« Jerry Seinfeld and Trevor Noah | Main | Hugo voting: how, why, for what »

July 05, 2015

Comments

LJ, it isn't that having a constitutional democracy is a guarantee of good government. Or even of having multiple parties, more than one of which is in power occasionally. But the alternatives seem far less likely to achieve that.

I would also note that, while more constitutional democracies have a written constitution, that isn't the only possible way to go. If you have a long enough tradition, you can achieve much the same results with an "unwritten constitution" -- which is essentially what Britain does.

Well, technically, the UK is a monarchy, with tradition circumscribing the power of the monarch in favor of the parliament. And, in an extreme case, I suspect that the monarch could use her prestige to make something happen without reference to the parliament. (Certainly I have spoken with members of the military and of the police who, when particularly irritated with the politicians, suggest that their loyalty lies with the monarch.) But still, the weight of tradition means that it would take an especially extreme case -- something minor like a major war wouldn't do it.

We're after all of those folks.

I'd even say that the UK from the time of the Glorious Revolution counts, monarch or no monarch.

I think you'll find that the Swiss and Icelandic constitutions follow ours in time, and in the case of the Swiss, ours was the template.

As far as written constitutions, we are first. There are no historical antecedents. We are the first country to adopt and extend a self-limiting form of governance.

Can anyone show me a system that is better than one in which the rights of the minority are protected from the whim of the majority by a third, co-equal branch of government?

Just to tweak McTx:
"The US was the first constitutional democracy in the history of the world. Looks like a trend setter to me."

Not before The Corsican Republic (1755-1769). Written constitution, universal sufferage (even the wimmins!) It was a Republic (no monarch) but had parliamentary-style representation.

Trend setter? Well the guy who led the Corsicans to independence was Pasquale Paoli, Paoli PA is named after him, 'named after "General Paoli's Tavern" a meeting-point of the Sons of Liberty and homage to the "General of the Corsicans"'

Also the Icelandic Commonwealth, much earlier...no 'constitution' per se, but mostly democratic, no monarch, parliament (of longest continuous operation). Weird customs.

I suspect that the reason that parliamentary systems are more popular has little to do with any rational analysis, but based on "lets shove all the politicians in big room and let THEM fight it out".

McK: To me, it is bizarre for people who live in and benefit from the rights of citizenship in the US to desire a different government than the one we have.

I could grant that as well, except that Americans don't know anything else. But I would also second Hartmut in that there have certainly been American conservatives desirous of a narrower voting constituency than the one we have, tied to a moneyed, Ivy/Oxbridge-educated elite.

Having spent my childhood in a country with a Westminster parliamentary system (Australia), I can say that what struck me as odd when returning to the U.S. as a budding teenager was the religiosity surrounding the US constitution, as if it were a Bible of democracy, and the fetishism with the flag. Reciting the Pledge of Allegience in the elementary school I briefly went to was something of a curiosity for me the first time I had to do it - at the age of 11 going on 12, I was already swearing an oath I barely understood and that, from an adult point of view had I been one, would have made me uncomfortable to subject a child to as a civic ritual. Reciting an oath to the Southern Cross would probably still strike most Australians as a bizarre, empty gesture (though with an antecedent - the Eureka Stockade, the closest that Australia has ever gotten to anything like a civil insurrection, was the origin of the Southern Cross later to make its way to the Aussie flag and did involve an oath in its presence).

I'm inclined to believe that presidential systems tend - and that's the operative word here (not inevitable, mind you) - I shall repeat: tend more toward at least low-level cults of personality and elevation of persons above the law that parliamentary systems are pretty good at keeping the tightest of leashes on. It helps tremendously when a prime minister is also an MP (though admittedly, with deputized persons and staff to help sort constituency duties while the PM attends to cabinet matters) - it forces such an office holder to be grounded to a specific constituency as much as be the head of the party with the majority of legislative power.

That might be one reason why, as far as I can tell, we have never seen a prime minister-for-life anywhere, while presidents-for-life have been legion - PM-for-life is almost oxymoronic given the sheer legislative responsibility attached to the position.

A thought fart: could the diff between parliamentary governance in Britain and a presidential system in France explain, in some part, why the ex-Brit colonies overall have tended to fare better than their Francophone counterparts? Different systems would tend to different types of administration.

A thought joke irresistible to pass up: the old one about poor Canada (one of the Westminsters, of course) getting it all wrong: it could've had the best of the countries it has taken after - American business, British government, and French culture. Instead, it stuck itself with the worst these countries offer - American culture, British business, and French government.

Not before The Corsican Republic (1755-1769). Written constitution, universal sufferage (even the wimmins!) It was a Republic (no monarch) but had parliamentary-style representation.

I was unaware of this. I looked it up--no judiciary to ride herd and it was short lived, but to your point, thanks. Please consider your comment to be an asterisk to all of my prior comments.

I think you'll find that the Swiss and Icelandic constitutions follow ours in time

The current ones do.

Let me round this out:

No *enforced* constitution means any congress could deny the right to abortion, the right of gays to marry, the vote to blacks or what have you. Or, congress could default to the states on these issues. There would be no 'full faith and credit' or 'privileges and immunities' clause.

There is no upside to any of this that doesn't invite an equal, opposite and unpleasant reaction.

Look, not to pound this into the ground, but the structure and operation of the Althing was per written law, which in turn was the product of deliberation and legal research on the part of its founders.

I.e., the structure and operation of the government of the medieval Icelandic Commonwealth was per a written document.

The government included separate legislative and judiciary bodies.

The high points.

I can't really speak to how strongly the Althing protected "minority rights", my general understanding is that the idea of inalienable human rights as we think of them now came somewhat later in history.

If we're talking about "constitutional democracies that are a lot like ours", then we are arguably the first, although I'd still give pride of place to the UK after the Glorious Revolution.

If we're talking about "constitutional democracies" full stop - self-governing polities, operating democratically either directly or via representatives, based on a written body of law - then we are not the first.

So, while other democratic systems are preferable to non-democratic systems, the constitutional system is superior to non-constitutional systems, assuming due process, the rule of law, etc, that go into making a legal system work.

Respectfully, if you want to know why askance was looked quite so pointedly at your declaration here... this is entirely orthogonal to the point of presidential vs. parliamentary. Well, and it didn't help that you didn't express this bit of nuance quite so clearly earlier, but even if you had, it would be irrelevant. As hsh alluded to, the two points are not connected in point of fact. Consider India, which you correctly cite as being a constitutional democracy. Well and good, but it's also a quite explicitly parliamentary democracy. There's a reason why you here the actions and opinions of PM Modi (*spit*) discussed in the press, but I had to go look up the name of the current president (Pres. Mukherjee). There is nothing about being a constitutional democracy which prevents a nation from being parliamentary rather than presidential, so contrasts pitting "constitutional democracy vs. parliamentary democracy" are, to borrow a phrase, bizarre.

It is not a *constitution* unless it is enforceable against the government. Otherwise, it's just words on paper. The Domes of Canute predate the Althing (I think) but Canute remained king and called the shots.

One could say, in a very strained sense, that the Magna Carta was the first constitution--since it limited (somewhat) the crown's ability to hammer its subjects--but there was no democracy post-Runnymede.

So, again, the issue is: constitutional democracy. It was us, the US, and no one else, who limited, with an actual enforcement mechanism, the reach of government. Marbury v Madison. "This is a constitution we are expounding . . .". It was a new thing, judicial review.

I'm really not sure what we're arguing about. How does suggesting that ours is not the best or a perfect form of government (i.e. it could be improved with changes) get us to *no constitution and no constitutionally guaranteed rights*?

If DJ or ugh suggested such, and that's the reason we're having this particular discussion, I might have missed it.

And whether or not we were the first country to do exactly what we did (we almost certainly were, depending on how exact "exact" is), ours was still based largely on lots of stuff that happened before anyone even considered a United States of America.

Like Napoleon Dynamite said, "What the heck are you even talking about?"

I can't really speak to how strongly the Althing protected "minority rights", my general understanding is that the idea of inalienable human rights as we think of them now came somewhat later in history.

Given recent discussions of the wisdom of judging the shortcomings of prior governments by modern values, if this was raised as a point of criticism to disparage the Althing over the second American system, I will confess to being more than a little amused.

It is not a *constitution* unless it is enforceable against the government.

To use the UK as an example, there is no single written document, but the powers of government are limited by law.

Ultimately, Parliament can change the law, and thus change the "constitution". But, ultimately, we can change, and have changed, our Constitution.

And not always democratically, for example, the principle of judicial review established in Marbury v Madison, which you cite, was not one that was arrived at democratically.

I think we all agree that protecting the rights of minorities within the body politic is a great thing, as is having the power of government subject to the rule of law.

But ultimately, whether Constitutional in our sense, or Parliamentary, the basis and legitimacy of government is the consent of the governed. And, what is considered to be just, fair, and right is going to be limited by what the sensibilities of the people who live under the government will support.

When the Constitution was written, blacks and women were chattel in most places in this country. The Constitution did not change that, and it did not change as a matter of either law or Constitutional principle until there was a sufficient constituency to change it.

Laws, just words. Constitutions, likewise. Words only have the force they are given, in any context.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but there's no reason a parlimentary system cannot exist under a formal, written constitution like the one we have in the US (obviously differing in some of the details).

Ultimately, Parliament can change the law, and thus change the "constitution". But, ultimately, we can change, and have changed, our Constitution.

Well, no, one means one thing and another means another thing. A parliament can pass a law making the Church of England the official church of the land. That is a legislative, not a constitutional act. The constitution *constitutes* a government and lays down rights, limits actions, etc. Once passed, unless repealed or amended, it controls what laws can be legislated.

They may be only words, but some words, depending on where they appear, carry more weight than others.

Moreover, absent an enforced constitution, a legislature can pass laws that directly contradict on another. You can have free speech and a law criminalizing speech that calls into question the government or that slanders the state.

France, forex, outlaws the Ha-bib. You can't do that here. There may be other countries who copy our approach, but none precede it.

There seems to be a lot of resistance to recognizing something about the US that is better than some or any other place. I don't get that.

Well, yes, again, that's precisely the case in India. It's got a written constitution, an independent judiciary that can enforce laws against the government (or between states, or between states and the federal government), and is very much a parliamentary system.

Went to look up Marbury v. Madison, because it would be amusing to think that the USA wasn't a McKTx-approved constitutional democracy before 1803 (and, all the thrashing around with judicial acts and appointments 1800-1803 makes the current fights look tame)

But found this line, in Wikipedia: "Although the power of judicial review is sometimes said to have originated with Marbury, the concept of judicial review has ancient roots. The idea that courts could nullify statutes originated in England with Chief Justice Edward Coke's 1610 opinion in Dr. Bonham’s Case, 8 Co. Rep. 107a. "

Nothing new under the sun. Even in 1793.

Is someone arguing to throw out our constitution, wholesale? Is someone arguing against constitutions in general? Is someone arguing that there is no aspect of our system of government that is better than some aspect of some other system of government?

Or are we discussing the viability of other forms of government, and noting that ours might not be the best in every aspect?

Nothing new under the sun. Even in 1793.

There is a big gap between *concept* and *power*. Really big.

HSH--go back and read DJ and Ugh at the beginning of this thread. Yes, I think both would be fine if the US had never existed. They as much as said this.

Well, yes, again, that's precisely the case in India. It's got a written constitution, an independent judiciary that can enforce laws against the government (or between states, or between states and the federal government), and is very much a parliamentary system.

All true and all post WWII. However, would you rather live under the Indian constitution (and live in India) or here? Particularly if you were an 'untouchable'.


France, forex, outlaws the Ha-bib. You can't do that here. There may be other countries who copy our approach, but none precede it.

McK, I have no idea what you're asserting here. France has a constitution which can be used to invalidate laws, particularly those relating to rights. It's closer to the US system than to most parliamentary systems in terms of the power and authority of the president, and is often said to have an essentially American relationship between executive and legislature compared to parliamentary systems.

The really perplexing part of this is that bans of the hajib in France are explicitly founded on the basis of the Constitution, specifically the secular nature of the state. Well, that, and xenophobia. But the legal reasoning is preserving a secular state in accordance with the nation's founding principles. So I really don't know where this argument is supposed to be going.

The US could absolutely outlaw the hajib if they decided it had merit based on our Constitution. Let's look at something apropos: torture of the sort that the US routinely engaged in over the last decade and a half could not occur in France because of its Constitution... yet it very much occurred here, because the government decided the Constitution didn't really mean what it had previously been held to mean. That's not at all exceptional for the US. The Constitution is just words, and is only as good as the will of the government to hold itself to their text, and the body-politic to hold the government accountable for good-faith interpretation. There's nothing magical about our Constitution. It relies on the good will of the citizenry and civil service to abide by its strictures and not treat it as a dead letter as much as any ones of the foreign systems you're deriding.

* to most parliamentary systems

However, would you rather live under the Indian constitution (and live in India) or here?

I know you're a proponent of free market capitalism, and view it as superior to socialism. So would you prefer to live in the libertarian paradise of Somolia, or socialist Vietnam? (I'm being nice with my false dichotomy by using Vietnam rather than e.g. a Scandenavian social democracy, but even this does a reasonable job of highlighting the unreasonableness of your red herring).

IOW, stop arbitrarily moving the goalposts, and try to stick to responding to only what was actually said.

Particularly if you were an 'untouchable'.

Civil right struggles for the Dalits ran parallel alongside civil rights struggles in the US. As in, progress was being made in both places at the same time, and was needed in both places despite de jure equality. Don't pull a muscle trying to over-vigorously pat yourself on the back.

And one might add, discrimination in both nations is a shadow of what it once was, but is still unquestionably a fact of life.

we would not be just "guessing."

Probably prompted by my comment to the effect that your guess was as good as mine.

Which was, to clarify, in no way meant to imply that you were simply guessing. Poor wording on my part; mea culpa. But along with that: without some source material to reference, your opinion is still (most likely) better-informed than mine but not of much use to me for all of that. No disrespect intended; just noting that I prefer to be able to consult the source.

The Wikipedia article on this topic lists over 40 scholarly books and articles

That was my first stop, but not my last. And it didn't exactly offer conclusive evidence of Britain teetering on the edge of jumping into our civil war, that I could see.

I don't necessarily doubt that was the case so much as I would like to see for myself.

the UK might have recognized the CSA

That's something I hadn't stopped to consider, the recognition thing. But recognition and intervention aren't necessarily arm in arm.

I don't want to argue this point unduly, so much as learn better what really happened. But I seem to be suffering from my usual dearth of clarity, which I hope you will forgive.

(Which I suppose is to say that your counterfactual false dichotomy really should have been answered by asked you if you wanted to enjoy the glorious, unmatchable magical perfection of the US Constitution as a black in the Jim Crow-era South, as that's what you seem to be trying to ask me with your Dalit counterfactual.)

HSH--go back and read DJ and Ugh at the beginning of this thread. Yes, I think both would be fine if the US had never existed. They as much as said this.

I just did, and I think you're wrong - very wrong. Perhaps you could quote something, because I'm not seeing it.

What I saw boilded down to "We're no angels, but other Western countries did bad stuff, too, but it's not totally clear who was worse overall or whether a British victory in the revolution would have been really horrible for the entire world."

Don't overlook the distinct possibility that in an alternative history, this thread never took place!

Well, really, there's only one way to resolve these arguments about alternative histories.

Just a moment, and I'll fire up the ol' Time Machine, go back and give those scruffy American rebels a few useful tips, and we'll just see how well they do if THEY win that war.

Is it clear now? Oh, bloody...who moved my scone?!

would you rather live under the Indian constitution (and live in India) or here?

With their climate??? Why would anybody volunteer for that?

Although I suppose that, since some people are willing to live along the Gulf Coast here, perhaps they would be willing to cope with India's climate as well.

This is my abstraction of many internet discussions, using Ugh/DJ and McK as the participants to make it look more like this thread.

Line 1 - Ugh/DJ says: It’s not 10.

Line 2 - (McK hears: It’s zero.)

Line 3 - McK says: It’s not zero. It’s 6.

Line 4 - (Ugh/DJ hears: It’s 10.)

Line 5 - Ugh/DJ says: It’s not 10. It’s 4.

Return to Line 2.

There seems to be a lot of resistance to recognizing something about the US that is better than some or any other place

I think there is disagreement about (a) whether particular aspects of the US are actually better, and/or (b) whether the question of "better" is relevant.

It's true, the UK Parliament could pass a law tomorrow throwing the principle of habeas corpus out the window. Habeas in the UK is, after all, only a matter of statutory law there.

But it's an astoundingly unlikely thing to happen, because habeas in the UK has the weight of almost 1,000 years of legal precedent.

They have more of a common law approach and tradition than we do. It works for them.

We rely more on a single authoritative document, which can be changed but only via a process that is, by design, a huge PITA. That works for us.

We didn't make up the idea of a Constitution, or of representative republican governance, or of explicitly stated rights, or of a government composed of mutually balancing and limiting institutions. Our form of government relies on intellectual, political, and legal traditions and institutions that predate us, by centuries.

Not everyone does it exactly like us, but many places do it as well as we do, and some number of those did so before we did.

I'm not really interested in trading what we have for what anybody else has, but that's mostly because what we have works pretty well for us, and it would be hugely impractical as well as an almost guaranteed cluster**** if we attempted that kind of mid-course correction.

In short, we'd likely end up no further ahead. What we have is sufficiently good that we would likely not improve things all that much by making the change.

That's enough for me, I don't need to be better than other folks.

Snarki's 3:10 wins the internets.

russell's 3:40 is worth repeating:

In short, we'd likely end up no further ahead. What we have is sufficiently good that we would likely not improve things all that much by making the change.

That's enough for me, I don't need to be better than other folks.

My comment was in direct response to DJ's (and Ugh's) apparent disdain for the form of government they live under.

That 'apparent' is what other's call mind reading, doncha think? And given that you don't namecheck them, it might be kinda hard to know that this is what you are saying?

Speaking of namecheck, sekaijin's observation about Germans in the French Foreign Legion is one that is subject to a lot of discussion. From the LRB
http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n06/jeremy-harding/short-cuts

In The Last Valley (2004), Martin Windrow reckons that the Legion fielded nearly 20,000 men at peak strength in Indochina. ‘The belief,’ he writes, ‘that their ranks were largely filled with German ex-Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS veterans recruited straight from French prison camps with few questions asked lent them a sinister glamour in the eyes of journalists.’ That belief was largely justified, he feels, until around 1950. By the time of the fall of Dien Bien Phu in 1954 ‘it was only among senior NCOs that Wehrmacht veterans were found in any concentrated numbers.

The Last Valley was a book about Dien Bien Phu. Harding also references the Quiet American

A fleeting encounter in The Quiet American alerts us to this. After a few drinks together, Fowler has followed Pyle and the US economic attaché to the House of the Five Hundred Girls. At the entrance he asks a Foreign Legion corporal whether he’s seen the two Americans. ‘He stopped cleaning his revolver and jutted his thumb towards the doorway beyond, making a joke in German. I didn’t understand it.’ Only a passing glimpse into the inner workings of colonial war – the way it sucks in fugitives and losers – yet you feel you’ve inspected the whole of the digestive tract.

Yet there is another reference to Germans in Quiet American, the narrator and journalist is covering a battle and ends up with a patrol of and they find a canal full of dead civilians, and when Fowler hears one of the men say 'Gott sei Dank', he notes that the whole unit is primarily German.

Quora has these answers

http://www.quora.com/Did-ex-members-of-the-Waffen-SS-escape-Germany-and-join-the-French-Foreign-Legion-or-is-that-just-a-myth

And here are some interesting articles

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/oct/14/hard-truth-about-foreign-legion/

http://www.historynet.com/world-war-ii-a-tale-of-the-french-foreign-legion.htm

I'd love to hear what Hartmut could add to this.

McTx: The constitution *constitutes* a government and lays down rights, limits actions, etc. Once passed, unless repealed or amended, it controls what laws can be legislated.

"Controls" is such a strong word. It would be less idealistic (not to say, romantic) but a lot more pragmatic (not to say, accurate) to acknowledge that a Constitution provides premises on which to base arguments for or against this or that legislative or executive action.

Such arguments take place before the bench, but also at the ballot box. They are often tortuous arguments on one side and simplistic on the other. They are often inconsistent arguments, in the sense that one "side" often rejects its own previous argument when the "other side" makes it on a different issue. But we manage to muddle through somehow, until we don't -- and throw a Civil War to settle the question.

BTW, any Constitution gets interpreted way more often than it gets "repealed or amended", and opinions often differ not just on what the interpretation should be but on how it should be arrived at. Some might argue that there's only one correct "how", and that's fine. They are welcome to make their argument.

--TP

libjap, unfortunately I have nothing to say on that topic. I only know that the (retired) sexton of the church I live next to was a sergeant in the Foreign Legion. But iirc he was not old enough to have been a soldier in WW2 and I have no idea in what part of the world he served while member of the Legion.
And I know next to nothing about the French Indochina war apart from the name Dien Bien Phu and that it led to the Vietnam war in the end.
I remember that the breakup of Yougoslavia was reported to have drawn lots of neonazi mercenaries. For the same reason that Dubya's glorious adventure drew far right militia and criminal gang members: ideal training grounds for the future race/turf wars.

I know a fair amount about the French in Vietnam, and even own the two standard histories of the battle of Dienbienphu (by Jules Roy and Bernard Fall), but cannot pin down the veracity/significance of the story about SS veterans in the French Foreign Legion. (I could probably tell you exactly which hill in DBP each unit of the FFL was deployed to each day of the battle, if that helps!)

A short article in Quora deals with this question in an apparently judicious manner, concluding that there were a few SS vets, but not many. One comment cites a couple of books in French about SS in the FFL, while another points out that the average age of FFL troops in VN was 19, so there would have been few battle-hardened Germans there!

A Wikipedia review points to a best-selling memoir/novel as one of the sources of the myth of a German-heavy FFL:

"Devil's Guard, by George Robert Elford published in 1971, is the story of a former German Waffen-SS officer's string of near-constant combat that begins on World War II's eastern front and continues into the book's focus—the First Indochina War, as an officer in the French Foreign Legion. The book is presented by the author as nonfiction but considered to be untrue by military historians, and usually sold as fiction.[1]"

Although it is not strictly true that one could join the FFL and be totally anonymous, the nature of the organization and its history would seem to indicate that we can never know for sure the composition of its membership, but a strong SS presence seems unlikely.

dr ngo is right (big surprise, eh?) The FFL didn't just take anybody, and Waffen SS often had their blood type tattooed on their left arm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_blood_group_tattoo
so one could be sure that performed due diligence.

However, one can understand the value in suggesting that the soldiers in your unit come from a group that probably didn't give a s**t about a lot of things. It reminds me of the exchange with Ronald Spiers' speech in Band of Brothers

Capt. Ronald Speirs: Well, go ahead and ask me.
C. Carwood Lipton: Ask you what, sir?
Capt. Ronald Speirs: The stories about me. You want to know if they're true, right? You know the funny thing about stories like that? Everyone always says they heard it from someone who was there. Then if you ask that person, they say *they* heard it from someone who was there, and so on. I bet if you went back 2,000 years, you'd find a bunch of centurions standing around talking about how Tertius lopped the heads off of some Carthaginian prisoners.
C. Carwood Lipton: Well, sir, maybe they kept talking about it because they never heard Tertius deny it.
Capt. Ronald Speirs: Well, maybe that's because Tertius knew there was some value to the men thinking he was the meanest, toughest son of a bitch in the whole Roman legion.

http://www.ronaldspeirs.com/reputation/controversies/

This question of the composition of the FFL seems related another thing that has always intrigued me, which is that it was the French volunteers of the Waffen SS who were the final defenders of Hitler's bunker, whose main goal was to prevent the Russians from taking it on May 1st.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/33rd_Waffen_Grenadier_Division_of_the_SS_Charlemagne_(1st_French)

Speaking of World War II and alternative histories, I'm 50 pages into "The Plot Against America" by Philip Roth in which Hitler admirer, anti-Semite, and isolationist Charles Lindbergh wins the Republican nomination and the Presidency in 1940.

Thus far, Lindbergh has joined with isolationist western State conservative Republicans and southern isolationist conservative Democrats and flown off, piloting his own plane with military accompaniment, to Iceland to sign mutual mind-our-own-business pacts with the Third Reich and similar treaties with Japan.

I'm also reading "The Fall of Dixie" (don't have the book with me at the moment so the author will go unannounced), but the book makes clear that Lincoln feared recognition of the Confederacy by England, France, and others, AND the Confederate leadership, as late as 1863, perhaps imagining an alternative history that wasn't in the cards, fought each battle hoping for a decisive turn in the War to their favor with European power recognition as one result.

Hitler admirer, anti-Semite, and isolationist Charles Lindbergh

Agree, though he ended up contributing quite a bit to the US war effort

http://www.ozatwar.com/ozatwar/lindbergh.htm

Don't know if there are any pilots in the commentariat, but this book explains how he reduced fuel consumption in fighters by 40% (from p 132)

https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=loL3CQAAQBAJ&pg=PT132&lpg=PT132&dq=lindbergh+fuel+economy&source=bl&ots=bVIv7aqM4s&sig=krkAe1icCGTvHfzCb4AHaSjlh4Q&hl=en&sa=X&ei=5oqeVbHgLsSB8QXHn7boCA&ved=0CEkQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=lindbergh%20fuel%20economy&f=false

http://www.charleslindbergh.com/
gives a rather hagiographic picture of the man, but it also has his America First speeches
http://www.charleslindbergh.com/americanfirst/index.asp

Hip Hip Hooray, with a final score of 94 to 20
the War Between the States comes to an end.

Roth's fiction is fictive.

House Republicans last night stripped language from an Interior Dept bill getting rid of the Confederate flag on Federal lands.

Canings all around.

I demand the Comanche flag fly over West Texas.

Might be more to the point to fly the Cherokee flag over Oklahoma. Or, better yet, over western Georgia and eastern Alabama.

Hitler admirer, anti-Semite, and isolationist Charles Lindbergh

I thought you were going to end that sentence with "Joe Kennedy", maybe.

So many assholes, so little room in my head to remember them all.

"I thought you were going to end that sentence with "Joe Kennedy", maybe."

Or Henry Ford. The list goes on and on.

Hitler, and fascism generally, had a fairly large fan base here in the US prior to WWII.

I know a lot of Italian-Americans were pretty enthusiastic about Mussolini, at least for a while.

So many assholes....

True 'dat.

"The Fall Of The House Of Dixie" by Bruce Levine.

I'm on my IPad, so we don't need no stinkin' linkin', but on page 248, it is noted that the Confederacy sent Louisiana planter and congressman Duncan F. Kenner to Europe in late 1864 to meet with the British and French governments bearing a letter from Jefferson Davis to requesting assistance, including recognition.

Kenner dodged the blockade and made it to Europe on February 21, 1865 and met with Louis Bonaparte, Emperor Napolean III, and Britain Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston.

Napolean, while willing and anxious to assist the South was busy imposing his will in Mexico and was not confident that the Confederacy could win the War at that point and in addition, wanted Britain' s active collaboration as well.

Napolean would have welcomed the Confederacy along Mexico's northern border, but without a clear victory in sight, he wasn't going to poke the Union in the eye and then have a hostile United States along the border.

Maybe Donald Trump could have helped him out.

Off to London. Palmerston made it clear that Britain cared not a whit if slavery persisted in the Confederacy, but again demurred because of the South's poor showing the War.

They would have backed a winning South, but real politic saved the day.

The history of British slave ownership has been buried: now its scale can be revealed: A new BBC documentary tells how a trove of documents lays bare the names of Britain’s 46,000 slave owners, including relatives of Gladstone and Orwell

From CharlesWT's link:

The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 formally freed 800,000 Africans who were then the legal property of Britain’s slave owners. What is less well known is that the same act contained a provision for the financial compensation of the owners of those slaves, by the British taxpayer, for the loss of their “property”. The compensation commission was the government body established to evaluate the claims of the slave owners and administer the distribution of the £20m the government had set aside to pay them off. That sum represented 40% of the total government expenditure for 1834. It is the modern equivalent of between £16bn and £17bn.

The compensation of Britain’s 46,000 slave owners was the largest bailout in British history until the bailout of the banks in 2009. Not only did the slaves receive nothing, under another clause of the act they were compelled to provide 45 hours of unpaid labour each week for their former masters, for a further four years after their supposed liberation. In effect, the enslaved paid part of the bill for their own manumission.

Yes, but: the British were in the process of eliminating slavery, which is laudable.

Whether they did so in a way that was maximally fair to the newly-freed slave is doubtful, but given a choice between freedom with compensation and freedom with no compensation, I'd choose whichever of the two I could get.

If I were a slave in the United States and had some foreknowledge that slavery would exist for another three decades before being formally abolished, I'd take the freedom now.

It was probably one of very few politically feasible options for a peaceable end to British slavery. But that it was so demonstrates rather stunningly how the interests of the moneyed so strongly influence what is or is not politically feasible in the first place.

Of course, it also illustrates just how serious the British government was about ending slavery. Picture any government today up and spending 40% of their annual budget on a single, one-time, item. The mind boggles!

Just for fun, imagine if that money instead was spent by giving each former slave the equivalent of 20k pounds (~$30k) in today's money.

Of course, it also illustrates just how serious the British government was about ending slavery. Picture any government today up and spending 40% of their annual budget on a single, one-time, item. The mind boggles!

Remarkable, yes. But note that the "spending" involved a direct transfer of money from the general exchequer into the pockets of (now-former) slave owners, many of whom would have been relatives of Members of Parliaments, if not MPs themselves - or at least of the same class - and it becomes far less radical in its implications. Look at how much the US spends on "defense," most of which goes directly to defense contractors, who have their own ways of repaying their legislative supporters. How serious are we?

...in 1655...
[...]
In one of the earliest freedom suits, Casor argued that he was an indentured servant who had been forced by Anthony Johnson, a free black, to serve past his term; he was freed and went to work for Robert Parker as an indentured servant. Johnson sued Parker for Casor's services. In ordering Casor returned to his master, Johnson, for life, the court both declared Casor a slave and sustained the right of free blacks to own slaves.
[...]

John Casor

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad