Why do we skip the Preamble?

There always seems to be those, generally on the ultraconservative side, who rant about strict construction of the U.S. Constitution, and they speak about what the Founders intended. For all this, they seem to overlook the very part of the document that as clearly as anything possible outlines their intent … the preamble. In case you don’t remember it, it reads as follows:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, 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.

Please note, it is not one of these things. They are not listed in order or ranked by priority. The Founders intended to create a document that does all of these things. They even provided us a mechanism for amending the document should it no longer represent those ideals. Seems to me, there was a clear recognition on their part that the document was imperfect or would become imperfect.

So, please stop referring to original intent. The Founders were not a unified whole. They compromised for the betterment of all, not just themselves. In fact, I am sure a few of them bent on very uncomfortable premises … like slavery. If we don’t learn this lesson, the domestic transquility and blessings of liberty are likely to disappear.

Why do we skip the Preamble?

There always seems to be those, generally on the ultraconservative side, who rant about strict construction of the U.S. Constitution, and they speak about what the Founders intended. For all this, they seem to overlook the very part of the document that as clearly as anything possible outlines their intent … the preamble. In case you don’t remember it, it reads as follows:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, 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.

Please note, it is not one of these things. They are not listed in order or ranked by priority. The Founders intended to create a document that does all of these things. They even provided us a mechanism for amending the document should it no longer represent those ideals. Seems to me, there was a clear recognition on their part that the document was imperfect or would become imperfect.

So, please stop referring to original intent. The Founders were not a unified whole. They compromised for the betterment of all, not just themselves. In fact, I am sure a few of them bent on very uncomfortable premises … like slavery. If we don’t learn this lesson, the domestic transquility and blessings of liberty are likely to disappear.

Why do we skip the Preamble?

There always seems to be those, generally on the ultraconservative side, who rant about strict construction of the U.S. Constitution, and they speak about what the Founders intended. For all this, they seem to overlook the very part of the document that as clearly as anything possible outlines their intent … the preamble. In case you don’t remember it, it reads as follows:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, 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.

Please note, it is not one of these things. They are not listed in order or ranked by priority. The Founders intended to create a document that does all of these things. They even provided us a mechanism for amending the document should it no longer represent those ideals. Seems to me, there was a clear recognition on their part that the document was imperfect or would become imperfect.

So, please stop referring to original intent. The Founders were not a unified whole. They compromised for the betterment of all, not just themselves. In fact, I am sure a few of them bent on very uncomfortable premises … like slavery. If we don’t learn this lesson, the domestic transquility and blessings of liberty are likely to disappear.

Observed Stupidity – Religious Freedom

We are not a Christian nation. There is no mention of God, let alone Jesus Christ, in the United States Constitution. There is no mention of either in the Bill of Rights. In fact, even in the Declaration of Independence, there are only references to “…of nature’s God…” and “…their Creator…”. These are less than stellar endorsements of religion, let alone Christianity. Were there Founders who were Christians? YES! Most assuredly. Were there also a number of leading Founders who were Deists, as opposed to strict Christians? YES! Most definitely!

So, it should come as no surprise that we, as a Nation, regularly restrict the religious rights of a group to uphold the rights of the whole. The Bible regularly supports slavery. In fact, it is seen as God’s punishment for wickedness. Yet, God’s punishment be damned. We no longer allow it in this country. God will just have to figure out another way to punish people in the U.S.. We also do not allow stoning as a means of public execution, even though it is mentioned throughout the Bible. We do not stone girls who are not virgins on their wedding nights. We do not stone adulterers. We do not put to death those who eat pork or shrimp. I could go on and on, but I think I have made my point.

So, now we have this stupidity. There is a bakery in Colorado that refuses to produce a wedding cake for a Gay couple. Folks, despite allegations by the shop owner, this is, in my opinion, discrimination pure and simple. Would we even be discussing this if the shop owner had refused to bake a wedding cake for an African-American couple? Asian couple? Mixed race couple? Seriously! Sure, this might have been common practice before the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. In fact, prior to this act many of these discriminators would have cloaked themselves in religious terms. But, we no longer support such things. They are an anathema to our identity as a country, and our ability to move forward united together as one people.

The First Amendment to the Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” Those of a religious mind are quick to point out the, “prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” part. Yet, this is always tempered by the fact that we live in a civil society that has a multitude of religions. All religions give up some freedoms for the rights and privileges of this country. Heck, I do not like “In God We Trust” on our money or “Under God” in our pledge of allegiance or “So Help Me God” in oaths during court trials, but I accept them at part of living in a civilization. But do not think that I haven’t or don’t sacrifice as much as you do. For in my non-religion, I, and others like me, are persecuted far more than Christians, Jews, Muslims, or others continue to face in these times. How is that for drawing lines?

Observed Stupidity – Safety vs Freedom

You cannot be truly sad and happy. They are opposite things. If you feel a blend, you are never truly one or the other. You are simply in a state that doesn’t have a convenient word to use … perhaps you are melancholy or blasé.

The same is true when it comes to safe and free. When they are used in the context of government, civilization, and social living, they are polar opposites within those contexts. If you are completely free to live your life, you could, within that context, murder someone. Yet, if you live in a society, you are most likely going to be punished for such behavior. Except if you are a dictator, and then you get to make the rules to suit yourself. As a dictator, you are then gaining freedom from enslaving others (taking away their freedom). It is this balance of personal vs. shared freedoms.

In the same regards, if you want to be safe, you give up some freedom for this. We keep children safe by restricting their freedom. We keep pets safe by restricting their range of movement. We keep society safe by imposing restrictions on the freedoms of members of that society.

In fact, one of the stupidest quotes of all time is this, “People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.” The quote is supposedly attributed to Benjamin Franklin. But, it isn’t Franklin’s quote at all. Benjamin Franklin wrote, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” In essence, all those who quote the first errant quotation are giving up their intellectual freedom by safely parroting an ignorant usage of Franklin’s quote.

There are two things of note in Franklin’s quote, “essential liberty” and “temporary safety“. Franklin distinguishes “essential liberty“. These ideas are ensconced in such documents as the Bill of Right. In fact, Benjamin Franklin is truly a founding father in that he is a signatory to the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Paris, the Treaty of Alliance with France, and the United States Constitution. I believe that Franklin would consider essential freedoms to be items like the right of free speech, the right of assembly, the rule of law, and others. Franklin also talks of “temporary safety“. Note, the very act of creating the United States Constitution took liberties from some, and gave them to others. What freedoms and from whom? Well, slavery was written into our constitution. I think we can all agree that slaves would not have elected this. It was forced on them. Women were not allowed to vote or hold public office. Age limits and citizenship tests were added to National offices. Yet, Franklin certainly held no aversion to this.

So, why is all of this relevant? In the news on this day is the revelation of the NSA’s collection of phone call records from the major Phone Companies. Why did this happen? Why are more things like this being revealed? Why? Easy! Because we asked for it! Collectively, the outcry over the events of September 11th, 2001 were so ghastly that we, as a country, cried for our government to protect us. We demanded it. And, we were not willing to look too closely to how this was accomplished. This is the current uproar. And yet, it is hiding the more essential story.

The “essential liberty” that, I believe, would bother Franklin in its loss is the intrusion into the Associated Press phone records. The Press is written into our Constitution’s Bill of Rights. It is the ONE business that is mentioned as essential to the liberty of our country. In fact, the wide collection of phone call records by the NSA was reported by The Press. It is The Press’s duty and responsibility to expose the government when it acts wrong.

So, am I upset over the government obtaining phone call records? Not really. But, I am not naive. I recognize that I am giving up freedom for safety. It is the unfortunate reality of the world in which we live. But, am I willing to give up The Press’s freedoms? HELL NO! The freedom of the press is the only means by which I can protect my own freedoms. It is the only way in which I can be informed enough to make intelligent decisions. It should tell you a lot that the most violated freedom in dictatorial states is the freedom of the press. Government’s acting against the interests of their people and in bad faith cannot stand the bright light shown by a free press. That is a line that I am not willing to cross.

Observed Stupidity – Political Accusations

Accusations are an essential part of our public welfare for both criminal and civil matters. Citizens, even residents and visitors, are expected to report possible violations of law when they are observed. They are expected to testify honestly to what they observed in criminal or civil trials. Our system of public safety and public civility is tied to these. Accusations begin the process, and can lead to the guilty losing freedoms, property, wealth, or all of these. However, as is demonstrated time and time again, accusations can be used by politicians for the most vile of excuses.

While I could pick multiple examples, here are two that are currently in the news as of today. They will suffice for our examples.

What is heinous about these claims? Aren’t they just important accusations that deserve to be investigated? NOPE! Not even close. They are blatant insinuations meant to smear the names, parties, organizations, and other affiliations of those so accused. Trust me, I am no friend of Grover Norquist. It bothers me to my core that I am having to defend someone like him. Yet, I would not be consistent if I didn’t. While I cannot guarantee that I won’t be inconsistent, I try hard not to be. I am made that President Obama is being tied up in the IRS scandal. In the same way, I am irate that a sitting Representative of the United States House of Representatives would stoop to such reprehensible levels. This is politics at its dirtiest and nastiest. I can only hope that the people who elected Rep. Darrell Issa (in California) will see fit not to re-elect him when the next election comes around. As for Cathie Adams, she is not an elected official, and there is little than can be done. Our only weapon is to raise notice of the stupidity of her accusations, and let public opinion, and the ensuing ridicule that hopefully follows, take care of her for us.

Power Can Corrupt

Recently, there has been a spate of articles in the news, each article seems to have a different public opinion on it. I would like to address those articles.

  1. Articles on the systemic problem of sexual assault in the U.S. military.
  2. Articles on the ex-Rutgers Coach Mike Rice abusing players.
  3. Articles on the comments from Ohio State University President Gorden Gee.
  4. Articles on the ex-Rutgers Assistant Coach who reported Mike Rice.
  5. Articles on Brittney Griner and Baylor Coach Kim Mulkey wanting to conceal Griner’s Sexual Orientation.
  6. Articles on the on-going scandals plaguing religious leaders from Catholic Priests to Evangelical Ministers.

These are just a quick sampling of issues. I literally could have picked over a dozen more, ranging from politics to business and everything in between. It seems that no portion of our society is free of this. But, free of what?

In some cases, these articles are about sexual assault or rape. In other cases, they are about humiliation and abuse. In others, they are about bullying. How could these possibly be related?

Simple! They are all about abusing one’s power over another to force them to do something the abuser wanted done. It could be sexual favors. It could be forcing them to submit to your will. In the end, it is all the same. What is surprising is the reaction!

Assistance coaches are accused of not being men by going around the system. Military leaders are afraid to take positions that will cause “waves”. People question why others didn’t “get involved” when the evidence is that getting involved is risky. And, lest we overlook it, reputations and lives can be destroyed simply by accusations, even if those accusations are not substantiated.

In the end, you have to be willing to live with the consequences. When you are involved, even peripherally, in one of these incidents, you are going to face consequences. You have to decide whether or not you wish to be in some control of an uncontrollable situation. You have to understand that the situation can, and in most cases probably will, go out of control. So, you decide whether you want to be the person who exposes it, and starts the incident rolling. Or, whether you will roll with it when it is exposed.

And, I do confidently say WHEN. The nature of the world today, at least in the U.S., is that these things will be exposed. It may be a long way in the future, but you will almost certainly answer for it.

Don’t think so? Read about the firing of any professional head coach in any major U.S. sport. When that happens, the assistant coaches are almost universally replaced. In other words, they are guilty by association. Their lives are destroyed or disrupted.

It is why I absolutely admire the U.S. Navy. A U.S. Navy Captain is responsible for their vessel. If something happens aboard their ship, they are supposed to know about it, and correct it before it becomes a bigger problem. If the vessel rams another vessel or object, the Captain is to blame. Is that the right answer? I think so. The Captain has the power, and the right to exercise that power. I wonder how many situations would be resolved much more quickly if the rest of our lives followed the U.S. Navy pattern? However, it seems that in most circumstances, power actually insulates someone from any blame at all. That is WRONG!