obama to palin, stop mocking the constitution

Sarah Palin, in her acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention last week, suggested that, if a terrorist were apprehended, Barack Obama would be more interested in protecting his civil rights than anything else. It was, of course, both absurd and untrue, but the folks in the crowd ate it up. Well, today, Obama fired back. The following clip comes from “The Washington Post“:

…It was in St. Paul last week that Palin drew raucous cheers when she delivered this put-down of Obama: “Al-Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America and he’s worried that someone won’t read them their rights.”

Obama had a few problems with that.

“First of all, you don’t even get to read them their rights until you catch ’em,” Obama said here, drawing laughs from 1,500 supporters in a high school gymnasium. “They should spend more time trying to catch Osama bin Laden and we can worry about the next steps later.”

If the plotters of the Sept. 11 attacks are in the government’s sights, Obama went on, they should be targeted and killed.

“My position has always been clear: If you’ve got a terrorist, take him out,” Obama said. “Anybody who was involved in 9/11, take ’em out.”

But Obama, who taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago for more than a decade, said captured suspects deserve to file writs of habeus corpus.

Calling it “the foundation of Anglo-American law,” he said the principle “says very simply: If the government grabs you, then you have the right to at least ask, ‘Why was I grabbed?’ And say, ‘Maybe you’ve got the wrong person.'”

The safeguard is essential, Obama continued, “because we don’t always have the right person.”

“We don’t always catch the right person,” he said. “We may think it’s Mohammed the terrorist, but it might be Mohammed the cab driver. You might think it’s Barack the bomb-thrower, but it might be Barack the guy running for president.”…

“The reason that you have this principle is not to be soft on terrorism. It’s because that’s who we are. That’s what we’re protecting,” Obama said, his voice growing louder and the crowd rising to its feet to cheer. “Don’t mock the Constitution. Don’t make fun of it. Don’t suggest that it’s not American to abide by what the founding fathers set up. It’s worked pretty well for over 200 years.”…

And, with that, I’m giving my first contribution to Obama’s campaign tonight.

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  1. Posted September 10, 2008 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    I’m in large agreement with what Obama has to say here but he’s bypassing an important distinction and he probably knows it.

    The question is whether habeas corpus (did the Washington Post really spell that incorrectly?) is a constitutional right or natural right. If it’s a natural right (and there are such things) then it applies to everyone but if it’s a constitutional right then the question is – does a constitutional right apply to those that are not under the constitution; non citizens.

    Habeas corpus (to my knowledge) was intended and has been understood as a right of the citizen against their own government. If we want to expand that right to non-citizens then maybe that’s an argument worth having but you can’t just bypass that argument and re-interpret habeas corpus on your own.

  2. Brackache
    Posted September 10, 2008 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Good to know Obama won’t be calling for a renewal of the assault weapons ban, a clear infringement of the peoples’ right to keep and bear arms — guaranteed in the Constitution he’s no doubt ingenuously championing on principle and not just to blow smoke up peoples’ asses to get votes.

  3. Posted September 10, 2008 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    There are lots of things in the constitution that apply to non-citizens as well. The bill of rights, for example.

  4. Ed
    Posted September 10, 2008 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    I need to reread the Constitution. I don’t remember mention of assault weapons. I wonder if it also gives us the right to suitcase nukes and laser-guided anti-aircraft rockets!

  5. Posted September 10, 2008 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    @mike d: My understanding is that the right to request a writ of habeas corpus is the right of a prisoner/detainee against the custodian/jailor/detainor. In most cases the latter is a representative of the government, and in most cases the former is a citizen.

    Liberty is widely considered a natural right (in fact, along with life, it’s probably the most widely accepted natural right), and since, by definition, habeas corpus provides protection against illegal detention (illegal restriction of liberty), habeas corpus (or a similar right by another name) is a fundamental element of that natural right. Without habeas corpus, liberty is at the whim of the government.

  6. Visionary Milt
    Posted September 10, 2008 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Middle America does not care about “mocking the constitution”. They want a leader with big brass balls like Jack Bauer. They don’t vote for late drinking “fancy lads” all full of book-learnin’. When will you get that through your heads? It doesn’t matter who is right. We live in a nation of illogical, stupid, greedy, fat and lazy people who would rather vote against their interests than vote for a man who would make them uncomfortable by using big words like “mock”. And all that’s before you add race into it.

  7. Brackache
    Posted September 10, 2008 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Ed, you ignorant wretch. The Constitution also doesn’t mention internet or telephones in the first ammendment. Dumb fuck.

  8. ytown
    Posted September 10, 2008 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Brackache, are you really this angry? I hope there is sarcasm in there somewhere.

    Chill out, go find your boyfriend and get away this weekend.

  9. Posted September 10, 2008 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Freedom of speech also has exceptions for slander, obscenity and hate speech. The right to bear arms should at least have an exception for nuclear weapons or mustard gas.

  10. Curt Waugh
    Posted September 10, 2008 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Sorry to burst your bubble, dude, but the Constitution has no such exceptions for obscenity or hate speech (although it has some language about libel and/or slander – but that’s more about lying than stating an opinion).

    All that other stuff came later through court decisions (and I suppose some state laws). Left with no language in the document specific to each case, the court has repeatedly sort of made up laws where there were none. Strict Constitutionalists have been rare to non-existent on most courts. (Gotta love the egos on some of these people.)

    The control of hate speech, in particular, is a dicey issue. Where are we supposed to draw the line? Each person has a different opinion of where that line is. In a truly pluralistic, Constitutional country like the U.S., the ideal is that we don’t draw any lines. Let people express themselves and let the chips fall where they may. How else will we ever learn, grow and mature as a society? Show me a child who is exposed to nothing new except a narrow definition of one person’s view of the world and I’ll show you those FLDS kids on that compound in Texas. Is that the kind of nation we want to raise?

    When Malcolm X said “by any means necessary”, you can make a case that hoards of frightened white Americans thought of that as hate speech. It wasn’t, but the truth is not the point. The opinion becomes the point in a world where people draw lines around opinions. No lines will eventually reveal the truth.

    We are so used to being non-Constitutional in our self-governance that perfectly intelligent people, like yourself, will say “Freedom of speech also has exceptions” without giving a first thought to what that really means. Freedom of speech has no such thing. PEOPLE force other PEOPLE to conform to their will in these cases, nothing more, nothing less. It’s a form a tyranny of the majority. The VERY THING that the Constitution (and the Bill of Rights) was supposed to stop.

  11. kjc
    Posted September 10, 2008 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    “Good to know Obama won’t be calling for a renewal of the assault weapons ban, a clear infringement of the peoples’ right to keep and bear arms”

    if i’d know you thought like that, I wouldn’t have read your fried chicken reviews.

    (what’s wrong with people…)

  12. Maw
    Posted September 10, 2008 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    And here I didn’t read your fried chicken reviews because I thought that you hated assault weapons.

  13. Posted September 10, 2008 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    My bubble has not been burst. My point was that the Constitution is a bunch of junk. Jefferson himself had envisioned a country that would rewrite their constitution every 20 years, per the will of the people.

  14. Brackache
    Posted September 10, 2008 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Oh, kjc. Your being willing even to hide yourself from the benefits of a local fried chicken joint review because you’re intolerant and closed-minded regarding my opinion on firearms and firearms laws, an opinion which I assure you is based on years of study and personal experience, unlike perhaps yours (which I wager is based on your imagination fueled by fear and ignorance), is a reflection on flaws in your character — not mine.

    Do you even know what an assault weapon is?

  15. GerorgeWBushismypersonalJESUS
    Posted September 10, 2008 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    The great writ of Habeas Corpus has never been applied to persons (citizens or non-citizens) taken prisoner on a battlefield … until now.

    Wow tomorrow is 9/11 +7 years without a terrorrist attack on ‘murican soil. Heckuva job Bushie! Heckuva job!

  16. Curt Waugh
    Posted September 10, 2008 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    “My point was that the Constitution is a bunch of junk.” What the hell are you talking about? And who gives a shit what Thomas Jefferson has to say? He’s not here. The Constitution is ours to do with as we please. In case you hadn’t read it, it doesn’t need to be re-written every 20 years. It has every mechanism built into it to peacefully change and even abolish it if we see fit.

    So, if the Constitution is a “bunch of junk”, what do you propose to replace it? If it’s junk, what exactly SHOULD we do? I’m interested to hear your opinion since you seem to have thrown our entire writ of self-governance out the window. (Hey, I don’t think the government follows its own rules, but I think it should. How do we do that without reference to the Constitution?)

  17. Curt Waugh
    Posted September 10, 2008 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    And, referring the Bush troll two posts prior (and I really hope you’re joking, it’s hard to tell): We hadn’t had an attack on American soil for a gajillion years BEFORE the republicans took office. Stick that in your Magna Carta and choke on it.

  18. Brackache
    Posted September 10, 2008 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Hey Gerorge: We also typically don’t go to war without a formal declaration of war from Congress. At least prior to the Korean not-technically-a-war… you know, when we actually WON wars?

    Constitutional solution to nationless terrorism = Letters of Marque and Reprisal. Look it up.

    Also not building military bases on other countries’ turf might help.

  19. GerorgeWBushismypersonalJESUS
    Posted September 10, 2008 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    We also typically don’t go to war without a formal declaration of war from Congress.

    Uh … lemme see …. the Civil War?

    “Since major al-Qaida attacks are planned well in advance and have historically been separated by intervals of 12 to 24 months, we will find out how much we’ve been distracted soon enough.” (Frank Rich; “Never Forget What?” New York Times, Sept. 14, 2002.)

    Heckuva job!

  20. GerorgeWBushismypersonalJESUS
    Posted September 10, 2008 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    p.s. Letters of Marque and Reprisal are an Article I power (that’s Congress) so tell that commie bitch Pelosi to git off her fat hinie and print some up … I suggest Blackwater or Haliburton but I’ll keep an open mind.

  21. Posted September 10, 2008 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    Yes, Mark.

    I read that quote this morning, and I felt inspired.

    I want a president who is able to inspire the great people who make up this country.

  22. Posted September 11, 2008 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    I propose that we replace the constitution with the 5 Commandments that Moses dropped in History of the World, Part 1

  23. Brackache
    Posted September 11, 2008 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm, Civil War, Gerorgie boy… okay, I’ll play catch, that’s an interesting one. How bout… the North didn’t consider the South a seperate country, but an unconstitutional confederation of States in a state of insurrection? Therefore a declaration of war would be unnecessary. I don’t know for sure, that’s just a guess, but I think it’s a good one.

    Iraq, on the other hand, is a seperate country which requires a declaration of war for us to make war upon them.

    Just so we’re clear though, if unconstitutional actions were made at any point in American history, regardless of the outcome, they’re still unconstitutional and therefore illegal. It doesn’t justify those actions, it means we should repent and not emulate such actions.

    As for the Letters of Marque and reprisal, Ron Paul did bring it up, but our other buttfucker representatives didn’t do their fucking jobs and uphold their oaths of office because it wasn’t politically expedient.

  24. Dirtgrain
    Posted September 11, 2008 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    I forgot what you all are arguing about.

  25. Brackache
    Posted September 11, 2008 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    We just keep jumping from thing to thing at the whim of trolls, really.

  26. nearby
    Posted September 11, 2008 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Its so cute.

    It’s like people actually BELIEVE there is a difference between the parties.

    Sure they talk different. But in terms of actions? come one.

  27. czvm
    Posted September 11, 2008 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    Brachache. Thank you for clearly defining the legal language for the federal government to intrude on states’ rights:

    “Er, um, you are a ‘unconstitutional confederation of States in a state of insurrection’ … cough … that is what we consider you …cough.”

    Fact is, slavery is a state’s right and you are a fucking neocon for suggesting otherwise.

    Or, is defining personhood something reserved for the Federal government and its courts?

  28. czvm
    Posted September 11, 2008 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    sorry. I forgot. I’m a troll. I don’t expect you to respond. because you know:

    “Er, um, you are a, cough, troll, and, er, don’t expect us neocons to jump at er, cough, your whims of insurrection.”

    States rights are states rights. I don’t support slavery but it is a states right. Stop posturing.

  29. czvm
    Posted September 11, 2008 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    By the way, I know what an assault weapon is. I agree with the dictionary:

    1. a sudden, violent attack; onslaught.
    1. any instrument or device for use in attack or defense in combat.

    Funny thing is out of all the things you people would describe as weapons the only thing I own that meets the definition of assault weapon is something that you all wear to keep your pants up. Until it is used nothing is a weapon and everything has the potential to become a weapon. So if you want to ban assault weapons ban everything that has the potential to be used in a sudden violent attach which is everything.

  30. Curt Waugh
    Posted September 12, 2008 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Oh my god, czvm is one of those (yet another anonymous) states’ rights assholes. Get ready for the ditto-head to spew some more thoughtless crap.

    Turn off Hannity and read something intelligent, ya troll. You might want to start with the very Constitution that seems to make you bristle so much. God forbid we actually have any rules to live by, eh?

    Slavery is not a state right, fuckhead — Amendment XIII. Do you really not know how to read? Good lord, the whole amendment is only 47 damn words. Here, since you don’t know how to use the internet or read more than a dictionary (you know, one word at a time with a pronunciation key):

    Amendment XIII

    Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

    Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

    Is this not clear enough for you? Grow up. I thought maybe you’d study this in one of your several years in 7th grade.

    And yeah, you happened to look up one whole big word in the dictionary. Since when does a dictionary determine our legal definitions? You really don’t know much, do you? This ain’t the United State of Merriam-Webster.

    And the Confederacy was an illegal secession. The Constitution contains clear language for both it’s own dissolution or the removal of any state. But individual states don’t have the right to choose to leave on their own. They need permission from a super-majority of states to do this. (I’m saying these things for the rest of you. This loser troll already has it made up in his mind that he’s the King of Michigan and there’s nothing we can do about it. Oh sorry anony-troll, that was a reference to a book. Didn’t mean to freak you out.)

    Back to the issues…

  31. kjc
    Posted September 12, 2008 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    “Oh, kjc. Your being willing even to hide yourself from the benefits of a local fried chicken joint review because you’re intolerant and closed-minded regarding my opinion on firearms and firearms laws, an opinion which I assure you is based on years of study and personal experience, unlike perhaps yours (which I wager is based on your imagination fueled by fear and ignorance), is a reflection on flaws in your character — not mine.

    Do you even know what an assault weapon is?”

    Dude, so rude. It was a joke. I think your imagining of my imagination, mind, and tolerance might be fueled by your ignorance. And your assholic assumptions about my flawed character are truly a model of open-mindedness. Choke on a chicken bone, you aggressive ass. Years of studying assault weapons–oh yeah I can tell.

  32. Brackache
    Posted September 12, 2008 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Hahaha! wow. Me comment on blog.

    kjc — sorry I was unable to determine that your statement was a joke. Your counter accusations are inaccurate.

    czvm — I was postulating why the North might not have thought it necessary to declare war on the South. That’s it. You heard me asserting a platform I never asserted one way or the other and got mad over nothing.

  33. kjc
    Posted September 12, 2008 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    that’s ok about the joke part. i’m sure it’s not the first time you weren’t able to determine something.

  34. Dirtgrain
    Posted September 12, 2008 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Oh, now I know what you all are arguing about (yah, I know, sarcasm doesn’t work on the internet without a disclaimer).

  35. Brackache
    Posted September 12, 2008 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    You’re right kjc, it isn’t.

    But what was up with your “what’s wrong with people…” ?

    Were you implying that there’s something wrong with me mentally because I think the assault weapons ban was wrong? Or was that part of the joke?

    You can imagine why I would defend myself with a similarly ad-homominem rejoinder since the former was the literal and most obvious interpretetion.

  36. Brackache
    Posted September 12, 2008 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    hominem. I knew I’d typed that “om” in the first time. Damn it.

  37. Brackache
    Posted September 12, 2008 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Curt: cvzm will no doubt counter that the 13th Ammendment was passed Dec. 6th, 1865. The Civil War began in 1861. Therefore, at the time of Secession, a case could have been made by the States that the 10th Ammendment protected a State’s right to legislate slavery independant of Federal law, and that Federal attempts to legislate slavery violated the 10th Ammendment.

    You may then argue that Article I section 10 prohibits States from forming a confederation, which was probably the Union position.

    He could then argue that after having seceded from the Union, the Confederate States of America were no longer bound by the United States’ Constitution and its injunction against States forming a confederation.

    So really, the Civil War was about States having the right to secede from the United States, withdraw from the US Constitution, and then fire on a United States’ fort remaining in Seceded (foreign, depending on whose side you’re on) territory.

    I am making no value judgements here in regards to either the Union or Confederate positions on the matter at this time. Don’t anybody start getting all up in my grill with a bunch of whatnot about my hating States’ rights or thinking slavery is awesome or something.

  38. Brackache
    Posted September 12, 2008 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Curt: I can’t find the part in the Constitution regulating inclusion of new States or secession of old States. Help me out.

  39. Mr. Hyde
    Posted September 12, 2008 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Brackache, the sour mood of this discussion was all your fault because of the way you responded to Ed.

  40. the professor
    Posted September 12, 2008 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Curt: It’s not in the Constitution – The 1785 Northwest Ordinance adopted by the Congress (pre-Constitution) established the manner in which areas of the Northwest Territory would become states. That set the model, which has been followed (more or less) since then. Congress is responsible for creating territorial governments, and for setting the conditions under which those territories could become states.

    …now the question is, other than for the poli sci-challenged among us, why is this important?

  41. Brackache
    Posted September 13, 2008 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Is it because Congress could determine whether a new territory could have slaves or not as one of its conditions for state-hood, thereby influencing the balance of congressional representation in favor of the south or the north respectively? Which then could lead to an “unbalanced” congress (I mean one that legislates in favor of one region over another) imposing tariffs on certain goods that would have the effect of harming one region economically and giving its competetor region an advantage economically?

  42. Curt Waugh
    Posted September 15, 2008 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    “Curt: It’s not in the Constitution” — kinda, maybe, maybe not

    Article I, Section 10:
    “No state shall enter into any…confederation.”

    “No State shall, without the Consent of Congress…enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State…”

    Article VI:
    “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned…shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution…”

    I think that leaving the Union might not exactly be construed as supporting the Constitution.

    Certainly a case can be made that they were, in fact, no longer states so they could do whatever the hell they wanted. But the fact of their dissolution of statehood was not voted by congress stands strong against their own declaration of independence. They just sort of turned their backs on the constitution, which was implicitly not allowed by a thorough reading of the document (as history has proved). All of them, after all, agreed to join in the first place. They weren’t forced. They voted.

    At the time of the confederacy, there certainly was no firm answer. Thus, the Civil War. Later cases (including the war itself) cleared this up – especially Texas v White, where the phrase “an indissoluble relation” was used.

  43. Curt Waugh
    Posted September 15, 2008 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    What amazes me in all of this, however, is how hell-bent on separation some people are. There is another solution: Edit the damn document. It’s really not that hard. If we still risk separation because some of these states rights-philiacs still dream of a southern independent country (or believe that each state is its own country), change the document to reflect this. I don’t understand why this is never sought as the solution. What’s everybody so afraid of? It seems we’d rather declare ourselves something and fight for generations. What a waste of time. Am I the only one who’s sick of fighting the same battles for generations?

    We should:

    – Clarify what “right to bear arms” means
    – Define the beginning of life
    – Define the dissolution of statehood
    – Put to rest this whole “Christian nation” concept
    – Figure out why impeachment is used for oral sex and not illegal wars
    (OK, that last one might not need to be written-in. The words “pleasure the president orally” in the Constitution might not be all that cool.)

    Anybody have any others?

  44. Brackache
    Posted September 15, 2008 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Curt, all due respect, and I’m not yet taking sides on this secessionist stuff, but your arguments are full of holes.

    Will elaborate after work.

  45. Curt Waugh
    Posted September 15, 2008 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    I’m certainly curious to see how my argument is “full of holes” when so many years and court cases (and a war) show it not to be so.

    I do believe that you are at least partially correct in your earlier post about the theoretical legal position that the south thought it was in. But history clearly proves them wrong. I also think it’s extremely difficult to separate all the overlapping motivations that lead to this matter being settled in 1865 (and again in 1869). It all gets pretty muddy pretty fast.

    And thank you for indulging me. I’m sick of yelling at trolls. (And I sincerely doubt that cvzm was trying to forward any of the intelligent arguments you are making.)

  46. Brackache
    Posted September 15, 2008 at 7:01 pm | Permalink


    1) Wars don’t decide right and wrong, they decide who had a strategic advantage and who didn’t.
    a)The north had a far greater ability to replenish troops and supplies than the south did. The idea that that would decide who was right and wrong about whether the south had the right to secede or not is medieval. It’s a might-makes-right, trial by combat on a massive scale. Most of us secretly believe though, that wars decide right and wrong, illogical though it is. But it’s really offensive if you think about it. If I assert that I have the authority to have sex with your wife, and you say I don’t, then we get in a fight about it and I win because I have better weapons, it still doesn’t make it right, does it? So enough about war settling right and wrong.

    2) Legislation right after the war is obviously going to support the recent victors. It’s a bit late for those post-war court cases to be unbiased. I would have thought that went without saying. This point is related to the first.

    3) The British Parliament, which we were a part of before the American Revolution, didn’t give America its independance by voting on it. WE gave it to ourselves by declaring it. We just quit. Just like the secessionist States did. How’s that for legal precedence?

    4) Yes, previous representatives of secessionist States voted to be part of the Union, but I fail to see in the Constitution where that vote obligates their future counterparts to not decide otherwise.

    5) Regarding the Oath of office, most secessionists were of the opinion that most of Congress was in violation of (or about to be, I guess) the Constitution, specifically the 10th Ammendment. Of course, the Federal Government is always in violation of the 10th Ammendment these days, but nobody cares. The point is, they felt they had no other recourse to assert their rights than to resign from their previous bonds of Federation with the other States.

    I’d like to point out here that I think every slave had the natural right to stove his master’s head in with a shovel in defence of his own liberty. I’m not siding with slavery. But the more I think about it, I think we should have just let the south secede and flounder economically, eventually getting rid of slavery on their own like everybody else. The north’s use of force has made defiant racism and yankee hatred a point of pride in many people that it otherwise probably would not have been if the union had let the south secede peacefully.

    How’s that for something interesting to think about?

  47. Posted September 15, 2008 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    If the north had let the south secede, there would still be slavery well into the 20th century. There is still slavery down there, we just don’t call it that. We call it “subhuman wages” and “poor living conditions” but a rose by any other name is still a rose.

    Much of the reason Katrina was so devastating was because of the slave trade era. Things haven’t changed very much since then. The same people who had all the money then, have all the money now and guess who’s still doing the grunt work.

  48. Oliva
    Posted September 15, 2008 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon

    Anybody know this new book? I heard the author speak on a panel aired by C-SPAN last weekend. It was phenomenal.

    From the book: “The slavery that survived long past emancipation was an offense permitted by the nation, perpetrated across an enormous region over many years and involving thousands of extraordinary characters.”

    From an April 2008 NYT, book review, “What Emancipation Didn’t Stop After All”:

    In “Slavery by Another Name” Douglas A. Blackmon eviscerates one of our schoolchildren’s most basic assumptions: that slavery in America ended with the Civil War. Mr. Blackmon unearths shocking evidence that the practice persisted well into the 20th century. And he is not simply referring to the virtual bondage of black sharecroppers unable to extricate themselves economically from farming . . .

  49. Mark H.
    Posted September 15, 2008 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Brackache, I think you need to learn more history! You claim that “The British Parliament, which we were a part of before the American Revolution,….” but that is of course exactly wrong. The colonies were NOT part of the parliament – had no representatives there at all! The revolution was in no small part about issues arising from that lack of representation.

    In contrast, the 11 states that rebelled in treason against the USA in 1861 all had had representation in the US Congress….and the slave states also, by the way, dominated control of the Supreme Court and the presidency for about 2/3 of the time since the constitution became effective. Indeed, that constitution contained provisions -such as the 3/5 clause – that were intended to ensure that the slaveholding states had disporportionate influence in the Federal govt. The 11 treasonous states tried to leave the Union because their side lost a fair election, and Lincoln was elected president.

    The contrast between the total exclusion of the American colonies from parliament and the very powerful presence of the 11 southern states in the Federal govt. is so drastic that there is no valid analogy.

    I’d add that you seem to be making up historical claims about what MIGHT have been argued in 1861 without any reference to the actual evidence about what WAS argued in 1861. The southern states left the Union to protect slavery, pure and simple. Doubt me? Read the Declaration of Sentiments on the Causes of Secession, passed by S. Carolina’s secession convention, late Dec. 1860,

  50. Brackache
    Posted September 15, 2008 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    Will do Mark H.! I make no bones that I’m pulling things out of faded memory and on-the-spot theorizing exclusively… except with the occasional pocket Constitution referencing. I haven’t really thought about secession so much until it was brought up here. I thought I made that clear earlier. Thanks for the learned input.

    I had read somewhere that we did have some representation in parliament though, but it was limited somehow. I’m off to look it up.

  51. Brackache
    Posted September 15, 2008 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    Virtual Representation. That’s what I was thinking of. Yes, I know, it’s apples and oranges compared to direct representation of Southern States, but at least I’ve partially avoided the judgement of total douche bag for the moment.

    The point was, the colonies declared independance and so did the southern states. What we’re trying to figure out is if secession was clearly illegal and if so, where’s the law.

    Can you help, Mark H.? Do you know where the law is that made secession clearly illegal?

  52. Brackache
    Posted September 15, 2008 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    Mark H., I read this S. Carolina one. I hope for your argument’s sake that it’s not the one you mean, because there’s eight metric assloads of States’ Rights stuff in there, including stuff about the 10th Ammendment, like I theorized.

    You should have said the Mississippi one. Nothing but slavery in that one.

    Them were some racist mofo’s.

  53. Dishonest Abe
    Posted September 16, 2008 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    Yeah right. Secession was so obviously unconstutional and illegal that superlawyer ole Honest Abe went right to the U.S. supreme court and … o wait … he didn’t did he? And when CSA troops were captured they were charged and tried wi … uh what’s that … no they weren’t. Hmmm.

    Oh yeah and the 13th amendment could only be pushed through after the Northern FASCISTS declared that no southerner who fought for his state could vote in that state’s own election — so the 13th was only passed by carpetbagger pseudo-state legislatures where the citizens of the ststes true views were not counted. Wow? Hitler was fairer than that.

  54. Curt Waugh
    Posted September 16, 2008 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Why is it that people only seem to declare “states’ rights” when they want to impose the most vile way of life upon other people?

    States’ rights so we can limit a woman’s right to choose.

    States’ rights so we can impose Christian prayer in school.

    States’ rights so we can maintain slavery.

    States’ rights so those dark-skinned kids won’t go to our whites-only schools.

    States’ rights so we can have multiple wives (but not husbands).

    States’ rights so I can keep an arsenal in my basement.

    It just leaves a bad impression, doesn’t it? Call me Fido Pavlov but I just can’t get over the history of this rallying cry. Just doesn’t make sense.

  55. Brackache
    Posted September 16, 2008 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Curt: okay, a lot of people on both sides of the isle think the purpose of the Federal Government is to impose their morality on everyone, so you’re not alone, but that still doesn’t answer the question of whether secession was illegal or not, which is the question at hand.

  56. Brackache
    Posted September 16, 2008 at 7:17 pm | Permalink


    Mark H.?

    Somebody please show me exactly why secession was illegal!

    I’m sick of having to make up my mind to hold deucedly unpopular opinions because of their being supported by available evidence, so SAVE ME FROM HAVING TO CONFIDENTLY ASSERT THAT THE SECESSIONIST STATES WERE COMPLETELY WITHIN THEIR RIGHTS TO SECEDE!!!

    By the way, for anyone reading this still, I don’t give a damn about Palin or McCain or Obama, so I’m feeling left out of Mark’s blog lately. This off-topic, meaningless discussion is my only outlet. Apologies for any annoyance.

    Since I’m apologizing and relatively sure no one is following this discussion anymore, I’d like to apologize to Ed for blowing up at him earlier and ad-homineming his ass so colorfully. I tend to get a trifle short when allergies, coffee, work, and gun rights combine. That was mean of me.

  57. Curt Waugh
    Posted September 17, 2008 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Brack, we can just keep this conversation to ourselves. Move along everybody. Nothing to see here.

    You state, most capitally, that you want someone to “ASSERT THAT THE SECESSIONIST STATES WERE COMPLETELY WITHIN THEIR RIGHTS TO SECEDE!!!”

    I think we have come to the conclusion that there is no pat answer either way. They’ve been arguing about this since 1861 (and probably before) The whole big Civil War mess was such an overlapping morass of personal, economic, historical, religious and legal arguments. Ultimately, the preponderance of opinion over time seems to indicate that it was illegal.

    (I was researching this issue and even the Federalist papers had very little to say about it. They must have had a “let’s get everybody in and worry about it later” attitude.)

    Yes, I know that the victors get to write the history books, but it’s clear that this issue was at least mostly settled way back when. We haven’t had another secession movement since then, at least. In other words, we have come to ACCEPT (at least in the majority) that the secession was illegal. But the debate rages on…

    I personally believe that “a more perfect union” is the ultimate goal and that secession is unthinkable and, therefore, unmentioned.

  58. Brackache
    Posted September 17, 2008 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, but so far S. Carolina’s declaration of secession made the most airtight legal case I’ve seen on the issue. I don’t see why the Union couldn’t have just let the secessionist States secede, remove their bases from secessionist soil, change the Constitution to outlaw slavery entirely and make it okay to harbor fugitive slaves (now that there were far fewer slave states left in the union to vote it down), and of course private abolitionist groups could continue to encourage slaves in Secessionist States to revolt through literature and supplying arms and poisons and what not. Haiti had a successful slave revolt, it’s not like it was impossible.

    Which leads me to conclude that the only reason it’s common opinion that the south seceded illegally was that the north had more guns and kicked the south’s ass. Not for any actual legal reason. So might makes right regarding secession.

    I assume few groups have tried to secede since then, not because they think it’s illegal, but because they know the feds will send guys with guns to kill them whether it’s legal or not.

    Sorry to believe this, but so far no one’s been able to show otherwise. I’ll change my mind if someone does.

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