STARTING TOMORROW: The children of Flint!

MONDAY, JANUARY 18, 2021

Anthropology lesson rolls on: The anthropology lesson rolls on, and on and on and on.

Consider the first half of this morning's essay by Ben Smith—the part of the essay in which Smith says "the mainstream media loves to beat itself up." If we might borrow from the late Fulton Oursler, it strikes us as the latest example of The Dumbest Story Ever Told.

We hope to run through this matter later this week. That said, so many dumbest stories, so few pixels and so little time!

Indeed, the ongoing lesson in our species' instinct for dumbness rolls on and on and on. For today, we'll start where we left you on Saturday.

We'll start with the corporate partners at TNT, the NBA and Nike celebrating the legacy of the late Dr. King. And no, we aren't dreaming this up:

On MLK Day the league will have a five-game slate of nationally televised games on TNT and NBA TV, beginning at Noon EST. During those games and throughout the weekend, teams will wear custom Nike MLK Day warm-up t-shirts designed in collaboration with the NBPA, MLK Foundation, and Martin Luther King III. 

As you can see, the King family is involved in this gong-show too. Being just as human as everyone else, they've tended that way all along.

We humans! "The rents are too damn high," one sidewalk poet once said. 

The rents were too damn high, but so too with the financial rewards! What inevitably follows, top scholars now say, results from our species' imperfect wiring.

Please remember Dr. King as you gaze on those Nike warm-ups beginning at noon EST! In passing, though, we'll mention two other examples of current human logic.

President Donald J. Trump pardons himself: We start with the possibility that Donald J. Trump will issue a pardon of or to himself at some point in the next two days.

We have no way to know how the Supreme Court would rule on the constitutional validity of such an action, but we ask you to ponder the logic of such an act:

If a commander-in-chief can pardon himself for federal crimes, then any such president could commit a federal crime each morning and pardon himself that night. Groundhog Day could prevail the next morning—and yet, in fairness, the Constitution doesn't explicitly forbid the commander from such a ludicrous action.

Senate bars Donald J. Trump from running again: The logic behind an act of self-pardon seems ludicrous on its face. But how far behind it is the logic of this other proposed action?

Can the Senate, by a simple majority vote, bar the current commander-in-chief from running for president again? We don't know how the Supreme Court would rule on the constitutional validity of such an action, but consider the logic of such an act:

In the current context, we're imagining that fifty Democratic senators, assisted by the tie-breaking vote of a Democratic vice president, could make it impossible for the most popular Republican pol to run for president the next time around! 

In our view, this action isn't quite as dumb as a self-pardon would be, but it comes strikingly close. For the record, constitutional language concerning any such action strikes us as remarkably vague, and the matter has never been tested in court.

Does it make sense to regard these two proposals as something like "dumb and dumber?" We can't tell you how the Supreme Court would rule on the constitutionality of these proposed actions. But it's easy to see the way these two proposals join hands as our nation slides toward the sea of all-out tribal warfare.

(For the record: Could the possibility of that second action convince Republican senators to vote against impeachment itself? Do we really have to ask? Of course it maybe and possibly could!)

At any rate, major experts have persistently warned us about three anthropological points:

Our species just isn't especially "rational," these despondent scholars have said. Also, our species is inclined to split into tribes and to launch tribal war against the other.

Third point: When the tribal war begins, top experts all say, enlightenment values—our rationality, fairness and common sense—will typically be the first victim. 

Our fabled rationality goes out the door! So we thought, this past Saturday, when we finally steeled ourselves to sit down and watch Thursday night's Maddow Show. 

The host was discussing the children of Flint, and so we steeled our souls.

In our view, what we saw was anthropologically instructive. The children of Flint deserve our best work, so we'll start with that topic tomorrow.

Tomorrow: Misdemeanors and poison

Later today: Dr. King, plus John Wick, plus storewide reductions on love seats


18 comments:

  1. "Does it make sense to regard these two proposals as something like "dumb and dumber?""

    Meh. Everything - and we mean everything - coming out of your liberal-zombie cult and your goebbelsian zombie-media in the last 4 years (a few months longer, actually) has been equally dumb. If not dumber.

    And we don't expect this to change any time soon, dear Bob. Quite the opposite. Pass the popcorn.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Says the moron who bought "supply-side economics" hook, line, and sinker.

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    2. "everything - coming out of your liberal-zombie cult and your goebbelsian zombie-media in the last 4 years (a few months longer, actually) has been equally dumb. If not dumber."

      Look who's talking Space Force.

      Delete
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  2. If sixty-seven senators view Trump’s actions on January 6th as so heinous they merit his removal from office, why would they not all vote to bar him from holding federal office again, if they do indeed have that power? Seems like a reasonable punishment for someone who incited thousands to storm the Capital and attempt to decapitate a coequal branch of our government!

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  3. The Constitution gives Congress the power of impeaching and convicting the President rather than leaving it up to a criminal court to convict him and throw him in jail, or possibly executing him. This makes impeachment an inherently political act, although at least some of the Founding Fathers seem to have hoped that parties would not play as much of a role as they have come to do. Even if jurors could be perfectly objective (which of course they aren't when politics is involved) politicians in Congress are inherently political. To argue against impeaching the President because it involves politics is therefore pretty silly - you might as well say that there should be no impeachment.

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  4. You can argue that impeachment and disqualification from office are bad politically, as Somerby has done and is doing.

    But it is not legitimate to argue that disqualification from office is a “dumb” idea with dubious constitutionality, and it certainly makes no sense to equate it with a potentially corrupt act such as a self-pardon.

    In fact, the language about disqualification is in the Constitution:

    “Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.”

    In fact, disqualification (without conviction/removal) has been imposed twice:

    “The Senate imposed disqualification twice, on Judges Humphreys and Archbald. In the Humphreys trial the Senate determined that the issues of removal and disqualification are divisible, 3 Hinds’ Precedents Of The House Of Representatives § 2397 (1907), and in the Archbald trial the Senate imposed judgment of disqualification by vote of 39 to 35. 6 Cannon’sprecedents Of The House Of Representatives § 512 (1936). During the 1936 trial of Judge Ritter, a parliamentary inquiry as to whether a two-thirds vote or a simple majority vote is required for disqualification was answered by reference to the simple majority vote in the Archbald trial. 3 Deschler’sprecedents ch. 14, § 13.10. The Senate then rejected disqualification of Judge Ritter by vote of 76–0. 80 Cong. Rec. 5607 (1936).”

    https://law.justia.com/constitution/us/article-2/49-judgment-removal-and-disqualification.html

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  5. "We have no way to know how the Supreme Court would rule on the constitutional validity of such an action..."

    Well, if last week's vote to execute a mentally impaired woman has any precedence, a mentally impaired Trump shouldn't get much sympathy from the ghouls Republicans put on the SCOTUS.

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  6. "As you can see, the King family is involved in this gong-show too."

    Finally, MLK day is being taken seriously as a holiday, with actual celebration, and Somerby calls it a "gong show". Personally, I think fireworks on the 4th of July is more of a gong show, but who doesn't love the gong show? If it weren't so obvious that Somerby intends this as a pejorative, I wouldn't object.

    Perhaps Somerby thinks that basketball players should just play basketball. If so, reducing the players to machines without any stake in today's holiday and no human interest in anything besides playing is a form dehumanization, obviously, and implies that he doesn't want his enjoyment of the game polluted by any reminders of civil rights, even if MLK was a wise soul and giant among men (as Somerby has proclaimed him on previous occasions).

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  7. "...and yet, in fairness, the Constitution doesn't explicitly forbid the commander from such a ludicrous action."

    The Constitution doesn't explicitly forbid the commander [in chief] from chewing gum while giving the State of Union address either. In fact there are any number of things not explicitly forbidden by the Constitution that are nevertheless ludicrous and not allowed.

    This lack of explicitness is no argument for or against anything. The inability of our forefathers to imagine all of the circumstances that might arise in the future, is an argument against strict construction of the Constitution. Is Somerby now proclaiming himself a strict constructionist?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Watch out whenever Somerby uses the phrase "in fairness".

      Delete
  8. "In the current context, we're imagining that fifty Democratic senators, assisted by the tie-breaking vote of a Democratic vice president, could make it impossible for the most popular Republican pol to run for president the next time around!

    In our view, this action isn't quite as dumb as a self-pardon would be, but it comes strikingly close."

    There was a time in our country's history when there were more than two political parties. In fact, there was a time when there were no political parties. There was a time when legislators were expected to vote their consciences and consider their constituents' interests, not follow party dictates. The extreme partisanship and party-discipline enacted by Newt Gingrich is a more modern development, allow there have been times of deep division before. There is no expectation that it should matter that 50 of the Senators are Democrats if the president has abused his office so severely that Congress is acting. Under normal circumstances, Republicans too would vote to impeach, remove, or bar from office a president who has done heinous things (as Trump has done). The Constitution must have some means of removing a dangerous president from office, and this is it.

    On Saturday, Somerby argued that Trump should be prevented from harming others. Today, he seems to be arguing that use of the means to prevent Trump from harming others is wrong. Somerby cannot have this both ways.

    But clearly, Somerby is not arguing in good faith. His actual goals in writing these essays have nothing to do with his arguments. He just wants to portray liberals and the press as bankrupt, in service of Trump and conservatism. He has no intellectual consistency and he is the last person who should be trying to tell others who makes sense and who doesn't.

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