You can copy off mine

Item:

BAGHDAD (AP) — With a midnight deadline only hours away, Iraq's political leaders met Monday in search of a compromise over a new constitution. Some lawmakers said differences remained over the role of Islam and women's rights, but others reported progress. …

The initial Aug. 15 deadline was pushed back a week after no agreement was reached. Iraqi officials have insisted they would meet this second deadline and present a final document to the National Assembly …

OK, first of all, Don't Panic. You've still got a few hours left. I've written term papers in less time. You folks can still get your constitution written by midnight.

And here's the good news: You're allowed to cheat. You don't even have to attribute or footnote or anything. Trust me, I'm an American and this is what we did. We cribbed off of the Iroquis nations for our first draft, the Articles of Confederation.

Admittedly, that draft wasn't a keeper, but it got us through an initial rough patch and gave us time to regroup and write the Constitution we're still using to this day — 216 years later.

This is a pretty good Constitution. Feel free to use it. The whole thing is online, so you can just copy and paste. Control-A, Control-C, Control-V and you're done.

Well, almost done. You might want to edit a little. We've done some editing ourselves over the years. Take a quick look at our amendments and think about just incorporating those right into the body of the text. The first 15 are especially good, but feel free to ignore the 18th (it didn't work out too well).

You'd be a lot better off not copying all that "three-fifths of a person" stuff, of course, that part was a really bad move. (Correcting that mistake was a bloody mess, and we've still got a lot of work to do.)

Oh, and you might want to find stronger language for the part that gives Congress the power, "To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water." That seems perfectly clear, but it turns out presidents don't like the idea very much and will find all kinds of ways to arrogate this power for themselves.

Overall, though, this document has served us well for a long time and I don't see why you should have to try to reinvent the wheel.

Especially since you've only got until midnight.

  • kipwatson

    I think they should reject the first draft. You guys (in America) had the right idea. You should never accept the first draft of almost anything, let alone something so important.

  • The Weasel King

    They’d probably be better off copying a *modern* constitution from an actual Democracy – one with a functional representative government and guaranteed rights, as opposed to simply things the government isn’t allowed to do.
    I’d suggest the Canadian one – just strike section 33 of the Charter, remove a few trivial references in the non-binding text that themselves violate Section 2(a), and you’re set with a modern set of laws in clear language, with no strangenesses of phrasing, poor grammar, or evidence that the writers were, at best, semiliterate.

  • Scott

    Oh, and you might want to find stronger language for the part that gives Congress the power, “To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water.” That seems perfectly clear, but it turns out presidents don’t like the idea very much and will find all kinds of ways to arrogate this power for themselves.
    Pointing out the “clear language” of the Constitution? What are you, some sort of literalist? Like I said before, either the literal text matters to both parties, or it matters to neither. It can’t be a “living document” when you want something but “clear text” when Bush does. We simply ‘retinterpreted’ the section you quote because times changed. The Founding Fathers could never have conceived the threat of WMD wielding terrorists – they expected wars to be obvious affairs of organized, uniformed armies, so we need Strong Presidential Leadership to keep us safe. That part of the Constitution, like the Commerce Clause, means what we collectively need it to mean.

  • Edward Liu

    The only problem with guaranteeing rights to individuals as opposed to restricting the rights of governments is that some schmuck out there down the line will exploit the former to say that “X right is not in the Constitution so therefore you don’t have it.” This is why the founders stuck in Amendment 9: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
    Not that this has stopped anybody from claiming a right is/is not granted by the Constitution, but it’s there for any fool to see. The problem is that fools have gotten foolish enough lately to invoke the Constitution regularly without showing any indication that they’ve actually read the damn thing.
    I also take strong issue with the idea that the US Constitution is not clearly written. There are points that are open to interpretation, but considering the amount of time spent on it and the minds involved, not to mention the issues they faced directly at the time, I can’t help but conclude that statements that are vague or open to interpretation are written in this manner deliberately, or have only become open to interpretation due to changes in the English language or word usage. The thing that strikes me the most about the US Constitution is that it starts off as marvelously readable and understandable, and only becomes duly thusly party-of-the-first-part-y and suchlike incomprehensible legalese in relatively recent times.
    I want to see the US teaching the lessons of the US Constitution dealing with the balance between central authority and state-level government to the Afghans. I think there’s a lot of commonality between the situation in Afghanistan and the early American colonies that would go a long way in explaining how to set up a functional democracy there. Of course, I’d like to see the US doing a LOT of things in Afghanistan, but that’s neither here nor there.
    While I’m here, I want to plug usconstitution.net, where you can spend a lot more time than you’d think reading the US Constitution and the nuances and changes over the years. Great site for a great document.

  • Karen

    There’s a whole museum dedicated to exploring the US Constitution. Three blocks from Independence Hall in Philadelphia. It’s a terrific museum. And the website is good, too, http://www.constitutioncenter.org. Lots of current discussions of constitutional issues.

  • jwhook

    Edward -
    I think you misunderstood Fred’s comment. He picked one of the clearest passages within the Constitution that the executive has chosen to ignore when it suited them, sometimes with and sometimes without the cooperation of the legislature.

  • Scott

    This is a pretty good Constitution. Feel free to use it. The whole thing is online, so you can just copy and paste. Control-A, Control-C, Control-V and you’re done.
    Actually, one of the big objections to Bush’s nation building exercise is that you can’t just transplant American institutions in the mideast.

  • The Weasel King

    > The only problem with guaranteeing rights to individuals as opposed to restricting the rights of
    > governments is that some schmuck out there down the line will exploit the former to say that “X right
    > is not in the Constitution so therefore you don’t have it.”
    26. The guarantee in this Charter of certain rights and freedoms shall not be construed as denying the existence of any other rights or freedoms that exist in Canada.
    > I also take strong issue with the idea that the US Constitution is not clearly written.
    There are terms that are not clearly defined, particularly in the Bill Of Rights – Take Amendment 1, what does “respecting the establishment of Religion” mean, exactly? As well, take a look at the sheer number of redundant commas in this document, making otherwise perfectly clear statements like the Second Amendment into jarring, choppy, fragmented things.
    I find the US Constitution phenomenally frustrating to read, because there are so many things that are just, apparently, poorly expressed, inside a document that was, for it’s time, entirely revolutionary.
    Pun intended.

  • Edward Liu

    Hey, I was squabbling with the Weasel King, not with Fred. I agree with Fred’s point.
    The existence of the clause as quoted in the Canadian Constitution doesn’t surprise me. I’m just not willing to accept that the US Constitution is a document that simply enumerates what the government is forbidden from doing. That just seems like an excessively narrow reading of what the document does.
    I have always read the “establishment of religion” clause as using “establishment” as a verb, not a noun. No to establishing an American state-sponsored religion, yes to passing laws that affect religions establishments. The fact that the following clause states up-front that Congress is similarly constrained from prohibiting the free exercise of religion tends to reinforce one definition of “establishment” over the other, since that’s the only one that doesn’t make the amendment a flat-out contradiction.
    I’m also not entirely positive that too many commas is something I’m going to take them to task over, especially since I have a tendency to overuse them myself. Perhaps their semi-colon keys were broken =8^).

  • Beth

    Actually, the biggest flaw in Bush’s nation building is that you can’t impose democracy on anyone. It’s comforting to think that constitutional democracy is so obviously the best form of government that any group of people, given the opportunity, will jump at the chance to create one. Unfortunately, fairy tales aren’t a good basis for government policy. It’s not obvious, unless you’ve grown up with the idea, that a government’s authority properly rests not on force of arms or the approval of God, but on the consent of the governed. Even if people accept that in theory, they’re going to resist putting into practice unless they’re confident that they’re opponents will abide by it as well. There’s not much point in respecting the will of the people when it goes against you if it won’t be respected when it favors you, and unless the citizenry has embraced not only the concept of voting, but the concept of individual rights that even the government must bow to, what you end up with is not democracy, but a tyranny of the majority.
    And what happens when, as the Hebrews once did, the majority “votes” to abolish the rule of law in favor of the rule of kings? On that occasion, God himself bowed to the popular will and gave the people the king that they demanded. If God himself wouldn’t force “constitutionality” on a people, what makes Bush think he has the right?
    Of course all of this is academic at this point. Facts on the ground have moved us far beyond the possibility of non-intervention. The occupation forces are the only real “government” Iraq has. Our only options now are to leave Iraq to chaos — and I’m pretty sure that our economic, political, and military interests in the area make that a non-starter — or create some sort of stable government to take our place. Trouble is, a democracy is only as stable as the people’s commitment to it, and I don’t see that widespread commitment in the Iraq of today. Even before the invasion, I thought the best outcome we could hope for for the Iraqis was a government at least marginally better than the one we were overthrowing. The longer the current situation drags on with its lawlessness, factionalism, and ever more powerful “militant” groups, the more even that modest hope is starting to look like a fairy tale.

  • bulbul

    Scott: I wish everyone would stop using the term “Middle East”, besides from describing geographical location that word does not mean anything…
    Syria with its relatively homogenous population would be a perfect candidate for a constitution transplant. So would Libya, so would Jordan, so would Saudi Arabia, so would Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, SAE – if, you know, things were a little different politicaly. Iraq is a different story altogether where you must consider all the ethnic and religious differences. As a principle, the US constitution and it’s institutions are probably the best solution ever (in your face, European Convent!). But for more practical reasons the example of Lebanon (“al-miithaaq al-watani”) should be considered and followed.

  • Luthe

    Take Amendment 1, what does “respecting the establishment of Religion” mean, exactly?
    The establishment of religion was the colonial practice of using taxes to support one church or another. It was preferential treatment of a church by the state, at the expense of other churches in the state, as well as the taxpayers who attended other churches. Disestablishmentarinism was the movement to end this practice, and it wound up in the Constitution. Antidisestablishmentarinism was the counter-movement to keep state support of churches.
    So, in short, the first amendment’s prohibition of the establishment of religion means that the fundies can’t declare Protestanism the national religion, no matter how much they want to.

  • Scott

    Scott: I wish everyone would stop using the term “Middle East”, besides from describing geographical location that word does not mean anything…
    Yet every example you gave is an Arab state…
    The Arab states, Iran, and maybe Turkey – most people’s informal defn of the “Middle East”, and more probably like each other than any are like, say, Finland or Japan.

  • Michael “Vendor X” Heaney

    The truth of the matter is that the constitution, most specifically The Bill of Rights, which seems to be what’s being discussed here, is both quite easy to read literally, quite easy to understand and quite relevant even in the modern day.
    If you read the supporting texts which went into the drafting of our constitution, most obvious and recommended being the Federalist Papers, then you quickly discover that the founding fathers of the U.S., far from being the people incapable of interpreting how the world might change in the future, as Scott suggests, were in fact visionaries of such a rare and extreme caliber compared to modern politicians that to have so many strong minds working so successfully towards such a goal seems, by current perspective, to all but prove the influencing hand of some entirely alien or supernatural entity.
    Once you have read what, say, Hamilton or Jefferson or Jay, had to say regards religion or the first amendment, then there is no longer any room for interpretation. They state clearly in the federalist papers (in my opinion, they state clearly in the first amendment, but in case you don’t agree, you have supporting text to clear it all up for you) that the goal was to prevent government establishing or promoting any given religion over another. The only point of debate that occurred involved the difference between states’ rights and federal power. Some only wanted this rule to apply purely to the federal government, with states still allowed to sponsor horrid little theocracies if they wanted, while other (in my opinion wiser) minds decided that religion should be an entity not supported or promoted by the nation at any level. The “what does establishment mean” pseudo interpretation is used by only three people, those who don’t want to research their foundations, those looking for an excuse to ignore what they know good and well the first amendment means, and those who learned the wrong lessons from Bill Clinton.
    As to the continued relevance of the Bill of Rights, the entirety of this bill is and has always been an attempt to promote laws and lifestyles which work towards the stated goals of the United States of America, namely the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness for the individual citizen, and given that virtually all of these notions we’ve kept involve what constitutes free behavior and what would intrude upon that, those suggesting that the constitution no longer applies now that we have bigger weapons and the threat of terrorism (as if that’s new) are really saying that they no longer fully support the original goal the constitution supported.
    And as to what ‘living document’ means, SCOTT, the meaning is that it can be changed legally, with things being added to it. It does not mean it can be randomly interpreted or ignored like some esoteric religious novel. The difference between it being ‘living’ (upgradable via legal means) and Bush simply ignoring it where convenient for him becomes clear, seen in this light.

  • B-W

    Scott: I wish everyone would stop using the term “Middle East”, besides from describing geographical location that word does not mean anything…
    Yet every example you gave is an Arab state…
    The Arab states, Iran, and maybe Turkey – most people’s informal defn of the “Middle East”, and more probably like each other than any are like, say, Finland or Japan.
    While these Arabs may be more like each other than like Fins or Japanese, surely you don’t mean to suggest that they aren’t distinct people groups?
    Any cursory glance at the Sunnis and Shiites (both Arab groups) and their differences in Iraq would argue otherwise.

  • Scott

    Any cursory glance at the Sunnis and Shiites (both Arab groups) and their differences in Iraq would argue otherwise.
    Finns aren’t Spaniards and Italians aren’t Scottish, yet we can still talk about Europe as more than just geography. Talking about a part of the Earth as a region doesn’t mean every country there is totally like every other.
    And as to what ‘living document’ means, SCOTT, the meaning is that it can be changed legally, with things being added to it. It does not mean it can be randomly interpreted or ignored like some esoteric religious novel. The difference between it being ‘living’ (upgradable via legal means) and Bush simply ignoring it where convenient for him becomes clear, seen in this light.
    Actually, this didn’t start with Bush. The last official Declaration of War was on June 5, 1942. Everyone ignores the text of the Constitution when it suits their purposes, not just Bush. “Legal means” just means reinterpreted by someone the speaker approves of.

  • Michael “Vendor X” Heaney

    Actually, this didn’t start with Bush. The last official Declaration of War was on June 5, 1942. Everyone ignores the text of the Constitution when it suits their purposes, not just Bush. “Legal means” just means reinterpreted by someone the speaker approves of.
    I never claimed that it did start with Bush. I merely ran with the example you provided. “It can’t be a “living document” when you want something but “clear text” when Bush does.” You can’t begin with an example and then take exception when someone else continues to use it. That’s almost as bad, style-wise, as blindly assigning a negative motive to all people who perform a general action. “Everyone ignores the text of the Constitution when it suits their purposes, not just Bush. “Legal means” just means reinterpreted by someone the speaker approves of.”
    Not everyone ignores the constitution when it suits them, and not everyone ignores those who do choose to ignore the constitution just because they share some political affiliation, Scott.

  • Scott

    “It can’t be a “living document” when you want something but “clear text” when Bush does.”
    That was in response to earlier arguments (in other threads) that the Constitution is a “living document”, and the assertion here that the clear text should be read literally because Bush violated it (Clinton violating the same section in Serbia/Kosovo is left unaddressed here for some reason).
    Not everyone ignores the constitution when it suits them
    Both parties do, and both general ideologies (liberal and conservative) do, despite the fact that I can’t make that assertion about all 280 million American citizens. The Constitution clearly stops one’s political opponents, but can be ‘reinterpreted’ by the speaker’s allies based on ‘need’. That, and that alone, is modern constitutional theory.

  • Michael “Vendor X” Heaney

    As I see it (with precedent and reason, I think supporting this outlook) people are reading the constitution literally because that’s how it’s meant to be interpreted, and Bush’s violation only serves as a convenient juxtaposition by which to display correct behavior.
    As for your interpretation of what, and what ALONE, constitutes modern constitutional theory, I’m simply glad, if that really is the only form that current constitutional theory actually takes, that I am now here to provide a sparking new outlook, a more rational way to use the constitution to benefit everyone! (Namely ascribing to its laws objectively and consistently in order to procure the benefits that having such laws provides, and taking to task those who choose to try and use it otherwise.) Clearly, this new idea is needed, since prior to this, should your claim be correct, the only notion anyone had recently considered was arbitrary reinterpretation of the text.

  • Scott

    As I see it (with precedent and reason, I think supporting this outlook) people are reading the constitution literally because that’s how it’s meant to be interpreted
    Good luck selling that here when it tells someone other than George W. Bush ‘no’.

  • Michael “Vendor X” Heaney

    I really don’t want to be too wordy, or dominate this comment thread, but I feel compelled to point out that Scott’s interpretation of constitution ‘theory’ is clearly incorrect, in that the theoretical notion behind a constitution is, in fact, the exact opposite of an ‘every man for himself” philosophy. A constitution, by nature, sets an objective ground which supposedly defines the rights of those mentioned in the constitution in a way that leaves them, theoretically, untouchable by the momentary whims of either the law or the majority. How often this succeeds in practice is open to debate, but practice and theory are clearly not the same thing, and ‘objective marker’ and ‘reinterpretation based on personal desire’ are likewise not the same things.

  • Robert A. Rodger

    I have to agree, with someone, that the American Constitution, while a fine and wonderful document that I support, is probably not the best fit for Iraq. In fact, I suspect that it, and the republic that it created could only succeed in the place that it did. I would have to know a lot more about Iraqi history to even guess what form of democratic system would be suitable though.

  • jp!

    Uh, have you seen where Pat Robertson called for the Pres. of Venezuela to be killed? the video is downright disturbing.
    http://pollan.blogspot.com/2005/08/grand-mullah-pat-robertson-just-called.html

  • Scott

    I really don’t want to be too wordy, or dominate this comment thread, but I feel compelled to point out that Scott’s interpretation of constitution ‘theory’ is clearly incorrect, in that the theoretical notion behind a constitution is, in fact, the exact opposite of an ‘every man for himself” philosophy.
    I’m not saying “every man for himself” – I’m saying that every social program is based on a re-reading of the Commerce Clause every bit as aggressive as reinterpreting the part about who gets to declare war. The belief isn’t that everyone gets to interpret it their own way – the (worse, IMHO) belief is that anything that stands in the speaker’s way can be reinterpreted and shoved down the throat of 49% of the people who showed up on the previous election day.
    Fred cannot read the part that gives Congress the power, “To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water.” literally, then compare people who read other parts of the Constitution just as literally to the Rapture-ists he mocks in other threads. If anything that tells a liberal ‘no’ can be reinterpreted into a ‘yes’, then anything that tells a conservative ‘no’ can be retinterpreted into a ‘yes’. The Constitution does not say “progressives always can get what they want”.

  • pharoute

    Considering what I have heard of the constitution that the Shiites and Kurds seem to be leaning towards the 18th Amendment will have a fine home. Nothing quite so fun as legislating morality.

  • Mabus

    Say, Weasel King, what exactly are guaranteed rights that makes them more than things the government isn’t allowed to do? I’ve been taking a look at your Constitution, and I’m not entirely clear on what you mean the difference is.

  • Kip Watson

    Reminds me of the joke I read (by an American, ie. it refers to the US Constitution):
    ‘You can use ours, after all we’re not using it anymore.’

  • Lurker

    Ok. Dialogue with Scott is a tedious and unrewarding exercise, so lets just get the usual conversation out of the way.
    person1: [some perspective]
    Scott: blah, blah, blah, inane liberal [insert topic here] is bad, blah, blah, Randian individualism crushed by liberal hate for rights… blah blah blah blah.
    person2:[example of massive conservative malfeasance]
    Scott: (Ok, conservatives do it too sometimes) but liberals blah, blah, blah, stalinistic, blah blah.
    person1: [another point, and riff on Scott]
    Scott:So why didn’t you object when [insert vaguely liberal person from a while back] did blah blah blah? Clearly you don’t really care, whereas I make minor quibbles with current policy done by conservatives while loudly declaring contempt for the same policy when done by liberals.
    Conversation then devolves into talking past one another and namecalling from both sides.

  • Mabus

    What strikes me as odd is that Scott’s current opponent appears to be just as conservative as he is. They’re talking past each other, with Scott describing things as they are (in his opinion) and Vendor X describing things as he thinks they should be.

  • Kip Watson

    I seriously do hope the Iraqis will take their time and not be rushed by what seem to be entirely artificial and arbitrary timetables.
    There’s a sobering lesson the Japanese experience. It was crucial flaws in the Meiji Constitution (that was regarded as enlightened in its time), that led directly to the rise of the Militarists in the 1920s and 30s.

  • Michael “Vendor X” Heaney

    Alright, before anyone gets freaked out that this is going to turn into a flame war, don’t worry. I’m new here, so I feel the need to defend myself once against what seems to me like baseless slander. Subsequent to this post, I will simply be ignoring anyone who feels the need to ‘assess character’ (ad hom) or ignore what others are writing.
    Mabus, you describe me as appearing, in quick succession, conservative, to be talking ‘past scott’, and merely describing things as I wish they were, and yet I can’t imagine how any English speaking person, reading what I’ve written, could reach such conclusions. I’ll list every claim I’ve made so far. Certainly, none of these claims hits even close to the mark. To demonstrate, I will list out the claims I’ve made in summary so that you can assess them intelligently.
    Claim One : That the Bill of Rights is easy to read and understand, and can be read literally. This idea is neither conservative nor liberal, and was a general address to various comments made by several people through the course of the thread. It isn’t based on some fantasy world of mine, but instead it’s based on the fact that words can be used to transfer clear and concrete ideas, and in this case, I think they are.
    Claim Two : The founding fathers of the U.S. (those who drafted our constitution and laws, say) were actually very learned and astute men. Once again, there is no liberal or conservative bias to this statement, and it is based on the things these people wrote and the things they did. This was more a general statement. It isn’t ‘talking past’ because it was merely a claim I wanted to address in general. Given their level of fame and success, as well as the longevity of their ideas, I think it’s pretty demonstrable that, on some level, my claim here is accurate, and not merely something from a world that ‘should be’.
    Claim Three : That the first amendment is actually not really open to interpretation, that if someone reads it honestly, and perhaps reads some or all of the supporting text explaining how and why it was created, that a single, demonstrably ‘correct’ interpretation arises, namely that those who supported the amendment and voted it into usage were trying to avoid allowing religious ideas to be endorsed/forced through the power of at least the federal government. I consider this notion, once again, objective and obvious, but if it had a conventional political/social leaning in the modern world, it would clearly be liberal. This comment was in response to statements made by the Weasel King. This is not ‘talking past’, it is ‘responding to.’ Whether or not the claim true is open to debate, but I think that’s as far as it goes. To claim that this is merely some daydream of mine, I think, would require some pretty astute debate, as yet unprovided.
    Claim Four : The Bill of Rights remains relevant in the modern day. Once again, such a statement has no real ‘liberal/conservative’ leaning, rather it’s merely an honest assessment based on the fact that it was written to address general social concerns which have not changed, as well as the fact that we still use and invoke it.
    In that we DO still use and invoke the Bill of Rights today, this claim has some demonstrable basis in reality and clearly is not merely something I wish were true.
    This was also in response to various claims made by both Scott and Weasel. Responding to, not talking past.
    Claim Five : That the term ‘living document’ refers to the Constitution’s legally malleable nature, not the idea that people can reinterpret it at whim. This is merely a clarification of a term, as I understand it. There is, yet again, no liberal or conservative aspect to the statement. This is naturally in response to Scott’s earlier statement regarding this same phrase, although at the time I was unaware that Scott might be specifically referring to conversations that had taken place on previous threads. Still, that is clearly responding to, not talking past. Though it may be hard to prove subjectively, I can assure you that this is the manner in which I have always heard this phrase used, in real life. It is not merely some idea I wish were true.
    Claim Six : That I never claimed that Bush started the trend of leaders ignoring inconvenient aspects of the Constitution. This is simply, objectively, true. I have never made such a claim, either in this forum or elsewhere. Nothing conservative or liberal about it. Since I post the statement by Scott which I am responding to, as well as the reason I feel a response is necessary, this is most obviously not ‘talking past’. This is also clearly the way things are, not the way I want them to be.
    Claim Seven : Not everyone misuses or reinterprets the constitution for their own immediate political ends. I, personally, don’t believe that ‘everyone’ does ‘anything’, which is to say that there is no trend of social behavior, good or bad, that all humans follow. Right or wrong, this idea is far more liberal than conservative if you have to make a choice. Once again, I post the statement Scott made which I am responding to directly.
    Look, I could go on like this, but I think I’m getting my point across. Mabus, you should generally try and avoid talking ‘about’ other people instead of their arguments, as a rule. However, in the future if you feel some strong need to do so (as in, if you actually feel you can serve some constructive purpose by doing so,) then please take the time to actually read something that person has posted, instead of just making crap up off the top of your head.

  • Scott

    Dialogue with Scott is a tedious and unrewarding exercise, so lets just get the usual conversation out of the way
    I realize things would go so much more smoothly if I’d just accept the Moral Superority of Evangelical Liberals (i.e. greed and envy are Republican failings instead of human ones, the text of the Constitution stops the GOP but not the Dems, etc), but that ain’t gonna happen. Sorry.
    Want me to express contempt for Republicans? Fine, they’re all Bush-worshipping, slack-jawed, drooling vermin. Happy? My overriding point that liberals are just as bad as conservatives kinda implies that conservatives are bad.

  • R. Mildred

    Well someone who starts off with the false premise that the dems are liberal is gonna get name called scott, especially when you’re trying to what? enlighten us to the general malignancy of both political parties, because golly gosh, we’d never know otherwise.
    The constitution is both a living document and a static one, that’s why there’s the amendment system built into it, and due to the gentle (and not so gentle) passage of time, the ideas, concepts and ideals for society change with time, and it was is and always will be designed for the express purpose of achieving the best society that we can make, that’s why it’s a lving document when liberals say it is and isn’t when liberals say it isn’t, because the opponents of liberals are selfish, greedy, small minded, short sighted, malicious, racist, mysoginistic, homophobic, violently sociopathic weirdos, with a whole load of deluded fools behind them, and while some weirdos and deluded fools are liberals, the evilest thing that liberals have done within the last 50 years is have some slight ties to PETA.
    That’s why social programs that help people are implied in the constitution: because they’re for the common good, which is the entire point of the damn document in the first place.
    On a slightly more On Topic note: I would love to learn arabic just os I coudl read an arabic translation of the american or canadian constitution, I imagine it will be bad and rushed and lead to the creation of Arabicish, the arabic speaking world’s answer to Engrish.

  • Scott

    That’s why social programs that help people are implied in the constitution: because they’re for the common good, which is the entire point of the damn document in the first place.
    That’s why the Patriot Act is implied in the Constitution, because it’s for the common defense, which is the entire point of the damn document in the first place. Your game is just as open to Republicans as it is to Democrats.
    You also merely assert taking money from A and giving it to B is the ‘common’ good, and not just B’s good, which is nothing more than reading your political beliefs into the Constitution. You cannot base your interpretation of the Constitution on your personal opinion of the morality of the result.

  • Harv

    Can I take this in another direction? My problem with trying to instill democracy in Iraq is a simple one – you can’t instill democracy from the outside! I’m not necessarily opposed to helping the Iraqi people to get out from under an oppresive government, but do you think they really want a democracy? Does freedom = democracy for a people who didn’t ask for a democracy?
    Shouldn’t the form of government be a choice the people of Irag get to make? I just think that if you look at our own history, democractic government was an ideology we fought to establish and keep – at some great cost in lives, resources, and money. In short, it means something to us.
    Do people think that a US policy that pushes democratic government onto a sovereign nation, perhaps against the will of its people, is a smart move in the long term? Or will it fall apart and cause even greater instability when we leave?

  • grenadine

    “Shouldn’t the form of government be a choice the people of Iraq get to make?”
    Harv, you are an idealist. Of course it would give Iraq a better shot at stability if its people organized the new government according to their needs and beliefs. But that concept does not mesh with the current administration’s notion of Democracy Muscular. Bush and Friends simply can’t conceive that Iraq wouldn’t want to slavishly copy our own “city upon a hill” thang.

  • B-W

    …. that’s why it’s a lving document when liberals say it is and isn’t when liberals say it isn’t, because the opponents of liberals are selfish, greedy, small minded, short sighted, malicious, racist, mysoginistic, homophobic, violently sociopathic weirdos, with a whole load of deluded fools behind them, and while some weirdos and deluded fools are liberals, the evilest thing that liberals have done within the last 50 years is have some slight ties to PETA.
    This isn’t helping! If you have real points to make (as you do in the rest of this post), then by all means, make them. But if we resort to name-calling, we’re no better than those we accuse of such.

  • Michael “Vendor X” Heaney

    Grenadine, I think even your interpretation of the Bush administration’s underlying beliefs and motivations may be optimistic. I am personally of the opinion that installing a legit democracy in Iraq is not now nor has it ever been anything that Bush and friends are interested in. Certainly their actions as regards the press, populace and prisoners implies a leaning in directions other than ‘power to the people’. No, I believe that the word ‘democracy’ is being batted around because market tests show that most Americans respond positively to it, that’s about it.
    Harv, I agree that you can’t force a democracy, but I always thought it was self evident. After all, as democracy is the power of the citizenry to make their own choices, what happens if they elect to scrap the democracy?
    (Summary of statement, liberal leaning speculation added to new Harv/Grenadine conversation thread followed by general agreement with harv.)