Republicans and the Constitution. Putting Radical Ideology Above Facts and Reason

Republicans at work

Republican wing-nuts and the US Constitution

States may not make any law they like, ignore laws they do not. neither may groups of people – what Alexander Hamilton called mobs – inflamed by heated rhetoric or motivated by strong feelings are also not free to undermine the rights guaranteed to everyone.
The Supremacy Clause is a clause in the United States Constitution, Article VI, Clause 2,

“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.”

Thus states are not in any way free to make laws that violate the 1st Amendment:
“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”

Is Sharron Angle a Christian Reconstructionist? – A unified theory of the Nevada’s Senate candidate’s stranger musings.

Angle grabbed headlines in June when a radio interview surfaced, during which she suggested that if conservative Republicans can’t take back Congress, they may resort to “Second Amendment remedies” to fix the problem. When pressed on what exactly a Second Amendment remedy was, she dodged the issue and said her quote was taken out of context. In the past, Angle has gone beyond the usual vague talk about limiting federal government, suggesting we eliminate the Department of Education, Social Security, and Medicare.

In discussing religion, Angle often edges into the prophetic. When she was confronted about her unwillingness to support exceptions to an abortion ban even in the case of rape and incest, she said straightforwardly, “God has a plan and a purpose for each one of our lives.” She objects to laws that prevent pastors from endorsing candidates from the pulpit. Most interestingly, she claimed that entitlement programs of all sorts violate “the First Commandment,” and in case her point wasn’t clear, she elaborated in biblical talk: “We have become a country entrenched in idolatry, and that idolatry is the dependency upon our government. We’re supposed to depend upon God for our protection and our provision and for our daily bread, not for our government.”

“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”  from the  Treaty of Tripoli, Article 11. Draft by Joel Barlow who served under Washington as a chaplain in the revolutionary army. Signed into law by President Washington.

TN-Gov: GOP Lt. Gov. opposes First Amendment for Muslim-Americans. No matter how many times one reads the 1st Amendment or read upside down and even backwards there is no freedoms when and where Tennessee Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey feels like dispensing those freedoms on any given day.

Conservative Governor of Minnesota Tim Pawlenty

“I want to share with you four ideas that I think should carry us forward,” Pawlenty said on Friday at the annual gathering of the Conservative Political Action Committee, or CPAC. After invoking “basic constitutional principle and basic common sense,” he continued:

“The first one is this: God’s in charge. God is in charge … In the Declaration of Independence it says we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights. It doesn’t say we’re endowed by Washington, DC, or endowed by the bureaucrats or endowed by state government. It’s by our creator that we are given these rights.”

Never mind Pawlenty’s fundamental and no doubt deliberate misreading of the founders’ intent. (Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, is well-known for having cut up a Bible to remove all supernatural references to Jesus.) How, in practice, does Pawlenty envision “God’s in charge” as a governing principle?

“Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.” -
-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782. That doesn’t sound like someone that endorsed organized religion and the narrow interpretations of fundamentalists as a governing principle.

Republicans Conservatives and the 10th Amendment. They’ve always been a little obsessed with the 10th. One easy test of their devotion is the comparison to the low simmer when a Republican is president and their unhinged boil over when a Democrat is president. There are only two words required to understand the Right’s interpretation of the 10th – Civil War. It was decided – in a very bloody and decisive way State’s right were not whatever extremists dreamed up. Rally ‘Round the “True Constitution”

In a recent appearance with Fox’s Sean Hannity, Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann accused her colleagues of “forg[etting] what the Constitution says” because they are poised to pass comprehensive health-care reform. Not to be outdone, Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina told right-wing activists on a conference call last Thursday that health reform violates the 10th Amendment; he also called on state legislators and governors to “champion individual freedom” by resisting the bill. Two Florida lawmakers beat DeMint to the punch, having already introduced legislation to block health reform from taking effect in their state.

These efforts are all part of a movement whose members are convinced that the 10th Amendment of the Constitution prohibits spending programs and regulations disfavored by conservatives. Indeed, while “birther” conspiracy theorists dominate the airwaves with tales of a mystical Kenyan baby smuggled into Hawaii just days after his birth, these “tenther” constitutionalists offer a theory that is no less radical but infinitely more dangerous.

Tentherism, in a nutshell, proclaims that New Deal-era reformers led an unlawful coup against the “True Constitution,” exploiting Depression-born desperation to expand the federal government’s powers beyond recognition. Under the tenther constitution, Barack Obama’s health-care reform is forbidden, as is Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The federal minimum wage is a crime against state sovereignty; the federal ban on workplace discrimination and whites-only lunch counters is an unlawful encroachment on local businesses.

Tenthers divine all this from the brief language of the 10th Amendment, which provides that “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 people.” In layman’s terms, this simply means that the Constitution contains an itemized list of federal powers — such as the power to regulate interstate commerce or establish post offices or make war on foreign nations – and anything not contained in that list is beyond Congress’ authority.

The tenther constitution, however, reads each of these powers very narrowly — too narrowly, it turns out, to permit much of the progress of the last century. As the nation emerges from the worst economic downturn in three generations, the tenthers would strip away the very reforms and economic regulations that beat back the Great Depression, and they would hamstring any attempt to enact new progressive legislation.

Such retreat to fringe constitutional theories is one of the right’s favorite tactics during times of historic upheaval. The right-wing South justified both secession and the Civil War on the theory that the Constitution is nothing more than a pact between sovereigns that each state is free to leave at will. In the immediate wake of Brown v. Board of Education, 19 senators and 77 representatives endorsed a “Southern Manifesto,” proclaiming — in words echoed by modern-day tenthers — that Brown “encroach[es] on the rights reserved to the States” because the “Constitution does not mention education.”

Health care reform – Obamacare if you will – was modeled on a similar plan drafted by the Right-wing Heritage Foundation. Even the knuckleheads at Heritage knew it was constitutional under the Commerce clause and the “takings” clause did not apply because similarly ( though not exactly alike) a citizens pays for health insurance ( from the private sector mind you) and is compensated with health coverage. You pay for Social Security insurance and in exchange you have insurance that you will have some kind of income when you retire even if, you know, the economy crashes because of bad managers.

Republicans have also developed a new fetish for tinkering with the 13th Amendment, Iowa GOP Supports Amendment To Strip Obama’s Citizenship Because He Won The Nobel Peace Prize

At its state convention in Des Moines last month, the Iowa GOP adopted a new party platform that includes the repeal of mandatory minimum wage laws, the elimination of the U.S. Department of Education, and even clarification on the definition of manure. Out of the “387 enumerated planks and principles,” Newsweek’s Jerry Adler found the most “startling” section of the platform calls for “the reintroduction and ratification of the original 13th Amendment.”

Adopted in December 1865, the current 13th Amendment of the Constitution prohibits “slavery” and “involuntary servitude” in the United States or any place under its jurisdiction. The Iowa GOP is not trying to overturn this amendment to reinstate slavery. Instead, it wants to reintroduce the “original 13th Amendment” first offered by senator Phillip Reed of Maryland in 1810. The amendment states that “if any citizen of the United States shall accept, claim, receive or retain any title of nobility or honor” from a “foreign power, such person shall cease to be a citizen” and “shall be incapable of holding any office of trust.” In receiving only 12 out of the 13 votes needed for ratification, the amendment was never adopted.

Adopting the never adopted portion of the 13th. By 1993 alone over 314 Nobel prizes have been awarded to U.S. citizens for every category including chemistry, physics, peace, economics and literature. Under the Right-wing Thirteenthers’ plan all would lose their citizenship.  Since that would dovetail with the general contempt modern conservatives have for the arts and sciences, the attitude is not much of a surprise.

The 16Amendment, ratified in 1913 ( despite any wacky conspiracy touted by right-winger Groover Norquist) allows for Congress to levy an income tax. Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) – among many right-wingers - thinks we should repeal the 16th. What makes Broun special is he belongs to a subset of the anti-tax crowd who believes the 16th was part of President Woodrow Wilson’s devious plot to turn the U.S. into a socialists dystopia. Federal taxes are used to make grants for medical research, the space program, police and nurse training and so long. It is not like the average American citizen does not get a return on their dollar. The internet started as a government – tax payer funded research program – involving DARPA and university professors. Internet advertising alone – not including the purchase of products over the net – produced $300 billion dollars in revenue and 3.1 million jobs for the U.S. economy in 2009.

Like the tenthers the seventeenthers passion for repealing the 17th Amendment tends to ebb and flow. They’re like children that really want a lolly poop one minute and don’t the next. The 17th increases the amount of democracy we have by allowing for the direct election of federal senators instead of having them appointed by state legislatures. How democracy is increased by taking away that right only the mental back-flips of the right-wing mind could rationalize. Besides taking away another democratic component to our government, repealing the 17th would be counter productive to what the extreme right thinks it will give them – more power, Department of Colossally Stupid Ideas: Repeal 17th Amendment

What I want to point out is how patently stupid repealing the 17th Amendment would be for Republicans and conservatives–and yes, tea partiers–based on a simple fact: Democrats have long dominated the control of state legislatures. And they currently enjoy a level of dominance unlike they’ve experienced since the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Around the fringes of the 17th repeal argument is the assertion that it would take a lot of the corrupting influence of special interests money out of the process. That money would just take a different route. Probably the best way to get money and special interests out of senate races is campaign finance reform and public financing – so no one, such as California’s conservative Carly Fiorina - cannot buy herself a senate seat. Republicans are consistently against taking that most corrupting element out of our election process.

Conservative pundit Laura Schlessinger and supporter Sarah Palin believe in free speech protection, but only for themselves. Any criticism of what they say – you exercising your rights – is a subversion of the Constitution. Its the mad house interpretation of the constitution. Sarah’s husband Todd – who used to belong to the treasonous Alaska Independence party believes in his and his wife’s free speech, but will tear down any expressions of speech that are critical of them. Palin is also a member of the Sharon Angle don’t need no constitution club, just need some of that old time Christian Sharia law – Sarah Palin Claims America is Based on the Bible Not the Constitution

The never-ending saga of Sarah Palin’s infringement upon our national discourse took a turn for the worse (as if that were possible) last night. Palin appeared on “The O’Rielly Factor”, during which she doubled down on her theocratic vision of America by claiming that the Founders intended for our laws to be based on the bible and the ten commandments.

“Strongly guarded as is the separation between religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history.” from James Madison’s essay titled “Monopolies”

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