Reflections on the final debate: It truly was fear and loathing in Las Vegas


Although the title of this post was from Hunter Thompson’s famous book on the 1972 election campaign, it turned out to be prophetic when it came to the debate. Donald Trump tried to instill deep fear in the American people about the dire situation the country is in at present and how much worse it will get under a Clinton presidency, while Clinton warned us how dangerous it would be to have someone with the attitudes and temperament of Trump in charge of the world’s biggest economy and the most powerful weaponry. (You can read the transcript here.)

And it was obvious that these two people actually loathe each other. There was no handshake at the beginning and the end they completely ignored the other and made sure that they did not get anywhere close to each other as they thanked the moderator and exited the stage to join their families and friends.

Trump began in quite a subdued manner and it seemed like he had prepared and taken the advice to not get taunted into incoherent rants. And it worked for about a third of the debate. There was actually some substantive discussions about what they would each seek in a potential Supreme Court justice nominee. There was nothing new in the exchange, though both candidates felt free to express detailed litmus tests for the position, something that was not so common in the past. He accused her for wanting to gut the Second Amendment and said that he would appoint people who would be strong supporters of it (which is code for pretty much no restrictions). She said that she supported the right of gun ownership but wanted reasonable restrictions to keep guns out of the hands of children and others who should not have them. There was quite a detailed discussion of the Heller case as to what constitutes reasonable restrictions on gun ownership.

He grudgingly admitted that the judges he nominates would overturn Roe v. Wade. She said that she would look for people who stood for the rights of ordinary people and women and the LGBT community, and not on the side of the wealthy. She wanted justices who would preserve Roe. She supported Planned Parenthood and accused him of wanting to punish women who get abortions.

There was also a fairly substantive discussion on the economy and trade with Trump bashing NAFTA and TPP and accusing her of supporting both, and another fairly restrained discussion about immigration where he accused her supporting amnesty and open borders and that her plan to take in more refugees would result in ISIS sneaking in. She responded fairly well to each point but they were both covering pretty much familiar territory.

But then things started going off the rails.

It started when she got a question about what the WikiLeaks release of her campaign’s emails revealed about her views on trade and immigration. After a quick non-substantive response, she pivoted to talking about Russian involvement in the hacking and that they were trying to subvert the election and that Trump was Putin’s buddy. This was an obvious diversionary ploy by her to shift attention away from a serious vulnerability. And Trump immediately pointed out that this was an obvious pivot away from the question but then, incredibly, rather than ignore the diversionary tactic and press his advantage, he actually followed that squirrel and went on a rant about how she was outmaneuvered by Putin and calling her a liar. At one point in the heated cross-talk, she said that he was Putin’s puppet and he immediately shouted back, “You’re a puppet!” and then repeated it. It was like witnessing a playground exchange where a child flings the same accusation back at the accuser.

Things got even messier with the two talking over each other and the moderator and Trump reverting to his annoying habit of interjecting comments when she was speaking. It did not help when, in a discussion about how they would save Social Security, Clinton rejected the idea of a ‘grand bargain’ much beloved by conservatives who want to cut benefits. She said that she would not cut them and would increase funding for the program by raising the cap on the payroll tax that would result in people like her paying more into the system and then got in a dig in at Trump’s tax avoidance by saying that he would pay more too unless he managed to find a way to avoid paying that tax too. This clearly annoyed him and while she was speaking, he said “Such a nasty women”. This was shocking, reinforcing his image as someone who demeans women.

His groping of women came up and while flatly denying all the accusations (which I am sure will result in more women coming forward) and suggesting that they were either seeking fame or were being put up by Clinton, he tried unsuccessfully to shift the discussion back to the emails but it was too late.

But then came the really low points. Despite being asked twice, he would not commit to accepting the outcome of the election. He also, incredibly, said that Clinton’s crimes were so serious that she should not even be allowed to run for president! Coming on the heels of his earlier promise to jail her if he won, this showed someone with deep animosity towards her. He hates her, he really hates her. And I suspect that it is because she is beating him. For someone like Trump, losing is bad enough. The thought of losing to a woman who clearly has contempt for him must be driving him batty.

His comment about her being ineligible to run struck me as the beginning of a new birther-like crusade, trying to delegitimize the candidate’s eligibility to be president before she even takes office, just like they did with Barack Obama. I can fully see this cry being taken up by Trump’s supporters.

Throughout the debate, Trump castigated the US for not doing anything at all right and being completely outmaneuvered by the entire world. I am not sure how well the public takes to being told that the US looks weak and foolish in the eyes of the world by being played for suckers by allies and enemies alike. Their closing statements were also starkly in contrast. He painted a gloomy picture of where the US is and warned that things were getting worse, while she gave a message of hope and the need for us to come together.

So once again, we saw that Trump simply cannot stay focused for more than about 30 minutes and can be easily baited into saying extreme things, while Clinton, even when on very shaky ground, was able to remain poised and in control.

Trump needed to win and win big if he had any hope of turning things around. He did not do that. At best it was a draw, at worst, he came off as the loser.

Comments

  1. Menyambal says

    Thank you for a very substantial review of the debate. I may go watch the part about Heller, now.

  2. brucegee1962 says

    Trump’s comments about her “not being allowed” to run for president seemed to really show his lack of knowledge of our constitutional system. Who, exactly, is supposed to do this vetting that he keeps talking about? We don’t have an eligibility committee who gives a stamp of approval that allows someone to run for office (fortunately). As far as I know, someone could be arrested for a felony and, if duly nominated and elected, become president while in jail. (Presumably their first action would be to pardon themselves.) It’s the American people who decide who is qualified with their votes — which was part of the reason the whole birther thing was so silly anyway.

  3. Reginald Selkirk says

    There was actually some substantive discussions about what they would each seek in a potential Supreme Court justice nominee… There was quite a detailed discussion of the Heller case as to what constitutes reasonable restrictions on gun ownership.

    Wallace’s question was phrased as being about ‘originalism’, which neither candidate really addressed. Of course the courts are dealing with new questions all the time that no one thought of when the constitution was written.
    As for guns, the second amendment was never interpreted as a personal right to own guns until quite recently. The intent of the amendment seems pretty clearly stated to me within its own text.

    A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

    It’s about a “well-regulated militia.” There is nothing in there about hunting or target-shooting or collecting. And of course “infringement” is not the same as “regulation.”

  4. Reginald Selkirk says

    Unfortunately, when the media grades debates, it’s always about the candidates’ demeanor and whether they came across as presidential. Apparently they’re not allowed to consider factuality in their grading.

    Throughout the debate, Trump castigated the US for not doing anything at all right and being completely outmaneuvered by the entire world.

    Like this, for instance. Anyone who has paid attention to Trump’s assessment of pretty much everything would be able to fact-check those of his statements which are verifiable. For example, crime rates. He says they’re up, reality says they’re down. Check enough of his statements and it should become clear to a reasonable listener that Trump is a shit-talker. He talks shit about everything everybody else has done. When he says our economy is bad, our military leadership is bad, our trade negotiation is bad, etc. etc. etc. it should become abundantly clear that you simply cannot trust what he says.

  5. says

    Things got even messier with the two talking over each other…

    I think the wording on this makes it look like both of them were equally at fault. I didn’t watch the whole thing, but I did see several times where Trump tried to talk over Clinton during her time, and she wasn’t having any of it. Having been in that position (though not on a stage in a debate) and doing exactly the same thing she did, that made me admire her even more. It would have had the bonus effect of really pissing off Trump who clearly expects people, especially female people, to shut up when he starts yammering.

    Considering how many times he interrupted her at each debate, she had no choice in continuing to talk or she wouldn’t have been able to say anything.

  6. says

    I am not sure how well the public takes to being told that the US looks weak and foolish in the eyes of the world by being played for suckers by allies and enemies alike.

    The US looks weak and foolish for having a candidate like Trump. He’s making us a laughingstock.

  7. blf says

    His groping of women came up and while flatly denying all the accusations (which I am sure will result in more women coming forward)

    At least one more woman has come forward, Donald Trump accused of sexual misconduct by 10th woman: “[Karena] Virginia on Thursday said she was motived to make her claims in public out of support for the other women whom Trump had called liars.”

  8. deepak shetty says

    It’s about a “well-regulated militia.”

    No its because “a well regulated militia is needed” therefore the right of the people to keep and bear arms
    Atleast as phrased , I think the conservatives get this one right. (Disclaimer , I am for gun control , I just happen to think that the US constitution needs to be amended – and that a constitution *should* always be amended rather than treated as some sacred document)

  9. Siobhan says

    I am not sure how well the public takes to being told that the US looks weak and foolish in the eyes of the world by being played for suckers by allies and enemies alike.

    Authoritarians love doom and gloom. They are, unfortunately, also the most predisposed to violence.

  10. Rob Grigjanis says

    deepak shetty @8:

    No its because “a well regulated militia is needed” therefore the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

    What do conservatives (or you, for that matter) think “well regulated” means?

  11. Reginald Selkirk says

    No its because “a well regulated militia is needed” therefore the right of the people to keep and bear arms
    Atleast as phrased , I think the conservatives get this one right…

    Why then does the NRA have the text of the second amendment on the front of their building – with that phrase missing?
    The Second’s Missing Half
    To get really pedantic about the second, the distribution of commas is not confusing.

  12. deepak shetty says

    @Rob Grigjanis
    If I read in context , that the constitution was written by people who had just rebelled against those in power and overthrown them, I’d say that well regulated would refer to people who are able to , experienced in , capable of , trained in taking up arms – a militia is drawn up from the civilians after all. It explicitly expects that people will want to bear arms and that right cant be infringed (Remember these people rebelled against the British – They are explicitly safeguarding their right to have done so)

    @Reginald Selkirk
    I would guess its the same reason why Atheists focus on “no law respecting an establishment of religion” over ” prohibiting free exercise thereof”

    In any case I would wonder why so much importance is given to an old document , written by imperfect people. What was intended , where the comma would be , whether originalism is correct or whether the living interpretation is.
    In the here and now Gun regulation is needed. Amend the constitution to be clear on that and convince the public to support it.

  13. Pierce R. Butler says

    deepak shetty @ # 13: … these people rebelled against the British – They are explicitly safeguarding their right to have done so

    [ahem!] They had also just put down Shay’s Rebellion (1786-1787.

    Pls note the very first mention of “militia” in the US Constitution – Article I, Section 8 (“Powers of Congress”), paragraph 15:

    To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

    Emphasis added, to correct the misunderstanding so widely propagated by the gun lobby and related wingnuts. For bonus points, look up each further usage of the word – militias were expected to be organized, supplied, and disciplined by Congress, and under command of the President.

  14. Crimson Clupeidae says

    In any case I would wonder why so much importance is given to an old document , written by imperfect people.

    Because that old document is the basis of our government?

  15. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    As for guns, the second amendment was never interpreted as a personal right to own guns until quite recently.

    Absolutely wrong.

    The intent of the amendment seems pretty clearly stated to me within its own text.

    A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

    Once you understand the meaning of the words, correct.

    It’s about a “well-regulated militia.” There is nothing in there about hunting or target-shooting or collecting. And of course “infringement” is not the same as “regulation.”

    Absolutely correct on all counts.

    However, I suspect that you have no idea what “well-regulated” and “militia” mean.

    I wrote a google doc for people like you.
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Ak6bx8jyDxIlsLuFHHevw-4RQ7R5vJb15RtTNG5d79w/edit

    To deepak shetty in #8
    <3

    What do conservatives (or you, for that matter) think “well regulated” means?

    “Well-regulated” was an idiomatic expression that has no current use. It was used regularly up until about 100 years ago. The word “regulate” had a much more general meaning back then. In short, “to regulate” did not mean “to control, especially by government law”. Instead, “to regulate” had a much more general meaning of “to operate”. The phrase “well-regulated” was an idiomatic expression which mean “[something] that was operating properly, well-operating”. It had precisely zero innate meaning of “government control”. One could talk about a well-regulated watch, e.g. a watch that was accurate in time-telling. One could talk about a person’s well-regulated appetites in music or food.

    Based on other historical documents, like the Federalist Papers, the phrase “well-regulated” in the larger phrase “well-regulated militia” was very often used to simply mean “well armed and well trained”, with absolutely zero inherent meaning of government control or oversight.

    For comparison, one can talk about a well regulated education system. Perhaps the only practical way today to achieve a well regulated education system is by government control and operation, but the phrase “well regulated education system” more or less simply means “a good education system”.

    I go into much more detail in my google doc, with lots of citations and quotations.

    militias were expected to be organized, supplied, and disciplined by Congress, and under command of the President.

    You’re being anachronistic in your use of words. There is a subtle, but very important difference between “militias” and “militia”. Generally speaking, if you see someone use the plural form “militias”, then that means the speaker probably doesn’t know what they’re talking about. “Militia” does not refer to a small para-military or military group. “Militia” refers to the whole body of citizens as a military fighting force. By definition, it refers to the whole body of citizenry (often restricted to able-bodied adult males, and often further restricted to the ages of 17 to 45). Even today, United States federal law still defines the militia as every able-bodied adult male citizen between the ages of 17 and 45 (with some minor exceptions). For that reason, it’s often nonsensical to talk about “militias”. Talking about “militias of the United States” is like talking about “the several bodies of citizenries of the United States”. There is only one body of citizenry of the United States, and there is only one militia of the United States. (Of course, the body of citizenry can be broken down state by state, and we can talk about the citizenry of Michigan vs the citizenry of Virginia, and similarly we can talk about the militia of Michigan vs the militia of Virigina.)

    Regarding your claim that the congress supplied the weapons of the militia, simply false. If you look at the historical sources, such as the second federal militia act of 1792, and some accompanying sources, it’s quite clear that the members of the militia, aka more or less every able-bodied adult male citizen between the ages of 17 and 45, had to purchase their own firearm, ammunition, and a laundry list of military equipment. Again, citations available in my google doc.

  16. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    PS:

    deepak shetty @ # 13: … these people rebelled against the British – They are explicitly safeguarding their right to have done so

    [ahem!] They had also just put down Shay’s Rebellion (1786-1787.

    Yes, and the founders would be the first to make the distinction between a justified rebellion and an unjustified rebellion. The militia is to be used for both purposes: to partake in justified rebellions, and to put down unjustified rebellions. This is the clear position of people like George Mason and James Madison as recorded in the debate notes from the Virginia state legislature while they were debating the ratification of the (new) United States federal constitution. This is also the position expounded quite clearly by the Federalist Papers.

    Again, citations in my google doc.

  17. Rob Grigjanis says

    EnlightenmentLiberal @16: Thanks for the clarifications. The kid in me is chuckling about the Militia Act of 1903, also known as the Dick Act.

  18. Pierce R. Butler says

    EnlightenmentLiberal @ # 16: … similarly we can talk about the militia of Michigan vs the militia of Virigina.

    Which is what I had in mind by use of the plural.

    Regarding your claim that the congress supplied the weapons of the militia, simply false. … the members of the militia… had to purchase their own firearm, ammunition, and a laundry list of military equipment.

    Back to Article I, Section 8:

    To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia…

    Emphasis added again, this time to show how the authors of the Constitution didn’t know as much about 18th-century American English as, say, EnlightenmentLiberal 230 years later.

  19. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I’m an Originalist and yes, the right to keep and bear muskets should not be infringed.

    The original simple public meaning of the federal first amendment is not limited to merely printing presses. The phrasing includes all other modes of communication too, including those not yet invented. The federal first amendment includes telegraphs, telephones, tv, internet, etc. Similarly, the federal second amendment protects weapons that were not yet invented.

    Second, the founders were well aware of weapons other than muskets. They were well aware of rifles. More importantly, at that time, there were well known designs at the time for what we would call semiauto firearms. Some of them were in widespread use. Here are two prominent examples:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puckle_gun
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girandoni_air_rifle
    In particular, the Girandoni air rifle was standard issue for some troops in the Austrian army. Obviously, these weapons had their flaws, and they are inferior to even colt’s first repeating revolver. However, weapon technology advancement of the kind of simple semiauto and automatic firearms was well known to the founders. Another example:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eli_Whitney#Interchangeable_parts
    IIRC, several of them even played around with new weapon designs of their own. (One could make a better argument for high explosives – TNT had not yet been discovered – and biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons.)

    So, I win on both counts, and either count alone is enough to win.

    Thanks for playing. Try again next time.

  20. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Emphasis added again, this time to show how the authors of the Constitution didn’t know as much about 18th-century American English as, say, EnlightenmentLiberal 230 years later.

    This might constitute moving the goalposts. Look at your earlier claim:

    For bonus points, look up each further usage of the word – militias were expected to be organized, supplied, and disciplined by Congress, and under command of the President.

    It’s simply false that the militia was armed by the government, not the federal nor the states. It was the duty of every militia member to go out and obtain, i.e. purchase, their own firearm, and to possess it, and to maintain it. There were criminal sanctions for failure to fulfill this duty, severe monetary sanctions. How do I know this? Because I don’t just take a quote from the constitution, interpret it according to my prejudices, and interpret it without any sort of historical context (arguably a form of quote-mining).

    I don’t care about what you think their “expectations” were based on a single quote taking out of context. Rather, the wording of the constitution is entirely consistent with allowing the congress to pass a law to train the militia by requiring by statute that every person go buy their own gun, which is more or less exactly what the congress did, and they did so under exactly the constitutional authority that you cite.

    Here are those sources that I mentioned:

    American State Papers. Military Affairs. Volume 1. 1789 – 1819. Year 1812. Number 198. Article Title: “No. 62” “The Militia”. Link: http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llsp&fileName=016/llsp016.db&Page=198

    That, by the laws of the United States, each citizen enrolled in the militia is put under obligations to provide himself with a good musket or rifle, and all the other military equipments prescribed by law. From the best estimate which the committee have been able to form, there is upwards of 250,000 fire arms and rifles in the hands of the militia, which have, a few instances excepted, been provided by, and are the property of, the individuals who hold them.

    The court case: Commonwealth v Stephen Annis. Massachusetts. Year 1812. This court decision can found in the following book: (Ack, my google doc reference is incomplete, me fix that): Title: “Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Judicial Court Of the Commonwealth Of Massachusetts, volume 9, containing the cases from May Term, 1812, in York, to March Term, 1813, in Suffolk, Inclusive”. Book Compiler: Dudley Atkins Tyng, Esq. Internal “Page Number”: May Term, 1812, page 31. Link:
    https://books.google.com/books?id=rwhIAQAAMAAJ
    https://books.google.com/books?id=rwhIAQAAMAAJ&pg=RA1-PA37&lpg=RA1-PA37&dq=commonwealth+vs+stephen+annis&source=bl&ots=GMrGUSD0IL&sig=IVAetbd3QFcqG9uadPxWejYVtyM&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjgz8ioz-zPAhXEKGMKHYLgDasQ6AEIHjAA

    The statute of the United States, [*32 | passed on the 8th of May, 1792, for establishing a uniform militia, in the first section, where provision is made for the enrolment of citizens, directs that persons enrolled shall be notified thereof, and that every citizen so enrolled and notified shall, within six month: thereafter, provide himself with a good musket, &c.— By an additional act, passed on the 2d of March, 1803, every citizen, duly enrolled, is required to be constantly provided with arms. &c., agreeably to the directions of the former act, from and after he shall be duly notified of his enrolment, and any notice or warning to the citizen so enrolled to attend a military muster, which shall be according to the laws of the state, &c., is made a legal notice of enrolment.

    By the 28th section, it is made the duty of parents and guardians to furnish minors, enrolled in the militia, while under their care respectively, with the arms and equipments required; and for the neglect thereof they are subjected to the same forfeitures which the minor would be liable to, if of age.

    And in the rules and articles, enacted by the 34th section of the same statute, for the government of the militia, every non-commissioned officer and private, who shall appear at the company inspection on the first Tuesday of May, and shall not be armed or equipped as the law directs, is liable to several forfeitures for each deficiency, amounting in the whole, where an entire deficiency is proved, to a penalty of one dollar and fifty cents.

    The summary of the court case is that the penalty was wrongly imposed because 6 months had not yet passed since Annis was informed of enrollment, but Annis would be liable if he had still not furnished his son within the 6 month time period.

    So, can we agree that as a matter of facts, the American militia circa 1800 was legally required to individually provide, own, possess, and take care of their own weapons, and that almost all such weapons were indeed individually procured, owned, possessed, and maintained?

  21. Pierce R. Butler says

    EnlightenmentLiberal @ # 22 – Welcome to the contradictions of US constitutional history.

    The discrepancy between our versions here has nothing to do with words changing meaning, but everything to do with politicians saying one thing at the principles stage and something entirely different when it came to practice.

    Consider, for a close parallel, how the Electoral College was intended to serve an independent function and prevent the factionalization of party politics – and how two of the chief architects of the Constitution immediately subverted their own plan by promoting slates of partisan electors.

    Same thing happened with the “arming” proposal. As shown conclusively when the Brits came back in 1812, the amount of powder & lead sufficient to get a farmer/hunter family through a year wouldn’t supply a frontline infantryman with more than an hour or two’s worth of banging (not to mention the difference in outcome between a corps of musketeers/riflemen and one backed up by sho-nuff artillery). Congress had to pony up big-time, while Andy Jackson & the other generals scrambled to make deals with pirates when the yeomanry, no matter how ferociously squeezed by conscription squads, simply couldn’t fulfill the pipe dreams of the no-new-(monetary)-taxes powdered-wig set.

    The BYO (or else!) approach sufficed for fighting off what was left of the peri-coastal Indian nations and keeping the slaves in chains, but – as G. Washington & most of those sweating it out in Philadelphia in ’87 knew – would never cover the needs of any actual army in a serious military situation.

    G’nite!

  22. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Pierce R. Butler
    What’s your point? In short, you observe that the philosophy behind the federal second amendment is bad militarily. That has nothing to do with our conversation. Your observations here are simply non-sequiturs. I’m not defending the worthwhileness of the federal second amendment. I’m defending the rule of law w.r.t. the federal second amendment.

  23. Pierce R. Butler says

    EnlightenmentLiberal @ # 24 – My point was, and is, that the “militias” described in the constitution were intended to serve as counter-insurgency forces under control of the government, not the mainsprings of continuous revolution that wingnuts and ammosexuals fantasize and propagandize.

    It occurs to me now that the next time I engage with such a person, I might have a good basis for calling them quasi-Maoist. Too bad none of them, in my experience anyhow, seem to have the historical/political scope to even connect such dots.

  24. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Pierce
    You’re still misusing the word “militia”. Again, you use the word “militias”, and you claim that the US federal constitution mentions the word “militias”. It doesn’t. It mentions “militia”. Further, your language “counter-insurgency forces under control of the government” is again misusing the word “militia”. “Militia” is not a select group of soldiers. It is not police. it is not army. It is not FBI. It is not SWAT. It is not select groups of “counterinsurgency forces”. The word “militia” is the whole population. Stop. As long as you persist in this incorrect usage of the word, you’re going to be painting this discussion in entirely the wrong light.

    Further, yes, one of the purposes of a well-regulated militia was to fight against wrongful rebellions and insurrections. However, you just claimed that this is the only original intended purpose, and that is simply flatly wrong. There are countless historical sources that say otherwise.

    You are lying to yourself. You are living in a willful delusion. It’s quite ironic that you project your faults onto others – where you say that I don’t have the historical context. Just to drive this point home, let me start providing many many quotes to you.

    Quoting: Noah Webster, his series of pamphlest titled “An Examination Into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution”. As a gentle reminder: There were no law journals at that time. The dominant mode of political discourse was by pamphlet. The Federalist Papers were pamphlets. So was this series of papers by Noah Webster. Noah Webster’s pamphlets were the second most influential work in favor of the new federal constitution, second to the Federalist Papers. Quote updated to use modern spelling:

    Another source of power in government is a military force. But this, to be efficient, must be superior to any force that exists among the people, or which they can command; for other wise this force would be annihilated, on the first exercise of acts of oppression. Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States. A military, force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive. In spite of all the nominal powers, vested in Congress by the constitution, were the system once adopted in its fullest latitude, still the actual exercise of them would be frequently interrupted by popular jealousy. I am bold to say, that ten just and constitutional measures would þe resiſted, where one unjust or oppressive law would be enforced. The powers vested in Congress are little more than nominal; nay real power cannot be vested in them, nor in any body, but in the people. The source of power is in the people of this country, and cannot for ages, and probably never will, be removed.

    Quoting Thomas Jefferson, in a private letter:

    God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty.
    […]
    What country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.

    Quoting Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist Paper #29:

    The project of disciplining all the militia of the United States is as futile as it would be injurious, if it were capable of being carried into execution. […] Little more can reasonably be aimed at, with respect to the People at large, than to have them properly armed and equipped; and in order to see that this be not neglected, it will be necessary to assemble them once or twice in the course of a year.

    […] it will be possible to have an excellent body of well-trained militia, ready to take the field whenever the defence of the State shall require it. This will not only lessen the call for military establishments, but if circumstances should at any time oblige the Government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the People, while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights, and those of their fellow-citizens. This appears to me the only substitute that can be devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against it, if it should exist.

    Quoting James Madison in The Federalist Paper #46.

    The only refuge left for those who prophesy the downfall of the State Governments is the visionary supposition that the Fœderal Government may previously accumulate a military force for the projects of ambition. […] Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the Fœderal Government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the State Governments, with the People on their side, would be able to repel the danger. The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This proportion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by Governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops. Those who are best acquainted with the late successful resistance of this country against the British arms, will be most inclined to deny the possibility of it. Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the People of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate Governments, to which the People are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier, against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple Government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the Governments are afraid to trust the People with arms. And it is not certain, that with this aid alone, they would not be able to shake off their yokes. But were the People to possess the additional advantages of local Governments chosen by themselves, who could collect the National will, and direct the National force, and of officers appointed out of the militia, by these Governments, and attached both to them and to the militia, it may be affirmed with the greatest assurance, that the throne of every tyranny in Europe would be speedily overturned in spite of the legions which surround it. Let us not insult the free and gallant citizens of America with the suspicion, that they would be less able to defend the rights of which they would be in actual possession, than the debased subjects of arbitrary power would be to rescue theirs from the hands of their oppressors. Let us rather no longer insult them with the supposition, that they can ever reduce themselves to the necessity of making the experiment, by a blind and tame submission to the long train of insidious measures which must precede and produce it.

    Quoting George Mason, father of the bill of rights, responding to remarks made by James Madison, father of the constitution, as recorded in the official notes of the congressional debates over ratification of the federal constitution in the congress of the commonwealth of Virginia. (bolding in the original)

    […] unless there be some restrictions on the power of calling forth the militia, to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions, we may very easily see that it will produce dreadful oppressions.

    […]

    The militia may be here destroyed by that method which has been practised in other parts of the world before; that is, by rendering them useless–by disarming them. Under various pretences, Congress may neglect to provide for arming and disciplining the militia; and the state governments cannot do it, for Congress has an exclusive right to arm them, &c. Here is a line of division drawn between them–the state and general governments. The power over the militia is divided between them. The national government has an exclusive right to provide for arming, organizing, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States. The state governments have the power of appointing the officers, and of training the militia, according to the discipline prescribed by Congress, if they should think proper to prescribe any. Should the national government wish to render the militia useless, they may neglect them, and let them perish, in order to have a pretence of establishing a standing army.

    […]

    Forty years ago, when the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, who was governor of Pennsylvania, to <b<disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually, by totally disusing and neglecting the militia.

    Quoting James Madison, father of the constitution, responding to remarks made by George Mason, the father of the bill of rights, as recorded in the official notes of the congressional debates over ratification of the federal constitution in the congress of the commonwealth of Virginia.

    Mr. MADISON. Mr. Chairman, I most cordially agree, with the honorable member last up, that a standing army is one of the greatest mischiefs that can possibly happen. It is a great recommendation for this system, that it provides against this evil more than any other system known to us, and, particularly, more than the old system of confederation. The most effectual way to guard against a standing army, is to render it unnecessary. The most effectual way to render it unnecessary, is to give the general government full power to call forth the militia, and exert the whole natural strength of the Union, when necessary.

    We can see this sentiment survives at least until the American Civil War with the following two sources:

    In passing remarks in the Dred Scott Supreme Court majority opinion, the court remarks that if blacks were to be made full citizens, then they would have the same civil rights as anyone else, including the personal right to own firearms.
    Bolding added.

    It cannot be supposed that they intended to secure to them rights, and privileges, and rank, in the new political body throughout the Union, which every one of them denied within the limits of its own dominion. More especially, it cannot be believed that the large slaveholding States regarded them as included in the word citizens, or would have consented to a Constitution which might compel them to receive them in that character from another State. For if they were so received, and entitled to the privileges and immunities of citizens, it would exempt them from the operation of the special laws and from the police [60 U.S. 393, 417] regulations which they considered to be necessary for their own safety. It would give to persons of the negro race, who were recognised as citizens in any one State of the Union, the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, singly or in companies, without pass or passport, and without obstruction, to sojourn there as long as they pleased, to go where they pleased at every hour of the day or night without molestation, unless they committed some violation of law for which a white man would be punished; and it would give them the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went. And all of this would be done in the face of the subject race of the same color, both free and slaves, and inevitably producing discontent and insubordination among them, and endangering the peace and safety of the State.

    The Freedman Bureau Bills were passed shortly after the American Civil War. They were explicit guarantees of the civil rights of freed blacks. Prominent among these civil rights was the personal right to own firearms. The expressly stated purpose of this guarantee was to enable blacks in the south to resist oppression by the KKK and other oppressive whites.

    We can trace this sentiment back to the English Bill Of Rights of 1689 as well, which also guaranteed that right, in response to a conflict where the English king tried to disarm part of the population in order to oppress them. The English Bill Of Rights of 1689 was after that, and it provided the guarantee that the people shall not be disarmed (by the king).

  25. John Morales says

    EnlightenmentLiberal:

    “Militia” is not a select group of soldiers. It is not police. it is not army. It is not FBI. It is not SWAT. It is not select groups of “counterinsurgency forces”. The word “militia” is the whole population. Stop.

    Really? Let’s look at the text:
    “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    You’re claiming that “the people” and “militia” are synomyms.

    Which means you are claiming that both
    “A well regulated the people, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
    and
    “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of militia to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
    mean exactly the same thing as the actual text.

    (Funny how it was actually written as if the militia were a subset of the people, no? Obviously just an artefact of the phrasing, in your estimation)

    But hey, the USA is exceptional!
    Nevermind that we here in Oz don’t have such a declared necessity, yet here we remain. As do other countries.

    Apparently, the USA is the only needy one.

    (I note that the Enlightenment was when slavery was practiced and legal in the USA — and you hearken unto those days)

  26. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    (I note that the Enlightenment was when slavery was practiced and legal in the USA — and you hearken unto those days)

    Complete non-sequitur poisoning-the-well fallacy. Classy. Possibly ad hom too.

    You have to have a proper understanding of the meaning of the worlds, and of military doctrine of that time, and the prevailing political rhetoric of that time.

    At that time, more or less every political figure publicly agreed with the commonplace political rhetoric that standing armies are dangerous to a free society, and that the militia is an alternative thing which can provide for national defense in place of a standing army. Now, just think critically for a moment. Why is a standing army potentially dangerous, and why and how is a militia any different? Think critically about that. If the militia is simply a select military force chosen by the government, then that’s just another name for army, and it would be just as dangerous to liberty. The only way that all of that political rhetoric makes any sense is if the militia is something other than a select military force chosen by the goverment, and the only remaining option is that the militia is everyone.

    We see that this is the meaning adopted by everyone of that era. Let me provide some other quotes:

    Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist Paper #29

    […] the several kingdoms of Europe […] are afraid to trust the People with arms.

    And it is not certain, that with this aid alone [the right to own arms], they would not be able to shake off their yokes. But were the People to possess the additional advantages of […] it may be affirmed with the greatest assurance, that the throne of every tyranny in Europe would be speedily overturned in spite of the legions which surround it.

    James Madison in the Federalist Paper #46. Look at the provided numbers: (paraphase) “a standing army can be at most 1/25 of the population”, “for the United States, a standing army could be at most 25,000 or 30,000 people”, “the militia would be half a million people”. Do the math. The militia is everyone (specifically all able-bodied adult males between 17 and 45).

    In 1792, the United States second federal militia act stated that all able-bodied adult males between the ages 17 and 45 would be notified of enrollment into militia companies, and upon notification of enrollment, each person had 6 months to obtain (i.e. purchase) a firearm, ammunition, and a laundry list of military equipment. Again, we see that “militia” was everyone.

    Even today, modern current United States federal law defines “the militia” as all able-bodied adult male citizens between the ages of 17 and 45 (plus the women in the National Guard).

    (a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

    Even today’s dictionaries give this as one of the meaning of the word. Merriam Webster online:

    2: the whole body of able-bodied male citizens declared by law as being subject to call to military service

    (Funny how it was actually written as if the militia were a subset of the people, no? Obviously just an artefact of the phrasing, in your estimation)

    It’s not coincidental at all. As a word, “militia” denotes the whole population of citizenry (often restricted to able-bodied adult males between, often restricted to between the ages of 17 and 45) with the connotation of a military fighting force. Whereas, “the people” simply denotes the whole population of citizenry (and sometimes non-citizen residents). The phrase “well-regulated” has drastically different meanings when attached to “militia” vs “people”. The phrase “a well-regulated people” has a very general meaning, something like “a well-adjusted, happy, prosperious, society”. Whereas, because of the military connotation of the word “militia”, the phrase “a well-regulated militia” has a very different meaning: something like “a national population that is well armed and well trained in war”. So, they couldn’t simply replace “militia” and “people” in the phrase “a well-regulated militia” in the federal second amendment and keep the same meaning. The second amendment is written in a completely natural and simple language for the time it was written. The problem is that today, very few people know what the word “militia” meant at that time. The usage of the word “militia” has changed quite drastically.

  27. John Morales says

    EnlightenmentLiberal:

    Complete non-sequitur poisoning-the-well fallacy. Classy. Possibly ad hom too.

    Yet I note you don’t dispute the claim. Which is to say, you acknowledge it.

    You have to have a proper understanding of the meaning of the worlds, and of military doctrine of that time, and the prevailing political rhetoric of that time.

    But we don’t live in that time, do we? We live in this time.

    Do you dispute that circumstances have changed, or do you dispute that one should change policy to reflect current times?

    (You’re appealing to Scalian originalism)

    As a word, “militia” denotes the whole population of citizenry (often restricted to able-bodied adult males between, often restricted to between the ages of 17 and 45) with the connotation of a military fighting force. Whereas, “the people” simply denotes the whole population of citizenry (and sometimes non-citizen residents).

    I acknowledge your concession, which refutes your original claim that “The word “militia” is the whole population.”

    Feel free to keep quoting what people of the past thought about circumstances of the past, if you want to, as if that were what’s relevant to the present, but be aware that you’re mired in conservatism thereby.

  28. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I cover all of this in my google doc. It’s funny – it’s like peeling away the layers of an onion. Now we’re at the start of my google doc.

    Rule of law. Rule of law is the description of a particular means of society whereby society governs itself according to law that is published and available to all. Rule of law is something that is contrasted with rule by edict. In other words, rule of law is something that is contrasted with the rule of a king or dictator who governs the society according to arbitrary dictates.

    The difference between rule of law and the alternatives, such as rule by edict, is that everyone in the population is able to reliably predict how the government will government before the government takes action. Whereas, when society is ruled by personal edict, such as by a king, no one can reliably predict how the government will government.

    In order to achieve rule of law, there are several basic requirements. For example, no bills of attainder: in other words, the government cannot issue laws that specially name a person, and the government must rule by generally applicable rules. For example, no ex post facto laws: in other words, the government cannot change the rules retroactively.

    Imagine a world where the judiciary takes it upon itself to decide which laws are good laws and which laws are bad laws. In this kind of world, we drastically lose the ability to reliably predict how the government will govern. We lose the rule of law. The rule of law is incompatible with allowing judges to decide which laws are good laws and which laws are bad laws. In other words, allowing judges to decide which laws are good laws and which laws are bad laws is to allow government by edict.

    The only consistent way to achieve rule of law is that the meaning of a law must be fixed at its ratification. All of this “living constitution” bullshit is just an excuse to allow judges (or the congress) to rule by personal fiat, contrary to rule of law. One must be an originalist in order to have rule of law.

    You should watch the movie / the play “A Man For All Seasons”, and especially this scene. It teaches a very important lesson that everyone should know. This should be covered in civics 101, but I find that many people are quite deficient concerning civics 101.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUqytjlHNIM

    Alice More: Arrest him!

    More: Why, what has he done?

    Margaret More: He’s bad!

    More: There is no law against that.

    Will Roper: There is! God’s law!

    More: Then God can arrest him.

    Alice: While you talk, he’s gone!

    More: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law!

    Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!

    More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

    Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

    More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast– man’s laws, not God’s– and if you cut them down—and you’re just the man to do it—do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law for my own safety’s sake.

    Imagine it like this: By your own apparent reasoning, with enough time, and enough drift in the meaning of words, and enough change in public opinion, the constitutional requirement that there be no religious test for public office can change by mere judicial fiat or congressial act to mean that there can be a religious test for public office. I refuse any such jurisprudence that allows any such nonsensical conclusion, and the only reasonable method of jurisprudence that prevents such shenanigans is originalism.

    PS:

    I acknowledge your concession, which refutes your original claim that “The word “militia” is the whole population.”

    This is not honest. This is dishonest. You damn well know what I meant, and my meaning was clear, and your description here is not even a remotely accurate description of that. This is quote mining. This is flagrant dishonest. You’re being a snide, dishonest shit. Knock it off.

  29. John Morales says

    EnlightenmentLiberal:

    Rule of law. Rule of law is the description of a particular means of society whereby society governs itself according to law that is published and available to all.

    Thus the focus on which Supreme Court judges are to be appointed. Heh.

    Imagine a world where the judiciary takes it upon itself to decide which laws are good laws and which laws are bad laws.

    Imagine a world where the Supreme Court interprets the law, so that it matter which particular judges are appointed. Hey, that’s the USA!

    (Imagine a world where most judges are elected, not appointed on merit. Hey, that’s the USA!)

    Imagine it like this: By your own apparent reasoning, with enough time, and enough drift in the meaning of words, and enough change in public opinion, the constitutional requirement that there be no religious test for public office can change by mere judicial fiat or congressial act to mean that there can be a religious test for public office.

    Fine, your Constitution shouldn’t be able to be amended. Any further, that is.

    (It should remain fixed for all time!)

    PS:

    I acknowledge your concession, which refutes your original claim that “The word “militia” is the whole population.”

    This is not honest. This is dishonest. You damn well know what I meant, and my meaning was clear, and your description here is not even a remotely accurate description of that. This is quote mining. This is flagrant dishonest. You’re being a snide, dishonest shit. Knock it off.

    <snicker>

    Hey, it was you who refuted your own original claim — or do you resile from your most recent claim and now contend that “The word “militia” is the whole population.” and “As a word, “militia” denotes the whole population of citizenry (often restricted to able-bodied adult males between, often restricted to between the ages of 17 and 45) with the connotation of a military fighting force.” hold the same meaning?

    What’s dishonest is your evasion of my major point: that circumstances have changed since the late 18th Century, and you are arguing that principles established upon the basis of the circumstances then applicable should not change to reflect current circumstances.

    (I may be snide and a shit, but I write truth and am not dishonest, to your misfortune)

  30. Pierce R. Butler says

    EnlightenmentLiberal @ # 26 – Aw, c’mon.

    My use of “”militias”” @ # 25, you should note, occurred within quotation marks – indicating, in this case, irony. In present circumstances, I can understand that your meter might well have gone to the shop, but that still doesn’t justify quite such a pedantry-dump.

    …you just claimed that this is the only original intended purpose…

    Oh really??? *arches eyebrows* I just searched this thread, and found [ahem!] only one person using that word here. ‘Twasn’t Mrs Butler’s wayward little boy.

  31. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To John

    Fine, your Constitution shouldn’t be able to be amended. Any further, that is.

    Imagine a court that rules contrary to a law of congress, because they decide that it’s a bad law, and they think the law should be something else. That’s bad. That’s a violation of the rule of law. However, if congress repeals that law, and if the courts then decide according to the new law, then there’s no violation of rule of law. Again, this is civics 101. Are you really this ignorant and foolish regarding basic governmental principles like rule of law and the separation of powers, and especially the separation of legislative and judicial? Or are you just a liar? These are serious questions, and not merely rhetorical questions.

    What’s dishonest is your evasion of my major point: that circumstances have changed since the late 18th Century, and you are arguing that principles established upon the basis of the circumstances then applicable should not change to reflect current circumstances.

    What you wrote is ambiguous. Depending on what you mean, I never made such an argument. Of course laws can and often do become outdated when things change. In such cases, the proper course of action is to change the law through the appropriate channels, and not to have judges decide contrary to the law! This is true whether the law is a mere act of congress, or constitutional law. Civics 101, again.

    […] hold the same meaning?

    In other contexts, if I say that every citizen has the right to vote, you would not take issue with me. However, in fact, children do not have the right to vote, and in many states, felons do not have the right to vote. To talk in precisely correct language that covers every possible exception is extremely tedious, and no one actually does that. Not even you. You’re being a intellectually-dishonest dipshit and a hypocrite, and you know this, and I know that you know this.

    To Pierce
    But it’s very important, because as long as you continue to use the wrong meaning of the word, then you’re going to come to the wrong conclusions. “Militia” does not mean “security forces”. Militia refers to the military force that is composed of every capable member of the population. Because of historical sexism, that was restricted to men only (just like many other rights and obligations, like the right to vote, etc.). Because of practical necessity, it was also restricted to only the able-bodied, and people between the ages of 17 and 45. Even today, that sexism persists, and according to federal law, women are not part of the militia – except when they’re already members of the National Guard.

  32. Pierce R. Butler says

    EnlightenmentLiberal @ # 34: “Militia” does not mean “security forces”. Militia refers to the military force that is composed of every capable member of the population.

    “Militia” means one type of a security force – and in the deliberate absence of a standing army, the primary type (for the military sense of “security”, anyhow). One could argue, given the 1787 context, that every element of our present military apparatus except the Navy and Coast Guard are prima facie unconstitutional*, but I don’t think even the Sovereign Citizen derangees have flown off on that tangent.

    *Interestingly, Article II, Section 2, appoints the President “Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy”, and Article I, Section 8 allows Congress “To raise and support Armies”, but every other military function is ascribed to “the Militia”. Congress is expressly forbidden to fund “Armies” (but not Navies) “for a longer Term than two Years”. I don’t know when that rule was de facto kicked aside, or what de jure trick was used to do so – got any clues to share?

  33. Silentbob says

    @ 31 John Morales

    I may be snide and a shit, but I write truth…

    <snicker>

    While I agree your redeeming features are few, being unintentionally amusing is certainly one.

  34. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    “Militia” means one type of a security force

    You’re equivocating. The phrase “security forces” have a strong implication of “security forces where memebership is at the discretion of the government”.

    With this understanding in mind, your claim is comparable to saying “atheism is a religion”. Atheism is not a religion. Atheism is the lack of a religion. Similarly, militia is not government select security forces. Militia is simply the citizen body.

    that every element of our present military apparatus except the Navy and Coast Guard are prima facie unconstitutional*,

    There is a difference between an originalist, and someone who plays petty pedantic word games. This sort of petty pedantic word game has no proper place in courts. I think that the argument “air force is not mentioned, and therefore congress cannot create one” is a farce. Similarly, I find the argument “the second amendment only protects weapons that existed when it was written” to be a farce, for the exact same reasoning. Dittos for the first amendment only protecting literal printing presses and hand-written letters, and not telephones, tv, internet, etc.

    Congress is expressly forbidden to fund “Armies” (but not Navies) “for a longer Term than two Years”. I don’t know when that rule was de facto kicked aside, or what de jure trick was used to do so – got any clues to share?

    I’m pretty sure that the US federal congress to this day still passes a military funding bill once per year, and so they are compliant with this constitutional provision.

  35. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To continue, I would not object if you use the phrasing: “militia” is one kind of military structure for national defense.

  36. Pierce R. Butler says

    EnlightenmentLiberal @ # 36: You’re equivocating. The phrase “security forces” have a strong implication of “security forces where memebership is at the discretion of the government”.

    Equivocating?!? Find me a “militia” anywhere in which the officers do not have authority to remove any member who doesn’t measure up to those officers’ requirements. (Note my previous citation of A I, S 8, in which Congress gets “To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia…”)

    There is a difference between an originalist, and someone who plays petty pedantic word games.

    Such differences are determined by a majority of whatever judges or Justices rule on any given case. Since, in our lifetimes, the Supreme Court has defined doctors’ advice to patients as a regulable job function and corporations writing checks to officeholders as free speech, I reserve the right to roll my eyes and giggle.

    I’m pretty sure that the US federal congress to this day still passes a military funding bill once per year, and so they are compliant with this constitutional provision.

    And you think every project is budgeted accordingly? Obama just proposed a 30-year, $1,000,000,000,000 scheme to “modernize” the US nuclear arsenal – do you really think that plan involves no “Appropriation of Money… for a longer Term than two Years”?

    You @ # 37: … “militia” is one kind of military structure for national defense.

    Sorry, even in your own terms this doesn’t work, since the intended and actual usages of 18th-century US militias occurred mostly on the state and local levels.

    Let me go back to your # 26: …one of the purposes of a well-regulated militia was to fight against wrongful rebellions and insurrections. That “wrongful” is purely your interpolation, with implications that just don’t hold up politically or historically. Allow me to recommend a book on the first (1794) such insurrection after the adoption of the Constitution, William Hogeland’s The Whiskey Rebellion: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and the Frontier Rebels Who Challenged America’s Newfound Sovereignty. I don’t know enough about this to insist upon the author’s surmise that Hamilton set the whole thing up to contrive a $trong central government, but I defy anybody to review the lies and provocations which lit that fire and flatly declare the rebels’ cause “wrongful”.

  37. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Equivocating?!? Find me a “militia” anywhere in which the officers do not have authority to remove any member who doesn’t measure up to those officers’ requirements. (Note my previous citation of A I, S 8, in which Congress gets “To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia…”)

    That might be hard to do, because “militia” as we know it may no longer exist in the modern world.

    Further, you’re confusing “the militia” with “select groups of the militia”. The discretion afforded by the constitution allows the federal congress to give different levels of training to different segments of the militia. Obviously, the constitution also allows the federal congres to call forth only subgroups of the militia. It would be quite silly if the congress could only call all of the militia or none of it for every threat.

    Further, if an officer chose to remove someone from their group of the militia and subsequent training, that implies that the person used to be a member of the militia (see: second federal militia act of 1792 which required or more less all able-bodied adult males between the ages of 17 and 45 to be enrolled into the mlitia). Of course members of the militia can be thrown in jail for insubordination. I even cited another example of disciplining the militia, where someone was assessed a severe fine of 1 dollar 50 cents for failure to fulfill their militia obligation to arm themself as per the second federal militia act of 1792 and subsequent legislation (skipping some details, see above).

    And again, you’re quote-mining the constitution, with apparently little to no understanding of how the military used to operate 200 years ago. I’ve been trying to educate you, and I’ve provided a plethora of sources. You know the proverb: you can bring a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.

    Such differences are determined by a majority of whatever judges or Justices rule on any given case. Since, in our lifetimes, the Supreme Court has defined doctors’ advice to patients as a regulable job function and corporations writing checks to officeholders as free speech, I reserve the right to roll my eyes and giggle.

    So, your argument amounts to: “Because sometimes the courts get it wrong, we should further encourage bad behavior and further the damage to the rule of law?”. This is childish. It’s like a child trying to get out of blame by saying “but they did it too!”.

    Also, Citizens United was rightly decided. That has to be the most textbook case of political censorship that I have ever seen. The regulations are targeting speech based on the content of the speech, and it’s targeting political speech. Of course that speech should be protected. As for your ridiculous distinction between spending and speech, imagine the congress doing that in any other circumstance. Ex: The congress passes a law that doesn’t make it per se illegal to blaspheme Jesus Christ, but they make it illegal to buy spots for public advertisements that blaspheme Christianity, such as some of the American Atheist bus ads. By your asinine and foolish reasoning, the congress could do that without violating the first amendment, and that is a ridiculous conclusion.

    And you think every project is budgeted accordingly? Obama just proposed a 30-year, $1,000,000,000,000 scheme to “modernize” the US nuclear arsenal – do you really think that plan involves no “Appropriation of Money… for a longer Term than two Years”?

    I don’t know offhand. I would not be surprised if that funding was indeed re-approved every year as part of the famous yearly military spending bill.

    That “wrongful” is purely your interpolation, with implications that just don’t hold up politically or historically.

    Strawmanning. At no point did I call the Whiskey Rebellion justified or unjustified. I was talking in general terms, about the general concepts of justified rebellions and unjustified rebellions. Also largely non-sequitur.

  38. Pierce R. Butler says

    EnlightementLiberal @ # 39: … “militia” as we know it may no longer exist in the modern world.

    Not sure whether to boggle more at your “may” or “as we know it”, so will settle for pointing out the self-contradiction there.

    … again, you’re quote-mining the constitution…

    And your tendency to cite laws while ignoring the actual history of those times is … what?

    “Because sometimes the courts get it wrong, we should further encourage bad behavior and further the damage to the rule of law?”

    Funny how you like to extrapolate lots from a little, even while accusing me of quote-mining etc. No, my point has to do with maintaining independent perspectives on the Constitution, the laws written supposedly to implement it, and the people/actions observed (purportedly) doing so. Lots of disparate agendas there; it puzzles me how you hold that opinion and support “justified rebellions”, but by now I don’t really care.

    … Citizens United was rightly decided.

    Look, a squirrel!

    I was talking in general terms, about the general concepts of justified rebellions and unjustified rebellions.

    Without the slightest consideration of who gets to make such calls, or why.

    We’re getting further and further apart here, without accomplishing anything. I propose we end this futile waste of pixels. G’nite!

  39. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Indeed. I’ll let my statements stand up, and let the reader decide who to trust: The one who has put in a large amount of effort to educate themself and comes with citations, or the fool who has no citations, is directly contradicted by the citations, and nothing but hot air.

  40. John Morales says

    EnlightenmentLiberal, the reader who trusts is the authoritarian reader.

    (This is FreeThoughts Blogs)

  41. John Morales says

    EnlightenmentLiberal, LOL indeed.

    Readers will make up their own minds, but your appeal to reader’s trust in your self-proclaimed erudition and interpretation of citations’ gist supposedly in opposition to your interlocutor’s putative foolishness and vacuity is indeed risible.

    (And yes, this is FreeThoughts Blogs!)

  42. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Ok. I will. Your earlier post was wrong all on counts. It was fractally wrong.
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Fractal_wrongness
    Your next post also counts as hypocrisy, or incompetence.

    EnlightenmentLiberal, the reader who trusts is the authoritarian reader.

    At face value, this is flagrantly false. Everyone trusts. Trust is a normal part of human behavior. Trusting someone is not automatically contradictory with freethought. We trust news outlets. We trust our family. Trust that is earned from past behavior is not contrary to freethought. Of course, trust does have limits. I would not trust my family member if they told me that they had a nuclear missile or an interstellar spaceship in their back yard. I see that you backed off this absurd position in your next post.

    I intended to mean that readers should make up their own minds based on the evidence and argument presented – no “trust” needed. I argue that this is pretty clear from context. It seems that my intention was quite clear to you as well, based on your most recent post. What happened is that you interpreted what I wrote in the worst possible light, with zero principle of charity, aka quote mining, a form of dishonesty, in order to go ham on a position that is not my own, arguably strawmanning, which leads to my next point.

    Your implication of authoritarian tendencies in me is also a clear non-sequitur to the overall discussion. This is also poisoning the well, associating me with an authoritarian mindset. This seems to be a recurring trend with you: you seem unable to attack my actual points, and seemingly the best you can do is resort to cheap rhetorical tricks and fallacies like poisoning the well. This is the second occurrence of you doing that fallacy in this thread alone.

    Notice the difference between you and I. I’m not actually attacking you for being an ignorant fool for not understanding what “trust” means, and how trust is indeed compatible with freethought. I know you know that, and I know that you simply misspoke. This is what principle of charity and honesty and integrity looks like. Now, compare that to my misuse of the word “trust” when my intention was quite obvious and clear. That’s what intellectual dishonesty looks like.

    If you can actually contradict my positions with reason and evidence, and do so in an honest manner, free from ad hom, poisoning the well, and other fallacious lines of attack, then step up. Otherwise, shut the fuck up you ignorant, dishonest, malicious fool.

  43. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Correction:
    Now, compare that to your reaction to my misuse of the word “trust” when my intention was quite obvious and clear. That’s what intellectual dishonesty looks like.

  44. John Morales says

    EnlightenmentLiberal:

    Notice the difference between you and I. I’m not actually attacking you for being an ignorant fool for not understanding what “trust” means, and how trust is indeed compatible with freethought.
    […]
    Otherwise, shut the fuck up you ignorant, dishonest, malicious fool.

    I notice.

    [meta]

    I also notice how this thread echoes the OP’s substantive observation: “But then things started going off the rails.”

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