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tv   Book Discussion on Mr. President  CSPAN  March 31, 2014 7:15am-7:56am EDT

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of science is the cat problem. if i have a cat in a box and i don't open the box, the cat could either be dead or alive. the how do we physicists describe a cat that we cannot observe? well, we add the dead cat to the life care. we add the two ways together. so the cat is neither dead nor alive. until you open the box. einstein thought, this is stupid. i mean, how can you be neither dead nor alive at the same time? well, what can i say? einstein was wrong. electrons can be spun up or spun done. electrons can be here or there at the same time. this is the greatest paradox in all of science. how do you resolve the fact that you can have dead -- dead cat in life can sometimes the exist in
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another state before you make the observation. and if you ever find a solution to this puzzle, tell me first. [laughter] nobel prize winners debate this question. there is an alternative. the alternative vision is that the universe splits in half. in one universe the cat is dead, and then the of the universe the cat is alive. universes keep splitting into other universes, and that theory seems to be the one preferred by string theory. this lens is a to the last question, and the last question is, is elvis presley still alive in another parallel universe? the answer is possibly yes. possibly yes, if this theory is correct and the universe splits, then perhaps in one universe making is still alive.
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let's take one last question because i have to get to signing your books, and i have to get photographs taken care. one last question, okay? >> -- superhero on his t-shirt. >> thank you. my question was, if you could put someone's thoughts and stuff onto a disc, could you building a robot body and just put them in the end they could live out their daily life in a robot body? >> okay, if you can put the mine onto a disc, the question is can that disc then be put into a robot and then you would have superpowers. this is something that cannot be ruled out. if one day, this is far in the future, we put all our pathways of the brain onto a disc and put this disc into a robot, the robot could be perfect. the robot could be handsome, gorgeous, beautiful, superhuman. if the powers of a cyborg and
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look just like us except has superpowers. this is something that cannot be ruled out. this is called homo superior. however, as you point out, homo superior is 100 years away. so we're not going to see it in our lifetime, however. it is something we cannot rule out, the fact that maybe the surrogates may be will live our lives as the circus and that's what the movie, circus starring bruce willis, was all about. in that world people prefer to live in superhuman bodies. i don't want to go back to being human anymore. they prefer to be superhumans. and then, of course, because it's a hollywood movie, bruce willis messes it all up in terms of all the superhuman bodies at the end. anyway, thank you so much for being here today. [applause] what i want to do now is to sign your book, okay? you've been a great audience. thank you so much, okay?
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>> you are watching booktv, nonfiction authors and books every weekend on c-span2. >> historian harlow unger reports that president washington, where of the of the presidency with setting comic in ever widening executive powers during his tenure despite constitutional limits. this is about 40 minutes. >> thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. if you turn off your cell phones, just tell your friend to call me. i leave mine on and take messages for you. if some of you are upset with our president or some of his predecessors, some of you believe that he or they ignored the law or the constitution,
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well, the fault, dear brutus to you don't mind if i called you brutus, do you? the fault, dear brutus, is not in the stars but in ourselves, for we elected him and them. but in all fairness to ourselves, the fault also is in the constitution. and in our first president, george washington. the constitution says, and i quote, the executive power shall be vested in a president of the united states, but it fails to define executive power. and it fails to say what the president should do with it other than execute the office of the president, whatever that means. it means nothing, and that's exactly what the framers intended. the president was to do nothing. the framers wrote a constitution that made him a figurehead. they made him commander-in-chief
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of the armed forces but only when congress called the armed forces into action, which left the president, commander in chief of no one and nothing. other presidential powers that colin that were no quick. he could make treaties but only with the advice and consent of the senate. he could nominate judges and heads of executive departments but again he could only see them, put them into office with the vice and consent of the senate. once they took office, he had no power to get rid of them. he couldn't find them. they would be there for ever. and so worse, the constitution ordered the president to take care that the laws be faithfully executed but it gave him no law enforcement or more powers to arrest or punish any violators. so when washington took office, he really had no powers under the constitution.
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and again that's exactly what the framers had intended. they had lived for a generation under the tyranny of an absolute monarch, george iii of england and they were not about to let their new president become another king george. so they created a figurehead, and that's all george washington was when he took his oath of office as president of the united states, a figurehead, a beloved old man that other founding fathers had put on the throne hoping he would smile and nod off to sleep. james madison who helped write the constitution explained that in our government, and these are madison's words, in our government the executive department is not the stronger branch of the system, but the weaker. as madison said and what the framers believed, and to the distress of millions over the years, that's exactly what we have often had. but the framers forgot one
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thing. the name of that first chief executive was george washington. father of his country, commander-in-chief of the continental army, the man who galloped into a storm of musket balls at monmouth courthouse, the brilliant general who won an eight-year war of independence with a bunch of farmers against the most powerful, well-trained, well-equipped army on earth. this was a man who on his own had studied history, law, economics, national and international affairs in literature, and he had become one of the most widely read of the founders. this was a man who would transform a small tobacco plantation into one of america's largest most diversified agro-industrial enterprises stretching across 20,000 acres. he was ceo of what we call a conglomerate today which include
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a fishery, in the processing plant, textile manufacturing and weaving plants combat history, a brickmaking killed, a cargo carrying this tuner and endless fields of grain, tobacco, fruits and vegetables. he is trading operations stretch to the west indies and over to england. he was an immensely successful and powerful chief executive in peace as well as in war. when he took the office office to preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the united states, he intended doing just that, even if it meant ignoring the letter of the constitution at times to preserve the spirit. only a few months after taking office, washington shocked congress and the nation by assuming authority over four centers of government power that congress had hoped to control, foreign affairs, defense, finance and law enforcement.
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he waged war without congressional consent. and then borrowed from banks to pay for government expenses. the constitution did not give him power to do those things. only congres congress can approe and author spending of government funds. only congress can declare war. but congress -- washington did both on his own. he knew that everything he did would set precedents for generations of his successors, he ignored the constitution again and again to create what james madison later called a minority presidency, what modern scholars today call the entry of presidency. of a larger associated with more recent presidents of the 20th and 21st centuries, the embryo presidency was a creation of george washington. washington combined political
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cunning, daring and sheer genius to seize the powers he needed to deal with the crises that he faced during his eight years in office. often when congress was in recess. members of congress been lived far from the capital, many days away, even weeks over muddy trails and treacherous, dangerous, sometimes impassable dirt roads. washington faced crises. the framers of the constitution had not foreseen, and the ad to act on his own to protect the nation and its citizens. obviously not every president is made of the same stuff as washington. i won't name names, but weaker, indecisive presidents, men without washington's leadership, qualities have often let their powers slip away. sometimes to congress, sometimes to the supreme court, sometimes into thin air just letting the
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nation drifting leaderless is they don't know how to steer the ship of state. they say one thing one day, the opposite the next, and the nation just address. president carter admitted to the nation during his of administration it was drifting in a sea of malaise. well, washington new how to steer the ship of state. most americans today think he only faced crises during the revolutionary war, but he ran into crisis after crisis from the moment he took office as president. with his life in danger at times. i'm not going to tell you about every crisis because i want you to read my book. but i will describe a few of them. including a rather choose one about how to address the president. pick this game up at the beginning of his presidency during the revolution people trust him as general or your
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excellency. but when he was president they didn't know what to call him. there were no precedents. hours was the first to be elected president in world history. no other nation had ever elected residents. one senator suggested calling him his elected highness. vice president john adams, who like what he had seen in europe as suggested calling washington his highness, the president of the united states and protector of the rights of same. well, the titles got sillier and sillier into one senator got tired of it all and shouted why don't we just call them george for? james madison ended the debate. he reminded the constitution prohibited titles in the united states. he said that have to address the president as they did every
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other citizen, mr. president. members of congress then try to decide what to call each other and whether any of them deserve the title of the honorable gentleman. the senate voted no. the problems of titles didn't end because washington had to seek the advice and consent of the senate with a draft of a treaty, his war secretary henry knox had worked out with the indians. in the senate, the presiding officer was as with most conventions, the presiding officer was always addressed as mr. president. but when washington entered, the presiding officer in the senate was his own vice president john adams. so washington was in the position where he would have to call john adams mr. president. washington was having none of that. he was the only president and he
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was going to go anybody else mr. president. senators didn't know what to call it a one of them. athens to know what to do. he was red-faced with embarrassment and washington eventually solve the problem in his own way. he walked out. he never again set foot in the senate, nor has any other president, to address that body. from that day on the president of the trend has entered the capital to address only a joint session of congress in the house chamber where the presiding officer is called mr. speaker, and only the president of the united states is called mr. president. these may sound like silly little things but this is what washington had to face in his first months in office as president. and also the least threatening issues to his person and to the nation. that first summer congress established, by the way, this is
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1789 coming case you're wondering, congress as does the executive office of secretary of state, treasure and war. washington named the man he wanted in those posts because as i said the constitution gave him the right only to nominate cabinet heads, not to install them or to fire them. congress hope to get control over those three departments as the continental congress had done during the revolution and war when there was no president. well, not with washington. he told congressional leaders he would quit if they refused to give them full control of every executive department, including the right to fire department heads. the constitution gives the president executive power. he was not about to cede that to congress. congress knew the courage was doomed without watch and and so it backed off and passed a bill giving him and every future
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president the right to fire executive appointees without any advice or consent from congress. washington state trait in the dispute over executive appointments ended only one of what would be many conflicts between the president and congress over the years, decades, and even centuries. since the founding, the three branches of government have been in a constant tug-of-war for power, as we just saw in the budget crisis. all three branches have violated the constitution almost at will. but fortunately one or both of the other two branches brought the government back into compliance and institute -- and into constitution balance. the supreme court has struck down about 200 federal laws as being unconstitutional since the founding of the republic. congress passed them all and the president signed them all, but
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the supreme court ruled them unconstitutional. the president has vetoed more than 2500 lost since the beginning of the republic, sometimes for political reasons but all the -- but oftentimes for constitutional reasons. congress has overruled him about 100 times. the supreme court in its turn has issued quite a few unconstitutional decisions, like the dred scott decision, or the coral matsuda session. and it has all been handed down decisions and about the legislation. presidents have also repeatedly violated the constitution by sending troops to war without congressional consent and issuing unconstitutional executive orders that have the effect of legislation. the for conflict between branches of the new government came up that same first year of washington's presidency in 1789.
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unlike the present congress, the congress in 1789 have passed a budget, but it had no money. the international shipping season had ended and the government derives all its revenues from import duties. the were not other congress. congress recessed without giving washington any money, in effect it shut down the government. can you imagine congress shutting down the government? washington had no choice. he took matters in his own hands and sent treasury secretary alexander hamilton to borrow money from the bank of new york, which hamilton had found it. it was unconstitutional but the president was george washington and he did whatever he had to do to keep the government running. he faced another crisis and the conflict with congress with the outbreak of the anymore in the
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ohio territory the following year. again congress was out of session and the indians were considered foreign nations been. the indians had attacked and defeated the force of americans and were attacking sadler villages and farms. the constitution is quite clear. it gets congress and only congress the power, and these are the words of the constitution, the power to raise and support armies and to declare war. washington refused to stand by and do nothing while indians slaughtered his countrymen. in a clear violation of the constitution, he drafted troops into the arm and sent them to war without congressional knowledge or sanctions. when congress finally reconvened, its members saved face by passing the militia act which gave the president the legal right to do what it already done illegally, similar to the passage of the patriot act of years ago which legalized all the illegal actions of the
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bush administration. many presidents have continued the constitution conflict with congress over the power to send troops into battle. most recently, early last fall when president obama and congress were at odds over u.s. intervention in the syrian civil war, although he denied his obligation to do so, to his credit, mr. obama became the first president since franklin d. roosevelt to recognize the constitutional right of congress and the right of the american people to have a say in whether to send their children to war. more than a dozen wars in untold, hundreds of skirmishes overseas involving u.s. troops, of all of these operations the congress has issued a formal declarations of war only five times in our history. the war of 1812, the mexican war, spanish-american war and the two world wars. presidents have on their own,
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have sent the nation into all the other wars in a clear violation of the constitution. and george washington was the first president to do so. unfortunately he said a trip for the many of his successors have often used recklessly. unlike those successes when washington went to a war in the west, thousands of american citizens lies were clearly at stake. in all, present washington as does what i call in my book seven pillars of presidential powers not provided by the constitution. he raced the first four pillars of our relatively easily. they would've powers over executive appointments, foreign affairs, government finances and defense and military affairs. raising the other three pillars almost cost washington his life. again i don't want to spoil my book for you, but of these three powers, one is the power to
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issue residential proclamations, or executive orders. the constitution says nothing about proclamations and doesn't give the president the right to issue any, for good reason. a presidential proclamation, or executive order, is a new law in the constitution doesn't give the president the power to write laws. that power belongs to congress. that's what congress is called a legislature. nevertheless, washington issued six proclamations, and his successors have issued more than 13,500 proclamations and executive orders. congress in the time has enacted about 20,000 laws which means the president have on their own written and put into effect two-thirds as many laws as congress. too often secretly, recklessly, ignoring the interests and will of the american people.
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the imperial presidency run wild. washington only issued six proclamations. lincoln 48. theodore roosevelt almost 1100. woodrow wilson 1800. franklin roosevelt more than 3500. barack obama is closing in on 200. in the case of president washington, he faced a crisis in which he believed he had to act to preserve, or tech can defend the nation, the american people. and in the end of the constitution itself. and here's why. in 1793, the french revolution had turned ugly. madmen have taken central of the french national assembly and executed king louis xvi and his queen marie antoinette.
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it sent a wave of fear that sent thousands to the guillotine, meaning without trial. france declared war on britain, and to prevent military supplies from reaching enemy ports, both the british and the french seized hundreds of american ships, and impressed or imprisoned thousands of american seamen and passengers. riots broke out in american cities, some writers demanded we go to war against britain on the side of france, our old revolutionary war by. but britain was our most important trading partner and anglophiles went into the streets demanding we join england at war with france. it was a mess. making matters worse, president washington had no way to enforce laws and crush the writing. to make matters worse, the french revolution a government set a new ambassador to the united states, who had secret orders to spread the french
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revolution in america and overthrow the washington government if necessary. vice president adams said, and this is john adams talking, terrorism excited drew 10,000 people into the streets of philadelphia. day after day they threatened to drag washington out of his hou house. they ordered french seamen off the ships. british consul wrote in panic to his foreign minister in london. account is one continuous scene of riots the french seamen reins the streets by night and by day armed with cutlets. they seem ready to raise the french flag and proclaim proconsul the present washington
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is able to enforce any measures in opposition. with his own life in danger, along with the lives of his family, and thousands of other innocent, washington had to act. he had no law enforcement personnel. but he did what he could hoping the american people would rally behind them as they had in the revolutionary war. he issued a presidential proclamation, the neutrality proclamation declaring the country neutral and unaffiliated with either side. it was a law. it prohibited americans from taking sides. unconstitutional but there were enough washington supporters in congress and among the people to let washington jobs -- dodge the issue. converted the proclamation into to legislation. it didn't stop the writing of course. george washington, martha and
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their grandchildren were still in grave danger, and if i tell you anymore you won't have to buy my book. the story of washington is full of suspense. my book describes how his brilliant strategies combined with some good luck to end the crisis. but that was not the last of the major crises washington faced during his eight years in office. one of the most dangerous game in 1794, a year after the genetic affair. import duty were proving too little and too seasonal to pay for government expenses and washington as congress to pass a 25% tax on whiskey stills. the tax affected nearly all americans. whiskey was the most widely consumed beverage in america. so the whiskey tax rate into an
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enormous resistance. the whiskey tax hit the grain farmers in western pennsylvania, the worst, especially hard. whiskey was fundamentally a frontier economics. farmers had no roads to transport grain involved across the appalachians. so they distilled the grain into whiskey which they could care in jugs and barrels by mule over the narrow mountain trails to eastern market. almost all farmers west of the appalachians had a still, if within the 25% whiskey tax was nothing less than government confiscation that would wipe out their profits and bankrupt them. philadelphia newspaper asked what was the cause the revolution if it was not this? so when the first tax collectors crossed the appalachians, farmers met them with pitchforks, tar and feathers, and gunfire. thousands of farmers and
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together, some threatened secession, and union with candidate to others want to match to philadelphia and overthrow the washington administration. the president responded with outrage. he squeezed back into his revolution were uniform and ordered a military strike against the whiskey rebels. it was every americans worst nightmare come true. george washington turned tyrant, sending troops to crush citizen tax protests just as the british had done 30 years earlier when he himself, george washington, had urged similar tax protests. it was one of the defining events of the washington administration. and the making of the u.s. presidency. washington was determined to preserve the government and the union and the rule of law. if the minority, in washington
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words, if the minority are suffered due to take to the majority, there can be no security for life, liberty or property. so again, he ignored a letter of the competition by sending troops to put down citizen protests and crush constitutionally sanctioned the man's for redress of grievances began calling for troops to action he asserted presidential law enforcement powers for the first time in american history, thus raising another pillar of executive power. when washington left office he had many critics, and he regretted deeply. washington had presided over the constitutional convention. even first to sign that document, and then as president he ignored its provisions many times.
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but did he? yes and no. yes, he violated the letter of the constitution a number of times that he believed the constitution to be like the 10 commandments. a magnificent sacred text to be repaired, followed and upheld in spirit. but impossible to follow literally. thou shalt not kill. good and great men kill all the time with words as well as weapons. but in doing so they don't necessarily we can the greater meaning of that commandment. and by a doing certain words of the constitution, george washington not only strengthened the american presidency, he averted anarchy and chaos e. to the liberties we still enjoy today. washington's original proclamation set to transport for abraham lincoln's emancipation proclamation to end slavery.
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in ordering troops to put down the was group in washington set the precedent for dwight eisenhower to send troops into little rock, arkansas, to ensure the rights of black children to go to school with white children. there's no question the george washington often ignored the letter of the constitution, but in doing so he did so wisely to enhance the spirit of that document and ensure this nation's existence for almost two and half centuries with the single constitution, cingular operates elected government and the single continuing goal of liberty and justice for all. washington's achievement in fathering and protecting our free nation with the liberties of its people is unprecedented in the annals of man. thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, applau. [applause] i'll be happy t to add your
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questions up again in and sign copies of my book for you. yes, sir? >> i really enjoyed american history. >> thank you. [inaudible] >> first of all, the word other candidates. use the only man who could hold the nation together. the nation, at the end of the revolutionary war, this was not a nation. this was a confederation with 13 former colonies became independent states, each of them. independent countries like the countries of europe after the second world war. so there was no nation.
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the confederation had a constitution of sorts but really it created a congress that was only a meeting place for representatives of these independent states to come and discuss their problems. they have no power. they could not raise taxes. they couldn't raise an army. they were absolutely powerless, and the nation, the confederation really began to deteriorate into anarchy. you had 13 independent states, many of them almost at war with each other, and in some cases actual fighting broke out. southern vermont and new york and massachusetts went to war claiming territory and for more. all of them had conflicting territorial claims. and in pennsylvania, militiamen shot and killed connecticut, men from connecticut who tried to sell in the law wyoming valley in the northwest part of the state.
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>> it is interesting it may be avoidable, it is certain sentimental about what the motivations are of mr. washington, okay? we know that he kicked off a bunch of people on his land after he won the war, okay? the question is, like they did the younger bush, is it really all personal? is this just personal that he wanted to hold on to his plantation, and everything else that flowed out of that came here finally? and that it was not this whole like idealistic thing. >> his plantation in virginia, mount vernon, 20,000-acre plantation, he kicked nobody off that land. [inaudible] >> may i add to your question do you want to answer it lacks. [inaudible] >> he kicked no one off of his plantation. over the years prior to the revolutionary war, he and many
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other virginians had gone into the west, the ohio valley, and claimed raw land, unused land. during the revolutionary war, many, many squatters began settling those lands. and he tried to reclaim them after the war because he had made a huge investment, as did most of the people with investments out there. he did not really succeed. in fact, he fired his agent because his agent was unable to enforce the laws out there. it was the wild west. some of the people left, many of them stayed, and he lost a good part of his investments in the west as a result. >> it was not personal. it was really for the nation.
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>> this is a private investor trying to claim the land -- [inaudible] spent was it personal or speed i'm sorry, sir. there are other people with questions. >> you talked about the procedure where the president ignores -- [inaudible] whereby he signs the law and then has reservations about it. could you talk about how that started? >> washington never did that. all three branches of government, executive branch, the legislative branch and the judiciary have been for years, since the founding, guilty of violating the constitution but as former vice president dick cheney said, as one of the few truisms of his career in office,
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he was asked about the constitution and the called the constitution a quaint document and that's exactly what it is. the government violates the constitution almost at will. fortunately, there are three branches of government. they are constantly vying for power. so when one branch violates the constitution, the other to bring you back into compliance. nothing in the constitution gives the supreme court the right of additional review. john marshall, our fourth, fifth chief justice, assumed that power in marbury v. madison. and assume the power to declare a federal law unconstitutional. and although jefferson challenged him to jefferson lost, but clearly the supreme court assumed power not granted to. the president has done the same thing. congress has done the same thing. the president does not have the right to send troops to war,
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carried. yes, sir. >> my question is about the whiskey rebellion. do you think that george washington was ever on any level intent on commanding troops in battle, or do you think that these sort of went to western pennsylvania and on his generals uniform just to sort of like for the spectacle? >> the answer is yes, because he called at 13,500 troops to put down a rebellion of an estimate 5000 rebels. >> but my question is whether or not he himself was intent on mounting a horse and commanding -- >> he tried to but he was too old, too fat and couldn't get into his uniform. he had of a new uniform made. and he and alexander hamilton wrote out to carlisle, pennsylvania, in a


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