Naked Power Plays

The McConnell hate is palpable right now. If you don’t think the Dems would have done the same thing if the situation were reversed, I have a bridge to sell you. They would be fools not to.

Most of politics is slinging bullshit. You weave a narrative for the rubes to rally around.

“Let the next President fill the seat!”

“Do your job!”

“It was her dying wish!”

“Mitch is a hypocrite!”

It’s all nonsense that will be repeated mindlessly by partisan cheerleaders. If the Dems had been in charge of the Senate, Merrick Gardland or someone more liberal would be on the court right now, and to me that’s a consequence of losing elections. If Hillary had won and the Dems won back the Senate in 2018, no one vilifying Cocaine Mitch right now would be complaining about Schumer allowing a vote on RBG’s replacement. What surprises me is how many educated people are fall for “The Narrative.”

This is raw, naked, political power, as our system is designed to allow. Anyone who thinks higher principles are involved here is a fool. Mitch McConnell is doing exactly what Chuck Schumer would be doing if the party was reversed. When the party in the White House, controls the Senate, they can put whoever they want on the federal courts without compromise. That’s how the system is designed to work. If you want a check, the party that doesn’t hold the White House needs to take the Senate. If you fail to do that, these are the consequences.

I had no greater principle to espouse when Scalia died suddenly and unexpectedly and the GOP moved to block the Garland nomination. Why did the GOP do that? Because it could. There needs to be no higher explanation than that.

I spent a lot of time on here telling people “This is how the system works. If you don’t like reality, learn how things work then work harder than your opponents and outmaneuver them.” If you’ve ever read “Rules for Radicals,” even a lot of Alinsky’s advice amounted to “Don’t be a crybaby. Work for the change you want to see.” A lot of Dems very desperately need this lesson, but no one is telling them.

As for the current Supreme Court situation: there may now be a prayer for the Second Amendment. They won’t need to worry so much about holding Weeble Woberts. But if I were a fan of Roe or Obergefell, I’d be worried. I understand the Dems freaking out. But the temper tantrums I can’t abide by.

BTW, I’ll also make a prediction, because I like predictions. John Roberts is the next David Souter. He’ll move further left to rebalance the Court. If I were the Dems, I’d be inviting the Chief Justice to all the cool kid parties and try for that play.

116 thoughts on “Naked Power Plays”

  1. If you have an hour to spend, watch the pbs front line ‘supreme revenge’ episode,

    while reported from the traditional ultra-left PBS slant, and portrayed so you will come away hating their designated antagonist, McConnell, for right leaning libertarians, republicans, conservatives who may not have liked “cocaine” Mitch, you’ll likely come away from the episode liking McConnell just a little more.

    If PBS is willing to devote an entire Frontline episode to him as a villain, he can’t be all bad.

    “Don’t be a crybaby. Work for the change you want to see. A lot of Dems very desperately need this lesson, but no one is telling them.” — The thing is, being a crybaby IS working for the change they want to see. Step 1 is to foment outrage. Someone already told them this lesson, that’s how they got elected. Being a cry baby has worked in the past for Dems, you’ve already seen Mittens, Murkowski, Collins and Grassley all curl up in the fetal position to get that tummy rub from the dems.

    1. PBS Happily censored out the biggest reason for SCOTUS being such a Partisan Political Hatchet.

      Almost a century ago: President Franklin Roosevelt’s Court Packing Threat. And now, 83 years later, the Democrat Party is resurrecting the Court Packing Agenda to rule as Autocrats.

      Fuck them all and their Stalinist Bullshit.

      1. That’s not true, though. The real reason why the Supreme Court is such a partisan political hatchet is because it’s a nexus of power. It’s a much bigger nexus of power than the Founders anticipated, but I think that’s in part because of Marshall’s ruling that the Supreme Court has power to declare laws unConstitutional.

        I have heard arguments made that the Court shouldn’t have that power, but I cannot agree with the argument, because then Congress and the President can pass laws that completely ignore the Constitution. However, this also means that the Courts can rule however they want, for arbitrary reasons. I do not know if there’s a good way to do this.

        The fact is, no matter what political system we create, and no matter what barriers we put in place to prevent the abuse of power, people will always find ways to twist the rules into ways to abuse power. There’s no possible way to escape this.

        Well, there’s one way: always be diligent in fighting for liberty. Never accept the Supreme Court as the one Final Arbiter of the Constitution — we should always be willing to argue against the Supreme Court. We should appoint justices who will defend the Constitution. We should even sometimes be willing to resort to amending the Constitution, as necessary, to fix the worst of the abuses.

        And then lather, rinse, repeat. Forever. Because that’s what it means to be Eternally Vigilant.

    2. I’ll have to look at that when I get a chance.

      Even before I do so, however, I will note how funny it is that a nickname that originally got stuck on McConnell because of a news story about McConnell being involved in cocaine smuggling (I can’t remember if the story was even fully debunked, or if it washed out in some non-controversial way) is now used as a term of endearment by those who are happy by how he’s pushed through so many Court appointees — both Appellate and Supreme — with so much gusto!

  2. The way I understand things to work is that if the CJ is in the majority, they have a very strong ability to steer the majority opinion by controlling who writes the opinion.

    There are both procedural and traditional limits to this power, but to exercise it, the CJ has to be in the Majority.

    So CJ Roberts might “move Right” to be able to exercise this control…

    Anyway, I tend to think that the Supreme Court will be “packed” regardless of when the replacement is confirmed, so we might as well ask that they be forced to pack by 4 instead of pack by 2.

  3. In paying attention to the Democrat Party since 2015, going into the previous Presidential Election, they’re just brought out into the open now with Ginsburg’s death, signaling to us that no matter when, be it in 2021, 2025, 2029, etc, etc, the next time that they capture both chambers of the Federal Legislature and WH combined…….they will engage in the Autocracy Hungry Act of Court Packing to rule the Country as a 1-Party Dictatorship.

    Trump filling the Ginsburg Vaccancy is irrelevant to that Court Packing Threat, because it’s a staple of the Democrat Agenda going forward, no matter when it becomes a capable action for them.

    The threat of another Civil War really isn’t Conspiracy Theory talk anymore.

    1. One Republican commentator opined: “No Republican should worry about their threat to do what they have already promised. They shot the hostage before the standoff.”

      1. And that’s true for both the promise of riots and the promise of court-packing!

  4. Here’s my prediction – if the full list of guests at Epstein’s pedo island is ever released, John Roberts will be on it. The guy is completely controlled.

    1. I’m not as convinced as you are about this particular prediction — but I am personally convinced that there’s some sort of list out there that has John Roberts’s name on it, that he’d rather not have us know about.

      But at this point, I think we’re merely quibbling over the details.

      1. It is the Kool Kids list as Sebastian suggests. Move the SC to Kearney NE to fix this problem.

  5. Contrary to much of what is being said, both the Rs and Ds will be “strict constructionists” in this case. Neither will do a single thing the constitution explicitly says they can’t do.

    McConnell didn’t, when he blocked Obama’s appointment in Obama’s last year. The Democrats won’t when, given the opportunity, they add dozens of SCOTUS Justices, given the opportunity, in the name of “achieving balance.”

    It’s all about maintaining political power, which is what the constitution was created to do. It’s just amazing that it’s taken since the Civil War for the gloves (and noble pretenses) to come off.

    As Sebastian writes, “This is raw, naked, political power, as our system is designed to allow. Anyone who thinks higher principles are involved here is a fool.”

    I would only add, don’t kid yourself that your chosen faction are the Good Guys, because there are none. We will be lucky if we don’t find ourselves praying for our past delusions to return.

    1. I have no problem with this, either way, either Party. (Well, I don’t like it when Democrats do it, but that’s only because I don’t like it when Democrats are in power. I’m not going to change the Constitution to stop Democrats from doing it, though: I’m going to do my best to win elections.)

      Indeed, it’s clear to me that the only complaint that the Democrats have about either issue is “But it’s bad when YOU do it!”

      And I have to 100% completely endorse your reminder that our chosen factions aren’t the Good Guys (whatever chosen faction (*cough* libertarians *cough* ha! *cough*) we’re talking about. The entire purpose of the Constitution is to try to throw wrenches into exercising power. And one of those wrenches is to have Congress and the President to be at odds with each other, so that they can only cooperate with each other if they agree with each other!

      1. “*cough* libertarians *cough* ha! *cough*”

        I just want to make clear that I’m not coming at this from any kind of “minor party” affection/factionalism; I left the LP roughly 25 years ago, and only maintain a grudging affection for minor parties, the way we cherish the fantasies of our youth, from Santa Claus to the Easter Bunny. Believing in them was sweet.

        It is only relatively recently that I learned that the “far left” plausibly lays claim to having coined the word “libertarian”, far back in the 19th century. For a time it was virtually synonymous with “communist.” But the Bolsheviks spoiled that for all times when in striving to maintain political power they crushed all the “libertarians” who had early-on allied with them for altruistic motives. That is a completely different issue from whether the “ideology” ever could work; the evil now identified as communism was born out of the desire to establish and maintain political power.

        The “right-libertarian” movement I was part of, was a cynical adaptation of what the Bolsheviks did, i.e., the utilization of an altruistic but impossible vision to secure the raw power and welfare of a very few. We were allowed quite a few ideological diversions as long as we contributed to the eventual triumph and profit of a relative few.

        That is what is playing out in the mainstream, right now.

        1. I added this as someone who’s always toyed with the idea of voting Libertarian, and would occasionally do so, but I have a difficult time taking the Party seriously, as much as I’d like to see it actually do better. The “ha!” I added was because as much as I’d like to see the Libertarian Party become a force to be reckoned with in American politics, I’m not even convinced that the Libertarian candidates take their Party seriously.

          But if they did come to power, I have no illusions about whether or not they would take advantage of it. Well, maybe I do have some doubts — after all, it’s not hard to imagine Libertarians tripping over themselves to refuse to exercise power when it would actually do some good — or, what’s worse, and individual Libertarian Politician exercising power even if it goes against their principles.

          I would just as well assume that that’s the default mode of any politician, though, whether Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or Stark Raving Mad Monster — that before we grant power to a particular person, we should stop and ask ourselves “If the absolute worst person I can imagine were in this same office, instead of my favorite person, would I want them to have this power?” Unfortunately, very few people seem willing to ask themselves this question (although I have the impression that Republicans are slightly more likely to ask the question than Democrats).

          1. “I’m not even convinced that the Libertarian candidates take their Party seriously.”

            I worked a little bit in the 1988 Ron Paul (Libertarian) presidential campaign, and in a local LP congressional campaign that year.

            I only mention the Ron Paul Campaign because a good friend later worked in his 2008 Republican Campaign, going really balls out and becoming a Republican committee chairman in his state. But before it was all over, he became convinced that Paul never took his own campaign seriously, and that it was just a money-making scam for a crowd of Republican opportunists.

            The 1988 congressional campaign I worked in, was for a guy who was virtually a “founding” LP celebrity, and exploited that to the hilt. I thought it was great stuff at the time, as a relative newbie. He raised over $50,000 (not bad, in those days), not all of it “on the books.” But then, he got something like 1.3 percent of the vote. Nevertheless he would go on to present “How to run a successful Libertarian campaign” seminars — for pay — for several years afterward.

            (I managed a Libertarian campaign a couple years later that got four times the votes in the same district, and achieved county-level ballot status for the LP; all for just over $10,000. I and the candidate did nothing the LP guru recommended.)

            All water over the bridge and under the dam, but just to say I have my share of experience with opportunists and scammers. The LP had plenty of them, though of course they couldn’t hold a candle to the major parties.

    2. I would also add that nakedly maintaing and exercising power hasn’t been since the Civil War — it’s been clear since the time of George Washington as President.

      It’s only amazing that, with all the disrespect that the Presidents, the various Congresses, and even the various Supreme Courts have had over the years for this document, it’s nonetheless continued to be sort-of a barrier to a complete takeover of power all this time, and continues to sort-of be so to this day.

      I suspect that the only reason this is so is because there’s still a sizeable portion of the Electorate that sort-of understands the Constitution, and sort-of respects it. The day that the Electorate stops caring for the Constitution altogether is the day that the Constitution dies completely.

      1. “I would also add that nakedly maintaining and exercising power hasn’t been since the Civil War”

        Agreed. But I was using the Civil War as a historical marker, because the power-factionalism of slavery was a glaring example of the pollution of the SCOTUS by power politics, so glaring that it is obvious. And, it resulted in war.

        Jefferson’s Democratic Republican faction was invoking positions opposing the Federalists’ interpretation of “what the constitution means” while Washington was still president. (I think.)

        1. True though it got much more virulent with the Adams administration. The Alien and Sedition Acts were a real flashpoint. Look at the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions for justifications for secession and/or nullification. The were authored by Madison and Jefferson. Supposedly, Jefferson took a much more radical position that what was eventually passed. Interesting because they had nothing to do with slavery which, in hindsight, everything gets attributed to.

          1. It’s easy to look at our situation without being aware of what has come before us and think “We have it really bad!” but the reality is that it’s always bad, and it always looks the worst to those who are in the midst of it — it’s merely just that some years the suck is more obvious than others, and that some of the really bad stuff that happened over the years is invisible to us because we didn’t experience it for ourselves (and in the case of things like the contentious first years of our Republic after George Washington — heck, sometimes even the stuff in Washington’s years — we’re only barely aware of the history, often because the history books/classes barely touch on it).

          2. “Look at the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions for justifications for secession and/or nullification.”

            I’ve always liked them for expressing the obvious fact that the constitution provides no authorization for the federal government to control immigration.

            I’m usually just being a PITA when I point that out, because obviously the federal government should be the entity that administers immigration law; it’s just that the constitution never has provided authorization for it, and it required “activist Justices” to discover that federal power c. 1881, to enable the Chinese Exclusion Act.

            My personal interest in that is that in “Black ’47” my Irish ancestors had to sail to Canada and walk across the border into the U.S., because congress had imposed a landing tax, for the purpose of keeping the starving Irish out, and my ancestors couldn’t afford to eat, much less pay a government to walk down a gangplank. But, congress at that time was still obeying the constitution, so couldn’t ban Irish immigrants outright. Instead they used the navigation laws, to discourage immigration constitutionally.

            It wasn’t until the sufficiently offensive Chinese came along, that federal judges discovered the federal power to control immigration. Nevertheless my Central European grandparents managed to bypass Ellis Island and just walk down a gangplank without stopping, in a way the Irish couldn’t, 50 years earlier.

            1. What has changed is that we used to encourage assimilation once immigrants got here. That worked over time though there were times when the numbers overwhelmed assimilation (mafia, anarchists, etc). Now we have the numbers and have abandoned the melting pot. That makes legal structures irrelevant.

              1. “What has changed is that we used to encourage assimilation once immigrants got here.”

                I don’t agree with that statement. If immigrants “assimilated” it was because it was in their own perceived self-interest. Mostly they didn’t, and it was their children who adopted the culture, often to their parents’ consternation.

                My father was born here, but didn’t speak English until he started school. And I never heard my grandfather speak English, unless the person he was speaking to spoke only English. I never heard him speak English to his children, and when I was a little kid I used to think if I listened to them long enough their language would start sounding like English to me.

                A Pennsylvania Dutch friend of mine says the same things about her grandfather — and her family has been in the country roughly 250 years. She says she can still understand some German as a result of speaking simple Pennsylvania Dutch with her grandfather when she was a little girl, and she is occasionally called on “professionally” to communicate with Amish and Mennonite clients. They too are from families that have been here a couple hundred years. But, some concepts communicate better in Pennsylvania Dutch than in English.

                1. There was a lot of rhetoric supporting the melting pot. Yeah, a lot of was empty rhetoric but that is miles better than having the rhetoric being identity politics the way it is today.

                  1. “There was a lot of rhetoric supporting the melting pot.”

                    There has always been a lot of rhetoric, and it always has been total bullshit.

                    1. It made it a friendlier place for immigrants than it would have been without it and it provided a basis for eventual assimilation in the 2nd and 3rd generation. Now since leftists have killed the rhetoric many immigrants don’t even want to integrate. So they don’t and it drives division.

                    2. The funny thing about assimilation, though, is that there are immigrants — I suspect some of them are even here illegally — who despise the fact that our schools require their children to learn Spanish because they happen to be Hispanic.

                      The parents have a sense that the purpose of this is to make sure their children remain second-class citizens, to forever be the maids and lawn care professionals of society.

                      Learning this gives me some hope for the incoming immigrants, to be sure! And part of the hope is that they are seeing through the lies that are “multiculturalism”.

                    3. “I suspect some of them are even here illegally — who despise the fact that our schools require their children to learn Spanish because they happen to be Hispanic.”

                      First I have to ask, please give me an example of a public school where that is true. I was not aware of any public school in the United States that required students to speak Spanish.

                      I’ll concede that there may be public schools that go overboard in accommodating Spanish-speakers, resulting in the kids not learning English as rapidly as they could. But, I have a couple younger relatives here in PA, and in FL, who teach in largely poor Hispanic public schools, and they themselves speak only as much Spanish as they have picked up in those environments. Spanish is not required in their schools.

                      To allude to one of my Old Stories, my father didn’t speak English until he started school, and I never heard his immigrant father speak English to anyone unless there was no other option. (I regret that as a kid, I can’t recall ever exchanging a conversational sentence with my grandfather, since I speak only English.) Yet when a cousin and I went to a family reunion in the Old Country, I heard that cousin tell the classic immigrant story that “my grandfather would insist ‘You’re in America now, we speak only English in this house.'”

                      “Myth” is the nice word, “bullshit” is more accurate. That cousin witnessed the same things I did, yet was willing to repeat the myth as part of the expected “culture”.

                    4. “…there are immigrants…who despise the fact that our schools require their children to learn Spanish because they happen to be Hispanic.”

                      While I was investigating whether that might be true, I came across a news article reporting that 2/3 of people polled in Florida supported requiring school children to learn Spanish. It did not provide a breakdown as to the opinions of whites, blacks, or Hispanics — only the raw poll results. I didn’t bring forward the link to that article or quote it because I didn’t want to seem like I was attempting a “gotcha”, which isn’t my intent. My intent is to get to the truth as opposed to myths.

                      BTW, while I was working at that I couldn’t remember whether you had actually said it was true that schools were requiring children to speak Spanish (you had), or whether you had only said that Hispanic immigrants didn’t like the idea.

                      This appears to be an anecdotal example of how myths and urban legends start, and how they are passed along. I could find no example of a public school forcing Hispanic students to speak Spanish, but I can see why some people would be encouraged to believe it.

                      There is a way to use semantics so that almost everyone hears one (false) thing, while careful parsing of the language shows it saying something completely different.

                    5. “Require” might be too strong a word. And I cannot recall precisely where I encountered the sentiment that Hispanics weren’t thrilled with their kids learning Spanish in school — it may have been a news story, or it may have been something I encountered on a blog — but it was something that surprised me, and it got stuck in my memory.

                      I will say this, though: I know of one person who fought tooth an nail to keep her kids from being taught Hispanic culture in school, because (1) she was from Portugal, but was now an American, so she wanted her kids to be American, and (2) “Spanish” wasn’t her culture, regardless. The schools were offended that she didn’t want to pass her culture on to her kids (which I’m pretty sure she was doing regardless — after all, they would travel to Portugal on a regular basis to visit grandparents — but the school wanted her to do things she herself didn’t particularly want to do).

  6. I’ve been saying this for the past couple of days now, but the only hypocrisy is the Democrats pretending that they would behave any differently.

    If the Democrats were in a similar position, I wouldn’t like it, but I wouldn’t be complaining about it, either: The President appoints, and the Senate decides what to do with that appointment. It’s as simple as that.

    With regards to court packing, here’s what I hope will happen: The White House, the Senate, and the House all become Republican-controlled, and the Republicans immediately say “Hey, the Democrats have been calling for packing the court! We think it’s a great idea!” and after all the howling along the lines of “Yes, but we didn’t mean for YOU to do it!” the Republicans can then say “Well, ok, then, let’s pass this amendment limiting the Supreme Court to 9 Justices. If you don’t pass it, we’ll add two more Justices to the Supreme Court”.

    Ever since FDR, we’ve come to accept that packing the court is a bad idea. This is something that I think needs to be cemented into the Constitution, because it’s easy to see what will happen to the Court if the norm against court-packing is broken.

    1. One time congress actually reduced the number of justices by two simply so they would not need to approve Andrew Johnsons nominees.

      Two justices died in office during Johnson’s administration, James Moore Wayne and John Catron. The Republican-dominated Congress however passed the Judicial Circuits Act of 1866, which provided for a gradual elimination of seats until only seven were left. Congress restored the size of the court to nine members in 1871. Johnson had nominated Henry Stanbery to be an Associate Justice, but due to the reduction of seats, this nomination was nullified.

    1. I would generally oppose court-packing in general, but Glenn Reynolds’s idea intrigues me. It may take some persuasion to be convinced he’s wrong!

      Either way, I’d like to have a Constitutional Amendment to implement the idea. (Indeed, for Governors to appoint Justices, it would even be necessary.)

      1. There are way too many proposals to try to fix the problems by tinkering with the structural aspects of government. The problem is the culture.

        “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

        John Adams

        I say this as a completely non-religious person though I do identify as moral.

        1. “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.”

          But the definition of “morality” evolves constantly. I’ll apologize in advance for the worn-out example, but few people thought there was anything immoral about owning slaves at the time of ratification of the constitution. Jeremiah Langhorne, for whom the town where I grew up is named, was a Quaker, but the biggest slave owner in Pennsylvania. And even though Quakers evolved to being principal among abolitionists, they remained segregationists in their own practices for decades.

          John Adams himself gave lip-service to opposing slavery, but in 1777 opposed a Massachusetts bill to emancipate slaves. Yet obviously he rated himself both a moral and religious person.

          As for religion, it is not too much of a stretch to say, that the main differences between Christian sects is often what Old Testament religious “law” they believe must still be embraced and obeyed, and what can be abandoned. Christian Reconstructionists like Gary North argued that disobedient children should still be stoned to death. Not many would regard that as a “moral” position, today.

          1. John Adams (and Abigail) was a Unitarian. Hardly a mainstream Christian sect, now or then. Two hundred years earlier, he probably would have been burnt.

            I was unable to find details of the 1777 resolution so I will have to guess at that point in time Adams had other things to worry about like keeping one step ahead of the Brits and holding the revolutionary cause together. He and his wife and his son were definitely abolitionists.

            1. “Two hundred years earlier, he [John Adams] probably would have been burnt.”

              Along with Quakers and Catholics.

              And that would have been regarded as a moral imperative by some of the greatest preachers of that era, who are still selectively quoted today.

              1. Catholics did much of the burning, especially of heretics. Protestants burnt witches as did the Catholics but the Cathars and the Hussites and the Soccians (Unitarians) were on the Catholics.

                1. And every one of them pleaded “morality” while they were doing it. Recall that the plasticity of morality was our original subject, not who-did-what-to-who.

          2. No, there was a lot of people who thought slavery was immoral at the time of the Constriction.

            Jefferson attempted to add a condemnation of King George for slave importation into the Declaration of Independence.

            Benjamin Franklin was a member of an abolitionist society:


            The American Revolution gave speed to abolitionism, as people realized that slavery and liberty were obviously incompatible. That process eventually led to the abolition of slavery in the north.

            Detestation of slavery in the south was not uncommon either in early America (look up the views of Jefferson and Washington). This ended when slave revolts and the increasing economic importance of slavery made abolition appear to be a danger to the life and money of southerners. Abolitionism in the south was then extinguished with extreme prejudice.

            1. Immoral, but not enough so to take any financial hit for that moral (looking at you, Jefferson).

              You’re right that plenty of people thought slavery was immoral at the time but the political realities of trying to forge thirteen colonies into one county meant that the issue had to be dropped entirely in the late 18th century.

              It’s also true that what we would regard as moral today is not the same as the 18th century.

              1. You pretty much wrote the reply I would have.

                I’d only ask, rhetorically, what was the motive behind “trying to forge thirteen colonies into one country”?

                Certainly the easy answer is, survival as a nation. But there also were economic motives. It never ceases to amaze me how in history, “morals” and “economics” always seem to correlate.

              2. The original language of the Constitution did provide for the abolition of the slave trade after 20 years if not slavery itself. The latter had to wait for the 13A.

                1. That was driven more than a little by fear of revolt by the slave population, which at the time of ratification of the constitution has been estimated at about 20 percent of the population of the colonies. No one but the importers of slaves wanted to see the slave population made too large by the continued importation of new, presumably militant Africans. There had recently been a number of slave rebellions in the Caribbean, and I believe some in the colonies; a number of slaves had fought for the British in the Revolutionary War. The 20 year target was a compromise with the economics of the domestic slave traders, allowing them to transition from dealing in imported slaves to dealing entirely in domestic slaves.

                  I’m not saying that “morality” wasn’t a driver at all, just that it wasn’t entirely pure.

                  1. The era of the large slave revolts both in the US and notably in Haiti, came later. There were a few small ones during the colonial era but the Haitian revolution came just after the Constitution. Nat Turner and Denmark Vesey (who wasn’t actually a slave) came in the 1820s and 1830s. Don’t disagree with the economic argument but it was more about the plantations than the traders. Slavery as an institution was in deep economic trouble until Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1793 and the cotton lands of the Deep South were opened for white settlement about the same time.

                    1. The only error in what I posted immediately below was the inclusion of the 1791 Mina Conspiracy — a simple cut-and-paste slip-up. 1791 was of course after the constitution was already ratified.

                      Otherwise, all of the slave rebellions may in fact have been relatively minor, but had the same emotional effect on the colonial population as the BLM protests today have with Trumpist populations; hysteria that mobs of Those People will be invading their bucolic neighborhoods.

                      A contemporary anecdote: A couple days ago I had to engage with a security system saleswoman. The firmer I became with my sales resistance, the more she appealed to hysteria. Finally she said “aren’t your worried about the mobs of looters that will be invading our neighborhoods? With just a push of a button. . .”

                      I didn’t say “No, I have a quiver of infantry rifles. . .”, I just excused myself politely. But the point of the story is that throughout history hysteria has been used to sell all kinds of things, and it only takes relatively minor incidents to create it.

                    2. I have to thank you for prompting me to refresh myself on historical details of things (in this case, slave rebellions) that I only recalled in outline.

                      Regarding the pyschological impact of pre-Revolutionary slave revolts on the colonial population, allegedly Tacky’s War (or “Tacky’s Rebellion”) in Jamaica in 1760 had the greatest impact.

                      Wikipedia says,

                      According to Professor Trevor Burnard: “In terms of its shock to the imperial system, only the American Revolution surpassed Tacky’s War in the eighteenth century.” It was the most dangerous slave rebellion in the British Empire until the Baptist War of Samuel Sharpe in 1831–32, which also occurred in the Colony of Jamaica.

                      As always, I consider a Wikipedia article only as a starting point. The main issue is that in 1760, before the U.S. constitution was conceived of, there had been a slave revolt that had “shocked” the British colonial system, presumably including the colonies that would become the U.S. That was certainly part of the subtext of thought when it was decided to end the importation of new slaves.

                    3. In the course of my continued reading (Thanks again!) on the subject of slave revolts and their influence on Revolutionary era thinking, I came across this article, “Did a Fear of Slave Revolts Drive American Independence?”

                      By extension, I think fear of slave revolts drove a good deal of Revolutionary era thought, on all subjects, including encouraging a constitutional ban on the future importation of slaves.

                      I thought a key thought in the article was,

                      The Declaration’s beautiful preamble distracts us from the heart of the document, the 27 accusations against King George III over which its authors wrangled and debated, trying to get the wording just right. The very last one — the ultimate deal-breaker — was the most important for them, and it is for us: “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us”. . .In the context of the 18th century, “domestic insurrections” refers to rebellious slaves.

                      Yeah, I know the article is in the leftist NYT and the author is a presumably liberal college professor, so if anyone can find anything false in its spin on history, please let us know.

                2. Wikipedia lists the following slave revolts as having occurred before the ratification of the constitution:

                  Gloucester County, Virginia Revolt (1663)
                  New York Slave Revolt of 1712
                  Samba Rebellion (1731)
                  Stono Rebellion (1739)
                  New York Slave Insurrection of 1741
                  1791 Mina conspiracy

                  The list of slave revolts is much longer, but includes revolts in Mexico (technically North America) but also a large number of U.S. revolts after ratification of the constitution. It is the motive for the constitutional ban of slave importation that we are interested in.

                  In any case, it would seem the concern over slave revolts was well founded.

                  1. All true but the slave codes and slave patrols came after Turner and Vesey so I have to assume that those revolts were the events that provoked them rather than the earlier, smaller, colonial revolts. I think Haiti did have a major impact earlier but mostly in Louisiana which got a number of refugees, mostly black. Louisiana had a black militia unit made up mostly of these refugees that persisted until CW One.

                  2. Looking at the list, I have to wonder about the impact that slave revolts in the North and foreign countries had on Southern practice. I did include Haiti because that was such a cataclysmic revolt and generated many refugees here. You don’t have to be paranoid to realize that slaves do revolt (see Spartacus) and the Mamluk revolt was so successful that they became the government of Egypt for hundreds of years and share with the Japanese the distinction of being the only force to defeat the Mongols at their peak.

                    1. I just want to summarize, that our original subject was, whether the future ban of the international slave trade was motivated entirely by morality and altruism, or whether fear of slave revolts was also a motivator for it; a desire that the slave population not continue to grow too quickly.

                      I say both, but, the proportion of each as a contributing factor is unknowable. Even if we could find and read every statement about it at the time — remembering that the constitutional deliberations were secret — we would not know, because pragmatic self-interest is always masked as altruistic moralism if it can be.

                      In any case, we have the word of (presumably) credible historians that the colonies were “shook” by slave revolts that occurred prior to the drafting of the constitution, so we can presume that fear was at least some factor in deliberations about the slave trade.

                    2. Not to continue to belabor this issue, but this is another article I found interesting; about Alexander Hamilton.

                      Whether or not Hamilton wanted to engage with slavery on the island of St. Croix or not, the laws issued from the parent government in Copenhagen compelled him to due to his status as a white male. According to the “St. Croixian Pocket Companion,” a booklet outlining the duties of whites on the island, every male over the age of sixteen was required to serve in the militia and be at the ready with muskets if the central fort fired its guns twice. This militia service was mainly utilized to quell the minor slave revolts that occurred on the island. Hamilton saw how skittish planters lived in constant dread of slave revolts and continuously fortified their militia to avert them; even after Hamilton left for America, he carried with him a distaste for anarchy and disorder that came into conflict with Hamilton’s philosophical embrace of personal liberty. Hamilton’s exposure to the slave trade in St. Croix perhaps played an instrumental role in his eventual advocacy for a stronger central state – he detested the tyranny of the authoritarian rule of the plantation planters, yet also feared the potential revolts of dismissed slaves. The conflicting dichotomy of despotism and anarchy as a result of Hamilton’s exposure to Caribbean slave society would exhibit itself in his later writings on government and non-slave related matters.

                      Useful or not, we at least have somewhat brought the subject back to the RKBA. ;-)

                    3. @ Andy B Replying to myself due to technical limitations. Don’t really accept your binary theory of how the ban on the slave trade came about. Obviously, slavery was a contentious issue among the framers. There was the delayed ban on the trade that we have been discussing. There was also the 3/5 compromise and something like an early version of the Fugitive Slave Act. My interpretation of all this is that it was a political compromise necessary to getting the Constitution ratified and having little to do with either fear of slave revolts or morality.

                    4. Ditto regarding technical limitations.

                      We have the statements by historians that the Declaration of Independence stated concern over slave revolts, and that “Tacky’s Rebellion” in 1760 was a “shock” to the British-American colonial world; so I don’t think you can discount that fear of slave revolts was always a factor in policies regarding slavery.

                      However, as I said, quantifying either “morality” or “fear” as factors is impossible. It’s somewhat analogous to trying to answer “how much did Issue ‘A’ affect the outcome of the election?”

                      So, I will continue to maintain that fear of slave revolts was one factor of at least two; and morality was another. I’m not maintaining that it was “binary” in the sense of “fifty-fifty”. We just don’t know.

                      “There was also the 3/5 compromise and something like an early version of the Fugitive Slave Act.”

                      I’m not sure what you are implying about “morality” (if anything?) by citing the 3/5 compromise; that was simply a cynical tool for increasing the representation of the slave states in congress, and their electoral votes in presidential elections. With that example I believe “morality” was zero, given that there wasn’t the slightest consideration given to allowing the slaves themselves to vote.

              3. I recall a Virginia law that kept slave owners from freeing slaves when they were heavy in debt, and Thomas Jefferson was heavy in debt.

                He put a lot of effort in changing that law, but ultimately he failed — so he was unable to free his slaves, even in death.

  7. Might be paraphrasing a bit but… Elections have consequences, try winning some elections – Barack Obama.

    so really, $^%& those D &^($%)*@#@$@

    1. Indeed. I keep finding myself repeating this: the only hypocrisy I’ve seen in all this is the assumption that Democrats would somehow act differently than the Republicans, if they were to be in the same boat (whether it be in a Garland-like scenario or in a scenario the Republicans find themselves in today)!

  8. BTW, I’ll also make a prediction, because I like predictions. John Roberts is the next David Souter. He’ll move further left to rebalance the Court.

    You had my exact same thought. We can see Roberts slowing drifting, and this would be the final straw to make him turn to the dark side.

  9. “this would be the final straw to make him turn to the dark side.”

    I’ve not yet been able to find the source of the quote — it has been suggested to me it was words put in the mouth of a character in a late 19th century novel — but it goes approximately “Even the Supreme Court watches election results to find out what the constitution means.”

    Meaning — I think — that the SCOTUS adapts to the culture. Eventually. Even if it leads and lags, at different points.

    If the culture turns to a Dark Side, eventually the SCOTUS will too. But it won’t always be clear what was chicken, and what was egg. It is possible that sometimes the SCOTUS exposes the truth about the contemporary culture that few want to admit to.

    1. Finley Peter Dunne aka Mr Dooley. Humorous journalist around the turn of the 20th Century.

      1. “Finley Peter Dunne aka Mr Dooley.”

        Thank you!

        Wisdom often comes through humor; Sam Clemens may be the better known example.

      2. Not quite the way I heard it quoted, but apparently:

        “No matter whether th’ Constitution follows th’ flag or not, ‘th Supreme Coort follows th’ iliction returns,″

    2. This is very true.

      While it’s easy to be critical of the Supreme Court, it’s sometimes easy to forget that they are a product of the People — which is why it’s important, in turn, to control (or at least influence) the Culture.

      On the one hand, when I look at our educators, our entertainment, and our reporters, I cannot help but despair about our future. On the other hand, when I see Republicans eek out wins even with all this against them, I can’t help but have at least a little bit of hope, despite what I see.

      Humans aren’t robots, after all, and many of them can learn to wise up to the “Pravda” that surrounds them — but it’s not something that we should count on, either!

      1. “it’s important, in turn, to control (or at least influence) the Culture.”

        Kind of like what everyone commenting here is trying to do? What Sebastian tries to do with his blog? ;-)

        “Educators, entertainment, and reporters” all are rewarded for presenting “conventional wisdom” as a very large faction of contemporary culture sees it. I’m old enough to be tired of watching so much of “culture” just evolving out from under me, but I’m also inclined to believe it is just evolution, and not part of some Great Conspiracy.

        I used to make the argument that when I was a kid, we were awash in guns, and yet we didn’t shoot each other deliberately; and that proved that “firearm availability” wasn’t a factor in things like school shootings; but eventually it came to me that today kids do shoot each other, and all the time. Something in the culture had changed. “Firearms availability” may not have been a factor, but the fundamental change in the culture had invalidated my argument.

        1. The Long March through the Institutions was/is a conspiracy to change and direct the culture. Loosely organized but but ideologically focused.

          1. “The Long March through the Institutions”

            That wasn’t anything like the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, etc., etc., etc., was it?

            They’ve been marching most of my adult life, and that’s been pretty long.

            1. Indeed, it was nothing like the Heritage Foundation etc. The Long March was much more successful.

          2. “They’ve been marching most of my adult life”

            To elaborate a bit, it astounds me (well, not really) to what extent “the right” adapted tactics they credit to communists.

            E.g., the use of people like me as Useful Idiots was considered a Leninist tactic. and I understand that Long March of Institutions stuff is generally associated with Trotskyists. And yet the creation of outfits like those I cited (and I left out the Federalist Society!) are classic manifestations of the theories of Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci.

            I know I always say that “tactics have no ideology” but it is interesting how not one person in a thousand on the right seems to recognize what they are a part of.

            1. Not really Trotskyists but you have it right about Gramsci Those may have been his words or maybe Rudi Dutschke (sources differ). I think that the consciousness of the Right is changing about tactics. Witness the increasing interest on the Right regarding Alinsky and the rising contempt for the use of Marquis of Queensbury rules by conservatives.

              1. But you do agree a key component embraced by the right is, misleading their followers and useful idiots regarding their real agenda?

                1. You would be a fool not to. Unfortunately, a lot on the Right are indeed fools. Muh principles. Libertarians are the worst if you consider them to be on the right.

                  1. “You would be a fool not to.”

                    Good! Then we are in fundamental agreement. My goal for years has been to open eyes (in particular, gun owners eyes) that we are being bullshitted at every turn by people who don’t have our interests in mind at all and just use our issues to advance their own political power and/or economic positions.

                    Quibbling over who are the bigger dupes is endlessly entertaining, but pointless.

                    1. No question that many Republicans are Sunshine Patriots. Of course, Democrats are Tories. So we are trapped in the lesser of evils paradox.

          3. “The Long March through the Institutions”

            Another right wing manifestation of this is the “Seven Mountains of Culture” that the Christian Fundamentalist “New Apostolic Reformation” seeks to reclaim from “demonic influence”: Government, arts and entertainment, business, family, media, religion and education. Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Sam Brownback, and Ted Cruz are participants.

  10. Don’t forget Harry Reid exercising the “nuclear option” and dropping the 60 vote requirement to end debate in the Senate. Were that still in place the Democrats could block any nomination. That particular decision has returned to bite them on the ass, and it won’t ever be put back in place.

  11. What has changed is that we used to encourage assimilation once immigrants got here. That worked over time though there were times when the numbers overwhelmed assimilation (mafia, anarchists, etc). Now we have the numbers and have abandoned the melting pot. That makes legal structures irrelevant.

  12. Yo, Sebastian. You posted this earlier today and so far 38 responses. People want to talk and this is one of the few places it can happen. I understand not having the time to think about stuff but you could do an open thread or just throw a general topic out there and let the rest of us take it.

  13. @andy B Actually the 3/5 compromise was a cynical compromise for decreasing the representation of slave states in Congress and the electoral college. The question of who votes was a state question and mostly still is. The slave states wanted to count 100% of the slaves in the census but not let them vote, an argument echoed today re illegal aliens. The sorta free states (slavery was legal but not common in the North) wanted to not count them theoretically because they couldn’t vote but really as a regional balance of power thing. Remember that at the time, Virginia was the largest state. Also remember, in those days before the 16A or even Lincoln’s illegal income tax, the census numbers affected where Federal taxes could be levied which is sort of a big deal and cuts the opposite way from the representation issue. So they compromised.

    1. “the census numbers affected where Federal taxes could be levied which is sort of a big deal and cuts the opposite way from the representation issue. So they compromised.”

      But back to “morality”, the point is that the compromise was entirely “economic.” The north could afford to claim a moral foundation because their agriculture wasn’t dependent on mass, free labor, and industry hadn’t yet developed to a point where the exploitation of a large workforce was necessary. The “labor movement” in the north wasn’t nascent until the 1830s, and when it became so, white workers could identify with chattel slaves, even though the white workers couldn’t be bought and sold as property. Their employers then invoked “morality” and argued that that was the moral difference from chattel slavery; southern slave owners argued that they were the moral ones in the comparison.

      This discussion originated with the question of the degree of morality as it influenced early policies regarding slavery, in particular, the constitutional ban on the international slave trade 20 years after ratification. I just don’t buy that “morality” was ever an entirely pure driver, north or south. I’m thinking of that old quote that goes roughly “When someone says ‘It’s not the money, it’s the principle of the thing’, trust me, it’s the money.

      1. I am not sure we disagree about morality often being a smokescreen. I would not say always but it clearly does happen a lot.

        But where we started on this was the question on whether the ban on the slave trade was driven by the fear of slave revolts which doesn’t have to do with either money or morality. It isn’t the slave trade that causes revolts, it is slavery itself. So the connection, you want to make strikes me as tenuous. My sense is that lots of stuff like this and the 3/5s rule and the electoral college and the whole Bill of Rights were simply compromises to get the constitution ratified to deal with other issues like the continuing threat from the Brits, the poor state of the economy (probably Hamilton’s big issue) and other issues that were solvable.

        1. I think we are so close to full agreement that we can pretty much wrap it up here. But the discussion has been interesting enough that I plan to mentally bookmark the issues in case I stumble over things that are relevant in the future.

          Thanks for the exercise!

    2. It was a cynical compromise — in politics, is there any other kind of compromise? — but it should be remembered that both the North and the South wanted a slave to count 100% and 0% at the same time. The North wanted slaves to count 100% for tax purposes but 0% for determining Representatives for a State, while the South wanted slaves to count 0% for taxes and 100% for Representatives.

      While the 3/5 Compromise was cynical, it was also observed at the time that it gave the South an incentive to free slaves, by making it so that freed slaves become 100% counted towards Representatives. In retrospect, this would have been an even better incentive had they agreed to count former slaves as the South wanted to count slaves — namely 0% for taxation, and 100% for representation, but sadly, hindsight is 20/20. Indeed, it was believed that ending the slave trade in and of itself would have been sufficient to end slavery, but by 1860, that was clearly not the case.

      We shouldn’t be too down on people’s “cynical” motives for doing the right thing — Abraham Lincoln, after all, cynically fought the Civil War over preserving the Union, and not over freeing the slaves — but, as Fredrick Douglass observed, it was Lincoln’s cynicism that ultimately led to the end of slavery in America.

  14. It has been over a month that Sebastian did a post I used check weekly but stopped doing that. I have noticed through the years that he had changed to a more political slant rather than just gun rights. I enjoy politics , so that is fine.

    To get back to the primary purpose is that the new possible nominee Amy Coney Barret has a good record on gun rights. Alison Rushing of the 4 th circuit has no record When she got appointed I searched for hint where she stood on 2 A She is very much a 1st religious freedom. Judge Legoa seems to be more favorable on gun rights

    Back to politics. Trump has been a surprise. He is not a conservative. Yet he has enacted more conservative polices that any previous conservative President. Trump decided that 2A is important to getting elected so he is strong on that. He can be persuade to wiggle a bit so has to be reminded strongly on the limits.

    I have read the comments and they have wondered all over. As to power that is how politics are done. It is the art of bullying and persuasion and yes, deception to get your way.

    If your deal breaker is gun rights then Trump is the only choice. Biden is a puppet of who ever is his handler. I do not know who is pulling the strings I think it may be Obama , but not sure.

    Policy does follow culture. If you want a flourishing gun rights culture you have to recruit young people and get into the schools and promote shooting sports.

    One thing democrats do well is organizing activists. We need to mirror that Not be armchair complainers.
    Joe has done his part by holding Boomershoot. I did Boy scouts and got all into shooting Still more needs to be done
    Any one know any organizations that are active in pushing gun rights in the common culture other than the NRA?

    1. “Biden is a puppet of who ever is his handler.”

      This is not to endorse Biden in any way, but didn’t you just get done pointing out that Trump is not a conservative, and “Yet he has enacted more conservative polices than any previous conservative President.”

      So, who is handling him? And is that unseen hand thereby redefining what is “conservatism?” You don’t need to search too far to find recognized, longtime conservatives complaining that their movement has become unrecognizable, and dismissing them as RINOs is to take the easy way out of the philosophical debate. E.g., is autocracy-cum-fascism a subset of “conservatism”, or should it be its definition?

      1. If your reference is to Never Trumpers . They are quislings They prefer the class of GOPe Gope which preferred to be gentlemen and never fight. They have betrayed their principles because they do not like Trump’s personality

        Trump does not have a handler Many have tried but Trump is a wild card. Trump likes to get many inputs pro and cons Often he goes with the most persuasive.
        The term conservative for a ideology did not happen until after Reagan got elected. Conservatism believes in smaller government and fiscal reduction in federal spending They also believe in individual rights It is more than that but too much to do an essay here.

        Trump is not a fiscal conservative He is by nature a skinflint He is more pragmatic and transactional.His tax bill incorporated the SALT Tax and that creates a major social change as high tax states lose population Population moves to low tax states. Not many understood the impact of that change .
        After all Trump just gave all taxpayers $1200 That is against most conservative principles. Yet it was necessary because of a government imposed shutdown

        So far he has appointed two SCOTUS judges that are more conservative Gorsuch does not like the expansion of the administrative state.Kavanaugh is a basic conservative and we will see how that turns out. Roberts caved on Obamacare and skittish on 2 A . Barrett is strong on 2 A rights so that is a plus.

        Jonah Goldberg and David French (never Trumpers) both pushed the idea that GOP should have made a deal with Democrats to hold off on confirmation til after the inauguration . In exchange for Democrats to promise not to nuke the filibuster on legislation or pack SCOTUS. That was surrender of the ability to confirm a seat before the election. Why do that? Democrats promises are vapor . Here today and gone tomorrow. So never Trumpers are ignored for good reason

        1. Never Trumpers. They are quislings. . .”

          I’m not sure your “Quisling” analogy is historically appropriate, unless you consider your faction already the legitimate face of conservatism.

          Vidkun Quisling was the Norwegian fascist who upon the invasion of Norway by the Nazis, attempted a coup to ease the way for the Germans. The coup was unsuccessful because Quisling’s claim to legitimacy had no legitimacy at all. The Republicans (mostly “former”, I think) who make up (for example) The Lincoln Project have considerable claim to the philosphies that used to define conservatism, and it seems that Trumpites, a cult only of personality, are the ones who are perpetrating an authoritarian/autocratic coup, exactly like Quisling. Quisling-the-traitor was executed by Norway after WWII. (It might be a stretch to drag Russia in as the analog for Germany in that bit of history, so I won’t attempt it — for now.)

          “Trump does not have a handler. . .”

          But he does some things so consistently (e.g., support Putin) that if he doesn’t have a handler, explaining those things in the context of his alleged “wild card” status, regarding everything else, would be difficult.

          “The term conservative for a ideology did not happen until after Reagan got elected.”

          Please remember you are talking to some people over 70. I seem to remember the term “conservative”, describing an ideology, being bandied about even before I was reading the JBS’s “American Opinion” in high school, in the early ’60s. Reagan didn’t invent it, nor was it invented for him; he just glommed onto it as an opportunist.

          Too often “conservatism” has come to be defined by the highest-profile celebrity laying claim to it, usually the POTUS. About the only consistency is, there is usually an undercurrent of authoritarianism, e.g., Nixon’s “Law and Order”, which has now come roaring back.

          “Trump is not a fiscal conservative He is by nature a skinflint”

          No, he is by nature a thief, con man and expropriater of other people’s wealth and services. (Corporate bankruptcies are almost by definition stealing other people’s money while remaining rich yourself.) How many Trump casinos went belly-up, leaving their creditors holding the bag? And how many little plumbers and painters did he stiff along the way? I’m a skinflint, meaning I hang onto my own money; I don’t incorporate and then stiff other people for theirs.

          “Trump just gave all taxpayers $1200 That is against most conservative principles”

          Not really. It was in many cases a gift to the banks, and not much is more conservative than that. When we got our checks we deposited them in our mega-bank. I.e., we passed through to the bank a short-term loan of $2400 until we use the money. The bank pays no interest on that money. Sweet deal for the bank!

          I would seriously like to know what percentage of that stim money is still in the banking system, and how much it has contributed to subsidizing the stock market, Trump’s definition of “the economy.”

          “So never Trumpers are ignored for good reason”

          They sure are raising and spending a lot of money, for being ignored. But, time will tell.

          1. Still doing the Putin thing, eh. Do you guys actually believe that. How about we have a Special Prosecutor sped 3 years investigating it. They can even falsify evidence.

            1. “They can even falsify evidence.”

              Kind of like Barr falsified his summary of the Mueller investigation? Or, more like the way Mueller deliberately threw the investigation, faithful to his political alignment rather than his country?

              1. “more like the way Mueller deliberately threw the investigation”

                Hear! Hear! Mueller didn’t use the FBI information, that he already had, as a justification for a deeper examination of Trump’s history or personal finances. He didn’t demand to see Trump’s taxes, or investigate the reasons for Trump’s special affection for Putin and Russia. Maybe most important, Mueller failed to issue a grand-jury subpoena for Trump’s testimony, and left out of his report any conclusion that Trump had committed crimes. Those two decisions are the most revealing, and probably deliberate, failures of Mueller’s position as special counsel. In plain words he deliberately sabotaged the investigation, while dragging it out for two years. Then, Barr misrepresented what little Mueller couldn’t conceal. It was funny listening to the Democrats worshiping Mueller while he was screwing the whole country.

                1. “…he deliberately sabotaged the investigation, while dragging it out for two years.”

                  I became pretty sure judges and prosecutors often queer their own cases, when the defendants are the power-elite or minions of the power-elite (and so can spill some beans), around the time Oliver North had his Iran-Contra conviction overturned on a “technicality” involving some clumsy exposure of the jurors to inadmissible evidence or testimony.

                  For the sake of “poetic license” I will refer to the case described in Dylan’s old (1963) ballad, “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll”, in which a rich, well-positioned young guy (William Zantzinger) murdered a 51-year old black barmaid (Hattie Carroll) and was sentenced to just six months in county prison. She was black, and judges could get away with flagrant shit like that in 1963; i.e., flagrantly allowing the politically fixed to walk for heinous crimes.

                  But, there came a time when, if the case was too high-profile, and the defendant too well fixed politically, the credibility of the alleged “rule of law” would suffer if the defendants were just allowed to walk with slaps to their wrists. Some “folk singer” (or today, “rap artist”) might write a popular song about it. So, something more subtle was needed, and the “fixes” had to consist of building in faults and shortcomings in the cases, by prosecutors or judges themselves, or, dodging damning evidence resting in plain sight or already known. Queer the case, and the defendant walks on appeal after little or no jail time.

                  Trump’s use of pardons is actually a very ham-handed way of achieving the same outcomes; minions walking after little or no time in jail. I theorize he can’t fix everybody in the loop, so can’t always guarantee a “technicality” will be successfully planted. But the application of Mueller and Barr in his own case, was masterful.

              2. Your tin foil hat is too tight. I have seen allegations that Muller blew it because he is losing it . But Weissman who was actually running the investigation certainly has his facilities intact and it would seriously delusional to suggest that he has Republican sympathies.

                1. “Weissman who was actually running the investigation”

                  Weissmann has been the one flagging the faults in the Mueller investigation. He has stopped short of calling those faults deliberate, but he is only 62 years old. If I read his resume right, he he has only 18 years of federal service so isn’t ready for full retirement. The Trump administration has not been healthy for whistleblowers’ federal careers. While the investigation was going on Weissmann was probably afraid of losing his job, and Mueller probably would have said what he is saying now. That it was his “judgment” what evidence or strategies to pursue. As a whistleblower Weissman would have been blowing a whistle that didn’t have a strong foundation in law. So, Weissman kept his mouth shut. His party couldn’t have saved him and it couldn’t have imposed on Mueller to take any specific action.

                  1. Weissman became notorious because he destroyed Arthur Anderson due to an unusual interpretation of obstruction of justice The SCOTUS over turned that interpretation 9-0 Too late for the company

                    I saw that same attempt in the argument That defending oneself using the legal system for subpoenas was also an obstruction of justice

            2. “Still doing the Putin thing, eh. Do you guys actually believe that.”

              “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.” — Donald Trump Jr.

              Yep, patriots really believe “the Putin thing”.

              1. If “patriots” can organize a coup against a duly elected government, there really aren’t any rules.

                1. “If “patriots” can organize a coup against a duly elected government, there really aren’t any rules.”

                  And yet that is what Cult 45 has been laying the groundwork for. Go figure.

                    1. “Do you keep up with the news at all.”

                      Whose? The junta’s, or everyone elses?

            3. Don’t bother As soon as I saw that “putin thing” I realized that there was no reasoning If after all this time he still believes that.

              1. “after all this time”

                Time? I got time for you…

                To bring this to the personal level: When I worked in the defense industry I could not have held the job I did, had I ever visited Russia. I could not have held the job I did, if I had living relatives in the Soviet Union. (Actually I did, but would not know it for another 20+ years.)

                My supervisor had a great opportunity to visit China, and checked with our security office whether he could make the trip. They said, “Of course! The United States is a free country, and as a U.S. citizen you can travel anywhere you choose! You just need to understand that you won’t be working here when you get back.”

                The quality of information I had access to was similar to knowing the strengths of the bolts that held some of our weapon systems together. Yet, I would not have been trusted to know even that, if in effect I had known or even met any Russian or Chinese nationals.

                Yet someone who has kept himself ass-effin’ deep in Russians through almost the entire 21st century so far — speaking of “all this time” — and sent love letters to Putin, and who the Russians cheered when they won the election for him — can be president of the United States, and Cult 45 sees no problem at all.

                Some Goddamned patriots!

                1. So in your professional opinion, could Obama have gotten a security clearance if not for his position? How about John Kerry? Or Hillary Clinton? Brennan (is he a communist or an Islamist)?

                  1. “could Obama have gotten a security clearance if not for his position?”

                    I frankly just don’t know.

                    When I got my initial clearance at that level, it took months. They dig deep. I already had a “Secret” and “Critical Nuclear Weapon Design Information” (CNWDI) clearance. The FBI questioned neighbors several houses around us, and random ones along our street. They did the same in my parents’ neighborhood, and my cousins’ neighborhood in another state. It started some fun rumors, for awhile. (My cousins reported they seemed more interested in my parents than in me; I can only speculate because my father and his siblings were the first American-born generation and they were looking for connections to the Old Country.)

                    An interesting thing is that at that level, granting of clearance may be arbitrary, and as the subject of investigation you have no way of knowing. Even the existence of the clearance is denied. You don’t apply for it so you can’t complain if you are denied something that doesn’t exist. You are asked to complete a comprehensive “update” to your current clearance. I knew what was going on because I had been working on such a program as an uncleared person who was not allowed knowledge of much of the information; when I entered the area a klaxon had to be sounded and a red gumball light had to flash the entire time I was in the area. Verbally I was asked if I wanted to be cleared on the program but no one ever said “this is your application.”

                    Other than what I was briefed on I don’t know what standards they apply; it is probably a subjective risk/benefit judgment. At the time, 40+ years ago, I was an NRA Life Member, and had served in Germany in the Army. But on the NRA issue, even my immediate (uncleared) manager quipped “I didn’t know they still allowed you people in the building anymore!” And that was over 40 years ago!

                    I subsequently was cleared on other programs, while I was an active member of the Libertarian Party. Each time it took only a few weeks, rather than months. The point being that political activity on the fringe appeared to be acceptable.

                    I report all of the above for historical perspective regarding the era. I have no idea what is current today. I debriefed when I left that world to work for myself, late in the ’80s. A lot of what I could not speak at the time, is today reported accurately in Wikipedia. But I believe I am bound by the instructions given me in my last debriefing, so I try to avoid spilling any very old beans.

                    The last contact I had with that world was when an FBI agent (who I knew) came to my house to question me about a business associate who I knew had been approached to use his company as a front for dealings with a middle eastern country. But while he was in my house, that agent spent many minutes “admiring” my bookshelf. I know nothing about my associate’s later dealings; I told him I had no “need to know”, and he passed away several years ago.

                    1. I mentioned John Kerry because that was approximately the era you were discussing. He was working with the North Vietnamese shortly before (and perhaps after) his election as Senator. Should he have gotten a clearance under the rules you describe.

                    2. “Should he have gotten a clearance under the rules you describe.”

                      I don’t know because I don’t remember the circumstances of Kerry’s involvement with Vietnam, nor Vietnam’s status with respect to the United States at the time. I don’t think they had “normalized” yet. I seem to remember that around that time Kerry went to Vietnam in some delegated “official” capacity on behalf of the U.S. government. I won’t take time to look it up right now, because it’s not relevant to my point.

                      Remember I kicked off this thread saying it was my personal feelings. I’m not saying that in any legal regard Trump shouldn’t have whatever clearance comes with his office. His family is another question; I’m not sure I feel anyone except a POTUS should be entitled to any clearance, without investigation. But if the law says the POTUS has the power to grant clearances on his own conditions, then that’s the law. But, I’m not required to like the law.

                      I would vote against anyone for POTUS witb Trump’s Russian associations. You can vote against Kerry, et al, for his Vietnam associations. (I didn’t vote for Kerry, but that had nothing to do with Vietnam.) My point was, that it personally irked me that I would have been denied clearance for the slightest association with Russia, while Trump is hailed as somehow a great, trusted patriot after years of partying and doing business with top Russians. I’m guessing you would have been similarly irked by Kerry, for his associations with Vietnam.

                      Forgive this closing riff, but Russia is a country that has remained unchanged in character whether it was monarchist, Bolshevik, or fascist as it is today. There appeared to be hope for it when the Soviet Union collapsed, but even then I was predicting that its true character would out and it would become an enemy again. It has. I was there in 2006, and everything 100 feet off the beaten path intended for tourists was a shithole. I think about that time people in the countryside were living on an average of about $40 a month. Meanwhile, a nylon windbreaker in the Hard Rock Cafe in Moscow was $280. (I didn’t buy one, or even a $60 T-shirt.)

      2. Trump tried, early on, to reach out to the Democrats and compromise with him. I am convinced that the only reason Trump is the conservative he is today is because the Democrats fought him tooth and nail as hard as possible even to the point of trying to destroy him, while Republicans actually tried to work with him, even if they didn’t like him.

        I am, to this day, convinced that President Trump could have ended up as an excellent Democratic President, but the Democrats were so blind by their hatred towards him, they threw away any possibility of compromise.

    2. “As to power that is how politics are done. It is the art of bullying and persuasion and yes, deception to get your way.”

      But your opponents are the no-good scumsuckers? I think now we understand. Why do you believe it isn’t you that’s being deceived?

      1. Politics are human nature Not always pretty From office politics and Survivor to Federal politics.From a personal viewpoint oneself is always right and your opponent is not. Can we see their side? Yes . Do we agree? Maybe

    1. Very serious questions:

      Can a state court decide a law violates the federal constitution, based on their perception of federal constitutionality, and have that stick if it is the sole basis for their decision?

      If they can’t do that under conventional legal standards, can they be sanctioned in any way for doing it, because it is such a flagrant violation?

      If a state decision incorporates a conflict of that nature — a state court declaring federal unconstitutionality — is an appeal to federal courts in any way “automatic”?

      All those questions stated, realize we would nominate for sainthood any state or local judge who did that in a decision that favored gun rights. My guess is the court did that because they thought it would be a net-popular decision, reflecting well on the Democrats in this election year. Of course I think they were wrong.

      1. Interesting questions, but look at how Leftist Democrat Judges at the County and State Level are rewriting State and Federal Elections Laws that are only under the final arbitration of State Legislatures via Article 1 Section 4 and Article 2 Section 3 of the Federal Constitution.

        Here in Ohio, a Franklin County Democrat Judge on the County Court of Common Pleas extra-judicially tried to rewrite Ohio’s Election Laws with the Mail-In Voter Fraud.

        A conservative majority Federal Judicial Panel struck down the County Court, but, that’s not my point.

        Democrat Judges are now Autocratically writing laws via the Dictation of the Democrat Party. Couple that with the threat of Court Packing from the Democrats.

      2. This CNN article is a little better than the truthaboutguns article, IMO, and is reasonably objective in reporting just the “who said what” facts around the decision.

        The court took a 10th Amendment angle. Weighing it all in legal terms is above my pay grade, though I know the outcome I would hope for. I’m sure there is plenty of fodder for Whataboutist arguments.

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