Friday, June 07, 2019

Why Ken Kersch's Book is an Indispensable revelation about our constitutional situation

Sandy Levinson

For the symposium on Ken Kersch, Conservatives and the Constitution (Cambridge University Press, 2019).

I am delighted to have this opportunity to praise and begin to assess the importance of Ken Kersch's truly remarkable book Conservatives and the Constitution.  I would place it in the same category as Jonathan Gienapp's equally remarkable book The Second Creation:  Fixing the American Constitution in the Founding Era, also the subject of an extended Balkinization symposium.  That is, anyone within the scholarly community who has an interest in the broad topics of the respective books, the American founding in the case of Gienapp, the foundations and presuppositions of "conservative constitutionalism" in the case of Kersch, must read these books or else be deemed functionally illiterate.  It is not that one must agree with every one of the arguments presented by these truly transformational scholars.  Rather, each is an historical archeologist who brings forth new information and perspectives that challenge all sorts of conventional wisdoms and, therefore, must be confronted by those who profess to be truly competent with regard to the issues under discussion.

So what is the subject of Kersch's book?  It is important to look carefully at the subtitle that follows the colon after Conservatives and the Constitution:  Imagining Constitutional Restoration in the Heyday of American Liberalism.  That is, Kersch is not focusing on contemporary 21st century conservatives and their particular takes on constitutional interpretation.  Instead, he is focusing on debates conducted among opponents of the liberal consensus that were dominant during the "heyday of American liberalism," the period between World War II and the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 that indeed helped to effectuate a sea-change in American politics.  This included, of course,  debates about and within our peculiar legal/political institution called the American Supreme Court.

A crucial feature of the pre-Reagan Era debate, as Kersch amply demonstrates, is that most of it was conducted well outside the legal academy in particular and even the broader academy more generally.  The legal academy, for better or worse, was dominated by liberals; defenders of the Old Order represented, say, by the attack on the New Deal leveled by the Supreme Court were by-and-large absent.  There were, to be sure, critics of the Warren  Court, but the most important of these critics were themselves New Deal adherents of Felix Frankfurter, who had spent almost all of his academic career at Harvard defending Oliver Wendell Holmes and railing against what came to be called "judicial activism."  The Lochner dissent became anthematic for scholars like Philip Aurland, who published what was perhaps the most vitriolic attack on the Warren Court as the "Foreword" to the annual review of the prior Supreme Court term in the November 1963 issue issue the Harvard Law Review.  Popular sovereignty meant, as Holmes argued, that even "tyrannical" laws should be upheld if they represented the wishes of legislative majorities.  See, e.g., Frankfurter's opinions first in Gobitis and then his angry and anguished dissent in Barnette that helped to establish the split within liberalism between those who believed in "judicial restraint" and those who were beginning to rally around what came to be called "Footnote 4" liberalism instantiated in such decisions as Brown and then, perhaps most strikingly, Baker v. Carr, which, it has been suggested, helped to trigger Frankfurter's stroke and retirement from the Court.

The crucial point is that Kersch has almost nothing to say about these debates, other than noting that it is an important category mistake to view Kurland, Herbert Wechsler, or Alexander Bickel as "conservatives," unless that is simply used to refer to anyone who expressed doubts about exercises of judicial power by the Warren Court.  But, crucially, none of these worthies ever expressed the slightest doubt about, say, expansive interpretations of congressional power under the Commerce Clause.   Judicial deference to legislatures remained the order of the day, not only as an abstract proposition, but also because of what continued to be, within the legal academy, faith in the New Deal program of strong national power and increasing de facto rule by technocrats located within the vast array of the exponentially developing modern administrative state.  There were, to be sure, some gadflies, such as Richard Epstein at the University of Chicago who denounced the New Deal in root and branch, as well as Gary Lawson and Randy Barnett, all of whom conveyed a distinctly libertarian sensibility.  But they were anomalies within the legal academy.   (And, of course, they became prominent only after 1980.)    

But there were many other "real conservatives" who were alive and well during the pre-Reagan  period, even if, as Kersch demonstrates, they were generally ignored by those within the academy because they (the conservatives) often did not possess the requisite academic credentials or were trying to embed their analyses of law within other perspectives, including economics, ancient political philosophy, and even religion.  It is telling that Gary Lawson, in his own remarkable response to Kersch, in effect reflects the chasm between the academy and the conservatives treated by Kersch inasmuch as Lawson unabashedly admits to his own ignorance of many, perhaps even most, of the figures exhumed by Kersch.  Lawson is a libertarian devotee of Ayn Rand, who, to be sure, figures in Kersch's book.  But she is treated as only a peripheral member of the most serious conservative conversational salon for the simple reason that she was an atheist committed to what non-Radians would term a parody of "economic man (or woman)" devoted only to maximizing one's own selfish desires. As Kersch notes, the statement by Margaret Thatcher that there is no such think as "society"-there are only individuals--is highly Radian and antithetical to many who would properly be thought "conservative," such as, for example, the social theorist Robert Lisbet.   Perhaps the most fundamental contribution made by Kersch is emphasizing the degree to which understanding "conservative constitutionalism," both half a century ago and even now, requires a genuine understanding of, and intellectual confrontation with, a number of figures, including those from religious communities, who are indeed unknown to most of us.

In Kersch's account, Robert George and, especially, Francis Schaeffer, are far more important than, say, Robert Bork or even Antonin Scalia, who were, as is true of most professional legal academics, obsessed with techniques of legal interpretation, including, of course, "originalism," which most of "us" tend now to identify as a defining trait of conservatism.  Kersch valuably notes that this was certainly not true during the formative period he is interested in.  There were many conservatives who were more than willing to criticize the notion that we should necessarily be dominated by a set of views articulated in 1787, especially since, it should be noted, "originalist" arguments were most likely to be made by Justice Hugo Black in order to defend, say, the rights of pornographers and others to be free from any kind of legal constraints.  But most of the figures treated by Kersch were obsessed with something far more important than mandarin techniques of "constitutional interpretation."  Instead, they were more interested in defining, and then maintaining, what might be termed a "constitutional culture" conducive to protecting what was most worth cherishing in the American polity.  Much conservatism, then and now, was fixated on what was viewed as the genuine decadence of American political culture and what it would take to prevent terminal decline.

There were vigorous debates about this, some of them conducted by devotees of academics (though not within the legal academy) such as Leo Strauss,  Harry Jaffa, Walter Berns, or the more esoteric Eric Voeglin. (No doubt someone will write an essay some day on the fact that Clarence Thomas, as noted by Mark Tushnet, was very much influenced by Jaffa and other West Coast Straussians, whereas Scalia (and Bork) were no far more under the sway of East Coast Straussian Walter Berns, who was, I believe, part of a regular poker party that Scalia participated in.)  But, as already suggested, many of the most important figures come from the world of religion, notoriously underrepresented in the almost completely secular elite egal academy.  Kersch restores such figures as Bishop Fulton Sheen, the first "TV clergyman," Jewish sociologist-theologian Will Herberg, and most importantly, Francis Schaeffer, to their places of justified importance (and, therefore, underscores the appalling ignorance of many secularists about the actualities of American political culture).

Kersch describes Schaeffer as "the seminal theorist and intellectual strategist responsible for the establishment of the Religious Right, and of its integration as a core constituency of the modern Republican Party" (p. 236).  Who knew?  (Certainly not Gary Lawson and, equally, almost every one of Lawson's liberal antagonists,)  One thinks in this respect of the Israeli David Ben-Gurion, whose willingness to compromise with Orthodox Jews at the time of Israeli independence in 1948 was based on his misperception that Orthodoxy was in terminal decline and could--like the Amish in this country, perhaps--be tolerated by a benevolent secular majority that correctly did not view them as a genuine threat to their hegemony.  Ben-Gurion was disastrously mistaken, as were those of us who believed that religion was a declining force in American life.  Although Schaeffer was vehemently anti-Catholic, he shared on important meta-view with some Catholics, which is the desirability of an "integral" connection between church and state, for the simple reason that it is only God's sovereignty that in fact legitimizes the State, and, therefore, it is the duty of the state to adhere to Divine Command.  "Humanism," which is defined as placing human beings "at the center of all things," is heretical, symbolizing the various sins of arrogance, pride, selfishness, and egotism. (So much for Ayn Rand!)

What one must realize is that for many of Kersch's conservatives, the American constitutional order, if it is to be thought legitimate, must rest on a foundation of "God's written law."  In "content and authority . . . neither church [i.e., the Catholic Church] nor state were equal to, let alone above, . . . the content of God's Law" (p. 261).  Thus the importance of Samuel Rutherford's 1644 tract Lex Rex, which Schaeffer (bizarrely) placed at the center of the American legal and political tradition.  An important aspect of Kersch's project is to recapture the "stories" and "narratives" that various groups tell in order to understand the American story and then their own places within it.  God-talk is central to some of these narratives, whatever may be the case for God-talk rejecting secularists (like myself).  It is this difference, both in the United States and abroad, that constitutes the true "culture-war" between liberals and many conservatives who are not at all the secularists with whom Lawson identifies.  When leaders of Hungary and Poland proclaim their desire to "reChristianize" Europe, we should listen carefully (and, I think, be appalled).  They are not the kinds of "conservatives" truly at home with Rand or even Hayek, and other individualist critics of overreaching government.  I had no idea until reading Kersch that Brent Bozell (William F. Buckley's brother-in-law) emigrated from the United States to Franco's Spain in rebellion against the truly unacceptable American political/constituitonal order.  Perhaps because it occurred beyond his central period, Kersch fails to mention the famous symposium in First Things, an important journal founded by Lutheran-turned-Catholic Richard John Neuhaus, in which a number of prominent conservative intellectuals raised serious questions about their continued loyalty to the American constitutional order so long as it included Roe v. Wade and the protection of abortion.  But the point should be clear:  It is a mistake to assume that all "conservatives" are mindless patriots, particularly if they seriously believe that all states, including the United States, are ultimately under God's judgment and sovereignty.

One may be tempted to dismiss all of this as an alternative (and crazy) universe, but it is to Kersch's immense credit not only that he has read all of the relevant books, totally unknown to the vast majority of his likely readers, but also places them within a narrative that accounts for their importance within the contemporary American Right.  But, of course, it's not only quintessential Protestants like Schaeffer--who nonetheless make a certain kind of peace with the despised Catholic Church, but also Catholics like Sheen and, more importantly, Robert George who must be read and understood.  Indeed, Kersch's footnotes make clear the true importance of George in understanding contemporary conservatism, not least because of his indefatigable energies as an institutional entrepreneur of the highest order, but also because those energies are merely the complement to a truly formidable intellect and gracious persona that makes it possible for me to acknowledge him as a genuine friend in spite of our obvious differences.  (It is, incidentally, much to the credit of the Cambridge Press that they placed the footnotes at the bottom of the page instead of at the end.  Many of the footnotes end up being mini-essays of their own that provide their own illuminations.)

As some Protestants concede, Catholics have historically been far more intellectually rigorous in the realms of political and legal philosophy, and George has been an absolutely key figure, along with Oxford and Notre Dame philosopher John Finnis in restoring the emphasis on "natural law."  And he has also been an important influence on leading certain influential conservatives to convert to Roman Catholicism, such as Hadley Arkes, an admirer of George Sutherland who, perhaps more importantly, is a zealous opponent of abortion.  Although it is thought tactless to mention such things, it may be at least as important that the majority of the current Supreme Court consists of four Catholics and a Catholic who converted, for unknown reasons, to Episcopalianism (Gorsuch), as that they are simply Republicans.  The Court has almost nothing to say about free trade or climate change.  But a central issue in the quite foreseeable future may well be not whether "sovereign states" are allowed to have their own policies concerning abortion--the terms of the "liberal" and "conservative" debate for the past forty years--but, instead, whether fetuses will indeed be treated as "persons" under the Fourteenth Amendment who are therefore to be protected, under basic principles of equal protection, from being subject to murder by their antagonists (including the mothers who are carrying them).  Anyone who believes that Scalian regard for federalism (assuming he was truly sincere on this, which is quite a different issue) will continue to dominate the debate into the future is simply not paying attention (or is willfully remaining ignorant of the treasure trove that is Kersch's book).  This, for example, may well be what underlies the zeal of many Republican conservatives, including, apparently, George, to place Amy Comey Barrett, another conservative Catholic, on the Supreme Court.

I could go on and on.  The central point, though, is that Kersch's book not only must be read by anyone who claims to be a serious analyst of American constitutional thought (in its broad even if not necessarily its most mandarin sense instantiated in the legal academy); it should also be the subject of full-semester seminars that actually read the esoteric authors and their books and articles he is bringing to our attention and then discuss them.  Incidentally, Kersch announces that this is only the first volume of an intended trilogy of books on the genealogy (and, presumably, present reality) of American constitutional conservatism.  The other two will focus more on specific constitutional controversies, particularly civil rights (and affirmative action) and civil liberties (including, of course, the meanings of religious liberty and establishment).  I eagerly await them, but Conservatives and the Constitution is more than sufficient to establish Kersch as an absolutely essential voice in any discussion of what might be meant by conservative constitutionalism.

(Although, as is my wont, I'm opening this up for reader comments, I'm really not interested in comments by anyone who has not read Kersch's book or, at least, the specific people he discusses at length.)


You made the sale. I just ordered the book.

It does sound worth reading, think I'll get a copy myself.

BRAVO, Sandy! Because of eyesight issues I do not plan to read Kersch' book. I have read Gary Lawson's "initial" post which began as a sort of a (hilarious, I thought) confessional as a libertarian/conservative of his ignorance of many of the matters revealed by Kersch, including Lawson's many references to Ayn Rand. I suspect that many libertarian/conservatives of current day may be similarly situated. [Lisa Duggan's book "Mean Girl: Ayn Rand and the Culture of Greed" was recently reviewed in the NYTimes, suggesting some libertarian/conservatives of today.} Lawson indicates that will may be making more posts for the Symposium, perhaps to comment on other posters' comments, in his role as the libertarian/conservative commentator. Might other posters do likewise? I also have read Mark Tushnet's post and enjoyed his focus on the differences between political scientists and legal academics, including how originalism comes into play, or not. Good stuff. But Sandy has gone well beyond with this post with what appear to be relevant insights that Kersch may not have addressed in detail. I am looking forward to more posts from commentators, including as appropriate follow-ups. Query: May we expect current day libertarian/conservatives to 'fess up in the manner of Lawson?

There are various books that provide a study of conservative thought (a book on Justice Clarence Thomas is forthcoming) including one or more on the Federalist Society. The law professor Eric Segall (Dorf on Law) has written a book discussing originalism, which has received some kudos. I have seen books on modern conservative media as well.

This sort of thing is appreciated though a few volumes of this sort of thing is a bit too much for me personally. It also is to be noted that there is some range in conservative thought which is seen among the conservatives on the Supreme Court. Only up to a point, but somewhat -- we saw that, e.g., along the edges at least among recent splits between Gorsuch and Kavanaugh though nothing earth shattering among cases of great note (e.g., Gorsuch has shown more respect for tribal rights).

[The complexities of conservative thought might be suggested by a book I'm starting now by Prof. Mary Ziegler, which looks at pro-choice and pro-life thought in the years immediately after Roe v. Wade.]

Judge Amy Comey Barrett is an interesting issue too. Brett actually agreed with me somewhat that she might have been a better choice than Kavanaugh. (Then, you know, back to the sniping.) Kavanaugh it is. Thus, unless Thomas or the like retires, I wish her a long stay at her current position.

Well, sure, I might have liked her more, but you simply can't reward those kind of despicable smear tactics with success, so once that began, there was no turning back.

Unfortunate, a more scrupulous and honest opposition might have moved a few Republican votes, rather than hardening the resolve on my side that Kavanaugh had to be confirmed.

As I said, we agreed, and then back to the sniping.

Kavanaugh was chosen in significant part because he was a comfortable entity, including as a result of his partisan record over the years. He was bound to be a more divisive candidate beyond you know me not agreeing there were "despicable smear tactics" against him generally speaking. Thus, e.g., Gorsuch was opposed but the Democrats (even when it was clear he would be confirmed) rested on opposition to his ideology and Garland. Something Republicans would have done, vice versa.

A more scrupulous and honest opposition of his nomination would have had more than the senator from Alaska opposing him. But, we have to deal with what is handed to us, including party loyalty no matter who Trump picked except maybe a Miers who was not deemed qualified but many also worried wasn't conservative enough.

Thus, I realize I'm stuck with a conservative with views on various issues I oppose. There were many alternatives there than Kavanaugh, and of the short list, she was my choice. She did not have the same partisan troll record, her education and political background was not the usual cookie cutter stuff and found a few of her writings interesting. And, multiple credible allegations of sex offenses, putting aside misleading Congress, wasn't involved.

Figure she might have been confirmed 55-45 at least. Plus, Republicans could troll the Democrats a bit since a few senators made comments about her religious views that some deemed wrong. But, well, we went another way.

The second sentence of Gary Lawson's post begins:

"My influences were (and to this day still are) people like Rand; Rothbard; Rand; Mises, Hayek, and the other giants in Austrian economics; Rand; ...."

Perhaps this is descriptive of present day libertarian/conservatives. Perhaps Kersch's second book may address present cay libertarian/conservatives who support Trump.

Shag: Perhaps Kersch's second book may address present cay libertarian/conservatives who support Trump.

Such a book would total one line: "Present day libertarian conservatives viewed Donald Trump as the lesser of the evils."

Consider our alternatives. The Democrats gave is a felon and influence peddler in 2016 and an array of socialists in 2020.

The Donald remains fortunate in his opponents.


Judge Amy Comey Barrett is teed up to replace RBG.

APAM's suggestion of a one-line book in his 10:36 AM demonstrates that SPAM knows not what evil is. Who can forget SPAM's 2016 Cruz Canadacy accusations, over and over and over again, that then candidate Donald Trump was a fascist. Now SPAM seems to consider a Trump Mussolini style as the lesser of an evil than Hillary, who has not been convicted of any crime, whereas Trump, SPAM's claimed lesser evil, has the protection of the DOJ that a president while serving cannot be indicted for a crime.

By the Bybee [expletives deleted], SPAM's libertarian/conservative chops appear to be along the lines of Gary Lawson reflected in my quote from his post at my 9:25 PM comment.


Once again, I noted here and elsewhere that Trump was running a fascist-style campaign of economic nationalism, offering himself as the great leader necessary to set things right. I also warned about Trump's long history of supporting progressive policies.

The Democrats nominated a proven felon and partner in a family influence peddling business which amassed a nine figure fortune, who promised to continue the Obama policies destroying the economy.

To my mind at the time, this was the WORST choice the major parties offered in American history with no close second place. A true choice between two evils.

My ballot remained uncompleted on my desk until a couple days before the election. I chose Trump a couple days before the election for two reasons: (1) I could not vote Libertarian and allow the Clinton crime family to take over the White House and (2) Trump offered a superb list of Federalist Society vetted judges he promised to nominate. At least the judiciary would be safe.

While the Donald's politics and diplomacy remain that of a Queens bully, Trump's actual governance pleasantly surprised me. Not only have the judicial nominations been superb, but he stopped the Obama regulatory tidal wave in its tracks and enacted a modest tax reform, allowing the economy to finally recover from the Obama depression. I will happily vote to reelect him in 2020.

SPAM's claimed lesser evil, has the protection of the DOJ that a president while serving cannot be indicted for a crime

You REALLY do not want to go there. The public disclosures to date suggest Obama and Clinton illegally weaponized the FBI, CIA and NSA to spy on and harass Trump like Hoover did to folks like MLK whom he considered to be subversive. Barr's appointment of US Attorney John Durham, someone with a proven track record prosecuting public corruption, to look into this weaponization is very bad news for the Democrats. Watergate on steroids.

By the Bybee [expletives deleted], SPAM's libertarian/conservative chops appear to be along the lines of Gary Lawson reflected in my quote from his post at my 9:25 PM comment.

Not close.

FWIW, I am a classical liberal, whose closest analog today is the hybrid term libertarian conservative.

Ayn Rand offered a very powerful critique of the modern totalitarian government developed nations adopted to varying degrees, then incomprehensibly attacks the individual morality which enables the alternative of classical liberalism to work as a social system. Rand's certitude attracts high school and college students like Lawson back in the day, then you generally grow up out of it.

I was more of a nut and bolt systems guy and was instead attracted to the Austrian economists Mises and Hayek, who did superb work explaining how a classicaly liberal free market works. Lawson suggests he missed out on the Austrians.

As compared to Gary Larson, the Far Side cartoonist.

I read the first section of "After Roe" by Mary Ziegler, which covered the pro-life side. Basically, "the road to incrementalism." Interesting. Pro-choice next.

There was some news: a "youthful indiscretion" of Mitch McConnell's, in a fashion: he actually in the late 1980s supported a constitutional amendment limiting money in politics: (video also available)

This is vaguely on topic. Anyway, one other thing that is somewhat related too. Twitter is popular with various law types, including law professors. There are also state judges, including Chief Justices/Judges of the highest level. But, there is an ethical concern about federal judges being there.

A state judge recently tweeted her belief that it was appropriate for state judges to tweet in part to inform the public. Twitter is an imperfect means of spreading ideological views. Robert George, e.g., is on Twitter. He criticized Biden for changing his position on the Hyde Amendment.

SPAM shows his ignorance once again on economics, this time with respect to his claim of the "Obama depression" from which Trump, SPAM claims, recovered the economy. Let's compare the Bush/Cheney 2007-8 Great Recession left on Obama's doorstep for 2009 and look at the economic picture as of pre-Trump January, 2017. The way Austria is going is probably reflective of the Austrian economists.

SPAM's 12:48 PM comment is basically another of SPAM's silly rants, including revisionism of his Cruz Daze views on Trump. SPAM is in sinful lockstep with Trump, as are many current day libertarian/conservatives. And "classical liberalism" is passe as noted in the current intra-conservative debate.

" he actually in the late 1980s supported a constitutional amendment limiting money in politics:"

He did at least recognize that it required a constitutional amendment. And youthful mistakes are more easily forgiven if one moves on from them in time.


The government directed and subsidized subprime home mortgage market took off in 1997 and started its mass default in 2007. If you want to play the "being there" card against Dubya, remember the Democrats controlled Congress when the default occurred.The resulting 2008 recession ended sometime during the first couple months of the Obama administration.

The administration's own white paper selling the borrowing and spending spree misrepresented as the "stimulus" admitted, if the government did nothing, the economy would bounce back with standard 3% plus growth, but claimed Obama policies would result in 5% growth and a quick return to full employment. The reality was Obama taxing, spending and regulatory policies ground growth down to 2% (lower than during the post-recession period of the Great Depression) and the percentage of Americans with any sort of work (labor force participation) relentlessly fell until bottoming out in 2015. Only a third of Millennials had full time work.

Depression is the correct economic term.

"He did at least recognize that it required a constitutional amendment. And youthful mistakes are more easily forgiven if one moves on from them in time."

Constitutional amendments are proposed for a variety of reasons. James Madison, e.g., thought the First Amendment not really necessary, but some people wanted it and it would provide additional safeguards that again he previously said wasn't necessary since Congress didn't have the power over such things anyhow.

But, yes, the established law of the time blocked some of what he proposed in his "youthful" days of forty-something.

SPAM seems to have a memory problem. Back in 2007 SPAM, like a rat deserting a sinking ship, deserted Bush/Cheney because of the economic catastrophe they permitted to be brought to bear with two wars not paid for nor disclosing WMD, as well as two tax cuts. This is more SPAM revisionism. Clinton left a surplus for Bush/Cheney. The Bush/Cheney Great Recession was its "MISHIGAS ACCOMPLISHED!" with the two wars still going on. SPAM attempts with a feeble hop-scotch to a depression. Once again SPAM displays his ignorance in economics. The economic upswing started by Obama has continued in positive fashion despite Trump (although that may be changing).

SPAM denies being influenced by Ayn Rand so is it coincidence that SPAM's libertarianism of selfishness uber selflessness meshes with Rand and her greed is good? (SPAM discover himself in reading the review of the recent book on Rand, "Mean Girl," which may be descriptive of many of today's libertarians.) Perhaps SPAM is having another wet dream that The Gilded Age of the late 19th century were America's best years and SPAM's MAGA.


You are becoming hysterical.

The Afgan and Iraq Wars cost less than 1% of GDP and had zero to do with the mass default of the government directed and subsidized subprime home mortgage market.

Now take your meds and a nice nap before dinner.

The Bush/Cheney disastrous 8 years historically would have placed it at the bottom of the scales of effective presidential administrations. But Bush/Cheney lucked out with Trump/Pence.

SPAM ignores the debt created by Bush/Cheney for reasons previously noted.

SPAM was presumably impressed with George W's aircraft landing on a carrier with a really, really, really premature "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" banner for the TV audience. That turned out to be hysterical, as the wars continued on and no WMD discovered. I took my meds for hypertension and cholesterol. As for SPAM, unfortunately there are no meds for his ignorance of economics and humor. Oy Vey!

As to Mitch McConnell's youthful days of seeking an amendment to limit campaign funding, that was before his father in law, the father of his bride, made gifts of millions to them. A scandal is surfacing about Mrs. Mitch as Sec'y. of Transportation concerning her dad's transportation business and its connection in China, what with the trade war Trump started. Mitch and Mrs. Mitch raise questions about the separation of powers. Just imagine the pillow talk.

"But, yes, the established law of the time blocked some of what he proposed in his "youthful" days of forty-something."

Still does, thankfully. And now that I'm 60, I'm allowed to call forty-something "youthful".

"on a carrier with a really, really, really premature "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" banner for the TV audience."

On a carrier which had literally accomplished its mission, and was headed home.

Perhaps Brett feels its was just a coincidence with George W's mission in Iraq and his flying mission that day landing on the carrier" That it is common that naval vessels host such a banner, literally, when heading home from whatever the carrier's mission was? All for the cameras and TV? Literally, Brett is figurative. The tag team of Bert and Brat are now our own "Mishi" and "Gas."

By the Bybee [expletives deleted], when did the story surface that the carrier had literally accomplished its mission? Was it after it became clear that the Bush/Cheney mission in Iraq was not really, really, really accomplished, continuing on after Saddam's downfall with no revelations of WMD that supposedly justified that mission?

CBS:'Mission Accomplished' Whodunit

"After the news conference, a White House spokeswoman said the Lincoln's crew asked the White House to have the sign made. The White House asked a private vendor to produce the sign, and the crew put it up, said the spokeswoman. She said she did not know who paid for the sign.

Later, a Pentagon spokesman called The Associated Press to reiterate that the banner was the crew's idea.

"It truly did signify a mission accomplished for the crew," Navy Cmdr. Conrad Chun said, adding the president's visit marked the end of the ship's 10-month international deployment."

Not that I expect the claim that it was Bush's idea to ever go away...

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