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Monday, September 20, 2010

In Defense of the Constitution of the United States of America

Sadly, Friday, September 17th, 'Constitution Day' and 'Citizenship Day', largely went uncelebrated and unremarked.  Although belatedly (sorry about that) I'm going to address it here, under the premise of better late than never.

The day commemorates the signing of the U.S. Constitution waaaay back in 1787 - give yourself a big gold star on your forehead, and a high-five from me, if you actually knew this important fact about U.S. history.  Not enough people, either children or adults, know this important date, a date that was pivotal in making this country who we are.  If I have managed at all to pique your interest, I would refer you to an excellent, succinct history lesson at the Law Library of Congress, which you can read here.  If you profess to love this country, to support our constitution, and if your have a reverence for the struggle and principles of our founding fathers (and the 'founding mothers' who shaped the era as well) then I would encourage you to follow the links in this post.  They are relatively brief reads, and they are substantive.

 In addition to the Law Library of Congress web site, I would encourage Penigma readers to check out the Constitution Project, which you can do here.  And if you will humor me a little further, I would commend to your attention an excellent post on one of the Penigma blog roll list blogs, FindLaw site, which you can read here, at FindLaw.com.

And while you are browsing the delights of FindLaw, let me alert you to why it matters that you are 'au courant' on the Constitution and Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.  Read it here; the important article by Ben Evans from the AP, from back in August: Spin Meter: GOP Hot, Cold on Constitution.  Evans outlines some important information that every voter should know in advance of the 2010 elections, no matter what side of the political aisle they embrace.

Making patriotic-SOUNDING claims to be in support of the Constitution has been a recurring assertion on the Right.  It is unfortunately, like so many of their empty lip-service claims, not truthful.  Call it 'right wing code', call it whatever you like.  The claim by the right is nothing more than well-rotted manure more suited to fertilize agricultural crops as 'manure tea' (for those of you who have led the sheltered urban life - that is an actual type of fertilizer, and it is exactly what it sounds like - water + animal manure) than a claim that informs the electorate.

In a word, it stinks to high heaven.

As Evans points out, Republicans like Rep. Paul Brown of Georgia, campaigned for his seat - and won - by CLAIMING to be, in Evan's words, "a strict defender of the Constitution."  In fact, not fantasy image, the Republicans making this claim to support and defend the provisions of the Constitution want to abandon some of the key elements of it; in fact, they want to dump quite a LOT of it.

Evans goes on to elaborate on the efforts to CHANGE, not preserve, not defend the Constitution of the United States of America.  These 'strict Constitutionalists' love to pass as patriots, banging their bogus constitutional drums, while they propose all kinds of new Amendments which would make not only changes, but profoundly alter the document that defines us,  in damaging ways.

Republicans, per Evans, have proposed no less than 42 Constitutional Amendments (maybe more - he wrote the article in August, and may have missed a few).  In contrast, the Democrats have proposed their much smaller share of Amendments, not only far fewer possible Amendments, but less drastic ones, only 27. Of the 27, roughly one third were from Jesse Jackson, Jr.  

Republican Amendments tend to be far more ideological, more extreme, more ...well, frankly just plain nutty, like castration for certain criminals.  (I'm not sure quite what they would propose for female criminals convicted of the same crime - hysterectomies?)  They encompass profound changes like altering the 14th Amendment to deny citizenship to some people born in this country who have traditionally been granted citizenship for nearly a half century, one of the landmark Amendments in our nation's history, a reflection of Republican xenophobia and failure to learn and understand the history of the United States.   One candidate, Carl Paladino, recent NY GOP primary winning candidate for governor, even wants to remove the historic, profoundly American statement from the base of the Statue of Liberty.  Can one focus on a greater national symbol of what has built this country?  Paladino, when he isn't busy sending out mass emails that are offensively racist and/or pornographic in content, wants to tell those 'huddled masses yearning to be free' that we no longer hold that sentiment.  They should go back to where they came from, according to Paladino - just not HIS relatives, when they immigrated.

I'd love to know the circumstances of Paladino's family in coming to this country, as immigrants. Which wave did they come in, when, and where?  Did they come through Ellis Island, perhaps?  Paladino exemplifies the position 'I've got mine. The hell with anyone else, especially anyone who is not already wealthy, and preferably no one who is not from Europe.'  The GOP and especially the Manure Tea Partiers just love Paladino's message.  (Go take a look at who is endorsing Paladino to identify his xenophobic Republican buddies.)

Democrats tend to propose more moderate, less ideological Amendments.  In stark contrast to the Republicans and the Manure Tea Partiers, and other factions on the right, the Dems propose important, non-partisan, USEFUL Amendments that address issues like -- per Evans - congressional succession in the event of national disasters, and voting rights in U.S. territories.

Read the Evans article.  Take a look at who, like MN GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann, are pulling these amendments out of their backsides, the same way they produce so many of their other claims.  Bachmann wants to dramatically alter the checks and balances of the three branches of government - one of the most crucial of the foundations of the Constitution - so that the President cannot sign treaties as the founding fathers wrote the Constitution.  Her crazy justification?  She fears, without any valid reason to do so, that just maybe, possibly, however unlikely, the President of the United States might replace the dollar with an international currency.

Now there is no more justification for this crazy notion than there is substance to the statement Bachmann made over the weekend that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was sticking the tax payers of this country with a $100,000 tab for booze on her flights on military aircraft.  Per Pelosi's office, she doesn't drink.  The military doesn't have booze on those flights.  And Pelosi, because of her position in line to the Presidency, in the event that the succession is required because of some tragedy affecting the President and Vice President, is REQUIRED to take military aircraft when she travels back to her home in California; she isn't trying to stick anything to the tax payers.  Civilian airlines would no doubt be far more comfortable for Pelosi.

Just like the Republicans who want to alter the 14th Amendments because of the drastic increase in illegal immigrants -- which have in fact been declining for several years, and which Obama has addressed with all-time high deportations of illegals - there is no legitimate reason for the Republican proposed Amendments other than their racism, xenophobia, and other paranoias that do nothing but divide our nation into antagonistic factions.

Check out the Evans article, and then research these Amendment proponents on the right who would soil our flag by the way they want to wrap themselves in it while desecrating our Constitution and the principles on which it is based.  There is no legitimate necessity for what they propose, nor is there any legitimate patriotism in it.

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