Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Thoughts on the Bill of Rights

Political Confusion
First off, welcome back Gabe!

Now to the meat of the discussion: I'm not going to argue their isn't certain amount of hypocrisy in those who argue that the war has always been about saving the people of Iraq, who lived in a brutal dictatorship etc. But I find it equally ironic that those who are opposed to the war, usually on moral grounds, argue that sanctions were preferable, and were working.
I don't remember much from my time at Swarthmore, but this I do remember: sanctions always hurt the poor first, and most. Food that is sent to the country? Always goes to the ruling class first. Monetary fines on the government? It didn't come out of Saddam's pocket.
So the true irony of the situations is that many pro-war (mostly Republican) supporters arguing that the war was necessary to free the poor, oppressed minorities, while the anti-war (mostly Democrat) opponents saying, if effect: "Sanctions were working, even if they end up causing mass starvation of the poor". In the word of Alanis, isn't it ironic?

I'm not even sure what to do with this random assertion that the war in Iraq "ruined the prestige of the dollar". I was under the impression that the dollar was still the preeminent currency in the world, and that the downturn in the exchange rate was actually due to the resurgence of the Euro, and good for American exports, lowering the trade deficit. I think I thought that because every major economist said so, but I could be wrong (ah, false modesty)

Next point: The honest conservatives. On this one, I think I have to pull a Judge Roberts and ask, I don't know what you mean by that phrase. Do you mean state's rights conservatives? Because I'm guessing they frankly don't care what happens in Alabama, unless they are from Alabama. Roy Moore is an elected judge, and if the people of Alabama object to his actions, they can vote his butt out. Second, I'm guessing Judge Moore wasn't any more or less religious, or religiously motivated, with the statute in or out. So one can't argue he became more fair as a jurist with the statute out. The primary argument seems to be... it made non-Christians uncomfortable? But the display of the Commandments at the Supreme Court doesn't?
This country was founded by men who strongly believed in the Judeo-Christian ethic. Understanding that belief system helps you understand how the law evolved. It's kind of like learning Marbury v. Madison; no one cites it anymore, but you have to learn it to understand how the law evolved from the Founding. If it makes you uncomfortable, well, suck it up. Seeing two guys (or really any two people who aren't hot movie stars) kiss in public isn't my favorite thing, but I'm not going to ban their doing so because it weirds me out.
By honest conservative, do you mean small government conservatives? Because I think you are starting to see their outrage at government spending as we talk about Katrina and its aftermath. Also, my guess is they don't want the government getting involved in state controversies anymore than absolutely necessary.
Do you mean the sort-of old line conservatives (aka Rockefeller Republicans)? I count myself as one of these, and I'd say we aren't really conservatives at all, at least not in the modern sense. We want government to leave us alone both economically and socially, for the most part, and really only get involved where necessary to protect basic rights. I'm not sure "not having to see the 10 Commandments" is one of those basic rights. Plus, since we already lost the fight about the government not taking over half our paycheck, now we either want (1) our money back OR (2) honestly, to see the government be a little more responsive to the people who pay the bills (which kind of sounds like the U.S. position on the U.N.

The Second Amendment: I think its important to understand how the phrase fits together, and how preambles affect language that comes after it. Split the amendment into two parts: (1) A well regulated militia and (2) keep and bear arms. The first part of the amendment describes why the second part is necessary. Would it have been clearer if only the second part had been in there? Sure. But remember, this is in a document with its own length preamble.
Also, why is this the only amendment that (most) liberals want to read strictly? For instance, the 6th Amendment guarantees counsel in all criminal prosecutions. It says nothing about appeals, but the Supreme Court has ruled that the right to free counsel extends to all appeals as of right. The 1st Amendment says that Congress shall not abridge the rights of free speech, etc. but no one would argue that doesn't extend to the states after the passage of the 14th (which makes no such explicit application). Liberals want these amendments read as broadly as possible, except the evil 2nd Amendment (oh, and I guess the 10th, but that's a discussion for another time)


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