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Sunday, March 04, 2018

In which I agree with Jonah Goldberg and the World Didn't end (if you are reading this)

@JewishCoffeeH tweeted

The part that's not a joke is that he thinks lifetime presidential terms are desirable, whether he was referring to China or everywhere. Trump is the first president who openly disdains basic American Constitutional values.

The part that's not a joke is that he thinks lifetime presidential terms are desirable, whether he was referring to China or everywhere. Trump is the first president who openly disdains basic American Constitutional values.

Jonah Goldberg (author of "liberal Fascism") responded

I think Trump is hostile to, and ignorant of, the Constitution. But Woodrow Wilson openly disparaged and dismissed the Bill of Rights.

I Should only say that I never called Woodrow Wilson a liberal (segregation is not a liberal policy by any of many definitions given to the word over the centuries)

But I write that Goldberg is correct and that I can think of a few other examples off the top of my head

1) George Washington acting as President of the Constitutional Convention very openly disdained the constitution of the day -- the Articles of Confederation. That constitution had procedures for amendment that were ignored. The writing and ratification of our current Constitution requrired treating an earlier constitution as irrelevant.*

2) John Adams

a) Signed the Sedition Act which declared it illegal to "Rail against any Just act of Congress". A more direct attempt to repeal freedom of speech and the press by mere legislation is not possible.

b) ordered a US Naval vessel to fight French ships in the Caribbean ignoring Congress's exclusive authority to declare war or issue "letters of Marque and Reprisal" which words must have been clearer to the delegates at the Convention than they are to me.

3) Thomas Jefferson fought an undeclared war involving an attack on Tripoli (some things never change).* Also he (and contemorary Democrats) introduced the concept of nullification in response to Adams's attack on the constitution which almost destroyed the whole thing.*

4) James Madison *

5) James Monroe *

6) John Quincy Adams made a deal to defeat the winner of a plurality of votes and electoral votes. Constitutional but offensive to the spirit (he's basically #1 constitution respecter so far)

7) Deprived the Cherokee's of their property (and for a while liberty) & also (may have said) Justice Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it. which would be a direct rejection of constitutionality of any kind (and even if he didn't say it out loud he acted as if he believed it). *

8) Martin Van Buren I don't know watch "Amistad"

9) William Henry Harrison didn't violate the constitution during his 1 month presidency which he spent dying.

10) James Tyler was actually extreme given his conflict with Congress but I don't remember what he did.

11) Francis Polk ordered US army troops to enter disputed territory previously recognized to be part of Mexico (before that part of the Spanish Empire) without requesting a declaration of war (which was declared with the Mexicans fought back).

12) Zachary Taylor commanded the troops mentioned in 11). *

13) Millard Filmore ran as a candidate of the Native American Party after holding the office of President as a Whig.

14) Franklin Pierce (I remember the name but nothing else)

15) James Buchanan actually may have respected the Constitution of the Union he very nearly destroyed.

16) Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of Habeas Corpus almost immediately. Imposed a draft. Basically ignored much of the Constitution to save any of it. Did what he had to do, much of which was unconstitutional.

17) AndreW Johnson completely rejected and fought the 14th amendment. His ingtense conflict with Congress was the second greatest threat to the Constitutional order (after the recently ended Civil War).

Skipping ahead

18) Yeah Woodrow Wilson didn't respect the Constitution

19) Warren G Harding (see W.H. Harrison)

20) Coolidge undeclared war on Nicaragua

21) Hoover (see 20)

22) Roosevelt ordered the incarceration of thousands of US citizens because of their national origin. Authorized fire bombing (or at least the buck stopped there) violating the Geneva Convention which was ratified by the US Senate and, therefore, US law.

23) Truman (see 22 but this time it's atomic) and tried to draft steel workers as "commander in chief in war UN approved mission time.

24) His justice department prosecuted someone for simply being a member of the Communist Party directly assaulting the first amendment. Sent "military advisors" to Vietnam without a declaration of war.

25) Kennedy approved warrantless wiretaps of, among others, Martin Luther King (OK so his little brother did but the buck still stopped there). Invaded Cuba without a declaration of war. see 24

26) Johnson sent the regular US military to Vietnam based on the Tonkin Gulf resolution which he promised as it was being debated did not amount to a declaration of war. Invaded the Dominican Republic without a delaration of war.

27) Nixon invaded Cambodia without a declaration of war. Oh come on, don't make me try to list Nixon's crimes against the constitution.

28) Ford -- Maybe OK

29) Carter did not disdain the Constitution which is part of why he is disdained.

30) Reagan Embezzled US funds to give them to the Contras. Invade Grenada without a declaration of war (not that I'm against doing that).

31) H.W. Bush undeclared war on Panama (see 30 above)

32) Clinton undeclared war vs Serbia. Bombed a TV station (civilian target). Disdained the 8th amendment when governor (ordering the killing of mentally incapacitated Ricky Ray Rector).

33) W. Bush first see Nixon above. When caught wiretapping without warrants he declared himself to be above the law, the law being the Patriot Act which he signed into law. He claimed the ability to declare a US citizen arrested in O'Hare airport an enemy combatant and hold him indefinitely incommunicado without trial. A more direct assault on the 5th and 6th amendments is inconceivable. Claimed the authority to establish a whole new kind of court by executive order without even pretending to name which act of Congress he was pretending to execute. Asked the CIA to see if tough interrogation methods worked violating the Geneva Conventions and the 8th amendment George Bush 2nd President of that name claimed powers not claimed by George Hanover third king of that name. Was an absolutist, that is, a consistent and determined enemy not just of the US Constitution but the whole idea of limited government.

34) B. Obama never openly disdained the constitution, but did mildly, moderately, humbly order the killing of US citizen Anwar Awlaki without a trial and even if he was "far from any combat zone" (quoting from memory of a leak). Sent troops to Syria without a declaration of war. Now these are arguably allowed under the September 2001 authorization for the use of military force with Awlaki a combatant (it's not like killing a prisoner). Syria is a stretch as Daesh is not al Qaeda, and they are in fact fighting al Qaeda along with most of the rest of humanity. Obama did not the Constitutional problem and asked Congress to do something about it.

OK so some have respected the Constitution (one at least partly because he was busy dying) but it is very much the exception not the rule.

*He deprived his slaves of liberty without due process of law (the Constitution was totally hypocritical on this point clearly allowing slavery and pretending to establish a right to due process)


JimV said...

The usual excuse is "The Constitution is not a suicide pact."

I look forward to the day when the jobs of judges and government administrators are taken over by AI's - but then I remember the old Star Trek episode in which the AI revolted, saying, "Survival must supersede programming."

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