Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Thoughts On The Constitution Without Research

  • I’m going to humiliate myself with this one; we should all be aware of that right off the bat, and also I am certainly going to cheat a tiny bit.
  • If it helps, I do feel shame about this: Americans should have a working knowledge of their government, if only so that they can yell about with more accuracy than they currently do.
  • Let’s start small.
  • The United States Constitution turned 229 the other day.
  • When 229 you turn, govern so well you will not.
  • Not the Declaration of Independence.
  • Therefore: no John Hancock signature.
  • (Fun fact: that story they told you in grade school about John Hancock writing his name so big so that King George could read it without his glasses was bullshit. His signature was so large because John Hancock was eleven feet tall.)
  • Almost certainly not written by George Washington.
  • Very few jokes.
  • Parchment.
  • Knock it off. Do this or don’t.
  • You suck.
  • Anyway, the United States Constitution was hammered out by a convention of the states in 1789 and remains the law of the land today; it consists of a preamble and seven articles, and 27 amendments.
  • Many legal scholars have compared the articles and amendments to the body and tail of a comet, but all of them were drunk at the time.
  • The first ten amendments are known are the Bill of Rights and they defend citizens’ rights, and protect them from their own government: they couldn’t pass laws banning opinions, or torture people for information, and or detain you without cause.
  • Remember: this is 1789, so governments were allowed do that bullshit.
  • Say it with me: the past was terrible.
  • There was some precedent in the Magna Carta, and the philosophies of Locke and Montesquieu were involved, and Adam Weishaupt secretly dictated the preamble to James Madison, but other than that it was an original work, and there’s some undeniably good stuff in there.
  • I enjoy the First Amendment.
  • Others prefer the next one.
  • Most right-thinking Americans would choose the Third Amendment as their sentimental favorite; I would agree because I’ll be damned if Obama’s gonna force me to let some limey soldier sleep on my couch.
  • It is in the Third, though, that the Constitution’s main flaw comes into sharp focus.
  • It’s 229 years old.
  • Putting aside the other main flaw that I’ll get to (there can be more than one main something, shut up), which is that the document is the result of a political compromise specifically and explicitly designed to maintain the institution of slavery, it’s two hundred and twenty damned nine years old.
  • They did not have medicine 229 years ago, and there were wolves everywhere.
  • (An argument against Constitutional Originalism, which holds that the text should be interpreted as it was intended at the time: since the Framers could have no possible clue about the internet or the highways or the airwaves, and therefore not intended their words to apply to them, then how can these things be regulated by the agents of those words? The Originalists’ own argument says that the Constitution doesn’t apply to most of life.)
  • Some things from 229 years ago are still pleasant: trees, and art, and buildings in Europe.
  • Cathedrals and castles and shit.
  • St. Paul’s in Manhattan is a bit older than the Constitution, and you would not want to live in it.
  • First of all: terrible neighborhood, nothing but bankers and tourists, plus nothing’s open at night.
  • Second: there is a graveyard right next door, so it would be so very spooky.
  • All them old-timey ghosts up in your business and whatnot.
  • Barging in on you like Kramer in their tri-cornered hats and sheets with the eyes cut out.
  • Stop being weird.
  • Sure.
  • Besides the fact that the Constitution is older than an old celebrity to whom old things are compared, it’s also a compromise born of the political questions and needs of the time, as indicated by the silly Third Amendment I mentioned.
  • The Constitution doesn’t explicitly legalize slavery, but it does include the Tenth Amendment, which let states do whatever the hell they want for the most part.
  • Some states wanted to do slavery.
  • Not all the people in the state wanted to do slavery.
  • The slaves, for example.
  • But no one asked them and so the Peculiar Institution was a stain upon our nation until Djamie Foxx and a charismatic Nazi put an end to the practice.
  • Not only were slaves not asked about things, they weren’t even counted, at least not all the way: a slave (described as an “other person” in the text) counted for 3/5 of everybody else.
  • And in grade school, I was taught that the South wanted slaves counted and the North didn’t, but it’s more complicated, and worse, than that.
  • Southern states wanted the slave population to be counted when it came to how many representatives and whatnot they got, but not for when it came time to tally up the tax bill; the northern ones wanted the reverse.
  • Not, you know: stop doing slavery.
  • In the defense of the North: the South wasn’t joining up if slavery wasn’t legal, period, end of story.
  • Once more with feeling: the past was terrible, but it was far more terrible for some than others.
  • Compromises between political factions from two centuries ago also persist within the structure of American government: the Senate and House are the bulwark of the small states and prerogative of the big states, respectively.
  • The Senate was originally chosen by the House (that changed to a direct vote with an Amendment which I will say with unearned confidence was the 17th) and was intended to be more deliberative.
  • The House of Representatives is, and always has been, full of thieves, lunatics, and the moneyed dumb.
  • The Constitution also says that there should be a president, and that he should get an awesome jet plane, and also that there should be courts of all kind–supreme, circuit, state, county, local, night, kangaroo, People’s, food–and that they be independent of the other two branches.
  • All together, it is a perfect system for getting very little done.
  • Which was the intent.
  • The Constitution can be amended, but it’s complicated and requires all sorts of super-majorities and special processes, and for all intents and purposes can no longer be done.
  • (Seriously, I don’t think it can. Think of the years of sustained bipartisan cooperation that ratification entails. Can’t be done. There were a bunch of amendments relating to voting added in the Sixties, and while I was cheating and betraying the ethos of Without Research, I found out that the 27th–the last one so far–was ratified in 1992, and that seems like something my history teacher should have mentioned, but this is the first Im hearing about it.)
  • The rest of the amendments are of a greater vintage, but some are very important.
  • I will now attempt this truly Without Research:
  • 14th and maybe the 15th ended slavery.
  • 13th, too?
  • 16th was income tax.
  • 18th was Prohibition.
  • 19th was women’s suffrage.
  • 21st repealed Prohibition.
  • Lot going on in there.
  • Whole bunch of history in just a couple of changes.
  • More Amendments Without Research!
  • 11th: Werewolf suffrage.
  • 22nd or so: Puts the inauguration in the middle of January in Washington, D.C, when it is very cold; this amendment has directly led to a presidential death.
  • 24th: So that there should be no shit, no law shall be made starting shit.
  • Also, the federal government gets to levy taxes and raise and command an army, but that’s not the important point.
  • It’s the thing about voting, and free speech.


  1. ” …thieves, lunatics, and the moneyed dumb.”

    The only ones with total confidence.

  2. Time for a rewrite, for sure . . .

    Let’s let today’s yoof take a stab . . .

    (Because the Constitution needs a Carousel Ballroom reference).

    • Ha! Reminds me of Mencken’s Declaration translated into american vernacular from 1921:
      “WHEN THINGS get so balled up that the people of a country got to cut loose from some other country, and go it on their own hook, without asking no permission from nobody, excepting maybe God Almighty, then they ought to let everybody know why they done it, so that everybody can see they are not trying to put nothing over on nobody….” It goes on all the way to the end is worth a read.

  3. Luther Von Baconson

    September 19, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    get you a Charter. it’s .pdf you see. 1982, clip on ties, hush puppies, as opposed to breeches and sweaty, rum-soaked, poopy undergarments.

  4. Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations part 1308.49
    DEA can make a temporary law that lasts 2-3 years without involving the legislative process whatsoever!! Yeah ‘Merica

  5. I wish we were taught to think about the constitution rather than worship it.

    It is not like it was brought down from a mountain by Moses.

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