Shredding the US Constitution

Has it really come to this?  Time magazine, one of our most respected magazines, seriously posing the question, “Does It Still Matter?” over the backdrop of the U. S. Constitution partially shredded as their cover page for their 10th Annual History and Fourth of July Issue.  The second page of the ten-page article, authored by Richard Stengel, has the U. S. Constitution completely shredded vertically.  This event signals a disrespect and ignorance of this document that I have not seen in my over 25 years teaching it.

The article’s overriding fallacy begins with the first sentence and continues throughout, “Here are a few things the framers did not know about: World War II, DNA, sexting, airplanes, the atom, television, Medicare, collateralized debt obligations, the germ theory of disease, miniskirts …” etc.  In short, “How can it be relevant, without great alteration for our day?”  Certainly the piece is a masterful explanation of the Constitution as a “living Constitution.”  Among other things it criticizes the “Tea Party and its almost fanatical focus on the founding document.”

The truth is that the Constitution has nothing to do with these things nor did it have for the new things of the 1800’s, nor will it have for a new list the following century after the one we are now in.  None of these things matter because this document is based upon human nature and natural law which do not change from century to century.  Man is still power hungry whether he rides a horse, drives a car, or flies an airplane.  Stengel does not seem to understand this.

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Interview: The Rubber Hits the Road

Podcast: Play in new window | Download Bryce Shonka, Tenth Amendment Center deputy director, on the Ed Dean radio show to talk about decentralization, nullification, revisionist history and Nullify Now! Jacksonville. “We need to get back to smaller government, letting our communities operate on an organic basis – with their best interest in mind instead…

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Progressive Half Gets It

Adam Serwer at the American Prospect writes:

Recently, Cato’s C. Bradley Thompson wrote about neoconservatism, saying that neoconservatives “are and always have been, by contrast, defenders of the post–New Deal welfare state.” Other than David Frum, I’m not aware of too many conservatives who have offered forceful defenses of the New Deal welfare state. Rather, as neoconservatism has become the dominant foreign-policy ideology of the Republican Party, there’s been a hybridization of neoconservative foreign-policy aggressiveness with more traditional conservative hostility toward social insurance. As a result, America’s war expenses have become an untouchable driver of deficits that provide pretext for dismantling the welfare state.

Serwer is right about the neocons’ attachment to the military budget and foreign intervention, though he leaves out the Democrats’ record on this very issue — contrary to the usual neocon complaint, the Democrats have not in fact sought to “gut” the military.  Neither the Clinton nor the Obama record suggests any such thing.  It’s one big, corrupt system that we are tricked into thinking involves two diametrically opposed parties.

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Strong Cities, Strong Communities: Bad Idea

When government officials come up with what they claim to be a wonderful new idea, I often think of an old Saturday Night Live skit from 1990 poking fun at commercials for blue jeans. The skit’s scene is a group of middle-aged buddies getting ready to play basketball in their new “Bad Idea Jeans.” Each guy optimistically announces a plan to do something that is actually a “bad idea.” For example, a character says “I don’t know the guy but I’ve got two kidneys and he needs one, so I figured…” and “BAD IDEA” flashes across the screen. (The skit can be watched here.)

The White House’s new “Strong Cities, Strong Communities” initiative had that BAD IDEA screen shot flashing repeatedly in my mind as I read the press release:

Today, the Obama Administration launched Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2), a new and customized pilot initiative to strengthen local capacity and spark economic growth in local communities while ensuring taxpayer dollars are used wisely and efficiently. To accomplish this, federal agencies will provide experienced staff to work directly with six cities: Chester, PA; Cleveland, OH; Detroit, MI; Fresno, CA; Memphis, TN; and New Orleans, LA. These teams will work with local governments, the private sector, and other institutions to leverage federal dollars and support the work being done at the local level to encourage economic growth and community development.

Additionally, communities nationwide will be eligible to compete for comprehensive economic planning assistance through a grant competition designed to spark local innovation. By integrating government investments and partnering with local communities, SC2 channels the resources of the federal government to help empower cities as they develop and implement their vision for economic growth.

The Wall Street Journal reports that federal officials from HUDLaborCommerce,Transportation, and the Small Business Administration will be “deployed” to the cities. In other words, the Obama administration wants to send bureaucrats from federal agencies that are notorious for wasting other people’s money to help local bureaucrats do a more “efficient” job of spending other people’s money. That’s like asking Anthony Weiner to fix your Twitter account.

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