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MJW — Of course you are right that we have a constitutional republic. You are correct that the point of the constitution is to restrain slender or temporary majorities — or even larger or more persistent ones — from doing anything they want, particularly in derogation of the rights of other citizens. But some restrictions on the will of the people are more defensible than others. If Congress wants to establish a state religion, the Constitution prevents that and rightly so. But to the extent that the Constitution empowers Congress to tell people that they cannot vote for Trump (and I don’t think that it does) I do not think that is a wise provision. I would draw a distinction between the kinds of laws Congress can pass — which absolutely needs to be restrained even though the will of the majority is thwarted — and Congress limiting who people are allowed to vote for. I do not favor untrammeled democracy where a majority can do anything it wants. But I think that the voters should be free to elect whoever they choose, even if the elites in Congress disapprove.
Toggle Commented Feb 13, 2021 on Another Day At The Trial at JustOneMinute
MJW — I don’t want a president with divided loyalties either. But the NBC clause or any reasonable variation of it is not really going to advance that goal and can only limit the choice of the voters. Do you fear the Ted Cruz has divided loyalties? After all, he was — as you would expect by his formal name of Rafael Cruz — born in Canada. Some Dems have argued that he is prohibited from being elected president. Most scholars, including most left leaning ones, disagree, but the possibility for mischief exists. Imagine someone born in a foreign country to non citizen parents who comes to this country at age six weeks and is raised totally as an American? Why should they be disqualified? Why not let the people decide? Why would there be any basis to doubt their loyalty as compared with someone born in, say, Scranton Pennsylvania who shows abnormal deference to the interests of the Chinese government? I think it is just foolhardy to try to draw up a set of rules in the abstract that will prevent the voters from making foolish choices that will not also prevent them from making excellent ones. Whether someone is “qualified” to be president is a judgment call on the basis of all the facts and circumstances and is not susceptible to being determined by some checklist drawn up in a vacuum. Let the people decide. Having elites limit the choices available to the people — and that is all the NBC is — is not likely to lead to better choices, may lead to worse ones and in the end undermines the whole concept of governance by the people.
Toggle Commented Feb 13, 2021 on Another Day At The Trial at JustOneMinute
Ig — We have a democratic republic. The voters chose their leaders by a democratic process and the elected representatives make and enforce the laws; this makes our country a republic. I assume we agree on that. As far as residency and age restrictions go, I would make the same argument — let the people decide. Sure, electing a teenager as president seems farcical but in the end you have to trust the voters not to do something that stupid. Artificial guardrails are not going to protect a country who would wish to do such a thing. But 35 is just arbitrary. It is entirely conceivable that a particularly talented 34 year old would be an excellent choice. Again, having a bunch of long dead people decide in the abstract what choices we ought to make seems like a bad idea. We have to live with the consequences and not them. It’s almost certainly a good idea to have some level of maturity in the chief executive (although we may have overshot the mark this time) but an abstract good idea should not be a hard and fast rule. Same thing on residence. It’s probably a good idea to not elect carpetbaggers or people with limited experience with and allegiance to this country. But one should trust the voters to give such considerations their proper weight. If we don’t trust the voters the whole theory of governance collapses. And, not to put to fine a point on it, regardless of the meaning of the text, there is no justification for allowing Congress to decide whether people can chose Donald J Trump as president. Those in Congress who do not want him to be president again are perfectly free to try to persuade the voters not to elect him. But the voters and not the Congress should decide.
Toggle Commented Feb 13, 2021 on Another Day At The Trial at JustOneMinute
MJW — Thanks. It strikes me that having Congress hold that the voters cannot elect who they chose is undeniably anti democratic. On what theory should a possibly temporary majority, even a supermajority of the Congress be able to deprive the citizens of their vote? The whole notion that the “elites” (such as members of Congress) get to limit the people in their choice of leaders seems antithetical to the principles of the American Revolution and self government. If we had wanted an aristocratic that made decisions for the rest of us we would have remained loyal to the British. Obviously not every choice that “we the people” make is a good one. But that is how democracy and self governance works. If the voters WANT Jack the Ripper as president, there is no cure for that if you wish to remain a democratic republic. You either trust the voters or you don’t. I don’t know if Threadkiller is still around but the same argument demonstrates the stupidity of the natural born citizen requirement to be president. If the voters want someone born in Kenya they should be entitled. Yes, the NBC clause is constitutional in the sense that it is in the Constitution, but it is anti democratic and seriously dumb as is the notion of the Senate being able to deprive voters of their choice.
Toggle Commented Feb 13, 2021 on Another Day At The Trial at JustOneMinute
MJW — Does your research support the proposition that the disqualification clause was intended to prevent a situation where an officer was removed from office upon conviction by the Senate and an “obstacle” president turned around and appointed that person to some other government post? I don’t believe that it was ever intended to deprive voters of the right to vote for whoever they chose, even if a past Congress disapproved.
Toggle Commented Feb 13, 2021 on Another Day At The Trial at JustOneMinute
It seems to me that the text of the Constitution demonstrates that the Founders never thought about an impeachment trial of a president who had already left office. If they had, they would have either specifically authorized it or prohibited it. The fact that they did neither indicates that they never thought about it. The most straightforward interpretations of the text is that only CURRENT officers can be impeached by the House. It seems difficult to believe that the Founders would have chosen the language they did if they had a different intent. What about the possibility of a president committing some serious crime and resigning before the House could pass an article of impeachment? Probably never thought about it, but the text and not unstated intentions is what controls. That text would seem to limit impeachment to current officers. What about a president who is impeached by the House but is out of office before a Senate trial begins? Again, no clear answer in the text. If they had thought about it, I think they would have either authorized it or prohibited it. They did neither which means basically that a majority of the Senate can choose whether to hold a trial or not. It’s all political not constitutional. Roberts is absolutely correct in not presiding over such a trial. He is REQUIRED to preside over a trial of “the president.” He is PROHIBITED from doing so of a trial of anyone else. Since Trump is manifestly not “the president” he could not preside if he wanted to. It was not a choice on his part. Dems who are moaning about his failure to appear are misreading the Constitution. Disqualification does not mean what the Dems want it to mean, even though some Republicans and conservatives have bought into their argument. The Senate does not have the power to prevent a person convicted in an impeachment trial from holding elective office, including the presidency. Disqualification only relates to appointive officers as Seth Barrett Tilman and others have explained. So while the Senate trial may be constitutional, it is pointless except as a political exercise. Those who hate Trump will feel good about it and everyone else will be either upset or puzzled. It’s all politics. Not one bit of it is about unity and healing.
Toggle Commented Feb 12, 2021 on Another Day At The Trial at JustOneMinute
If Tara Reade said she made a mistake and it was not Joe Biden but Donald Trump that assaulted her in 1993, the news embargo about her claims would be instantly lifted, she would be on CNN more than Dr Gupta and Rachel Maddow would declare that Reade was the most credible person ever.
Toggle Commented Apr 29, 2020 on Here We Go Again at JustOneMinute
TK @ 6:57 — In their minds they are voting in a way that is true to the Constitution. The Constitution dictates that the leaders will be elected through a democratic process. It does not demand that voters make smart choices. There is nothing inimical to the Constitution for people to vote for Bernie Sanders or Hillary Rodham or Nancy Pelosi. Our goal should be to persuade people not to vote for these types.
Toggle Commented Feb 25, 2020 on Late Night Corona Watch at JustOneMinute
Henry — And who appoints and approves the judges? In the end, it’s all about votes.
Toggle Commented Feb 24, 2020 on Late Night Corona Watch at JustOneMinute
Ignatz @ 3:55 — Very clever. A variation on the old saying “ if you grab them by the testicles their hearts and minds will follow.” But if we want to be true to our Constitution and the principle of democracy, the only way to achieve the policies we want is through the ballot box. That requires actual persuasion without any shooting. Now, if we want to throw out the Constitution and impose our policy preferences on the country regardless of whether the public agrees or not, then I think guns will be necessary.
Toggle Commented Feb 24, 2020 on Late Night Corona Watch at JustOneMinute
JMH @ 3:45 - I totally agree with you that progressives have used their positions in, for example, education, to propagate propaganda in support of their views of society. But that does not address my point. By definition democracy is a system by which leaders are elected and policies decided by counting votes. If you want to win a dispute in a democracy, you need to persuade people to vote the way you favor. There is simply no alternative within the framework of democracy. I think that your point really addresses how one goes about such persuasion. Changing the educational system for example is very important but that too requires votes, perhaps at the school board level. So I maintain that the alternatives are either votes or guns. Votes require persuasion. The use of guns to achieve the kind of society one wants is, by definition, anti democratic. I don’t think this sets up a false choice at all.
Toggle Commented Feb 24, 2020 on Late Night Corona Watch at JustOneMinute
Winning hearts and minds is the ONLY way to win disputes in a democracy. Other forms of conflict resolution, such as the force of arms, are (besides being ridiculous when applied to today’s America) incompatible with democracy. You can try to persuade people or you can try shooting them. In the latter case, the outcome is terrible whether you are successful or not.
Toggle Commented Feb 24, 2020 on Late Night Corona Watch at JustOneMinute
jimmyk @1:31 — Your analysis makes a lot of sense if you assume that Bloomberg s goal is to win the nomination. But if that was his real goal he would have announced his candidacy a year earlier than he did. It seems to me that his real goal all along has been to prevent Bernie from being nominated. He got in because he saw Biden failing. Under that assumption the all out attack on Sanders makes sense.
Toggle Commented Feb 24, 2020 on Late Night Corona Watch at JustOneMinute
Toggle Commented Feb 24, 2020 on Late Night Corona Watch at JustOneMinute
sbw — Much better description than usurpation.
Ignatz @ 9:10 — I am not entirely sure what you mean by your comment but I assume that you did not mean it as a compliment. I really do enjoy your commentary even when I disagree with you. I am sorry if you do not feel the same way. Oh well..........
KK — To be clear, you are entitled to your own view of what the Constitution does and does not permit Congress to do. Just because the Supreme Court disagrees with you does not mean that you have to surrender your opinion. But at the end of the day it is up to the Supreme Court to decide whether or not a law passed by Congress is constitutional. You and I are free to express our opinions on the issue, but the only authoritative opinion is that of the majority of the Supreme Court.
KK @ 9:06 — I think that Obamacare was a terrible law and disagreed with the court ruling upholding it as constitutional. But there is simply no way to rationally describe Obamacare as a “usurpation of power.” The law was passed by the duly elected representatives of the people and signed into law by the duly elected president. A majority of the duly constituted Supreme Court held that it was constitutional. As terrible as the law and the ruling may have been, it was not a usurpation of power. It was an exercise of power provided for in the Constitution as determined by the Supreme Court. As you will recall, some progs complained about the elimination of the state and local tax deduction in the Trump tax bill passed by Congress. I think some of them even challenged the constitutionality of that law. I assume that they lost. If a prog referred to this as a “usurpation of power” you would rightly think the argument ridiculous. Just because you ( and I) don’t like a law or a court decision does not make it an illegitimate use of power.
TK @ 8:46 — I THINK that I understand your argument, but I want to make sure. Let me see if I have this correct. I think your argument boils down to these three points: 1 Progressive politicians are as a general proposition lacking in virtue, morality and decency (apparently the evidence for this is that poor little old me cannot definitely point out a particularly moral or virtuous lefty politician); 2 progressive politicians are elected by left leaning voters; therefore 3 progressive voters must in general lack qualities of virtue, morality, etc. If I misunderstood you, I apologize. On point 1, as I said I am reluctant to point to ANY politician as being a paragon of virtue. I don’t think that left leaning politicians are inherently more or less honest than right leaning politicians. YMMV. If you look at politicians who have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar, I don’t think there is one party or ideology that is significantly more likely to be corrupt than another. Point 2 is obviously true. I don’t think it advances your point. Point 3 does not follow. As you suggest, maybe the voters are unaware of the moral failings of the politicians that they elect. My real point is not that progs are all or even mostly all really good and decent people. I agree with Mark Twain that humans are somewhere below the angels and above the French. My point is that in my opinion, morality, decency, virtue etc are unrelated to political beliefs. There are fine people and there are scoundrels (or worse) on both the left and the right. I believe that conservatives have better IDEAS that progs on issues of public policy. I do not think that conservatives by and large are any more (or any less) moral, honest or virtuous than progressives. Just my opinion.
Jane @8:44 — I do not know if you spend any time at all reading comments on left leaning blogs. I spend very little time doing so but it does not take much time to realize that they see things pretty much the way you do (except in mirror image), to wit, they think (as you appear to) that OUR side too often plays by Marquis of Queensberry rules and our advocates are wimps and wussies who are afraid of getting their clean togas dirty while the OTHER side regularly uses groin kicks and eye gauges and gets away with it. As I recall, this very argument was used to justify some of Trump’s behavior on the theory that “he fights.” I see MOSTLY sincere and well meaning people on both the right and the left but the more passionate people (on both sides) become the more willing they are to engage in rough and tumble tactics to obtain their ends. You suggest that the left “gets away” with such tactics more than the right does. I am not sure how to measure that. But I really don’t think that there is any real difference in the tactics of the left and the right. Both sides by and large believe that their policy preferences are better than the others (however, as Ig has said, we are right and they are wrong about that). Both sides can be aggressive in attempting to prevail.
KK @8:43 — I agree with you this far: as a general proposition, todays liberals have an expansive view of the role of government in society. They generally favor more bureaucracy, more regulation and more taxation. But it is simply not true that liberals favor power and coercion and conservatives do not. Both sides want the government to be coercive, just towards different ends. Conservatives tend to want government to have a muscular military, to enforce laws against abortion and those who who are in this country illegally. Liberals by and large do not want government power to be used towards those ends. It is too simplistic to say that liberals want power and control and conservatives do not. Yes, in a democracy the way to achieve ones policy goals is through persuasion. Convince your friends, relatives, neighbors and countrymen to vote for candidates who favor the same policies that you do. There is no practical or even realistic alternative.
Buckeye — Which high school?
Buckeye — Wright State University near Dayton. This was a long time ago and it was not near as prestigious then as it is now. One of my brothers still lives in that area.
Ignatz — No, I think reality actually exists. I do think that POV influences how people perceive reality, but reality exists apart from perception. No matter how many people perceive that the sun goes around the earth, the opposite is true. The fact that the medieval church dictated otherwise did not change that reality. The church’s POV influenced how many people thought about the issue but the earth still went around the sun.
TK — Sure, politicians get elected by appealing to the voters’ opinions about how society should be organized. What is your point? The fact that politicians compete for votes from the public does not make either the left or the right more moral or honest than the other. History is full of both Republicans and Democrats taking bribes for example. Corruption is pretty much non ideological.