10 September 2013

A Conversation Somewhere in Philadelphia

circa 1787, near 3d Street.

Hamilton: what's up, JimBob?  How's it coming?

Madison: Hey, Al.  Just dotted the i's and crossed the t's on habeas corpus clause just to make certain that no one ever thinks that the government has the authority to detain anyone without due process.  I think it's pretty solid.  But I keep getting hung up on the preamble.

Hamilton: What part?

Madison: So far I have, "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence of all of humanity..."

Hamilton: Whhhooooaaaa there, little man.  What was that last bit?

Madison:  We are establishing a federal government that is to defend the sanctity and dignity of all humans everywhere, except where we don't, for all of time regardless of the threat or consequences, no?  That's the note Gouverneur slipped me.

Hamilton (chuckling): Gouverneur.

Madison: I know, right?

Hamilton (snapping to): That's biting off a little more than we can chew, don't you think?

Madison: Absolutely not.  We have a continent rich with natural resources and more than our share of industrious, entrepreneurial people.  We will tax those people to the point of breaking their spirit while running up unfathomable debt.  We can then establish a military larger than our needs or our means and make sure that nobody ever does anything we don't like.  And none of that will be a problem, right Mr. National Bank?

Hamilton: Watch it.  Where are you going with this?

Madison: With our resources and the fact that we know what's best for everyone else, we can't possibly confine ourselves to protecting, um, ourselves.

Hamilton: Is your stammering the result of your redundancy, your imbecility or you coming to your senses?

Madison: No need to insult.  That's a nasty habit of yours that you'd be wise to mind.

Hamilton (waving off Madison): Listen, let's keep things simple.  Keep it at "provide for the common defense."  You still have that bit in there about being able to change things, right?

Madison: Article V, just where we left it.

Hamilton: Good stuff.  We don't want people to forget that if they don't like what we "old white guys" put in there, they can just change it and not resort to having the courts or congress or the president bastardize all of the work we put in here and ignore what we've plainly written rendering the entire enterprise a sham.

Madison (snaps his fingers):  You're drifting.

Hamilton (starts): Sorry.  Anyway, if the people decide later that they want to become the world's policeman, they can just amend the constitution.  It will spell the end of the republic, but you know what they say about all good things.

Madison: What?

Hamilton: You're an idiot.  What's next?

Madison: Huh?  Oh, OK, so we'll keep it to "provide the common defence."

Hamilton: That should be an "s" there.  We're Americans.

Madison: Fuck off, foreigner.

Hamilton: Next...

Madison: ...Ok...here we are, "provide the common defence," and then "provide welfare to everybody for any reason..."

Hamilton (rubbing his forehead): I'll be back.

Madison: Were are you going?

Hamilton: I'm getting Franklin.  It's going to be a long night.

04 September 2013

The Best Analogy

Peter Beinert wrote a hit-peice on Marco Rubio for something called the Daily Beast.  He starts off swimmingly by calling the reading of two books, one an autobiography by Rubio, the other a biography about him, an act of "literary masochism."  So we get how hip and funny Beinert is right off the bat.

The second paragraph cuts right to the heart of things, starting "It’s not that Rubio is as smart and perceptive as Obama."  I was e-mailing a friend of mine tonight along these lines.  What evidence has there been of Obama's intelligence and perspicacity?  But I digress.

Rubio might be sharp as a tack, he may be another Sarah Palin.  I don't know.  I do know that political autobiographies are about as useful for finding out about a person as dropping an anvil on your foot, as both are completely untethered to any useful information about the subject.  My point being that I don't know enough about Rubio to have an opinion one way or the other about him.  I've heard he is a "Tea Party" guy, but I've heard that about both Palin (possibly) and Ron Paul (no), so I don't know exactly what that means.

But after reading these books, Peter Beinert knows Marco Rubio.  I have a sneaking suspicion that he already had a pretty good bead on Marco Rubio before he picked up either book, but that is another matter.

The point of the post is to share what is the best analogy I've ever read. In describing what drove young Rubio into politics, Beinert writes "[w]hat he fell in love with on the streets of Miami’s raucous Cuban ghetto was the political game."  Rubio's parents were Cuban immigrants, and he was raised in Miami.  Beinert then writes the best analogy I've ever read, immediately following the previous sentence, "The best analogy might be John F. Kennedy, who also learned the art of politics in a parochial ethnic community but through personal skill and generational change was able to transcend it."

John F. Kennedy learned the art of politics in a "parochial ethnic community?"  His maternal grandfather was the mayor of Boston and served three terms in congress.  His father, a fabulously lecherous human being, went to Harvard, made money through investing and was hob-nobbing with FDR at the dawn of WWI, three years before JFK was born.  JFK lived from birth to the age of ten in Brookline, MA, then moved to the Riverdale section of the Bronx.  He attended private elementary schools, summered in Hyannisport, MA, went to The Choate School, then on to Harvard.  You get the idea.  I won't disagree that the Kennedy family was ethnic.  I pretty sure there were several pair of Irish sunglasses donned by all of the kids at one point or another, and certainly some of the boys' spouses on more than one occasion.  But to describe his upbringing as happening in a "parochial ethnic community" is patently absurd.  And, further, to depict Kennedy's political ascendency as something that had to be attained through some Herculean transcendence in spite of the parochial ethnic community has somehow managed to escape is an insult to anyone who can spend 35 seconds on wikipedia finding out exactly how unparochially ethnic JFK's upbringing was.

I would go further, but once I got to the best analogy I've ever read, I stopped reading.