In Vain Did the Opponents Urge That This Was Irregular

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:

In Pennsylvania the proceedings connected with the ratification were precipitous and narrowly escaped being irregular. Before it was known that Congress would even transmit the Constitution to the states for their consideration, George Clymer, who had been a member of the national Convention and was then serving in the Pennsylvania legislature, “rose in his place and moved that a state convention of deputies be called, that they meet at Philadelphia, and that they be chosen in the same manner and on the same day as the members of the next general assembly.” In vain did the opponents urge that this was irregular, that it was not known whether Congress would act favorably, and that deliberation rather than haste should characterize such a weighty procedure. The legislature, nevertheless, resolved to call the convention, and adjourned until the afternoon, leaving the date of the convention and manner of selecting delegates to be settled later. The opposition thereupon decided to secure delay by staying away and preventing the transaction of business for want of a quorum.

Meanwhile the news reached Philadelphia that Congress had sent the Constitution to the states for their consideration. The Federalists in the legislature, now having secured the sanction of regularity, determined not to brook further delay, so they sent officers after some of the recalcitrants, who thought “filibustering” justifiable in view of the importance of securing more deliberation before acting. These officers, ably assisted by a Federalist mob “broke into their lodgings, seized them, dragged them through the streets to the State house, and thrust them into the assembly room, with clothes torn and faces white with rage. The quorum was now complete.” The legislature (September 29) fixed the election of delegates to the state convention at a date five weeks distant, November 6, 1787. Thus the people of the state were given a little over a month to deliberate on this momentous issue before selecting their agents to voice their will. Some Federalists, like Tench Coxe, expressed regret at the necessity of adopting these high-handed methods; but the stress was so great that it did not admit of delay.

After the convention assembled, the Federalists continued their irregular practices, although from the vote on the Constitution in the convention this latter manipulation seems to have been a work of supererogation. Everything was done that could be done to keep the public out of the affair. “Thomas Lloyd applied to the convention for the place of assistant clerk. Lloyd was a shorthand writer of considerable note, and when the convention refused his request, determined to report the debates and print them on his own account. His advertisement promised that the debates should be accurately taken in shorthand and published in one volume octavo at the rate of one dollar the hundred pages. These fine promises, however, were never fulfilled. Only one thin volume ever came out, and that contains merely the speeches of Wilson and a few of those of Thomas M’Kean. The reason is not far to seek. He was bought up by the Federalists, and in order to satisfy the public was suffered to publish one volume containing nothing but speeches made by the two federal leaders.” The Federalists appear to have suppressed other attempts at issuing the debates, and they “withdrew their subscriptions from every publication that warmly supported the Anti-federal cause.” The Constitution was ratified by a vote of 46 to 23.

Against these precipitous actions on the part of the Federalists in carrying the ratification of the Constitution, a minority of the state convention, twenty-one members, protested in an address to the people after the day had been lost. The protestants told how the federal Convention had been called by Congress, and then recited the facts as they viewed them: “So hastily and eagerly did the states comply [with the call of Congress for the Convention] that their legislatures, without the slightest authority, without ever stopping to consult the people, appointed delegates, and the conclave met at Philadelphia. To it came a few men of character, some more noted for cunning than patriotism, and some who had always been enemies to the independence of America. The doors were shut, secrecy was enjoined, and what then took place no man could tell. But it was well known that the sittings were far from harmonious. Some left the dark conclave before the instrument was framed. Some had the firmness to withhold their hands when it was framed. But it came forth in spite of them, and was not many hours old when the meaner tools of despotism were carrying petitions about for the people to sign praying the legislature to call a convention to consider it. The convention was called by a legislature made up in part of members who had been dragged to their seats and kept there against their wills, and so early a day was set for the election of delegates that many a voter did not know of it until it was passed. Others kept away from the polls because they were ignorant of the new plan; some because they disliked it, and some because they did not think the convention legally called. Of the seventy thousand freemen entitled to vote but thirteen thousand voted.” For a long time the war of the dissenters against the Constitution went on in Pennsylvania, breaking out in occasional riots, and finally in the Whiskey Rebellion in Washington’s administration; but they were at length beaten, outgeneralled, and outclassed in all the arts of political management.

— Charles Austin Beard

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Couldn’t Do It Today

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:

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The “Comfort” of Conspiracy Theories

Blowhard, Esq. writes:

A common objection to conspiracy theories is that the worldview that conspiracy theories reflects is more psychologically comforting than the actual reality. The objection goes something like this, “You think that X event was the result of a plan agreed to and executed by nefarious people, when in reality the vast majority of people are bumbling and incompetent. People are so incompetent that it is highly unlikely that they could have pulled off such a thing. But, you want to believe that events are always the result of evil elements acting in concert, because that is preferable to believing we live in a world that is actually disorganized and chaotic.”

I’ve seen two examples of this kind of thinking lately with respect to the Iowa caucuses debacle. A friend posted a story on Facebook with the headline, “Out of the Chaos, Let a Thousand Conspiracy Theories Bloom.” She added as a caption, “Because it’s comforting to think the people in charge are super-competent conspirators rather than bumblers?” In Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi similarly dismisses any conspiracy thinking:

When historians pore over the Great Iowa Catastrophe of 2020, much of the blame will be focused on Acronym and Shadow, the two firms associated with the balky app that was supposed to count caucus results. For the conspiratorial-minded, the various political connections will be key: Acronym co-founder Tara McGowan is married to Buttigieg strategist Michael Halle, while former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe sits on Acronym’s board. Shadow had also been a client of both the Buttigieg and Biden campaigns in 2019.
But garden variety disorganization and stupidity were the major storylines underneath the terrible optics. From the first moment the caucus proceedings were delayed Monday night due to what the Iowa Democratic Party called “inconsistencies in the reporting,” Sanders supporters in particular felt in déjà vu territory. Orlando native Patty Duffy, an out-of-stater who captained for Sanders in the small town of Milo, had flashbacks to the run-up to the Hillary-Bernie convention.

Taibbi didn’t resort to psychologizing, but the effect is the same, “Hey guys, there is no conspiracy going on, these people are just maladroit morons.” Never mind that “inconsistencies in the reporting” might be the result of people acting intentionally and we know for a fact there was a conspiracy at the 2016 Democratic National Convention to shut Bernie out.

But back to the “comfort” argument. It may be that conspiracy theorists find it discomforting to believe that they live in a disordered, anarchic world and therefore seek a psychological palliative of looking for patterns and plots were none in fact exist. I can’t look into their hearts and minds, so I don’t know. But isn’t it equally psychologically comforting to believe that conspiracies are never possible? That major world events are never the result of a group of powerful people doing bad things? The next time an anti-conspiracy theorist raises the comfort objection, wouldn’t it be just as logical for me to respond, “You want to believe that the world is run by essentially good people trying to do the right thing. They just screw up sometimes, or chaos introduces unavoidable mistakes or screw-ups into the system. It’s more comforting to believe that than the people at the top are so indifferent to you and your concerns that they act however they like to protect their power.”

The comfort argument is specious because it’s trotted out time and again before any evidence, pro or con, is presented. It’s an objection designed to shut down discussion. The anti-conspiracy theorist can’t open the door to a single conspiracy theory because, if they do, that opens the door to others. Their worldview depends on keeping them all conspiracy theories — in other words, all psychologically threatening narratives — shut out.


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Super Bowl Ad Watch: Olay’s “Make Space for Women”

Fenster writes:

It is noteworthy but not surprising that Olay, a skin care product for women, would choose to advertise during the Super Bowl.  As noted in an earlier post in this series women are not only the main purchasers in domestic settings but they pay more attention than men to advertisements during the game and now comprise almost half its viewership.

It is reasonable, then, that its Super Bowl ad would be targeted to a female demographic and even that it would have an all female cast.  And since social messaging is hardly hidden in ads these days–indeed it is in some ways mandated–it figures, too, that Olay would opt for an explicit empowerment message.  And in that regard Olay does not disappoint.

However I must say I am perplexed by how Olay chose to deliver that empowerment theme.  But let’s look at the ad first.  Check it out–it won’t take long.

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Juxtaposin’: Parting Shots

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:


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Super Bowl Ad Watch: Porsche’s “The Heist”

Fenster writes:

Porsche’s contribution to the Super Bowl ad sweepstakes is a well-engineered contraption called The Heist.  The one minute short version aired during the game.  Better for us to look at the extended version, which can be seen here.  The latter clocks in at 2:31 so while more than twice as long at the ad aired during the game both versions are required to be, unlike the car itself, models of economy.

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Super Bowl Ad Watch: Half-time, Pause and Digression

Fenster writes:

We just took a look at the Super Bowl ad for Genesis starring Legend & Teigen.  I’ll shortly be taking a closer look at some other ads, including Porsche and that Super Bowl stalwart Oil of Olay.  First, a short digression.

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