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Tuesday, December 06, 2016

And Lo! White Santas Kinda Sorta Freed The Slaves...

Slavery is over (if you want it):

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation

But wait, there's still the slavery of taxes and the social safety net, which is way worse than any physical incareration and labor that is disproportionately inflicted on certain Americans!


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

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Saturday, December 03, 2016

His going forth is from the end of the heaven

Emoluments, eschmoluments.

So key-ute!  Consent of Congress.  Key words.  It doesn't say that Congress shall pass a law...their consent can be as silent as a Republican mouse not stirring in the House on Xmas eve.  Ain't gonna stop him any more than Hamilton's Pure Electors.


December 3, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Thursday, December 01, 2016

See? Hillary Can't Complain Because History!

Remember Founding Father Child Prodigy John Quincy Adams?

Per statute, the Presidential Electors met on December 1, 1824, to cast their ballots (the 1st Weds of December, which was the law until the 1880s).  While there was no CNN back then, and election dates and mechanisms were all over the map, the results were fundamentally known.

Officially the votes weren't counted until February 9, but there was no mystery that Andrew Jackson had 99 and JQA had 84, with nobody getting the required majority.  So the House would, under the Twelfth Amendment, ultimately elect Adams over the other Top 3 candidates (the other being Crawford), 13-7-4.

Jackson decried a "corrupt bargain" that allegedly involved Henry Clay (who was disqualified for the contingent election coming in 4th) throwing his support behind Adams for an appointment to Secretary of State (the best path to the presidency in those days).  The sore loser quit his Senate seat in a huff, and 4 years later kicked his rival's butt.

Which shows that this year's winner of the popular vote should totally unite behind the billionaire appoint other billionaires and Nazis and generals who shared classified information because the Framers wanted rich white slaveowners to democratically rule our Republic and not moistened bints lying in ponds...


December 1, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Our So-called Democracy's Cascade Failure


But, of course, it is nearly impossible for an election to be rigged in the way that Trump and Republican vote suppressors claim that Democrats rig elections. The recounts are not going to reveal a lot of voter-impersonation fraud or ballot-stuffing.  But this isn’t the point. The 2016 election was, in fact, a massive fail for American democracy:

Focusing on one, narrow element of the election that probably wasn’t severely dysfunctional is a great way to conceal and stifle discussion about what really went wrong. Trump will get to trumpet that the election was fair when it was anything but. If this is hardball anti-Trump politics it couldn’t be any more illogical.

These are all excellent points.  Most analysis I've seen touts one component as The Reason, and that is pretty much never the case in real life for any Complete Failure (or Great Success for that matter).  It's glib and lazy to suggest otherwise.  Hasn't anybody read Airframe?

My only quibble is that in our post-truthiness era, the particular recount outcome won't matter to Drumpf and his followers: he already has claimed a mandate and legitimacy, despite the current objective factual landscape.  At least we'll have done due diligence so history will totally judge us in a nice light.  That should be of some comfort when we are in the exercise yard at Gitmo or Lubyanka.


November 26, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (1)

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Friday, November 25, 2016

For Some People, Winning The Popular Vote Isn't Just An Interesting Factoid


Lessig makes an argument based primarily on the fact that Clinton won the popular vote and that therefore denying her the presidency is destroying the idea of one person, one vote.

This is nonsense for the simple reason that the candidates would have run their campaigns completely differently if they were trying to win the popular vote instead of the Electoral College. They would have spent more time in Chicago and Los Angeles and a lot less time in North Carolina and Nevada. They would have runs ads in different places with different messages. The may have had entirely different messages and even some different policies.

No, we can't blame Trump for winning according to the rules. Losing the popular vote in an interesting factoid, but it's not a mark against his victory.

What Lessig should have argued is that the Electors should plainly judge Trump a menacing incompetent and reject him with extreme prejudice.

Saying Lessig's argument is nonsense is nonsense.  If the Electors can show independent judgement--highly unlikely given their selection in the first place is tribally motivated, and they ostensibly support the candidate's policies and moral code--they can use whatever justification they choose for casting their ballot.  If Trump is dangerous, that's a legitimate reason to choose Clinton, but so is the idea of having the candidate who got far and away the most popularly cast votes nationwide.

Yet this is all academic, as slave power reasserts itself just the way our Framers intended.  And given the disastrous implications, it's more than a mere factoid.


November 25, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (3)

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

and they shall burn them with fire seven years

Nice, symbolic boondoggle:

Senator Boxer's legislation would amend the Constitution of the United States and abolish the Electoral College. The amendment would take effect when ratified by three-fourths of the states within seven years after its passage in the U.S. Congress.

I really don't understand the compulsion to place any time limit on ratification, particularly seven years.  Hasn't anybody learned from the 27th Amendment or ERA?


November 17, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Before Ethanol, There Were The Spirits Of '77

On this date in 1777, Congress decided something momentous:

Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed to collect and digest the late useful discoveries for making molasses and spirits from the juice of corn stalks, and report a plan for communicating the said discoveries to the inhabitants of the several states.

And they also came up with those crappy Articles (which were ratified in a lightning fast 4 years):

Ordered, That the committee appointed to revise and arrange the articles ∥of confederation,∥ have three hundred copies printed and lodged with the secretary, to be subject to the future orders of Congress; and that the articles of confederation, as now agreed to, be entered on the journal.

And to think, we only had to endure a decade under this disorganized regime before Mr Shay got that whole Constitution thing rolling just so another ignorant revolutionary could tear it all down a mere couple centuries later...


November 15, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Although To Be Fair, Trump's Not Gonna Do The Actual Work Anyway

[T]he constitution requires that he shall receive a compensation, and it is our duty to provide it.

 - Rep John Page, July 13, 1789

So I saw this:

The Framers would disagree, even if they didn't know Trump as a grandstander.


November 14, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (5)

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

NPV Not For Me Or Thee

Noz reminds me that, as much as the Electoral College sucks, I really dislike the extracontstitutional approach of that National Popular Vote compact to which Vermont is a party.  Certainly the last few elections show we ought to do the Article V thing, even if it carries its own risks, but let's skip the marginal games.

And since Clinton, the only president who really had a popular mandate--TWICE--is the guy leaving in the next couple months.  Damn fine candidate and public servant.  We're gonna miss him for realz.


November 12, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (5)

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

One More Thing About The Electoral College

I'll just note that the system is working EXACTLY as intended: getting rich white guys who can win the Slave States elected.  John Adams and his son were anomolies in the early days of our Republic, which mostly had Virginians in charge thanks to Slave Power.  So it's no wonder that in the past couple decades, the GOP could eke out electoral victories twice whilst losing the popular vote (not to mention getting the lowest popular vote margin ever for an incumbent in '04).

So yeah, let's ditch the last vestige of slavery in our Constitution.  But stop signing petitions on the WH webite to do it: Obama has no power over this, duh.  Work hard at the local and state level to start the Article V process.


November 10, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Secesh By Any Other Name Is Still Unconstitutional

Yeah, sorry, Calexiters, but this ain't Europe, and it's nahgahhappah any more than Texexit.  Because it can't.


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

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Just A Big Pile Of Poop

Remember when certain people were threatening to secede if Obama was re-elected, or to rebel if Clinton won?  Perhaps we anti-Trumpsters should've been taking notes:

For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common Government. Observing the forms of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that Article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that "Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free," and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.

It's only some natural manure, after all, I hear tell...


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

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Monday, November 07, 2016

Meh, Clearly My Vote Doesn't Count

There was that one time a Vermonter's vote changed the face of America.  But today, chances are about 1 in 10 billion that a single vote in our brave little state will have any major impact on the outcome.


November 7, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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How Not To Stop Rebellion

Lord Dunmore, Governor of Virginia, proclaimed on November 7, 1775:

I have thought fit to issue this my Proclamation, hereby declaring...Martial Law, and cause the same to be executed throughout this Colony: and to the end that Peace and good Order may the sooner be restored, I do require every Person capable of bearing Arms, to resort to His MAJESTY'S STANDARD, or be looked upon as Traitors to His MAJESTY'S Crown and Government, and thereby become liable to the Penalty the Law inflicts upon such Offences; such as forfeiture of Life, confiscation of Lands, etc., etc.

And I do hereby further declare all indented Servants, Negroes, or others, (appertaining to Rebels,) free that are able and willing to bear Arms, they joining His MAJESTY'S Troops as soon as may be, for the more speedily reducing this Colony to a proper Sense of their Duty, to His MAJESTY'S Crown and Dignity.

It didn't have the intended effect:

In Virginia the party in favour of independence had been in the minority...But, impotent as this measure of Lord Dunmore's was, it served to enrage the people of Virginia, setting their minds irretrievably against the king and his cause. During the month of November, hearing that a party of "rebels" were on their way from North Carolina to take possession of Norfolk, Lord Dunmore built a rude fort at the Great Bridge over Elizabeth river, which commanded the southern approach to the town...

The patriots, roused to anger by Dunmore's proclamation, now resolved to capture Norfolk, and a party of sharpshooters, with whom the illustrious John Marshall served as lieutenant, occupied the bank of Elizabeth river, opposite Dunmore's fort. On the 9th of December, after a sharp fight of fifteen minutes, in which Dunmore's regulars lost sixty one men, while not a single Virginian was slain, the fort was hastily abandoned, and the road to Norfolk was laid open for the patriots.

A few days later the Virginians took possession of their town, while Dunmore sought refuge in the Liverpool, ship-of-the-line, which had just sailed into the harbour. On New Year's Day the governor vindictively set fire to the town, which he had been unable to hold against its rightful owners. The conflagration, kindled by shells from the harbour, raged for three days and nights, until the whole town was laid in ashes, and the people were driven to seek such sorry shelter as might save them from the frosts of midwinter.

This event went far toward determining the attitude of Virginia. In November the colony had not felt ready to comply with the recommendation of Congress, and frame for herself a new government. The people were not yet ready to sever the links which bound them to Great Britain. But the bombardment of their principal town was an argument of which every one could appreciate the force and the meaning.

So I heartily recommend President Clinton not declare martial law (or try confiscating gunpowder) in January, even if the Trumpeteers get the balls to take up arms...


November 7, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Beyond Elections

I love voting.  I love people putting their I Voted stickers on Susan B's grave.  I will particularly love it tomorrow if enough votes are cast to cast a hateful demon into the Pit of Despair and Trivial Pursuit Questions.

Yet I feel compelled to remind my dear 3.25 readers that our Republic isn't just about a single democratic process that happens every once in a while.  I just came home from our regular Selectboard meeting, wherein we discussed a lot about the condition of town roads, culvert replacement, State and Federal funding, etc.  

A particularly bad stretch of pavement that the Board had opted to grind as part of a multi-year rebuilding project has generated a great deal of conversation online recently.  We'd been talking about if for many months, published Newsletter articles about our plans, and had a lively debate at Town Meeting when we asked voters for a paltry (relative to the total long term cost) increase in the municipal road budget.  

Tonight, two concerned townspeople dropped by (as did former State Senator and current candidate, Sara Branon Kittell) to provide feedback and ask questions.  One even remained until after we officially adjourned.

Just two taxpayers tonight--that's, like...an infinity percent increase over the usual attendance.  Would that more came to our meetings on a frequent basis to stay informed and give us input.  

You don't have to engage in every little nuance of governance every day, but it is kinda everybody's responsibility to generally keep things running...


November 7, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Sunday, November 06, 2016

The State of the Country

James Henley Thornwell, January, 1861:

The men who were loudest in their denunciations of the Government had, with very few exceptions, no more desire to have the trade reopened than the rest of their countrymen; but they delighted in teasing their enemies. They took special satisfaction in providing hard nuts for abolitionists to crack.

There were others, not at all in favor of the trade, who looked upon the law as unconstitutional which declared it to be piracy. But the great mass of the Southern people were content with the law as it stood. They were and are opposed to the trade--not because the traffic in slaves is immoral--that not a man among us believes--but because the traffic with Africa is not a traffic in slaves. It is a system of kidnapping and man-stealing, which is as abhorrent to the South as it is to the North and we venture confidently to predict, that should a Southern Confederacy be formed, the African slave-trade is much more likely to be reopened by the old Government than the new.

The conscience of the North will be less tender when it has no Southern sins to bewail, and idle ships will naturally look to the Government to help them in finding employment.

The real cause of the intense excitement of the South, is not vain dreams of national glory in a separate confederacy, nor the love of the filthy lucre of the African slave-trade; it is the profound conviction that the Constitution, in its relations to slavery, has been virtually repealed; that the Government has assumed a new and dangerous attitude upon this subject; that we have, in short, new terms of union submitted to our acceptance or rejection. Here lies the evil.

The election of Lincoln, when properly interpreted, is nothing more nor less than a proposition to the South to consent to a Government, fundamentally different upon the question of slavery, from that which our fathers established. If this point can be made out, secession becomes not only right, but a bounden duty. Morally, it is only the abrogation of the forms of a contract, when its essential conditions have been abolished. Politically, it is a measure indispensable to the safety, if not to the very existence, of the South.

I suspect Melania Trump will be cribbing from this on Wednesday...


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

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Friday, November 04, 2016

If Washington Had Email

Nothing really analogous at all with today's stupid email circus, but I was just thinking about how that one time the Father of His Country told Congress, "bite me."


November 4, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Tuesday, November 01, 2016

A Tie's As Good As A Wink To A Blind Justice

Indeed, Judiciary is the weakest branch, but to suggest we are seeing SCOTUS' final days is stretching the point a bit.  I'll further note that, while the GOP is fundamentally full of crap justifying their obstruction, they ain't entirely wrong about the history of our highest court, which for a time did statutorily have an even number of Justices.


November 1, 2016 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Our First Rigged Election

Alexander Hamilton, who promised the Electoral College couldn't be rigged...rigged it for George Washington.  At least John Adams got to serve one term at the top before Hamilton made a hash of 1800 (which was also rigged in a different way).


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

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There Is No Spoon Court

No, Anthony, the Framers clearly meant by Article III (and a few scattered allusions) that there shouldn't even be a Supreme Court.


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