Massachusetts? Who would have thought?

"Don't be surprised if President Obama campaigns in Boston today as if his entire agenda is at stake.

Because it may be.

An upset win by Republican Scott Brown in a special election Tuesday would give the GOP 41 votes in the U.S. Senate. That's enough to filibuster any Democratic initiative, and that includes pending health care legislation."  USATODAY


I have a premonition about this.  I think Brown is likely to win.  If he does, Barack Obama effectively becomes a "lame duck."

A lot of people don't like the health bill.  That apparently includes Baystaters who have a hard time seeing what it does for them in Massachusetts.  Politics remains largely local in the United States and the fifty states really are somewhat like fifty tribes.  They already have state run health care Massachusetts, so the question arises. "What does this do for me, or mine?"

And then there are various other little things in the background.  The condescending nature of the backyard beer party at the White House has not been forgotten.  A white, Irish cop, called out on national television by the president of "all Americans" was summoned to the presidential palace.  Don't kid yourself.  That did not go down well with a lot of people outside Washington, New York City and Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Now, the president is talking about a really long term commitment in Haiti.  The economy is rotten in Massachusetts.  Today the president gave a speech on national television that will irritate some people.  The narcissism was on display.

Tuesday will be interesting.  pl

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47 Responses to Massachusetts? Who would have thought?

  1. Lysander says:

    “But yesterday the word of Caesar might
    Have stood against the world; now lies he there.
    And none so poor to do him reverence.”
    Sorry. I’ve been waiting a long time for an excuse to use that line.

  2. different clue says:

    Given that President Obama
    seems to be steering America’s Israel-Palestine policy in a better direction, a direction-change which will require eight years to be made irreversible; certain of his domestic approaches and decisions seem all the more unfortunately likely to make him a one-term president.
    For example, just recently DNA evidence of the
    “Asian Carp” (really 2 species…the Bighead Carp and the Silver Carp) has been found in the Chicago Ship Canal. Michigan’s Attorney General Mike Cox has filed an emergency brief with the Supreme Court
    to force Illinois and the Army Corps of Engineers to close the last few locks standing between the Asian carp and the Great Lakes. If the Asian carp get into the Great Lakes they will destroy a 7 billion dollar per year commercial fishing and sport’n tourist fishing industry per year…all to save some Chicago area barge-shippers a hundred million dollars per year. And the Obama Administration has announced
    it will oppose Michigan’s lawsuit to close the locks.
    Some shipping convenience for his Chicago buddypals is more important than saving an international fishery from Asian carp destruction. (International because the Great Lakes are just as much Canadian as American). This action will disaffect millions of voters in 7 Great Lakes states; especially if the Obama Administration is able to keep the locks open, let the carp in, and destroy the Great Lakes fishery. That concern may sound parochial to some, but it doesn’t feel parochial to those who live around the Great Lakes.
    And its a series of things like that which make Obama appear more and more potentially a one term president.

  3. walrus says:

    I’m afraid I’m 100% in agreement with you Col. Lang. Obama cannot make any progress against the opinion makers and their special interest group backers.
    I think you are very close to losing your Republic to the “Opinion Makers” who seem to be able to overwhelm rational argument and set the agenda anytime anywhere.
    The opinion makers are financed by the corporations and their owners who have constructed an Orwellian reality of perpetual war on terror.
    I foresee a Petreaus/Palin Republican ticket in 2012 that is going to be unstoppable.
    After that a “soft” uber patriotic quasi military dictatorship is possible by drawing John Yoo out of retirement and dusting off the “Unitary Presidency” garbage that has been conveniently pigeon holed until another Republican is elected.
    But it’s Monday morning, not a good time…

  4. J says:

    Narcissism, narcissism? Who would have thunk.

  5. Twit says:

    Doesn’t the Colonel’s (spot on) post beg question of why should we even be trying for ‘national health care legislation.’ Would it not be more politically feasible, more in line with our federalist system, and ultimately more effective and efficient to just make health care a state issue?
    Why not instead just have the federal government – through a combination of executive orders, the HHS and CDC budgets, and some funded and unfunded Congressional mandates where necessary – just set certain minimum health care principles, and it would be up to the states to figure out how to implement. These basic principles could include for example universal insurance provision, no disease-related termination of coverage, no caps on lifetime pay-outs, and free government-provided intrinsically public health services, e.g. child vaccinations. Naturally people afraid of communism could opt out of the latter, and pay for it themselves. The states could also of course choose to add more principles and compete for taxpayers by providing a better health system for its residents.

  6. Bobo says:

    When Martha Coakley called Curt Schilling a Yankee fan it was all over. A mistake like that is like a Southerner saying Robert E. Lee fought for the Union.

  7. Nicollo says:

    Lame duck?
    Perhaps a little early for that epithet….

  8. batondor says:

    Writing as I do from a Boston suburb, and being a liberal Democrat who thinks and hopes that Coakley will win, I’d be tempted to disagree with much of your commentary on the subject of the “special election” but instead will offer a few specific conjectures:
    1) Coakley’s campaign has been rather uninspiring and slow off the mark while Brown did well initially with few resources until he got the lift from a few somewhat biased polls that drew much media attention for horse race purposes and then some national GOP support, but I don’t think the reasons go beyond relative complacency on Coakley’s part. For what it’s worth – which is admittedly speculatively counterfactual at this point – I think that Mike Capuano would have run a campaign far more energetically from “The Left” with fighting unemployment and constraining the banks from knee-jerk foreclosures and dangerous risk-taking as his core messages and he would have faired much better than the AG (imho…).
    2) Your point about the people of Massachusetts being ‘vaccinated’ (sorry…) against hyperbole from both sides concerning the national health care bill is well taken, but the double irony is that Brown actually voted for Romney’s bill and it is the model for the national bill (and just to be fair, Brown’s “hypocrisy” is perfectly normal…). The expansion of health care here has actually worked pretty well, but that doesn’t mean it’s viable independent of a national effort over the long run (but people can’t see that yet…). I won’t say that it was a non-issue, but I do think that some may have overestimated the connection with the late Senator Kennedy and the national plan because she’s going to get those votes anyway…
    3) On the other hand, Coakley has been an unapologetic critic of the Obama “surge” in Afghanistan while Brown has taken the standard GOP line to “finish the job”, but I cannot decide whether that hurts or helps her (or him) in a state with a significant active and reserve duty tradition as well as a significant National Guard contingent in various deployments versus the overrated impact of vocal islands of anti-militaristic sentiments around Cambridge and Northampton.
    I will dare to suggest that your apparent surprise that Massachusetts could be so unreliable for the Dems is as misguided as some who may have thought that Virginia was transformed simply because Mark Warner and Jim Webb and Tim Kaine and Barack Obama showed that a Democrat could win statewide…
    … because the polls show that the largest cohort of voters in Massachusetts is declared independent and moderate if generally leaning Democrat just as I am guessing the same is true in Virginia if you replace the D with an R (I believe the breakdown for registered MA voters is about 50% “I”, 35-40% “D”, and 10-15% “R”). Let’s not forget that John Adams and Tom Jefferson are still “alive” in so many ways. My family has been in Massachusetts since immigrating in the late 19th century, but they thoroughly abandoned their Latvian roots and as such I think we can claim as much a link with our “founders” as you clearly have with your own in Virginia…
    One last point, if I may: we’ve been living for a century with demographic shifts such that the disproportionality of Senate representation that the current cloture rule reinforces is not, in my opinion, sustainable ad infinitum. I could cite chapter and verse on the numbers that go well beyond the obvious incoherence of 60-40 as a criteria for majority rule or the 70-1 ratio of citizens voting in California versus Wyoming or that about 15% of the American people elect 50% of the Senators, but simply put we are in a predicament that has been “solved” in the past whether with coercion when left to fester too long by our leaders and with collective adaptation when the will of the people was taken seriously…
    … and yes, I know it’s simplistic to blame 1860 on the leaders while commending the masses for the direct election of the Senate or the suffrage of women, but it is arguable that our system has evolved as conditions and circumstances warranted, though often at a considerable (and perhaps avoidable) cost.
    My ultimate point, however, is simple one: how dubious is it that so much depends upon the election of a single member of just one body of Congress? (and that’s true no matter who wins… except for the fact that I think it is statistically accurate to state that the Republican party is benefited considerably more by the distortions of representation previously noted…).
    It certainly puts “special” in an unusually bright light, no?

  9. Patrick Lang says:

    Surely you understand that that the smaller states will not agree to their emasculation? What do you expect, a California or federal extra-legal coup against Vermont?
    I am surprised that a lot of you do not seem to understand, that, unlike in many other supposedly “federal” republics, the constitution of the United States is the product of an agreement among the states (large and small) without which there would not have been ratification of the constitution. The outcome of the Civil War did not change that in spite of all the tripe about “the United States were and now is.” The victors changed nothing because the interests of the states dictated then and now the status quo. The states remain in charge of the instruments of their power; the electoral college, the senate, election, etc. Nothing in the constitution can be changed without state government approval. The ERA is an example.
    Perhaps a dissolution of the Union follwed by a constitutional convention? you should know that once that process started the agenda and ratification process would be uncontrollable.
    Keep it real. pl

  10. Redhand says:

    Today the president gave a speech on national television that will irritate some people. The narcissism was on display.
    I read the speech. If my own reactions to it are any guide, what’s irritating is not Obama’s identification with half his heritage, but the fact that he’s just another “say anything” politician out of touch with reality:
    “I know it’s been a hard road we’ve traveled this year to rescue the economy, but the economy is growing again. The job losses have finally slowed, and around the country, there’s signs that businesses and families are beginning to rebound. We are making progress.”
    Sorry, but this sounds like a Larry Summers talking point. It isn’t just “Wall Street bankers” who “don’t get it.” It’s Obama.
    If he loses the Senate in MA it’ll be because of Obama’s ties to the financial oligarchs, rather than the incipient racism of the Rush Limbaugh lunatic fringe. At least that’s how I see it. While this election may be about “health care,” I really see that issue as simply the most prominent of his sellouts to monied interests.

  11. batondor says:

    I agree 100% to the degree that I never suggested anything like a constitutional convention was in the offing nor that it was desirable because I believe neither to be the case… nor did I recommend that an “emasculation” of the smaller states was either inevitable nor a panacea (especially when it is protected explicitly by Article V of the Constitution)…
    … but I do believe that having an evolving compromise between the principles of direct and representative democracy has been embodied in the United States Senate and that this compromise will continue to evolve as conditions and circumstances warrant.
    After all, there is nothing sacrosanct about the 60 vote rule to end debate…

  12. Brian Hart says:

    Brown has run a good campaign, Coakley hasn’t post primary.
    You are witnessing a Romney/Clinton surrogate campaign with the respective organizations in the background.
    Jobs are a big issue and are being addressed poorly by the politicians creating angst. Health insurance is nearly universal in Mass. and expensive so the national debate on it in Mass is more of an ‘out of staters’ issue.
    The out of state muscle – the Pat Boone robo calls for Brown and the out of state money for Coakley don’t equal registered voters in Mass — rather background noise.
    If the Dems get out and vote for this uninspiring candidate I expect a Coakley win by 2 pts.
    If not then Brown by a nose.
    If Brown wins he won’t hold the seat in the normal election.
    I wouldn’t read a national trend or the end of Obama into this isolated special election despite the temptation to do so by commentators. A one off local race does not make a national trend.

  13. bubba says:

    Whatever problem Obama may have with narcissism or any other faults (and they are many), it still boggles my mind the extent to which the entire Republican party seems to want to be nothing more than a bunch of screaming brats throwing a tantrum. Those remaining Republicans who are more sane than their Tea Party cohort are still so viscerally opposed to “liberals” that they are gleefully marching on with the nihilists. Truly sad.
    Our political system is broken. No leader, no matter how talented could overcome the obstacle that is the modern Senate.
    Massachusetts is only giving us another reminder of this sorry state. Now wait til November. I’m gonna have to cancel cable to stay sane through that one…

  14. batondor says:

    You modified your response a bit, so my earlier attempt might be a bit dissonant even if it still stands on its merits…
    … however, I don’t get your point about ERA. I believe it came within one state of the requirement that only 75% of the states need ratify an amendment for its inclusion in the Constitution, so in such a case there might be about 25% of the states that would be “forced” to accept that change even if they rejected ratification.

  15. Paul says:

    Martha Coakley reminds me of a Mother Superior what with her drab and droning personality, but like all nuns, Coakley reads the fine print and actually works quite hard at the jobs to which she is elected. Those plain vanilla qualities work against her in the atmosphere of telegenic empty vessels spouting two slogans: “cut spending” and “lower taxes”.
    Since its existence, Massachusets has been at the cutting edge of social initiatives that benefit the citizenry. That costs money, but so what. Sure, too many of the politicians are loud and constantly bragging, but the legislature is productive. The notion that spending cuts and reduced taxes will improve the general welfare is absurd. The citizens of Massachusetts still think and analyze and they will raise or invent some kind of tax to pay for improvements. Imagine where we’d be today if not for Bush’s tax cuts.
    Local television advertisement focus on the vigorous reception Mr. Brown gets as he marches through South Boston and Charlestown – both made famous by the Battle of Bunker Hill and “bussin” (the great education/transporation experiment that started a race war that still simmers).
    Wall Street, the wars in the Middle East, the economy, health care and such other needs require adult supervision. Scott Brown, Sarah Palin and their fellow Teabaggers are not ready and able to change the status quo and improve the shabby state of the nation. Mitt Romney with his movie star good looks and heavy wallet went over like a fart in church while he was governor. And by the way, if you knew the cops of Cambridge you would agree that Obama properly stated that they “acted stupidly”.
    Coakley will win this election.

  16. Cold War Zoomie says:

    I’m echoing Col Lang here…and I strongly, strongly recommend the following book for everyone who wants to understand how we operate here in these United States:
    The Summer of 1787
    The small states played some serious hard ball, especially South Carolina. What a surprise.

  17. curious says:

    Latest poll number is out. I don’t think Coakley will make it. I am now putting the chance of double dip recession at nearly 100%. (hope for last minute reverse…)
    quick back envelop calculation:
    1. health care reform, major key reducing income stress is gone. It will now grind to a halt.
    2. Obama will have to fight for party control. Ugly. Get rid of entire senate leadership, redo party honcho, toss out administration agenda. It’s all defensive play from here on out.. (blue dog will play their card everywhere.)
    3. Party base won’t accept senate, and mid term will be a big wild card. Dems lost again. Specially if Obama fails to change party leadership.
    4. International market start calculating double dip scenario and administration agenda out the window. Dollar is going to take a beating for sure, since investor will look for place to park money out of the double dip.
    5. Israel lobby wins. So Palestine/Israel conflict will continue, while Saudi squeezing hard until US let go of Israel position. (This is the high oil price/double dip part) There is no change in Palestine for next 2-3 years, which means a small war is very likely.
    6. Iran will also calculate that Obama does not have the political capital to fight israel demand for war. So they will prepare for a conflict. (oil spike on every little news shenanigans) China will definitely not buy too much dollar, since it has no use for them to maintain export/oil price relative to yuan.
    7. Iraq. This year is paid for. Next year will be very interesting, specially if somebody make sure things exploding in Iraq.
    8. Afghanistan will quickly turn into unpopular expensive war if public mood turns ugly.
    9. Haiti is gone. dems & public will not be in the helping hand mood. TV images will be brutal. So there goes 20-30K people die after quake. Probably the government will collapse as mob running rampage.

  18. A great post and summarizes my beliefs as to Massachusetts. A disturbing theme in other comments. First as to the Constitution the argument that it is just a compact of the States was not put to rest by the CIVIL WAR a conclusion with which I agree. In fact the CONSTITUTION was finally rejected as a compact of the STATES and is a document derived from the PEOPLE as established by the 35 year career of another noted Virginia, a veteran of the entire REVOLUTIONARY WAR against the King of England, John Marshall the fourth Chief Justice of the
    Supreme Court of the United States. As the STATES dwindle in competence and importance largely for reasons of finance and desire to not be TAXACHUSETTS Tuesday will not be the closing of the door on the Obama Administration, because whether or not health care succeeds, the votes in 2010 and 2012 will be the real measure of the man. Look at Truman in 1948. Obama had two choices on health care–reduce the overall costs to the Medical sector of the economy or expand coverage. His plan does not much of either and each is mutually inconsistent with the other. Perhaps there is some desire in Massachusetts to not have the Kennedy seat owned by the DEMS. There is a TEAPARTY candidate named Kennedy running as a third party and his vote might be decisive for one of the other candidates. He could drop out but that is not American tradition for third parties. The only real question is how angry are the voters in Massachusetts and how do they view their selection? They are used to having at least one powerful Senator and don’t think either of the two front runners fill that bill. The DEMS do seem to have a death wish and the Republicans only hope for their future is that. What a sad time as we watch the US pretend in Haiti that Katrina is not the reality for a major catastrophic event in the US.

  19. Nightsticker says:

    Colonel Lang,
    Don’t forget that there is a “Kennedy” running in the Mass. Senatorial election Tuesday. Joe Kennedy, the Libertarian Party candidate. He is currently running at about 3% in the polls. His point of view on many issues would blend in quite nicely with the sentiments I read regularly on SST.I read somewhere that both of the Establishment Party candidates [the ones from the two different cliques Dem and Rep]are concerned that a significant number of voters accustomed to pulling a lever for “Kennedy” for 40 years may do so again. Exactly who this would hurt the most is a puzzle.
    USMC 65-72
    FBI 72-96

  20. Rider says:

    Coakley has by all accounts been a poor candidate. And the President has serious problems of his own, mainly because he has done a lousy job of holding Republicans accountable for the failed economic theories and policies which created the economic mess we find ourselves in. I hope the nail-biter in MA is his wake-up call.

  21. Rider says:

    Col. Lang
    ” The outcome of the Civil War did not change that in spite of all the tripe about “the United States were and now is.” The victors changed nothing because the interests of the states dictated then and now the status quo. The states remain in charge of the instruments of their power”
    Point well-taken. Be that as it may, the losers definitely changed it when it came to setting up their own union. When the Confederate Constitution was ratified, states’ rights went out the window, slavery became the law of the land and no state or future state had the right to resist it.
    The historian Wm. C. Davis points out this glaring inconsistency in the South’s states’ rights arguments:
    “To the old Union they had said that the Federal power had no authority to interfere with slavery issues in a state. To their new nation they would declare that the state had no power to interfere with a federal protection of slavery. Of all the many testimonials to the fact that slavery, and not states rights, really lay at the heart of their movement, this was the most eloquent of all.” (Look Away, pp 97-98)

  22. jonst says:

    The Col wrote: ‘Surely you understand that that the smaller states will not agree to their emasculation?”.
    Any more than the coming vast majority of the Americans will agree to their emasculation by a relative small minority of the population using legislative procedures that did not exist 25 years ago in the form they exist today. Surely, if things don’t change we are on a collision course.
    The Col also wrote: ” A white, Irish cop, called out on national television by the president of “all Americans” was summoned to the presidential palace. Don’t kid yourself. That did not go down well with a lot of people outside Washington, New York City and Cambridge, Massachusetts.”
    True enough. True enough. And for good reason.
    Of course a ton of people INSIDE Washington, NYC, LA, Balt, Atlanta, Newark, Philly, Dallas, Houston and so on and so on, did not like the arrest to begin with. And they have not forgotten that.
    But I think all that–these made for outrage (somebody’s pious outrage)Cable TV dramas are beside the point. Though highly captivating for some.
    Obama, and the Dems, and GOP, and the elites will stand or fall on this: you have a shirking standard of living in this nation. And this economic retreat is picking up speed. It has been going on since the mid-70s. It has reached, perhaps, the crucial stage. If and when Americans wake up and conclude, correctly or not, that things are NOT going to get better, the crap may or may not hit the fan.
    If that happens (big if)but IF a vast majority of the people conclude their life is going to be worse off than that of their grandparents, and parents….and worse yet, that their kid’s lives are going to worse off, this vast majority will not be stopped by a small group of politicians, representing a relatively insignificant minority of the populations, and waving the banner of the filibuster.
    There will be changes. I am not necessarily taking revolution. Though it may seem like one to some people. I’m talking New Deal type changes.

  23. Patrick Lang says:

    “I am not necessarily talking revolution. Though it may seem like one to some people. I’m talking New Deal type changes.”
    Yes. You are talking revolution. How would such “New Deal” type changes be brought about? pl

  24. Patrick Lang says:

    There are other views. Marshall L. De Rosa in “The Confederate Constitution of 1861” argues that although that document forbade the interference of the central government with slavery it carefully did not limit the action of the member states. pp. 70-73. pl

  25. Patrick Lang says:

    “In fact the CONSTITUTION was finally rejected as a compact of the STATES and is a document derived from the PEOPLE.”
    An interesting assertion which does not deal with the practicalities of dealing with the existing constitutional setup.
    Some of you seem to advocate extra-legal action to establish the kind of government you want by force if necessary. Such a thing would de-legitimize the government of the United states in the eyes of many. Since government here has been generally thought to rest on the consent of the governed, the consequences of such action would be grave.
    As for John Marshall, he was lucky that Jefferson was, in some ways, a bit of a dilettante. In Madison vs. Marbury Marshall claimed a unique right for the court to interpret the constitution. Jefferson disagreed, believing that interpretation of the constitution had in no way been granted to the court and infact that the interpretation of the constitution was a responsibility divided among the three co-equal branches. Jefferson considered simply ignoring Marshall’s opinion in this trivial case involving John Adams’ midnight appointment of one of several justices of the peace for the District of Columbia, but in the end he did not and so Marshall’s unconstitutional seizure of power was allowed to stand. I expect that he regretted his inaction later. pl

  26. Rider says:

    Col. Lang
    I appreciate the reference.

  27. ISL says:

    Dear Col: I too have your premonition too about Brown, but would like to take the premonition (thanks Walrus) a step further.
    Having listened to a few minutes on NPR of Obama’s speech (all I could stand), he seems so out of touch. He should have stayed in DC talking Haiti or whatever, looking presidential, and sent Bill Clinton or HRC, or whoever (ok not Biden!), etc. The democratic “base” has been de-energized by even more extreme pro-Wall St favoritism than even Paulson, while the tea-party is energized that their time is come.
    Perhaps, (Schwarznegger-like), Obama will view a Mass loss as a rebuke to his coterie, but my hopes are low, I think the plastic bubble / echo-chamber that is DC will confirm the status quo – after all, where will the next $5 trillion installment to bailout the unfolding commercial loan crisis arise from.
    Bankruptcy and poverty for the industry titans who lost the money? Clearly not in the US!! Bankruptcy and foreclosure is a moral necessity for the little people.
    ;P (tounge in cheek alert)
    If, as seems likely, the real economy is horrid in 2012 (or double dip worse), then I have a premonition the next US election likely will go to extremists who will respond to the shift in global power to China through pointless wars draining the treasury, rather than investment in economic competitiveness – oops I forgot the financial bailout.
    I like to imagine that the too big to fail had been federalized, broken, and the solvent assets re-sold (as in Europe), while the foolish wealthy mis-managers reduced to food stamps and welfare and bankrupcy, while the $4.5 trillion was invested in small business loans to develop competitive US industries. Clearly wrong planet.

  28. jonst says:

    Well, roughly, the same way they were brought about in the New Deal. Someone in charge willing to take on the elite governing structure. And I don’t mean that as pejoratively as it may read. Elite always govern. Just that sometimes they are ‘motivated’ to be more ‘enlightened’ then perhaps they had been.
    And this someone in charge backed up, to some extent, by boots in the street, so to speak. A whiff of violence in the air. Like it was in the New Deal time labor unions and such. Not a ‘tool’ to use often, or with a heavy touch, but one useful to place on the table, as the negotiations begin, along with the words, ‘bargain with them, or me. Take your pick”.
    However, I must admit to being more pessimistic about the future than perhaps I might have been in 1930s. Back in those days, however the pie was being distributed, or was about to start being distributed, it was growing. We had abundant cheap energy. Or thought we did anyway. We had a relatively homogeneous population. A greater percentage of the citizens lived in rural environments. We had abundant water, and a relatively small population.
    Now however, the elite have hollowed out the nation. Are in the process of stripping it of traditional manufacturing skills. And farming skills. The nascent ‘local farm movement’ notwithstanding. We can’t go back to the ‘family farm’ when trouble rears its head.
    We were not at war back then. Endless war. We did not have endless responsibility that the world shoved on us, and that some in the nation welcome. The way the Godfather welcomed the funeral home guy asking the Godfather for a favor.
    And we did not have a large debt in the 30s. And we did not have Chris Matthews. Glenn Beck. Keith Oberman et al. Well, maybe we had them….but not the exposure or influence they have now. We did not have the 24/7 MSM.
    We did not have large, very large, criminal organizations in our society. We did not have a large scale drug problem. We did not have pervasive gang problems in our inner cities. We did not have large scale, nearly controllable immigration in the 30s competing for jobs in a depressed economy.
    So my take/fear is a demand will be made (if the pie, as I expect, keeps shrinking)for New Deal like changes. But we will not be capable of implementing them (to the extent the majority thinks that desirable to do). We will realize there is little we can do to reverse the decline in the standard of living in America. And people say ‘look at the UK post WWI’ and see what awaits us. And that is if we are lucky.
    THEN people will start looking for a scapegoat.

  29. batondor says:

    A few observations, if I may:
    1) While I sincerely appreciate all the connections with the events of 1787 and the foundational decades that followed, I feel obliged to insist that “we aren’t in Kansas anymore”; but wait – Kansas did not even exist until 1854! (with all the tragic irony that has followed us to the present day…).
    For what it’s worth, I have no idea whether the Civil War could have been avoided as you seem to have inferred in previous posts, but I am equally unsure whether its precipitation in lieu of the Great Compromise(s) or its deferral to a later date would have produced a more universally acceptable or desirable outcome…
    2) Re: “Some of you seem to advocate extra-legal action to establish the kind of government you want by force if necessary. Such a thing would de-legitimize the government of the United states in the eyes of many. Since government here has been generally thought to rest on the consent of the governed, the consequences of such action would be grave.”
    I think this is directed at me, but I never advocated such a thing but rather suggested that history has shown us to have an incredibly adaptable constitution in both the metaphysical as well as legalistic sense of the term… or have we just been lucky?
    3) Re: “… the interpretation of the constitution was a responsibility divided among the three co-equal branches.”
    But of course this is as true today as it was nascent in Jefferson’s time because while the Supreme Court “interprets” the meaning of the constitution in the text, the President “interprets” it through the actions of the executive branch while the Congress “interprets” it though the establishment of laws that must be consistent with it…
    … which is the beauty of three branches with offsetting but orthogonal constitutional roles; however, only the people’s assemblies can change the core text! Any interpretation by the Supreme Court is contingent upon the durability of the document as written and amended over time… and any action by the President is contingent on the legal bases built by the Congress as well as the constitutional foundations upon which those laws are based.
    I’m left wondering three things: in your opinion,
    1) What role you believe the Supreme Court should serve?
    2) Are the laws of the individual states subordinated to the federal constitution?
    3) Is “compliance of the disaffected” different from “consent of the governed”?
    FWIW, my answer to #3 is that the disaffected (whether a minority or the majority) accept being governed without consenting to the legitimacy of that authority as long as the benefits of their compliance exceed the price of any perceived concessions or disadvantage or injustice…
    … and yes, this is as true for the Sunni in al-Anbar and the “tribals” in Afghanistan and Pakistan as it is for the fifty states (and territories) of the American republic (which means it is a factor in all government, not just “our” system.

  30. Perhaps he or them are right that are last as the quip goes.
    In this case the people are last which tends to support PL.
    Sharpen your pitchforks peasants.
    The great compromise–small states getting two Senators now allow less than 15% of the people to rule the country when the lobbyists will let them.
    Most of the growth of the federal government was based on war and peace issues and failure of the laboratories of democracy (the States) to use reason as opposed to non-reason. Denying the existence of or validity of Marshall’s opinions is a rejection of the notion that we are a nation of laws not of men.

  31. N.M. Salamon says:

    It is sad to seee that one elction of one senator can and will demasculate the ability of the USA Congress and Adminidtration to deal with the PEOPLE’s Business rather than the endless staged political fights which lead the country down the slippery slope [e.g W shaped recession, endless and increasing number of military involvement, disregarding Peak oil, global warming, etc].
    BAU [a.k.a. busioness as usual] died in the 2007 run up of ussustainable debt increase, a TRUTH which the divided political class is unable to address, and even more incapable of replacing. With this election the future looks even more troubled, which will effect the whole world – A VERITABLE BLACK SWAN.

  32. DaveGood says:

    a couple of facts….
    one in six of every dollar an American earns now goes to a “Health Provider Corporation”.
    America now has, and by a considerable margin…. the most expensive “Health Care” On the Planet.
    If you want to talk about the most opulent (State provided, tax payer funded) health system in the world, that would be the Swiss….. and they are twenty per cent cent cheaper the America’s so called “Free market” “Efficient” model.
    One out of every six dollars a hardworking American earns is confiscated by these Corporations… and in return for what?

  33. DaveGood says:

    What you get is what you now have…..
    The worst record for any advanced industrialised country as to the life expectancy of it’s people.
    By the way…. Is your wife is pregnant?… make sure she get’s to a hospital in Cuba….Survival rates there are twice those of America’s Capital city.

  34. Patrick Lang says:

    NM Salomon
    It really is not a Black Swan. It is inherent in the US constitutional system. that system was created to constrain and limit power not to enable it, and it does that effectively.
    What I have been trying to point out in this argument is that the US political system is unable to deal with the realities of a world-wide empire. The system is unstable and many of you have confirmed my belief that it will not last much longer in its present form.
    Gryeywolf. I detest kings and the idea of kings. I am surprised that you think that defense of “original intent” is equivalent to “manipulating the natives.” pl

  35. N.M. Salamon says:

    With respect, I have read the USA Constitution and most Federal Papers. I understand the basics of the division of powers, read some of the US Supreme Court Reasons. My apprehension is stricktly with respect to the civil society in the USA. I do not have an opinion on the present Health Bill [too long to read it], though I think a simple system as France or Canada would have been benefitial to the USA society.
    Your comment ” ny belief…” is the central point of my apprehension, and the concern that his is indeed a Balck Swan event.
    With respect to wars, with respect to banks, with respect to mortgages even the so called Majorities in House and Senate were insufficient for REALITY’S DEMANDS. With the Dems. loosing the filibuster insurance[if it ever was with Sen Lieberman] things do look more scary.
    Aside form the above, I thank you for running a very intelligent blog. You have educated me in many ways, and I thank you for that too.

  36. Jackie says:

    You must be feeling a lot better because you have been feisty these past couple of days. Good for you.
    As to the MA Senate race, Teddy will be spinning in his grave if Brown wins. How sad that such shill could win the seat Kennedy held for 47 years. Teddy generally had the citizens welfare in mind.

  37. walrus says:

    The basic problem in my opinion is that corporations and financial markets are not constrained by any concept of morality in America, nor is any concept imposed on them by an enlightened Government.
    Since corporations and their owners control those candidates they financially support in Congress, we have in engineering terms a feedback loop with no damping element. The damping used to be provided by a free press, but now that is corporatised too.
    The oscillations in this feedback loop are getting bigger as the years go by. For example, would anyone have thought Thirty years ago that an airhead like Sarah Palin could be seriously entertained as a candidate for Presidential office? Michelle Bachmann??
    The oscillations are getting wilder and the smart guys are making money out of it. The real question is: exactly how smart are the elite? If they are very smart, and Brown wins, I predict that, contrary to received wisdom, the Republicans in Congress and their handlers and enablers will back off Obama, perhaps even give him a few small wins, like an emasculated health care bill, just enough to ensure that the status quo remains and no head to head confrontations occur.
    The last thing the elite wants is a metaphorical march on Washington by the enraged common people armed with pitchforks, tar and feathers.
    The real danger seems to me to be a “Black Swan” event that sets the elite fighting among itself. Absent that, I think a slow drift towards an Oligarchy will continue.

  38. different clue says:

    Many commenters expect ongoing economic decline and so do I. If that is what we expect, is there anything we can do to make the decline peaceful and graceful to some
    tolerably lower level of getting and spending? Even if the highest-order policy-choosing and course-setting parts of government enter a period of headless drift and chaos; is it possible to keep the life-and-survival-maintainance
    parts of the ongoing government on viable autopilot long enough to let us keep eachother safe and alive till we can restore higher order function?
    People like to deride the Post Office. We all know the jokes. But of all the thousands of pieces of mail I have sent or recieved in my life I only know of 3 or 4 that have been damaged and only 2 or 3 that have been lost so far as I know. And the Founding Fathers considered having a Post Office so important to the orderly survival of the Nation that they wrote having a Post Office right into the Constitution. Even though it is now the “Postal Service” and not the Post Office; it is still important in allowing us to communicate with eachother on a roughly equal-access footing over space and time; especially if the internet goes dark. I do my part in keeping the Postal Service alive by paying all my bills by mail with a stamp on each envelope, rather than digitally depriving the Postal Service of that revenue by electronic payment. Hopefully enough other people are doing the same in order to keep the Postal Service viable as a unifying institution over space and time.
    If everyone were to think about what kinds of bussinesses and economic functions they would most like to see survive through a long deep recession, and if everyone who did so then went on to patronize those bussiness and functions through the recession we are in; those bussinesses and functions would be given a higher chance of survival which would turn around to give our society a higher chance of survival
    at least at the minimum bussiness and function level.
    If everyone with a job and income enough to actually be able to pay their debts down to zero went ahead and paid their debts down to zero; and then contracted zero new debt; they would have in the long run more money to spend on productive thingmakers and service providers. If everyone who is concerned about possible food shortages at the bottom of the recession were to stockpile food in an orderly way starting now
    and also were to turn as much of their house and yard into a food growing and processing site as they could; they would be less in need of future assistance; thereby freeing up government to focus our pooled or poolable resources on those people who were/are unable to stockpile personal food or start personal gardens; namely the poor and the urban-landless of all classes.
    If we plan ahead for a hard landing we can pad some of the bumps.

  39. Patrick Lang says:

    NM Salomon
    I don’t care what you read. You did not understand it in the context of American history.
    Did you read the anti-Federalist papers? pl

  40. N. Anderthal says:

    I am in Mass and I can say that what Coakley lacks in charisma she has in competence but that may not be enough. I hope she wins but we’ll see. I agree with Mr. Hart that Brown will be a 2 year senator if this teabagger fever wins the day. I disagree with him that if the Dems come out in force she will win by only 2 pts.
    The Senate should stay as it is. It looks strange and ungainly but ask the Europeans what the major complaint is among the smaller states in that union. The large states can lord over the small, if they wished. They are looking now for the formula that we already have in the House and Senate.
    As far as the situation in Cambridge with the police officer and Mr. Gates, this is my view. Both men were wrong but only one was paid by public taxes to be right. A conservative is a liberal whose been mugged; a liberal is a conservative whose been arrested.

  41. optimax says:

    This is a Jungian synchronicity. I’m reading “Forgotten Founder, Drunken Prophet: The Life of Luther Martin,” a study of the Anti-Federalists. If Luther Martin hadn’t successfully defended Chase, Congress would have next tried to impeach Marshal. Bill Kauffman calls Madison a quasi-monarchist and presents the alternative narrative of the Constitutional Congress quite well. The dialogue here is a nice addendum to the book. Thank you.
    Different Clue, neither of us was vindictive in peace and thnks for the 2nd Canadian Regiment.

  42. Jimmy says:

    If big states are upset about their allotment of senate seats, they can always split up. Central California would probably appreciate splitting California into three states.
    New York can also become: New York, The formerly city of New York, and Long Island.
    Just tossing out ideas here.

  43. N.M. Slamon says:

    Please cite what are the anti-federalist papers [ e-mail ok, too] so I can find some and reade them.
    Thank you

  44. Patrick Lang says:

    They are the collected and published papers of those who opposed adoption of the present US Constitution. Search in old book sites. pl

  45. batondor says:

    Here is a straightforward point of access to many of these documents:
    In the course of finding this, I discovered a concise synthesis of the anti-federalist arguments…
    I don’t know whether it would pass muster with Pat Lang, but I found it to be an interesting summary of the main issues and positions (with the caveat that it was written by a political scientist…).

  46. Congrats Pat! Now you can join the talented political prognosticators that dominate the US MSM. Hey my projection for this fall is that at least one house of Congress will go Republican!

  47. different clue says:

    I found myself confused by the mention of me towards the end of your comment and the feeling that I was being in some way thanked for the 2nd Canadian Regiment; so I looked up and read the Wikipedia version of the 2nd
    Canadian Regiment and its history. They clearly did a lot of hard work and a lot of hard fighting.
    My ancestors were not even here during the Revolutionary War and I have never lived in Canada (though I live near enough that on a clear day I can see Windsor from the top of a high enough building). So if I am being somehow thanked for something, I really need to tranfer those thanks over to someone(s) who have earned them and deserve them.
    If all that makes clearer than ever that I didn’t understand the referrence, I would be happy to read any further comment which might help me gain that understanding.

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