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Time For A Constitutional Convention?
Townhall.com ^ | October 6, 2011 | Ralph Benko

Posted on 10/06/2011 11:11:12 AM PDT by Kaslin

Last week the unthinkable happened.  While you were distracted by the banal and only marginally important presidential primaries, the lion, Harvard Law School, publicly lay down with the lamb, the Tea Party Patriots.  The long-term political implications are, potentially, far more potent than a mere presidency.

The SuperElite and the SuperPopulists convened at Harvard for a “Conference for a Constitutional Convention.”  It was co-hosted by Lawrence Lessig, from Harvard, and by Mark Meckler, co-founder of the 850,000 member Tea Party Patriots.

Lessig is a leading figure on the social democratic left, the director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard Law School. Elena Kagan (then Harvard Law School Dean, now U.S. Supreme Court Justice) once said, “Larry Lessig is one of the most brilliant and important legal scholars of our time…. His work has recast the very terms of discussion and debate in multiple areas of law, ranging from intellectual property to constitutional theory. His new focus on questions of governance and corruption will be similarly transformative.”

Lessig is also the author of canonical and subversive books on subjects as diverse as the Internet and copyright law.  His most recent — and most subversive — work: Republic, Lost.  Most scholars could (and do) retire on the job with much lesser accomplishments than this, happily disappearing into the status quo.  So what the hell is this one up to, enduring a lot of hostility for showing respect to a vilified ideological opponent?

Meckler’s biography is more laconic than Lessig’s:  “originally from southern California graduating from McGeorge Law School… credits his father with having passed to him a patriotic foundation and ‘cowboy ethics.’”  But his role, as co-founder and one of the national coordinators of the Tea Party Patriots, the largest and most authentic of the Tea Party groups, is all the credential he needs to stand in equal dignity with Lessig.   Similar to Meckler’s is the dignity of the Tea Party Patriots’ resident constitutional expert, Bill Norton, who also spoke at Harvard — as a citizen scholar.

Lessig and the Tea Party, and its guiding spirits, are populists.  Populism was forever redefined by Jeffrey Bell (a business partner of this columnist) as optimism about people’s ability to manage their own affairs better than an elite can manage them for them.  Populism is neither left nor right wing.  Populists of all stripes share in common a conviction in “power to the people,” a belief that in a republic “citizen” is the noblest office.  And while Lessig and Meckler may disagree about just about every ideological issue, their respect for the wisdom and dignity of the citizens unites them in a realm far more important than the ideological.

They came together to explore a mechanism by which America’s government can be changed by, of, and for the people.  Jefferson was unequivocally right when he wrote:

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

So.  Are there insufferable evils?

Let’s start with the federal government spending over a trillion dollars a year more than it takes in.  This provoked the Tea Party.  Many of us both on the right and in the populist rank and file consider the ballooning national debt to be an insufferable evil.

Congress persistently is refusing to stop spending money it does not have.  Sen. Curtis Olafson, a state senator from North Dakota, has a solution.  He’s gotten the ball rolling with support in 6 to 12 states for an Article V constitutional convention to prevent raising of the debt limit without state approval. He serves as national spokesperson for the National Debt Relief Amendment.

The left seems, mainly, outraged by the decision of Citizens United allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts in independent expenditures as is their clear First Amendment right. Lessig is a somewhat lonely figure on the left in not promoting a proto-fascist solution, censorship, to the problems being caused by “so damn much money” in politics.  The core of Lessig’s approach is that of making available optional (rather than coercive) public financing of congressional elections.  This is not radically dissimilar to the system in place for matching funds for presidential primaries and, while unequivocally “Progressive,” falls far short of Leninism (much to the dismay of the Communist Party USA, which attended the conference to denounce Lessig and push for a new, communist, constitution for North America).

Lessig is heartsick about how campaign contributions have come so to dominate the attention of candidates and members of Congress that it makes problems insoluble and is sinking America as a republic.  Lessig is evenhanded in pointing out the distortions.  He shows how political contributions clearly interfere with the free market process — contributions buying sugar tariffs leading to all kinds of degradations of the free market.  Then he shows how campaign money destroys left wing priorities, mangling, perhaps terminally, the drive to get to sustainable universal health insurance.  The current financing system also feeds popular cynicism, undermining our overall political health.

The corrupting effect of money in politics is more populist than left wing.  The dean of the Article V convention movement, former Michigan Chief Judge Thomas Brennan, no left winger, attended the conference and blogged:

Money that flows like raw sewage from K Street to the Capital. Money that corrupts. Money that influences. Money that changes our nation from a democratic republic to a sinister oligarchy of career politicians, corporate fat cats, ward healing bosses, and the lobbyists who tie them all together.

The last thing the incumbents in Congress will do is to change the rules in a way that might level the playing field between themselves and challengers, leading to an almost 100% reelection rate even though Congress, as a body, suffers from a pathetic 11% approval rating.  Therefore, Lessig is proposing to call an Article V convention to end run the Congress.  So is Olafson in his effort to take away Congress’s credit cards.

To get there they need 34 states. There are pockets of strong resistance to such a convention, most notably the John Birch Society, Phyllis Schlafly, and … Laurence Tribe, surely a strange bedfellows coalition if ever there was one.   On the other hand, the most respected state-based policy institute in America, the Goldwater Institute, has fielded Nick Dranias, who there holds the Clarence J. and Katherine P. Duncan Chair for Constitutional Government and is Director of the Joseph and Dorothy Donnelly Moller Center for Constitutional Government, to make an ironclad case that such an Article V call can be useful while constrained.

Yes, Meckler was there in his personal, rather than in an institutional, capacity, did not speak for the Tea Party Patriots, and did not endorse Lessig’s campaign finance reform.  No, Lessig did not endorse Sen. Olafson’s debt ceiling limit.  All beside the point.  For the first time in modern history the populist left and populist right came together to endorse, and seek a way to operationalize, a transcendent belief in citizens over  government.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; US: Michigan; US: North Dakota
KEYWORDS: billnorton; curtisolafson; elenakagan; harvard; jeffreybell; johnbirchsociety; laurencetribe; lawrencelessig; markmeckler; michigan; nickdranias; northdakota; phyllisschlafly; teapartypatriots; thomasbrennan
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1 posted on 10/06/2011 11:11:14 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

No Con Cons.


2 posted on 10/06/2011 11:12:50 AM PDT by sockmonkey (Freepers, please turn yourself in at attackwatch.com)
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To: Kaslin

This is my nightmare. What better way to promote big government than have all restrictions on it removed from the Constitution?


3 posted on 10/06/2011 11:13:37 AM PDT by Shadow44
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To: Kaslin

I DON’T want a “Constitutional Convention”.

We HAVE the Constitutional mechanisms in place to effectuate what we want. We just don’t have voters SMART enough to elect people with the courage to USE them.

A Constitutional Convention is the key for the left to destroy the Bill of Rights.


4 posted on 10/06/2011 11:13:49 AM PDT by ZULU (DUMP Obama in 2012)
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To: Kaslin

NO!!!!

I will not be Con’d by your idiotic call for a Con Con so you can undermine our inherent rights.


5 posted on 10/06/2011 11:14:13 AM PDT by Vendome (Don't take life so seriously, you won't live through it anyway)
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To: Kaslin
The Ivy League Communists are not to be trusted.
6 posted on 10/06/2011 11:14:13 AM PDT by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both)
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To: Kaslin

It will be complete chaos, take years, and in the end nobody will be happy with the outcome. Sounds like great TV. What the hell.


7 posted on 10/06/2011 11:14:36 AM PDT by Ace of Spades (Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes?)
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To: Kaslin

NO.

The Constitution is fine as it is. Not following it is the problem.


8 posted on 10/06/2011 11:15:05 AM PDT by ctdonath2 ($1 meals: http://abuckaplate.blogspot.com/)
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To: Kaslin

No to a Constitutional Convention!


9 posted on 10/06/2011 11:16:30 AM PDT by ThomasMore (Islam is the Whore of Babylon!)
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To: Kaslin
It's past time.
10 posted on 10/06/2011 11:17:37 AM PDT by WayneS (Comments now include 25% more sarcasm at NO additional charge.)
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To: Vendome

Absolutely not


11 posted on 10/06/2011 11:18:47 AM PDT by Kaslin (Acronym for OBAMA: One Big Ass Mistake America)
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To: BenLurkin

That is correct


12 posted on 10/06/2011 11:19:44 AM PDT by Kaslin (Acronym for OBAMA: One Big Ass Mistake America)
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To: Kaslin

No!


13 posted on 10/06/2011 11:20:46 AM PDT by MCCC (Owning a gun and saying you are armed is like owning a piano and saying you are a musician.)
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To: Kaslin

Not only no but HELL NO! We need to just ditch all the bad law that isnt constitutional already! Why have a new constitution that they wont obey?


14 posted on 10/06/2011 11:21:18 AM PDT by blasater1960 (Deut 30, Psalm 111...the Torah and the Law, is attainable past, present and forever.)
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To: Kaslin
Nononononononononohellno.

If we ever open the hood the Left will gut the Constitution. Everything we hold dear will be destroyed and every crazy half-baked "right" you can imagine and some you wouldn't want to imagine will be ensconced in perpetuity. No thanks!

15 posted on 10/06/2011 11:23:37 AM PDT by jboot
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To: Kaslin
Absolutely not!

If you cannot control who gets elected to run your Govt how in the world do you think you would control who got elected to a Constitutional Convention? Do this and kiss the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th and 10th Amendments good bye.

16 posted on 10/06/2011 11:25:28 AM PDT by MNJohnnie (Giving more money to DC to fix the Debt is like giving free drugs to addicts think it will cure them)
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To: Kaslin

Time for Secession.


17 posted on 10/06/2011 11:25:55 AM PDT by MachIV
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To: Kaslin
"We don't need to re-write the Constitution. We need to re-read the Constitution!"

- - Herman Cain

18 posted on 10/06/2011 11:26:48 AM PDT by Bloody Sam Roberts (Attacking Wall Street because you’re jobless is like burning down Whole Foods because you’re hungr)
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To: sockmonkey

“For the first time in modern history the populist left and populist right came together to endorse, and seek a way to operationalize, a transcendent belief in citizens over government.”

Breath-takingly naive. Harvard Law professors would dominate and subvert the process and substance. Even talking to people at HLS is a mistake.


19 posted on 10/06/2011 11:29:42 AM PDT by achilles2000 ("I'll agree to save the whales as long as we can deport the liberals")
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To: Kaslin

No. It’s time for remedial reading classes for congress covering the general welfare and interstate commerce clauses.


20 posted on 10/06/2011 11:32:39 AM PDT by Jack of all Trades (Hold your face to the light, even though for the moment you do not see.)
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To: Kaslin
Mark Meckler

is a gullible twit !

21 posted on 10/06/2011 11:38:20 AM PDT by Uriel-2012 (Psalm 119:174 I long for Your salvation, YHvH, Your law is my delight.)
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To: Kaslin

Time For A Constitutional Convention?

NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


22 posted on 10/06/2011 11:41:23 AM PDT by SumProVita (Cogito, ergo...Sum Pro Vita. (Modified Decartes))
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To: Kaslin

No. This is a Trojan Horse. And evidently Mark Meckler is far too naive to be trusted with the family silver.


23 posted on 10/06/2011 11:42:38 AM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius.)
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To: Kaslin

Naah...now that F&F/GunWalker failed to gut the Second Amendment on behalf of the RinoCracy...now they’d like to talk us out of it.


24 posted on 10/06/2011 11:43:29 AM PDT by mo
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To: Kaslin

The existing Constitution is all we needed to become the most successful Nation on this Earth, but the tinkering of the Power hungry, the power hungry Professional Politicians, and the aspirations of brazen political criminals has undermined that success.

We must identify, and vote out those DemoRATS, and RINO’s that are abusing us by using our government, therefore us as their personal resource.


25 posted on 10/06/2011 11:47:05 AM PDT by rockinqsranch (Dems, Libs, Socialists, call 'em what you will, they ALL have fairies livin' in their trees.)
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To: WayneS

Huh? Can you explain why you think so?


26 posted on 10/06/2011 11:47:47 AM PDT by Kaslin (Acronym for OBAMA: One Big Ass Mistake America)
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To: Kaslin

Why? We can’t protect the wonderful one we already have.


27 posted on 10/06/2011 11:49:34 AM PDT by Crucial
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To: Kaslin

If the Framers of the Constitution showed up incognito to this new Constitutional Convention and proposed the same ideas of limits on power and checks and balances, they would be unceremoniously tossed out the door as “dangerous extremists” and probably added to a Big Sis watchlist.


28 posted on 10/06/2011 11:49:57 AM PDT by Meet the New Boss (Cain you hear us NOW?)
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To: BenLurkin; Travis McGee
The Ivy League Communists are not to be trusted.

After reading Matthew Bracken's Enemies Foreign and Domestic Trilogy,I would never support a Constitutional Convention. His Book 2 envisions such a scenario. He has been prescient in his writings, and should be required reading for all Freepers.

29 posted on 10/06/2011 11:56:38 AM PDT by sockmonkey (Freepers, please turn yourself in at attackwatch.com)
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To: Kaslin

Worst time ever for a Constitutional convention.

Secession is far more appealing, and that is not a good idea either.

Convention, no. Restoration, yes.


30 posted on 10/06/2011 12:02:14 PM PDT by Psalm 144 (Voodoo Republicans: Don't read their lips - watch their hands.)
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To: Kaslin

NO!!!


31 posted on 10/06/2011 12:04:58 PM PDT by GBA (The Constitution and conservatism must win in 2012!)
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32 posted on 10/06/2011 12:16:38 PM PDT by TheOldLady (FReepmail me to get ON or OFF the ZOT LIGHTNING ping list)
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To: Kaslin

Now is the perfect time. Due to demographics and unhappiness with Obama, conservatism is at it’s high water mark. The GOP won’t save us. We just elected a ton of tea partitiers and they immediately started to vote with the establishment. They continue to fund CBRs


33 posted on 10/06/2011 12:16:58 PM PDT by MattinNJ (Cain/Gingrich)
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To: Kaslin
There are 13 words and two commas which need to be removed from The Bill of Rights.

The Judiciary need to have lengths of term defined.

Article 1, Section 8 needs to have more clearly defined restrictive language added to it.

There are a couple of other areas where language needs to be added, deleted or amended so that even the most ‘progressive’ judge cannot fail to understand that the Constitution is intended as a LIMIT on the power of the federal government, not as a template for expanding government power.

There are two methods by which constitutional amendments can be proposed. I sincerely doubt that two-thirds of ANY congress will EVER propose constitutional amendments to limit their own power. That means a constitutional convention demanded by 2/3 of the state legislatures is the only route by which the necessary changes can be proposed. Although I agree it is a long shot, I consider it a FAR more likely event than two-thirds of congress proposing the necessary revisions.

34 posted on 10/06/2011 12:20:32 PM PDT by WayneS (Comments now include 25% more sarcasm at NO additional charge.)
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To: Kaslin

I want a convention, assuming only one condition. If, since I live in Texas, at the end, Texas gets to vote on it. If we reject the outcome, we are free to leave the union.


35 posted on 10/06/2011 12:22:07 PM PDT by rigelkentaurus
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To: sockmonkey

It would be extremely dangerous.

Just look at the list of demands coming from the hippies on Wall Street and imagine them being enshrined as constitutional rights. It could happen.


36 posted on 10/06/2011 12:22:10 PM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: sockmonkey

I’ll second that emotion. The last thing in the world we need right now is a con con.


37 posted on 10/06/2011 12:50:06 PM PDT by Georgia Girl 2 (The only purpose of a pistol is to fight your way back to the rifle you should never have dropped.)
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To: Kaslin

I don’t think Tea Parties are Populist. I see them as Constitutionalist and Patriotic. They are our original country. The rest have moved radically Left to the Communist cause.


38 posted on 10/06/2011 1:04:26 PM PDT by RoadTest (For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.)
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To: sockmonkey

I agree. Any CC would be hijacked by Marxist radicals, and the new constitution would look like the USSR’s.


39 posted on 10/06/2011 1:10:55 PM PDT by Travis McGee (www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com)
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To: WayneS

It requires no rewording. Only a congress with backbone. The congress may tell the supremes what is out of bounds. That is in the current constitution. It is ignored only by habit and custom, but the congress can put bounds on the supremes.


40 posted on 10/06/2011 1:13:23 PM PDT by Travis McGee (www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com)
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To: Travis McGee
Yes. You are correct. However, may I refer you to the portion of my comment where I cast doubt on the prospect of congress ever agreeing to limit its own power?

If they will not, then only the States can - and I think it can only be done via more simple, direct language in the document itself.

I know, I know. Who would ever have thought that the simple, direct language of the original document would not be simple or direct enough? But remember, we're talking here about politicians who have either been elected to congress or who have been appointed to their judicial position by a politician - they're not exactly the sharpest knives in the drawer. SIMPLE commands will be the most effective.

41 posted on 10/06/2011 2:04:54 PM PDT by WayneS (Comments now include 25% more sarcasm at NO additional charge.)
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To: ZULU
We HAVE the Constitutional mechanisms in place to effectuate what we want. We just don’t have voters SMART enough to elect people with the courage to USE them.

And we don't have enough smart voters to kick out the people, RINOs and democrats, who are working against us. That's the easiest solution - boot out the RINOs and democrats, and stop electing RINOs.
42 posted on 10/06/2011 3:09:16 PM PDT by af_vet_rr
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To: Shadow44

The liberals will lie, cheat and steal such a movement for a new and improved constitution. When they are done, we will be China.


43 posted on 10/06/2011 3:37:17 PM PDT by SaraJohnson
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To: af_vet_rr

The US Constitution already exists , and has proven itself to be a good , reliable , consistant basis of American Exceptionalism.

We have elected representatives who have sworn to defend the Constitution ~ and who have bent their moral compass ~ and have chosen to not defend the Constitution as it already exists .

I trust no man (or woman) currently in office to re-write the Constitution.

The Founding Fathers were inspired ; most of the current lot of representatives are whores of power , money ,influence , arrogance , and self-importance.


44 posted on 10/06/2011 3:42:27 PM PDT by Tilted Irish Kilt ( (Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm. -- James Madison))
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To: rockinqsranch

Liberals have made a new constituion through “living” constitutional court rulings and political betrayals.

I think it is safe to say, looking at our current government, the corruption of the re-educated and culturally cleansed elitists and the country’s police powers, there is no more American constituion as our American ancestors, beginning with the founders, knew it.

The Left could make this state of affairs much worse if given the power to directly tamper with the constitution. But we are headed to their end game convention or no convention.


45 posted on 10/06/2011 3:42:53 PM PDT by SaraJohnson
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To: ZULU

Why, oh why, how, oh how do people imagine that the cure for a disaster which exists solely because the constitution is not followed is to rewrite the constitution which is not being followed. If the doctor writes a prescription which they never have filled and they get sicker do they demand that he write another?

I abandoned my resolutions that I made last New Year’s day but not to worry, I will make some new ones come January first.

This constitution or any other that might be written is worthless until and unless we have honest judges to interpret it and honest legislative and executive branches to abide by it. As it is we have not even one of the three. If we had them the present constitution would serve us very well.


46 posted on 10/06/2011 6:30:54 PM PDT by RipSawyer ("IDIOCRACY" is a documentary of current conditions in America.)
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To: Kaslin
BIG NO. The Constitution is the only thing standing between what's left of this Republic and full blown Communism. Open it up with this bunch of Marxists in power and we're done; conservatives will be targeted to be the new Ukrainians.
47 posted on 10/06/2011 6:41:23 PM PDT by liberalh8ter
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To: Georgia Girl 2

A Can Can would be much preferable to a Con Con...and better organized!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEuV6fN4hWw


48 posted on 10/06/2011 6:47:36 PM PDT by RipSawyer ("IDIOCRACY" is a documentary of current conditions in America.)
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To: WayneS

You cannot make the commands simple enough for those who have no intention of obeying them. We have already had a president who said it depends on what the meaning of is is.


49 posted on 10/06/2011 6:49:59 PM PDT by RipSawyer ("IDIOCRACY" is a documentary of current conditions in America.)
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To: RipSawyer

This constitution or any other that might be written is worthless until and unless we have honest judges to interpret it and honest legislative and executive branches to abide by it. As it is we have not even one of the three. If we had them the present constitution would serve us very well.

BINGO!!!


50 posted on 10/06/2011 8:21:38 PM PDT by ZULU (DUMP Obama in 2012)
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