the Citizens United decision was based on the First Amendment, the only way to “overturn” the decision, as Attorney Donovan knows, is to amend our First Amendment free speech rights.

Yeah, imma go out on a limb and say Bucknam has the same limited grasp of the First Amendment as every other defender of Citizens United.  She might consider what her fellow Vermonters did in the wake of that awful decision, because corporations aren't people, and  money is not speech.


August 2, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Happy Independence Day!

This is NOT the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

According to the Journal of the Continental Congress, our Brave Founders finally pledged their lives, sacred honor, and whatnot:

The declaration of independence being engrossed and compared at the table was signed [by the members].1

[Note 1: The last three words are taken from the Secret Journals. A full account of the question of signing the Declaration is to be found in Friedenwald, The Declaration of Independence, 121--151.]

Yawn.  More interesting to me:

Resolved...That General Washington be instructed to employ in the service of the states, as many of the Stockbridge Indians as he shall judge proper...

AKA the Mahicans (not to be confused with the Mohegans, Mr Cooper), of whom Chingachgook was most assuredly not the last.  And compare to what instructions the Good General received just a few weeks earlier...


August 2, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Valid To All Intents And Purposes

The one sure mode to remand the States that rebelled against the Union to their autonomy was to give suffrage to the negro; and that autonomy will be complete, absolute, and unquestioned whenever the rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic shall be enjoyed in every State...

 - Congressman Edward de Veaux Morrell (R-PA) on "the negro question," April 4, 1904

On this date in 1868, Secretary of State William Seward certified the ratification of the 14th Amendment to our Constitution.  Naturally Democrats and Confederate Apologists and Jim Crowers still kept trying to destroy equal protection, as well as the 15th's suffrage guarantee.

Then the roles switched.  Now the Party of Lincoln and Seward undermines these rights whilst attacking immigrants, women, and non-cis-het Americans.  Honestly, I'm surprised Bill O and Donald T haven't tried suggesting there's no such thing as the 14th.


July 28, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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None Dare Call It Treason, Because It's Not

Trump's "joke" asking for Russia's hacking help wasn't funny, and it really wasn't treason or anything other than being in poor taste and not something any truly sensible or responsible politician should ever say.  But many people forget there was an actual, traitorous presidential candidate in our great Republic's history: John C Breckinridge of the Southern Democrats.

Dude was secesh, and placed 2nd in the Electoral College to Ole Uncle Abe.  He was then elected Senator by the Kentucky Leg, but having taking up the musket against his government, was indicted for treason, then declared a traitor and kicked out of the Senate on December 4, 1861:

Mr. Chandler submitted the following resolution for consideration:

Resolved, That John C. Breckinridge be, and he hereby is, expelled from the Senate.

The Senate proceeded, by unanimous consent, to consider the resolution; and the same having been amended, on the motion of Mr. Trumbull, to read as follows:

Whereas John C. Breckinridge, a member of this body from the State of Kentucky, has joined the enemies of his country, and is now in arms against the government he had sworn to support: Therefore--

Resolved, That said John C. Breckinridge, the traitor, be, and he hereby is, expelled from the Senate.

On the question to agree to the resolution as amended,

  • It was determined in the affirmative,
  • Yeas ... 37
  • Nays ... 00

On motion by Mr. Trumbull,

The yeas and nays being desired by one-fifth of the senators present,

Those who voted in the affirmative are,

Messrs. Anthony, Browning, Carlile, Chandler, Clark, Collamer, Cowan, Dixon, Doolittle, Fessenden, Foot, Foster, Grimes, Hale, Harlan, Harris, Howe, Kennedy, King, Lane, of Indiana, Lane, of Kansas, Latham, McDougall, Morrill, Nesmith, Pomeroy, Rice, Sherman, Simmons, Sumner, Ten Eyck, Thomson, Trumbull, Wade, Wilkinson, Wilmot, Wilson.

So the resolution as amended was agreed to--two-thirds of the senators present having voted in the affirmative.

Sadly, Donald T and Bill O forget the motivation behind Breckinridge's treason.  Hint: it wasn't because slaves were treated so great that we didn't need the 13th or 14th Amendments.


July 28, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (2)

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Department Of Foreign Affairs

Secretary Clinton's old job was created on this date in 1789:

[T]here shall be an Executive department, to be denominated the department of foreign Affairs: and that there shall be a principal Officer therein, to be called the Secretary for the department of foreign Affairs, who shall perform and execute such duties as shall from time to time be enjoined on, or intrusted to him by the President of the United States, agreeable to the Constitution, relative to correspondences, commissions, or instructions to, or with public Ministers or Consuls from the United States, or to negociations with public Ministers from foreign States or princes, or to Memorials or other applications from foreign public Ministers, or other foreigners, or to such other Matters respecting foreign Affairs, as the President of the United States shall assign to the said department

Yet merely a month later the House, followed by the Senate several days after that, debated another bit of legislation dealing with how exactly to transmit and publish new laws was passed.  There doesn't appear to be any controversy surrounding the bill, but it was referred to an ad hoc committee for a few days in the Senate.  Washington signed the bill into law on September 15, not only establishing the new protocol but also changing the department's name from "Foreign Affairs" to "State."

Why the hell did they need to change the name?  It certainly makes sense: what was originally supposed to deal with foreign relations had some new internal responsibilities (later assigned elsewhere) added to its workload, thus the original name wouldn't really be so fitting.  

The department still handles domestic things like certifying amendments to the Constitution and such, so it isn't just dealing with issues between sovereign states but also within the United States.  It's a good name.

I have always found it interesting how much the First Congress had to feel its way through all the bootstrapping.  They realized there was more stuff to be done, so quickly made adjustments for an existing department to take on an expanding role.  Congress did so all while organizing other Executive departments, debating Madison's proposal that became something called the Bill of Rights, figuring out relations with Native Americans, arguing about compensation for elected officials, and tackling mundane things like establishing the post office and oversight of lighthouses.  It was a brave new world...


PS--SecState used to be a common stepping stone to the Presidency before the Civil War. Not so much in the modern epoch.  Maybe President Clinton start a new trend.

July 27, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)