Saturday, January 14, 2006

What We're Not At

Below is a critical excerpt. I like to keep the whole thing bookmarked here. I have a paperback copy that I keep handy, and I've also downloaded it to my PDA.

You never know when it might be useful.

"Section 8 - Powers of Congress

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof."


So simple, really. I marvel at the clarity and essence of the language finalized by those that conjured this document.

That's one of the reasons why I decided to post it today. Also, it's not the most popular section of the Constitution. It certainly gets less face-time than the Bill of Rights, which is of course the "prom queen" of the Constitution. So let us feature it today.

I must also comment that I see absolutely no biblical heritage evident in the words of Section 8. Often ones hears members of the political religious right (who I suspect are for more fundamentally right-wing than they are truly religious) claim that our laws are somehow all basically derived from Judeo-Christian precepts. I see nothing of that in Section 8. If you do, please tell me. No snark intended; I honestly just don't see it.

But my foremost reason for posting Section 8 is this: We are not at war. Congress may have authorized Bush to use military force against Iraq, but it has made no declaration of war.

Yeah, I know. Picky, picky.

Would be so hard for Bush to go to the sheep herd that we refer to as the Republican-led Congress and persuade them to declare war against, oh, I dunno, maybe Iran, or Syria, the Kennedy cousins, or a bunch of 4th graders from Lake Worth Florida? They'd just do it.

But they haven't.

So the next time one of your winger friends insists that we must trash all of our civil rights because "we're at war, you know," please politely remind them that such is not the case.

The 9/11 attacks did not change everything, despite frequent assertions otherwise. The Constitution remains the same. It is indeed an unfortunate sign of our present times that this reminder is constantly necessary.

1 comment:

lily said...

Agreed, but spit on it they do...