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Comment Archives: Stories: News+Opinion: Southern Avenger

Re: “Defending the Constitution from Right and Left

"who believe that the founding fathers were a bunch of slave holding misogynists, denying the vote to blacks and women, and retaining it for wealthy land holders."

They weren't?

Listen, I know all about judging people by the context of their times. But if you wanna elevate someone to minor deity status, as Tea Partiers want to with the founding fathers, you have to do better than "oh, he was ok in that time period."

The fact is, there were some of the founders who were better and more progressive than others. My favorite, Thomas Paine, was pretty progressive even by today's standards. And guess what? He was shunned for it by police society, including the more prominent founders.

As an FYI, I was referring specifically to the House when I mentioned the least powerful branch being the only one the founders wanted directly elected.

If the framers really wanted to keep power close to the people, they would have set up a direct and participatory democracy, but they choose not to. You know as well as I the statements where they expressed extreme apprehension about the commoners getting power (here's a hint, whenever they talk about "mob rule").

Posted by Sark on February 9, 2011 at 2:13 PM

Re: “Defending the Constitution from Right and Left

The individual mandate will most likely be upheld on the grounds that it falls under the regulation of interstate commerce. True - driving is a privilege and you don't have to own a car, and thus avoid auto insurance. But you can't opt out of the healthcare system. Someone shoots you walking down the street - it's illegal for the hospital to deny you treatment. The question that so often asked - but never answered is : How can a single mother with two part time jobs afford individual coverage if no company is willing to pool the risk? If you don't like Obamacare - fine. Just answer that single question. Well - preferably without answering "I don't care about people like that." which is totally legitament - just not the official stance of any party.

Posted by BourbonandBranch on February 9, 2011 at 1:17 PM

Re: “Defending the Constitution from Right and Left

Yuengling - You're right re: the specific holding of Citizens. I was referring more to the general theme animating the majority opinion. So we're both right.

Look, its one thing to say you don't agree with a judge's decision or that you believe a decision represents the incorrect interpretation of the law (be it the constitution or precedent). That's fine. Unfortunately, often, the law does not supply a clear answer. Hence the need for lawyers and judges.

But its quite another thing to suggest that interpretation is never appropriate, and that the Constitution should be (and is) read like an instruction manual. Aside from the specific provisions, the document was written in general terms in many places (including Commerce Clause) so that subsequent people could interpret based on a changing world. See, for an example, see how various fundamental rights were gradually extended to women and blacks.

Justice Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Kennedy read a lot into the 1st in Citizens. There's no getting around that.

Posted by charlestoner on February 8, 2011 at 9:00 PM

Re: “Defending the Constitution from Right and Left

Sark,

I see you are a member of the "USA sucks" crowd, who believe that the founding fathers were a bunch of slave holding misogynists, denying the vote to blacks and women, and retaining it for wealthy land holders.

I would suggest that history and context are important to the argument, and the fact that the founders gave the right to vote to both landholders and non landholders was a bold first step towards self governance in our nation. Worldwide,
the woman's suffrage movement did not gain traction until the early twentieth century. In 1776, free blacks had the right to vote in New York, New Hampshire, Delaware and Maryland, although some of these states reversed their positions to "whites only" in the 1820's, in part over the issue of slavery in new states (the Missouri Compromise).

Context is a tricky thing across the centuries. Just as we "modern men" are appalled by the idea of slavery and sexual discrimination, future modern men may have to grapple with whether or not sentient beings created by man have rights.

No one is currently clamoring for computers or robots to have rights, but when the inevitable happens (probably this century), and AI and robotic forms are viewed by some as sentient beings, we will be having the same debates. Isaac Asimov developed and debated this idea in his book Bicentennial Man. (Great book, so-so movie that was faithful to the book, but kept me wondering if Robin Williams to going to break out with a Mork from Ork schtick)

You state that, "Presidents are selected by "electors"... And each state gets to decide how to select those electors. Our state legislature could vote tomorrow that they'll select the electors and take our vote for president away..."

Yes, that could happen. And we would have the right to remove the entire state legislature at the next election (or sooner if a recall petition could be satisfied) for usurping our rights. Only an uninformed electorate would stand for such nonsense, so those state legislatures will have to wait for a lot more people to start reading Paul Krugman before they try such foolishness.

As to the legislative branch being the "weak" one, I would send you back to Article 1, section 8 of the Constitution, which empowers ONLY congress to coin and spend money, declare war, borrow money and regulate trade with foreign nations, which sound like a lot of power to me.

Posted by I P Yuengling on February 8, 2011 at 8:58 PM

Re: “Defending the Constitution from Right and Left

Charlestoner,

You brought up an excellent point with the Citizens United SCOTUS ruling, but I'm not sure you understand the meaning of the court's 5-4 decision.

You wrote, "the Court held that the 1st Amendment limits campaign finance regulation" - meaning that the 1st amendment (freedom of speech) prohibits Congress from passing campaign finance law which prohibits freedom of speech.

The crux of the case was whether the McCain-Feingold Act could legally prohibit corporations from financing independent political advertisements. According to McCain-Feingold, corporations and unions (3rd parties) would be prohibited from using their general treasury funds to pay for the production or dissemination of campaign ads that support either election or defeat of individual candidates.

Under McCain-Feingold, the local longshoreman's union could not use funds from their general treasury to challenge candidate Jim Demint, who opposes federal earmark funding of dredging projects in Charleston harbor. Use of those same funds to support a candidate who endorses channel funding would also be prohibited. In the court's view, a union (or a corporation) is simply a group of individual citizens who collectively speak with one voice, using the group's funding to pay for political speech.

So, you are right. The 1st amendment does not mention corporations or money.

"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."

It simply guarantees freedom of speech for all US citizens, and the court's decision that a group can engage in political speech was probably influenced by the other elements of the 1st - like the right to peaceably assemble as a group to speak out about political matters (protest).

The "interpreters" would read the 1st as "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof EXCEPT FOR PRAYING OUT LOUD ON PUBLIC PROPERTY OR IN SCHOOL; or abridging the freedom of speech EXCEPT FOR GROUPS OF PEOPLE WHO MIGHT USE THEIR COLLECTIVE INFLUENCE TO SPEAK, or of the press EXCEPT FOR FOX NEWS AND TALK RADIO; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble EXCEPT IF IT IS TO PETITION THE GOVERNMENT FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.




The Air Force is understood to be a division of the US military, as are the Marines, National Guard and the Coast Guard. They all answer to the Commander in Chief, and are funded through the same mechanisms as the Navy and Army.



Posted by I P Yuengling on February 8, 2011 at 8:02 PM

Re: “Defending the Constitution from Right and Left


"The genius of our Constitution is that it keeps power close to the people. The founding fathers realized that the quickest way to tyranny was to concentrate power in the hands of a few men who could be subverted from their sworn duty."

HAhahahaha.... Wait, you're serious? The framers wanted to keep power as far away form the people as possible. Hence the fact that only one part of the government (the least powerful part) was directly elected. Presidents are selected by "electors"... And each state gets to decide how to select those electors. Our state legislature could vote tomorrow that they'll select the electors and take our vote for president away (and judging from the crazies in the Tea Party who want to take away the direct election of senators, they'd probably have some support).

So, if by "the people" you meant "wealthy land-owning white men", then yes, you'd be correct. If you meant the poor, women, or racial minorities, you'd be wrong.

Posted by Sark on February 8, 2011 at 4:27 PM

Re: “Defending the Constitution from Right and Left

Yuengling:

So the constitution doesn't require interpretation?

Well then how do you explain the recent Citizens United Supreme Court decision where the "conservative" members of the Court held that the 1st Amendment limits campaign finance regulation?

Neither the words "corporation" nor "money" are in the 1st.

Obviously, the justices arrived at that result through interpretation.

PS - I'm familiar with the origins of the AF. Sorry, but the Constitution does not expressly authorize the Army to split off a separate branch.

Sorry, but your sweeping assertion is false.

Posted by charlestoner on February 8, 2011 at 2:31 PM

Re: “Defending the Constitution from Right and Left

Charlestoner,

Article One, Section Eight:

"To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;"

The "Air Force" was the "Army Air Force" until it was separated from the Army by the National Security Act of 1947.

And no, there are not "innumerable powers" in the Constitution.

Quite the opposite.

Please read the ninth and tenth amendments.




Posted by I P Yuengling on February 8, 2011 at 2:09 PM

Re: “Defending the Constitution from Right and Left

First and Foremost:


The Constitution does not require INTERPRETATION.

It requires APPLICATION.

The Constitution is best viewed as a contract, written by "We the People", so that we might create a mutually agreed upon Federal government, necessary to represent the individual states in matters of interstate trade and diplomacy, and to conduct foreign policy with other nations.

Alteration of contractual agreements can only be done with the consent of those who have entered into the contract. To alter our contract, the Constitution, requires that a majority of us approve of the changes proposed. The mechanism for changing our contract exists. It is the amendment process.

You want government administered health care?
AMEND THE CONSTITUTION
You want to end 1.5 trillion dollars of yearly deficit spending?
AMEND THE CONSTITUTION

The genius of our Constitution is that it keeps power close to the people. The founding fathers realized that the quickest way to tyranny was to concentrate power in the hands of a few men who could be subverted from their sworn duty. In our republican form of government, power originates with the individual citizens who determine the direction of each sovereign state. The states then grant enumerated powers to the federal government, via lawmaking in the legislative branch.

Under-informed people look puzzled when you tell them that it was the states which created the federal government, and not the other way around. The misinterpretation is understandable, considering how much state power has been usurped at the federal level.

So, my "cult like devotion to the mythical Constitution" is akin to a union member's devotion to his employment contract.

Perhaps that is how we should sell union members on the rescission of their bloated, industry breaking pension plans (contracts). "I'm sorry Mr. UAW worker, we have a new interpretation of your pension package contract. In light of new, unforeseen circumstances, your retirement and medical plans will be scrapped, because the federal government will now give you "free" crappy health care with expensive co-pays, and your reinterpreted retirement benefit will be the new "Social Security Plus" program, where all your 401K and pension assets will be surrendered to the federal government, and you will be enrolled in a new form of "super duper" social security.

Yeah, that's the ticket...

If the "interpreters" get their way, the Constitution becomes meaningless, because a select group of men and women in black robes can interpret "speech" to mean "communications authorized by Congress and policed by the FCC". Under that model, "free speech" could be gone in no time. If free speech goes away, we're done. That is the reason "speech" is covered in the FIRST amendment.




Posted by I P Yuengling on February 8, 2011 at 1:59 PM

Re: “Defending the Constitution from Right and Left

Auto insurance doesnt apply. No one mandates you purchase a car. If you decide to purchase a car then you must purchase insurance.

Posted by Pontus311 on February 8, 2011 at 1:54 PM

Re: “Defending the Constitution from Right and Left

The draft was far more unconstitutional due to the sexual discrimination involved.

Posted by TROLLSLAYER on February 8, 2011 at 1:23 PM

Re: “Defending the Constitution from Right and Left

The Air Force isn't in the constitution. Is the Air Force unconstitutional? There are innumerable implied powers in the Constitution.

Posted by charlestoner on February 8, 2011 at 1:12 PM

Re: “Defending the Constitution from Right and Left

It's funny Jack, the Klanswoman's mixing of Christianity and religion reminds me of your (and many others) cult-like devotion to the mythical "Constitution". What the constitution means is a matter of interpretation, like the bible. Everyone is willing to cite it when it seems to support their arguments (including myself, just as I'll cite Jesus even though I don't think he was the son of god).

Posted by Sark on February 7, 2011 at 11:04 AM

Re: “Defending the Constitution from Right and Left

Well there is also that little bit about they can no longer take your money for years or even decades then tell you to get lost if you become expensively ill....

Posted by TROLLSLAYER on February 6, 2011 at 6:50 PM

Re: “Defending the Constitution from Right and Left

It is quite funny how the left keeps bringing up pre-existing conditions is the only reason that Obamacare was good. BOTH sides agree that we should keep that so stop ranting about it. We should all agree that they should first fix Medicare before even attempting Healthcare reform. The government has almost never come up with a program that either runs well or is under budget. In the real world if you are over your budget and in debt you would not spend more. That is just pure insanity. Look at our post office vs. UPS? How about Amtrak? Social security is doing great right? Medicare and Medicaid as well? The government claims they know best when it comes to how we should live our lives. Obviously they need to take a look at their bank account vs. ours.

Posted by chefhead on February 6, 2011 at 3:57 PM

Re: “Defending the Constitution from Right and Left

Yeah, we need to overturn mandatory car insurance laws. That way, I can crash my car into yours and (because I don't have any assets and am judgement proof in SC) leave you with no remedy for the damages. And as for Obamacare, how dare they pass a law that made my girlfriends insurance company send her a letter telling her that they can no longer drop her because of a pre-existing condition (among other things that made her premiums a rip off)....

Posted by Stuart Johnson on February 6, 2011 at 9:04 AM

Re: “Defending the Constitution from Right and Left

So the same government that told me to go take a physical, carry a draft card and ultimately go into the military now can't tell people to go get health insurance instead of going to emergency rooms so the rest of us have to pay for them?

Riiiight.

Posted by TROLLSLAYER on February 4, 2011 at 3:12 PM

Re: “Defending the Constitution from Right and Left

Interpretations are inherently based in ideology.

Otherwise, there would be no dissenting opinions.

Not that I disagree with the ruling but I do wonder if this would also overturn the mandate of states for automobile insurance? I haven't looked, though, maybe that case was already fought and won?

Posted by mat catastrophe on February 4, 2011 at 1:49 PM

Re: “Conservatives' Military-Industrial Complex

Good thoughts, Jack, and after a week only one comment has been posted besides this. Thanks also, Rogue.

Posted by pugnax on January 29, 2011 at 11:23 AM

Re: “Is Opposing Gun Control 'Idiotic?'

St. Andy, what is the subject of the verb ARE?

Posted by pugnax on January 25, 2011 at 10:57 AM
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