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Nov-22-2011 16:15printcomments

The Constitution: 'it's just a piece of paper'

Recognize this? “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”.

Flaming constitution

(JAMESTOWN, R.I.) - The bill of rights and the Constitution formerly had meaning, but now it is meaningless, for as George W. Bush purportedly told Republican members in Congress: “Stop throwing the constitution in my face; it’s just a goddamned piece of paper”. He was correct and Obama has gone even further in ignoring and defiling the Constitution.

The first amendment, cited above, is now just a piece of meaningless paper. One merely has to look at the Occupy movement, inspired by the Arab Spring notably in Egypt, to see the flagrant disregard of the Constitution at all political levels. The First Amendment establishes “the right of the people to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”, but isn’t this exactly what the Occupy movement has been doing?

Is the movement peaceful, are Occupiers petitioning the government for a redress of grievances? They are, so why have political authorities in all major cities acted to prevent folks from peacefully assembling to petition the government for change? Where is the Bill of Rights? It apparently is just a “piece of paper”. The cities have enacted foolish regulations and restrictions gutting the first amendment of its substance. The first amendment does not say you must disband your peaceful assembly at 7:00 p.m. or after dark, it does not say you cannot set up a camp, it does not say you cannot use a microphone, or anything of the like.

Local authorities have simply passed requirements, which have in fact infringed upon the people’s right to peacefully assemble and petition the government for change. The Bill of Rights does not condone direct hit pepper spray to college kids sitting peacefully, nor does it condone the use of pepper spray on 84 year old women, nor does it condone life threatening injuries to a veteran of the US armed forces having served in Iraq. Local authorities have simply stolen the right to peacefully assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances. Where are the defenders of the Bill of Right? A knee jerk reaction would be to look to the Justice Department of the US government to uphold the Constitution, which they promised in oath to do. However the Justice Department is a participant in shredding the Bill of Rights and the entire Constitution.

The Fifth Amendment, among other things states that no one can be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, and it also states no “person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury”. Try and tell all this to American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki.

You cannot explain all this to al-Awlaki for he is dead; assassinated without being indicted, or for that matter, without anything. He has murdered because…; well we do not know why for the US government says it’s all a secret and they cannot tell us, save for the fact that the US government did not like the sermons the cleric delivered. Ask what this man did, and the answer is the same, we cannot tell you.

Ask what evidence they had, and they once again say they cannot tell you for it is a secret. Are there others on a government hit list? Yes. How many and who is on the list is all a secret. Are you on a hit list? Can’t tell you! But wait; what about the Fifth Amendment? It’s just a piece of paper!

But what about the Justice Department and Mr. Holder, who swore to uphold the Constitution? It’s just a piece of paper, and Mr. Holder is an empty suit. Did you ever in your wildest dreams, believe that in the United States of American a president can maintain a secret hit list, and murder US citizens without an indictment, trial, evidence, or any justification? To quote an Occupy chant: “This is what a police state looks like.”

Some might argue that the murder of al-Awlaki might possibly be legally justified by using the Fifth amendment cop out clause “except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger”; but wait, there is no legal war, for the Constitution states in Article One Section Eight that only Congress can declare war, and of course Congress abrogated that part of the Constitution despite having taken an oath to defend the Constitution. In light of Congress’ unwillingness to exercise its Constitutional duty and declare war, that clause of the Fifth Amendment is irrelevant in defending the assassination of al-Awlaki.

Why don’t we just vote them all out for flagrantly defying the Constitution despite having taken an oath to defend it? Well we can’t, for despite the Supreme Court’s historical defense of the one man one vote concept, it no longer holds water. Actually you do not have anyone representing your interest in the Congress, for Congress has turned themselves in to a ring of prostitutes by selling themselves to campaign donors, special interests who contribute large sums, banks, Wall Street, the big pharmaceutical companies, the health care industry, and least we forget, the military industrial complex. You, the 99% are voiceless, because the Constitution is” just a piece of paper”.

_________________________________ Writer Joe Clifford, lives in historic Jamestown, Rhode Island, and has contributed a number of articles relating to foreign policy to newspapers in the Rhode Island area for years.

He graduated from Providence College where he earned an undergraduate and graduate degree. After a lengthy career as a high school teacher he turned to the study of US foreign policy, and then to writing, as a means of expressing an alternative perspective. His reading and research on foreign policy is broad and extensive, especially as the policy relates to the Middle East. His interest in foreign policy was inspired by the American misadventure in Vietnam. You can write to Joe at this address:



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recommend check sources November 29, 2011 11:33 am (Pacific time)

I recommend writers always check their quotes for source attributions: Article "Bush on the Constitution: 'It's just a goddamned piece of paper' by DOUG THOMPSON Dec 10, 2005, is apparently the originating source of Bush purportedly telling Republican members in Congress: “Stop throwing the constitution in my face; it’s just a goddamned piece of paper”. Thompson or Capitol Hill Blue has since disclaimed the quote, see "This article was based on sources that we thought, at the time, were reliable. We have since discovered reasons to doubt their veracity. For that reason, this article has been removed from our database. Copyright © 2006 Capitol Hill Blue."

Douglas Benson November 25, 2011 7:44 am (Pacific time)

You just proved my point Ralph . The idea that government interest trumps rights is the single worst ruling that has turned our constitution into a joke .You can always find a government interest and the entire idea that government interest trumps rights is false on its face since the constitution and the bill of rights are by very definition a limit on government power. If you take that idea to its logical conclusion we have no rights only privleges subserviant to the governments whim.This is what gives us things like the Patriot act ,the TSA,homeland security,checkpoints ,illegal wars,all in the name of government interest. But hey lets say you are right about the issue of camping ,the use of force we have seen is a clear violation especially when the protesters are using peacefull resistance. Occupy!

Ralph E. Stone November 23, 2011 6:56 pm (Pacific time)

Mr. Benson, I have found an article that discusses recent court decisions relating to the Occupy movement and the First Amendment. Hope this helps explain that the First Amendment is not an absolute right.

Douglas Benson November 23, 2011 4:14 pm (Pacific time)

JW just what part of the constitution gives you the right to shop,or be free from inconvenience ,get to work on time etc. while people ,hard working people like the longshoremen ,union members and others exercise thier constitutional rights . Oh by the way you can change your handle but its the same old government shill tripe being spewed .

Douglas Benson November 23, 2011 4:02 pm (Pacific time)

Im sorry Ralph but if you have to ask permission its not a right . If there is one thing I know about its constitutional law . I spent many an hour in the law library and a few more on the computer . There are so many ways they can use the "law' to limit and deny constitutional rights its insane . If you dont think so go take the constitutional rights class at the college . Its not the class you might expect . It is a class to teach prospective officers how to violate our rights with impunity . The constitution is the law all other are subserviant to but we have made so many exceptions it might as well be toilet paper. Using riot police ,chemical agents ,rubber bullets ,arresting reporters ,assaulting citizens with batons and the list goes on is way beyond any reasonable use of force when there is no threat of physical harm to officers . When protesters dont use force to resist its a perfectly legal form of protest ,that includes chaining ,sitting and other forms of non-violent resistance . Oh you get arrested but charges get dropped if you claim your right to protest . Once again you might read Title 42 1983 again . using statutes or ordinaces under color of law to deprive citizens of thier rights or punish them for the exercise thereof is a crime .That includes threats of violence ,criminal charges ,and the like . Cities etc. many times decide that they are willing to take the heat for these crimes since most of the time they are never criminal charges but money claims . Once the laws are challenged and it winds it way through court they wait for a while and make them all over again . Portland had a good example of this not long ago with an ordinance to keep problem people out of the parks downtown the appeals court ruled it un-con they paid ,and the started the same thing all over again under a different name .
Protests by definition are meant to aggitate and disturb If its not it has no value .
By the way the President got mic checked the other day .Is that reasonable ? If they totally shut down his speech would that be reasonable? The people in this country have had it ,were mad as hell and we arent going to take it anymore. Occupy!

JW November 23, 2011 3:02 pm (Pacific time)

As per the reported BELOW national story, if this happens, then some serious anger is going to develop. There is also a plan to close all west coast ports on December 12. All these actions hurt the hardworking people. On Thanksgiving in New York City the Macy's parade is expected to have 3 1/2 million spectators, same as last year, and over 50 million viewers, so how many OWS protestors are actively out there nationally? You can assemble, but when you prevent other people from enjoying their constitutional rights then you have become criminals, and the law says we protect our lawful citizens. "Demonstrators Plan to Occupy Retailers on Black Friday"... "Some demonstrators are planning to occupy retailers on Black Friday to protest "the business that are in the pockets of Wall Street." "The idea is simple, hit the corporations that corrupt and control American politics where it hurts, their profits, " states the Occupy Black Friday Facebook page." Maybe it would be better to march around the Whitehouse and the people in congress who set up the subprime housing loans. Of course that would cut off union funding. Absolute hypocrisy by these people.

Amanda Black November 23, 2011 2:16 pm (Pacific time)

Nothing is "absolut" in this country, That is why we have such a mess. I prefer a country with mandated Law and Order in all phases of society. That would eliminate the abuse of authority, but direct it,to where law and order dictates.

Ralph E. Stone November 23, 2011 1:06 pm (Pacific time)

Mr. Benson, you should catch up on your Constitutional law. All I said was that the First Amendment is not absolute. A city has the right to enforce laws preventing health and safety violations. Thus, Occupy is not preventing from demonstrating/protestin as long as it complies with reasonable time, place, and manner laws. All Occupy has to do -- as they are now doing -- is change their tactics.

Anonymous November 23, 2011 12:45 pm (Pacific time)

Douglas you should go talk to some business owners around the area in Portland where these protestors were camped out. Ditto for New York City and many other locations. Major damage, and cosiderable loss of business, not good in today's economy. Considering that legally trained people advised mayors across the country what they could do, your analysis needs to be bolstered with some case law that passed Supreme Court muster for any lawsuit to prevail in the appeal process. These protestors have become their own worse enemy and their projected behavioral arc points towards some serious public reactions against them. They frankly are not 99%, maybe .0099% would be more accurate when you count the actual participants, and it is their numbers that only count. Did you notice when the Tea Party had their protests, not one of them was arrested, and they let their protest sites cleaner after they left, Oh, and they made a real bang at the ballot box, you notice that?

Editor: You stepped in what?

Douglas Benson November 23, 2011 5:41 am (Pacific time)

Im sorry Ralph ,I think you should read your own article from last week . US code 42 1983 clearly states that using ordinance or statute to deprive us of our rights and that includes limiting them under color of law is a federal crime. I really hate the way the case you are refering to is used. You can allways find some way protests cause harm. First the protests are not a false claim ,nor do they pose a threat to life or property beyond what I feel is reasonable. Rioting ,looting and burning ,yes. Camping,marching and minor traffic obstuction NO. Peace

Daniel Johnson November 22, 2011 10:21 pm (Pacific time)

As a writer, I do not use the term "military-industrial complex" because that is not what Eisenhower actually meant to say. He originally had "Military-Industrial-Congressional complex" in  his speech but took out "Congressional" because he apparently felt it unseemly for a leaving president to be critical of a sitting congress.

If more writers started using the full  term "military-industrial-congressional", complex, then more citizens would start to see the bigger picture.

Ralph E. Stone November 22, 2011 4:42 pm (Pacific time)

Your characterization of the First Amendment is not quite correct. The First Amendment right is not absolute. The most famous example is when Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes stated: "protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic." Cities have the right to adopt reasonable laws to permit it to maintain a clean, safe, publicly accessible public space as long as the laws are not unreasonable time, place, and manner restrictions. Thus, the First Amendment rights of any Occupy movement would not be violated as long as it abides by reasonable rules established by the City.

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