Forget the Goddam Amendments

For a minute, anyway. Because they are afterthoughts. Compromises. Tweaks. In fact, that’s what the whole Constitution is, along with all the laws and legalisms it’s generated over the past two hundred plus years. All of it, from Article I to the latest piece of recondite jargon snaking its way through subcommittees, all of it is fine-tuning, filigree and fretwork.

You don’t need the First Amendment or McCain-Feingold or anything in between to condemn the Bush Administration. All you need is the introduction to the Constitution. It’s called the Preamble, where the Founding Fathers summed up their goals, their rationale, their hopes. And they did it in just over fifty words.

“We the people of the United States, in order to

  • form a more perfect union,
  • establish justice,
  • insure domestic tranquility,
  • provide for the common defense,
  • promote the general welfare, and
  • secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,

do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Six bullet-point clauses. You’d have thought the old guys had PowerPoint in mind. Stack that up against the news of the day

Denounce Waterboarding, Democrats Tell Nominee

…Democratic senators suggesting for the first time that they might oppose Mr. Mukasey if he did not make clear that he opposed waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques….

Court to Hear Exxon Valdez Case

The Supreme Court on Monday stepped into the battle over the $2.5 billion in punitive damages owed by Exxon Mobil Corp. for the Exxon Valdez oil spill… The justices would consider whether the company should have to pay any punitive damages at all.

Undiagnosed brain injury – the hidden legacy of Iraq

The US army says as many as 20% of its soldiers and marines have suffered “mild traumatic brain injury” (mTBI) from blows to the head or shockwaves caused by explosions. The condition, which can lead to memory loss, depression and anxiety….

Chalabi back in action in Iraq

Ahmad Chalabi, the controversial, ubiquitous Iraqi politician and one-time Bush administration favorite, has re-emerged as a central figure in the latest U.S. strategy for Iraq.

Security Upgrades at Several Nuclear Sites Are Lagging, Auditors Find

More than a year after Congress told the Energy Department to harden the nation’s nuclear bomb factories and laboratories against terrorist raids, at least 5 of the 11 sites are certain to miss their deadlines, some by many years.

So what we’re looking at is this.

  • An Attorney General who isn’t sure whether torture is illegal
  • A Supreme Court which may let Exxon-Mobil off the hook
  • One of every five combat veterans with long-term brain damage
  • An international sleaze getting the keys to Iraq
  • Iran notwithstanding, our own nukes are lying out in the open

And that’s only a few of today’s headlines, for Chrissake. We’re in shit up to our knees, and the people in charge tell us the answer is to buy more boots, so we hock our grandchildren’s patrimony to the money-grubbing rubber merchants.

What are we, crazy or stupid?

Go back and look at the Preamble again. Focus on a few of those key words. Words like justice, tranquility, welfare, liberty. Where did they go? How did they get lost between the Preamble and what we have today?

If you need some more clues, read a couple of the following pieces.

The Wiretap This Time (Studs Terkel)
Fearing Fear Itself (Paul Krugman)
Firm blamed for Baghdad embassy flaws gains new jobs
U.S. Guns Behind Cartel Killings in Mexico

And just to be on the safe side, let me emphasize. I do not suggest we destroy, ignore, invalidate, or otherwise compromise the Constitution. All I suggest is that, for a couple minutes, we not get bogged down in minutiae, that we look back, and down, and up, at the basics. The framework. The essential ideas and ideals which hold the entire structure together.

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2 thoughts on “Forget the Goddam Amendments

  1. AGAIN, YOU ARE SO LUCID, INSIGHTFUL AND FULL OF WRATH FOR OUR SCREWED UP COUNTRY. THE LAST LINE IS SO TELLING. YOU ARE A PERSON WHO CLEARLY KNOWS RIGHT FROM WRONG AND YET YOU ARE WILLING TO LOVE THE SINNER WHILE HATING THE SIN.

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