Friday, July 05, 2013

Place your bets...

Bobbi noted in her post yesterday that she's:
...half-convinced we have already passed the point where future historians will draw a line, saying, "Here the Republic ended; here the Empire began."
So where will they draw the line? Place your bets, not that we'll be able to pick a winner unless someone can hop in their DeLorean and do a couple of 88 mph laps around the block and bring us back an Intro To History textbook from 2213.

My guess? Future historians will note the time when a populist dictator claimed wartime exigencies to break with long-standing tradition and stand for a third term as consul.


Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Oh, you mean 1940?

Al T. said...

Not really seeing it - yet.

Anonymous said...

I think the current populist dictator is lazy enough that he would rather take the presidential retirement bennies and hit the lecture circuit instead.

Future historians will also be lazy and just draw the line at 9/11/2001.


billf said...

The end of The Republic 'might' have been when Bush got us involved in Iraq,or when Obama ran a civil activist campaign (twice) based on race/equality for the masses,or as you suggest,when he runs for the third time.But it is around about now,give or take a few years,and it can't last much longer(I think)What was that someone said,we're not there,but you can see it from here?

Stranger said...

An old saying among the black community is "he has the hookworm hustle." That describes Fearless Lider to a T. Since Obama can only get up enthusiasm for campaigning, the third term as Consul is less likely than passing the baton to another Chicago Combine leader.

Rhambo, for instance who would run on a platform of "It's a Jew's time."

And of course the same old beat would go on. An organization whose leaders are vetted by the gangs is not likely to allow "freedom."


Anonymous said...

Yep, I think Tam means FDR. Have to agree.

Borepatch said...

There's a lot of ruin in a country. Even with Rome you can't easily draw that line. The Gracci were too early, when it was still clearly Republican. Julius Caesar was too late - Generals had been running the show for quite a while by his time.

I suspect we'll see something similar here, where the ruin continues its slow accretion until the only things that are clear is that before Teddy Roosevelt (except for the Lincoln years) it was clearly a Republic and after (fill in the blank on obvious future Emperor) it was all over.

Tam said...

Fuzzy Curmudgeon and Anon 10:54 stayed awake in History class; jf, billf, and Stranger need to hit the books. ;)

(Yes, when I wrote that, I wondered how many people were going to parse it as a suggestion that Barry was going to somehow do away with the 22nd Amendment, rather than something that had already happened.)

Anonymous said...

I personally imagine they will draw the line on Sept 11, 2001 and I imagine the history on it will read something like the history leading up to WW II

They will highlight the Cold War as having exhausted a nation, pointing to dystopian 80's sf as evidence of a nation on edge. Then they'll highlight the 90's, a brief respite of emerging technologies that had the nation flying high excited to be doing anything in the face of recent exhaustion. Then they'll note the beginnings of financial and political trouble. What was awoken in the 80's across the globe was finally coming home to roost, and the .com crash begins the deflation of the national enthusiasm, revealing the flaws we had carefully painted over in the previous decade. Then in this moment of vulnerability, Sept 11, 2001 occurred and America was laid bare and raw and the people cried out to their government for help. Still believing it was the government of old, for and by the people, they were instead all of them deceived. Instead the government was not of and for the people, and the government had in fact come to fear the people, not the healthy fear a democratic republic should have but an unhealthy one, fueled by fear of terrorism, fear of poverty and a rising class of Americans with nothing to their names but debt. And so the people, seeking reassurance and care from a government that was no longer their own surrendered their essential liberties in the hopes of purchasing temporary safety and relief.

Yes I believe Sept 11, 2001 will be marked as the beginning of the empire, but like all such empires, it will be many years after the beginning before the people realize it's already too late.

Tam said...

I disagree. America as a hegemonic power with a standing, globe-spanning military and an imperial leader began with WWII. The intelligence organs which everyone is hand-wringing about now have been in existence forever and have been spying on our own people since the Red Scare days.

wandering wastrel said...

I can't agree with your overwhelming positivity. After all, you're still assuming there will be future historians.

Anonymous said...

I hate being wrong, but I often am. I blame the fact that I'm public-school-educated, and also that I didn't read your post carefully enough. FDR did break with tradition, but it wasn't illegal or unconstitutional to run for a 3rd term until later.

As for how long the overlords have been spying on us, I'm under the impression that we didn't have wall-to-wall spying without probable cause until some time post-9/11. I do remember the TIA proposal during the Bush years but didn't think it ever got off the ground until the NSA thing came out.


BTW, thanks for the daily education and free ice cream. I lurk here every morning, and always learn something new.

AGoyAndHisBlog said...

Drawing the line is pretty easy, actually.

It's April 6, 1861.

Tam said...


Eavesdropping wasn't as nearly-universal back in the day was for technical rather than moral reasons.

By the '90s, as processing power and data storage got faster and cheaper, those technical restraints fell away. Tin-foil beanie wearers like me were ranting about Carnivore and Echelon before the Cole got hulled, let alone the passage of the P.A.T.R.I.O.T.(hah!) Act.

Gay_Cynic said...

There are such a lot of beginning of the end moments to choose from. Certainly FDR has merit as a nominee, and the current Occupant of the White House has been a vastly counterproductive presence on many fronts - however, I'd nominate Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) as the President who really set the modern cluster into motion with the aforementioned as being mere follow-up players.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Fuzzy Curmudgeon and Anon 10:54 stayed awake in History class;

In my master's program, I had two profs (both ex-military, one was the MilHist prof and the other was the foreign relations expert) who were less than complimentary about the bad Roosevelt in the wheelchair.

Plus, my dad, who lived through the Depression and fought in Europe from '43-45, pretty much despised the bastard.

So I have good antecedents for my FDR hatred.

For what it's worth, jf is correct that nothing prohibited running for a third term in 1940 (or a fourth in 1944)...but because the great Washington had served only two terms, serving more -- or even suggesting that you might want to -- just wasn't done.

Tam said...

"For what it's worth, jf is correct that nothing prohibited running for a third term in 1940 (or a fourth in 1944)..."

I know.

(FWIW, growing up around my grandmother, I thought the man on the dime's first name was "Thatliar". :D )

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

It's actually possible to look back before Wilson and see that the problem really goes all the way back to Lincoln.

Yes, I said Lincoln. The Great Pragmatist. First of the Great Tyrants.

But yeah, if I could go back and kill Wilson in his cradle, I'd do it.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Tam, right; I was just making the point that Roosevelt thought so highly of himself that he could break the tradition set by Washington. I'm of two minds about the term limits the Republican Congress set after him...mostly because I think they should have set limits for themselves as well.

LCB said...

OK...gonna get in trouble here cause I'm not 100% sure of me facts and don't have time to look it up. But...wasn't it in the 70's that congress said that agencies could pass rules and regs; enforce them as if they were laws? To me, that's when the republic died...and we all became vassals of the statist machine. When some schmuck in an office somewhere can pass a rule and send the EPA swat team to enforce that rule, we lost representative government.

Ken said...

I think "progressive" historians will claim it was Grenada or something. I suppose 1940 or 1913 are as good a place as any...

...but if you ask me, Hamilton was ten years late for a meeting with his Maker.

Scott J said...

I've been toying with the concept that the line goes back to our shift from "reliance on Divine Providence" to "Manifest Destiny".

That would be the Jackson admin.

billf said...

Tam,your suggestion that I may need to hit the books is well founded(if you judged me only by my comment),but I assure you that I paid attention in History cllass,and was well pissed off when we got to the part about the War of Northern Aggression,and in the early 1900's when we became the policeman to the world.However,in spite of the ups and downs that the liberals have caused through the years,I think the country was still the biggest and best,until we went trillions in debt,financing the Chinses economy and waging war at the drop of a hat.(WW2 was different-I think the Nazis were a little more of a threat to world peace than Saddam was,maybe even more than Muslims)

wolfwalker said...

"So where will they draw the line?"

Somewhere between 1968 and 1973, when the civil-rights movement made possibly the greatest mistake in recorded history by merging with European post-modernists to become the modern Left. Before that, the damage was serious but controllable, even recoverable. After it, the course to decay and ruin was irreversible.

Second choice: 1986, when Ronald Reagan signed the Simpson-Mazzoli Act and legalized several million new Democrat voters. It's not a coincidence that Reagan was the last truly conservative man to win the presidency.

Anonymous said...

Tam, is there a specific public relations unit at Boston PD we can contact to voice our displeasure?

If you publish a point of contact on the blog, maybe we can mobilize people to respectfully but stridently voice their opposition to this kind of thuggery.

If the police get the idea that breaking their oath of office is likely to cause a public sh*tstorm, maybe they'll think twice before they jackboot American citizens for exercising their rights again.

Anonymous said...

I think Tam's point is that you know for sure that a society is breaking down when what was once tradition must be made law.

Of course, even law can be ignored by our wise philosopher-kings. Everyone likes Jefferson's quote about refreshing the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots and tyrants, and even his thought that we should have a rebellion every generation. But then he went and proved himself right by purchasing Louisiana on his own authority.

FDR broke with tradition, but earlier presidents than even Lincoln put us on this path.

staghounds said...

1940 still had some retreat possibility in it. I believe it's probably 1965 when the course became permanent.

There were practices and line crossings before that.

In 1817, the apparatus of totalitarian control was tested, and the citizens of the republic accepted it.

In 1932, we chose to fund a mass of State dependents. "Temporarily", but still.

In 1945, the choice not to become an international Empire was available. Instead, Marshall plan.

In 1950, we accepted the imperial burden in Korea.

But in 1965, we set all those things in motion on a permanent, irrevocable basis with the Great Society, the full scale war in Vietnam, and permanent increasing debt to fund permanent welfare and warfare.

Tam said...


I would be lying if I said that a part of me didn't respond viscerally to "1965".

Robert Langham said...

But the consensus is that we have PASSED that line, some time ago.

No argument here. I think the last time to go back was slightly after 9/11. No getting back now.

Anonymous said...

I want to hear more about your grandmother. Seriously. Do a post about her.


Anonymous said...

I have to agree with A Goy and the other Lincoln commentators.

I use the analogy of a divorce where one spouse is legally entitled to physically beat the other into staying.

Once the Federal government had supremacy over the states it was all over. NSA, IRS, FBI, TSA, HSA, ATF, and all the rest could not have been as abusive had States retained sovereignty.

All after that has been a slow creeping loss of freedom.

The other major line in the sand was more recent, the militarization of the police as a result of the "War on Drugs".

Now you have Jerry Waller shot dead in his own home by police at the wrong address, because he was investigating lights and noise on his property in the middle of the night. Odds are the rookie cop won't be charged, but guess what would have happened to Waller if he had fired first?

Apologies to Law Dog and others but the law is supposed to be applied fairly to all.

Note the supposed to. And that's also part of the problem.

Old NFO said...

Roosevelt is it, and 'my' mother and dad also hated him for what he did... The REAL question is, will BO attempt to duplicate it???

J.R.Shirley said...

I actually blogged about this recently. The beginning of the end...was 1935.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I would LOVE to meet old NFO's parents and the others who saw through FDR's bullshit.

My mother is 80 years old, despises the government, but fondly remembers FDR and says "But *everyone* loved him!"

From what I've gathered, compared to FDR Bronco is a piker when it comes to the Cult of Personality dept.

BatChainPuller said...

I come from Iowa where the oldsters were evenly divided on the FDR Saint/Satan question. The oldsters are all dead now but they still have that Harkin/Grassley shit to explain. Come on, just be South Dakota...or Illinois for once in your lives. Lincoln got put in a box, but I lost all the hero worship for him. I've always taught my (now) adult kids that it was 1965 and we'll never get that stink off us without fire.

deadcenter said...

Roosevelt was the end of the beginning, my opinion, the beginning of the end was 1861, when entry into the social contract was found to be a one way proposition, but Lincoln at least kept his indiscretions within our own borders.

1913/14 when Wilson attempted to dial executive power to eleven is another possibility. Wilson did massive damage by getting citizens to spy on citizens, jailing newspaper staff and even Representatives, not to mention orchestrating our entry into the war so that he could get a seat at the bargaining table rather than listening at the keyhole as the winners divided the spoils.

The second Roosevelt was just trying to finish the job started by Wilson, thus losing points for lacking originality.

Anonymous said...

The slide started in the early 1900's with a Federal income tax and expanding the voting franchise (thanks Teddy!). Woodrow Wilson's WWI anti-sedition acts, Prohibition, and the federal Palmer Raids were early symptoms. The fact that we accepted the segregation of the federal civil service and the military by the Democrat Wilson were also symptoms. Government could deny liberty to unpopular groups in the name of safety and security and the voters accepted it.

I think that the failed impeachment of BJ Clinton for perjury after he lied about a lewinsky from Monica and the 98 elections demonstrated that the voters were not going to hold our civil masters accountable for illegal and immoral behavior. It was politics uber alles. NOW would support the sexual abuse of a young woman, because the abuser supported NOW's goals. Twenty years before they ran Nixon out for being loyal to some third rate burglars.

Today we see the IRS (and EPA/OSHA/DOJ) attacking US citizens for their political stances, and the NSA tracking US Citizens in the US. And the Executive defying investigation by Congress. But too many accept it in the name of security and safety.


Jac said...

How many volumes make up Decline and Fall?

Stranger said...

Well, Tam, there are many inflection points that could match your description.

If you are talking about past history many of us consider the year to be 1831 and the Fearless Lider to be one Jackson, of the Jackass Party.

Others think of November 27, 1868, when Andrew Johnson was President, and Moke-tav-a-to was the highest ranking victim. At least to those "Preacher John" Chivington left alive in November, 1864.

Deadcenter has much of the 20th Century correct, but I would give some precedence to Clinton over Wilson, for shipping the US industrial base to China. It is hard to thrive without industry.

But for present and future history, I will stand on my previous comment.


Chris said...

I'm going with 1913. The Sixteenth Amendment (income tax, to fund the building of an empire) and the Seventeenth Amendment (direct election of senators, to remove the last vestige of the power of the states to prevent centralization of the government in Washington) were both ratified. In addition, the Federal Reserve was created; these three pieces of legislation laid the groundwork for the centralization of financial as well as political power in the District of Corruption. The minor matter of who would first claim the purple was/is largely irrelevant (as it was with Julius Caesar).

Certainly, a case can be made for (that bastard) Lincoln, but while his damage to Constitutional governance was severe, it was temporary (i.e., his income tax). Sure, it's "always easier the second time", but without those three fundamental changes, the crap done by the likes of Wilson, FDR, and Nixon (Bretton Woods, anyone?) would not have been possible.

So, unhappy centennial of the birth of the American Empire, y'all.

billf said...

Deadcenter,Re: Lincoln kept his indescretions within out own borders;Nope,sorry,in 1861 your southern border was Virginia.
Lincoln invaded the South,as sure as Bush invaded Iraq.

Anonymous said...

somewhere between febuary 3rd and april 8th 1913. two giant death blows. everything since then has been footnotes

Mike said...

1913? I think y'all are a bit late on the date. I'd have to go with some time around or before July 1861.

That might just be the southern perspective, though.

deadcenter said...

Chris adds three more reasons to hate Wilson, 17th amendment is one I should have remembered.

Billf, not my border, I was born in California and therefore neutral, but well played, Sir, very well played. I went over the wall when I was three and though I live within spitting distance of the border, it's been years since my last visit.

The Freeholder said...

March 4, 1789, the date that the US Constitution went into effect. Up until that time, the Articles of Confederation has successfully prevented a strong central government from emerging. By 1791, the new central government was flexing its muscles (see the Whiskey Rebellion) and pushing it's limits outward. Since then, nothing has changed except the pace.

Anonymous said...

A lot of great suggestions, along with the realization that there is no ONE thing, but the smart historians will have to key in on 1913 as the clear year of demise for the republic. The end of lower case federalism (17th ammendment) and the ascendency of capital letter Federal (16th ammendment and Federal Reserve). Amazing (and amazingly ironic at only first glance) how populism kills democracies--democratic republics especially. The elder Roosevelt (and Wilson) will be the seen as the more the more significant villians (guess my longterm optimism for the next democratic republic is showing).

Anonymous said...

Now that I've typed that, I can't help but picture myself in a long whit dress saying "Obiwan, you're our only hope." And I'm a pretty ugly dude.

RevolverRob said...

It certainly is easy to suggest 1861 with Lincoln. But I would actually suggest 1866 with the election of Grant, who enforced radical Republican policies of reconstruction. Never before had the rights of states been so severely curtailed, beaten down, and corrupted by the Federal government, until the Reconstruction era. In Texas it took nearly 40 years to push those "damn carpetbaggers" out, with their political cronyism, corruption, and greed. The South was not reconstructed so much as it was occupied by an Imperial force and subverted through political rule by a single party.

Post Reconstruction is actually when you see the real fruits sowed from the Manifest Destiny philosophy of 50 years before. True American Imperialism, and rule by a dictatorial regimes that broadly influenced global policy, without care for the Republic was already the norm.


Windy Wilson said...

I vote for FDDR and the 1937 court-packing scandal. That paved the way for all the administrative law anti-liberty and everything else you all mention as happening after that. 1940 engendered far less howling from constitutionalists and the other party. FDDR's picture was already in people's homes a la Hitler, Stalin and the other dictators by that time.

And I saw the typo but left it in as a sort of political allusion.

Anonymous said...

Sept 1901 when TR became President. Lincoln created some precedents but there was rollback after the war was over. Since 1901, it has been downhill, with pauses but not rollback.

Dan F said...

As an aside, pop culture concern over wiretapping is present as far back as the Eagles' "On the Border" and likely much further.

mariner said...


Drawing the line is pretty easy, actually.

It's April 6, 1861.

I agree. The other was the Supreme Court decision in Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific, holding that corporations are persons.

mariner said...

Anonymous 0938.
Lincoln created some precedents but there was rollback after the war was over.
I'm not seeing that.

Lincoln forever upended the Constitutional principle that the federal government was a creature of the several States.

After 1861, states were creatures of the Federal government.

And while people believe that grade-school horseshit about Lincoln freeing the slaves, no one today is taught in school that Lincoln jailed newspaper editors for daring to oppose him in print.

Lincoln was truly a tyrant, and this country would have been far better off had Booth done his thing in 1861 instead of four years later.

Will said...

Lincoln is a clear example of the fact that the winning side writes the history books, for the most part. Asshole didn't win a war, he lost a country.

Josh Kruschke said...

Febuary 25, 1791

As soon as Hamilton won the Implied Powers aurgument with Washington, and he signed into law authorizing The First Bank of the United States. This left the constitution open for debate allowing Gov't to grant itself powers not expressly granted, by just saying implied.

So, were we ever even truly a republic?

My question is not when did it die, but has it been a fiction all a long?

I put forth.

No Treason

The Constitution of No Authority

by Lysander Spooner (1869)


Anonymous said...

You're all delusional. The day everything started going to pot was when the monolith appeared and taught that monkey how to go all James Yeager with a femur bone.


AGoyAndHisBlog said...

RevolverRob, your point is very well taken. However, without Lincoln's needless war, not only is Grant never elected, but "reconstruction" (so-called) never takes place. The resulting abuse then, never happens. Without war it's certainly conceivable that we may even have seen re-unification (and I strongly believe that would have happened once slavery left the stage). But that re-unification would have to have strengthened State autonomy, not weakened it as Lincoln's war did.

The Freeholder also makes a very critical observation, IMHO. I would disagree that the Constitution itself was the problem, however. Rather, the various federal actors who've refused to constrain themselves to the limits of the Constitution - and the low-info electorate which continually lets that slide - were, and continue to be, the problem.

The proposition as I understood it was to identify a specific point in time where the Republic ended and an empire replaced it. To my mind, that point is Lincoln's choice to use unauthorized force, by ordering the naval invasion of Charleston Harbor, rather than recognizing So. Carolina's State sovereignty and sending an empty troop ship to evacuate Ft. Sumter, which he could just as easily have done.

After that point, what was then left of the U.S. - and then, later, the collection of States bound together after 1865 - went from a nation built upon voluntary membership in a self-governing Republic, to an empire held together by military force and ruled by an oligarchy in Washington, D.C.

I can't think of any other specific point in our history which identifies such a massive, fundamental transformation from Republic to empire.

Joseph said...

April 6, 1861?

On the contrary, Federal supremacy was established on March 7, 1859.

Ed Foster said...

O.K., Lincoln was a consummate politician (read lying hypocritical scumbag), but he got the British out of the south, where they ruled through a proxy group called Factors.

In 1828 the Feds introduced a brutal tariff system against European imports, to build up the U.S. industrial base. The south was tied to Britain by the loans the London Factors (predominantly the same gents who underwrote Lloyds Of London) You were given all the money you needed, with your slaves as security (the primary value of slaves, as you get far more work out of a free and hungry man).

You moved west as the land petered out, cutting down the forest and burning it to ashes, then ran water through the ashes and boiled it down to lye. Lye to tan leather.

Leather to make the drive belts that turned water or steam power into manufactured goods. Leather to make the pump seals that kept the water out of the mines, and leather for harnesses to put draft horses in front of wagons. The plastic of it's day.

After making money selling off the forest (Kentucky is Indian for High Dark Place, now it grazes horses) the remaining ash enriched the soil for another decade or so. Then the worked out soil was peddled for a song to crackers who owed nothing to London.

And Massa went even deeper into debt to the factors, and moved on towards the Big Muddy.

A plantation owner wasn't only in debt for loans. Everything he owned, every rake and shovel, every dress and suit and pistol and dish, was shipped from Britain, through the Factor, at a solid markup.

He was forced to pay the extra cost engendered by the 1828 Tariff Act, and it was an economic groin kick to the south.

As much as I admire Southern courage and skill, we were better off with the factor system broken, and it took a war to do it.

Lincoln wasn't against slavery, his wife owned quite a few, as did General Grant. In point of fact, he was a bitter racist and very much despised Blacks. Check out some of his comments during the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Presumably why the Henry Fonda flick Young Abe Lincoln isn't shown on the Boob Toob anymore.

So the damage done to the country was considerable, by his suspension of Habeus Corpus, his rounding up and imprisoning hundreds of Democratic politicians without charges (Hmmm... :-)) and his pre-war military occupation of critical areas of Maryland and Kentucky to keep them from going Confederate.

But that, and the blockading U.S. Navy, guaranteed the British stranglehold on American finances was broken forever, and that might have been a decent tradeoff.

I lean toward 1911/12/13, with Wilson and FDR or someone like them being as inevitable as cockroaches in a bin full of crumbs.

Joseph said...

If a state withdrew from the Constitution, would that mean the Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union would be in effect?

staghounds said...

You still had non-governmental decisions happening, though. Prohibition, its repeal, the steel seizure case, the end of Vietnam, and Nixon's fall were all at least arguably things the people wanted in defiance of their masters, or that the Court did in defiance of the executive.
I would put the proof of inevitabiliy date at 1996, when a new congress was elected with a specific mandate for change and the people returned it although nothing actually was changed.

Jim said...

I'd draw the line at Wilson, roughly around 1913, and the passage of the 16th and 17th Amendments.

dustydog said...

Too easy. It is 2016, when America elects Vladimr Putin as president (Joe Biden still VP). If you are wondering about the natural born citizen clause - shut up, racist h8r.

Justthisguy said...

Yeah, well, Franklin. We have had a coupla lizards in the house we put up with, because they eat insects, but they are still nasty reptiles, so we named them Woodrow and Franklin.

Later I was in church when I saw a tiger gecko in front of me on the floor and picked him up. He clung to my hand all through Communion and all the way home. He proceeded to hang out in my room and do tremendous execution among the roaches. He is a Holy Gecko. I have named him Grover, after the last real Democrat we had for President.

It's a shame you had to shut down comments on the other post. I dunno about others, but I was really trying to Play Nice, that post's subject being one about which I care very much, much more than I care about our individual differences.

Geodkyt said...

Joseph -- Nope.

The Articles of Confederation died for good once every single state that was bound by them ratified the Constitution, "amending" the Articles by 100% substitution of the Constitution. Including removing the statement of "perpetual union" and not replacing it.

Article 13 -- And the Articles of this Confederation shall be inviolably observed by every State, and the Union shall be perpetual; nor shall any alteration at any time hereafter be made in any of them; unless such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State.