An atheist's critique of The Constitution of the United States
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21-12-2011, 03:58 PM
RE: An atheist's critique of The Constitution of the United States
(20-12-2011 10:58 AM)germanyt Wrote:  Dude you've given 666 likes.

I believe that that was a gift for doing the "Atheist's critique of the Bible." I think that it's permanently set to 666. Cool
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21-12-2011, 09:52 PM
RE: An atheist's critique of The Constitution of the United States
Thank you Atheist. That is correct.

I was away doing real life things for a while. I'll try to get in a bit more tonight. And yes I AM still playing 8 hours of Skyrim at a time. But sometimes I take a break.

"Ain't got no last words to say, yellow streak right up my spine. The gun in my mouth was real and the taste blew my mind."

"We see you cry. We turn your head. Then we slap your face. We see you try. We see you fail. Some things never change."
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21-12-2011, 10:17 PM
RE: An atheist's critique of The Constitution of the United States
A break? I am dissapoint.

"I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments." -Jim Morrison
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22-12-2011, 01:02 AM (This post was last modified: 22-12-2011 01:25 AM by Buddy Christ.)
RE: An atheist's critique of The Constitution of the United States
Section 4


The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

-States are free to handle their own elections as they see fit, but Congress has the power to step in and change things if they want to be dicks about it.



The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.

-"This clause requires at least one session of Congress to meet each year. The 20th Amendment, passed in 1933, moved the standard opening day from the first Monday in December to January 3."



Section 5


Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a...

-Boring details about Congress having the power to manage itself, settling internal disputes and such.



Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.

-Congress has the right to make its own rules, and kick the ones being childish assholes out.



Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.

-Congress has to keep records of all proceedings and occasionally publish that record for public observation (called The Congressional Record). The part about the "except parts that require secrecy" is rather frightening though. Loosely worded enough that Congress can decide to hide anything they want. "Well we didn't tell you about it because we didn't want to cause a panic."



Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.

-"Neither the House nor the Senate can go out on extended vacation while the other remains in business, unless the other chamber approves. The idea here is to prevent one house from obstructing the other's legislation simply by refusing to show up to work."



[Image: continental-congress.jpg]



Section 6


The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

-First, members of Congress get paid whatever they want to get paid... or at least they did until the 27th Amendment in 1992, which put restrictions on salary raises. What took so long to figure that one out? The second part gives congressmen diplomatic immunity. They can't be arrested or punished for anything they say in Congress and they can't be arrested by the police outside of Congress for anything other than serious charges. The idea here is to ensure that the president can't abuse his powers by arresting or jailing legislators who disagree with him.



No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

-"People serving in office in either executive or judicial branches of the US government cannot also simultaneously serve in Congress, and vice versa. The idea here is to ensure the separation of powers between the three branches of government. Furthermore, a member of Congress can't resign from his seat in order to take another government job if that job has had its salary increased during his term. That rule is designed to prevent corruption, making it impossible for a congressman to vote in favor of a pay raise for a certain executive office, then move into that office himself."

I'm quoting a lot from a site called Shmoop, but they are some informative, well-spoken bastards. It's a "homework helper" site that breaks down a lot of the stuff learned in school (Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, greek mythology, etc).



Section 7


All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

-Easy enough.



Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.

-Not so easy enough. Basically the steps in how a law is formed. After both houses pass a bill, it goes to the president, if he signs it, it becomes a law. If he vetoes it, it goes back to the houses with the objections to be discussed and reformed. Congress can override the veto with a 2/3rds vote, which is why it's generally a good idea to keep Congress a 50/50 split of Dems and Repubs. You don't want Congress bulldozing past the president with every proposed law.

Here's the weird part. If the president doesn't sign the bill within 10 days (because he lost it in a pile of papers or spilled beer on it during a football game and threw it away), the bill becomes a law. However if the president doesn't sign within 10 days AND Congress adjourns before those 10 days, the bill is automatically vetoed. Huh?









Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

-Just saying that there's no way around all the stuff in the previous paragraph. A bill/vote/issue must go through the necessary steps or else doesn't carry the legal status of other laws.



I'm going to cut this off and post the next bit, Congressional Powers, as its own post.

...There's a lot of them.



Edit: or just put it on the same post with a giant line through it. If only there were a way to make a new post, regardless of how rapid you are posting them. Damn you, spammer-block.

Congressional Powers


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;

-Starting off a big list of all the powers granted to Congress, the first being the power to control, collect, and distribute tax dollars. Most likely the first written power because one of the biggest problems with the colonial government was the lack of power to tax, rendering them almost powerless.


To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

-The founding fathers probably didn't expect us to abuse this one quite so vigorously. They gave us a credit card to be used for emergencies only and we went on a binge shopping spree that lasted decades.


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

-The power to set international commerce regulations... especially when trading fur pelts with those shifty-eyed Indians.



[Image: indians_1.jpg]



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

-The power to decide the steps for immigrants to become Americans. Strange, the "patriotic" Tea Party seems to think that immigrants should be deported or shot on sight. This clause seems to suggest that America is a collection of immigrants. How odd.

Oh... and the concept of bankruptcy is adopted by the US.


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

-All that stuff it just said.


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

-Don't make fake money.


To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

-Congress is now drunk with power, able to set up Post Offices at will. Spreading like a cancer, mail and telegrams are now rampant across America. No but seriously, Post Offices were pretty important back then. Lincoln's Civil War advantages and such (watch a documentary, this isn't An Atheist's Critique of Post Office Affairs).


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;

-The power to set up a system of copyrights and patents, granting creative people the exclusive right to sell their creations.


To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

-Power to set up lesser federal courts who report to the Supreme Court.


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

-At first I was worried because I thought it was about "pirating" other people's work. Then I saw the "high Seas," leapt to my desk and shouted Arrrrrgh! It's awesome that a law about pirates still exists in our laws. Though Somali doesn't think it's very funny.


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

-"This clause grants Congress one of its most important powers: the power to declare war. Congress, and only Congress, can officially do so. (The President can't!) This clause also grants Congress one of its more bizarre powers: the power to hire pirates to attack the nation's enemies. (That's what a "Letter of Marque" is... a letter that gives a pirate official permission to do his thing in the name of the national interest. Avast, ye mateys!)"



[Image: images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSnmFgKDopRnhLH0q7yaMT...9wsAQprxBC] [Image: pirate_cat5.jpg]



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

-"The Founding Fathers were really worried about the danger of standing armies, the kind of permanent professional armed forces that had, they felt, been used by the British monarchy to oppress them before the Revolution. So they carefully divided the power to control the military between the executive and legislative branches; the president is Commander-in-Chief but only Congress has the authority to pay (or not pay) for military actions."

I'm confused as to how we've been fighting a war for 10+ years in the Middle East if Congress isn't allowed to pay for longer than 2 years. Like they can't decide to pay an army for the next 3 years, but they can meet each year and extend payment for another 2 years each time, is that it?


To provide and maintain a Navy;

-Seamen.


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

-Congress has the power to set rules for the behavior of the armed forces. From 1806-1951, those rules were contained in a law called the Articles of War. Since 1951, they have been contained within the Uniform Code of Military Justice. As a soldier, the UCMJ was the bane of my existence. Anytime you make a superior rank feel stupid (which was often), they can punish you with a myriad of vague offenses.


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

-"Congress has the power to call out the militia—organized units of citizen soldiers—to defend the nation from attack or armed rebellion. In modern times, the militia has been replaced by the National Guard."


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;

-Details over how the states control their militia. Doesn't really apply anymore.


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

-Congress has the power to claim any part of the US as a capitol, which was how Washington, D.C. was formed. Congress also controls all military bases, regardless of which state they happen to be located in.


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.

-The "elastic clause" grants Congress implicit powers "needed to execute the previously listed, explicit powers." Meaning Congress can do things not listed if they simply claim they are "necessary" for operation. Vague vague vague.

"Ain't got no last words to say, yellow streak right up my spine. The gun in my mouth was real and the taste blew my mind."

"We see you cry. We turn your head. Then we slap your face. We see you try. We see you fail. Some things never change."
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22-12-2011, 09:44 AM
RE: An atheist's critique of The Constitution of the United States
(22-12-2011 01:02 AM)Buddy Christ Wrote:  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;

-Details over how the states control their militia. Doesn't really apply anymore.

I believe this is the basis for the National Guard, and an indirect basis of the Second Amendment.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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23-12-2011, 02:25 AM (This post was last modified: 23-12-2011 02:33 AM by Buddy Christ.)
RE: An atheist's critique of The Constitution of the United States
Although I didn't want to change my avatar since it is almost required with my name... this one is a bit more fitting for the topic of shaping America. Long live Bill the Butcher!

And I don't blame you if you've nodded off. I don't really want to do these either, but I AM learning from them and that's the point, so off we go!


Section 9


The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

-A very convoluted way of saying that Congress cannot attempt to outlaw slavery until 1808. When the time came, Congress DID vote to block the slave trade, but let's just say their efforts weren't immediately noticed.



The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

-Ah, the Writ of Habeas Corpus. The clause that states that no one shall be detained in prison without due legal process, aka there can be no indefinite detention without a legal trial, aka that silly law that's now obsolete thanks to the newly passed National Defense Authorization Act. Thanks for completely ignoring the people you are supposed to be representing, congressmen.



No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

-A Bill of Attainder was something used in British Parliament that skipped the trial part of punishment, declared you as guilty, and told you your punishment. They were considered violations of liberty and frowned upon, and so they were banned. An ex post facto law is a law that punished people for acts that were legal when they were committed, but are now illegal. They were also frowned upon and banned.



[Image: ContinentalCongress.gif]



No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

-I don't know. Something about income tax.



No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

-Congress can't tax goods for being shipped from another state.



No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another; nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.

-Congress will not play favorites when taxing state ports.



No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

-Congress has complete control over government spending.



No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

-"Here the Framers of the Constitution sought to ensure that the United States would never develop a formal aristocracy such as that which ruled Britain. The US government cannot grant any titles of nobility; here in America, we have no counts or dukes or earls. Further, no one working for the government is allowed to accept a grant of nobility from a foreign government, either. This was mainly included as an attempt to block foreign corruption of US government officials."



[Image: drafting-declaration.jpg]



Section 10


No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

-Basically saying that the state governments are bound by the same restrictions as the federal government.



o State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.

-Again, the states aren't independent nations, so they can't charge tariffs on imports from other states.



No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

-And last but not least, the states aren't allowed to run their own armies or start their own wars.

"Ain't got no last words to say, yellow streak right up my spine. The gun in my mouth was real and the taste blew my mind."

"We see you cry. We turn your head. Then we slap your face. We see you try. We see you fail. Some things never change."
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23-12-2011, 07:51 PM
RE: An atheist's critique of The Constitution of the United States
So your critique is that its old and written in legal mumbo jumbo....
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23-12-2011, 11:07 PM
RE: An atheist's critique of The Constitution of the United States
Maybe critique is the wrong word, but it's really great to have someone taking apart the legal mumbo jumbo and wading through the tangle of words so that the rest of us can be educated. I'd *never* read this on my own.
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23-12-2011, 11:08 PM
RE: An atheist's critique of The Constitution of the United States
(23-12-2011 07:51 PM)mysticjbyrd Wrote:  So your critique is that its old and written in legal mumbo jumbo....

Well I'm not so much criticizing the Constitution, I just wanted to keep the series name going. It's more of a "translation with the purpose of understanding and honoring the Constitution." But that title is too wordy.

"Ain't got no last words to say, yellow streak right up my spine. The gun in my mouth was real and the taste blew my mind."

"We see you cry. We turn your head. Then we slap your face. We see you try. We see you fail. Some things never change."
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30-12-2011, 02:45 PM
RE: An atheist's critique of The Constitution of the United States
(21-12-2011 10:02 AM)Clint Barnett Wrote:  I like to read other peoples views on the constitution. It also helps others to understand what it says. So many Americans are clueless about the constitution. I hope you finish this. Smile

I too hope he does!
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