Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Twenty Seventh Amendment

"No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened."

Now that I have been elected senator, I hereby set my salary at $25,000,000 per year! This amendment protects against this very issue.

DeMint tries to ban 'permanent politicians'

Sen. Jim DeMint says Washington politicians are like fruit on the vine: the longer they hang around, the more rotten they get.

The South Carolina Republican - hearkening back to the days of the party's "Contract with America" - on Tuesday offered a fix to the corrupting influence of "permanent politicians," introducing an amendment to the Constitution that would limit Senate members to three six-year terms and House members to three two-year terms.

"As long as members have the chance to spend their lives in Washington, their interests will always skew toward spending taxpayer dollars to buy off special interests, covering over corruption in the bureaucracy, fundraising, relationship building among lobbyists, and trading favors for pork - in short, amassing their own power," said Mr. DeMint, who is running for a second term next year.

Senate leaders and longtime Washington watchdogs said Mr. DeMint's bill had a zero chance of becoming law, mostly because of a general lack of interest and the high hurdles to amending the Constitution.

"It's a great issue to talk about, but it's not going to happen," said Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Democratic majority's second-highest ranking leader.

Mr. Durbin said he didn't know whether the bill would even get a vote.

Term limits have not been a cause celebre on Capitol Hill since the issue featured prominently in the "Contract with America" that helped the Republican Party win control of Congress in 1994. House Republicans brought three versions of constitutional amendments for term limits to the floor in 1995 and each failed to win the two-thirds majority needed to pass.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), disagrees with Mr. DeMint's premise that politicians get more corrupt the longer they serve.

"There are plenty of bad members who have been there a short time and plenty of bad members who have been there a long time," she said. "Length of service just isn't telling enough. It doesn't make a great member or a terrible member."

Mrs. Sloan said the amendment appeared to be more about Mr. DeMint making a statement than about changing the Constitution.

DeMint spokesman Wesley Denton said the bill will succeed if the American public get behind it and force lawmakers to put it to a vote.

It takes a two-thirds vote of approval in both chambers to pass a constitutional amendment and then it must be ratified by three-fourths of the states. The last one to succeed - the 27th Amendment that delays pay raises for members of Congress until after the next election - was proposed in 1789 as part of the Bill of Rights but was not ratified by the states until 1992.

Despite the long odds, Mr. DeMint's bill picked up two Republican cosponsors: Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who is running for a second term next year and has pledged to not seek a third, and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas, who is in her third full term but next year is running for governor.

This amendment is important for obvious reasons. It would be a huge conflict of interest if congress could set their own salaries.

Twenty Sixth Amendment

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Okay they can vote, they can fight for our country, but they cannot consume alcohol? This is a controversial subject. I am 22, and could care less if 18 year old's can drink, but when I was 18 I certainly had a different point of view...

Guest Commentary
By Abby Goldstein (Posted first at neontommy.com)

Last week, the University of California Board of Regents voted to increase student tuition by 32 percent to help close the system's $535 million budget gap. The ensuing protests and demonstrations have been some of the most heated since the Vietnam War. As a current student of a private university in Southern California whose epic tuition continues to trudge upward each year, I initially viewed the change in circumstances of the school to our west with cynicism and doubt.
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I still find it unfortunate that for those students who do not qualify for Cal Grants and financial aid, or those who do not have enough money to cover the new increases. This money will come directly from the savings and loans of those students and their families.

But as an unaffected party, I can't help but wonder: might this be a good thing?

During one of the sit-in demonstrations, perhaps the demonized administrative officials should begin by encouraging indignant students to simply pick up a newspaper.

Newspapers which show the overcrowding of state prisons, the ever-depleting credit ratings of California bonds, dangerous pension liabilities for state employees, and that special gift that will be passed on to California's Generation Y: terrifying levels of state debt.

The 32% tuition hike at UC campuses is just a preview of what's to come in the next 40 years for those of us born after 1980.

So perhaps this will be the wake up call we politically active Gen Y'ers have been waiting for. Only about one in four eligible California voters under the age of thirty voted in the 2006 midterm elections.

In 2010, another midterm election year, we'll be electing a new Governor, Senator, and a host of statewide legislators. There has never been a more crucial time for UC students to make their voices heard.

The tuition hike will drive out many working class families from being able to afford the quality public education that was promised to California. This is a serious problem for current and future students from working and middle class backgrounds. But in the grand scheme of public decisions on who is to carry the state's debt, this was probably Plan Z.

Some advice to my fellow sufferers of student debt: protests get you nowhere. Civic participation - in large numbers - is the only way the state will take you seriously. Outbursts get you tasered; it's votes that get your money back.

The 26th Amendment was designed for just this purpose - allowing college-aged students to vote their way out of Vietnam. In November 2010, prove to the state that you're worthy of your already underpriced education and your right to vote at age 18.

Tell the state to pick on someone its own size, and to leave them kids alone.

It is unfair that at one time, 18 year old's had to fight in our country's wars but could not vote. This amendment certainly helped Obama into office.

Twenty Fifth Amendment

Section 1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.
Section 2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.
Section 3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.
Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

This man certainly shares my point of view about Mrs. Pelosi. It would be a catastrophe if she was ever let into the oval office. Praise the 25th!!

The point has been made several times in recent months that Nancy Pelosi is third in line to become president. If something should happen to both President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, Mrs. Pelosi would become president, a prospect some find dismaying, not to mention the end of civilization as we know it.

The worriers need not head for the hills. The 25th Amendment almost guarantees that Mrs. Pelosi will never make it to the White House as chief tenant.

The Constitution states that if the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, “the same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by law, provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Disability, both of the President and Vice President …” But, despite several close calls down the years, including two protracted cases of severe presidential disability, Congress was laggard in filling in the details.

James Madison, fourth president, was the first to have a vice president die in office. In fact, Mr. Madison had two vice presidents die on his watch. George Clinton died during the first Madison term, and Elbridge Gerry during the second. That has happened to no other president. Mr. Madison served almost half his eight years in office without a vice president. Had he died in office, Congress would have had to fill the vacancy. It might have been a contentious business.

The first president to die in office was old William Henry Harrison in 1841, only a few weeks after his inauguration. He was succeeded by John Tyler, who immediately got into a controversy about whether he was actually president or merely an acting president. The Constitution is not clear on the point, but Mr. Tyler insisted that he was president, no ifs, ands or buts, and so things have stood ever since. He finished out the term without a vice president.

In fact the country has sometimes functioned for years without a vice president. James Madison, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester Arthur, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson all had to serve without vice presidents after they succeeded men who had died in office. So, briefly, did Ulysses Grant, after Henry Wilson died at his desk toward the end of Mr. Grant’s second term.

Congress at various times specified who should succeed to the presidential office should both president and vice president be unable to serve. But the problem of an incapacitated president was never addressed head-on, despite two scary episodes. On July 2, 1881, President James Garfield was shot and lingered on, incapacitated, for more than two months. He finally died on Sept. 18, and was succeeded by Vice President Chester Arthur. But during those two months, the nation was essentially without a president. Although he may have signed a few documents, Mr. Garfield was obviously unable to function properly as the chief executive of the nation. When Attorney General James G. Blaine suggested that the Cabinet declare Mr. Arthur president, everyone, including Mr. Arthur, opposed the idea.

Even worse was what happened on Oct. 2, 1919. President Woodrow Wilson, just back from Europe and the peace negotiations at Versailles, was barnstorming across America trying to win support for his League of Nations. Exhausted, he had just returned to Washington when, according to one account: “On the morning of Oct. 2, Mrs. Wilson found her husband unconscious on the bathroom floor of their private White House quarters bleeding from a cut on his head. Wilson had suffered a stroke — a massive attack that left his left side paralyzed and impaired his vision. … For seventeen months the enfeebled President lay on his bed on the brink of death, barely able to write his own name.”

For the next year and a half, Mrs. Wilson controlled access to the ailing president. The press and the Congress could find out almost nothing beyond the occasional reassurance that the president was improving. He did improve slightly, but he never fully recovered. People began to call Mrs. Wilson the first woman president.

Still, nothing was done. Twenty-five years later, Congress listened to President Franklin Roosevelt on his return from the Yalta conference. He was wan and gaunt, obviously near the end. A few weeks later he suffered the stroke that killed him. He died within hours, but he might have lingered on, comatose, for weeks or months. He was succeeded by Harry Truman, who finished out the term without a vice president.

Finally, 22 years after the death of FDR, the 25th Amendment became part of the Constitution. It covers several contingencies, notably that if the vice president dies in office, the president shall nominate someone to fill the vacancy, that person to take the office after being confirmed by a majority vote in both houses of Congress.

That provision has been used only twice, under somewhat bizarre circumstances. In October 1973, Vice President Spiro Agnew, under indictment for corruption, resigned his office. President Richard Nixon replaced him with Gerald Ford. The following year, Mr. Nixon, under the threat of impeachment, resigned the presidency. Mr. Ford succeeded him and selected Nelson Rockefeller to be vice president. It is hard to imagine how that messy series of events would have been dealt with had the 25th Amendment not been in place.

One hundred and eighty years after the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia, a weakness in the Constitution was rectified. We should be thankful.

One of my favorite actors of all time, the man, the myth, the legend... Alec Baldwin. No one could do it better.

Twenty Fourth Amendment

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

This amendment outlaws poll taxes. Good, the last thing we need is more taxes...

Claiming health care bill "is unconstitutional," Huckabee compares individual mandate to poll tax

December 03, 2009 12:13 pm ET by Media Matters staff

From Mike Huckabee's December 2 Q&A with Christianity Today:

Would you vote for the health-care bill if the Stupak amendment [that bans funding for abortion] was retained in the final version?

Absolutely not. First of all, I don't have any confidence that the Democrats in the House plan to honor that in the long term, and secondly, if abortion wasn't even a part, it's still going to create huge deficits. It's a job-killing bill. It intrudes into an area of people's responsibilities and rights as citizens. I think the bill on its face is unconstitutional, in that it requires the purchase of a product for a person to exercise his or her rights as a citizen. We already decided that's unconstitutional when we outlawed the poll tax that required people to pay money in order to vote, because the Supreme Court declared that you can't make people pay money in order to enjoy the rights and benefits of citizenship. That's exactly what this bill does, and I think it's an outrage and an insult to the Constitution and to the citizens of the United States.

This is a frightening video, but I think they get their point across. Poll taxes are unfair and now... unconstitutional.

Twenty Third Amendment

Section 1. The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct:
A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.
Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article using appropriate legislation.

This amendment gives residents of our nations capital the right to vote and to be represented.

Tom Braslavsky: Representation or revolvers

by Tom Braslavsky
Hatchet Columnist

Congressional representation seems to be a debate on gun rights. The D.C. Voting Rights Act, which would give our city an official representative in the House, has stalled for the past nine months. In February, it passed in the Senate - but only after being stamped with additional language that would abolish many of Washington's already depleted gun laws. The House seems unsure of what to do, with an influential pro-gun lobby splitting the Democrats while D.C. residents wait. Thank you for helping the nation's capital, National Rifle Association.

The past week has been replete with news about deadly shootings around the country. There was last Thursday's tragic Fort Hood, Texas massacre, in which an Army psychiatrist killed 13 people and wounded 30. The next morning, a disgruntled and schizophrenic Orlando man shot up his old office, killing one and injuring five. A Tuesday shooting in Walterboro, S.C. killed three - including a one-year-old baby - and injured five. There's more where that came from.

Maybe you support the vague constitutional "right to bear arms" as a cause for liberty. I know there are varying interpretations of the second amendment, and various readings of its reference to a "well-regulated Militia."

But don't you think there's something wrong when a man like Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood suspect, can go into a Texas gun shop and easily buy a semi-automatic FN Herstal pistol recommended for combat use by NATO? What if he then uses it to massacre unsuspecting soldiers at an Army base?

The perpetrator of the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, who had a history of troubling mental health issues, was able to buy a Glock and a Walther handgun, one in a Virginia gun shop and the other online. All he did was sign a couple of forms and show his ID. He was then given the weapons to use at his discretion. In his case, this meant murdering 32 people, injuring 23 and then turning the gun on himself.

But no, you say, "Guns don't kill people; people kill people." So let me ask you another question: How many massacres have been committed in our country using other tools? What is a crazed, bloodthirsty individual to do? Obviously, guns are murderers' tools of choice. And for one simple reason: they were created with the purpose of killing.

I have long been fascinated by the gun rights movement. How ridiculous is it that there is a vast movement in our country for the "right" to own deadly weapons? It just doesn't add up. We do live in an enlightened society, I try to tell myself; but where is our common sense?

Here's some common sense: According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's statistics for 2006, the latest year available, firearms were used in a total of 12,791 homicides and 16,883 suicides. That makes guns culpable in almost 30,000 violence-related deaths. That's equivalent to the 9/11 tragedy 10 times over.

If laws cannot stop deranged individuals from buying deadly weapons, how can groups like the NRA argue for even laxer gun regulations? D.C.'s ban on handguns was overturned last year, yet D.C. residents are still prohibited from carrying open or concealed weapons. Some interest groups want those rules, as well as others still in place, to go.

Right now, we may have to choose between representation in Congress and the peace of mind of walking down a safe street without worrying about every second person carrying a gun. If that is the case, it looks like "taxation without representation" should remain our motto for some time longer.

Amendment 23 is pretty straight forward and uncontroversial. I will let this dweeb explain it for me...

Twenty Second Amendment

Section 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.
Section 2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.

To bad Reagan couldn't have just held office until he died. There should be exceptions...

Clinton: Library Meant To Teach Lesson On Action

By John Lyon
Arkansas News Bureau • jlyon@arkansasnews.com

Friday, November 20, 2009 10:00 AM CST
LITTLE ROCK — Former President Bill Clinton said Wednesday he intended for his presidential library to teach the lesson that taking action can change the world — a lesson he said is important as the nation debates issues like health-care reform and global warming.

“I wanted people to come to this library and leave and ... I wanted them to believe that decisions have consequences in real people’s lives, and therefore that we should all care about the political system,” Clinton said at a luncheon celebrating the fifth anniversary of the library’s opening.

Other Stories Of Interest

In a 35-minute speech on the library’s lawn, Clinton said he sometimes worries that people may not understand the imperative to change, or believe that change is possible.

“One thing I know for sure, it’s not poverty that breaks people. It’s the conviction that you can’t make tomorrow different from yesterday that breaks them,” he told an audience of about 1,000 people that included Hollywood actress Mary Steenburgen.

Health care and energy are two areas where change is necessary, Clinton said.

“We’ve got to get our heads out of the sand,” he said. “The average difference of what we spend (on health care) and our wealthiest competitors is a little over 6 percent of our income. You add 6.5 percent of $14.7 trillion, I think it’s about $900 billion a year.”

Clinton asked the audience to imagine what would happen if he were to ask the American people to overturn the 22nd Amendment and elect him president for a third term, with the promise that if elected he would put a $900 billion tax on the people and then burn the money.

“How many votes do you think I’d get?” he asked. “If you don’t want anything done about health care, that’s your position.”

Clinton also said the nation can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create jobs through energy efficiency. Only 5 percent of scientists dispute that global warming is a reality, he said.

“I’m not going to put my daughter and the grandchildren I hope to have, their future, in the hands of the 5 percent when the 95 percent are advocating something that we can do and create jobs and bring America’s economy back,” he said.

The Clinton Library was the first federally maintained building to receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, rating for environmentally sustainable construction.

Clinton called the presidential library “light and airy and happy” and said he is pleased that 1.6 million people have visited it, but it is time to think of ways to improve it.

“I want to know what you think we can do to be a better neighbor, to be a better partner, to be a better educator, to do this job better. I want you to send your suggestions to us at the library, and I promise you they will all be taken very seriously,” he said.

Clinton also announced that the long-awaited renovation of the Rock Island railroad bridge near the library as a pedestrian and bicycle bridge will begin in 2010, though he did not offer a date. Some funds still need to be raised, he said.

Clinton Foundation spokesman Jordan Johnson said later about $7.5 million has been secured for the $10.5 million renovation project. Of that amount, $4 million will come from the Clinton Foundation, $2.5 million from the state and $1 million from the city of Little Rock.

The weather was cloudy but dry in Little Rock on Wednesday, in sharp contrast to the heavy rains that fell during the library’s dedication ceremony five years ago. Taking no chances this time, organizers arranged for the anniversary luncheon to take place inside a covered pavilion.

Because of its rectangular shape, the library has been compared to a trailer home, but at the 2004 dedication ceremony, “I wished it looked like Noah’s ark,” Clinton joked Wednesday.

Looks like President Obama might need to do a little research. He also better hope things turn around or its going to be a quick four years!

Twenty First Amendment

Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
Section 2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.
Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

Cheers!! What a terrible amendment in the first place.

Anthony Gregory: Enduring Legacy of Prohibition

Guest columnists

Rarely in modern times does Washington withdraw from an area of domestic affairs. December 5 marks the seventy-sixth anniversary of the 21st Amendment, repealing alcohol prohibition.

One of the most energetic political causes in the late 19th and early 20th century was the “temperance” movement, which aimed to ban liquor. The movement comprised religious conservatives, nativists who wanted to crack down on immigrants and minorities, and progressives, who defined their era by their dedication to preemptive justice and their ambitious goal to create a new, refined American man through the force of central planning and federal government power.

The progressive and prohibitionist movements culminated after World War I, when anti-German propaganda contributed to an American taboo against beer and when the spectacle of drunken debauchery of U.S. soldiers on military bases provided the last excuse needed to attempt the “Noble Experiment” of prohibition.

In 1919, the 18th Amendment and Volstead Act nationally outlawed alcohol, a drug used by civilizations for millennia. Liquor violations quickly dominated the criminal justice system. By 1924, the population of federal prisons had almost doubled. A 1923 congressional study found that state attorneys spent about 44 percent of their time on prohibition cases. Corruption consumed the legal system. Prohibition chief Lincoln C. Andrews testified in 1926 that 875 Prohibition Bureau officials had been dismissed for corruption, bribery and misconduct.

Criminal gangs controlled the illegal booze market. Five thousand speakeasies were operating in Chicago alone. Violent crime infested the cities. By the onset of the Great Depression the experiment had been such a failure that even many of its most vocal proponents had turned against it. When prohibition ended in 1933, the violent gangs closed their operations and, despite the increasing poverty of the Depression era, rates of homicide and other crimes plummeted.

Today, as tens of millions of Americans drink in moderation, we can hardly imagine that such behavior was federally verboten not too long ago. When we see the remaining problems associated with alcohol, we must fight the urge to relive the social experiment of prohibition that turned our institutions completely rotten and plagued our streets with bootleggers and shootouts.

Yet much of the prohibitionist legacy remains. Four years after the 21st amendment, Franklin Roosevelt signed the Marihuana Tax Act into law, prohibiting the drug. Whereas politicians had once respected the Constitution enough to recognize that it must be legally amended to federally ban alcohol, the war on other drugs continues without any constitutional justification.

Today's drug war is much worse than alcohol prohibition was. We have half a million people in prison, an overwhelmed judicial system, militarized enforcement, assaults on civil liberties, a foreign policy distorted by drug-war goals and, according to many economists, about twice as many homicides as we would expect if drugs were legal.

All the problems with alcohol prohibition persist in relation to today's illicit drugs, except on a larger scale.

The puritanical mindset behind alcohol prohibition persists. Drinking ages, open-container laws, state-level alcohol distribution regulations and DUI laws have become ever more draconian, leading to overcrowding jails, erosion of individual liberties, cruel disruption of the lives of the peaceful, and dubious results in actually making our roads and cities safer. Alcoholic drinks with caffeine may soon be outlawed by the FDA. Meanwhile, cigarette smokers are being targeted on the margins. Politicians threaten legislation against transfats and other allegedly unhealthy foods.

It was a great day when alcohol prohibition was lifted and the liberty to drink was restored to the American republic. But the people never fully grasped the significance of prohibition as a governmental usurpation of individual choice and family and community life. Alcohol prohibition is over, thank goodness. But the heavy-handedness of the progressives' greatest social experiment continues today under the banner of other crusades – with the same predictable results.

Anthony Gregory is a research analyst at The Independent Institute, Oakland, Cal.

Ok, after watching this..maybe we spoke to soon. This guy needs a little 18th in his life.