The Founding Fathers Weigh In

James Madison, Author of Federalist #10

I for one do not credit the Founding Fathers of this country with any supernatural intelligence or moral sense, but they have a way of surprising me from time to time. The following comes from #10 of the Federalist Papers, entitled “The Utility of the Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection,” written by James Madison:

The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts.

Further on, he continues:

If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote. It may clog the administration, it may convulse the society; but it will be unable to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the Constitution. When a majority is included in a faction, the form of popular government, on the other hand, enables it to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens. To secure the public good and private rights against the danger of such a faction, and at the same time to preserve the spirit and the form of popular government, is then the great object to which our inquiries are directed. Let me add that it is the great desideratum by which this form of government can be rescued from the opprobrium under which it has so long labored, and be recommended to the esteem and adoption of mankind.

I am still uncertain whether our Republic can somehow purge the nefarious effects of a Trumpf administration with its lies, its prejudice against helping the majority of its citizens, and its flagrant self-aggrandizement and treason.

With luck, we will survive the current infestation. But only by the skin of our teeth.

 

 

“Things Are Getting Dangerously Nutty!”

Berkeley Breathed Knows All About It!

There are a lot of ways at looking at America’s seemingly insoluble split down the middle between the Trumpites/Tea Partiers and the Liberals. Probably the healthiest approach is to take Opus’s point of view. It was that split that brought Berkeley Breathed, the creator of Bloom County, out of retirement. Today, his Facebook page is one of the sanest places on the Internet.

Does anyone knew where I can yet yellow and green briefs with smiley faces printed on them?

A Jobs Plan for Trumpf’s America

Specially Targeted to Trumpf Supporters

Our president wants jobs for Americans. It suddenly hit me that he could kill two birds with one stone: Send his most vociferous supporters deep into coal mines. (And none of that sissy strip mining stuff, either!) That coal dust does things to those who are most vociferous: It gives them black lung disease. That might also be a good solution for those members of his staff that the president is forced to remove for disloyalty or, worse yet, getting caught.

Perhaps we could direct our economy into those jobs which were more typical of centuries past. It’s a way of looking forward by looking back, and paying homage to our economic heritage. Say, what about harvesting cotton and sugar cane?

Serendipity: The Allegory of the Lamp Post

Lamp Post at Hotel Jardines de Nivaria in Tenerife

I am currently reading Simone Weil’s essay “On the Abolition of All Political Parties”—a subject to which I will return in a few days. In the introduction by Simon Leys, I found this splendid long quote from G. K. Chesterton’s Heretics:

Suppose that a great commotion arises in the street about something, let us say a lamp-post, which many influential persons desire to pull down. A grey-clad monk, who is the spirit of the Middle Ages, is approached upon the matter, and begins to say, in the arid manner of the Schoolmen, “Let us first of all consider, my brethren, the value of Light. If Light be in itself good—” At this point he is somewhat excusably knocked down. All the people make a rush for the lamp-post, the lamp-post is down in ten minutes, and they go about congratulating each other on their unmediaeval practicality. But as things go on they do not work out so easily. Some people have pulled the lamp-post down because they wanted the electric light; some because they wanted old iron; some because they wanted darkness, because their deeds were evil. Some thought it not enough of a lamp-post, some too much; some acted because they wanted to smash municipal machinery; some because they wanted to smash something. And there is war in the night, no man knowing whom he strikes. So, gradually and inevitably, to-day, to-morrow, or the next day, there comes back the conviction that the monk was right after all, and that all depends on what is the philosophy of Light. Only what we might have discussed under the gas-lamp, we now must discuss in the dark.

In the Rough

We’re All in the Rough Together With the Trumpfster

Say, is that a hippo wallowing in the rough? Oh, wait a minute, no, it’s our Tweeter-in-Chief! Apparently, our super-smart prexy is not a very good golfer, unless the tall grass qualifies as the green on a Trumpf-owned golf course.

Politics may be an ugly profession, but it takes some talent to avoid the sand traps and water hazards in which the orotund gentleman pictured above finds himself. Perhaps one doesn’t have to be so smart as he is: Just listening would be a good start. Do you suppose it’s the small hands that have made him unable to wield the club of state?

Originalism

It’s Not Like They Were Gods

One thing I do not understand is the judicial principle of originalism, according to which we have to somehow divine the intent of our Founding Fathers. That strikes me as rather silly. Take Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, for example. While Jefferson was Adams’s Vice President, he did everything possible to subvert him, including hiring a yellow journalist named James Callender to attack Federalist positions. This was at a time when the winner for President was forced to take the loser as his Vice President. And that was written in the Constitution! (It was not until later in life that Adams and Jefferson were reconciled, and they both wound up dying on July 4, 1826, fifty years to the day after the Declaration of Independence.)

If two of our Founding Fathers were such enemies, how is it possible to arrive at any consensus by reading their long-dead minds regarding the problems of the 21st Century. Remember, these same Founding Fathers were forced to accept slavery. Perhaps Trumpf’s nominee to replace the late Antonin Scalia, Neil M. Gorsuch,  would be more comfortable if slavery were reinstated.

Will we all have to wear powdered wigs and take snuff? Do we have to give up the automobile in favor of the horse and buggy? Would we have to give up the Internet and our whole telecommunications network just because some judge has this jones about some long dead politicians, as great as they were in the context of their own times.

More Than You Ever Wanted to Know

But Don’t Let That Lull You into Passivity!

That little photo inset in the above picture are of Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter from Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). You remember that picture: It’s where pods from Outer Space are replacing the citizens of a sleepy Northern California town. How appropriate! It seems that the invasion is coming from the Evil Forces of Trumpfism and his Alt-Right followers.

The news cycle has become overcrowded with Tweets, Executive Orders, and the usual run of Republican Follies (such as the new unlamented American Health Care Act (AHCA). Where the presidency used to generate only two or three news stories each day, now we are confronted with a whole slew of attempts to deprive the citizens of this country of what they want and what they need. Our formerly good government is being replaced by an invasion of Right Wing Pod People with their alternative facts (lies), economic nationalism (isolationism), enemy of the people (friend of the people), fake news (truth), and America first (corporations and billionaires first).

There’s Always Plenty to Go Around!

There is an old Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times!” It’s so easy to become dispirited and just give up. Even if you feel as if you’re being attacked by a hydra, I suggest you stay awake and defend your liberties. Get used to letting your two state senators and your congressman know what you want. Call or e-mail them on a regular basis. Let them know they can be replaced in 2018—and you know that’s just around the corner.