Monday, May 16, 2016

More on Hamilton and Burr

Sandy Levinson

An interesting side discussion has suggested that Aaron Burr really wasn't so bad as Hamilton suggested in the letters that I quoted (and which, incidentally, were intended to be circulated and thus made known to the relevant publics).  Unlike Donald Trump, for example, he had served his country honorably during the Revolution.  Burr was also anti-slavery.

All of that is interesting, and it is possible that Hamilton was being unfair to Burr.  But, in some sense, that is beside the point.  There can be no doubt whatsoever about two things:  First, Hamilton was acting in terms of what he thought was the public interest.  This was not Henry Clay throwing his support to Adams in return for becoming Secretary of State.  Hamilton obviously never became part of the Jefferson Administration.  One should take him at his word that he was behaving on completely honorable grounds.  The only way that party entered into his calculations was his altogether acute observation that the Federalists would become absolutely liable for a Burr presidency (and for whatever he did) in a way that would not be true if Jefferson became president and they continued to oppose his policies.  Second, there is no reason whatsoever to doubt the sincerity of Hamilton's denunciations of Burr.  Even if we decide was Hamilton was the victim of "Burr derangement syndrome," that doesn't affect at all the fact that he genuinely believed Burr to be a menace to the transcendent goal of establishing a truly "Republican Form of Government" in the United States.  (One might wonder if Burr's post-duel and vice-presidential career vindicated his critics, as was the arguably true with regard to Robert Bork following the rejection of his appointment to the Supreme Court.) 

Hamilton had learned what honor meant from George Washington:  One of the most remarkable features of "Hamilton" is the Washington's Farewell Address, which I never imagined would bring tears to my eyes, but it does inasmuch as it truly captures what made Washington such a truly great republican leader by rejecting the notion of the "indispensable man." 

The overall point is that Alexander Hamilton provided an inspiring model of what it means to be a truly public-regarding citizen.  Paul Ryan could do much worse than to immerse himself in the work both of Pope Francis and Alexander Hamilton if he wishes to present himself as a man we should have any respect for.  Even if one believes that Hamilton ignored some of Burr's merits, that still doesn't entail, of course, believing that we would have been better off with Burr than with Jefferson as president.  (There is also the possibility that the imposition of Burr by Federalists would have led to civil war given the threat of Pennsylvania's and Virginia's governors to call out their militias and march on Washington should the Federalists in effect steal the election.)

It is interesting to compare the Goldwater election with this one.  Many Republicans refused to support Goldwater, but the rationale was, as I recall, almost entirely on policy grounds.  He had, after all, voted against the Civil Right Act of 1964 and seemed dangerously "extremist" to many.  With very few exceptions, he was not denounced as a dangerously power-hungry narcissist  who has no consistent commitments other than xenophobia.  JFK in fact liked Goldwater and was apparently looking forward to flying around the country to debate with him should he get the nomination.  Nor, incidentally, do I recall that Goldwater spent much time attacking the personal character (or physical characteristics) of his adversaries. 


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Here is Alexander Hamilton's letter to Rep. Harrison Gray Otis urging him to support Jefferson over Burr for President

My opinion, after mature reflection, that if Jefferson and Burr come with equal votes to the House of Representatives, the former ought to be preferred by the Federalists. Mr. Jefferson is respectably known in Europe--Mr. Burr little and that little not advantageously for a President of the U[nited] States.--Mr. Jefferson is a man of easy fortune.--Mr. Burr, as I believe, is bankrupt beyond redemption unless by some coup at the expense of the public and his habits of expense are such that Wealth he must have at any rate,--Mr. Jefferson is a man of fair character for probity.--Very different ideas are entertained of Mr. Burr by his enemies and what his friends think, you may collect from this anecdote--A lady said to Edward Livingston ironically "I am told Mr Burr will be President. I should like it very well if I had not learned that he is a man without property."--"Let him alone for that," replied Edward,--"If he is President four years, he will remove the objection."--Mr. Jefferson, though too revolutionary in his notions, is yet a lover of liberty and will be desirous of something like orderly Government.--Mr. Burr loves nothing but himself-Thinks of nothing but his own aggrandizement--and will be content with nothing short of permanent power in his own hands.--No compact, that he should make with any passion in his breast except Ambition, could be relied upon by himself.--How then should we be able to rely upon our agreement with him? Mr. Jefferson I suspect will not dare much. Mr. Burr will Dare every thing in the sanguine hope of affecting every thing in the sanguine hope of affecting every thing.

If Mr. Jefferson is likely from predilection for France to draw the country into war on her side--Mr. Burr will endeavor to do it for the sake of creating the means of personal power and wealth.

This portrait is the result of long and attentive observation of a man with whom I am personally well-acquainted and in respect to whose character I have had peculiar opportunity of forming a correct judgment.

By no means, my Dear Sir, let the Federalists be responsible for his Elevation.--In a choice of Evils, let them take the least--Jefferson is in my view less dangerous than Burr.

But we ought--still to seek some advantages from our situation. It may be advisable to make it a ground of exploration with Mr. Jefferson or his confidential friends and the means of obtaining from him some assurances of his future conduct. The three essential points for us to secure is. 1 The continuance of the neutral plan bona fide towards the belligerent powers 2 The preservation of the present System of public credit--3 The maintenance & gradual increase of our navy. Other matters may be left to take their chance....

In sum, Hamilton accuses Burr of dishonesty, power hunger, self-aggrandizement and seeking to profit from public office.

Of Clinton and Trump, which fits this description better?


Give it up, Bart. I think most of the Democratic party is so deep in denial they're starting to suffer from nitrogen narcosis. Sandy probably even thinks Hillary is such an inspirational speaker that her talks actually ARE worth half a million to listen to.

I've come to the conclusion that they can't be reasoned with, only defeated.

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Let's break this down...

1) Dishonesty: Clinton - Trump is hardly the paragon of honesty, but is there literally anything about which Clinton has not lied, often multiple times with different stories?

2) Power Hunger: Clinton - Hillary has likely wanted to be president since childhood. The woman married for political power, enabled and defended her husband's sexual predations for power, attempted to exercise power as first lady, and has spent the rest of her life climbing the political establishment ladder. Trump decided to run for president last year in what appears to be a lark.

3) Self-Aggrandizement: Trump - No contest here. Trump has spent his life in self promotion.

4) Seeking Profit from Public Office: Clinton - No contest here. The Clintons are the American champions at selling influence for money, earning a nine figure personal fortune for speeches while Hillary was in various offices and living like royalty by using their "foundation" to pay for the lavish dining, travel, and lodging expenses for a massive entourage. Like Jefferson, Trump does not need the money.

While Trump is hardly a prize and I have roundly condemned him on other grounds, the Clintons are what Burr could only dream of becoming.

Sandy's second post in referencing Hamilton letters in his earlier post includes this:

" ... (and which, incidentally, were intended to be circulated and thus made known to the relevant publics). "

In what manner did Hamilton express such intention? To what extent were the letters circulated? Was Burr, considering his reaction several years later to certain words of Hamilton, aware of the letters at the time? Cites would be appreciated so they can be examined and compared to various publications on Hamilton and Burr. Some generals who may have been "genuine patriots" in time of war may, when venturing into politics, be more concerned with their political power. I'm looking at some material that might suggest that Hamilton was not too helpful of President Adams in his campaign for reelection.

SPAM I AM! asked Sandy a question. Sandy anwered the question directly, with one word. But SPAM I AM! doesn't like the answer and pursues with his usual rant against Hillary Clinton. As a judge might say:


Now I have a question for SPAM I AM!: Do you plan to vote for Trump? (I think he will because of that hatred in his genes - that fortunately he will not be passing on.)

" Sandy anwered the question directly, with one word."

"What's two plus two?"


If you're going to provide a facially irrational answer, you might as well try to justify it, so people can at least gage the parameters of your irrationality.

Republicans who support Trump argue they are supporting the public interest -- they argue that HRC will threaten the public interest more than even Trump would.

Trump's weaknesses should make it easier for them than it was for Hamilton. Burr's resume showed more of an ability to be a decent President. But, so it goes there. The same with basic questions of honor. Our friends here think HRC is more dishonorable. Realize SL et. al. seems to think that is very hard to believe, but so it goes again.

So, we are left with the honesty point. Hamilton might have had his position colored somewhat by personal dislike of Burr, but we can grant he was overall honest. Republicans? Well, I think many are honest as well -- as George Costanza told us, it isn't a lie if you believe it. Some probably aren't quite honest about the man but feel HRC will be a threat given what she brings as a Democrat to the Presidency itself. Trump, e.g., will likely appoint certain people to the USSC ... like Nixon with domestic policy, that really isn't his concern. On that level, I think conservatives might be shooting themselves in the foot in certain ways.

But, perhaps I'm a self-interested party. As Lincoln said at Cooper Union, they are not likely to listen to me anyhow.


Also, there is a long history with the Clintons & the Republicans are inclined to be particularly distrustful. Some, e.g., say they rather Sanders, though don't trust them TOO much there especially those who call him a communist. The personal angle -- that is, the people specifically makes the choice hard for some -- is notable.

In '' 'Negro President': Jefferson and the Slave Power,'' Garry Wills crashes the party celebrating Jefferson's election as a triumph for political pluralism with this sobering reminder: ''If real votes alone had been counted, Adams would have been returned to office.'' Jefferson's victory depended on the constitutional calculus that counted an enslaved human being as three-fifths of a person for the purpose of establishing a state's representation in the House, and consequently in the Electoral College. ''Though Jefferson, admittedly, received eight more votes than Adams in the Electoral College,'' Mr. Wills writes, ''at least 12 of his votes were not based on the citizenry that could express its will but on the blacks owned by Southern masters.'' -- Jill Lepore in the NY Times, 12/25/03

Distorting the vote seems to be Republican strategy even at this late date, with their many means of suppressing Democratic voters: roll purges, spurious ID requirements, closing polling places and reducing voting days. At least they're not counting 3/5 of slaves in the census, so that's good.

Brett's 2:04 PM comment plays a game he may be proficient in with "0s" and "1s" with an example of a question of simple addition of two specified numbers to compare with the question SPAM I AM! directed to Sandy and then provides an answer that Brett suggests is facially irrational as Brett claims Sandy's answer to be. But this not a simple math quiz. How is Sandy's answer facially irrational? I doubt that Sandy will see the need to justify his answer to the unprincipled SPAM I AM! or baiting by Brett. After all SPAM I AM!'s question to Sandy relates to a letter Hamilton wrote in the time frame of 1800-1801. The letter is fact though its contents may not be accurate, obviously reflecting Hamilton's opinion of Burr. The question SPAM I AM! posed for Sandy - "Of Clinton and Trump, which fits this description better?" - to which Sandy answered: "Trump!!"

Although some challenge that 2 + 2 may add up to five, this is not arithmetic with SPAM I AM!'s question, which may have been rhetorical what with SPAM I AM!'s hate gene on Hillary Clinton. I think Brett displays that same hate gene with his facially irrational comment. The question posed to Sandy relating to a 216 year old letter to evaluate current candidates calls for an answer that is opinion, subjective in nature. So yes, "ASKED AND ANSWERED"

Bart and Brett are extreme partisans, we know that from their history of hyperbole in that area. They now tell us that Hillary Clinton is beyond the pale, but before that they told us that Barak Obama was the worst ever. Surely before that John Kerry was the worst ever, and before that Bill Clinton was the worst ever, etc. With every person with a 'D' beside their name they've cried wolf and now they just can't understand why people don't take their current canis lupus citing seriously...

Blind partisans that they are they really can't distinguish between Trump's buffoonish behavior, which is off putting to even partisans inclined to support him with his 'R' beside his name, and Hillary Clinton, which is the target of the usual partisan 'corrupt, unqualified, yada, yada, yada.' The good news is that extreme partisans are why the GOP seems lately unable to win the White House. As Bart foolishly, and blindly, saw McCain and Romney in the Oval Office the day before his hopes were dashed they're now re-imagining reality to suit their partisan dreams, come November they'll wake abruptly yet again, sadly unlikely to take any stock in why, oh why, the rest of the world seems to continue to operate on a different track than they.

You will, perhaps, notice that I have never, in nearly 8 years, accused Obama of being a felon. That's because, aside from the usual "3 felonies a day" that people are generally unable to avoid in our over-lawed society, there's no reason to believe he's a criminal.

What I said about him, on Nov. 4th, 2008, was that as a constitution law professor, (I didn't know at the time he was just a lecturer.) I expected him to be particularly good at rationalizing that anything he wanted to do was constitutional, and anything he objected to was unconstitutional. I think I nailed that one.

The reason I call Hillary a felon, and don't call Barack a felon, is that there is extensive evidence that Hillary is a felon, and none that Barack is. It's as simple as that.

Mr. W: Bart and Brett are extreme partisans...


I will not reward a fascist campaign by voting for my party's nominee while Brett is still thinking about it.

Meanwhile, you continue to defend and plan to vote for a pathologically lying, influence peddling, felon merely because the corrupt wench is a Democrat.


Of course you don't call every Democrat a felon, there's different hyperbolic terms for them all.


No, I plan to vote for her because the GOP choice is a buffoon. Every Presidential race each side's partisans calls the other's choice corrupt, lying, criminal, etc. But not in every race do you have someone as buffoonish as Trump.

Mr. W: Every Presidential race each side's partisans calls the other's choice corrupt, lying, criminal, etc....

Yeah, you are right. Hillary is misunderstood.

Goldman Sachs paid her a couple hundred thousand for a speech to marvel at her wisdom and revel in the melody of her voice.

Our ambassador was murdered at Benghazi and the CIA annex besieged by a spontaneous demonstration over a Youtube video.

Storing eyes only top secret intelligence in your hacked home server and a backup server in an IT company bathroom is perfectly OK under State Department rules.

If you can say the last three lines without LOL, you are pretty much a hopeless homer for the Party of Asses.

If you can say the last three lines without LOL, you are pretty much a hopeless homer for the Party of Asses.
# posted by Blogger Bart DePalma : 9:35 PM

You are probably the least self-aware person that I have ever encountered.

SPAM I AM! is a charter member of the the "Party of Asses", the ones with the "holes," going anal on everything Hillary. Thankfully he won't be passing on his genes. Whatever SPAM I AM! says, I'm convinced that his genes will drive him to vote for Trump.

He justified war crimes. He'll have no problem justifying voting for Trump.

There is a liberal talk show host -- Stephanie Miller -- who actually is the daughter of Goldwater's running mate. She had Goldwater's grandaughter on a few times.

“The party has changed and is no longer what Goldwater and Bill Miller would recognize,” said C.C. Goldwater, the senator’s granddaughter and producer of “Mr. Conservative,” a 2006 HBO documentary about him.

Of course, Hillary Clinton used to be a "Goldwater" Girl. I'm inclined to think that if you took away the baggage of decades of conflict (an "other than that, how was the play" deal), various Republicans would accept HC. Foreign policy-wise, they probably could relate some. And, if they controlled even on house of Congress, they could check her power some (more if they controlled the Senate) while Trump is a big wild card. Plus, they could trust she (shades of Burr) had basic skills of a public figure (senator, Secretary of State, overall knowledge of the issues, etc.).

Heck, some blacks back in 2000 (per a campaign bio by a member of the press) respected her sticking with her husband -- cf. three marriages etc. Of the two, she is more conservative socially in various respects. She's pro-choice but no one takes Trump's position there that seriously. And, she had a lot more comfort level with religion generally (again, "Girls on the Bus" discussed how she thrived at Sunday church meetings). And, though some suburban moms were wary of her at first, exposure led many to be very impressed with her.

Finally, there is talk of how Trump is comfortable about business, making the deal and knowing how to play people there. Hillary is criticized for being too cozy with big money. But, if that is supposed to be a positive, that too can attract those who otherwise might vote Republican. There is some crossover appeal.

Trump can hope for some of the Sanders vote but his high negatives with women and minorities suggest he is aiming for too little of the pie. Anyway, one more thing. Republicans can support Clinton in a House vote situation as a sort of last resort effort & only a few need to throw their votes that way as was the case with Federalists in 1800. Then, Clinton is a perfect foil for them & they can push for a win with some more credible candidate in 2020. 20/20 hindsight -- it's a success!

There was a suggestion that Trump would be checked since if he crossed the line, he would be impeached. But, he's the Republican leader if he wins the election. The party is already circling the wagons.

Removal would taint the party & he will likely have a core group actually quite loyal to him, especially once he's President. And, the House is likely going to stay Republican and people there are a more pure version of Republican, protected by safe districts and the like. Clinton like her husband would be more likely to be impeached really. Those who want limited government should support Clinton/Republican Congress as the "lesser evil"; otoh, if one is a conservative, that might not be your thing.

Bart, you forgot that she murdered Vince Foster. In fact, I'm pretty sure that it was zombie Foster that killed those people in Benghazi (he was raised from the dead by Obama's secret Muslim sorcery) and Clinton's video story was a cover up!

I'm not sure why you're driven, when we talk about the stuff she's actually done, to insist that we have to sign on to the crazy stuff, too.

OK, I'm pretty sure why, I'm just being sarcastic.

There's no reason to think that Hillary had Foster murdered. Isn't using a fake suicide note to try to exploit his death for political purposes bad enough?


The Clintons are master fishers of red herring and they have taught their Dem followers like Mr. W well.

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

"the stuff she's actually done"

That's the problem, isn't it? How's one to know 'what she's actually done?' Many of your fellow extreme partisans strongly argue she's 'actually done' the cover up and murder of Vince Foster. You and Bart, both of whom have a history of extreme hyperbole, think she's 'actually done' all kinds of things too. Conservatives have been crying 'wolf, wolf' so much why should anyone listen now?

"That's the problem, isn't it? How's one to know 'what she's actually done?"

What, are you asserting that the whole private server thing is some kind of hallucination? An unsecured server connected to the internet, and containing things so highly classified that they had to upgrade the security classifications of a lot of FBI agents just to conduct the investigation!

Maybe you think some fabulist invented her cattle future trading? Or maybe you just think 100-1 returns in the space of six months of trades structured to not leave a paper trail are routine?

The huge donations to her private foundation followed by favorable treatment by the government are just imaginary?

Don't give us this "How's one to know 'what she's actually done?' nonsense. It's actually very easy to know what she's actually done, if you're not deep in denial.

I'm sure we're ignorant of a lot of what she's done, but what's absolutely known would have anybody else in prison.

Mr. W: How's one to know 'what she's actually done?

Oh please!

Google is your friend. Use it.

Some of us are bit more careful and humble than to conclude that someone has done serious crimes based on our own, likely partisan tinged, layperson's Google investigation. You'll note, perhaps, that I don't tend to claim that Mitt Romney or Ted Cruz or whatever conservative are guilty of serious crimes.

That's because there isn't any freaking evidence that they did! While the evidence that Hillary is a criminal is all over the place.

Seriously, this is maddening. It's literally maddening dealing with liberals on this sort of thing. You've been trained to just blow off any evidence she's a criminal.

Mr. W. has explained his views and his voting history.

"Liberals" here mean "those who have various conservative views, voted for Republicans and independents at times, etc." This is seen by the range of people who don't think she is a "felon," even if -- but darn this isn't good enough, she has to be a secular Satan -- they don't like her or her ideology.

Bias and selective viewing of things -- where Trump gets benefit of the doubt over and over again & reasonable disagreement ("blow off" ... checking codebook ... "discussing repeatedly but noting that the evidence is not available to label her a felon and is only a technical issue at any rate not worthy of the selective concern at issue") is treated in this fashion -- is upsetting.

The technical nature of the act alleged is telling because Brett says he himself is a felon in response to Mr. W. noting the libertarian argument that our current law basically makes everyone a felon somehow. And, the standard here would provide a good amount of "evidence" to suggest Trump is a felon or at least some sort of criminal too, including reports of whom he associated with (mafia ties), allegations of fraudulent behavior, hiring of undocumented workers including at below the minimum wage(Alanis Morrissette is on the phone), threats during his business deals that could be deemed a form of illegal blackmail etc.

But, like his stance on the 1A -- something Brett is quite passionate about but crickets -- this sort of thing never comes up. It is sort of maddening, but that's how bias works. A selective focus that is at times based on something but often taken so far even there that it comes off a bit deranged.

I think our two friends here serve a purpose in this fashion -- they are resident symbols of a broader problem and we will see more of it in the next six months. This is also why people respond to them so strongly -- just two random people is not worth the effort. But, as symbols, it is a bit more.

Brett, if I've been 'trained' by anyone it's been by types such as yourself, people that I know to be partisans, who I know to jump to hasty conclusions based on less than ideal sources when it fits your ideological goals, people that have been making one attack after another on Clinton (and every prominent person with a 'D' beside their name). Like most people, I've learned to either tune that out or take it with heaps of salt.

I've never been much a fan of the Clintons, but it has little to do with what I take to be their 'criminal behavior.' Any sympathy I have for them is enabled by folks like yourself. You guys always, always, overplay your hand, and that has been the chief thing that the Democrats count on in recent elections, they know there's a very angry, very vocal, very prone to hyperbole conservative base that can't help themselves but to overplay their hands, making any other more reasonable criticism of the objects of their attack be drowned out.

There was all kinds of speculation that Romney broke laws: tax laws, disclosure laws, even animal cruelty laws. There was that stuff about how he caused people's death by laying them off depriving them of their insurance. If I were a counterpart to our Dynamic Conservative Duo I could have spun such speculation here. But I didn't. I voted against Romney for a boring, boring reason: I'm pro-choice and he (that year) was not, and I strongly disagreed with his foreign policy.

The funny thing is, does anyone think that absent all the charges against Hillary Clinton they'd say 'well, I think I would vote for her!' They hate her on her policy stances, and the other stuff comes after. It always comes after...

Look, if some person without a big, hefty partisan ax to grind comes out with a convincing finding of Clinton's malfeasance then yes, I'd be happy to oppose her. But to take the word of those who've been hurling hyperbole as long as I've known them? Please.

As is often the case, well said Joe, well said.

I don't think Hamilton's criticism of Burr translates to the current day at all. Hamilton (and most of Burr's other political contemporaries) knew that Burr did not share their selflessness and willingness to serve for the public good, and not for personal gain. As Gordon Wood puts it, their "Disinterestedness." They felt that Burr only wanted public office for his own personal benefit. That criticism would surely apply to all politicians today. If Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton have anything at all in common, it is that neither have that characteristic disinterestedness that made the majority of founding fathers so admirable.

Mr. W:

The fact that many Americans are angry (and this defense attorney is one of them) at a corrupt government which gives its party members and supporters a pass from following the laws under which others are prosecuted and sent to prison does not give you a pass from recognizing reality.

I have repeatedly provided you with the public evidence and the statutory provisions to support the indictment of Hillary Clinton for literally hundreds of felony and misdemeanor crimes. This evidence is far stronger than many of the charges I routinely deal with here in Colorado.

You are far too intelligent to play act the dumb ass.


"I have repeatedly provided you with the public evidence and the statutory provisions to support the indictment of Hillary Clinton for literally hundreds of felony and misdemeanor crimes. "

No, you haven't. This isn't your area, and you're a party that has blurred reality so much for partisan reasons (predicting victories by McCain and Romney for example) that I of course assume your 'evidence' is cherry picked at best.

Michael, it's hagiography that assumes that kind of disinterestedness in the Founders. Washington didn't wear his uniform at the Continental Congress because he was 'disinterested' in power.

MW, going neener neener isn't the same as the other guy not speaking.

Take the cattle futures. $1000 turned into $100,000 in six months, all through transactions structured to not be recorded, and then she abruptly stopped.

Are you capable of acknowledging just how implausible that is? That a neophyte at day trading would rack up 100-1 returns in her first go at it? That said neophyte would then stop, instead of keeping it up for another year so that she could own the entire planetary economy?

There's this well known money laundering technique, where you and the person laundering the money to you both engage the same broker. He then proceeds to carry out a series of trades in both directions for the same sums, and each day assigns to you the one that was profitable, and to the person giving you the money, the one that was losing.

And so, you become magically good at your stock picks, until the funds have all been transferred to you. And then you quit, because you're about to stop being magically good at making stock picks.

Amusingly, the broker Hillary used later got nailed for doing this exact thing.

But, of course, you're just going to assume she was a magically good day trader who stopped when she was on a roll for no particular reason. Because for Democrats, that Hillary is innocent isn't a conclusion.

It's a premise.

Mr. W: discussion, discussion, discussion

[code ring]

= "neener neener"

Mr. W: I'm for x, y, z that is a mixed bag and have voted for Republicans and independents in various cases. I voted against Romney in '12 based on two issues.

[code ring]

= "for Democrats"

The trading thing is prime btw. Trump made various business deals that are iffy but Brett is agnostic about him. When Clinton is involved, standard perhaps questionable business deals suddenly become horrible. If Bernie Sanders was criticizing that, I would take that at face value. Republicans who favor people who profit from just that sort of business deal? Not really.


Mr. W. is correct as to his reply to Michael. Anyways, the overall principle applies even if the reason to vote against the modern day "Burr" is different.

"Perhaps questionable"?

If Trump had ever made a deal that was as questionable as that, he'd be wearing stripes. That cattle futures deal wasn't "questionable", only people in determined denial aren't certain it was crooked.

Facts not in evidence.

I'll just take, since you just skipped over the rest, you concede it.

Not really, but playing by your rules, seems almost fair.

Whiskas & Joe, it is not hagiography at all, it is a conception of aristocratic public service that no longer exists. The point isn't at all that Washington had no interest in power, but that he had a conception of using power for the benefit of the country and his countrymen, rather than himself. Hamilton also believed and tried to live by that ideal. His criticism of Burr was in relation to that ideal. All career politicians today are really comparable to Burr, more than any other figure of that day. Thus I would argue that Hamilton's criticism really doesn't equate to modern day politics. Trump is certainly self-serving, but what 21st century politician isn't?

I'd have to say that Mr. Gould has it nailed. I wouldn't go quite so far as to say that they're ALL Burrs, but the process, and not by accident, filters out anybody who isn't pretty early.

It's a matter of self-reenforcing norms. In an institution dominated by the honest and benign, the honest people gang up on and expel the dishonest, and the institution tends to stay honest. But this isn't 100% effective, because dishonest people are usually better than Hillary at concealing it.

But, if the dishonest get the chance, they expel the honest, because having honest people in the organization is a threat to them. And THAT process is very effective, because it's very difficult for an honest man to successfully pretend to be a dishonest man pretending to be honest. It's likely he isn't even going to think to do so until its too late.

It's rather like the police have a problem with crooked cops, but the mob doesn't have a problem with honest hitmen.

So, once the nasty sort of politician, the Burrs and worse, manage to get into critical positions, they start using those positions to rig the system against anybody honest who comes along. Ron Paul, for instance, went most of his career with the GOP actually funding challenges against him! While Hastert's crimes were swept under the rug until he retired, and Bill gets to take regular fights on the pedophile express without charges.

It's very difficult to get back to the metastable norm of honest public service, once the very stable indeed norm of rule by self-serving corrupt politicians has taken root.

Honestly, at this point, prior to the revolution, the best you can realistically hope for is the self-promoter who isn't in it to make himself rich because he already is. What we're likely to get is the sociopath obsessed with using every opportunity to amass more loot, because she doesn't really care if people know she's a criminal as long as she can escape jail.

Hillary is the sort of politician who only rises to the top in a system that's so rotten it's nearing collapse. The kind who only makes pro-forma efforts to appear honest, because she knows the system is rigged enough that it doesn't matter if people know what she is.

Michael, I think you might be overestimating how public minded the Founders were and underestimating the same in today's politicians. I again refer you to Washington (whom I am a big fan of btw) and his rather amusing ways of 'putting himself out there' to be considered/chosen for leadership position. Sure, he thought he could do good for the country, but he also thought it would be good for him and that *he* should be the one doing it. Can we not say the same for most pols today? For example, let's take the two most recent GOP presidential candidates (I choose them because I didn't vote for the). Romney has problems as a flip-flopper to gain power, and he seems to have an arrogance about fulfilling his father's thwarted run for President, but I don't doubt that Romney sincerely believed he could and should do well by the country (and he had good reason to think this). Likewise McCain is part of a long legacy of public service in his family, but I don't doubt that he really believed that he, as President, would well *serve* his nation. On the other side consider John Kerry. Certainly he's a 'climber,' but also I think his stint as SOS demonstrates that he believes in self-less service (many of his initiatives there, while one can certainly disagree with the wisdom, involved long, thankless hours trying to deal with some pretty tough issues). These long time 'pols' are, in my opinion, not much different than our Founders in that they have a mix of self and public interestedness.

Wadin through Brett's 5:53 AM rambling comment, he informs us:

"Honestly, at this point, prior to the revolution, the best you can realistically hope for is the self-promoter who isn't in it to make himself rich because he already is."

When Brett uses "honestly," that's the time to pay attention. Is he forecasting a revolution? Armed or unarmed? Who are those revolting? Can we assume Brett's reference to "self-promoter" is Trump, whom many consider to be quite revolting? And Brett, not being in the category of the "rich," might be reminded that "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer," but the latter do not have fun as a result. Trump got votes because of wannabes like Brett as he was self funding his campaign so he would not be beholden to contributors, special interests. But that changed. Trump may be beholden to Big Casino. And many question the extent of wealth claimed by Trump who is not prepared to release his tax returns. This reluctance compares to Tricky Dick Nixon's release of his tax returns even as he was being audited. Brett doesn't understand the mindset of the wealthy (by inheritance or otherwise) who measure their success by becoming even wealthier. Does Brett believe that The Donald does not think he will become even wealthier as President as his businesses are run by - wink, wink - his children without any benefits from the Executive Branch under a President Trump?

Shaq, perhaps it's just that Amateur Gentleman SEC Sleuth Brett hasn't trained his focus onto Trump yet.

I do think there is a different level of "aristocratic public service" today, but there remains a certain respect of public service that leads politicians to believe they need to uphold certain standards. Trump violates the rules there to such a degree in the eyes of some, yes even vis-a-vis HRC that Prof. Levinson's test is relevant today. And, even if you think HRC is a lousy example, there are some.

Talking revolutions, interesting D.C. court opinion on public carrying of arms, including "Pink Pistols" as a plaintiff. SCOTUS needs to handle this at some point though the opinion takes a hint from the stun gun case (in a parking lot).

The Pink Pistols turns out to be not merely a women's gun rights organization; it's a GLBT gun rights organization.

Today, Trump released a pretty solid list of judges he would appoint to replace Scalia on the Supreme Court.

Might be enough to convince me hold down my bile and vote for the Donald if he was not a demonstrated liar.

Has there ever been a more dishonest pair of major party presidential nominees in American history?


You should consider my theory: That he'd been acting like a liberal previously because he was doing business in an environment where he'd be punished for not acting like a liberal, and valued being a business success over politics.

I think he's just a pragmatist, not ideological at all.

But he's clearly capable of delegating this stuff to people who know what they're doing. Even the Volokh Conspirators, who have the worse collective case of TDS this side of National Review, seem to be impressed with the list.

Speaking of National Review, they just reacted. They like the list, too. In their own hostile way...

Flick & Flack may be naive if they don't think that The Donald has an awareness of the people the VC, the National Review and other #NEVERTRUMP conservatives/libertarians would put on a list. This is a demonstration by The Donald of the Art of the Pander, chumming for support.

That silence is the noise made by everyone else here when BP votes for Trump.

Jonathan Adler, a conservative against PPACA etc. at VC, wasn't overly impressed -- said some law professor gave him the names; didn't make it worth voting for him.

Of course, Trump is going to delegate a bunch of things, as would be the case for a range of people. The problem is that Trump has various ideological and personal characteristics that people don't trust.

He is not merely a pragmatist. His actions repeatedly show he is not just some blank check. This includes, though Brett and others simply ignore it as they would not if it was a Democrat, his words and actions in response to criticism, including freedom of speech.

Plus, "just a pragmatist" should concern conservative Brett. That means he will do what he deems practical, strict rules, including of a constitutional nature, notwithstanding. This is also the sort of thing Volokh Conspiracy types fear, including regarding executive power.

If one isn't objective and/or selectively are concerned with "Democrats," this will be tempered some. As would lists like this. And, to the extent he is lying to the rubes (he repeatedly puts forth conservative positions and these nominees are conservative ones; they aren't just a bunch of pragmatic choices ... so if he isn't ideological, that is what he is doing), shrugs too.

Everyone does it and he's not a Democrat, so you know, why not?


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Some also want candidates with at least a few years of government service too, of course, but for many that is like the back-up concern.

ETA: Looking at various replies, some don't trust the list -- Trump says various things, after all, and doesn't stick with it. Orin Kerr adds something that follows the pragmatist point -- sure, that list might be ideal, but if Trump has no ideology, he might argue some other person fits the situation when the time comes.


"Just a pragmatist" is better than "just an ideologist fond of a bad ideology". The latter will reliably do the wrong thing.

Mr. W:

Once again:

The Obama State Department redacted classified information out of 2,079 of the more than 30,000 emails Clinton stored on her personal server and then deemed to release to the government.

Only God and the FBI knows how many more classified emails Clinton attempted to destroy on her personal server, which constitutes two more felony crimes of obstruction of justice and possible conspiracy with others.

Clinton provided all the emails she stored on her personal server to her IT company backup server and later to her lawyer:

Neither the people at the IT company or her attorney and his staff are cleared to receive or store this material.

Every classified email Clinton illegally stored on her own home server and the server(s) of her IT company are each a misdemeanor crime in violation of 18 USC § 1924:

Some of these emails contained classified defense information, which would also violate 18 USC § 793:

Every classified email Clinton provided to third parties without clearance (at minimum her attorney and her IT company) is a felony violation of 18 USC § 793:

None of the excuses Team Obama have been offering such a markings and "malicious intent" are legal defenses to these charges.

No more excuses.


He's not going to care, you know. He won't read those laws, he won't credit the accounts of what was found on the server, and he won't connect the dots.

I've been beating this dead horse for something like a year, and they just don't care. Until their thought leaders (Yes, they're actually using a term from Orwell as an official job title today.) tell them she's guilty, she's innocent. Anything incriminating coming from somebody outside the closed circle actually clears her in their minds: Not being from an approved source, it's presumptively wrong, and so moves the needle away from belief, not towards it.

It's maddening, but that's the way it is. Until The One orders her indicted, or she confesses, she's innocent, end of story.

Oh, and Bill took all those flights on the Lolita Express to pedophile fantasy island because he liked the drinks they served on the plane. Nothing more.


You posted this before and then it disappeared before I could reply. I figured you might have guessed it's weaknesses. But I'm glad it's back so I can teach you and Brett a lesson about partisan bias and jumping to conclusions. As you say, no more excuses.

"Every classified email Clinton illegally stored on her own home server and the server(s) of her IT company are each a misdemeanor crime in violation of 18 USC § 1924:"

Unfortunately for your hasty conclusion, the law at that link states:

"Whoever, being an officer, employee, contractor, or consultant of the United States, and, by virtue of his office, employment, position, or contract, becomes possessed of documents or materials containing classified information of the United States, knowingly removes such documents or materials without authority and with the intent to retain such documents or materials at an unauthorized location shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both."

Let me emphasize "knowingly...possessed of documents or materials containing classified information." These documents were *retroactively* declared classified, so she can't have "knowingly" removed "documents or materials containing classified information."

Similar language, and analysis, exists for your other offenses ("Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes, or uses in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign government to the detriment of the United States any classified information").

No more excuses for your biased hasty conclusions.


"Oh, and Bill took all those flights on the Lolita Express to pedophile fantasy island because he liked the drinks they served on the plane. Nothing more."

Here's how the mind of an extreme partisan works. Take input A: Bill Clinton flew on the plane of a wealthy pedophile, filter it through the partisan mind (don't ask questions like, how many people flew on this guy's plane? maybe lots? etc), then jump to conclusion.

This is how it works, in the other direction.

We know Trump flew on Epstein's plane, that he attended private parties with Epstein, and that he called Epstein several times. We know that Epstein was a member of Mar-A-Lago, Donald Trump's private club and residence. Trump has spoken of his close relationship with Epstein, including noting their similar sexual interests: ""I've known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy,'' Trump told New York magazine in a 2002 profile of Epstein written three years before Epstein began to be investigated. "He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side." Suspiciously enough, Trump was served with a subpoena by the lawyer of one of Epstein's victims, but when asked about it later he denied it happened. What was Trump hiding here? We can only conclude from this that....

See how the game is played?

" These documents were *retroactively* declared classified, so she can't have "knowingly" removed "documents or materials containing classified information.""

See, you just ignored the inconvenient part of it, and repeated the bogus excuse. As Bart says, "None of the excuses Team Obama have been offering such a markings and "malicious intent" are legal defenses to these charges." Legally, they're not a defense.

Having a heading that says "classified" isn't what makes a document classified. Having contents that are classified is what makes a document classified. If she discusses the identity of covert sources, or what satellite imaging has revealed about NK nuclear assets, it's classified even if she doesn't label it that. You can't just direct somebody to mask the heading on a document and scan it, and magically declassify it. You can't just drop these things into a conversation, and so long as you don't preface the remark with, "BTW, this is classified" you're in the clear.

YOU have the law wrong. Her defense utterly misrepresents the law on this matter, and not innocently, as she had to undergo repeated training on these matters, and sign documents acknowledging these rules.

But, all she has to do is give you the tiniest excuse to declare her innocent, no matter how bogus, and you'll defend her to the end of time.

Brett, in order to meet the mens rea she has to have knowingly removed classified documents to an unauthorized location. She had to know she was putting documents with classified information in an unauthorized location, it has to be proven that she knew the documents contained classified information and that she knew where she was removing them to was an unauthorized location.

This is why so many tax offenses are so hard to prosecute, people engage in lunatic readings of the law and unless it can be shown they knowingly or willfully knew what they were doing was illegal and still did it the offense can't be shown.

Doubt about the required mens rea is not 'the tiniest excuse,' it's a necessary element which must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt before a crime can be found. That's not partisan defense, it's how our legal system works.

So let's review, laypersons not acquainted with all the facts shouldn't suppose they've found a crime, especially when that conclusion is in line with their strong partisan feelings (because that's often tied to confirmation bias mistakes). But let's also include that all this is about a quintessential mala prohibita offense, an offense which by definition is not one of moral turpitude.

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Mr. W.'s efforts are appreciated, including him doing it to help convince a self-professed felon, who deemed that itself worthy of distrust. But, I think that term is overused and even actual felons deserve more rights and respect given now.

In response to my comments, a single thing is noted -- a pragmatist is better than someone who supports a bad ideology. But, Trump is not merely a pragmatist though by nature that amounts to an "ideology" -- "a system of ideas."

[BTW, that also is relevant when labeling him a "fascist" -- one criticism was that it was based merely (was not, but let's grant this) on things he said. But, "ist" means an ideology; his words is a way to show that.]

He has various beliefs regarding responding to criticism (with 1A implications; Brett proclaims a strong concern about that), the proper role of the executive, economic matters (including respect for private property of others -- such as his support of takings) etc. His actions suggest other beliefs including about women. His comments on religion, race and nationality are suggested to just be pragmatic but show a basic lack of respect as does his violent rhetoric. Plus, there is a reasonable implication that they reflect some beliefs.

Trump also has a lot of personal baggage to deal with and lack of any public experience, a rather risky thing. Cf. the options in recent memory; the last person without domestic government experience who ran as a candidate with Eisenhower, who had obviously prime military experience specifically relevant for the era.

And Trump has experience taking large enterprises through bankruptcy, which is specifically relevant to the federal government in THIS era, unfortunately.

I don't think they'd have any trouble establishing mens rea for Hillary in this instance, given the classification training she had to go through, and the lengths she went to evade the secure system those documents were supposed to be on.

The government not being the same as a personal business -- a fact that his comments on how the U.S. can handle its debts suggest he isn't quite aware of -- it's unclear how "specifically relevant" it is especially as compared to Ike's experience.

But, he isn't up for Treasury secretary or something though even on that level his "pragmatic" sentiments should concern a conservative given the techniques he would use under our constitutional system. Someone who is able to selectively look at the facts thru a biased ideological lens might have an easier time of it though looking at various people at Volokh Conspiracy, even Jonathan Adler (who from my experience, had some ideological blinders about Democrats), it still is rather hard.


"I don't think..."

Well, at least that starts off less arrogantly presumptive that you know what you're talking about, I guess that's some progress. What follows it is a bunch of speculation about a circumstantial argument, also a little less than slam dunk. You don't know what kind of training Clinton had, you're speculating, extrapolating from what you think she should have had and what people you know in much different jobs have told you about what they went through. More importantly, you've never prosecuted any case, much less one of these, you don't know what proving the mens rea entails, what regularly works here. You've never investigated such a case and you're not investigating this one, you don't know the facts of the case (they're currently being uncovered). You literally don't know what you're talking about, you're jumping to a conclusion that satisfies your partisan predilections and then are 'maddened' that some people don't follow you off that cliff.

When it's all said and done, perhaps it will be apparent she's committed a (or many) mala prohibita offenses in this area. But until that time, in the tradition of our legal system, pardon me if I presume her innocent regardless of the conclusions of your Gentleman Amateur Sleuthing.

"Trump has experience taking large enterprises through bankruptcy"

Er, he also has experience taking them *into* bankruptcy, so I'm not sure I'd highlight that as reason to overlook his otherwise lack of relevant experience and buffoonery.

Slate has a great article up about how Trump embodies all the negative things the far right said about Obama: that he has no experience, that he's just a celebrity, that he favors authoritarian ruling styles, that he has to speak from a teleprompter, etc., but many of the same people who castigated Obama for those are more than willing to overlook them in Trump. Different letter beside his name (among other visible differences...).

It's late but a correction.

The title is: "The Girls in the Van: Covering Hillary" by Beth Harpaz.

Over at the WaPo Robert Kagan's "This is how fascism comes to America" addresses Donald J. Trump as the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party. Kagan warns Republicans how they may be sucked in to support Trump, thinking they might educate Trump. Kagan invokes the Hamilton card (Hamilton's observance of the French Revolution) somewhat differently from Sandy - or Gerard. But of particular note, Kagan does not take pot shots at Hillary in making his case. I don't think he even referenced her. Perhaps Kagan is Sandy's Hamilton. SPAM I AM! is certainly not.

Robert Kagan has worked with Clinton in some form:

he's listed as a neoconservative but is one of those with a foreign policy bent that would be inclined to trust Clinton both given her policy and experience leanings.

Kagan was a Romney advisor but Obama apparently appreciated some of his comments:


Let me emphasize "knowingly...possessed of documents or materials containing classified information.

Pleading ignorance now will not help her at trial.

Like all other officials with security clearances, Clinton was briefed on the law and signed a classified information nondisclosure agreement, which tells Clinton that her current excuses are not legal defenses.

Clinton knew that her official correspondence was filled with classified material and intentionally stored it in a private server and provided it to uncleared persons for storage.

Clinton publicly stated that she knew the classification requirements and lied that did not store classified materials in the server. The spin about markings came after her original lie was disclosed.


Because SPAM I AM! lies endlessly (when his lips are moving, when his fingers dance of keyboards), does that make him an expert on what constitute lying?


Calling the prosecutor a liar or a member of the vast right wing conspiracy will not help Clinton at trial either.

SPAMI AM! as prosecutor? It would have to be by self-appointment, as he lacks the credentials. And consider the expertise SPAM I AM! must employ in testimony prepping his DUI criminal (allegedly innocent) defendant to avoid suborning of perjury. The trial is in the trivial mind of SPAM I AM! who will, I predict, go all in for Trump as they are of the same ilk: hate in their genes.


I prosecuted for five years.

As a tax attorney, you would not know that the criminal statutes Clinton violated are far simpler than your average DUI to prove.

The US attorney really only needs to prove that Clinton knew her official correspondence contained classified material and that she intentionally emailed it to uncleared persons and places.

The easiest way of doing this is to simply charge Clinton with one count of each crime covering all of her correspondence so she cannot play stupid concerning any one email.

Here is Beth Harpaz talking about her book:

She has a sense of humor; she later wrote a parenting book. Harpaz (an AP reporter) shifted to travel after the long hours on the political beat. But, it looks like she still writes some political pieces for AP too. [new edition coming out this week]

So SPAM I AM! was on the dole as a young attorney before acquiring those legal chops to become the top dog DUI defense counsel in his rural little mountaintop community where he is aptly described as just another pisshole in the snow. Perhaps in SPAM I AM!'s mind once a prosecutor, always a prosecutor, even when he is serving a criminal DUI client? It's obvious he's reached the acme of his legal career on that little mountaintop; while it's routine, boring and unchallenging, he can dream of his neophyte days as a prosecutor and prosecuting liberals and progressives, presumably wet dreams.

The 5/20/16 NYTimes essay "If Trump Breaks Up the G.O.P., It Won't Be a First" by historian Sean Wilentz begins with the election of 1800 with a reference to Hamilton's Federalist chiding of certain immigrants (though himself an immigrant) through George W., and the present of Donald Trump in considering political party breakups in American history. Wilentz notes the impacts in changes in immigration laws along the way. The Founders/Framers abhorred political parties, yet they surfaced fairly quickly. Was it inevitable? Wilentz provides quickie histories that require filling in many details. Of course, there are always the good old days to consider bringing back.

The US attorney really only needs to prove that Clinton knew her official correspondence contained classified material and that she intentionally emailed it to uncleared persons and places.
Jaimee Kapoor

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There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into consideration. That is a great point to bring up. I offer the thoughts above as general inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where the most important thing will be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged around things like that, but I am sure that your job is clearly identified as a fair game. Both boys and girls feel the impact of just a moment’s pleasure, for the rest of their lives. Best Source Best Source Best Source

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