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May 02, 2007


Appalled Moderate

Hmm. Sowell does not understand baseball and he doesn't understand the Consitution, What's an unamerican fellow like that doing writing for NRO?

Jeff Dobbs

May I propose and update based on following the links....

CONFLUENCE: Sowell and Yglesias agree, a military coup may some day be necessary.

Cecil Turner

If I'm readin' these right, Ken Holtzman had a 12-inning shutout against the Pirates in '71. Jesse Stovall debuted with an 11-inning shutout in 1903. But Holtzman's isn't listed as a record, so . . .

Rick Ballard


Perhaps he's working from the Declaration? You know - "When in the course of human events..."

The observation concerning the man on horseback cleaning up after the collapse of degenerate mobocracy has at least some historical validity. It's extraordinarily doubtful that a military coup would be possible - unless, of course, there is a super-extraordinary event well beyond the scale of 9/11.

Alternatively, Sowell's view of the Constitution might also be based upon the original document. There are actually people around who don't believe that it has been improved much at all since its ratification.

Other Tom

I assume Maguire is inquiring only about World Series shutouts, not regular season. If the latter are included, Harvey Haddix certainly should get some mention for pitching 12 no-hit innings in 1959, only to lose the no-hitter and the game in the 13th. That's one where it might be awfully tough to yak it up with your teammates afterward.

Other Tom

I'm a fourth-generation naval academy graduate, and have been closely associated with the professional military, principally navy and marine corps but also the other services, from my earliest memory. I can assure Thomas Sowell--and everyone else--that there is not going to be any sort of coup by our armed forces in any of our lifetimes. Everyone squawks about the particular civilians who control the military at any given moment, but the concept of civilian supremacy in general is deeply ingrained and respected, and is not going to be challenged. Trust me on that one.

Appalled Moderate


While it's true, the original Constitution did not have that pesky Bill of Rights, I also don't think it provides for periodic military usurpations.

Also, per Federalist XXVIII, it appears the Founding Fathers thought military interventions would violate the Constitution:

Independent of all other reasonings upon the subject, it is a full answer to those who require a more peremptory provision against military establishments in time of peace, to say that the whole power of the proposed government is to be in the hands of the representatives of the people. This is the essential, and, after all, only efficacious security for the rights and privileges of the people, which is attainable in civil society.
Great Banana

I don't believe there will be a military coup any time soon, or that one is required.

However, arguing that a military coup is "unconstitutional" is really missing the point, isn't it? I mean, a constitution is only as strong as the populace's belief in it. It does not have any "real" effect except for what society gives it.

Thus, the left's viewpoint that the constitution can mean whatever they want it to mean.

And, if there was a successful coup, I hardly think it would be rolled back by some court labeling it "unconstitutional"

or am I missing something?


Not unless Justice Ginsburg is armed in violation of DC law.

Rick Ballard

"I can assure Thomas Sowell--and everyone else--that there is not going to be any sort of coup by our armed forces in any of our lifetimes."

President (gack) Hillary declares a "state of emergency" requiring suspension of elections until the "danger has passed" and is supported by a paper thin majority in Congress backed by Justice Ginsberg's swing vote on a 5/4 decision upholding her "emergency powers".

Substitute President Bush for the Beast and thats what the deranged portion of the left (which would be the vast majority of their 20%) have posited for 6 years.

There is a reason why they have posited it. In their feeble and febrile brains and the space where a heart would be if they possessed one, it's their only hope.

I really wouldn't put it past Hillary to try it under the right circumstances and I would hope that the military would interpret their oath correctly if she did. 'Coup' and 'restoration' can mean the same thing.

Cecil Turner

Also, per Federalist XXVIII, it appears the Founding Fathers thought military interventions would violate the Constitution:

By my reading, this is a continuation of the discussion begun in Federalist 26, which argues against the idea of restricting the legislature from raising armies in peacetime (the fear being they may be used inappropriately by the government):

It may not be amiss in this place concisely to remark the origin and progress of the idea, which aims at the exclusion of military establishments in time of peace.
Moreover, the same source you quote goes on to endorse the idea of popular removal of government (echoing the rationale in the Declaration of Independence):
If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government . . .
So if the military were acting on behalf of the people (which most coups claim, at least), it is arguably endorsed by Federalist 28.

Regardless, such a takeover is hardly imminent, nor did Mr Sowell advocate one. He merely raised the possibility as a means to express his disgust with the functioning of our current government and the chattering class which supports it. And that disgust appears to me well-founded.


'Maybe Babe Ruth will lead it, because I don't think anyone in the military would.'

Well, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, with the assistance of George Patton, did sic the military on the 'Bonus Army' marchers in Washington DC, in the 1930s.

And, there was that unpleasantness from 1861-65. So anything is possible. Which I think was Sowell's point. Sorta like a doctor saying; 'You've got cancer and it might kill you.'

Doesn't mean the doctor wants it to happen.


Game 3 of the 2005 World Series went 14 innings. The only other World Series game to go that long is the one in which Ruth pitched a shutout for the final 13.

There have been three World Series extra-innings shutouts. Christy Mathewson went 10 for the Giants in 1913 and Clem Labine went 10 as the Brooklyn Dodgers won the day after Don Larsen's perfect game in 1956. Jack Morris did it for the third time for the Minnesota Twins in that unforgettable game 7 in 1991.

The game record for a shutout is 18 innings. John Ward (NL Providence Grays, 1882), Ed Summers (AL Detroit Tigers, 1909), Walter Johnson (AL Washington Senators, 1918) and Carl Hubbell (NL New York Giants, 1933) are the recordholders.

...or so I've read.


Other Tom,

you are correct. I can assure you that it will not happen on my watch.

Other Tom

Bear in mind that when MacArthur moved against the Bonus Army, he did so at the direction, and with the approval, of the commander-in-chief, FDR.

My recollection is that the "original" constitution--without the bill of rights--was not ratified, and that it was only submitted for ratification after those ten amendments had been added. It's nap time, so I haven't even bothered to Google this one, and would welcome any corrections.

As to the constitutionality of a military coup, I'm not sure that anyone here is seriously contending that such an action could be taken without violating the current constitution. If someone is, please lemme know and I'll get back to you.

Cecil Turner

Nice job Patrick T . . . and I think I'll leave the baseball stats to the more qualified in the future.


Have I told you lately that I love you?

Sometimes I wander back in here after two pinot grigio's celebrating business partner's successful trial and its as if my dimming mind gets to light up with tales of baseball and the navy and yes even the constitution.

It is so much fun to call this place home.

Ignatz Ratzkiwatzki

--I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical......... It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government.-- Tom Jefferson.

Shay's rebellion was not a military coup, but I think Jefferson's sentiments are pretty close to what Sowell was expressing through hyperbole.

Appalled Moderate


I go under a presumption that a military coup against elected officials under the constitution would have horrified Alexander Hamilton.

Jeffersonian comments should not be taken into account when evaluating the Constitution, as he was an opponent.


I brought the constitution into this as a riposte to Rick Ballard mentioning original intent. It would be amusing to see someone argue how a coup would be constitutional, though I'm sure some Kos or Freeeper-fired partisan could proably do it, given the excuse to do so.

I think the problem with Sowell's comment is pretty self-evident, though probably not worth many pixels. His tone is reminiscent of the fascists of Europe in the 30s (the reference to degeneracy has a lovely Franco-ish flavor). Though my first comment was snarky, I really am startled that the folks at NRO did not take that comment out.

JM Hanes

"I can’t help wondering if the day may yet come when the only thing that can save this country is a military coup."

Maybe Sowell's just been channeling Turkey.


Though my first comment was snarky, I really am startled that the folks at NRO did not take that comment out.

Well, the baseball comment anyway.

Jeff Dobbs

I really am startled that the folks at NRO did not take that comment out.

Well, I'm still steamed at William F. Buckley's "25 Words".

Begin with the president’s State of the Union address, in which he spoke of uranium being purchased in Niger to facilitate nuclear operations in Iraq.

But hey, I got a couple of responses to emails I sent, "ugh" and "yeah, he got that wrong". That made me feel a lot better.

Rick Ballard

"Rick Ballard mentioning original intent."

Your leap to "intent" from my "Alternatively, Sowell's view of the Constitution might also be based upon the original document." is without foundation. If you asked Sowell (or me) the "original document" would be the one which was ratified - not the unratified drafts. That sort of make your assertion about a desire on my part to be rid of the the BoR a bit unwarranted.

I'm not alone in considering today's living, breathing hallucinogenic, muddily interpreted residual scrap of the original to be entirely dependent upon the whim and sophistry of unaccountable judges and justices willing to search penumbras for emanations. That said, I didn't argue that military coups were allowable under the original.

They definitely are under the Declaration though.

Rick Ballard

The BoR were drafted and proposed in 1788 as an inducement to get the last votes for ratification. They weren't themselves ratified until 1791.


We win,they lose.


Mr Ballard,
If you called the Opposition,"The British" would that help?

Other Tom

Notwithstanding that I think we are pretty much in fantasy land with this military coup thing, I guess I should point out that when someone uses the phrase I instinctively think of the garden-variety kind that haunts the dreams of the goofball left. They seem to live in constant fear that such a coup will be undertaken from within the armed forces--go back to such drivel as "Seven Days in May." While my own experience tells me persuasively that it just ain't gonna happen, if it did so it would unquestionably be in violation of Article Two, Section Two, which establishes the president as commander-in-chief.

Does Sowell have in mind a coup that is in fact directed by the president? I guess I have no idea what he has in mind, but I suppose that would be a nicer question, constituion-wise. However, I think there is a greater chance that Senator Kerry will sprout wings from his scapulae and leap into interstellar space.

Rick Ballard

"If you called the Opposition,"The British" would that help?"

Mr Uk,

Nah. Jefferson was extraordinarily careful to distinguish between 'the British' and King George III in the Declaration. The only time he used 'British' was this: Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. Crafty bugger, eh?

Besides, I probably wouldn't have signed (although I would have cheerfully joined Burke in roundly damning Lord North). It's a real shame to have fallen between the Pitts.


Those were 10 glorious shutout innings Jack Morris pitched in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.


"I think there is a greater chance that Senator Kerry will sprout wings from his scapulae and leap into interstellar space."

I distinctly recall him saying he spent Christmas at home on Alpha Centauri.

Jeff Dobbs

I distinctly recall

Well, if it wasn't seared, seared in your brain, I can't trust you.


Other Tom: thanks for mentioning what I think is the greatest pitching performance ever: 12 innings of no hit ball only to lose the game in the 13th.


In fairness to Sowell, I think he had in mind some of the problems that plague republics and may have gone a bit overboard. Those problems are highlighted today at Bench Memos:

The Perennial Publius, part 71

Throughout this essay, Hamilton reiterates a theme his partner Madison developed in his essays on the separation of powers: that the most natural phenomenon in a republic is for the legislature to aggrandize its powers at the expense of all other institutions. "The representatives of the people . . . seem sometimes to fancy that they are the people themselves." The presidency must be made strong enough to hold fast against the arrogance and folly that can readily seize a legislature, even one made as well as our Congress. "It is one thing [for the president] to be subordinate to the laws, and another to be dependent on the legislative body." To avoid the latter outcome, the term of office must be long enough to give a president time, before the next election, both to act on his own judgment and to vindicate his doing so. He must be enabled to "dare to act his own opinion with vigor and decision," and such daring will be far riskier with frequent elections, cutting short the time for a president's plans and decisions to bear fruit and justify him.

This certainly seems to be a consistent theme of American history. I have argued elsewhere that this tendency has been exacerbated by 1) the fact that the income tax brings in vast amounts of money that the legislative branch gets to disburse, and 2) the lack of an effective executive means of restraining the legislative branch's spending. The result is that 3) the legislative branch has gained a large measure of control over the government bureaucracy--including executive agencies--that it has created and funds. The GWOT and the intra-administration squabbles that have been highlighted in the FISA/NSA and Libby controversies are object examples--with DoJ, DoS and CIA playing the leading roles.


"Well, if it wasn't seared, seared in your brain, I can't trust you".
It was George Foreman Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machined into my mind with a portion of fries and a side salad.


Regarding Other Tom's comment re: "Bear in mind that when MacArthur moved against the Bonus Army, he did so at the direction, and with the approval, of the commander-in-chief, FDR." - this is incorrect: since MacArther moved against the Bonus Army in the summer of 1932 [July 28], FDR was NOT yet elected President and therefore could not have been commander-in-chief - that person was Hoover - see these URLs for more detail: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/macarthur/peopleevents/pandeAMEX89.html, http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Aug05/MickeyZ0831.htm and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonus_Army#Intervention_of_the_military - I would point out, too, that not only Patton but also Eisenhower was involved in this shameful action

Captain Ned

@RogerA and OtherTom:

Harvey Haddix didn't lose a no-hitter in the 13th inning, he lost a perfect game. He had already pitched 12 perfect innings.


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