13 thoughts on “Glacier de SJ

  1. Black Bellamy

    If you see a dog accompanied by a distraught Norwegian with a rifle, just let them be. Best not to get involved if you want to make it off that glacier.

  2. Norahc

    “Looked around, but didn’t find David here. I’ll keep looking”

    Last I heard he was mumbling something about having to drive the Healy up a glacier somewhere.

  3. Skink

    During the break, some constitutional history. Five days short of 231 years ago, Patrick Henry spoke at the Virginia convention in opposition to the newly-proposed federal constitution. He spoke of his fears: could the courts exercise the power of an equal branch to lay low unconstitutional acts of the legislature? Would a president become the most powerful king ever known with the control of an army? He also spoke of the will of the people to change the government when necessary. Would they stand, or would they acquiesce to the fat happiness of the present, thereby surrendering the thing most precious: liberty? His words:

    “I shall be told I am continually afraid: but, sir, I have strong cause of apprehension. In some parts of the plan before you, the great rights of freemen are endangered; in other parts, absolutely taken away. How does your trial by jury stand? In civil cases gone — not sufficiently secured in criminal — this best privilege is gone. But we are told that we need not fear; because those in power, being our representatives, will not abuse the powers we put in their hands. I am not well versed in history, but I will submit to your recollection, whether liberty has been destroyed most often by the licentiousness of the people, or by the tyranny of rulers. I imagine, sir, you will find the balance on the side of tyranny. Happy will you be if you miss the fate of those nations, who, omitting to resist their oppressors, or negligently suffering their liberty to be wrested from them, have groaned under intolerable despotism! Most of the human race are now in this deplorable condition; and those nations who have gone in search of grandeur, power, and splendor, have also fallen a sacrifice, and been the victims of their own folly. While they acquired those visionary blessings, they lost their freedom. My great objection to this government is, that it does not leave us the means of defending our rights, or of waging war against tyrants. It is urged by some gentlemen, that this new plan will bring us an acquisition of strength — an army, and the militia of the states. This is an idea extremely ridiculous: gentlemen cannot be earnest. This acquisition will trample on our fallen liberty. Let my beloved Americans guard against that fatal lethargy that has pervaded the universe. Have we the means of resisting disciplined armies, when our only defence, the militia, is put into the hands of Congress? The honorable gentleman said that great danger would ensue if the Convention rose without adopting this system. I ask, Where is that danger? I see none. Other gentlemen have told us, within these walls, that the union is gone, or that the union will be gone. Is not this trifling with the judgment of their fellow—citizens? Till they tell us the grounds of their fears, I will consider them as imaginary. I rose to make inquiry where those dangers were; they could make no answer: I believe I never shall have that answer. Is there a disposition in the people of this country to revolt against the dominion of laws? Has there been a single tumult in Virginia? Have not the people of Virginia, when laboring under the severest pressure of accumulated distresses, manifested the most cordial acquiescence in the execution of the laws? What could be more awful than their unanimous acquiescence under general distresses? Is there any revolution in Virginia? Whither is the spirit of America gone? Whither is the genius of America fled? It was but yesterday, when our enemies marched in triumph through our country. ”

    But he saved powerful words to address the potential for minority rule:

    “Two thirds of the Congress, or of the state legislatures, are necessary even to propose amendments. If one third of these be unworthy men, they may prevent the application for amendments; but what is destructive and mischievous, is, that three fourths of the state legislatures, or of the state conventions, must concur in the amendments when proposed! In such numerous bodies, there must necessarily be some designing, bad men. To suppose that so large a number as three fourths of the states will concur, is to suppose that they will possess genius, intelligence, and integrity, approaching to miraculous. It would indeed be miraculous that they should concur in the same amendments, or even in such as would bear some likeness to one another; for four of the smallest states, that do not collectively contain one tenth part of the population of the United States, may obstruct the most salutary and necessary amendments. Nay, in these four states, six tenths of the people may reject {50} these amendments; and suppose that amendments shall be opposed to amendments, which is highly probable, — is it possible that three fourths can ever agree to the same amendments? A bare majority in these four small states may hinder the adoption of amendments; so that we may fairly and justly conclude that one twentieth part of the American people may prevent the removal of the most grievous inconveniences and oppression, by refusing to accede to amendments. A trifling minority may reject the most salutary amendments.”

    We tend to think our Constitution and all its unique protections came in whole–that it was proposed, tweaked and ratified. It wasn’t. It was hammered by men like Henry until it was in acceptable form. Does it remain so, not in form, but in use? The country wasn’t always a republic; it was originally a confederacy, but the Articles gave too much power to the states. The people feared a powerful central government, having just separated themselves from one, so each state made its own form of government under the Articles. They laid tariffs between the states and printed state currency. The Articles gave them local control, but it did not make a country.

    Are we headed back to a confederacy? Not in the sense of the Articles or even Henry’s concerns, but in a modern sense? Do we risk being controlled by popular minorities for the sake of nebulous feelings and beliefs. Do we acquiesce or call halt?

    Is Patrick Henry amongst us, or did he just go fishin’?

    1. Richard Kopf

      Skink,

      I don’t know the answer to your question. But I have a historical anecdote to retell although I am sure you are aware of it.

      Not long after the anti-federalists like Henry were defeated, Washington and Hamilton travelled to the wilds of western Pennsylvania. There they put down the Whiskey Rebellion and squashed a popular minority of rabble rousers. The whiskey still flowed but taxes were paid so Hamilton could continue building the marvel that became our financial system. And, most importantly, the union was saved from a return to a confederacy.

      So, have yourself a shot whiskey. Things may look brighter in the morning. Or not.

      Rich

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