I received the following response to my 300 million guns post from Brian Dewhirst.
If gun ownership is correlated with gun violence, and we own ~300M guns, why are there so few gun fatalities? (We own on the order of the same number of cars, and cars are associated with far more fatalities. Vastly more accidental fatalities as compared to accidental gun fatalities.)
What proportion of gun fatalities are older Americans ending their own lives due to debt and/or health situations? (Of the approximately 30,000 annual gun fatalities, what proportion are suicides?)
What proportion of gun fatalities are due to drug prohibition? Of that proportion, how many do you believe would be stopped if the firearms in question were illegal? How many of those firearms used in drug-related shootings were obtained illegally?
What is the psychological profile of a mass-shooting shooter? What measures do psychologists recommend to minimize the frequency of such incidents on account of that profile? Would banning some/all guns/weapons increase or decrease the attractiveness of firearms to such an individual? How likely is it that a 'ban on all guns' would result in an Oklahoma-City-style bombing, or bombings, or other acts of terrorism by self-styled 'patriotic' domestic terrorists?
Assuming mature 3D printing technology becomes available, how would a total ban on guns be enforced? Which is more important, banning/heavily regulating mature 3D printers, or the improvements in the material existence of ordinary people that said printers might bring (as compared to the numbers of lives which would be saved by said bans/restrictions)?
In what other circumstances do you advocate prohibition? When/where do you believe prohibition has been successful when significant demand for an item exists?
In your opinion, how skilled are police officers with firearms? Are you advocating banning police from owning firearms? How might the behavior of American police officers change were firearms illegal (for civilians)?
What other rights, apart to the right to own firearms, does the second amendment protect? What other consequences might there be to a repeal on the 2nd amendment?
I heard a figure quoted that there are 300 million firearms extant in the United States.That is, roughly, a gun for every man, woman and child in the United States.
However, as a nation, we are so wrapped up in the Second Amendment and the Myth of the Gun that this basic fact is not examined or faced.
Think about it. We're awash in these things. Modest proposals to restrict the more devastating firearms are treated as impeachable offenses, or opportunities for the NRA to use Obama's daughters as political weapons. We've gone to more than 11 on the insanity dial.
Think of this. Imagine if we had 300 million broadswords lying around the country. Just think about that. 300 million dangerous sharp objects that are designed to deliver death. Would you want a guard in a school with a broadsword? Would you think teachers should have broadswords to protect their classrooms?
If we take the word gun out and substitute swords, which aren't as deadly as guns, does that clarify the situation? Do you see the problem with a society that is too permissive with the possession of deadly tools?
But since its guns, people lose their minds. We've lost our minds to the point that we do not even recognize that we've lost half of the amendment's words in the current interpretation:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
I don't think that we can come to terms with guns in our society as long as the Second Amendment remains the law of the land. So I still hold to my controversial belief.
"...and further, the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States Must be Repealed"
Comments are closed.If you wish to contact me, you can contact me via email, or on the social media I inhabit.
Listening to an MPR story about pastors urging their voters to support the same sex marriage ban amendment here in Minnesota has gotten me mad.
Look, you can pick and choose a lot of things "banned" in the bible. A West Wing episode had the President do this to a conservative God-botherer better than I can.
And if you really think that God has condemned homosexuality? Then your God is a sadistic F*ck. Why does your God allow
Homosexuality to exist, then, if he has condemned it? Do you really think that people choose to be gay?
And if they didn't choose to be gay, then God is a sadist.
"Oh, let's make Billy gay and let him live a life where if he gives into his nature, he is going to hell. He he. Let him
live a life of unhappiness. That's his cross in life. Ha ha."
As I said, sadistic f*uck. That's more the God that Al Pacino's Devil in The Devil's Advocate describes.
Is that your God?
How does Jenna and Penny marrying affect YOUR marriage, YOUR life? It doesn't. It doesn't.
Today's question from MPR News got me to thinking:
I have extremely conflicted views about this question.
In theory and in the abstract, it sounds like a good idea. Who doesn't want more security, more reliability in elections.
But the more I dig at this question, the more it becomes a mess of a question.
The amount of voter fraud proven over the years is minimal if not ancedotal. So why
That's what bothers me. Why do those, mostly of the conservative persuasion, want these voter ID laws so badly that they spend all this time and energy across the nation to address this non-issue.
The answer has to be--to discourage voting by those who aren't of their stripe. Minorities. The poor. Those who don't necessarily have a driver's license and might have a birth certificate...somewhere, usually forgotten.
It is that motive, that desire to reduce turnout of those of different political leanings that poison the well for me.
A MODEST PROPOSAL: PATENTS OF NOBILITY
In keeping with my previous Modest Proposal, another one to raise revenue. This one would require a Constitutional Amendment but the Republican party, in particular, seems willing to amend the Constitution.
Section One, Articles Nine and Ten of the U.S. Constiution include the following passages:
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person
holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State.
No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.
It's time we faced facts, friends. The One percent are a de-facto Nobility, and its going to stay that way. Why don't we formalize that, and make some money in the process. My previous Pyramid Tax Plan already shifted the tax burden away from the rich and onto the numerous teeming poor. This plan would raise revenue from the rich, but in a completely voluntary way that is also capitalistic and free-market oriented.
This proposal would amend the Constitution to remove the language not allowing the States and the United States to grant titles of Nobility. It would work as follows:
The United States Government would establish a hierarchy of national nobility ranks as follows:
2 Grand Princes/Princesses (Grand Princess of the Eastern United States; Grand Prince of the Western United States)
4 Archdukes/Duchesses (Archduchess of the Southwestern United States, et cetera)
20 Peerage titles revolving around the personages of Congress and the White House, in the same way that French Kings once granted ranks to nobles in their courts. People already call Washington "Versailles on the Potomac". Let's leverage that!
In addition, each State would be allowed to establish nobility ranks as follows:
1 Marquis/Marchioness (Marchioness of the State of Minnesota)
The noble titles would be sold by means of auction. I bet the bidding would be rather fierce, and raise a significant amount of revenue.
The titles would not be merely ceremonial. A noble who had state nobility would be entitled to a vote in that state's legislative chamber. The federal nobles of Prince and below would be entitled to vote in the House of Representatives, the Archdukes and Grand Princesses would be considered Senators. They would also have the right of High Justice.
(It occurs to me that repealing the 17th Amendment and merely making the Senate a House of Lords like in the United Kingdom might be for something down the road)
These titles would not be heritable, as a holder of one of the titles passes away, on that sad day, the title would be resold. The first born child of the deceased noble would have the first right to buy the title at the cost, adjusted for inflation, that their parent paid for it.
The revenues brought by the selling of these noble titles would definitely help America stay strong and free, and the oppressed, wrongly hated wealthy would finally have some formal recognition of how important they are in society.
God Bless you and God Bless America
You would think, from the reports, and from what Democratic politicians are saying, that yesterday's election was a loss of 20 Senate Seats, 100 House seats, and the Republicans are now in control of Congress.
With 58 Senators, Democrats are helpless to pass health reform or anything else? With a large majority in the House, they are stuck in place and after a year(!), Health Care reform is dead?
Give me a break!
"Oh, the Republicans will filibuster. Oh, Ben Nelson won't like it. Oh, Joe Lieberman will hate it."
God damn it. So what? Let the Republican's filibuster. If they do that, then you go on the airwaves.
"Republicans don't want an up or down vote on Health care reform. Republicans--why do you hate America?" Let them be assholes--and call them on it.
Barney Frank, one of the most liberal members of the House, has said that the Senate bill, already passed and would only need the House to pass to get to Obama's desk, no matter when Brown is seated, says that HCR is dead.
I thought Frank had a pair of testicles. Guess I was wrong.
Democrats are pussies and Republicans are insane.
If, with 58 senators and a comfy majority in the House, we can't join the rest of the first world in getting health care for our citizens, then forget about climate change legislation or anything else. Forget it all.
This country is so screwed.
You know, its times like this that make me want to take my camera, move to Rome and take pictures of tourists for money.
It has been fascinating, in a "I'm stuck in a car with this guy" way to watch the evolution of the outward political beliefs of Tim Pawlenty, our Minnesota Governor.
Once upon a time, he cast himself as a Republican moderate, a Republican anyone in Minnesota could and did vote for.
Now, as his political ambitions turn toward 1600 Pennyslvania avenue, that has changed.
First, was his unilateral "unallotment" method of budget balancing by simply underfunding or not funding hundreds of programs in Minnesota
Second, there was his flirtation with tenthers,
In 2007, he used his time as chair of the National Governor's Association to suggest ways to improve, develop and advance clean energy. The effort was meant to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil, but Pawlenty also didn't deny that it was an attempt to clean up the environment.
Pawlenty was a vocal advocate of creating a cap and trade system to curb greenhouse gas emissions. In 2008, he and Janet Napolitano, then Arizona's Democratic Governor, recorded a radio ad urging Congress to address climate change.
Pawlenty has changed. Now, he uses climate change as a punch line.
In June, Pawlenty wrote a letter to Minnesota's Congressional delegation criticizing proposed cap and trade legislation in the U.S. House. He also came out against the Midwest Governor's Climate Change initiative -- an effort he helped launch.
I don't know what is in Pawlenty's heart, if he's changed his views or not. But its clear his political ambitions have caused him to evolve into a far more right-leaning candidate for higher office.
Pat Buchanan,you've gone way beyond the bend.
Far, far beyond.
Hitler was not misunderstood, Mr Buchanan. He was a monster. Period, full stop.
In an darker, alternate history, Pat Buchanan is a Gauleiter for New York City. And very happy in his job.
In a fiery speech that had her conservative Colorado audience cheering, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann railed against the dangers of health care reform and other Democratic initiatives, warning the proposals "have the strength to destroy this country forever."
"This cannot pass," the Minnesota Republican told a crowd at a Denver gathering sponsored by the Independence Institute. "What we have to do today is make a covenant, to slit our wrists, be blood brothers on this thing. This will not pass. We will do whatever it takes to make sure this doesn't pass."
"Something is way crazy out there," Bachmann said in her remarks, billed as a "personal legislative briefing" by the Golden-based Independence Institute, which bills itself as a "free market think tank."
My congresswoman, ladies and gentlemen.
I've said it many times before and I will say it again. As inexperienced as I would be, if you put me in her office tomorrow as the Representative for my district, I think I could do a better job.
Frak that. I KNOW I could.
Listening to John Bolton explain on NPR why Clinton should not have gone to North Korea to get two journalists released was...illuminating.
Wow. Just wow. Give it a listen.
John, those women aren't, no matter what your paranoid fantasies might think, political pawns. They are human beings and I am glad, proud that ex President Clinton managed to effect their release. Boo-yah! You can be happy for that no matter what your politics are. Two American citizens released and freed. A good day for our diplomatic cachet and credit.
North Korea is a terrible regime that does terrible things to its people. The day that regime passes and is replaced by something better will be a most happy day. But not to try and effect the release of two of our citizens in a straightforward manner so that you can "make a point" to North Korea? Mr. Bolton, would you be so glib to say this if it was your own daughter? Maybe you would. Maybe you are such a true believer.
Heartless. Or Sociopathic. Maybe both.
Happy Birthday wishes to our President.
Happy Birthday, President Obama!
Me. I am glad, at least,we have a president who is not only as intelligent and articulate as me, but very much MORE intelligent and articulate.
Yes, Brian, I know what you are going to say. But given the hand we were dealt, I think so far, we're doing better than I could have hoped for. He's no saint. But a car filled with my worldly possessions driving toward the Pigeon River is not so tempting anymore.
Shorter Will Wilkinson:
Since we don't have a world government and can't *force* India and China to cut carbon emissions too, for the sake of our country's competitiveness, we shouldn't do anything about carbon emissions ourselves. It would hurt our economy!
Today, in 1789, Congress convened, and the Constitution of the United States was put into effect.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union,
establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common
defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to
ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the
United States of America.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union,
establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common
defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to
ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the
United States of America.
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the
United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second
Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall
have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of
the State Legislature.
No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of
twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who
shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States
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which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons,
including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not
taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.
The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting
of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten
Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of
Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State
shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be
made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to choose three,
Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut
five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland
six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five and Georgia three.
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The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each
State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall
have one Vote.
Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election,
they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the
Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second
Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the
third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be
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during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may
make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which
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when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.
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shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.
The Senate shall choose their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore,
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suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
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governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United
States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers,
and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline
prescribed by Congress;
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the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United
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of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of
Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into
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The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing
shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to
the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed
on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.
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in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.
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made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and
Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person
holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of
the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind
whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State.
No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters
of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but
gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder,
ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any
Title of Nobility.
No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties
on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing
its inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by
any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the
United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Control
of the Congress.
No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any duty of Tonnage, keep
Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact
with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually
invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.
The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of
America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together
with the Vice-President chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct,
a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives
to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or
Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United
States, shall be appointed an Elector.
The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two
persons, of whom one at least shall not lie an Inhabitant of the same State
with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and
of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and
transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to
the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence
of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the
Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes
shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of
Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and
have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall
immediately choose by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a
Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like
Manner choose the President. But in choosing the President, the Votes shall be
taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; a quorum
for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two-thirds of the
States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In
every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest
Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there
should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall choose from
them by Ballot the Vice-President.
The Congress may determine the Time of choosing the Electors, and the Day on
which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the
No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at
the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office
of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not
have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a
Resident within the United States.
In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death,
Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said
Office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by
Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of
the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as
President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be
removed, or a President shall be elected.
The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation,
which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he
shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other
Emolument from the United States, or any of them.
Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following
Oath or Affirmation:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of
President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve,
protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United
States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual
Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the
principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject
relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to
Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in
Cases of Impeachment.
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make
Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall
nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint
Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court,
and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein
otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress
may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think
proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of
The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during
the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End
of their next Session.
He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the
Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge
necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both
Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with
Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he
shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he
shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all
the Officers of the United States.
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States,
shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason,
Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court,
and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and
establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold
their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for
their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their
Continuance in Office.
The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under
this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which
shall be made, under their Authority; to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other
public Ministers and Consuls; to all Cases of admiralty and maritime
Jurisdiction; to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party; to
Controversies between two or more States; between a State and Citizens of
another State; between Citizens of different States; between Citizens of the
same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a
State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and
those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original
Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall
have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and
under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.
The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and
such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been
committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such
Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against
them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person
shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the
same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no
Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except
during the Life of the Person attainted.
Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records,
and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general
Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be
proved, and the Effect thereof.
The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities
of Citizens in the several States.
A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall
flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on demand of the
executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be
removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.
No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof,
escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein,
be discharged from such Service or Labour, But shall be delivered up on Claim
of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.
New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States
shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any
State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States,
without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of
The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and
Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United
States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice
any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican
Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on
Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature
cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall
propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the
Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for
proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and
Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of
three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths
thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the
Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One
thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and
fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State,
without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.
All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this
Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this
Constitution, as under the Confederation.
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in
Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the
Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the
Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or
Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the
several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of
the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or
Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be
required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United
The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the
Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.
Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the
Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred
and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the
Twelfth. In Witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names.
George Washington - President and deputy from Virginia
New Hampshire - John Langdon, Nicholas Gilman
Massachusetts - Nathaniel Gorham, Rufus King
Connecticut - William Samuel Johnson, Roger Sherman
New York - Alexander Hamilton
New Jersey - William Livingston, David Brearley, William Paterson, Jonathan
Pennsylvania - Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Mifflin, Robert Morris, George Clymer,
Thomas Fitzsimons, Jared Ingersoll, James Wilson, Gouvernour Morris
Delaware - George Read, Gunning Bedford Jr., John Dickinson, Richard Bassett,
Maryland - James McHenry, Daniel of St Thomas Jenifer, Daniel Carroll
Virginia - John Blair, James Madison Jr.
North Carolina - William Blount, Richard Dobbs Spaight, Hugh Williamson
South Carolina - John Rutledge, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Charles Pinckney,
Georgia - William Few, Abraham Baldwin
Attest: William Jackson, Secretary
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or
of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition
the Government for a redress of grievances.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the
right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the
consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and
effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and
no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or
affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the
persons or things to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime,
unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising
in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time
of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense
to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any
criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life,
liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be
taken for public use, without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and
public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime
shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously
ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the
accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory
process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of
Counsel for his defence.
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty
dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a
jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than
according to the rules of the common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel
and unusual punishments inflicted.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed
to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor
prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to
The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any
suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States
by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.
The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for
President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant
of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person
voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as
Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as
President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President and of the number of
votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to
the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of
The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of
Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;
The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the
President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors
appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having
the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as
President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot,
the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by
states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this
purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and
a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House
of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice
shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then
the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other
constitutional disability of the President.
The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the
Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors
appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers
on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the
purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a
majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person
constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to
that of Vice-President of the United States.
1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime
whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United
States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate
1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the
jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State
wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge
the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any
State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of
law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the
2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to
their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State,
excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the
choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States,
Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or
the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male
inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the
United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion,
or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the
proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole
number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.
3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of
President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the
United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a
member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of
any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to
support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in
insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the
enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove
4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law,
including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in
suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the
United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred
in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for
the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and
claims shall be held illegal and void.
5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the
provisions of this article.
1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or
abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or
previous condition of servitude.
2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from
whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and
without regard to any census or enumeration.
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each
State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall
have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications
requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.
When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the
executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such
vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the
executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the
vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.
This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of
any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.
1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale,
or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into,
or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to
the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.
2. The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce
this article by appropriate legislation.
3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an
amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as
provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the
submission hereof to the States by the Congress.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or
abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th
day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d
day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this
article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then
2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting
shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint
a different day.
3. If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the
President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become
President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for
the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to
qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President
shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein
neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified,
declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to
act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President
or Vice President shall have qualified.
4. The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the
persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever
the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the
death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President
whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.
5. Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the
ratification of this article.
6. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an
amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the
several States within seven years from the date of its submission.
1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States
is hereby repealed.
2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession
of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in
violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.
3. The article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an
amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided
in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof
to the States by the Congress.
1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice,
and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for
more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President
shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this
Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President, when this
Article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may
be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term
within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of
President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.
2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an
amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the
several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States
by the Congress.
1. The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall
appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct: A number of electors of
President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and
Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were
a State, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in
addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for
the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors
appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such
duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.
2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate
1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other
election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or
Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be
denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to
pay any poll tax or other tax.
2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate
1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or
resignation, the Vice President shall become President.
2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the
President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon
confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.
3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate
and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he
is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he
transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties
shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.
4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers
of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law
provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of
the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is
unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President
shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the
Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration
that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office
unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of
the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide,
transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the
Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the
President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon
Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty eight hours for that
purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty one days after
receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session,
within twenty one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by
two thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the
powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge
the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers
and duties of his office.
1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or
older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any
State on account of age.
2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate
No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and
Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall
I have made no secret of my dislike for my Congresswoman, Michele Bachmann.
It's not so much her politics (I live in a Republican district, I'm bound to get a Republican Congresscritter, ok?), but that she is mendacious, stupid and possibly just crazy.
Keith Olbermann had a bit with highlights from her latest inanity...
I have said it before and I will say it again. I could do a better job, with my lack of experience and all, than my current Congresswoman.
Of course, the odds of me getting elected in my district are probably on a par with the odds of Michele Bachmann converting to Islam.
You may have seen or, in my case, heard on NPR, about the NY Post cartoon linked above. Go take a look at it before reading my thoughts.
Some context is needed before rendering a judgement. You might not be aware of this story about a chimp shot and killed in Connecticut by police.
So, clearly the cartoon is referencing that, as well as more contemporary politics.
Does the cartoon have racist overtones? I think in my opinion that the NY Post gleefully decided to use the horrible story of the chimp and tie it in with the Stimulus package without realizing the problem of doing so. To whit, apes, gorillas and chimps have classically been used for centuries to reference people of color. Its entirely possible, and its sad for me to say this, that it simply never occurred to the Post what they were seemingly say to a segment of the population.
So, its unintentional racist. That doesn't excuse it and make it right.
On the other hand, readers of this space should know if they don't already that I am a strong advocate of free speech. I ingrained in myself early the idea that taking away the right of having people say what they want, even if it is offensive, is a step in the direction of more dangerous censorship.
I am willing to defend the NY Post's ability to publish this cartoon...just as I defend *my* right to call them on their racism, unintentional or otherwise. I don't want to live in a world where that NY Post cartoon gets *censored*--because that is the proverbial slippery slope that ends in tyranny.
"Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master." -Pravin Lal (Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri)
Insurgency, we understand perhaps a little bit more because of the Taliban," Sessions said during a meeting yesterday with Hotline editors. "And that is that they went about systematically understanding how to disrupt and change a person's entire processes. And these Taliban -- I'm not trying to say the Republican Party is the Taliban. No, that's not what we're saying. I'm saying an example of how you go about [sic] is to change a person from their messaging to their operations to their frontline message. And we need to understand that insurgency may be required when the other side, the House leadership, does not follow the same commands, which we entered the game with.
Jeff Sessions, Republican Congressman.
My head just exploded.
Although the 20th amendment seemed to make it unnecessary, just to be on the safe side, Obama re-took the Oath of Office after the flubbing of the Oath yesterday.
The chief justice and the president handled the matter privately in the Map Room on Wednesday night. White House counsel Greg Craig said Obama retook the oath for the sake of caution.
Take a look at some of these ballots, challenged during the recount of the Coleman-Franken-Barkley Senate race here. Could you be fair in all of these cases and determine voter intent every time without fail? Could anyone?
I've been listening to this NPR story about talking to voters about racial fears in the election.
The text is only an excerpt of the entire story (which you should listen to). Some of what these people are saying saddens me.
"I don't want to sound racist, and I'm not racist," Moreland says. "But I feel if we put Obama in the White House, there will be chaos. I feel a lot of black people are going to feel it's payback time. And I made the statement, I said, 'You know, at one time the black man had to step off the sidewalk when a white person came down the sidewalk.' And I feel it's going to be somewhat reversed. I really feel it's going to get somewhat nasty."
Moreland says she doesn't think all black people will "want payback." "I'm not talking about you (one of the reporters for the story is black), and I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about the people that are out on the street looking for trouble.
Sarah Barracuda, indeed. It looks like the Republicans are going to go all in for the culture war.
And Sen. Obama's choice is Pikachu...err, its Lloyd Bentsen....err, actually its Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware.
No surprise, with gas prices rising, people across the nation are turning more and more to mass transit.
Unfortunately, here in Minnesota, we have a Governor who recently vetoed money for a light rail system between Minneapolis and St. Paul, and Republican lawmakers genuflect to Phil Krinkie, head of the taxpayers league. He is of the opinion that the state should not be in the business of providing funds for mass transit. Unfortunately, again, many lawmakers listen to his radical views. Recently on MPR, he was on explaining that he didn't support money for the light rail under any circumstances and it was all I could do at work from screaming.
If I had the powers of a god, I would sentence Krinkie to spend a month getting around *only* by public transportation. Then, maybe, he would buy a clue.
With all of the nonsense coming out of the Clinton and Obama camps (and their respective supporters), its refreshing to see a positive ad like this:
I realize that my atheist and agnostic friends might not care for the language, but still, "More, please"
You've heard about the telecom immunity debate in the Senate.
(One place where it is discussed is in Carolyn's Livejournal: (http://kadath.livejournal.com/631883.html)
Some months ago, I emailed one of my Senators, Amy Klobuchar, about her previous vote to authorize an extension on FISA rules. She had emailed me back, then, explaining that she thought it was right and necessary.
On the recent spate of votes for amendments to the FISA bill, my Senator voted to deny the telecom companies immunity. Even though those votes failed, and the immunity remained, at least she voted the right way.
Today, unsolicited and unprompted, she emailed me about the bills, explaining her vote. She remembered that it was an issue I gave a damn about, and took the time to contact me.
Her email is reproduced below. I emailed her back immediately praising her for her vote, and taking the time to tell me about it.
Thank you for contacting me concerning the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. I appreciate hearing from you.
I believe that long-term FISA legislation must strike the right balance between protecting our safety and protecting our civil rights. Both the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees of the Senate passed bills that proposed to elevate the role of the FISA court and provide more oversight of the government’s surveillance activities. While both bills represented improvements over the temporary law, I believe the Judiciary bill struck a more appropriate balance between security and privacy considerations, and I voted to move that version of FISA reform forward.
After a majority of the Senate rejected the Judiciary Committee’s bill, I voted for several amendments to incorporate key elements of the Judiciary bill into the Intelligence Committee’s bill, including an amendment to remove the provision granting blanket retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies. Unfortunately, each amendment was defeated. Since blanket retroactive immunity was included in the final version of the bill, I could not support the legislation passed by the Senate on February 12, 2008.
Thank you again for your input, and please don’t hesitate to contact me again regarding this or any other issue.
United States Senator
Press Release of Senator Whitehouse
In FISA Speech, Whitehouse Sharply Criticizes Bush Administration's Assertion of Executive Power
Friday, December 7, 2007
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, delivered the following remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate today:
We will shortly consider making right the things that are wrong with the so-called Protect America Act, a second-rate piece of legislation passed in a stampede in August at the behest of the Bush Administration. It is worth for a moment considering why making this right is so important.
President Bush pressed this legislation not only to establish how our government can spy on foreign agents, but how his administration can spy on Americans. Make no mistake, the legislation we passed in August is significantly about spying on Americans – a business this administration should not be allowed to get into except under the closest supervision. We have a plain and tested device for keeping tabs on the government when it’s keeping tabs on Americans. It is our Constitution.
Our Constitution has as its most elemental provision the separation of governmental powers into three separate branches. When the government feels it necessary to spy on its own citizens, each branch has a role.
The executive branch executes the laws, and conducts surveillance. The legislative branch sets the boundaries that protect Americans from improper government surveillance. The judicial branch oversees whether the government has followed the Constitution and the laws that protect U.S. citizens from violations of their privacy and their civil rights.
It sounds basic, but even an elementary understanding of this balance of powers eludes the Bush administration. So now we have to repair this flawed and shoddy “Protect America Act.”
Why are we in Congress so concerned about this? Why is it so vital that we energetically assert the role of Congress and the Courts when the Bush Administration seeks to spy on Americans?
Because look what the Bush Administration does behind our backs when they think no one is looking.
For years under the Bush Administration, the Office of Legal Counsel within the Department of Justice has issued highly classified secret legal opinions related to surveillance. This is an administration that hates answering to an American court, that wants to grade its own papers, and OLC is the inside place the administration goes to get legal support for its spying program.
As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I was given access to those opinions, and spent hours poring over them. Sitting in that secure room, as a lawyer, as a former U.S. Attorney, legal counsel to Rhode Island’s Governor, and State Attorney General, I was increasingly dismayed and amazed as I read on.
To give you an example of what I read, I have gotten three legal propositions from these OLC opinions declassified. Here they are, as accurately as my note taking could reproduce them from the classified documents. Listen for yourself. I will read all three, and then discuss each one.
1. An executive order cannot limit a President. There is no constitutional requirement for a President to issue a new executive order whenever he wishes to depart from the terms of a previous executive order. Rather than violate an executive order, the President has instead modified or waived it.
2. The President, exercising his constitutional authority under Article II, can determine whether an action is a lawful exercise of the President’s authority under Article II.
3. The Department of Justice is bound by the President’s legal determinations.
Let’s start with number one. Bear in mind that the so-called Protect America Act that was stampeded through this great body in August provides no – zero – statutory protections for Americans traveling abroad from government wiretapping. None if you’re a businesswoman traveling on business overseas, none if you’re a father taking the kids to the Caribbean, none if you’re visiting uncles or aunts in Italy or Ireland, none even if you’re a soldier in the uniform of the United States posted overseas. The Bush Administration provided in that hastily-passed law no statutory restrictions on their ability to wiretap you at will, to tap your cell phone, your e-mail, whatever.
The only restriction is an executive order called 12333, which limits executive branch surveillance to Americans who the Attorney General determines to be agents of a foreign power. That’s what the executive order says.
But what does this administration say about executive orders?
An executive order cannot limit a President. There is no constitutional requirement for a President to issue a new executive order whenever he wishes to depart from the terms of a previous executive order. Rather than violate an executive order, the President has instead modified or waived it.
“Whenever (the President) wishes to depart from the terms of a previous executive order,” he may do so because “an executive order cannot limit a President.” And he doesn’t have to change the executive order, or give notice that he’s violating it, because by “depart(ing) from the executive order,” the President “has instead modified or waived it.”
So unless Congress acts, here is what legally prevents this President from wiretapping Americans traveling abroad at will: nothing. Nothing.
That was among the most egregious flaws in the bill passed during the August stampede they orchestrated by the Bush Administration – and this OLC opinion shows why we need to correct it.
Here’s number two.
The President, exercising his constitutional authority under Article II, can determine whether an action is a lawful exercise of the President’s authority under Article II.
Yes, that’s right. The President, according to the George W. Bush OLC, has Article II power to determine what the scope of his Article II powers are.
Never mind a little decision called Marbury v. Madison, written by Chief Justice John Marshall in 1803, establishing the proposition that it is “emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.” Does this administration agree that it is emphatically the province and the duty of the judicial department to say what the President’s authority is under Article II? No, it is the President, according to this OLC, who decides the legal limits of his own Article II power.
The question “whether an action is a lawful exercise of the President’s authority under Article II,” is to be determined by the President’s minions, “exercising his constitutional authority under Article II.”
It really makes you wonder, who are these people? They have got to be smart people to get there. How can people who are so smart be so misguided?
And then, it gets worse. Remember point three.
The Department of Justice is bound by the President’s legal determinations.
Let that sink in a minute.
The Department of Justice is bound by the President’s legal determinations.
We are a nation of laws, not of men. This nation was founded in rejection of the royalist principles that “l’etat c’est moi” and “The King can do no wrong.” Our Attorney General swears an oath to defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States; we are not some banana republic in which the officials all have to kowtow to the “supreme leader.” Imagine a general counsel to a major U.S. corporation telling his board of directors, “in this company the counsel’s office is bound by the CEO’s legal determinations.” The board ought to throw that lawyer out – it’s malpractice, probably even unethical.
Wherever you are, if you are watching this, do me a favor. The next time you are in Washington, D.C., take a taxi some evening to the Department of Justice. Stand outside, and look up at that building shining against the starry night. Look at the sign outside- “The United States Department of Justice.” Think of the heroes who have served there, and the battles fought. Think of the late nights, the brave decisions, the hard work of advancing and protecting our democracy that has been done in those halls. Think about how that all makes you feel.
Then think about this statement:
The Department of Justice is bound by the President’s legal determinations.
If you don’t feel a difference from what you were feeling a moment ago, well, congratulations – there is probably a job for you in the Bush administration. Consider the sad irony that this theory was crafted in that very building, by the George W. Bush Office of Legal Counsel.
In a nutshell, these three Bush administration legal propositions boil down to this:
1. “I don’t have to follow my own rules, and I don’t have to tell you when I’m breaking them.”
2. “I get to determine what my own powers are.”
3. “The Department of Justice doesn’t tell me what the law is, I tell the Department of Justice what the law is.”
When the Congress of the United States is willing to roll over for an unprincipled President, this is where you end up. We should not even be having this discussion. But here we are. I implore my colleagues: reject these feverish legal theories. I understand political loyalty, trust me, I do. But let us also be loyal to this great institution we serve in the legislative branch of our government. Let us also be loyal to the Constitution we took an oath to defend, from enemies foreign and domestic. And let us be loyal to the American people who live each day under our Constitution’s principles and protections.
We simply cannot put the authority to wiretap Americans, whenever they step outside America’s boundaries, under the exclusive control and supervision of the executive branch. We do not allow it when Americans are here at home; we should not allow it when they travel abroad. The principles of congressional legislation and oversight, and of judicial approval and review, are simple and longstanding. Americans deserve this protection wherever on God’s green earth they may travel.
Via Brad De Long
When I see the worsening degeneracy in our politicians, our media, our educators, and our intelligentsia, I can’t help wondering if the day may yet come when the only thing that can save this country is a military coup.
--Thomas Sewell, National Review Online.
Read that? Good. Now read this from Harvey Mansfield, published in the Wall Street Journal.
The Case for the Strong Executive
Under some circumstances, the rule of law must yield to the need for energy.
BY HARVEY C. MANSFIELD
Wednesday, May 2, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT
Complaints against the "imperial presidency" are back in vogue. With a view to President Bush, the late Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. expanded and reissued the book of the same name he wrote against Richard Nixon, and Bush critics have taken up the phrase in a chorus. In response John Yoo and Richard Posner (and others) have defended the war powers of the president.
This is not the first time that a strong executive has been attacked and defended, and it will not be the last. Our Constitution, as long as it continues, will suffer this debate--I would say, give rise to it, preside over and encourage it. Though I want to defend the strong executive, I mainly intend to step back from that defense to show why the debate between the strong executive and its adversary, the rule of law, is necessary, good and--under the Constitution--never-ending.
In other circumstances I could see myself defending the rule of law. Americans are fortunate to have a Constitution that accommodates different circumstances. Its flexibility keeps it in its original form and spirit a "living constitution," ready for change, and open to new necessities and opportunities. The "living constitution" conceived by the Progressives actually makes it a prisoner of ongoing events and perceived trends. To explain the constitutional debate between the strong executive and the rule of law I will concentrate on its sources in political philosophy and, for greater clarity, ignore the constitutional law emerging from it.
The case for a strong executive should begin from a study, on this occasion a quick survey, of the American republic. The American republic was the first to have a strong executive that was intended to be republican as well as strong, and the success, or long life, of America's Constitution qualifies it as a possible model for other countries. Modern political science beginning from Machiavelli abandoned the best regime featured by classical political science because the best regime was utopian or imaginary. Modern political scientists wanted a practical solution, and by the time of Locke, followed by Montesquieu, they learned to substitute a model regime for the best regime; and this was the government of England. The model regime would not be applicable everywhere, no doubt, because it was not intended to be a lowest common denominator. But it would show what could be done in the best circumstances.
The American Founders had the ambition to make America the model regime, taking over from England. This is why they showed surprising respect for English government, the regime they had just rebelled against. America would not only make a republic for itself, but teach the world how to make a successful republic and thus improve republicanism and save the reputation of republics. For previous republics had suffered disastrous failure, alternating between anarchy and tyranny, seeming to force the conclusion that orderly government could come only from monarchy, the enemy of republics. Previous republics had put their faith in the rule of law as the best way to foil one-man rule. The rule of law would keep power in the hands of many, or at least a few, which was safer than in the hands of one. As the way to ensure the rule of law, Locke and Montesquieu fixed on the separation of powers. They were too realistic to put their faith in any sort of higher law; the rule of law would be maintained by a legislative process of institutions that both cooperated and competed.
Now the rule of law has two defects, each of which suggests the need for one-man rule. The first is that law is always imperfect by being universal, thus an average solution even in the best case, that is inferior to the living intelligence of a wise man on the spot, who can judge particular circumstances. This defect is discussed by Aristotle in the well-known passage in his "Politics" where he considers "whether it is more advantageous to be ruled by the best man or the best laws."
The other defect is that the law does not know how to make itself obeyed. Law assumes obedience, and as such seems oblivious to resistance to the law by the "governed," as if it were enough to require criminals to turn themselves in. No, the law must be "enforced," as we say. There must be police, and the rulers over the police must use energy (Alexander Hamilton's term) in addition to reason. It is a delusion to believe that governments can have energy without ever resorting to the use of force.
The best source of energy turns out to be the same as the best source of reason--one man. One man, or, to use Machiavelli's expression, uno solo, will be the greatest source of energy if he regards it as necessary to maintaining his own rule. Such a person will have the greatest incentive to be watchful, and to be both cruel and merciful in correct contrast and proportion. We are talking about Machiavelli's prince, the man whom in apparently unguarded moments he called a tyrant.
The American Founders heeded both criticisms of the rule of law when they created the presidency. The president would be the source of energy in government, that is, in the administration of government, energy being a neutral term that might include Aristotle's discretionary virtue and Machiavelli's tyranny--in which only partisans could discern the difference. The founders of course accepted the principle of the rule of law, as being required by the republican genius of the American people. Under this principle, the wise man or prince becomes and is called an "executive," one who carries out the will and instruction of others, of the legislature that makes the law, of the people who instruct or inspire the legislature. In this weak sense, the dictionary definition of "executive," the executive forbears to rule in his own name as one man. This means that neither one-man wisdom nor tyranny is admitted into the Constitution as such; if there is need for either, the need is subordinated to, or if you will, covered over by, the republican principle of the rule of law.
Yet the executive subordinated to the rule of law is in danger of being subordinate to the legislature. This was the fault in previous republics. When the separation of powers was invented in 17th-century England, the purpose was to keep the executive subordinate; but the trouble was the weakness of a subordinate executive. He could not do his job, or he could do his job only by overthrowing or cowing the legislature, as Oliver Cromwell had done. John Locke took the task in hand, and made a strong executive in a manner that was adopted by the American Founders.
Locke was a careful writer, so careful that he did not care if he appeared to be a confused writer. In his "Second Treatise of Government" he announces the supremacy of the legislature, which was the slogan of the parliamentary side in the English Civil War, as the principle that should govern a well-made constitution. But as the argument proceeds, Locke gradually "fortifies" (to use James Madison's term) the executive. Locke adds other related powers to the subordinate power of executing the laws: the federative power dealing with foreign affairs, which he presents as conceptually distinct from the power of executing laws but naturally allied; the veto, a legislative function; the power to convoke the legislature and to correct its representation should it become corrupt; and above all, the prerogative, defined as "the power of doing public good without a rule." Without a rule! Even more: "sometimes too against the direct letter of the law." This is the very opposite of law and the rule of law--and "prerogative" was the slogan of the king's party in the same war.
Thus Locke combined the extraconstitutional with the constitutional in a contradiction; besides saying that the legislature is "the supreme power" of the commonwealth, he speaks of "the supreme executive power." Locke, one could say, was acting as a good citizen, bringing peace to his country by giving both sides in the Civil War a place in the constitution. In doing so he ensured that the war would continue, but it would be peaceful because he also ensured that, there being reason and force on both sides, neither side could win conclusively.
The American Constitution adopted this fine idea and improved it. The American Founders helped to settle Locke's deliberate confusion of supremacy by writing it into a document and ratifying it by the people rather than merely scattering it in the treatise of a philosopher. By being formalized the Constitution could become a law itself, but a law above ordinary law and thus a law above the rule of law in the ordinary sense of laws passed by the legislature. Thus some notion of prerogative--though the word "prerogative" was much too royal for American sensibilities--could be pronounced legal inasmuch as it was constitutional. This strong sense of executive power would be opposed, within the Constitution, to the rule of law in the usual, old-republican meaning, as represented by the two rule-of-law powers in the Constitution, the Congress which makes law and the judiciary which judges by the law.
The American Constitution signifies that it has fortified the executive by vesting the president with "the executive power," complete and undiluted in Article II, as opposed to the Congress in Article I, which receives only certain delegated and enumerated legislative powers. The president takes an oath "to execute the Office of President" of which only one function is to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." In addition, he is commander-in-chief of the military, makes treaties (with the Senate), and receives ambassadors. He has the power of pardon, a power with more than a whiff of prerogative for the sake of a public good that cannot be achieved, indeed that is endangered, by executing the laws. In the Federalist, as already noted, the executive represents the need for energy in government, energy to complement the need for stability, satisfied mainly in the Senate and the judiciary.
Energy and stability are necessary in every form of government, but in their previous, sorry history, republics had failed to meet these necessities. Republican government cannot survive, as we would say, by ideology alone. The republican genius is dominant in America, where there has never been much support for anything like an ancien régime, but support for republicanism is not enough to make a viable republic. The republican spirit can actually cause trouble for republics if it makes people think that to be republican it is enough merely to oppose monarchy. Such an attitude tempts a republican people to republicanize everything so as to make government resemble a monarchy as little as possible.
Although the Federalist made a point of distinguishing a republic from a democracy (by which it meant a so-called pure, nonrepresentative democracy), the urge today to democratize everything has similar bad effects. To counter this reactionary republican (or democratic, in today's language) belief characteristic of shortsighted partisans, the Federalist made a point of holding the new, the novel, American republic to the test of good government as opposed merely to that of republican government.
The test of good government was what was necessary to all government. Necessity was put to the fore. In the first papers of the Federalist, necessity took the form of calling attention to the present crisis in America, caused by the incompetence of the republic established by the Articles of Confederation. The crisis was both foreign and domestic, and it was a crisis because it was urgent. The face of necessity, the manner in which it first appears and is most impressive, is urgency--in Machiavelli's words, la necessità che non da tempo (the necessity that allows no time). And what must be the character of a government's response to an urgent crisis? Energy. And where do we find energy in the government? In the executive. Actually, the Federalist introduces the need for energy in government considerably before it associates energy with the executive. To soothe republican partisans, the strong executive must be introduced by stages.
One should not believe that a strong executive is needed only for quick action in emergencies, though that is the function mentioned first. A strong executive is requisite to oppose majority faction produced by temporary delusions in the people. For the Federalist, a strong executive must exercise his strength especially against the people, not showing them "servile pliancy." Tocqueville shared this view. Today we think that a strong president is one who leads the people, that is, one who takes them where they want to go, like Andrew Jackson. But Tocqueville contemptuously regarded Jackson as weak for having been "the slave of the majority." Again according to the Federalist, the American president will likely have the virtue of responsibility, a new political virtue, now heard so often that it seems to be the only virtue, but first expounded in that work.
"Responsibility" is not mere responsiveness to the people; it means doing what the people would want done if they were apprised of the circumstances. Responsibility requires "personal firmness" in one's character, and it enables those who love fame--"the ruling passion of the noblest minds"--to undertake "extensive and arduous enterprises."
Only a strong president can be a great president. Americans are a republican people but they admire their great presidents. Those great presidents--I dare not give a complete list--are not only those who excelled in the emergency of war but those, like Washington, Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, who also deliberately planned and executed enterprises for shaping or reshaping the entire politics of their country.
This admiration for presidents extends beyond politics into society, in which Americans, as republicans, tolerate, and appreciate, an amazing amount of one-man rule. The CEO (chief executive officer) is found at the summit of every corporation including universities. I suspect that appreciation for private executives in democratic society was taught by the success of the Constitution's invention of a strong executive in republican politics.
The case for a strong executive begins from urgent necessity and extends to necessity in the sense of efficacy and even greatness. It is necessary not merely to respond to circumstances but also in a comprehensive way to seek to anticipate and form them. "Necessary to" the survival of a society expands to become "necessary for" the good life there, and indeed we look for signs in the way a government acts in emergencies for what it thinks to be good after the emergency has passed. A free government should show its respect for freedom even when it has to take it away. Yet despite the expansion inherent in necessity, the distinction between urgent crises and quiet times remains. Machiavelli called the latter tempi pacifici, and he thought that governments could not take them for granted. What works for quiet times is not appropriate in stormy times. John Locke and the American Founders showed a similar understanding to Machiavelli's when they argued for and fashioned a strong executive.
In our time, however, an opinion has sprung up in liberal circles particularly that civil liberties must always be kept intact regardless of circumstances. This opinion assumes that civil liberties have the status of natural liberties, and are inalienable. This means that the Constitution has the status of what was called in the 17th-century natural public law; it is an order as natural as the state of nature from which it emerges. In this view liberty has just one set of laws and institutions that must be kept inviolate, lest it be lost.
But Locke was a wiser liberal. His institutions were "constituted," less by creation than by modification of existing institutions in England, but not deduced as invariable consequences of disorder in the state of nature. He retained the difference, and so did the Americans, between natural liberties, inalienable but insecure, and civil liberties, more secure but changeable. Because civil liberties are subject to circumstances, a free constitution needs an institution responsive to circumstances, an executive able to be strong when necessary.
The lesson for us should be that circumstances are much more important for free government than we often believe. Civil liberties are for majorities as well as minorities, and no one should be considered to have rights against society whose exercise would bring society to ruin. The usual danger in a republic is tyranny of the majority, because the majority is the only legitimate dominant force. But in time of war the greater danger may be to the majority from a minority, and the government will be a greater friend than enemy to liberty. Vigilant citizens must be able to adjust their view of the source of danger, and change front if necessary. "Civil liberties" belong to all, not only to the less powerful or less esteemed, and the true balance of liberty and security cannot be taken as given without regard to the threat. Nor is it true that free societies should be judged solely by what they do in quiet times; they should also be judged by the efficacy, and the honorableness, of what they do in war in order to return to peace.
The American Constitution is a formal law that establishes an actual contention among its three separated powers. Its formality represents the rule of law, and the actuality arises from which branch better promotes the common good in the event, or in the opinion of the people. In quiet times the rule of law will come to the fore, and the executive can be weak. In stormy times, the rule of law may seem to require the prudence and force that law, or present law, cannot supply, and the executive must be strong. In judging the circumstances of a free society, two parties come to be formed around these two outlooks. These outlooks may not coincide with party principles because they often depend on which branch a party holds and feels obliged to defend: Democrats today would be friendlier to executive power if they held the presidency--and Republicans would discover virtue in the rule of law if they held Congress.
The terms of the disagreement over a strong executive go back to the classic debate between Hamilton (as Pacificus) and Madison (as Helvidius) in 1793-94. Hamilton argued that the executive power, representing the whole country with the energy necessary to defend it, cannot be limited or exhausted. Madison replied that the executive power does not represent the whole country but is determined by its place in the structure of government, which is executing the laws. If carrying on war goes beyond executing the laws, that is all the more reason why the war power should be construed narrowly. Today Republicans and Democrats repeat these arguments when the former declare that we are at war with terrorists and the latter respond that the danger is essentially a matter of law enforcement.
As to the contention that a strong executive prompts a policy of imperialism, I would admit the possibility, and I promise to think carefully and prayerfully about returning Texas to Mexico. In its best moments, America wants to be a model for the world, but no more. In its less good moments, America becomes disgusted with the rest of the world for its failure to imitate our example and follow our advice. I believe that America is more likely to err with isolationism than with imperialism, and that if America is an empire, it is the first empire that always wants an exit strategy. I believe too that the difficulties of the war in Iraq arise from having wished to leave too much to the Iraqis, thus from a sense of inhibition rather than imperial ambition.
Mr. Mansfield is William R. Kenan Professor of Government at Harvard.
Just before the 2006 election, a quote from Children of Dune:
"When religion and politics ride in the same cart, the whirlwind follows."
Have you ever read the Federalist Papers? I had both a HS and a College Professor of History make me read them.
Some of what Jay and Hamilton said in those papers are apropos to the Constitutional power-grab by the Executive branch today.
Compare what they had to say to Bush's theory of the unilateral Executive (aka "I am the Decider") to what Jay and Hamilton said:
The most material points of difference are these: -- First. The President will have only the occasional command of such part of the militia of the nation as by legislative provision may be called into the actual service of the Union. The king of Great Britain and the governor of New York have at all times the entire command of all the militia within their several jurisdictions. In this article, therefore, the power of the President would be inferior to that of either the monarch or the governor.
Second. The President is to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States. In this respect his authority would be nominally the same with that of the king of Great Britain, but in substance much inferior to it. It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces, as first General and admiral of the Confederacy; while that of the British king extends to the declaring of war and to the raising and regulating of fleets and armies -- all which, by the Constitution under consideration, would appertain to the legislature.
It is too true, however disgraceful it may be to human nature, that nations in general will make war whenever they have a prospect of getting anything by it; nay, absolute monarchs will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for the purposes and objects merely personal, such as thirst for military glory, revenge for personal affronts, ambition, or private compacts to aggrandize or support their particular families or partisans. These and a variety of other motives, which affect only the mind of the sovereign, often lead him to engage in wars not sanctified by justice or the voice and interests of his people.
The train bombings in Mumbai
The new "two front" conflict around Israel
North Korea saber rattling
The train wreck that is Iraq
The resurgent mess in Afghanistan
The blind eye or shoulder shrugging most of the world gives the genocide of Darfur.
And on, and on and on...
Maybe we can't all get along.
Maybe we are just stupid, tribalistic smooth apes who can't get their act together and are doomed to return to sad pools of warring civilizations, forever, to paraphrase Dan Simmons.
Via the irreplacable Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly, an op-ed by Historian (and sometime alternate historian) Niall Ferguson. He writes a looking backward history, of how the Bush administration's failure to use military force to stop Tehran from getting a nuclear weapon leads to a nuclear exchange between Iran and Israel, and the subsequent Decline of the West.
From the Op-ed:
The devastating nuclear exchange of August 2007 represented not only the failure of diplomacy, it marked the end of the oil age. Some even said it marked the twilight of the West. Certainly, that was one way of interpreting the subsequent spread of the conflict as Iraq's Shi'ite population overran the remaining American bases in their country and the Chinese threatened to intervene on the side of Teheran.
Yet the historian is bound to ask whether or not the true significance of the 2007-2011 war was to vindicate the Bush administration's original principle of pre-emption. For, if that principle had been adhered to in 2006, Iran's nuclear bid might have been thwarted at minimal cost. And the Great Gulf War might never have happened.
The Rise of China? The Rise of "Islamism"? Ferguson's message seems to be: Stay Militant, or the West will Decline.
I think he's been reading way too much Oswald Spengler, myself.
David Neiwert has a stunning blog entry about Rep. Tancredo's proposal to deny citizenship to U.S born children of immigrant workers.
This proposal, if enacted, would radically change the idea of what it means to be an American and is repulsive. People do not come to America illegally and have children in order to become legal immigrants. It simply doesn't work that way.
And if this proposal had been enacted a century ago...many of us today would not be citizens.
This Washington Post article about John Roberts has an interesting factoid about the man that many would like to see confirmed as Supreme Court Justice without serious discussion at all about his views. From the article:
When John G. Roberts Jr. prepared to ghostwrite an article for President Ronald Reagan a little over two decades ago, his pen took a Civil War reenactment detour.
The article, which was to appear in the scholarly National Forum journal, was called "The Presidency: Roles and Responsibilities." Roberts was writing by hand a section on how the congressional appropriations process had evolved.
A fastidious editor of other people's copy as well as his own, Roberts began with the words "Until about the time of the Civil War." Then, the Indiana native scratched out the words "Civil War" and replaced them with "War Between the States."
If Roberts were from Georgia, Alabama or the like, I wouldn't bat an eye. Many Southerners refer to the Civil War as such.
Roberts, though is from Indiana. So it was a conscious, deliberate decision. I had a couple of history teachers and professors who did the same thing, but made no bones that they WERE using the term specifically.
I think that part of the problem in combatting Intelligent Design in the media by scientists and scientiophiles is that many people *want* to believe in ID.
That is to say, they are reassured, comforted and in some cases revel in the knowledge that there is evidence to back up their faiths, their belief.
That's pretty hard to combat in the media and elsewhere. And wanting to believe in something does not make any more likely that it is the truth.
Of course, IMO, faith with ironclad proof is no faith at all.
Gabriel, and Constantine, in the Constantine movie
Constantine: "I believe!"
Gabriel. "No. You KNOW. There's a difference."
Robertson, who launched a brief presidential bid in 1988, said that if he were president he would not appoint Muslims to serve in his Cabinet and that he was not in favor of Muslims serving as judges.
"They have said in the Koran there's a war against all the infidels," he said. "Do you want somebody like that sitting as a judge? I wouldn't."
He ran for President in 1988, as I recall, and didn't do that well. Today...he might do better, if he turned his mind to it.
Still, comments like this make Gilead, or the "Christian Fascist" regime mentioned in Hammered, or Nehemiah Scudder ever more slightly plausible.
Not just muslims should denounce Robertson for this, everyone of every faith (or agnoticism/atheism of same) should denounce such comments.
Of course I am under no delusions. I admit that a freely admitted Atheist or Pagan could not be elected to high office in this country and probably never really could.
And that's dead wrong, too.
Congressional leaders announced a compromise between Senate and House Republicans that would allow the brain-damaged woman's case to be reviewed by federal courts that could restore her feeding tube. Opposition waned after House leaders agreed to give up broader legislation and accept a narrowly crafted bill that applied only to Schiavo's case.
Bill of Attainder:
Definition: A legislative act that singles out an individual or group for punishment without a trial.
The Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section 9, paragraph 3 provides that: "No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law will be passed."
My view of constitutional law might be fuzzy,but doesn't Congress' involvement in the tragedy of the Schiavo case come awfully close, or go over the line, of being a Bill of Attainder?
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Read Brad's entry on Justice Scalia, and his telling comments to the contrary. Unamerican, to begin with. I am not getting into the argument about the seperation of church and state, this is more fundamental.
America is a secular country, founded as a secular country. The fact that many people are religious or call themselves religious is beside the point and does not change the fact that this is a secular country.
Heinlein's If this Goes On becomes less and less implausible. I still think its 10-1 odds against the country ever going down that road completely, but a decade ago, i'd have made 100-1 odds.
According to this article in the Star-Tribune, a Wisconsin firefighter has "...has asked Wisconsin officials to designate free-roaming domesticated cats as members of an "unprotected species" that could be shot on sight by anyone holding a small-game license."
The proposal is set to go before an advisory group to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources next month.
The rationale for this twisted proposal is that feral Felis Domesticus are a major killer of songbirds, millions a year estimated in Wisconsin alone.
"Save the birds! Shoot a cat!"
(I may need a seperate Blog category for this sort of stuff).
Apparently, the Board of Education of the State of Kansas is set to put the Theory of Evolution "on trial", basically giving proponents of
Intelligent Design creationism an opportunity to show why it should be taught in schools as well.
Somehow, I don't think this is going to be impartial and fair because the overwhelming preponderance of the evidence is for Evolution, not creation by Fiat. As Carl Sagan said so briefly and eloquently 25 years ago, Evolution is a Fact. It really happens.
Politics, however, looks set to try to trump Science once again.
Maybe the second episode of Cosmos should be required viewing for everyone. Its a bit dated but still a wonderful way to get the point across.
Being relatively new to Minnesota, I'm not that qualified to comment on its politics just yet, but the news that Mark Dayton, our freshman Democratic Senator, will not seek re-election in 2006 is disheartening.
His poll numbers have not been good, the reddening of the state is that pronounced. The state of Wellstone is becoming the state of Norm Coleman, bosom buddy to W.
Franken says he won't run for the seat in '06, leaving the field wide open on both the Democratic and Republican sides. I foresee a lot of money being spent by both national parties here in the next two years.
Minnesota in 2006 will be a bloodbath of a battleground, mark my words. I better steel myself for a *lot* of ads, push-polling, calls from campaigns and the like.
I'm just me, doing my thing, my style. Even if I can probably count the number of regular readers to this space on all of my digits.
Apparently, according to Pandragon (and elsewhere) James Dobson, founder of "Focus on the Family" has found a new threat to the children of our nation.
According to Dobson, Spongebob is being enlisted in what he calls a "pro-homosexual video." The makers of the video, he said, planned to mail it to thousands of elementary schools to promote a "tolerance pledge" that includes tolerance for differences of "sexual identity."
Horrors! I knew I should have killed the sponge that I studied in Biology! I would be helping fight that nebulous, omnipresent homosexual conspiracy! I mean, we can't have tolerance of differences in sexuality. No sir!
I tell you, between Dobson and, say, Jack Chick, the Onion's writers have it harder and harder these days. I'd laugh more, if this intolerance didn't scare the crap out of me.
Do we really need our grandchildren to read some modern day person's echoing words. "First they came for the gays and lesbians, but I said nothing, because I was straight..."
It doesn't surprise me to learn that the reporter Armstrong Williams was paid a quarter of a million dollars to promote No Child Left Behind, at the behest of the Bush Administration.
Our Tax dollars at work! What's more, as pointed out at Eschaton, what are the odds that this is the ONLY reporter given payola?
Its not that far from reporters being bribed to report things in a certain light to reporters reporting things in a certain light because they are afraid of losing their jobs...
Has anyone else received this? I received a very strange email purporting to be from Paul Krugman, regarding Polish shenganigans in Iraq. I have the full text of the email below, in the hopes one of my readers has a clue.
Is it spam? Judge for yourself.
From - Sun Oct 31 19:57:50 2004
Received: from szkola.net ([18.104.22.168])
by samuel.mail.atl.earthlink.net (EarthLink SMTP Server) with ESMTP id 1comVN2Py3Nl3pv0
From: Paul Krugman
Subject: Re: Private business in Iraq
Date: 31 Oct 2004 22:03:53 +0100
Corruption in Iraq. This message has been received today.
*One thing may change the November's election.
_Coalition of corruption_
Polish politics make private business on the war. The corruption range to the
Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka was earlier the Chief of International
Coordination Commitment in Iraq. As the chief of the commitment, he supported a
choice of Bank Millennium (in which he was a member of the supervisory board) to
the consortium that would menage the Trade Bank of Iraq. Accidentally, the Prime
Minister admitted (in Polish parliament) that he had known how the members of
the commission had voted - nevertheless, he was not a member of the commission.
Another matter regards to the public tender that decided about a contract on
equipment for Iraq's army. In consortium that won the first tender was
"Ostrowski Arms" - the firm that had not a license on the trade of weapons and
whole firm was consists of a few persons. What is interesting in this firm? The
owner and the chief of the firm was Andrzej Ostrowski - a good acquaintance of
President Aleksander Kwasniewski. Mr. Ostrowski had issued a book about the
calendar of the choice of F-16 to Polish army. It was only one book wroted by
him ...and President Kwasniewski wrote an introduction to this book. At present,
Mr. Andrzej Ostrowski is the accused of a trade of weapons without a license.
After the journalist's investigation regards Ostrowski Arms the public tender in
Iraq was cancel. What the tender was it? The firm without license on a trade of
weapons is the one of winners. The firm with a few people staff, not famous in
branch... However, good famous for Aleksander Kwasniewski.
I think you should confirm both events: the run of the choice of the consortium
managing the Trade Bank of Iraq and the choice of the unknown firm without a
license on weapons trade to the consortium that was expected to equip the Iraq's
The international corruption affair will range to the high Bush's administration
and to the highest Polish authorities.
Enclosed please find more details, nevertheless, it is only in Polish:
The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained, and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
* For protecting them by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
* For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
* For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
* For depriving us in many cases of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
* For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
* For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
* For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
* For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms. Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren.
* We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us.
* We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here.
* We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence.
They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare.
That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown,
and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved;
and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce,
and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
The signers of the Declaration represented the new States as follows:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
John Hancock, Samual Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
Some of you who have been reading the political side of the Blogosphere lately have been reading about that internal DOD memo regarding the legality of torture.
I give you the text of the Enabling Act.
Have I violated Godwin's Law? Maybe. But take it for what you will.
In the tradition of Busy Busy Busy:
If Rumsfeld is fired or quits, then the terrorists win.
Why? Because of a post that the pseudonymous Atrios entitled "Diary of a Stalker", and the comments that it engendered, discussing the way that Donald Luskin haunts Paul Krugman.
And that's the motivation for the Libel suit. Seriously! It's even more laughably egregious than the "fair and balanced" suit Fox pulled on Al Franken and his book.
ANY conservative who doesn't think that Donald Luskin and this threatened legal action is absolutely beyond the pale should wash their mouths out with soap the next time they talk about "tort reform".
Apropos the recent threads on "sticky" PCs...
Well, the President's news conference has convinced me that I wouldn't want Condi Rice as a roleplayer in one of my games? Why?
THE PRESIDENT: ....her job is also to deal interagency and to help unstick things that may get stuck, is the best way to put it. She's an unsticker. And -- is she listening? Okay, well, she's doing a fine job.
Yes, its silly, I know. It's also silly we have a President that invents more words than Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes.
Update: I found a transcript of the News Conference online. And Liz is right, he dodges the question just before the "unsticker" comment:
Thank you, Mr. President. You recently put Condoleezza Rice, your National Security Advisor, in charge of the management of the administration's Iraq policy. What has effectively changed since she's been in charge? And the second question, can you promise a year from now that you will have reduced the number of troops in Iraq?
THE PRESIDENT: The second question is a trick question, so I won't answer it. The first question was Condoleezza Rice. Her job is to coordinate interagency. She's doing a fine job of coordinating interagency. She's doing -- the role of the National Security Advisor is to not only provide good advice to the President, which she does on a regular basis -- I value her judgment and her intelligence -- but her job is also to deal interagency and to help unstick things that may get stuck, is the best way to put it. She's an unsticker. And -- is she listening? Okay, well, she's doing a fine job.
For those of you who like to rubberneck at accidents, the official results of the California Recall (baring absentee ballots and the like) are now available to peruse.
Orange County, aka the Purgatory I used to live in, gave Arnold a solid (60%) majority in its voting. I'm far from surprised.
This is monstrous.
Words fail me.
And this is condescension of the worst sort.
In the movie Demolition Man, Sylvester Stallone's character of John Spartan is aghast to discover the future city of San Angeles is home to the "Schwarzenegger Presidential Library", since the actor became President thanks to the "37th amendment to the Constitution."
And remember the entry where I linked off of Ginger's approval of changing the Constitution in this way?
Apparently proposals for such an amendment ARE working through the House and Senate even now. The likelihood of these becoming law in time for Arnold to possibly run for President are pretty low. Americans are generally resistant to a change in the actual text of the Constitution, even as it gets interpreted and reinterpreted over the ages. But I still think Ginger and I are right, and it *should* change.
Congressman Darrell Issa is now urging people to vote "NO" on the Recall if McClintock and Schwarzenegger are still in the race when the election is held.
So, you ask? Well, Issa is the man who spent $1,600,000 dollars of his own money to make the recall happen in the first place. This was his baby, his big idea.
He's apparently afraid that the Recall will go through, and Lt. Gov Bustamante will win the election thanks to a divided Republican vote.
And here I thought :sniff: this recall was only about fiscal principles and removing the 'dark lord' Gray Davis. :sniff:
we have assumed privatization, except in Alaska.
Alaska's sole congressman Don Young, who supports efforts to privatize air traffic control, got two Alaska airports struck from the privatization hit list.
Why? Let me quote:
"Of course the criticism of myself," he said, "is that I exempted the state of Alaska." But there were ample reasons for that, he said, ticking off a number of them.
"Lastly," Young said, "my hotel room is on the top floor of the Sheraton, and the airplanes take right off towards my hotel room. Every morning I look out and there's one coming right at me. It's an interesting experience and I want to make sure everything is done right in that field."
(Emphasis added by myself)
Now, I watched Sixty Minutes last night, and I was surprised to learn just how much power Young has in Congress. The episode featured a story about building a Natural Gas pipeline...but Young wants it built in such a way that it traverses most of Alaska before heading into Canada--and considering his influence, he is going to get it....even if a shorter trip across the Arctic Ocean over to Canada, where there is already a pipeline in the works, would be cheaper and more efficient.
Being House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman has its perks and clout, of course. You do want the Interstates in your area repaired of potholes, right?
And that's Nuke-le-ar, not Nuke-cu-lur.
Anyway, the Strib (as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune is sometimes called) has an editorial taking the VP to task on his mendacity.
Admittedly, the Strib is the more left of the two major papers in the Minneapolis area (the other being the St. Paul Pioneer Press) and admittedly, this is a fairly progressive place (or to be more accurate, the Democrats here are very progressive, the somewhat less numerous Republicans are equally strongly conservative, it still washes out to overall somewhat progressive). In fact, Scott has told me that sometimes the Strib has been derided as "The Red Star and Tribune."
But still, the Editorial Board gives Cheney no quarter in this editorial. Sure, there have been some (mostly tepid) criticisms before of the Executive Branch's mendacity, but this qualitatively and quantatitively different. Read it. And wonder when other papers will dare to do the same.
Thanks to Eschaton for pointing out the weblink for the online version of the Editorial, I read the 'dead-tree version' of it this morning.
Now this is rather odd.
It seems one of those weird things, why on Earth would anyone want to see a George Bush Diplomatic Montage in the State Department. The old exhibit seemed far more thematic.
And besides, this sort of montage sounds like its more suited for the White House, than the State Department. It's just...weird.
With the word that Wesley Clark is about to announce his candidacy for the Democratic Party nomination for president, I've already thought of a shorthand for the entire group as a whole. And I am sure that I'm not the only one to think of it.
In the tradition of the 1988 crop of "Seven Dwarves.", with Wesley Clark becoming the 10th Democrat...I give you "Ten Little Indians".
Still, just about any of the ten are better than what we have now at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Kevin Drum, aka Calpundit, has an interview with Paul Krugman, economist and op-ed contributor to the NY Times.
There is a definite catastrophist streak in Krugman's work--comparing the future of the US economy to something like Argentina is pretty radical even to suggest, much less to warn about in a Cassandra-like fashion.
The interview shatters the divide, too, between newspaper journalism and "bloggers", since this interview is as detailed and thoughtful as any you would find in a paper, or on Slate or Salon, say.
The problem with Cassandras, though, is that they sometimes turn out to be right. I don't want Krugman to be right, but ignoring what he has to say is not going to change reality.
But its a very good interview...go forth and read it. As for the book, I'll wait for the paperback (as usual).
Ginger mentions a NYT editorial promoting the idea of an amendment to the Constitution that would allow foreign-born, naturalized citizens the right to become President of the United States.
I agree with her and the editorial. The reasons to not allow "citizens by choice" the right to become President has long since evaporated.
On a couple of side notes, in the underrated movie Demolition Man (where Stallone's character is cryogenically frozen and left there for 20 odd years), there is a throwaway conversation with Sandra Bullock's character about how Arnold Schwarzenegger became president because of the "37th amendment".
The second piece of trivia is that early America could have had a foreign-born president, legitimately, but the individual was shot in a duel before such an event could have occurred.
Alexander Hamilton, of course. Not everyone remembers that he was actually born in the West Indies. I'm betting that if we had a Hamilton Presidency, there would be more of an awareness of the situation with naturalized citizens and the Presidency, and perhaps the amendment might already be in place.
Did you know that, thanks to the "Equal time" rule, even a movie appearance by Arnold Schwarzenegger or a Different Strokes rerun by Gary Coleman on network TV can invoke the opposition to ask for equal time?
Nope, I had no idea either.
This doesn't apply to cable or Satellite channels, mind you.
The comic strip, via Slate, has a humorous take this morning on Blogs, posting, and getting hits.
I have watched, with amused interest, the follies of the California Gubnetorial Recall.
I admit that there is a bit of kvelling over the self-inflicted mire that was my former state of residence. I also admit that if I was still living there and had the money...I might have filed papers, just because.
But with all sorts of people now running, including Arnie, it promises to be a rather interesting race. Of course, cynics might point out that I moved from California to a state that elected a former wrestler as governor...