Sunday, October 01, 2006
It's typical to criticize the Congress which just ended as a "do nothing" congress, one that spent more time on internal feuds than on getting things done. But nothing could be further from the truth. Actually, this was an extremely accomplished Congress, and one area where this Congress achieved almost everything it set out to do, comes in the nips and tucks applied to the Bill of Rights.
Like the Geneva Convention, the Bill of Rights was previously full of vague, difficult to interpret terminology. How can any government agent be expected to apply terms like "secure in their persons" or "but upon probable cause?" Such ambiguity can only lead to problems that stand in the way of the State taking proper action against all who oppose order.This Congress has worked in hand in iron hand with the Executive branch, cutting red tape that kept the nation from a secure, orderly future.
Much attention was paid to the troublesome first amendment. In bills just past the House, Congress went a long way in removing misinterpretations of the relationship of church and State, bringing this amendment more in line with the intentions of our 100% fundamentalist Christian founding fathers. Congress also confirmed earlier limitations on overused rights like "speech" and "assembly." Here's a look at the first amendment, with then original text marked up for better understanding.
Congress shall make
nolaw respecting an establishment of religion; or prohibiting the freeand requiring exercise thereof so long as that religion is favored by the government; or abridging the freedom of speech within Free Speech Zones; or of the government approved and funded press to publish articles supportive of the government; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble in designated areas and numbers as permitted; and to fruitlessly petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
For clarity, here's that amendment again, in it's new, easier to understand version.
AMENDMENT I (REVISED)
Congress shall make law respecting an establishment of religion; and requiring exercise thereof so long as that religion is favored by the government; nor abridging the freedom of speech in Free Speech Zones; or of the government approved and funded press to publish articles supportive of the government; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble in designated areas and numbers as permitted; and to fruitlessly petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
See how much more clear this is? The founding fathers surely never intended the left to use the fuzzy wording of this amendment as a reason to say or write things against the government. And allowing people to gather whenever they wanted -- that's just a prescription for chaos. Finally, this amendment recognizes that complaining isn't really important, except for the entertainment value it provides.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Very minor changes here. That "militia" bit only confused people.
No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house in the United States without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but
in a manner to be prescribed by lawas the President says.
This one really didn't even to be adjusted. Clearly, it's all right to board soldiers in homes and businesses of countries we are liberating. And this amendment is out the window when there's a war on anyway, so we could put soldiers anywhere we want.
The right of the people to be secure in their
persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures,knowledge that we are always watching, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall be required issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath of affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.
This looks like a big rewrite, but it's not. It makes it much easier. Here, take a look.
AMENDMENT IV (REVISED)
The right of the people to be secure in their knowledge that we are always watching, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall be required.
Obviously, this amendment was meant to make people feel "secure," and what could be more secure than the idea that the government is watching you every moment? And those Warrants were clearly getting in the way of the War on Terror, so they had to go.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on
a presentment or indictment of a Grand Juryinformation obtained under torture; except in cases arising in the land or naval forces; or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger or anyone the president names; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself; not be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without the due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation in good neighborhoods.
More minor rewrites. With the War on Terror, we have to face terrorists and lefties who want them to win. The founding fathers never had to deal with traitors or Americans who pulled for the other side, so they couldn't be expected to cover that in their rules. This just cleans things up and makes it clear that when you're fighting real bad guys, it's okay to do bad things right back to them. Real Americans know that.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy
the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to havethe crippled Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
Getting all the new rules into this one was as simple as cutting all the fluff. With enemy combatants, you can't afford to do things like tell them what they're charged with or letting them see who said they were bad. Plus, giving people a speedy trial just isn't practical, not in the middle of a War on Terror. It's okay for people to have a lawyer, though, as long as that lawyer can't talk to them, or see the evidence, or complain to any court.
In Suits at common law, where the value of the controversy shall exceed twenty dollars,
the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common lawbut judgments made by juries can be set aside for any cause.
The Congress showed real restraint here. The easiest thing to do would be to just get rid of lawsuits. After all, lawsuits cost about one million dollars for every car and three million dollars for every can of beer sold in America. Next year, they'll probably get around to making this go away, but this year they just made it clear that anything given by an uneducated jury full of angry minority people can be taken away.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed on people wealthy enough to easily pay for a good defense,
nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Another tiny adjustment. You can't afford to have productive people out of the business force because of trivial things -- look at the tragedy of Ken Lay. On the other hand, torture has proved so effective that the whole country would have been ruined without it. Heck, we wouldn't be winning in Iraq if it wasn't for torture.
The enumeration of the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not
be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the peoplebe taken seriously.
This adjustment was required to give the President more flexibility.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution
, not prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the peoplecan, like the powers spelled out here be taken by the President if he wants.
If you leave things to the states, you get crap like gay marriage and greenhouse gas controls. Best to put everything in the hands of the President, where it's safe.
So there they are, your revised and improved Bill of Rights. Every school should have to mount them on the wall, right next to the Ten Commandments. And remember, the revised amendment I says that's okay.