Suggested Discussion Outline

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Suggested Discussion Outline

Post by johnkarls »

Suggested Discussion Outline

Part I – One Hour

Discussion of “The Quartet” itself.

If we take the 7 chapters in sequence, this would afford almost 10 minutes/chapter.

Though we should reserve some time for general comments about “The Quartet.”

In order to conserve meeting time, I have a general comment about “The Quartet” which need not then be discussed unless someone has additional insights –

It seemed incredible to me that Joseph Ellis, the author of “The Quartet,” seemed completely oblivious to guerrilla warfare!!!

Especially since he not only served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam during the Vietnamese War (during which his actions were controversial enough that in 2001 he was suspended without pay from his Ford Foundation Chair at Mount Holyoke College and not reinstated until 2005), but he also taught at West Point before joining the Mount Holyoke faculty.

After all, the Viȇt Cȏng employed virtually solely guerrilla tactics.

And it was not until the very late stages of American involvement in the Vietnam War that North Vietnamese troops became involved.

There are two reasons for making this comment.

First, Yours Truly reacted perhaps a bit strongly to the Original Proposal of “The Quartet” by Denise and Thomas Chancellor by pointing out, inter alia, how for more than a decade before the American Revolution if any Member of the British Parliament wanted to refer to anyone anywhere in the world as incompetent, s/he would call that person “a George Washington” because of Washington’s incompetence leading the Virginia militia in the so-called French and Indian War as a result of which the Virginia Militia was massacred.

And going on to point out how, as Commander of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, Washington did virtually nothing but retreat through New York and New Jersey, from which he crossed the Delaware River as depicted in a famous painting, following which Lord Cornwallis continued to chase him all the way to the Virginia shore of Chesapeake Bay where Lord Cornwallis surrendered because the French Fleet had blockaded the Chesapeake Bay leaving the British troops without essential supplies. So although a famous painting shows (correctly) Lord Cornwallis surrendering his sword to Washington, Lord Cornwallis was defeated by the French Fleet, not Washington and his Continental Army.

It’s bad enough that Prof. Ellis ignores legitimate military success against the British on Lake Champlain and in upper New York State, neither of which had anything to do with Washington.

And it’s bad enough that Prof. Ellis ignores the fact that Washington and his Continental Army did virtually nothing throughout the war other than get chased all the way to the Chesapeake Bay where the French defeated Lord Cornwallis.

But Prof. Ellis IGNORES THE FAMOUS “MINITUE MEN” (1) who predominated throughout the colonies, and (2) who predominated from THE OUTSET, fighting the very first battle featuring “the shot heard around the world” at Concord MA.

I would submit that the famous “minute men” were the real reason why the Brits thought they had no chance to crush the American Revolution. After all, we learned in high school civics more than 50 years ago that the “minute men” employed guerrilla tactics, literally ready to fight on only 60 seconds notice but, more importantly, fighting as individual guerrillas from behind trees and rocks while taking “pot shots” at the British troops who always marched in close formation with their famous “red coats” marking them as inviting targets (no camouflage for those poor souls!!!)!!!

Admittedly, Prof. Ellis’ focus is the U.S. Constitution and what shaped it.

But he does paint, at least in my non-humble opinion, a very-misleading picture of what the military realities were!!!

Apologists might argue that the very-misleading picture was justified by Prof. Ellis’ brief comment (pp. 58-59) about the importance of Washington’s persuading the officers of the Continental Army who, with their troops, had largely gone unpaid throughout the war, NOT to lead a military coup afterwards the way such historical luminaries as Caesar, Cromwell and Napoleon had.

But the fact that Washington talked his officers out of staging a military coup had nothing to do with the shape the American Constitution took!!!

And even if apologists wanted to argue that there would have been no American Constitution if there had been a military coup and it had been successful (AND I WOULD ARGUE THAT THE CONTINENTAL ARMY WOULD PROBABLY HAVE BEEN AS UNSUCCESSFUL AS THE BRITS IN FIGHTING THE “MINUTE MEN”), it would be more accurate to claim that there would have been no ARTIFLES OF CONFEDERATION in the wake of a successful military coup.

At least Prof. Ellis makes no attempt to speculate how, more than a decade after such a military coup, the new U.S. Constitution would have been different if there had been a military coup.

And Yours Truly has already posited (though many prominent historians had made the same point) that the Articles of Confederation were similar to the NATO Treaty WITHOUT the Article 5 commitment that “an attack on one is an attack on all.”

So if Prof. Ellis wants to paint a very-misleading picture of what the military realities actually were during the Revolutionary War and his apologists are right that Washington’s action in preventing a military coup afterwards had a dramatic impact on the shape of the U.S. Constitution that replaced the Articles of Confederation a decade later, then Prof. Ellis needs to explain why the most important difference between the Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution (namely the NATO-like bonding of the 13 colonies in terms of foreign policy and defense -- which he barely admits was the driving force requiring the replacement of the Articles of Confederation) would have been different if Washington had NOT prevented a military coup.

Enough said!!!

Unless there are Washington apologists (or Ellis apologists) who would like to argue these points.

But if there are, it is respectfully suggested that we limit such a debate to 10 minutes because there are so many other things to cover.

And I would be delighted to continue such a debate at Canellas afterwards.

Part II – One Hour

Our members might have noticed that I had announced at the beginning of this monthly cycle that there was sufficient time for three short quizzes, as a result of which I conjured a list of the 6 most important constitutional issues facing the country today.

With the explanation that I would try to cover 2 of the issues in each of the 3 short quizzes.

With the admonition that anyone who believed there should be an addition to the list should post her/his views on post haste. [Nobody did.]

The stated reason for focusing on current constitutional issues was to grade how well “The Quartet” had done in writing the U.S. Constitution.

So with 6 current constitutional issues, there should be approximately 10 minutes to discuss each of:

(1) School desegregation and charter schools.
(2) Abortion.
(3) Gun/knife control (NB: Britain is now banning knives but what about motor vehicles?).
(4) Campaign finance.
(5) Ruling by Executive Order and the Senate’s Filibuster Rule Which, Until The Last Decade Or So, Was Used SOLELY To Perpetuate Segregation.
(6) FISA and Authoritarian Rule by Our Intelligence Services.

It would be important to stick closely to this schedule because a Six Degrees of Separation E-mail Campaign has been proposed with respect to each of the last 3 issues --

Re No. 4, to revive public financing of political campaigns with such robust funding that “political contributions” are relegated to the scrap heap of history (while extending such financing to Senatorial and Congressional Campaigns).

Re No. 5, to eliminate the U.S. Senate’s “filibuster” (60 vote) rule.

Re No. 6, to insist that the illegal interference by our intelligence services in the 2016 Presidential Campaign and its aftermath be prosecuted, for the sake of sound public policy, to the fullest extent of the law.

Respectfully submitted,

John K.

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