Lefty blogger: The Constitution is confusing because, hey, it’s pretty old

posted at 3:55 pm on December 30, 2010 by Allahpundit

Via Eyeblast. The good news? This clip has become such a hit among righties on Twitter that Iowahawk was inspired to cook something up in honor of it. The bad news? I think Klein’s getting a bit of a bad rap. His formulation is idiotic — not all old texts are confusing, of course — but that’s probably just rhetorical clumsiness while live on the air. All he means, I take it, is that it’s often not clear how constitutional provisions should apply to modern circumstances not envisioned by the Founders. This is why there are 5-4 decisions all the time on the Supreme Court, and even splits within the Court’s conservative wing, on matters of huge constitutional import. (It pains me to remind you that Scalia concurred with the judgment of the majority in the Raich case.) Here’s Klein elaborating at his WaPo blog:

Let’s take an example: Most legislation doesn’t currently include a statement of constitutional authority. But there’s one recent measure that did: Section 1501 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. That is to say, the individual mandate.

“The individual responsibility requirement provided for in this section (in this subsection referred to as the requirement) is commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce,” reads the opening paragraph. Shortly thereafter, the legislation makes itself more explicit: “In United States v. South-Eastern Underwriters Association (322 U.S. 533 (1944)), the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that insurance is interstate commerce subject to Federal regulation.”…

My friends on the right don’t like to hear this, but the Constitution is not a clear document. Written more than 200 years ago, when America had 13 states and very different problems, it rarely speaks directly to the questions we ask it. The Second Amendment, for instance, says nothing about keeping a gun in the home if you’ve not signed up with a “well-regulated militia,” but interpreting the Second Amendment broadly has been important to those who want to bear arms. And so they’ve done it.

I made a variation of this point myself a few weeks ago when writing about the GOP’s insistence that all new bills contain a citation of constitutional authority. Klein thinks that’s a gimmick and nothing more; I think it’s a useful way to encourage the public to think about structural limits on government power, which is naturally why liberals don’t like it. But as a meaningful bar to congressional action, it’s worthless precisely because there’s usually some constitutional argument that can be made on behalf of any bill. Any good conservative lawyer could, if he/she had to, argue on behalf of the individual mandate; it’d be done through gritted teeth, with a facial expression suggesting constipation, but the argument itself is clear enough. Any good liberal lawyer could argue the opposite, with the same reaction. And needless to say, there are a lot of good conservative and liberal lawyers in Congress. My main problem with Klein’s argument is simply that he misidentifies the source of constitutional ambiguity: It’s not so much that the document is old, it’s that it’s remarkably terse. If we wrote a new Constitution today and limited ourselves to five pages, there’d still be a lot of headscratchers for the courts tomorrow, notwithstanding its newness.


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Comment pages: 1 2

hawksruleva on December 30, 2010 at 5:20 PM

You think they did not have tough issues to deal with? You are confusing US Constitution with policy, politics and law. You can violate the law. As a citizen you can’t violate the US Constitution. Because it is a framework.

My Friends (maverick gulp) – We need constitution debates here.

antisocial on December 30, 2010 at 5:41 PM

try looking at Art II Sec IV under “impeachment”

procedures are in Art I

audiculous on December 30, 2010 at 5:40 PM

Impeachment is not a criminal mader, Audi. Treason is. What is our statutory redress for constitutional violation? There is none. After all, if you’re impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors, the constitution still explicitly states that you can be tried for those crimes after being removed from office.

And by the by, although it doesn’t have a lot of bearing on your arguments, there is no federal impeachment provision for congressweasels. Those matters are left to the individual states as matters of recall — and I don’t think that’s ever happened outside of the normal election procedure.

gryphon202 on December 30, 2010 at 5:42 PM

My friends on the right don’t like to hear this, but the Constitution is not a clear document.

Buttsniffing Pansy Liberal blogger

You have no friends on the right, douche. You have friends on the left who sometimes pretend to be on the right for commercial purposes.

Jaibones on December 30, 2010 at 5:42 PM

Answer: You can’t because it’s a restraint on Government.

Chip

wrong answer.

(hint)and yours is one that might give aid and comfort to our enemies

audiculous on December 30, 2010 at 5:20 PM

I am referring to the fact that in most parts of the Constitution it makes references to the Government and not to private citizens.

As in

Congress shall make no law

Understand?

Chip on December 30, 2010 at 5:45 PM

A constitutional scholar is someone who knows more about the hundreds of court cases that have needlessly damaged the constitution than he or she knows about the constitution and its framers.
gryphon202 on December 30, 2010 at 5:34 PM

In law school, my Constitutional Law book was 1500 pages long. (The fell apart in no time; the next semester it became a two-volume set.)

The first day of class, the professor said: “The full text of the Constitution is in the preface. It is considered optional reading.”

logis on December 30, 2010 at 5:46 PM

The first day of class, the professor said: “The full text of the Constitution is in the preface. It is considered optional reading.”

logis on December 30, 2010 at 5:46 PM

That was your cue to beat his a$$ and take over the class.

darwin on December 30, 2010 at 5:50 PM

Yeah, the sun is pretty old too. So’s air. We still need them both, though.
Age alone is a meaningless indicator of how good or bad an idea or a law is. Murder, for instance, has been illegal since just about the beginning of time. So has stealing.
I bet this blogger doesn’t even know what the constitution says. I would have loved to have seen him be asked exactly what parts he thinks are outdated.

The rights acknowledged in our constitution are timeless rights.
A thousand years from now free speech will still be a sacred right. The style of homes may change but the right for people to be safe within their own home will still be a right. The design and appearance of hand held weapons will most certainly change. But the right of a free people to be able to use them to protect themselves from a tyrannical government will still be a precious and God given right. It won’t matter whether that government has expanded to a hundred stars, the right of it’s citizens to peaceably assemble and to petition their government will still be an important and God given right worth fighting for.

Will love ever grow old? Will justice one day become outdated? Will mercy, fairness and loving your neighbor become old fashioned and meaningless or too difficult to understand? Or for that matter, will the future be crime free? Will tyrants and dictators cease to exist? Will suffering and corruption come to an end? I don’t think so.
Besides, I’ve read the constitution many times. It’s pretty common sense when you read it. It was written so that the average farmer of 1776 would understand it so I am always amused at people in the 21st century who think it’s too difficult to comprehend.

You know, there was a reason man started to write their laws down on papers. It was so the people understood them. It was also so that the king’s understood them and everybody was on the same page, so that everybody knew what their liberties were and were not. And there was a reason this document called the constitution was written for the people and for the leaders of America. It was plain English. People understood it. That was the point of having it written down.

Today, we are so dumb and backwards we have convinced ourselves we could not possibly understand our rights. No, only people in black robes sitting in Ivory Towers can comprehend it. That was never how it was suppose to be, that is why these rights were written down on paper for all to see in the first place! The Magna Carta, The Mayflower Compact, all of these laws were agreements and written down so that everybody, both the common people and the Kings knew what their rights, laws and liberties were!

JellyToast on December 30, 2010 at 5:51 PM

I am referring to the fact that in most parts of the Constitution it makes references to the Government and not to private citizens.

Chip on December 30, 2010 at 5:45 PM

I’d go even farther, Chip. Where, outside of the Preamble or the bill of rights, is any reference made to “the people?”

There is an article for each branch of government outlining their duties and structure, there is a list of things that only the Federal government may do, and a specific list of means that the constitution may be amended by. Throughout it all, the only remotely statutory admonition concerns treason, and the fact that two discrete witnesses must be found to the same act for prosecution therein. Nowhere in the main body of the document are individuals even mentioned, presumably because it is the individual who has the greatest freedom under its strictures.

gryphon202 on December 30, 2010 at 5:52 PM

I’d go even farther, Chip. Where, outside of the Preamble or the bill of rights, is any reference made to “the people?”

There is an article for each branch of government outlining their duties and structure, there is a list of things that only the Federal government may do, and a specific list of means that the constitution may be amended by. Throughout it all, the only remotely statutory admonition concerns treason, and the fact that two discrete witnesses must be found to the same act for prosecution therein. Nowhere in the main body of the document are individuals even mentioned, presumably because it is the individual who has the greatest freedom under its strictures.

gryphon202 on December 30, 2010 at 5:52 PM

I couldn’t of said it any better.

Chip on December 30, 2010 at 5:56 PM

Most lefties are confused by the idea of rights for citizens. Most on the left think rights are granted by the Government and can be removed by the government. The idea of God given rights confuses them. A document based upon that idea must be old and obsolete. The U.S. Constitution is written so anyone can understand it. That is another thing these want to be communists do not understand. They want to interpret what laws say.

Zelsdorf Ragshaft on December 30, 2010 at 6:03 PM

Zelsdorf Ragshaft on December 30, 2010 at 6:03 PM

The consitution does not need interpretation, nor should it be interpreted. The constitution needs application, and where applicable, the occasional amendment. That is all.

gryphon202 on December 30, 2010 at 6:07 PM

The U.S. Constitution is written so anyone can understand it.

Zelsdorf Ragshaft on December 30, 2010 at 6:03 PM

Noooo! It’s written in code that can only be understood by liberals with a tendency to oppress liberty.

I’ve tried reading it for years and still can’t make heads or tails out of it.

darwin on December 30, 2010 at 6:09 PM

I’ve tried reading it for years and still can’t make heads or tails out of it.

darwin on December 30, 2010 at 6:09 PM

You need to be initiated into the Freemasons before the scales can be lifted.

darwin-t on December 30, 2010 at 6:13 PM

So, the Constitution was written by Chaucer?

The General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales:
“Whan that Apryl with its showres soote/the droghte of March hath perced to the rote/and bathed every veine in swich licour/of which vertu engendred is the flowre.”

The Constitution of the United States:
“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.”

I know our public schools are useless, but WaPo has the Elite, “the best and the brightest”; you wanna tell “the best and the brightest” are morons? If they are, how can anything in America be understood?!?!?

To the rescue….

“We, the People….”

SilentWatcher on December 30, 2010 at 6:15 PM

gryphon202,
When you asked what our Constitutional redress was against people who violate their oath of office, you were, by definition, asking about office holders.
Ipeachment,trial and removal from office is the answer.

audiculous on December 30, 2010 at 6:17 PM

Norah O’Donnell in a discussion about the Constitution? You can’t make up comedic genius like that!

Del Dolemonte on December 30, 2010 at 6:17 PM

Iowahawk’s take on Klein’s piece:

http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2010/12/the-constitution-is-very-important.html

hepcat on December 30, 2010 at 6:18 PM

gryphon202,

When you asked what our Constitutional redress was against people who violate their oath of office, you were, by definition, asking about office holders.
Ipeachment,trial and removal from office is the answer.

audiculous on December 30, 2010 at 6:17 PM

Unless they are Democrat office holders.

Especially those who lie under oath about sex, after prosecuting others who do exactly the same thing.

Del Dolemonte on December 30, 2010 at 6:19 PM

gryphon202,
When you asked what our Constitutional redress was against people who violate their oath of office, you were, by definition, asking about office holders.
Ipeachment,trial and removal from office is the answer.

audiculous on December 30, 2010 at 6:17 PM

That’s constitutional redress, but it’s not a criminal matter, like perjury, nor is it a tort for breach-of-contract. It is just one of the many ways in which the law does not apply to those who place ourselves above us — that’s my central point.

We should get them out of office first, and then comprehensively prosecute them for every last one of their crimes and torts.

gryphon202 on December 30, 2010 at 6:19 PM

Given the history of this nation, the 2nd Amendment is confusing? That ‘the militia’ opposed King George and his government? That the Founders considered government ‘a necessary evil’? That people, especially on the frontier,
needed self-protection? So “It’s confusing”?

Yeah. Right. Maybe for educated idiots like Michael Bloomberg, who can’t wrap their minds around KEEP.

GarandFan on December 30, 2010 at 6:31 PM

The Constitution is a political document and there is some ambiguity. The ambiguity was probably essential to it being ratified. This issues implies Klein is right that how the Constitution is interpreted will vary from person to person. However the zone of reasonable ambiguity was clearly breached by FDR and the government is clearly operating outside the Constitution today.

I mostly want to go back to the Andrew Jackson/Martin Van Buren view of the Constitution, but with the inclusion of some environmental considerations and the exclusion of Jackson’s too imperial view of the Presidency.

thuja on December 30, 2010 at 6:36 PM

Getting aside from the actual content, I have never understood how people become pundits. This guy, Ezra Klein, never did anything, has no lengthy research behind his name, or anything else. He can’t even point to age as giving him wisdom.

Why are these people given a soapbox to vent their opinions? how is anything this guy says any more illuminating than what a 16 year old says?

I’ve never understood the punditry business. It seems to me that 20 or 30 years ago, pundits were all people who had previous careers and who had built up a reputation through that. Now, people come out of college and are pundits? What do they actually know? What life experiences do they have? What insight do they actually have?

All they do is compete to say something that is controversial to give them more face time.

And, this applies to both right and left. There are righty pundits that I like and agree with, but in all reality are no better than this Ezra Klein in terms of having anything behind their name that makes me think they know anything about anything.

Monkeytoe on December 30, 2010 at 6:37 PM

Lefty blogger: The Constitution is confusing because, hey, it’s I’m pretty old stupid

FIXED

mizflame98 on December 30, 2010 at 6:50 PM

Monkeytoe on December 30, 2010 at 6:37 PM

Klein is the creator of JournoList. That’s all you need to know.

Del Dolemonte on December 30, 2010 at 6:51 PM

Footnotes

1. http://www.wikipedia.com
2. Law and Order, NBC-TV

Iowahawk is brilliant!

mizflame98 on December 30, 2010 at 6:52 PM

The U.S. Constitution is written so anyone can understand it.

Zelsdorf Ragshaft on December 30, 2010 at 6:03 PM

Noooo! It’s written in code that can only be understood by liberals with a tendency to oppress liberty.

I’ve tried reading it for years and still can’t make heads or tails out of it.

darwin on December 30, 2010 at 6:09 PM

I think you’re mistaking the US Constitution for the Constitution of the USSR

mizflame98 on December 30, 2010 at 6:56 PM

His formulation is idiotic and so is his point. Even I, the rankest of laymen, can usually recognize if and why something is or isn’t Constitutional. If there’s anything “fuzzy” about Constitutional law, it’s in the minutia of precedent. I can’t imagine that the Founders expected or wanted lower court precedent to have the kind of impact on the law of the land as it has.

The rules the Constitution establishes for limiting the reach of the federal government are timeless as are the duties it imposes on the branches of government. Recognizing change as an element of the future, the Founders provided a method for Constitutional accommodation of that change.

SukieTawdry on December 30, 2010 at 6:58 PM

Let’s take an example: Most legislation doesn’t currently include a statement of constitutional authority. But there’s one recent measure that did: Section 1501 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. That is to say, the individual mandate.

“The individual responsibility requirement provided for in this section (in this subsection referred to as the requirement) is commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce,” reads the opening paragraph. Shortly thereafter, the legislation makes itself more explicit: “In United States v. South-Eastern Underwriters Association (322 U.S. 533 (1944)), the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that insurance is interstate commerce subject to Federal regulation.”…

Umm…Klein’s saying that ObamaCare included Constitutional authority in the legislation itself, and he’s using a 1944 law expanding the definition of interstate commerce to back up that assertion?

It’s called sleight of hand in card games and shell games, but Klein apparently got away with it.

“Constitutional Authority” isn’t the same thing as legislation passed nearly 200 years after the Constitution itself; that is simply legislation, not Constitutional Authority. Under Klein’s twisted logic the ban on handguns in Chicago has “Constitutional Authority” because it was legislation. There IS a distinction, you know.

mountainaires on December 30, 2010 at 6:58 PM

Iowahawk’s very important post about this important impairment of Ezra Klein’s important intellect is very important. Also, it is important.

Lourdes on December 30, 2010 at 7:06 PM

Footnotes

1. http://www.wikipedia.com
2. Law and Order, NBC-TV

Iowahawk is brilliant!

mizflame98 on December 30, 2010 at 6:52 PM

Yes, Iowahawk is.

Lourdes on December 30, 2010 at 7:07 PM

Ya know what else is pretty old and hard to understand?

The Washington Post. (est.1877)

Maybe we should just ignore that too…

UncleOlaf on December 30, 2010 at 7:21 PM

It pains me to remind you that Scalia concurred with the judgment of the majority in the Raich case.

Scalia may have just been following precedent. Just because he did not want to overturn precedent to protect pot heads does not mean he will shy away from heavy lifting to protect more important civil liberties. Not model jurisprudence, but there you have it. Scalia can be results oriented.

tommylotto on December 30, 2010 at 7:22 PM

So that’s their problem with the Constitution! They can’t understand it!

PoodleSkirt on December 30, 2010 at 7:25 PM

It is still useful. Do you recall the bait and switch the Administration has done defending ObamaCare, first calling the individual mandate a penalty and then trying to defend it in court as a tax. This way if they say they can pass this law under the Commerce Clause, they cannot later in Court argue they have the authority under some other clause.

motionview on December 30, 2010 at 8:11 PM

I think Klein’s getting a bit of a bad rap.

have to disagree with you there…if this was a gop pundit saying something like this….holy macaronies, the msm 24/7 hysteria…

cmsinaz on December 30, 2010 at 8:18 PM

Kenites…

True_King on December 30, 2010 at 8:30 PM

Lefty blogger: The Constitution is confusing because…..

…..it wasn’t written by Karl Marx.

Baxter Greene on December 30, 2010 at 8:49 PM

Apparently after reading the Constitution, our elected officials need to move on to reading The Federalist Papers. Just a thought…..

Southern Tragedu on December 30, 2010 at 9:23 PM

Constitutions come and they go…in other countries.

Ever read the Constitution of the Peoples republic of China, or that of the former Soviet Union, or today’s Russia?

How’s about Venezuela’s? [The Bolivarian Constitution of 1999] Cuba’s? France?

All of these Constitutions have been replaced and totally reworked over the decades. The PRC has had about five or so, the Soviet Union a few, Venezuela several, and so forth. All of these foreign Constitutions generally are ponderous documents, tending to just about every imaginable power of the state over the people while all play lip service to the “rights” of the people, all subordinating individual rights to obligations of the people toward the state, according to the whims of the state.

Ours?

It has endured. It has endured largely due to its simplicity. It is a fundamental document.

Those who claim that the US Constitution is old, out dated, too arcane to be understood, I ask, with what would you replace our Constitution? A simpler document? Or a much more convoluted and ponderous document? Would the focus of that replacement document be the Rights of the individuals or the “rights” of government? Would it consist of a laundry list of state-provided rights? Would the notion of “endowed by our Creator” be even permitted to be included?

Would the individual become subordinate to the state?

Looking around at various declarations over the decades by those who view the US Constitution as being outdated, I find a common theme…government needs to be able to do more for the citizens, not less. A dangerous concept at the very least.

Preventing this from happening is the eloquent simplicity of the US Constitution.

Yes, every bill submitted for consideration by Congress or the White House should indeed be pegged to a specific section and clause of our Constitution…and then debated on that primarily. What we, the people, have allowed to transpire for far too long is the Constitution being largely ignored while precedent in law or practice steps in to allow for passage of all sorts of bills into law that the Founders would not have even considered to be debatable let alone become part of the US Code.

Time for that sort of tom-foolery to stop.

The Rights of the individual must never be usurped by the whims of the State.

Bad law enacted for all the best of reasons, is still bad law. We are suffering the consequences of such bad law today. Those who view the Constitution as out-dated and arcane seek merely to justify decades and decades of bad law being enacted. That is all.

coldwarrior on December 30, 2010 at 9:55 PM

Those who claim that the US Constitution is old, out dated, too arcane to be understood, I ask, with what would you replace our Constitution? A simpler document? Or a much more convoluted and ponderous document?
coldwarrior on December 30, 2010 at 9:55 PM

…I am guessing a document well over 2000 pages that nobody would fully understand…..for obvious reasons.

Ambiguity reigns…..

Baxter Greene on December 30, 2010 at 10:04 PM

Ah, Norah is a Corvette powered by a two-cycle Briggs & Stratton engine with a bad sparkplug.

bw222 on December 30, 2010 at 10:18 PM

Hannah Giles wrote an article in which she declared her desire to go out with Ezra Klein. They have not dated. This is all the proof you need that Ezra Klein is an idiot.

SD on December 30, 2010 at 10:25 PM

So is anything written by Karl Marx but the left doesn’t seem to have any trouble understanding what he wrote…

Gohawgs on December 30, 2010 at 10:37 PM

The Constitution is written in a secret code that only right-minded people can understand. To the left it’s Gibberish.

The Zoo Keeper on December 30, 2010 at 11:49 PM

To the left it’s Gibberish.

The Zoo Keeper on December 30, 2010 at 11:49 PM

Of course. The idea that the power belongs to the people, and that the Constitution is a grant of power from the people to the federal government, enumerating what the government can do and more importantly what it cannot do, is kryptonite to those people who worship the all-powerful State.

Missy on December 31, 2010 at 12:09 AM

This is why there are 5-4 decisions all the time on the Supreme Court, and even splits within the Court’s conservative wing, on matters of huge constitutional import.

That is not why there are so many 5-4 decisions. It is because the 4 liberal justices ignore the constitution completely and rule based on personal ideology. If they need to cite foreign law to justify their idiocy, they do that too. It isn’t because they have a different interpretation of the document.

They don’t care what the constitution says or what it means, they care about their agenda. The use the constitution as a rhetorical device only for purposes of cover. The liberals know most of their rulings have no basis in the constitution, and they don’t care.

echosyst on December 31, 2010 at 12:50 AM

The Magna Carta, The Mayflower Compact, all of these laws were agreements and written down so that everybody, both the common people and the Kings knew what their rights, laws and liberties were!

I wish someone would send Ezra a copy of those two documents…just to see if his head explodes.

soundingboard on December 31, 2010 at 1:36 AM

Words diminish how much this lame argument makes me want to punch a lib in the face:

The Second Amendment, for instance, says nothing about keeping a gun in the home if you’ve not signed up with a “well-regulated militia,” but interpreting the Second Amendment broadly has been important to those who want to bear arms. And so they’ve done it.

Huh. Really now.

So of the ten (10) amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights, the Founding Fathers meant all of them to be about individual rights, excepting the Second?

F off with that crap.

radioboyatl on December 31, 2010 at 1:36 AM

^…

JellyToast on December 30, 2010 at 5:51 PM

soundingboard on December 31, 2010 at 1:38 AM

The Second Amendment, for instance, says nothing about keeping a gun in the home if you’ve not signed up with a “well-regulated militia,” but interpreting the Second Amendment broadly has been important to those who want to bear arms. And so they’ve done it.

Given that keep means own, and bear means carry it could be argued that you can not leave your gun at home when your not there.

Slowburn on December 31, 2010 at 2:05 AM

AP: Constitutional ambiguity (results) not so much (because) the document is old, it’s that it’s remarkably terse.

Its being terse is at the heart of a limited federal government. This terse constitution establishes federal instiutions and provides for their limited responsibilities and competing authority, with all else left to the states and to the people.

It’s ambiguity originates with those who would empower federal government at the expense of the states and the people. They have rendered the document “ambiguous” in order to do whatever the hell they want.

exdeadhead on December 31, 2010 at 4:23 AM

Ezra Klein should stay off TV. He is a punk kid who lacks life experience to opine on serious matters. O’Donnell is a pretty face, similarly lacking in experience. Why attend these tools?

exdeadhead on December 31, 2010 at 4:28 AM

Firstly, Ezra Klein is an unaware Communist tool. If that’s what passes for being educated he was grossly robbed. Secondly the Constitution has been ignored by both parties as in forever, the reason why things are so Statist today, the proverbial Nanny State if you will.

My dearly departed father used to say,”The game’s the same only the players are different.” The Constitution is the bedrock this Republic stands on. That game never changes and is not as the Statist Socialists contend that it is a “Living Document”. That was anti-Christ Woodrow Wilson’s view. The Constitution was written like the Ten Commandments. There is no change. Lefties need the Constitution constantly interpreted as an ancient and irrelevent document. They would be irrelevent without the meme of “it’s too old to be used today”. Saul Alinsky would agree with an ear to ear grin….Nora O’Donnell is not a pretty face, she’s an average face, with below average understanding about how politics, government and citizens work. She’d be better off with a mattress tied on her back, walking the streets of NYC as a barker yelling “Curb Service”. I’ve heard her say enough idiotic things that that is probably her true calling….I pity the lefty tools of George Soros. By the time they notice their freedoms and Individual rights are gone, they’ll be too late…

adamsmith on December 31, 2010 at 7:08 AM

Constitutional ambiguity (results) not so much (because) the document is old, it’s that it’s remarkably terse.

The Ten Commandments are also remarkably terse as well.
They are old, but still going strong.
The atheist left is trying hard to dismantle them
as well.

lilium on December 31, 2010 at 7:33 AM

Klein isn’t even equipped with the one usual skill of the Lefty ignoramus, the ability to sound smart. So it’s no surprise that his confusion with this remarkably clear document likely starts with the first three words, We the People…

Nora O’Donnell is awful — doesn’t have a clue as to why the Constitution reading is loooong overdue — and predictable. But Klein must have been focused on his own name being announced when she mentions in the intro exactly how old the Constitution is.

curved space on December 31, 2010 at 8:57 AM

http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2010/12/the-constitution-is-very-important.html

game set match.

iowahawk

BTW–iowa hawks beat missouri 27-24 on tuesday.

ted c on December 31, 2010 at 9:12 AM

Klein is a reliable source of stupid remarks, but this one right at the wire puts him in the running for “JournoList Jackwagon of the Year”. We may even have a winner here.

novaculus on December 31, 2010 at 9:18 AM

@audiculous: Art.I,§6 implies a distinction between Congressional membership and a “civil office,” and Art.II,§4 refers to “civil Officers.” There is some wiggle room there but I doubt the Framers had Congress in mind when they wrote the impeachment provision. Congressional dereliction of duty would thus be a matter for Congress itself (LOL, admittedly) or the voters to address.

It’s been claimed that members of Congress are exclusively state officers, but I think that’s an overly confederationist take. They’re a hybrid, neither fish nor fowl, or maybe a little of both.

Seth Halpern on December 31, 2010 at 10:18 AM

(By “Congress itself” I mean the respective houses disciplining or expelling their respective members under their respective rules.)

Seth Halpern on December 31, 2010 at 10:52 AM

Seth, I agree with you about Congresswhateveriscurrent being excluded.

They can punish their own, but exclusion is beyond their reach. They tried it with Powell and SCOTUS ruled against them.

I also agree that the Con convention members were too divided in their views for anyone to validly claim Congress to be composed of state officers.

audiculous on December 31, 2010 at 1:19 PM

Progressives are Anti-Constitution

They understand it just fine, they just don’t like what it says. Obama described the Constitution perfectly when he said it was a document of negative liberties stating what government could NOT do to you. Progressives want to convince everyone that the Constitution is an old moldy outdated document that needs to be replaced with a new constitution creating new rights like free healthcare, free college tuition, free housing and a minimum income for all. Rights given by the government to be paid for with taxing the evil rich out of existance. (With the exception of the rich govenment employees). Progressives have already convinced the majority of the Country that America is a Democracy rather than a Republic. Now they just need to replace the Constitution and they win.

Progressives are Anti-Constitution.

SandyToes on December 31, 2010 at 6:26 PM

SandyToes,

progressives aren’t all one thing any more than conservatives are and if you go along with the literal interpretation of the Constitution there’s still a whole lot of room in between those things that are literally denied to the government.

audiculous on December 31, 2010 at 10:53 PM

Bum rap my butt.

“The individual responsibility requirement provided for in this section (in this subsection referred to as the requirement) is commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce,” reads the opening paragraph. Shortly thereafter, the legislation makes itself more explicit: “In United States v. South-Eastern Underwriters Association (322 U.S. 533 (1944)), the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that insurance is interstate commerce subject to Federal regulation.”…
My friends on the right don’t like to hear this, but the Constitution is not a clear document. Written more than 200 years ago, when America had 13 states and very different problems, it rarely speaks directly to the questions we ask it.

Not one, not two, but three pieces of horse manure there.
Careful you don’t step in it Ezra…whoops, too late for that. Phew!

churchill995 on January 1, 2011 at 12:56 AM

Iowahawk is brilliant!

mizflame98 on December 30, 2010 at 6:52 PM

…and hilarious to boot. Awesome.

churchill995 on January 1, 2011 at 1:03 AM

You don’t think they have grade inflation out at UCLA, eh?

churchill995 on January 1, 2011 at 1:04 AM

Yeah. Right. Maybe for educated idiots like Michael Bloomberg, who can’t wrap their minds around KEEP.

I understand keep but there is no frontier any longer and no need to bear arms. Why would anybody need to bear arms in our modern world? We have a wonderful police force to protect you. Citizens today are simply too stupid to be allowed access to such dangerous things. They can not be trusted to behave so it is important to but restraints on them. The government will provide any protection anybody needs.

M. Bloomberg, King of NYC

PS The whole shall not be infringed language just makes no sense to me at all. It is so confusing to my atrophied libtard brain.

crashland on January 1, 2011 at 12:51 PM

The reason the Constitution is so confusing it lacks the word “like” like it’s so, you know like it’s like old like we can’t like understand like it’s a hundred like years old. Where in the world did this man go to school where history was written hundreds years ago and it still reads the same.

mixplix on January 1, 2011 at 8:50 PM

You people picking on poor super smart Ezra are all anti-semite anti-dentite racist homophobes! All the founding
fathers where whiter than the whitest white people in all
the universe making the constitution racist as well. We should tear it up and let super smarty smart people like Ezra Klein and Paul Krugman tell us what to do!

Africanus on January 2, 2011 at 3:52 AM

The idea of God given rights confuses them. A document based upon that idea must be old and obsolete

Two reactions: They aren’t confused about our God given rights, they just refuse to serve Him so he must be eliminated from existence that they can be their own gods.
It’s the basis of persecution and the flip side – martyrdom.

The second lie the live is that old is always bad – liberalism is change -new is always better than old, proof is never necessary -it is their big lie – they call it progress (it really is but a transparent effort to moving this nation away from the successful traditional Judeo-Christian values and lifestyle.) They ignore the fact that cancer and enemies armies also progress, with them, all change is progress -all progress is good. This will only be the mantra until they take power and then their barren souls will be exposed for all to see and loathe.

Don L on January 2, 2011 at 6:20 AM

Dear Don L,

democracy is not a creation of or intrinsic to “traditional Judeo-Christian values”.

broaden your thinking a bit, for Greeks’ sake.

audiculous on January 2, 2011 at 1:53 PM

democracy is not a creation of or intrinsic to “traditional Judeo-Christian values”.

broaden your thinking a bit, for Greeks’ sake.

audiculous on January 2, 2011 at 1:53 PM

Wrong. While democracy itself is not a creation of judeo=christian values, all of the political thought and philosophy leading to current democracy and values stems from them.

The declaration of independence stemmed from such philosophy. And if you know anything about history or the current world, only in judeo-christian cultures did democracy develop and take hold (unless and until it was imposed upon them a la India or Hong Kong). Only in judeo=christian culture are the ideas of life, liberty, etc. and natural rights = such as written into the constitution’s 1st ten amendments, favored.

None of those concepts developed naturally in india, asia, islam, or africa. Only where western nations developed a country through colonization is there anything like civil rights, democracy, rule of law. And even in those places it is often precarious.

So to claim that those things are not connected to or flow from judeo=christian values shows a complete lack of historical knowledge or even current knowledge of the world.

I know liberals like to belive our values and history and culture mean nothing, and the rest of the world is the same or better, but that is simply not true.

Monkeytoe on January 2, 2011 at 5:24 PM

Constitution is perfectly clear when the left discovers new governmental powers in there. When it doesn’t, it’s confusing.

lorien1973 on December 30, 2010 at 4:02 PM

+10

I think things like this are very confusing to most American citizens bcs it’s, like, you know, hard to read, and, you know, it’s like, hard to get what you’re, like, reading, and stuff.
I have this problem with HS students.
They cannot read & UNDERSTAND what they are reading.
Something bad has happened to kids in elementary school.
I cannot fix it in HS.
I try. But it’s like beating a dead horse.

Badger40 on January 3, 2011 at 8:29 AM

When did JournoList Klein ever repent for his having given America his best Mighty Toros male Cheerleader impression for Obama camp during the 08′ election season, and get Any of his Journalist credentials and/or ethics back?

Did I miss That “ceremony”? Because he’s still just a Democrat @ss-kissing, Moulitsas lookey-likey, and a Progressive, Smack-talking Punk, as far as I’m concerned.

Teddy on January 3, 2011 at 1:25 PM

Monkeytoe,

do you understand that “not a creation of or intrinsic to” is not a proposition concerned with current conditions?

democracy didn’t “grow put” of Judeo-Christian culture”, it was incorporated. Christian culture was mostly been associated with hierarchal societies rather than democratic. You may as well say democracy didn’t develop naturally here as well, but only was introduced by violent means employed by people doubting Christian culture’s values and substituting pagan Grecian ones.

audiculous on January 3, 2011 at 1:33 PM

audiculous on January 3, 2011 at 1:33 PM

Talk about missing the point. Yes, democracy was invented in Greece. And I suppose there was some semblance of it in Rome.

Then – nothing. Until judeo-christians started philosophizing about natural rights, which derived entirely from judeo-christian religious thought. Then, over time democracy flourished.

democracy didn’t “grow put” of Judeo-Christian culture”, it was incorporated. Christian culture was mostly been associated with hierarchal societies rather than democratic.

Every culture in history was hierarchal. Why did the judeo-christian culture change? Because it incorporated the idea of democracy and then embraced it and expanded it. No other culture did this. Not even the greeks after the first limited application of democracy in athens.

Democracy did not grow in Asia. It did not grow in Islam. It did not grow in Africa. It did not grow among the natives in North or South America.

It grew and flourished in the thinking, derived initially from religious philosophy and then incorporated into more secular philosophy, among judeo-christian thinkers.

so, your claim is entirely wrong. There is something intrinsic in the judeo-christian world that led to the growth and development of democracy. You seem to take “intrinsic” to mean, who “invented” democracy. I take it to mean how did democracy, as we know and love it today, develop and why did it develop. What factors allowed it to develop when the history of the world was clearly anti-democratic and when no other culture developed democracy.

Your comment implied that judeo-christian religious traditions and thought have nothing to do with the U.S. Constitution and current democracy in teh world. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Democracy did not just spring out of nowhere. It did not just happen accidentally. It is not mere chance that islam, asia, et al did not develop democracy and a belief in and respect for individual rights.

The only other possibility, which you seem to embrace, is that democracy is simply an accident of history and that any culture could have embraced it the way that the west did. I think that is highly unlikely based on the religions and philosophies of the other cultures, which are much less compatible with the idea of democracy than judeo-christian traditions.

You may as well say democracy didn’t develop naturally here as well, but only was introduced by violent means employed by people doubting Christian culture’s values and substituting pagan Grecian ones.

audiculous on January 3, 2011 at 1:33 PM

Talk about semantic b.s. By this logic nothing is intrinsic to anything. Everything has some basis in what came before. Therefore, everything is morally relative and has no objective value.

the bottom line is, absent judeo-christian traditions, we would not have the magna carta or the U.S. constitution, and there would be no democracy even remotely reminiscent of what we have today. Instead, feudal systems and emporers would still exist ruling over us.

I suppose one could claim/argue that even with no judeo-christian tradition/thought democracy may have sprung up soemwhere. Perhaps, but we will never know and that is not what happened. I for one, doubt it based on the evidence of the rest of the world and how all other cultures developed.

Monkeytoe on January 3, 2011 at 2:17 PM

Monk, good, we’re getting closer. and as you get closer to relying on the proposition that it’s only recent examples of democracy to which you refer, and that it really isn’t a part of the religion(s) as such, but was promoted by a branch of thought within religious political philosophers firms up under you.

You still got to cut back on this stuff….

It grew and flourished in the thinking, derived initially from religious philosophy and then incorporated into more secular philosophy, among judeo-christian thinkers.

Dropped the “it grew” and stick to the flourishing, because the roots are several, particularly if one looks to England. Ideas of the rights of everyman come from several sources outside of and predating Christianity.The influence of the pagan Germanic tribes concerning common tenancy in land ownership,
and familiar rights of justice being among them.

it

audiculous on January 3, 2011 at 3:05 PM

For level of confusion, I`ll take AllahP`s piece over the Constitution any day . . . . The Constitution stands, Allah falls, that is. Klein deserves his bad rap. He does not deserve your help or re-interpretation, Allah. Take it on down the road somewhere else.

Sherman1864 on January 4, 2011 at 12:32 AM

Monk, good, we’re getting closer. and as you get closer to relying on the proposition that it’s only recent examples of democracy

Because there are sooo many old examples of democracy. Again, you miss the entire point. First, your point about germanic tribes is utter b.s. Second, point to other cultures where democracy and individual rights of man developed.

It is intrinsic to the judeo-christian religion and culture and not to anything else. You have utterly failed to demonstrate anything to refute the point. You seem to have a very curious definition of “intrinsic” also.

Teh point stands, absent judeo-christian religion and culture, there would be no current democracy as we know it. That makes it “intrinsic” to the judeo-christian culture.

You are getting much closer to understanding what intrinsic means and understanding history. Good job.

Monkeytoe on January 4, 2011 at 8:38 AM

As an aside, why does the left hate the west and its own history and culture? Why is it that any time something good is mentioned as stemming from the judeo-christian culture, the left has to do everything in its power to refute it and try and claim it isn’t so?

It seems hard to refute that our concepts of democracy and human rights only grew in judeo-christian cultures. I suppose you can say it was the ancient germanic tribes we owe it all to, but that seems pretty silly considering that all of the philosophers we build such notions upon started from judeo-christian religious principals.

What is it that makes lefties so convinced that they have to tear down anything and everything about their own culture?

Monkeytoe on January 4, 2011 at 8:41 AM

Anyway, this is a silly debate. even if you were correct about “intrinsicness” it cannot be disputed that judeo-christian religious thinking had a major role in the philosophies that eventually led to the Declaration of Independance and the U.S. Constitution. So, it is unclear what the point is.

I suppose that it is what it always is for moral relativists, everything is equal, there is no objective good or bad, some cannibal tribe’s way of life is just as valid and good as U.S. democracy which is just as objectively good or valid as Communism under the Soviet Union or Castro.

Monkeytoe on January 4, 2011 at 8:51 AM

Monk, it is getting silly and you seem to think that if I offer a caution to Don L or anyone else trying to say that democracy and Christianity are entwined it somehow means that I’m opposed to either or denying that our system of government is no better than other systems and somehow this is a sign of moral relativism and acceptance of commie cannibals.

Yeah, monk, pitch-perfect.

audiculous on January 4, 2011 at 12:16 PM

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