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Monday, October 09, 2017

Unterdrückung macht frei

Hello, Allegiance, my old friend.  I've come to remind you of the First Amendment again...


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

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Friday, October 06, 2017

As American As Dirty Campaigns

Yup, our elections have pretty much always been ugly (at least after Gentleman George rode off into the sunset).  That doesn't let Putin's BFF and his corrupt party off the hook...


October 6, 2017 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

I Believe The Constitution Is Our Future

Today is notable, and not just because Ericka and I were supposed to get publicly married on a beach before a rainstorm postponed things for 24 hours:

On the question to agree to the Constitution enrolled in order to be signed. It was agreed to all the States answering ay.
The members then proceeded to sign the instrument.

Whilst the last members were signing it Doctr. FRANKLIN looking towards the Presidents Chair, at the back of which a rising sun happened to be painted, observed to a few members near him, that Painters had found it difficult to distinguish in their art a rising from a setting sun. I have said he, often and often in the course of the Session, and the vicisitudes of my hopes and fears as to its issue, looked at that behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting: But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting Sun.

The Constitution being signed by all the members except Mr. Randolph, Mr. Mason, and Mr. Gerry who declined giving it the sanction of their names, the Convention dissolved itself by an Adjournment sine die-

But of course, we still operated under the Articles of Confederation (America, not me and Ericka).  So to extend the metaphor, would ratification be when the Republic began to show (or in today's parlance, the sonogram was posted on Facebook)?  And the actual birthday be when Congress first met under the new framework?

Regardless, Happy Constitution Day.  May it be whatever it it aspired to be someday...


September 17, 2017 in Constitution, Schmonstitution, Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Only Monument To Confederacy Needed

Indeed, only property seized from secesh needs be set aside as a memorial to their cause.


August 27, 2017 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Saturday, August 26, 2017

without the shedding of a drop of human blood

The Tennessee Woman Suffrage Monument in Nashville.


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

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Friday, August 25, 2017

Before Vietnam: Our First Tie Game

James Monroe, then Secretary of State, reported in August, 1814:

In the morning of the 24th, I met the President at General Winder's quarters. Among other rumors of the enemy's movements, the General had just heard that he was marching towards Bladensburg. I asked if General Stansbury was apprised of it. He presumed that he was. I offered to join him.
The President and General Winder both expressed a wish that I would. I lost not a moment in complying with their desire. Between 11 and 12 I joined General Stansbury, who had moved his brigade on this side of the Eastern Branch, near the bridge.  I inquired where were the enemy? He replied, advancing, not more than three miles distant. I advised the General to form his troops to receive them, which he immediately commenced.
After General Stansbury had made [his troop] disposition, Mr. Walter Jones, junior, set out, at my request, for the city, to communicate it to the President, the Secretary of War, and General Winder, with the near approach of the enemy. Immediately after this General Winder arrived, and informed us that his whole force was in full march to Bladensburg. On taking a view of the order which had been formed, he approved of it. This was the more satisfactory, because it had then become impossible to make any essential change.
The General proceeded promptly, for the enemy were getting in sight, to make a disposition of such of his troops as had arrived...Near the road, leading from Bladensburg to Washington, we met the Secretary of War, and immediately afterwards, at the road, I met the President and Mr. Rush, who had just arrived, and who, joining with me, the Secretary of War, and General Winder, proceeded together towards the left of the Hue.
Mr. Rush informed me that the President intended, when every arrangement sliould be completed, to take a pistol with the members of the administration in the rear of the line, that, looking to all the functions of the Government, he might be able to act with their counsel according to circumstances. Shortly afterwards the President gave me the same intimation.
The action may be said to have commenced, when we had arrived in the rear of the battery near the bridge. The enemy had saluted us with their rockets, and, attempting to pass the bridge, our little batteries had begun to play on them.
After some pause, the President remarked to the Secretary of War and myself, that it would now be proper for us to retire in the rear, leaving the military movement to military men, which we did. The Attorney General followed us. After our little batteries were carried, and the left of our line broken, the President, with the members of the administration present, retired along the eminence on which the left of the line had been formed, viewing the progress of the action to the right.

Henry Adams' wrote in his History:

The Secretary of the Treasury, G. W. Campbell, on the morning of the battle went to the Cabinet meeting at the navy-yard, but his health, which had become much affected, obliged him to return to his lodgings instead of riding to Bladensburg. In parting from Madison, Campbell lent him a pair of pistols, which the President put in his holsters.
Federalists were curious to know whether the pistols were the same with which he shot Barent Gardenier, but learned only that they were fine duelling pistols, and that they were stolen from the President's holsters during his short stay at the White House after the battle. The secretary's duelling pistols became the best known of all the weapons unused that day ; but the secretary himself made no further appearance on the scene. He went to Frederick. The Secretary of the Navy and the Attorney-General accompanied the President, and shared his fortunes.
Although ridicule without end was showered on the President and the other civilians, their conduct was on the whole creditable to their courage and character; but of the commanding general no kind word could be said. Neither William Hull, Alexander Smyth, Dearborn, Wilkinson, nor Winchester showed such incapacity as Winder either to organize, fortify, fight, or escape. When he might have prepared defences, he acted as scout; when he might have fought, he still scouted ; when he retreated, he retreated in the wrong direction ; when he fought, he thought only of retreat; and whether scouting, re- treating, or fighting, he never betrayed an idea.

Paul Jennings, one of Madison's young slaves, recollected:

Well, on the 24th of August, sure enough, the British reached Bladensburg, and the fight began between 11 and 12. Even that very morning General Armstrong assured Mrs. Madison there was no danger. The President, with General Armstrong, General Winder, Colonel Monroe, Richard Rush, Mr. Graham, Tench Ringgold, and Mr. Duvall, rode out on horseback to Bladensburg to see how things looked. Mrs. Madison ordered dinner to be ready at 3, as usual; I set the table myself, and brought up the ale, cider, and wine, and placed them in the coolers, as all the Cabinet and several military gentlemen and strangers were expected.

While waiting, at just about 3, as Sukey, the house-servant, was lolling out of a chamber window, James Smith, a free colored man who had accompanied Mr. Madison to Bladensburg, gallopped up to the house, waving his hat, and cried out, "Clear out, clear out! General Armstrong has ordered a retreat!"

All then was confusion. Mrs. Madison ordered her carriage, and passing through the dining-room, caught up what silver she could crowd into her old-fashioned reticule, and then jumped into the chariot with her servant girl Sukey, and Daniel Carroll, who took charge of them; Jo. Bolin drove them over to Georgetown Heights; the British were expected in a few minutes. Mr. Cutts, her brother-in-law, sent me to a stable on 14th street, for his carriage. People were running in every direction. John Freeman (the colored butler) drove off in the coachee with his wife, child, and servant; also a feather bed lashed on behind the coachee, which was all the furniture saved, except part of the silver and the portrait of Washington (of which I will tell you by-and-by).

I will here mention that although the British were expected every minute, they did not arrive for some hours; in the mean time, a rabble, taking advantage of the confusion, ran all over the White House, and stole lots of silver and whatever they could lay their hands on.

About sundown I walked over to the Georgetown ferry, and found the President and all hands (the gentlemen named before, who acted as a sort of body-guard for him) waiting for the boat. It soon returned, and we all crossed over, and passed up the road about a mile; they then left us servants to wander about. In a short time several wagons from Bladensburg, drawn by Barney's artillery horses, passed up the road, having crossed the Long Bridge before it was set on fire. As we were cutting up some pranks a white wagoner ordered us away, and told his boy Tommy to reach out his gun, and he would shoot us. I told him "he had better have used it at Bladensburg." Just then we came up with Mr. Madison and his friends, who had been wandering about for some hours, consulting what to do. I walked on to a Methodist minister's, and in the evening, while he was at prayer, I heard a tremendous explosion, and, rushing out, saw that the public buildings, navy yard, ropewalks, &c., were on fire.

It has often been stated in print, that when Mrs. Madison escaped from the White House, she cut out from the frame the large portrait of Washington (now in one of the parlors there), and carried it off. This is totally false. She had no time for doing it. It would have required a ladder to get it down. All she carried off was the silver in her reticule, as the British were thought to be but a few squares off, and were expected every moment. John Susé (a Frenchman, then door-keeper, and still living) and Magraw, the President's gardener, took it down and sent it off on a wagon, with some large silver urns and such other valuables as could be hastily got hold of. When the British did arrive, they ate up the very dinner, and drank the wines, &c., that I had prepared for the President's party.

Rear Admiral Cockburn informed Vice Admiral Cochrane:

The Contest being Completely ended and the Enemy having retired from the Field, the General gave the Army about two hours rest, when he again moved forward on Washington; It was however dark before we reached that City, and on the General, myself and some officers advancing a short way past the first Houses of the Town without being accompanied by the Troops, the Enemy opened upon us a heavy fire of Musquetry from the Capitol [which housed the Library of Congress at the time] and two other houses, these were therefore almost immediately Stormed by our People, taken possession of, and set on fire, after which the Town submitted without further resistance.

The Enemy himself on our entering the Town set Fire to the Navy Yard, (filled with Naval Stores) a Frigate of the largest class almost ready for Launching, and a Sloop of War laying off it, as he also did to the Fort which protected the Sea approach to Washington.

On taking Possession of the City we also set fire to the Presidents Palace, the Treasury, and the War Office, and in the morning Captain Wainwright went with a Party to see that the Destruction in the Navy Yard was Complete, when he destroyed whatever Stores and Buildings had escaped the Flames of the preceeding Night-- A large quantity of Ammunition and ordnance Stores were likewise destroyed by us in the Arsenal, as were about Two hundred pieces of Artillery of different Calibres, as well as a Vast quantity of small Arms. Two Rope Walks of a very extensive Nature, full of Tar, Rope &c. Situated at a considerable distance from the Yard were likewise set Fire to and consumed, in short Sir I do not believe a Vestage of Public Property, or a Store of any kind which could be converted to the use of the Government, escaped Destruction; the Bridges across the Eastern Branch and the Potowmac were likewise destroyed.

So much for that vaunted militia defending hearth and home.  Yet somehow we managed to win...or draw, anyway.


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

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The greatest trick the Secesh ever pulled was convincing the world the Constitution didn't exist.

We should respect the results of constitutional processes.  Except when we don't like the results of constitutional processes, in which case we should start civil wars.


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

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Monday, August 21, 2017

Happy Nat Turner Day!

Long before the Confederates' Noble War of Treason Over Taxes and Not Slavery, some ingrates yearned to breathe free:

Slaves wanted freedom from the moment they were enslaved. Whether committing suicide on the slave ships by jumping into the ocean, engaging in open rebellions like Nat Turner or the Stono Rebellion, running away, or just dreaming of a free life, slaves always wanted freedom from the hell of their lives. They took any change to get it. During the American Revolution and the War of 1812, thousands of slaves fled to British lines because of the promise of freedom. Many thousands more would have fled if they could have reached the British.

It's puzzling slaves would do such things when they got food and housing...FOR FREE!  That must be why we don't have lots of statues of them everywhere...


PS--Eclipses played a significant part in Nat Turner's revolt.

August 21, 2017 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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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,

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?


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...


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...


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...


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...


* 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...


* 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...


* 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...


* 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!


* 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.


* 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)...


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...


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

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