Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Happy Constitution Day

That's right, 221 years ago today the Founding Fathers ratified the U.S. Constitution. So I think today's a pretty good day to share my three favorite passages from the Constitution (not counting the Bill of Rights. That wasn't ratified until Dec. 15 - Bill of Rights Day).

"The Congress shall have Power To ... declare War"

The Constitution doesn't have anything to say about vague Congressional use-of-force resolutions that leave all of the war decisions in the hands of the president.

"... no Appropriation of Money to that Use (to raise and support Armies) shall be for a longer Term than two Years"

The implication here is that the Framers didn't intend for the federal government to maintain a permanent standing army. By contrast, there is a specific provision for the creation of a standing navy. Navies and state militias are useful for repelling invasions. Armies are better suited for invading other counties or putting down domestic opposition.

"The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."

Last I checked, the United States hasn't been invaded or had a rebellion lately (9-11 was an attack, not an invasion). So why no habeas corpus rights for Guantanamo prisoners?

"The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States"

The president isn't the "commander in chief." The president is the "commander in chief of the army and navy." Big difference. Can we please stop using the title "commander in chief" without the "army and navy" qualifier? The president commands the military, not every aspect of the country. The presidency isn't a democratically elected dictatorship, it's a job with specific responsibilities. And no, those responsibilities aren't whatever the president says they are.

1 comment:

Pam Pescosolido said...

I have been a member of the Libertarian Party for close to twenty years, have served as the Chair of Tulare County’s Libertarian Party, and have even run for Congress and for the office of State Controller on the Libertarian ticket. Needless to say, I have generally supported Libertarian candidates throughout the years.
This Presidential election, however, that’s changed: McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his running-mate has convinced me that I have to support Barach Obama. There are several reasons for this. Primarily is the very-real possibility that McCain could die while in his first term-of-office, leaving Sarah Palin as our first woman President. Now, don’t get me wrong: I am a woman, and I think it would be great if we had a woman President. However, I firmly believe that it shouldn’t be Sarah Palin.
Palin believes that the Bible is the literal word of God; that creationism is “the truth” and evolution just some cockamamie scam; and she would be willing to try to force that belief onto everyone else through whatever means. She thinks that creationism should be taught in our public schools (alongside evolutionary theory, if not in place of); she does not support the Constitution, which clearly provides for the separation of church and state, and states that no religious test be given to office-holders. She aims for a Christian government rather than the religion-free government that the Founding Fathers so wisely set up.
The concept is scary. It is even more scary after having watched the vice-presidential debate last night. Palin came across, this time, as being a reasonable, thoughtful individual. Clearly her prep sessions went well. This was a different Sarah Palin than we’d seen before. She came off more focused, more rational, more knowledgeable than ever before. But just because the Republicans got her well-prepared for the debate, this doesn’t mean that her fundamental beliefs have changed.
Her appeal to the “average Joe” notwithstanding, does the average person really want to throw out a thousand years of science and knowledge and return to Medieval ways of thought? And do we really want an “average” person one heartbeat away from the presidency?