One of the delights of reading Marbury v. Madison is the logical bind that John Marshall puts Thomas Jefferson. Marshall will give Jefferson what he wants in the case, but only if Jefferson concedes that the Supreme Court can decide the constitutionality of laws, something Jefferson resolutely did not want to do. Writing to Abigail Adams after the decision, Jefferson said:
The Constitution . . . meant that its coordinate branches should be checks on each other. But the opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action but for the Legislature and Executive also in their spheres, would make the Judiciary a despotic branch
The caveat here is that many of the Democrats were southern, and LBJ’s signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (CRA) alienated quite a few of them (Much honor to “Smilin’ Ralph” Yarborough, Democratic Senator of Texas, and the only Southern Democrat in the Senate to vote for the CRA). The flip side, of course, is there was still that rare and mythical beast, a liberal Republican, in those times. Six of those Republicans voted for the CRA, helping break the filibuster.
During last night’s play-by-play, Vin Sculley (the legendary Dodgers’ announcer) invoked the Sword of Damoclesto talk about Chad Billingsley, the pitcher:
He pitches ‘with the Sword of Damocles over his head.’ That’s an old Greek legend. The ruler was Dionysus, and he had a guy in the courtier – in the court – who would always talk about how great the ruler had it. So finally, the ruler said, ‘Ok. I’ll tell you how great it is.’ – the pitch is high, ball two – and he had a big dinner for Damocles and there at the head of the table was the chair and the beautiful table set up. Damocles sat down and directly above his head was a huge sword and it was tied by one horse hair.
The perfection there, of course, is the momentary interjection: “high, ball two.”
It is only appropriate that the batter then hit a home run.
This is one of those “So I can point to it later” posts. The comment policy here at Edge is fairly loose in some ways and fairly tight in others. I think of Edge as as personal space and commenters as guests. They’re very welcome, welcome to come chat, come agree or disagree, come criticize or support, as long they’re polite and don’t overstay their welcome. I’ll usually warn folks if they’re not abiding by the policy. I may tell people to leave a thread if they’re not cooperating. I may ask folks to drop a particular discussion thread if it doesn’t fit with the post (or I don’t think it’s productive).
John Scalzi’s comment policy is well worth a read, especially this part:
You are welcome to comment. I like comment threads with a wide spread of thoughts and opinions, and I take what I feel is well-justified pride in the general high quality of the comment threads on the site. I …
Franklin, commander of the 3rd Air Force at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, said a host of details led to his decision, including that the victim turned down offers to be driven home from the party, didn’t accurately describe the house layout and gave a version of events that he did not find credible.
but it is for the defendant:
He acknowledged that Wilkerson didn’t pass a polygraph test and that there were some differences between the colonel’s version of events and his wife’s
Actually, it even means good things:
Wilkerson’s wife’s account of the events differed in some details from her husband’s, but Franklin said the conflicts suggested that the two didn’t collude on a manufactured story.
Good to know whose word counts, and whose doesn’t. This is, obviously, for values of…
Patrick Rael returns! This time with a guest post on some odd (to put it politely) ways of remembering slavery:
On Sean Hannity’s April 8 television show, Scripps Howard News Service columnist Star Parker likened modern “liberal” Democrats to antebellum slave owners.
When we look at who is behind this strategy, the liberal Democrats have not changed their M.O. This is not a new strategy, they used it during slavery. Remember, every time the word ‘freedom’ was mentioned and African Americans at that time heard about freedom — if you ran away, they would bring you back to that plantation — the overseer — the overseer today is the Congressional Black Caucus, their exclusive job is to keep them on the plantation, keep them uneducated, and keep them unarmed. And this was the same job as the overseer of the slave…
This flies a bit in the face of what public health research tells us about how healthy Americans are. More than one-third are obese, according to the most recent Centers for Disease Control numbers. About 10 percent of Americans live with a chronic condition, like diabetes or high blood pressure. This data suggests there’s some space between how healthy we think we are, and how healthy we actually are.
It might be more interesting to figure out what Americans mean by “good health” rather than simply deciding that they’re wrong.
From the same genre as “The Democrats should throw the 2008 presidential election and make the GOP handle the economic crisis” and “Roe v. Wade actually hurt abortion rights,” we have the New York Times opining that the political success of the gay rights movement may–GASP!–have negative effects:
But momentum in the political world for gay rights could actually limit momentum in the legal world. While the court may throw out a federal law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, the justices signaled over two days of arguments that they might not feel compelled to intervene further, since the democratic process seems to be playing out on its own, state by state, elected official by elected official.
The prospect that gay rights advocates may become a victim of their own political success was underscored during arguments on Wednesday over the constitutionality of the…
The US News and World Report education issue is out! As ever, USNWR has taken on the critical task of ranking colleges and universities, including specific departments, and made a complete mess of the job. Kieran Healy has a couple of typically excellent posts on the subject (here and here). He concludes that USNWR‘s methods and conclusions are arrant nonsense and suggests that crowdsourcing the ranking of sociology departments might make more sense. Eric Rauchway, my once and future co-blogger, invites you to go here if you’re interested in doing the same for history departments.
The last time the pope retired was in 1415, when Gregory XII resigned to try and resolve the Western Schism. Now, there was partisanship for you, partisanship which makes our divided politics look like a scuffle in the park. At one point, there were three people claiming to be the Pope in the west, one based in Rome, one in Avignon, and one in Pisa. The period of the Avignon Papacy was started, as most things are, by secular politics. The Pope of the time, Boniface VIII , and the French King, Philip IV, had a running feud centering around the limits of papal power in France. Philip thought there were rather a lot of limits; Boniface did not agree.
This led to the issuance, in 1302, of the Bull Unam Sanctam, which asserted the Church’s authority over all kingdoms temporal (the quote in the title comes from it). Philip did not take Boniface’s statement lightly and…
John F. Kennedy really is a blank slate to be used for whatever grand narrative someone wants to tell about 20th century American politics, foreign policy, or just about anything:
Their next hero, two decades later, is President John F. Kennedy. Startled by the Bay of Pigs fiasco two years earlier, Kennedy in 1963 was supposedly on the verge of rejecting cold war orthodoxy and leading “the United States and the world down a…path of peace and prosperity” along the lines that Wallace had prophetically laid out. But JFK, like Wallace before him, “had many enemies who deplored progressive change.” Stone and Kuznick stop just short of blaming Kennedy’s assassination on those hidden enemies, as Stone did in his conspiracy film JFK (1991). But they say his death handed the country back to those who “would systematically destroy the promise of the Kennedy years as they returned th…
Okay, this is as close as I’ll come to shilling for my new book (which, you’ll note, has already been panned by a disgruntled reviewer at Amazon). My friend Phillip Barron has just built me an author website. Please check it out if you’d like. There’s a blog over there that I’m sure I’ll use about as often as I use this one.
Update: if you’d like to buy the book, it appears to be in stock here and here.
The GOP, coming off a substantial defeat in the 2012 election and facing difficult demographic trends, is looking to eke out every last electoral vote they can. The latest strategy is to take advantage of blue states where the GOP nonetheless controls the state government. In Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, GOP governors and legislatures are putting forward or discussing laws that would split each state’s electoral vote proportional to the votes won by each candidate. In Pennsylvania, for example, Obama got 52% and Romney 47%. In the current system, that meant that Obama got all 20 of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes. In a revised system where the split was strictly by percentage, each candidate would end up with 10 EVs and if the GOP awarded them by Congressional district, as Maine and Nebraska do, Romney might have ended up with *more* EVs in PA than Obama did….
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This blog is a blog about history, Yiddishkeit, and the Muppets, neither exclusively nor necessarily in that order. And as William Gibson said about this very blog (no, really), “History can save your ass.” Yiddishkeit and the Muppets are just extras.
is the associate director of the Cornell in Washington program and a senior lecturer at Cornell University. He teaches courses on European history, modern military history, guerrilla war, and the role of popular will in waging war.
is a professor of history at UC Davis. He is the author of A River and Its City: The Nature of Landscape in New Orleans, which won the Abbott Lowell Cummings Prize in 2004, and his new book, A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek, will be published by Harvard University Press in fall 2012.
is a professor of history at UC Davis. She is the author of Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11 (Oxford, 2009); Red Spy Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth Bentley (North Carolina, 2002); and Challenging the Secret Government: The Post-Watergate Investigations of the CIA and FBI (North Carolina, 1996).