Me and Publius Down by the Schoolyard

Among the numerous advantages promised by a well constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction.Title: The Federalist Papers

Authors: Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay

Rank: 82

Blurb: “Three of the founding fathers brilliantly defend their revolutionary charter: the Constitution of the United States, a milestone in political science and a classic of American history.”

Review: “We need to wake up before we destroy the greatest country known to man. Don’t let liberal greed for power win!”

Customers Also Bought: “The Revolution: A Manifesto”, by Ron Paul

Footnote: Given the typical wingnut whacking material in the Amazon Top 100, we really can’t complain that they’re getting around to reading this and Thomas Paine (#36).

The Federalist Papers [Amazon]

Buy or Die [Stinque@Amazon kickback link]


Dang, I’ve actually read the Federalist Papers. And by read, I mean though osmosis while I slept when I passed out from boredom. I did read them during a period of extended unemployment (10 months) and I read anything I could get my hands on (my dad bought a collection of the world’s greatest books when I was 14.)

These essays made sense in their era, but to be used as the entire basis of modern law is pretty stupid (according to my non lawyer mind.) Too many things have changed since the “original” intent. The wingnuts remind me of a conversation from A Fish Called Wanda.

Otto: Apes don’t read philosophy.
Wanda: Yes they do, Otto, they just don’t understand it.

The man who got the “My Pet Goat” shot, Mrs RML’s friend Eric Draper, has just wrapped up eight years as the official WH photographer:

I didn’t realize the official WH photog was a black Repub. I learned something new.

I chucked a little when it described how Bush gave him an “ED Hill” inspired terrorist fist jab.

@ManchuCandidate: We were at the Albuquerque Tribune together for a while. He did a photo series of his old neighborhood in LA in the aftermath of the Rodney King riots. He also covered the OJ trial for AP. He’s a friend on FB.

Jesus, it’s like a Rod Serling short story. At some point, he will wake up in the middle of the night screaming, realizing he had a clear shot to remove the monster that was shredding the world. And he didn’t take it.

“Liberal greed for power”? After Al Gore and the rest barely made a fucking squeek as the presidency was stolen from them? Feh.

@blogenfreude: @ManchuCandidate:
Oh, I think the greed for power really shows up once you already have it. As discussed in prior threads, Obama has so far found nothing to dislike about the Bush/Cheney definition of the unitary exectutive, and his adminstration is actively working to defend and extend the previous administration’s power grab. We’ll see whether Liberals prove to be more resistant to power than Conservatives.

I cannot let a Federalist reference pass, without citing my favorite quote from that body of work. James Madison in Federal #51

Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

I find this to be the best argument to vote to restore the loyal opposition to majority control in at least one house of Congress. This brings me to the SBT Corollary to Madison’s Maxim:

Assholes must made to counteract assholes.

Unfortunately, It cannot happen before 2012, and by then we will bankrupt, our new Chinese overlords will have foreclosed and working to restore order, and attempting to contain the cannibalistic anarchy raging across the land just to recover a portion of their loaned assets.

Thanks, Nojo – for providing this teaching moment for my stinquey libtard friends.

@String Bikini Theory: Power corrupts creates assholes. Absolute power corrupts creates assholes absolutely.

Also, just a reminder that we are cynics here before we are libtards. It’s not worth it trying to bait Obamabots where none exist.

ManchuCandidate: The apology from A Fish Called Wanda might be useful for Rush. If somebody was strong enough to hold his legs and hang him out a window, it could be done.

@ManchuCandidate: I haven’t read the Collected Works for a lonnnnng time, but I think they remain very relevant for their insights into how the Constitution was constructed.

And the main insight I’ve carried with me is SBT’s: not a fetish for divided government as such, but a clear-eyed view of human nature that prompted a system to contain it. That particular passage remains my favorite — the Framers presumed venality in our elected representatives, not wisdom, and acted accordingly.

Thus, Flippin: Hamilton and Madison were also cynics first. We stand in a proud tradition.

@String Bikini Theory: I appreciate your concern that by 2012 we will be bankrupt. I think that’s equivalent to warning a woman who conceived in January that by September she will be pregnant.

Addressing your Corollary, surely everyone here remembers the massive conservative outcry from 2001 to 2006 that at least one house of Congress needed to be returned to the control of the “loyal opposition” for the good of the nation.

Oh wait, that was actually a deafening GOP chorus of, “You’re either with us or you’re against us.”

@Dave H:
Ah yes. A very similar argument to the current Obama administration defense of massive spending and deficits – to whit – The bad ‘ol GOP created massive new entitlements and spending and doubled the deficit creating the problem we are in now, therefore no one is entitled to criticize the great new ideas of the Democrats creating massive new entitlements and spending while tripling the deficit in the next four years to solve the problem. Got it.

It is indeed “fall off a log” easy to find many examples of hypocrisy among partisans on the right calling for the protections of divided government now but who defended single party rule in ’06 (Rush leading the charge on both counts). Just as it is equally easy to find just as many hypocritical partisans on the left with wildly opposed “principled” stands then and now.

As a point of fact, there was a small cadre of conservatives, tending toward the libertarian, who did call for divided government in ’06. As did I. It remains to be seen whether there will be a similar sliver split from the left in ’10 and ’12.

@nojo: I revel in my fetish.

@nojo: I come by my cynicism honest–religiously too. I was raised in a Dutch Reformed church aka Calvinism. Never cottoned with predestination and I have big problems with the “L” and “P” tenents of TULIP, but the first tenent, total depravity of humanity, always made some sense to me.

@String Bikini Theory: I know you do. That’s why we love you. No fun if you give up too easily.

@flippin eck: As a lapsed Lutheran, total depravity was never an option. Oregon has its own strain of Minnesota Nice.

@String Bikini Theory: First let me say that in the Obama admin’s acceptance of the executive powers claimed by Bush et al., I hear echoes of Orwell: “Four legs good, two legs better!” However, I think a “loyal opposition” only works in a parliamentary system. It was my understanding of the Federalist papers and the Constitution that the checks and balances was to be achieved by having three independent branches of government in which the “ambition”of the members would act to keep the ambition of the other branches from grabbing too much power. In our system, a Congress in the hands of the opposition party–which is rarely loyal, whoever it is–only produces stalemate and bad compromise legislation. The problem in recent years has, it seems to me, been the total lack of ambition or desire for power and responsibility on behalf of the leaders of Congress. Bush managed to push some of his most naked grabs for power past a complacent Democratic congress. I blame spinelessness and lack of ambition on the part of Pelosi and Reid for a share of the damage Bush inflicted. Back when Speaker of the House was more than a ceremonial title, the ambition of the person in that position was a real check on the power of the executive.

@String Bikini Theory: It is my understanding that Bush never included spending on the war in Iraq in his budgets, while the new budget incorporates it for the first time, which explains at least part of the deficit.
The only real problem I have with libertarians is their attitude of “you eat what you kill” and “only the strong survive.” I could agree with that in a business sense–I’ve long been annoyed by the entitlement payments to big agribusiness and other corporate welfare programs–but even though I don’t consider myself religious in any way, I cannot shake off the belief I was raised with that the fortunate and the strong have a moral obligation to help those less fortunate. For the great mass of humanity, the accident of one’s birth determines the rest of one’s life. Social mobility is greatly exaggerated. Relying on private charity, however, to take care of the vulnerable members of society relies too heavily on the willingness of people to be unselfish, which is always a huge mistake. I think social welfare programs are not “entitlements” of the disadvantaged but “obligations” of one human to another.

“Congress in the hands of the opposition party–which is rarely loyal, whoever it is–only produces stalemate… – c

You say that like it’s a bad thing. Few would argue now (except hard-core wingnuts) that the country would not have benefited from a congressional stalemate in 2003.

Also, I would argue that some of the most egregious offenses of the first six years of the Bush administration were indeed marginally improved during the first two years of the Reid/Pelosi era – including the patriot act, FISA, torture, investigations into DOJ firings and Plamegate, and subsequent resignations of Gonzales and Rove. No where near enough, but unarguably better. If you think Reid and Pelosi were spineless standing up to Bush executive power grab, what do you think they will do with Obama?

Slow, contentious and obstructionist between the executive and legislature is the way our government was designed to work. These constitutional checks and balances stop working when overridden by single party discipline. They are not working now because the Dems need only buy off two GOP Senators to pass anything. If we learned anything the last eight years, it is that GOP Senators can be bought. We’ll see how one party Dem rule turns out this time. I’m not hopeful.

OK St 26 – Pitt 19 Still early, but that could kill a few brackets.

@String Bikini Theory: It’s certainly the case that the Founders didn’t want to make it easy to pass legislation, or “control” the government — those three branches are there for a reason, as is the bicameral Congress.

And we should all keep in mind that while “faction” was an expressed concern, the Founders didn’t envision the speedy development of political parties. I’m going beyond my notes here, but I’ll guess they were thinking about shifting allegiances on given issues, and thus the deliberation (cf. “compromise”, “sausages”) that resolving those issues would entail.

But also keep in mind that they could easily have built in minority veto, as they did with the amendment process. (Or to state that more generously, required clear “consensus”.) I think your mistake is to adopt “divided government” as an ideal, when we all agree that the Founders were anything but idealists. The structure is there to forestall tyranny, but if the Wisdom of the People, through their Spineless Representatives, insist that the Nation make a Fool of itself, ain’t shit we can do about it.

And that’s the real lesson of 2001-2009: We got the government we deserved.

People are alive today who were alive before all US Senators were elected via direct popular vote. Jemmy Madison’s vision of the Senate is very different from the reality of the body in our time. The idea of the “senatorial trust” from Fed. 62 is sadly funny today. Oh, wait, that’s cynical!

There’s an article on the Fed Papers by Obama buddy Cass Sunstein in the current NYROB. He ignores any economic motivation on the part of the Founders to keep power out of the hands of the rabble/people. I mean, the educated class really does better with that stuff, e.g. AIG.

@ManchuCandidate: Your first comment sounds like Toby from West Wing when he’s under house arrest. CJ asks him, have you been reading? And he says, I’ve read… all the books.

@ManchuCandidate: @blogenfreude: It is projection and fear. The thinking is like this:

1. Everyone thinks and acts the way we do.
2. We pulled some crazy shit when we were in power.
3. Teh libruls are in power now.

@Mistress Cynica:
One of my biggest confusions is how people who loudly, showily profess to follow Jesus don’t agree that it is our obligation to help the less fortunate.
Those “your mortgage is not my problem” signs make my head hurt. Doesn’t The Bibble clearly say that we are our brother’s keeper?
Just calling them “entitlements,” in my opinion, frames any discussion about them very poorly.
And let’s not forget that a few points more of marginal tax rate will make Glenn Beck cry even as it Destroys Civilization.
ok, sorry for the not-quite-coherent outburst…

@Jebediah: Yes, to misquote our movie of the day, Wanda, the central tenet of Christianity is NOT “every man for himself.” I don’t believe in god, but I do have deep respect for the teachings of Jesus and those who sincerely try to follow them. These “gospel of prosperity” Jesus-wants-me-to-be-rich people just make me ill. Talk about missing the whole point. The “mortgage” sign people also seem to have forgotten that “blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Must be nice to be soooo confident that you are never going to make a mistake and need someone else’s help.

@Mistress Cynica: I think we’re all prey to an historical misconception: the eyes of needles were very large two thousand years ago.

@nojo: Verily, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for me to get even 12 of the Sweet 16 correct.

@Dodgerblue: I got 13 of them. Who screwed you up? Why aren’t you in the Stinque pool?

@Mistress Cynica:

I’m not religious either (pissily lapsed Catholic) but most legit religions do have some underpinnings of genuinely worthy teachings. But yes – that Jesus wants you to be rich stuff – it leaves me speechless!
That “I’ll never need help, ever, so screw those who do” mindset seems to be the real underpinning of modern “conservatism.” When these folks do need some help, there are always a hundred and one reasons why they actually deserve it, unlike all those other leeches.
It makes me sour, which I shall fix by bringing my dog to work with me tomorrow. From “feh” to “yay” in one commute!

@Jebediah: Is that your pupster in your avatar? He/she is adorable. Is he a rottweiler/pointer/vizla mix? (Hard to tell in the photo).

For those of you not on FB to get the news, today is the two year anniversary of my puppeh going to the big dog park in the sky. It’s been a sad day but also a happy day sharing puppeh memories with Mr. SFL and some friends I saw this afternoon. I swear she haunted me this morning – I was stopped in traffic and looked in the rear view window and the woman driving the car behind me had a look-a-like dog in her back seat. Very weird.

@flippin eck: I love this line from the essay you’ve linked: “There are two mains camps of theology within Christianity in America today: Arminianism and Calvinism.”
Take that, Papist Devils!

@SanFranLefty: My condolences. I’ve never completely gotten over the death of my Sammy (5 years ago). Took me 2 years before I could walk past the dog food at the grocery store without weeping.

@Jebediah, Cyn, et al: The choir at Mass was so bad today I wondered whether they should have been denied communion.

@Ewalda: Since I see the dog park out my bedroom window, every morning involves tears.

I’m sure Sammy is catching lots of slow squirrels in doggie heaven. I don’t believe in human heaven, but I believe 100% in kitteh and puppeh heaven and my prayers are only that I get to come visit my furbabies in their heavens at least once a year after death.

@redmanlaw: “No host for you! Step to the left.”

@SanFranLefty: I just went to check on him and found he’d had a little accident in my bed. There was no blood at least, and I don’t care about changing the sheets. I’ve e-mailed a friend at the OK state vet school to get advice on how to proceed. I’m thinking our next stop is the OSU teaching hospital in Corvallis. I am a complete wreck.

Yes, that is the lovely Otto in my avatar. He is a boy, and he thanks you for the compliment. He is a ten-year-old American Staffordshire. 100 pounds of pure pup love. My wife and I are both well aware that in Culver City, he has more friends and is more popular than we.
I am sorry about your departed pup. Their too-short lives are the price we pay for all we get from them, I guess.

CB’s link needs to be written…so appropriate for so many. problem is, who do we dangle first? (jebediah, no relation to your lovely otto)
[Otto dangles Archie out a window]
Archie: All right, all right, I apologise.
Otto: You’re really sorry.
Archie: I’m really really sorry, I apologise unreservedly.
Otto: You take it back.
Archie: I do, I offer a complete and utter retraction. The imputation was totally without basis in fact, and was in no way fair comment, and was motivated purely by malice, and I deeply regret any distress that my comments may have caused you, or your family, and I hereby undertake not to repeat any such slander at any time in the future.

lefty, i have 4 A’s and 3 O’s. now’s your shot to leave me in the dust…your turn! it’s still gonna be a 300 point game for both of us. can’t wait for the next game. you’re the best opponent i’ve had EVAH!

I don’t understand how we can have a so-called ‘loyal opposition’ in this country since there’s no one for it to be loyal to. That was a device invented to avoid cries of treason. But you need a monarch or it doesn’t make sense.

@String Bikini Theory: By the way, call me a liberal one more time and I’ll bomb your house, libertarian tool.

@Ewalda: Well, if you and SBT want to duke it out over cocktails for a few hours, since you’re in the same metro area, I am always happy to play mediator/referee/umpire…

@SanFranLefty: I’ve just been sick to death of being lumped in with the ill-defined “liberals” for 40 years, and I don’t need to hear it anymore, be it from the Wimpies (moderates/liberals), the Right (conservatives), the Nutjobs (neocons), or from Around The Bend And Back Again To Ayn Rand (libertarians).
I’m not a “liberal”. I’m a Socialist, and goddammit, anyone who has a problem with that can kiss my ass.
You want “liberal”? John V. Lindsay was a Liberal, and a Republican, and a Democrat.
What I find absolutely disgusting is that the political discussion for the past 40 years has shifted to so skewed a spectrum that it spans from the ultra-right to the middle-right. There’s no Progressive or Left voice. The TV jokers who have been put forward as “left-of-center” are so far Right-Center that they would all be up against the wall and shot as enemies of The People if there was any Revolutionary Justice.
This is not the time to prop up the old regime. It’s time to bring it to its knees. Some of us (including, probably, me: I’m a geezer) would die, but propping up the capitalist pigs is worse.
That’s all.


Let’s just say I went to Mexico in the early ’90s for field research, leave it at that except to say that Subcomandante Lefty could be my next handle. On so many levels I’m on the Pedonator/Ewalda “the whole corporate structure of our political system is fucked/we are all doomed/why do you asshats breed and create another generation of wasted consumers” person. OTOH, I am a pragmatist and realist and will not be voting for dipshits like Ralph Nader or the batshit Code Pink Cindy Sheehen moron because at the end of the day THERE IS A DIFFERENCE between Shrub and Unicorn, however much it’s at the margins as my friend SBT loves to remind me. And I’m not an Obamatard, SBT/Hose.

But, I don’t want to marginalize my vote and voice any more than it already is. So I’m not going to vote for Nader or Ron Paul. I’ll vote for Unicorn and engage myself. Because at the end of the day, the branch of government that nobody is talking about is the Judiciary, and if they take their Marbury v. Madison role seriously, they are the check on a power-mad executive and limp-dick legislative branch. So I’d rather have judges who have evolved past 3/5 personhood deciding issues like civil rights, private right of enforcement of the laws, and general liability rather than judges stuck reading that we dunked suspected witches in 1750 and ergo waterboarding is a-okay.

@Ewalda: Fuck it, I am coming out, I am a socialist, too. And dammit, if people google that, they could hurt me and my employer.

@Ewalda: Communists still have to register with the local county clerks here in New Mexico.

@redmanlaw: Are they required to sign in blood?


El sangre de los puercos, claro que si.

@Ewalda: of running dogs, class criminals and enemies of the people.

@Ewalda: I gave up on labels a generation back, mainly because they have a tendency to restrict movement. And that includes “independent”.

I’m clearly to the left of 99 percent of Americans, but that doesn’t make me a Leftist — that’s just a statistical fact, not a political position. And I do think we have to work with the political and economic systems we’ve got, since “revolution” would lead to some very unintended consequences — starting with a dangerous power vacuum. You see a worker’s paradise, comrade, I see fascism barely being held at bay.

There’s nothing wrong with capitalism in theory, and much to recommend it. Only as with the Constitution, we need a strong set of rules to save us from ourselves, and those we’ve been tearing down in my lifetime, while others we’ve dismissed out of hand. And because of market fundamentalism, we’ve been aggressively ignoring what chores are better left for government to fulfill.

I haven’t read The Wealth of Nations, but from what I read about it, perhaps I should. Seems Adam Smith had a better handle on these things than his descendants.

Smith is fine, as far as your 18th century “science,” which economics still isn’t, goes. If you want to base your society on him, though, you might as well base your medical care on leaches and bloodletting, while you are at it. Inductive reasoning, devoid of any examination of facts, the same process which lies behind most myths. Very logical, totally wrong.

Like, first off, the assumption that people make logical, informed economic decisions. The chapter on education, Godwawful.


“loyal opposition …you need a monarch or it doesn’t make sense.”

There are many who likened the power grab of the Bush/Cheney redefinition of the presidency to the kind of power wielded by a monarch. Including some on this site. Well – me, for one.

So – if the current president starts with that base of power, continues to defend and expand those powers, including the huge expansion of executive control over the economy now being proposed by the Treasury Secretary, and has lapdog majorities in Congress that Bush could only hope for… What have you?

I think the comparison is apt.

It is just that some have no problem with the notion of life under a kind, good, wise and beneficent king.

But alas… what comes next?

Uh huh. Well, you sent me back to read what I wrote – It turns out I didn’t call anyone anything. I did make some general comments about “Liberals”, “Democrats”, “partisans on the left” and – my favorite – “stinquey libtard friends”. So… any identification (or not) by any individual with any of these comments was an exercise in self-selection.

All of which strikes me as well within the ethos of a blog sporting titles of “wingnut of the day”, “snakehandler of the day”, “douchebag of the day”, “Jesus fuckwits” etc. But that is neither here nor there.


“I gave up on labels a generation back…”

Makes sense, but takes a lot of explanation. Sometimes it is easier to just embrace them.

@Mom SanFranLefty:

He started it. No matter – Ewalda and I are good for each other.

@libertarian tool:
I was just trying to stir shit up and vent many, many years of frustration.
I’ve vowed not to type anything after imbibing Balvenie Doublewood and water ever again.
Oh, and Corporate Capitalism is the enemy of the People. Greed is all-consuming when allowed to run rampant, Greed is always with us, and unrestrained Corporate Capitalism is the personification of Greed. In the long run, it is the destroyer of worlds.

@Ewalda: @Promnight:

We are all socialists now.


Agreed. I am filled with the Hope™ that Barry will appoint judges who will declare his actions unconstitutional.

@Ewalda: These people are against collectivism itself, under any ideology, they simply don’t believe it is possible to create an institution that can temper the power of pure greed. They don’t understand its not about finding a cure, its about allways keeping up the struggle, the constant fight.

@Hose Manikin: I think Barry hopes there are judges out there who will declare his actions unconstitutional. He knows his Con Law, he taught it for a decade, I know people who took his Con Law classes. Remember, as Nojo reminds us, he is a poker player and a scrappy skinny guard playing pick-up basketball on the courts of South Chicago. That’s what gives me Teh Hope ™.

Too late. You killed SBT. I hope you can sleep with that on your head. I will console myself with a wee dram of 15 year old Laphroaig in his memory.

As to the rest – we almost agree. My particular bogeyman is Corporate Statism or today’s preferred euphemism – the “public-private partnership”. If I were to place it on the virtuous hierarchy ranging from free people/free markets at the top down to the Kim Jong II Korean People’s Collectivist Paradise, I’d put it pretty close to the bottom. Corporate Statism encapsulates the worst of both worlds. The private sector gets the gain, while the public sector takes the risk, accountability is lost in the ether, and to complete the circle – a money pipeline is laid from the private sector recipients into the pockets of the public servants and elected representative managing and regulating the abomination. They are far worse than a pure public entity / bureaucracy created to address a specific public policy.

Fanny, Freddy, Sallie-mae, Blackwater – all public private partnerships. As is the newly announced Geithner plan to bailout the banks and Wall Street. I am sure it will prove to be every bit a successful as Fanny and Freddy. Up until now, I’d say GWB was the foremost proponent of the Public-Private Partnership. Looks like he’ll be taking a back seat to Barry in that regard.

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