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October 1, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

Constitution shows lack of wisdom

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Nicholas Kristof in a recent column asserted that humans today are much smarter than past humans and IQs are considerably higher.

If we agree with Kristof, we can find ample evidence of the soaring IQs when we ordinary Americans look at the U.S. Constitution and notice how the Constitution is lacking in circumspection and wisdom, if not the ability to communicate effectively.

The Second Amendment can be interpreted in at least two conflicting ways, suggesting a careless writing style, muddled thinking, and an inability to distinguish between arms for defense and recreation and arms used in warfare.

The Electoral College is undemocratic and unjust.

The three supposedly co-equal branches of government are not truly co-equal because while there seems to be checks and balances between the executive and the legislative branches, there is no check on the Supreme Court.

We would never have agreed to counting slaves as 3/5 of a man.  We would have given women the right to vote right off the bat.

We would have granted the president the right to borrow money to pay for expenditures already approved by Congress.

We would have incorporated the Bill of Rights in the original Constitution instead of adding it as an afterthought by passing the first 10 amendments.

Either we come up with a new amendment that corrects all the obvious mistakes in our Constitution (hard), or we pass a brand new Constitution (harder still).

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  1. Yes, Cesar, the constitution writers were bad people. No wisdom at all for not foreseeing the need for regulations on such inventions as electricity, gas & oil, auto & air transportation, drugs, the internet and forgot to include the air force in our armed forces group. No balanced government budget requirement. No comprehensive approach to immigration. Very shameful of
    those founding fathers.
    Cesar, shouldn't we just scrap the constitution and write a new one that allows us to wipe out our national debt with the magic of a pen?

  2. I think Mr. Lumba is part of a growing group of Americans who fundamentally don't believe in our economic and governmental system anymore. That is their right of course and they have the option to work to throw what we have out or fundamentally change it. I think our current President also belongs to this group, which is part of the reason I did not support his re-election.

    I believe our system has become corrupted but the changes I favor are probably not the ones Mr. Lumba and President Obama favor. To me, our legislative branch (Congress) must be reformed.

    Candidates and office holders should not be required to solicit funds for elections. These elections should be publicly funded with an equal amount available to each candidate. No other money should be allowed. This would help to reduce members taking actions that are in the interests of people and groups with money instead of actions that benefit the country as a whole. Lobbying reform also needs to be addressed.

    Another required action is term limits. One of the main reasons that Congress cannot stop spending or match revenues to spending is that a Congressional seat has been turned into a very lucrative and powerful 'career'. It isn't a 'temporary' detour from private live to 'serve' the country. It is instead a 'career', one so valuable that again, members act in their own self interest instead of the interests of the nations.

    No, Mr. Lumba and President Obama, we do not need to fundamentally change America. What we need to do is reform our legislative branch. If we just did that, people would be surprised about how much better things would be.

    It's a tough thing to do but it IS what needs to be done.

    Michael

  3. There is a sitting Justice on the Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia, who has stated the Constitution is a "dead document". I wouldn't go quite that far, but some amendments need to be studied and possibly reworded to reflect the changing times. There were no clairvoyants among the founding fathers; they worked with what they had to work with, and succeeded quite well over all.

  4. I'm not so sure the framers of the Constitution had IQ levels inferior to our current citizens. One thing we have that the framers did not is 225 years of experience with the document. Those years of experience might undoubtedly make us "smarter" if we were rewriting the document for our world today.

  5. WRT Antonin Scalia's comments about the Constitution as a "dead dcoument" here is a link to read and decide for yourself. Note the date is 2002:

    http://www.hoover.org/multimedia/uncommo...

    The Founders and Framers knew when they sat around the round table that they were not smart enough to foresee and understand all the issues and problems that would face the New Republic. So they built into the system of governance and its legal foundation a bases for the future generations to address and deal with these in the future.

    The Amendments, like the 1st and 2nd, impute both direct and indirect rights. These rights impute powers to people. The power "to do" and the "power to be." The rights are absolute. The powers are not. These powers must be regulated for the good of the nation and its people. I opine this is the contextual meaning of Judge Antonin Scalia and other justices who adhere to the "originalist" and "pure constructionist" interpretation of the Constitution.

    CarmineD

  6. "The Electoral College is undemocratic and unjust."

    Lumba -- just one of several examples of why you're wrong. For this one, you overlooked if national elections were to be based solely on the popular vote, you might as well stay home. California has about ten times Nevada's population and would decide the election for you.

    "To me, our legislative branch (Congress) must be reformed."

    wtplv -- not just Congress. Both it and the executive have abandoned the Constitution as nothing more than a quaint part of swearing in. Congress has feathered its own nest to the point of selling out to the highest bidder, yet those same scoundrels are repeatedly voted back into office.

    For the Executive, an excellent example is throughout the recent gun control Discussions here virtually nothing was posted about the "Fast and Furious" scandal. Despite all the hand-wringing and cries ad nauseum for more gun control laws, the biggest criminal by far on buying and distributing assault weapons is the very same regime We the herd just voted back into office.

    So long as those who swear oaths to support, protect and defend our Constitutions continue to perjure their oaths with impunity, nothing will change.

    "There were no clairvoyants among the founding fathers; they worked with what they had to work with, and succeeded quite well over all."

    ressince73 -- good post

    "One thing we have that the framers did not is 225 years of experience with the document. Those years of experience might undoubtedly make us "smarter" if we were rewriting the document for our world today."

    pisces -- and the equivalent of our high courts deciding what that "document" really means. Hindsight is always 20/20, no?

    "I opine this is the contextual meaning of Judge Antonin Scalia and other justices who adhere to the "originalist" and "pure constructionist" interpretation of the Constitution."

    CarmineD -- it's far more than that. Constitutions are nations' organic law, it's what creates them. Any conflicting law is void.

    "The Constitution is a terribly flawed document that we can have pride over parts of, but we should feel great remorse over other parts of. . .Good letter Cesar!"

    Jeff -- then you're as short-sighted as the author. Our federal Constitution was meant to be amended. Obviously.

    As I see it the real problem is We the people act more like livestock than true citizens. So long as that's the case, that's exactly how We deserve to be treated.

    "The struggle for liberty has been a struggle against Government. The essential scheme of our Constitution and Bill of Rights was to take Government off the backs of people." -- Columbia Broadcasting Sys., Inc. v. Democratic Nat'l Comm., 412 U.S. 94, 162 (1973), Justice Douglas concurring

  7. "I'm thrilled to see that someone finally understands that the framers of our Constitution for who they truly were; "That our Founding Fathers did not believe in true equality for all its people."

    BChap -- yet it's that very social compact which the U.S. Supremes relied on to pass its landmark civil rights decision, like Brown v. Board of Education from the mid-50s.

    "[Our] principles [are] founded on the immovable basis of equal right and reason." -- Thomas Jefferson, to James Sullivan, 1797

  8. Yeah, Mr. Lumba, the writers, [Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, et al.] of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were not all that intelligent; they were simply literate in English, Latin and Greek; They were versed in mathematics and history. They were statesmen, solders, philosophers and architects.

    Yeah, some of them owned slaves, but their thinking on that matter was no different than most of the world at that time. See, that's what happens when you take a document out of its original 18th century historical and social context and plop it down in the midst of our 21st century system of mores, ethics and values. You also conveniently neglect to mention that we settled that contentious issue, along with a host of other differences with that minor bit of unpleasantness that occurred from 1860 to 1865; and ended with in excess of six-hundred thousand of our countrymen lying dead on the battlefields of that war.

    Yeah, our founders were exceedingly ignorant of the problems facing the United States today, for they had not yet perfected the art of predicting the future. Our government doesn't work; but it is not because of the faults in the Constitution. It is because we have allowed our elected representatives to auction off their votes, along with their souls to the highest special interest bidders in return for campaign cash, and have allowed, via our appalling apathy and estrangement from the process and the practice of governance, our Congress to devolve into a cesspool of crony capitalism and corruption. It is not only our right to alter or abolish this perversion of a republic and establish a new government, deriving its just powers from the consent of the governed; it is our duty to do so, by any means necessary.

  9. The letter itself is remarkably arrogant, but to be chosen for publication on Jan 1 is particularly disturbing.

    I' sure the author has improvements to the rest of the Bill of Rights, as well, such as the Fourth and Fifth Amendments that place unneeded restrictions on the police. Oh, and let's get rid of that pesky clause in the Constitution that says that no test of religious belief is required to hold office. While the author might not have a specific religion as such in mind, he might like to see a test for politically correct thinking in it's place.

  10. "CarmineD -- it's far more than that. Constitutions are nations' organic law, it's what creates them. Any conflicting law is void." @ Killer B

    The Constitution as written and signed is a good document. But... it was never meant to stand alone as the only document as written. It has been embellished and supplemented by the addition of Amendments over the years. All for the sole purpose of making it more meaningful and relevant.

    CarmineD

  11. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

    The right to self-governance should not to be confused with its ability, while embracing alternatives to self-governance is to forfeit the liberty of self-control.

    What makes one believe they possess the ability to acquire, maintain and secure the cherished liberty of self-governance as it can be argued with prudence that those who practice in massive public-theft and debt don't deserve or possess the ability to self-governance -- let alone the right of its liberty.

    ""whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

    : {

  12. "The Constitution. . .has been embellished and supplemented by the addition of Amendments over the years. All for the sole purpose of making it more meaningful and relevant."

    CarmineD -- except for a number of failed experiments, the leading example being those amendments creating then repealing Prohibition.

    "...it can be argued with prudence that those who practice in massive public-theft and debt don't deserve or possess the ability to self-governance -- let alone the right of its liberty."

    Harley -- see the part of my first post above about those in government feathering their own nests. Their betrayal of the public trust is nearly outrageous as the dumb body politick which keeps re-electing them.

    "This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it." -- Abraham Lincoln, first inaugural address, 1861

  13. The Constitution defines a system of government, and the Bill of Rights defines limitations on that government. That was, and continues to be a wise configuration. Together they represent an attempt to implement the principles presented by the Declaration of Independence.

    The experiment in Prohibition should never have been done with Amendments to begin with, but should have been left as a function of the Tenth Amendment with federal regulation as needed to ensure standards where permitted. (As an aside, Prohibition could probably be brought back today as part of the powers of the Commerce Clause given how the feds have used it to control marijuana.)

    Amendments should be concise and deal with basic liberties, not specific instances, in my opinion. Just look at the mess California calls a constitution with over 200 amendments to it.

    The Framers were very wise in their design. We are not smarter, we just have a greater store of knowledge and experience to draw upon. I doubt very much that our current leaders have greater wisdom. And it is painfully clear that a very large portion of the citizenry have not received an education that allows them to understand the principles being discussed, let alone suggest alternatives.

  14. IQ's are of no use if there is no memory or understanding of past values and attitudes to accompany all this newly hatched 'brain power' of the 21st Century.

    The 13th Amendment in 1865 prohibited slavery and the 15th Amendment in 1870 gave all MEN, i.e. former slaves, indentured servants, and poor men without property etc., the right to vote. It wasn't until 1919, another 49 years, that the 19th Amendment was ratified to give women the right to vote.

    What kind of National World view would fight a war over slavery that cost over 500,000 lives to give personal property the right to vote, then wait another 49 years to give women the right to vote? How much more inferior are those who must wait another 49 years to vote after property is allowed to vote? (the word "property" is used in legal decisions and other literature of that era).

    An attempt to understand these and other attitudes requires reading (and remembering) history and that is a lost past time in this country.

    On the subject of IQs and memory, it is claimed that 46% of the America public believe the earth was created in six days. In that theory, the first three full days and nights passed before the sun on the fourth day was created. Is there anyone who remembers a bright, clear day in their life when there was no sun in the sky?

    It would be easy to argue that the creation theory of the Universe, which is told using only 31 sentences, shows a greater lack of wisdom because there is a full disconnect between the relationship of daylight to the sun - and this is not rocket science. Yet, creation theory is written by the greatest intelligence in the Universe.

    With that comparison alone, the authors of the Constitution, stating at the beginning of the document that it's purpose was "to form a more perfect union" and not create perfection as religious organizations claim, showed a superior honesty and enlightenment to even the greatest intelligence in the Universe.

  15. As with all good Obama-noids, Cesar F. Lumba forgets the facts surrounding the writing and voting for the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and has that luxury. The framers of the the Constitution did so with a gun pointed at their heads and many who signed off on it and the Declaration of Independence saw their families tortured and killed.

    They had their fortunes ruined and most died in poverty and fear for their life as they gave birth to a great nation where people like Mr Lumba can run off at the mouth and not worry about being killed for having such silly thoughts.

    Would the current leaders, including Obama and harry Reid, put their life or their ill gotten fortunes on the line for any piece of legislation?? The answer is of course, Hell No!!

  16. No, Motor Sports; thou paintest with an extremely broad brush. It is actually possible to be a member of the NRA, the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Federation as well as the Sierra Club and NOW and still honor and believe in the preservation of all ten amendments in the Bill of Rights, or what is left of them after those treasonous pieces of legislative detritus, the USA PATRIOT Act, the NDAA and the re-authorization of the FAA, that loosed upon the civilian populace, unmanned aerial vehicles operating from our nation's airports.

  17. "CarmineD -- except for a number of failed experiments, the leading example being those amendments creating then repealing Prohibition." @ Killer B

    My father, a machinist by trade and unemployed young man during the depression, managed a bootlegging still in NYC for Legs Diamond until Dutch Schultz torched and blew it up. At least Dutch and his associate gave my father a fair warning the day before a picture of the burning still was plastered on the front page of the newspaper.

    It would appear that the US Constitution can only handle one legal drug at a time. And alcohol was first.

    CarmineD