Sunday, December 11, 2005

Even the Constitution Is Not Safe

Just a Goddamned Piece of Paper

Last month, Republican Congressional leaders filed
into the Oval Office to meet with President George W.
Bush and talk about renewing the controversial USA
Patriot Act.

Several provisions of the act, passed in the shell
shocked period immediately following the 9/11
terrorist attacks, caused enough anger that liberal
groups like the American Civil Liberties Union had
joined forces with prominent conservatives like
Phyllis Schlafly and Bob Barr to oppose renewal.

GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew
the more onerous provisions of the act could further
alienate conservatives still mad at the President from
his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel
Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

"I don't give a goddamn," Bush retorted. "I'm the
President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way."

"Mr. President," one aide in the meeting said. "There
is a valid case that the provisions in this law
undermine the Constitution."

"Stop throwing the Constitution in my face," Bush
screamed back. "It's just a goddamned piece of paper!"

I've talked to three people present for the meeting
that day and they all confirm that the President of
the United States called the Constitution "a goddamned
piece of paper."

And, to the Bush Administration, the Constitution of
the United States is little more than toilet paper
stained from all the shit that this group of power-mad
despots have dumped on the freedoms that "goddamned
piece of paper" used to guarantee.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, while still White
House counsel, wrote that the "Constitution is an
outdated document."

Put aside, for a moment, political affiliation or
personal beliefs. It doesn't matter if you are a
Democrat, Republican or Independent. It doesn't matter
if you support the invasion or Iraq or not. Despite
our differences, the Constitution has stood for two
centuries as the defining document of our government,
the final source to determine - in the end - if
something is legal or right.

Every federal official - including the President - who
takes an oath of office swears to "uphold and defend
the Constitution of the United States."

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says he cringes
when someone calls the Constitution a "living
document."

""Oh, how I hate the phrase we have-a 'living
document,'" Scalia says. "We now have a Constitution
that means whatever we want it to mean. The
Constitution is not a living organism, for Pete's
sake."

As a judge, Scalia says, "I don't have to prove that
the Constitution is perfect; I just have to prove that
it's better than anything else."

President Bush has proposed seven amendments to the
Constitution over the last five years, including a
controversial amendment to define marriage as a "union
between a man and woman." Members of Congress have
proposed some 11,000 amendments over the last decade,
ranging from repeal of the right to bear arms to a
Constitutional ban on abortion.

Scalia says the danger of tinkering with the
Constitution comes from a loss of rights.

"We can take away rights just as we can grant new
ones," Scalia warns. "Don't think that it's a one-way
street."

And don't buy the White House hype that the USA
Patriot Act is a necessary tool to fight terrorism. It
is a dangerous law that infringes on the rights of
every American citizen and, as one brave aide told
President Bush, something that undermines the
Constitution of the United States.

But why should Bush care? After all, the Constitution
is just "a goddamned piece of paper."

© Copyright 2005 Capitol Hill Blue

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