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August 23, 2012


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Well according to the two professors who have never been wrong about the electoral college, the election is over. So if your interested I have a 40 foot motor home with slide outs and a Honda Ridge line for sale. I am leaving for Germany.

What do these profs predict?

A Romney landslide by 300 plus electoral votes

What professors, cal? Do you have a link?

Tom Friedman and his wealthy ilk want it both ways: massive inequality and low wages for the working slobs but everything somehow nice and tidy and technologically advancing. IOW, they're delusional. The wingnuts, wealthy or not, imagine themselves as King Shit over a pile of dirt.


Nate Silver's got it at 294/244 Obama (rounded).


"Are Americans really that stupid?"

This is the fundamental question because all of the debate and enlightened conversation require an electorate that can think in the first instance. A knowledgeable voting base would be preferable as it would not even entertain the lunacy we will hear from Tampa, but one that can at least exercise independent thought is a requirement to keep the extremists' nuttiness at bay. We don't have that.

So to answer the question, yes, they are that stupid. Here are some examples of what high school seniors will tell you (gathered from my wife, the high school teacher):

-Martin Luther King freed the slaves
-Abraham Lincoln was the first President
-Chinese is spoken in Tokyo, where you coincidentally are not bound by any speed limits
-Asia is a country. China is not in Asia because Asia is a country.

Granted, these are 17 and 18 year old kids, but I would venture an educated guess that a large number of regular 'Mericans would tell you the same thing. The smartest among them can give you a two sentence description of Milton Friedman's most basic economic theories. Once you engage them beyond that to discuss whether Milt was right, they look like deer in headlights. Why? I don't think Americans are smart enough to read anything that isn't scrolling on the bottom of the Fox News feed.

To borrow from Jim Morrison, I'm gonna get my kicks before the whole sh!t house goes up in flames. Because you better believe that's where we are heading.

Great column.

I do think that the economy is the main issue: employment and wages affect more households than any other single factor. In addition to directly affecting most households (and friends and relatives), it's continually discussed in television, radio, and print. The state of the economy is also a matter of national morale in addition to affecting individual circumstances.

The economy isn't worse than it was before Obama took office, because he was sworn into office in January 2009, six months before the recession ended, and has presided over the post-recession recovery that began when the recession ended in June 2009. There is no serious question that his stimulus programs prevented the recession from continuing and deepening as well as turning the economy around with GDP growth instead of contraction.

By "stimulus programs" I refer to actions that maintained or increased total demand (public and private) for the goods and services of the economy: financial aid to states floundering in recession, thus preventing even deeper state and local cuts); "shovel-ready" infrastructure projects; tax credits and tax cuts; bailing out the auto industry (more important to job growth than is commonly recognized); and all of it financed by federal deficit spending at a time when private sector demand was diminishing (thus taking up the slack). Deficits were integral to the stimulus (all of it) because if the federal government cuts spending to offset diminished revenues, total demand (public plus private) decreases.

But the recovery has been very slow by historical standards. Aside from the sheer number of jobs lost, this is the result of the housing crash -- home construction and sales being the traditional engine of recovery from recession -- and the failure of the administration to adequately address this problem through aggressive loan modification programs than required (rather than asked, "pretty-please") lenders to act.

The general tightening of lending standards that followed the housing and banking crashes (credit traditionally leads spending after recessions, obtaining spending money for consumers now on the promise of an increase in future income once recovery takes hold) didn't help either, though given the massive loss of housing equity many households might be loath to take on more debt even if it were available on the old terms.

The problems is that most voters don't know enough about economic fundamentals (and how they've changed) to understand why recovery is so slow, and the administration has done nothing to enlighen them by creating (and repeating) a simple, easy to understand narrative. Voters are thus more likely to consider a new candidate who claims that his policies will speed the recovery up to historical norms, even if such claims are jejune. The fact that the Republicans are merely biding their time hoping to enter office on the wave of popular discontent, just as the economy is starting to regain its feet, may not be immediately evident to them.

Traditionally, many voters blame or credit a president (not just this one) for economic developments independently of congressional gridlock or other factors, as if he were somehow the Wizard of Oz pulling levers behind a curtain.

Almost out of Internet time this session. More later as time permits.

The two Colorado professors' model reflects conventional wisdom and post WWII history in which incumbents lose if unemployment is above a certain percent. It is a good rule of thumb but Obama's numbers are far too strong so far to confirm conventional wisdom of an Obama defeat.

A Romney presidency with a Republican Congress would be a disaster. Unlike Obama and the Democratic House and filibuster proof Democratic Senate, the Republicans will move with blitzrieg speed implementing their ultra-right wing platform. They will not be constrained by either the right wing US Supreme Court or the corporate owned media.

'Mericans have about a 4th grade understanding of history and economics. Yes, they are that ignorant. The US media has to make the presidential race a horse race to keep us distracted /interested, but I think Obama will win. It will be interesting what will happen at the polls in states that have passed new voting rules.

"Where a government has come into power through some form of popular vote, fraudulent or not, and maintains at least an appearance of constitutional legality, the guerilla outbreak cannot be promoted, since the possibilities of peaceful struggle have not yet been exhausted." -- "Che" Guevara (not a great military man, but an astute political animal).

The US educational system with its Pledge of Allegiance and Flag worship instills a sense of unreflected patriotism. The Bush pretext to illegally enter Iraq militarily was based on an allegation of weapons of mass destruction. An objective analysis of the allegation would have concluded that no substantial evidence supported the basis for the illegal war. But due the indoctrination of patriotism there was not significant opposition to the unsubstantiated Bush allegations on weapons of mass destruction.

Here U go jmav and eclecticdog:


And Bush should be tried for Mrder for the Iraq war.

Now we're nearing the home stretch, folks, when we'll learn whether President O can become a COMMUNICATOR and not just a gifted/glib orator. For sure, the R's have given him an arsenal of clubs with which he can beat them without mercy. (and please keep Joe Biden incommunicado in the basement!)

Obamas secret weapon is still in the closet. Wan to guess what that is.
I previously posted such in the distant past.

Obama's secret weapon... hmmm... the GOP?

(and please keep Joe Biden incommunicado in the basement!)
In chains?

Petro, not bad. But not what I have in mind.

Excerpt From Herb Paynes, The 2012 Conventions – Lost Opportunities

Take, just for example, the Republican Party Convention. Mark my words, you will not hear the names of Lincoln or Theodore Roosevelt invoked, for their ethics of fairness and social justice are no longer the ethics of this party. This is no longer the Party of Reagan or Goldwater -- they would not abide the extremist and reactionary elements that have kidnapped it and intimidated the more rational Republican leaders. You will hear no rejection of those extreme elements in the Party that challenge the Americanism of our President or suggest that some rapes are legitimate or that there are traitors in the White House or that some citizens are more equal than others. You will not hear the wise counsel of an Eisenhower about the dangers of foreign entanglement or the military industrial complex. It is now a different Party, far removed from its history and core values – more like a throwback to the politics of the mid-19th Century, wedding the anti-immigrant nativist views of the Know-Nothings with the elitist perspectives of the Robber Barons.

The effect on the American society's mind by corporate-controlled media, which presents the news as infomercial-style sound bytes and consumerism-friendly talking point, has been to turn it into a sort of blended mush or chopped liver. No dots can be connected to form a rational thought based on facts, for facts are merely fungible tools to be molded and spun into whatever agenda the elite want to push. Want war? Then label them terrorists in the axis of evil. Want more tax breaks for the wealthy? Then call them job creators for a trickle-down economy. Want a scapegoat for the country's ills? Then demonize immigrants and the poor as the source of society's ills. There's a reason why the Right-Wing love Ayn Rand's "cult of the self" philosophy:

"Rand and her followers advocated a pure capitalism, in which individuals pursue their own self-interest. In fact, the highest duty of the individual is to realize their own personal potential. Although the Rand code does not exactly endorse doing whatever one pleases at any time, it does emphasize that moral behavior should not be compelled and rejects every obligation and form of personal sacrifice.

In the pure Rand view, capitalists produce all wealth; workers are parasites and moochers. Altruism, which places others above self, is immoral and leads to slavery. There should be no economic safety net at all, even if people we could help suffer or die. They are a drag on economic efficiency." - Altruism Is Slavery

Obama will go down the drain; and may he rot in the closest septic field along with his entire administration. A bigger bunch of fetid criminals has not been visited on this nation in her history.

Since Bush, you mean.

The Iraq war was a criminal act with intent by Bush and Cheny. Bush was without a shadow of a doubt the the beginning of a locust plague on the nation. and he didnt and dosent get it.

My problem with Obama is he gets it but has does very little about it. He can dribble but he cant go to the hoop.
The democrats had a chance for a slam dunk and choked. Stand by for the prejudicial plague to roll over all non white Christians.

I have written at lenght about Obama's shortcomings, which is why, I suppose, Soleri left us (a terrible loss, too). But this notion that he and his administration are criminals and the worst in the nation's history...I don't get it.

Please explain. Don't lurk or give me drive-by name-calling. I really want to understand.

Rogue Columnist,
He's black, and minorities who enter vaunted positions, traditionally held only by whites, are held to a much higher standard. They must walk on water.

Jon... Jon... Jon...

It's a fair-minded call out on your part...
But you know that comic?

Which is to suggest you've got no idea the creature on the other side of those remarks. What it looks like. Talks like. How it respects or disrespects the world around it. Does it recycle? Does it take exercise? Does it watch its diet? Does it run stuff over? Does it keep a loaded gun on its coffee table? Does it cheat on its taxes? Does it smile at children? Has it ever planted a tree? Does it hate black people? Does it read? Does it floss regularly?

Or does it run free and shit wheresoever it pleases and bark at whomsoever it wants?

I've got $10,000 Romney dollars on that last one. You are asking for a bow-wow to put on pants and type up something artful. I'm not sure there are enough dog hours left in the universe for that. The creature isn't looking to dialog Jon. It is looking to excrete.

But bless you for trying. Me? I'm too inured to the other side; too obdurate to their awful offal-ness.

That's why I would never tolerate such random drive by crapping on a thread. I'd pull the hose trigger on it. Wash it off the public right of way. If a person can't sing for their dinner they shouldn't be allowed to bark for dessert...

As for Soleri....

You greatly underestimate him. I can't imagine him being so small as to quit your blog because you slammed Obama for caving...

Ms.Dudas knows that we reap what we sow. If we dish out venom, it usually finds its way back to us, doesn't it? (footnote: venom is different from principled disagreement)

I am of the opinion Soleri is resting and did not abandon his mental processes or this blog. A nap is a good thing.

Teras dudas comment reminds me of how Janet Napolitano abandon Arizona leaving a majority to be ravaged by a few angry very prejudice politicians. I know a number of "liberals" that are very angry with Janet and Obama and crew.

Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi made the case for prosecuting George W Bush for murder with intent as a result of his actions regarding the Iraq war.
I am not sure you can prosecute Obama for ignoring or lack of effort. There are a host of items that Obama has not addressed or is slow to address, following are a few.
Obama has moved forward on ending wars perpetuated by Bush but for me not fast enough on all conflicts the US is involved in currently.
Obama has deserted liberalism if he ever believed in it. He has huddled up with financiers and done little in prosecuting the financial world for grievous theft with intent.
Obama has given token nods to the environment and the energy situation. He knows the earth is in trouble yet he chooses to not recognize such with strong enforcement of environmental laws.
Obama has not only allowed the drug war to continue but he in fact ramped up the prosecution of marijuana when the election was on the horizon. Obama has continued a US policy that perpetuates murder on a constant basis in Mexico in an effort to keep US citizens from consuming “illegal” drugs. Yet his administration has done little to address the illegal use of prescribed drugs, a larger problem in the US than illegal drugs.
The excuse that he has been obstructed has validity. And obstruction is easier to prove and prosecute than lack of effort to go after or ignoring criminal behavior. There is no doubt in my mind that there are a number of issues that rise to the prosecutorial level when it comes to Congressional obstructionism to prevent successes by and to rid the presidency of that “black” man.
If Paul Rayn and Ayn Rand Objectivism is the future, The Hunger Games will be reality not just a novel

The silly season is upon us. As we move closer to November, the partisan divide will draw, almost involuntarily, increasingly shrill rhetoric as kickoff approaches ever closer.

I myself am beginning to feel defensive about Obama, in spite of all of my profound problems with his Presidency... I feel like Dr. Strangelove struggling with his hand...

Take your glove off!


Feel better already, Huh Pertro.
Kinda like driving recklessly fast
while nude
and in a state of arousal.

Koreyel, I left U 3 questions on your web site.

Mr. Talton wrote:

"Even smart people are convinced the regulatory state has been vastly extended and that's what's hurting jobs."

Really? Can you be more specific? Aside from occasional whinging from big oil and big coal I can't recall much argument along these lines. I do recall Obama being scourged for "socialism" and for the rather vague boogeyman of "uncertainty".

Oh, and I guess the banking industry and its proxies "squeal like pigs".

How any of that affects job growth on Main Street is beyond me.

Mr. Talton wrote:

"If all these Tea Partiers really knew the Constitution and the republic's founding, they would know that the framers. . .Hated the idea of parties (faction), which had doomed previous republics..."

True. That said, Alexander Hamilton founded the Federalist Party in 1790, and the opposing Republican Party (called "Democratic-Republican" by modern political scientists) was founded by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in 1791. (For those who may not know -- certainly not including Mr. Talton -- Hamilton and Madison were the two major authors of The Federalist Papers, defending the idea of a national government and urging the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.)

"...Were not reactionaries but to greater or lesser degrees Enlightenment liberals guided by reason...

True, but "liberal" had a much different meaning in an era when the big political conflict was between royalists and republicans (small "r" and referring to those who advocated republics as a form of political organization and government).

"...Mistrusted the sentiment of the mob (Tea Party)..."

Most of the mistrust of "the mob" was of what they called "levellers". The country, after all, was founded chiefly by wealthy merchants and plantation owners who chafed at the tax burden and regulations imposed by the English king. The "mob", by contrast, was composed of indentured servants and ordinary wage-earners who owned no property. The fear was that the majority, in a majority-rule democracy, empowered by extended suffrage and unchecked in its powers, would use the the law to vote economic democracy into place (i.e., to redistribute land and wealth).

"... Believed the central government should not favor any religion..."

Very true. Some of the most prominent founders (e.g., Jefferson) were deists.

"...Created a strong central government with checks and balances..."

Yes, but the powers of the central government were considerably limited relative to today. Don't forget that the primary bone of contention between Madison, Jefferson, and other Democratic-Republicans on the one hand, and Hamilton and the Federalists on the other, was the creation of a central bank, which the former claimed was unconstitutional. Marbury v. Madison, which established the power of judicial review residing in the U.S. Supreme Court, was not decided until 1803 and was bitterly opposed by Jefferson and many other members of his Republican Party. There was no income tax until the 20th century. There were no major social programs paying cash benefits to large sections of the population until the Great Depression. Women could not vote until 1920. Jim Crow laws restricting Blacks and other racial minorities from voting were not struck down until the middle of the 20th century. Most of what we call "progressive" (from Teddy Roosevelt onward) came to the republic rather late in the game.

It's true that the views of the founders were far more varied than the Tea Partiers (and many others) give them credit for. Working-class founders such as Thomas Paine (who was neither a plantation owner nor a slave holder) advocated a system of progressive taxation, a minimum annual income for those 21 and older, a public pension system for those 50 and older, and public disability benefits for the lame and the blind. All of this was remarkably progressive, but not representative of the dominant views of the founders (else we should have seen a different system from the start). There can be no doubt that most founders, even Hamilton, would be astounded by the growth in power of the national government.

"...Insisted on compromise to create and build a nation. None of this describes today's GOP..."

True. That said, I don't think it described yesterday's GOP either. People forget that the Democrats had a congressional majority for almost all of the years from the end of WW II into the 1970s. And they would argue that the country has moved so far from its early principles (true, but that's a good thing) as to make compromise unpatriotic (though they're really just political animals seeking political power through the party structure).

"There can be no doubt that most founders, even Hamilton, would be astounded by the growth in power of the national government."

I am not so sure of this; the country is also much larger, the world more dynamic, and life is much more complex (from education to the economy). Surely, they would consider the challenges of modern times when analyzing the growth in power of the national government?

I just don't see Romney winning this election; Obama, like jmav stated, has too many supporters. As the election draws nearer, even those liberals and Dems that have decried Obama's shift to the right, will support him when all said and done.

I also wouldn't be too hard on our fellow Americans (at least in our expectations of them being economic geniuses at the ripe age of 18). I've had the pleasure of working with many foreigners (Germans and Spaniards) and am often surprised how insulated many remain. That is not to say that the American public education system isn't broken, but rather that most people are good/knowledgeable regarding a few things and not scholars on an array of topics.

One example that Americans haven't grown dumber in modern times is a letter to the editor in the Republic today from Gordon Stuart. Stuart, and 85 year old, warns us that "America could face socialism or worse" because of "stupid politicians."


You boys keep masturbating with your verbiage & cheek; I'm outta here. Bye.

p.s.. . . . and I don't lurk, Jon; you know better than that. But what's the point of trying to get a word in edgewise when disparaging and insulting remarks are thrown at me (bagger, etc.) You, my friend, are the chief culprit.

"You boys keep masturbating with your verbiage & cheek; I'm outta here. Bye."

Ann...Ann Coulter is that you? Whenever I hear Ms. Coulter speak, I can't get past the anger and grotesque imagery she spews. It feels more like a theatrical performance rather than a serious debate. If you truly believed your position and had facts to support your beliefs, you would be able to clearly articulate them and look past disparaging insults. But I think those types of statements are deflections and attempts to avoid engaging in a thoughtful debate.

That's a cop-out, Terry. Give me specifics about how Obama is the worst ever.

Excellent, Emil. The Jeffersonian Republicans still tried to even avoid the impression of being a "party." One of James Monroe's hopes was to eliminate parties. This was blown apart by the Missouri Compromise and growing sectional division.

Another thing that made Monroe's vision impossible was the South's power and solidarity. The three-fifths-of-a- person for slaves gave the South disproportionate influence. Virginians were the majority of presidents before 1824. Adams would have won the 1800 election of not for the three-fifths.

It is impossible to know how the framers would have confronted modernity. More about this in a future post. But the most influential among them were very much modern men for their era.

Petro, Obama's secret weapon is Hillary as his VP

cal: Hope you're right about Hillary! Could rally the women and help insure the D's longer term continuity.
Right now, she's looking kinda worn out . . tough schedule I hear.
(Who knows how/why lackluster Joe was picked in the first place?)

got some good points he just has trouble communicating to many, even though I find him hilariously refreshing.

"It is impossible to know how the framers would have confronted modernity. More about this in a future post. But the most influential among them were very much modern men for their era."

Jon, the above paragraph contains one question and the answer to that question?

And in my humble butt opine, I think they would have been outstanding regardless of where the popped out in time.

I like Biden. He seems to be an honest man, a true public servant, and he hasn't enriched himself wallowing in the pig trough. I think him and Sanders are the only ones. The rest, let the devil take them.

Many great posts on here! I thought about the political party thing and even chuckled when RC posted it but Emil jumped on the take-down!

Cal, if I drive in the nude will I get fewer speeding tickets?

phxSUNSfan wrote:

"I am not so sure (that 'most founders, even Hamilton, would be astounded by the growth in power of the national government'); the country is much larger, the world more dynamic, and life is much more complex (from education to the economy). Surely, they would consider the challenges of modern times when analyzing the growth in power of the national government?"

I used to think this way. But the modern interpretation of the Commerce Clause would astonish them. Quoting Wiki:

"During the Marshall Court era Commerce Clause interpretation empowered Congress to gain jurisdiction over several aspects of intrastate and interstate commerce as well as non-commerce. During the post-1937 era, the use of the Commerce Clause by Congress to authorize federal control of economic matters became effectively unlimited."

The real issue here is not how complex the world has become, but whether the Commerce Clause as originally intended has been misconstrued and abused. Jefferson and Madison would of course be shocked, and I believe that even Hamilton would be astonished. There are some founders who would be delighted, but they would still acknowledge that the modern interpretation of the clause is a fundamental deviation from the philosophical framework of federalism as originally conceived, and that (as a result, and only since the 1930s) the powers of the central government have ballooned beyond anything envisioned by the typical federalist of the period. That this is a good thing in the development of the Republic is easily seen ("states' rights would mean segregation, Jim Crow, and a lot worse, as well as the absence of the social safety net wherever economic conservatives take power); but it's certainly a major philosophical deviation from the original framework.

Incidentally, if I have time this login session, I'm going to review Republican votes on major New Deal, Fair Deal, Civil Rights, and Great Society legislation. That should settle the issue, concretely, of whether Republicans were more given to compromise in the past than today.

P.S. Not that the Social Safety Net is anything but frayed, since the federal government turned Medicaid into a block grant program administered by the states.

"In Louisiana and Texas, earning more than just $5,000 a year makes you ineligible for Medicaid."


This of course is a failure of the federal government to assert its sovereign powers. Abdicating these powers to individual states places U.S. citizens at the mercy of local tyrants and oligarchs.

P.S. Not finished with the research and vote tallies, but it does indeed, at least with respect to landmark legislation, look as if past Republicans were a lot more cooperative than they are today. Out of Internet time for now.

eclecticdog said
if I drive in the nude will I get fewer speeding tickets?

There is no ARS for Coyote Ugly.

Hillary - I remember that. Well, considering we're a little over 2 months out, I'm not sure it would be strategically effective to shake-up the incumbent ticket at this late date. If that were being considered, Biden's "chains" "gaffe" (overly pumped by the usual suspects) might have provided an opportunity, but the moment seems to have passed.

Also, they almost certainly would have needed to name a replacement for her at State. Any ideas here who that might have been (taking into consideration that the appointee couldn't render the political upside of the shake-up moot)?

That said, Hillary might have been useful as VP but, as some above has said, Biden's still relatively popular in spite (or perhaps because) of his "frankness."

Politically, I have used surprise effectively and would advise Obama to name Hillary as his VP. (Joe will just go drink beer with the boys and be OK.) and of course there is only one choice to replace Hillary at state.

I don't know, cal. The damage done by Clinton neoliberalism has been well-deconstructed of late.

Given that Obama's corporatism is the main detraction from his presidency (from the left), I'm not so sure that it would be helpful. I could be wrong, of course.

no right or wrong

Well, I hope I can still come to breakfast :), if that's still on. I believe my son will be tagging along...

Would be interesting, Jon, to create a list of most likely cabinet members . . . should Romney be elected. Sometimes, we delude ourselves into thinking of the administration as a single person . . aka Bush W., instead of Bush, Rummy Cheney, Wolfowitz and a cast of rather inept operatives. Conjecturing about a Romney/Ryan brain trust might make for provocative reading . . . . . with Cruella DaVille as Casting Director!

Secretary of State: John Boulton or Lindsey Graham (Long shot: John McCain).

Secretary of the Treasury: Jamie Dimon

Secretary of Defense: David Patraeus or John Boulton.

Attorney General: Rick Santorum

think rick will throw a blanket over the nudes?

On the subject of whether the increased scope and complexity of the nation might might cause the founders (were we able to consult them) to favorably assess the subsequent consolidations of power by the federal government: note that the country also grew considerably between 1788 when James Madison finished the last of his essays in The Federalist Papers urging ratification of the U.S. Constitution, and 1817 when President James Madison, in one of his last acts of office, vetoed a congressional bill authorizing the federal government to undertake various infrastructure improvements (which had previously been the purview of individual states and localities, and private companies). I found a copy of his veto message in the library here, reprinted in full, in Annals of America (Vol. 4, p.462, "James Madison: On The Commerce Clause"). I provide a brief but insightful excerpt below:

"Having considered the bill this day presented to me entitled 'An act to set apart and pledge certain funds for internal improvements,' and which sets apart and pledges funds 'for constructing roads and canals, and improving the navigation of water courses, in order to facilitate, promote, and give security to internal commerce among the several states, and to render more easy and less expensive the means and provisions for the common defense,' I am constrained by the insuperable difficulty I feel in reconciling the bill with the Constitution of the United States...

". . .I am not unaware of the great importance of roads and canals and the improved navigation of water courses, and that a power in the national legislature to provide for them might be exercised with signal advantage to the general prosperity. But seeing that such a power is not expressly given by the Constitution, and believing that it can not be deduced from any part of it without an inadmissible latitude of construction and a reliance on insufficient precedents...I have no options but to withhold my signature from it..."

Now, I don't want to give the impression that all founders shared Madison's views. By no means. Madison was a strict constructivist, and not all founders were so. The Constitution was written with deliberate ambiguity with the intent of enticing factions of various philosophical views to approve it and enter into a union of states under the governance of a national government.

Also, Madison himself signed legislation creating a second National Bank as well as the Tariff Act of 1816 which protected American manufacturing from British imports, as well as various measures strengthening a permanent military establishment (standing army), and it can be argued that none of these powers were expressly enumerated in the Constitution or deducible therefrom.

But Madison was highly instrumental in drafting the Constitution and was the chief author of the Bill of Rights, and can't be dismissed with an airy wave of the hand, either.

Ironically, the "Bonus Bill" for internal improvements was introduced by John C. Calhoun, who later ossified into the champion of "nullification", which proposed that the Southern States could ignore (or nullify) any federal laws they saw fit. A prime example of how such individuals were happy to receive the funding of the federal government but drew the line at allowing themselves to be regulated by it.

On the subject of whether past Republicans were more given to compromise than those at present: a preliminary review of landmark legislation suggests that they were indeed.

First, note that the Democratic Party had full control of Congress from 1933 through 1981, except for two brief periods (1947-49 and 1953-55); and during those brief periods of Republican control Democratic presidents held the veto power. So, the Democrats simply didn't need Republican cooperation, for the most part.


That said, there weren't any straight party-line votes in the four landmark laws I examined. With the exception of Senate Republicans in the Medicaid/Medicare vote, 50 percent or more of Republicans in both houses of congress voted "yes" in each case; and in the one exception, fully 40 percent voted yes. Obama would love to get that kind of partial Republican support.

One final note before I give the results: I'd like to find vote results for things like New Deal labor and tax laws (e.g., the Wagner Act) and certain other progressive legislation, suspecting that Republican cooperation might be less demonstrative, but have had a difficult time finding that using Google (thus far) and wanted to get this posted before I ran out of Internet time today. Results:

Social Security Act of 1935:
74th Congress
Senate Republicans voting YES: 16 of 25
House Republicans voting YES: 81 of 103

Social Security Amendments of 1965 (Medicare and Medicaid):
89th Congress
Senate Republicans voting YES: 13 of 32
House Republicans voting YES: 70 of 140

Civil Rights Act of 1964:
88th Congress
Senate Republicans voting YES: 27 of 33
House Republicans voting YES: 136 of 176

Voting Rights Act of 1965:
89th Congress
Senate Republicans voting YES: 30 of 32
House Republicans voting YES: 112 of 140

Note also that Senator Barry Goldwater, who ran a "states' rights" campaign in 1964, was one of the few Senate Republicans voting against (or failing to vote for) the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Most of the Founders (including Madison) would have agreed with Goldwater that the law was an unconstitutional encroachment of federal power, which is one more reason why modern thinkers shouldn't reflexively treat the Founders' original vision as a Holy Grail of political philosophy. The "free market" had many decades to break down segregation, and failed miserably.

Romney's inner circle, per Jon:

Secretary of State:

Secretary of the Treasury: Jamie Dimon (HE OF THE SOLID GOLD CUFFLINKS)

Secretary of Defense: David Patraeus (GOOD CHOICE!) or John Bolton.

Attorney General: Rick Santorum (WORDS FAIL ME!)

Excellent scholarship, Emil. Later, James Monroe asked the Supreme Court for an opinion as to whether the Constitution allowed the federal government to use taxes for "internal improvements," i.e. transportation projects, and they gave it to him. It was indeed constitutional.

Thank you Jon and Emil (and others) for the excellent columns and posts.
Yes, Obama should be leading by a dozen points with the GOP doing their utmost to alienate every one who isn't a hetero-gun toting White Male! Why Pres Obama is so darn timid is beyond me! This election is as depressing as a Seahawks-Cardinals game- a game no-one seems to want to win!

Has anyone considered the situation with the Supreme Court and the next POTUS ?

POTUS, if you mean potty mouth that would make Biden president. A Romney win will make the federal courts ELDER laden and non whites will be the slaves of the God fearing plantation masters, the mark of Cain is upon you brother.

Petro breakfast is still on. Bring your son and whomever and a dog if you have one. After all this is a get together for the Departed Pepper, aka my dog Spot.

Romney is not the only one with money off shore.


Funny how the opinion piece cal' s referring to (corrected link: Where the Mob Keeps Its Money) doesn't mention the '80's BCCI scandal. Can't figure why such an oversight, since they mention the S&L debacle and other recent history.

A correction. I wrote:

"First, note that the Democratic Party had full control of Congress from 1933 through 1981, except for two brief periods (1947-49 and 1953-55); and during those brief periods of Republican control Democratic presidents held the veto power."

Eisenhower was president in the second period, and, of course, Eisenhower was Republican. The clock was ticking down on my Internet session and haste makes waste, but honestly, I did know this. In fact, the last time this question of Republican cooperation (or lack thereof) came up, here's what I had to say on the subject of the two periods of Republican control of Congress:


"So what about the two periods of Republican control of 1947-49 and 1953-55?

"Democratic president Truman vetoed 250 bills, vastly more than any president in U.S. history before or since, except for FDR himself (635) and Grover Cleveland's first presidency (414).

"Surprisingly, the same was true for Republican Eisenhower (181).

"The top marginal personal income tax rate from 1946 through 1963 never dropped below 91 percent.

"During the Republican controlled 83rd Congress (1953-55) Eisenhower himself said in response to tax cut proposals that 'government cannot afford to reduce taxes or federal income until it has in sight a spending program which balances income and outgo: otherwise higher taxes may result in future'.


"Additionally, a recession occurred from July 1953 to May 1954; and the United States was fighting the Korean War (the uncertain armistice lasting from July 1953 to November 1954). Cold War spending was ramping up, and Eisenhower had plans for an interstate highway system, among other things. The two-year Republican window of opportunity in Congress ended and it was too late.

"Eisenhower had only 2 of his 181 vetoes overridden; and in the Republican controlled 83rd Congress they had only two seats more than Democrats in the Senate. (There were two independents, whose political leanings I am ignorant of.)

"It takes a 2/3 majority of Congress to override a presidential veto."

Tax rates:


Veto history:


Mr. Talton wrote:

"Later, James Monroe asked the Supreme Court for an opinion as to whether the Constitution allowed the federal government to use taxes for "internal improvements," i.e. transportation projects, and they gave it to him. It was indeed constitutional."

Thanks for this. I knew that the Court eventually decided the legality of such improvements by the federal government (and many other things besides), but didn't know when.

Apparently, Monroe himself initially thought it was NOT constitutional, vetoing the Cumberland Road bill of 1822, then changed his mind two years later after consultation with some members of the Court and others; it was not a formal decision of the court:

"As the United States continued to grow, many Americans advocated a system of internal improvements to help the country develop. Monroe thought this a good idea; he believed that the young nation needed an improved infrastructure, including a transportation network to grow and thrive economically. However, he did not think that the Constitution said anything about the authority to build, maintain, and operate a national transportation system. He therefore urged Congress to introduce a constitutional amendment granting it such power. Congress never acted on his suggestion because many legislators thought they already had the implied authority to enact such measures.

"The issue came to a head when Congress passed a bill in 1822 to repair the Cumberland Road, or National Road, and equip it with a system of tolls. This great national road ran from Cumberland, Maryland, to the town of Wheeling in western Virginia. Monroe vetoed the bill, however; it was his contention that the states through which the road passed should undertake the setting up and collecting of tolls because Congress lacked the authority to do so. Yet after discussing the issue with many people, including some justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, the President changed his mind. In 1824, he signed an internal improvements bill that allocated money for surveys and estimates for the proposed roads. In 1825, he signed a bill that extended the Cumberland Road from Wheeling to Zanesville, Ohio."


The Cumberland (or National) Road was first authorized in 1806, but:

"President Thomas Jefferson believed a constitutional amendment was desirable and necessary to give government the authority to build roads and canals. However, this 'compact' allowed him to approve the legislation on March 29, 1806."

For the source of this quote and details of the compact, see the section "The National Road", here:


(This link contains a wealth of information about the historical debate regarding federal powers to provide infrastructure improvements.)

Reading Monroe's original veto message, it seems to me that his objections to the Cumberland Road Bill of 1822 were a bit more nuanced than is suggested above. The complete text of that veto message can be found here:


Interestingly, some of the biggest opponents of federal internal improvements were slaveholders, worrying that if the government could fund canals it could emancipate slaves.

Sorry, I gave an incorrect URL for one link above, taking the user to a footnote rather than the main article. Here's the correct link:


Here's an even more general link to the same website, giving the table of contents to a four-part series of articles that tell the entire story (legal and political) of federal road-building from the start of the Republic to the modern era:


The conclusion in Part 4 sums up the nature of the debate as well as when the U.S. Supreme Court put an end to legal challenges regarding constitutionality:

"Initially, as Congress and successive Presidents debated the National Road and other Federal road construction, the question turned on whether the word "establish" meant the Federal Government had the power to construct post roads or only to designate existing routes. The Supreme Court, in 1893 and 1907, would end the debate by confirming the Federal role in road building under the "general welfare" clause of the Constitution."


Note how late in the game this is.

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