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Marshall vs. McEachen

By Greg L | 30 April 2010 | National Politics, 13th HOD District, Virginia Senate | 25 Comments

Tonight there was a “debate” of sorts between Delegate Bob Marshall, the author of HB 10, and Senator Donald McEachen, who amiably represents the exact polar opposite of the political spectrum.  The topic of discussion was of course Obamacare.  Not wanting to miss a match-up between such polar political extremes, especially when it was to happen so close to home, I couldn’t resist.  I ended up not being disappointed, albeit for different reasons than I expected.

It wasn’t a demonstration of the fireworks so typical of these kinds of events, and it really wasn’t much of a debate but more of two die-hard partisans talking past each other for an hour or so.  What it was ended up a pretty fascinating insight into two somewhat representative political mindsets by two elected officials who are personally very charming and amiable.  You can’t help but personally like both of these folks to some degree, even if you’re bound to disagree pretty strongly with at least one of them.  Absent the emotional outrage that tends to swell up at these things, you get a chance to try to understand them, and figure out what makes them tick, and perhaps, just maybe, get some insight into what makes them tick.

I, and many others in these parts know Delegate Bob Marshall pretty well.  Given the contrast offered by Senator McEachen, it really becomes clear just how process and procedure-oriented Delegate Marshall is.  He’s deeply concerned not only with the what, but the how, and whether both are consistent with state and constitutional law.  It’s facts and figures, references to court cases to such a depth it will put an attorney to shame (Marshall even ended up helping McEachen, an attorney, out with a few citations this evening).  Bob gives history lessons and primers in constitutional law, and if you’re interested in such arguments at all, he’s going to win you over.

Senator McEachen, for an attorney, is curiously uninterested in what the law actually is, and definitely more concerned about what it should be in his view, and the moral and social implications of legislative decisions.  The references to social justice themes and calls to provide for the less fortunate are right out of the liberal’s playbook, along with the obligatory blaming of George Bush for various evils real or imagined, but with the opportunity to discuss the constitutionality of the Healthcare Freedom Act and Obamacare I had expected an attorney to dive into court precent and law.  Not in this case.  I don’t imagine McEachen felt he couldn’t participate in a legal debate here and avoided it, I just got the impression he thought such a debate was unimportant compared to the social and economic issues involved in providing health care to the poor.

How unusual.  The attorney avoids discussion of the law, and the non-attorney gives a tremendous lecture on constitutional case law and precedent.

Do liberals simply not care what the law is?  I really doubt it.  They certainly like to discuss it when they’re screaming about something they disagree with.  I get the impression they just see it as a marginal discussion when issues of what they view as moral imperative are concerned.  Such would certainly explain how we end up with horrifically bad legal decisions penned by liberal Supreme Court justices as with Roe v. Wade.  If legal thought should be subordinated to perceived moral imperative by legislators and judges, the outcome is tragic not because of ill intent by liberals by any means, but simply because the unavoidable result of such practices results in a tyranny imposed by whoever decides what the moral imperatives must be.

Fifty years ago the moral imperative would certainly not dictate that homosexuals should be serving in the armed forces.  Now, that is at least an open question in our society. Changes like that don’t exactly demonstrate to liberals that they’re wrong, and as long as they observe social changes that reinforce their vision of a valid moral imperative worthy of superseding legal reasoning, precedent, and Constitutional limits on federal powers, they are not going to believe that such an outlook is wrong in any way.  No, they’ll see themselves as preemptively moving towards a more enlightened future where such pesky things as laws aren’t even very necessary, since everyone’s moral imperatives will be properly adjusted to produce the proper societal results of social justice.

Yes, a frightening ‘Brave New World’, but not one brought closer to us out of a desire to deliver the actual horrors it would inevitably visit upon us.  No, it’s just a case of genuinely good people with phenomenally bad ideas.

That’s what tonight showed us.

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  1. jacob said on 30 Apr 2010 at 6:48 am:
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    I think you nailed it. When the law does not support the liberal agenda, they simply ignore it. While Senator McEachen is personally charming, his willful abridgement of the state and federal constitutions, documents he has sworn to uphold, is anything but charming.

  2. Disgusted said on 30 Apr 2010 at 6:58 am:
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    In my experience, people look at laws one of two ways. If the laws parallel their views and/or morals, then they are not inclined to change them; more inclined to simple follow them. If the laws are viewed as harmful, or discriminatory, or go against a person’s view of “Constitutionality”, or the role of government in their lives, there is motivation to make changes.
    Greg, by golly, you are consistent. In this topic, I’d put you in the first group, along with Delegate Marshall. I’d put Sen. McEachen in the latter. My problem with your take is the reflexive swipe at liberals and Democrats simply because they want to change a law. Excuse me, but aren’t you asking for the same thing in your campaign to overturn Obamacare? Yes, you are. Please keep in mind that laws were changed to allow blacks voting rights, women voting rights, and to outlaw discrimination on the basis of race and gender. Are you advocating we overturn these “unconstitutional” acts and return to the status quo? You are too quick to cheap shot an opponent. It took away from what was otherwise a well stated piece.

  3. Patty said on 30 Apr 2010 at 12:40 pm:
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    Then it really comes down to this: whose morals are right?

    The bigger question is: should morals be based on the whims of man or God’s absolute truth? That is the choice. It is either God or man.

    “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what is right in his own eyes.”

    Judges 21:25

  4. Nat said on 30 Apr 2010 at 1:50 pm:
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    No, it is not a question of whose morals are “right”. Since when did it become the job of a limited government of enumerated powers to promote the morality of a particular religion? Where in the Constitution does it say the government is supposed to be in the business of promoting God? You can check your Constitution. Take your time. It isn’t in there.

    This insidious idea that government should be in the God business is gaining popularity. But it is dead wrong. And it isn’t consistent with the Constitution.

    If the God salesmen get their way and subvert the government for the purpose of promoting their business it leads to the next very dangerous question. Whose God? And whose interpretation of that God?

    Let’s follow the Constitution on this one please.

  5. Patty said on 30 Apr 2010 at 5:44 pm:
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    Oh my! Another person who has not studied our history and the beliefs of the founding fathers.

    Hey Nat, go read the Declaration of Independence. Now who do you suppose the Creator is?

    Here, why don’t you twist your brain on this…… who determines which morals are followed…you? What makes you think you’re right? Suppose the majority voted to get rid of the Constitution, then what will you do? Suppose a group of people voted to knock you off…majority wins and you lose.

    Please use some logic. While you’re at it go study history and the biographies of our founding fathers. Fredericksburg gives a tour of George Washington’s boyhood home. You can visit the prayer rock where George Washington often went to pray.

  6. Dave in Alexandria said on 30 Apr 2010 at 8:35 pm:
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    From Peggy Noonan in the WSJ. It pretty much sums things up.

    “But while the Democrats worry about the prospects of the Democrats and the Republicans about the well-being of the Republicans, who worries about America?

    No one. Which the American people have noticed, and which adds to the dangerous alienation—actually it’s at the heart of the alienation—of the age.”

  7. es_la_ley said on 30 Apr 2010 at 9:28 pm:
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    Interesting web page showing the religious affiliations of the founding fathers of the USA….


  8. Ray Williams said on 1 May 2010 at 6:36 am:
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    If Bob Marshall had his way, he’d force bible study on public school buses going to and from school.

    I think he should quit as Delegate and get a job in some small jurisdiction somewhere so he can serve as Tree Warden. That way he can pray to the trees and pee on the ones that don’t bow down as he walks by.

    Just another spiteful holier than thou Republican that would trade the shingles off his grandmas house for another chance to speak out as a fool.

  9. Rez said on 1 May 2010 at 8:17 am:
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    Remember we were told that the reason for the health insurance law was to keep rates in check since health care was rising so fast?

    Well, Congress thinks so highly that what it did was so good, Senator Feinstein and 5 others introduced a bill to give authority to the HHS department to cap the rates of insurers. It is S. 3078 and was introduced March 4. By the way, it also places a requirement on states to deny “unreasonable rate increases” if the state has the authority or the Secretary of HHS if the state doesn’t have the authority. This was originally proposed by the WH. So now the Feds want to dictate how a state approves rate increases as well.

    So much for bill of goods.

  10. Disgusted said on 1 May 2010 at 3:30 pm:
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    Rez, Doesn’t some agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia have to approve rate hikes on power? Gotta problem with that, too? Take off the blinders!

    Patty - I have to go with Nat on this one. I am a Christian, believe Jesus is the Son of God, all that. But I DO NOT want ANYONE telling me who to pray to, how to pray, when to pray, especially the Government. We are a Commonwealth and a nation of many different religious views of God. Do you want a Hindu or a Wicken or a Mormon or a Baptist making laws that only suit their religion? Might come as a real shock to you, but all those types don’t want our religion and they all think they’re right. The nerve! And since the Constitution allows for freedom to practice one’s religion, and many Supreme Court cases decided against a state supported religion, I find your naive religious (notice I DIDN’T use Christian) bigotry malodorous!! Yeah, yeah, you’re gonna quote more bible verses and “history” about how the founding fathers want it that way. I have one for you! “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye!” Mathew 7:5 KJV

  11. Kevin C said on 1 May 2010 at 6:33 pm:
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    Ray Williams said on 1 May 2010 at 6:36 am: “If Bob Marshall had his way BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH…”

    Greg, I thought you had a handle on these rabid, left wing, mentally deficient, progressive (which is just another way of saying COMMUNIST) TROLLS !!??!!

    Ray Williams, TOTALLY oblivious to his own HYPOCRISY !!!!!

  12. Disgusted said on 2 May 2010 at 7:41 am:
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    Thanks, Kevin, for the value added comment. Best be heading back to your backyard bomb shelter now!

  13. Groveton said on 2 May 2010 at 7:50 am:
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    Greg paints a very optimistic picture. In his world, Democrats in general (and liberals in particular) don’t care about the constitution. Republicans in general and conservatives (in particular) do care about the constitution.

    The problem with Greg’s argument is that the US Supreme Court is part of the process. While the US Supreme Court should be impartial and judge laws based on the constitution, they have not really been doing this for years. Heller was 5-4. Anybody under 50 will live to see the second amendment neutered by the US Supreme Court - constitution or not.

    It is far from guaranteed that Cuccinelli will win Virginia’s anti-Obamacare lawsuit. It is far from guaranteed that the other states will win their lawsuit. In fact, I’d guess that the odds of Obama and Pelosi carrying the day in court are about 5-1.

    Remember, it’s not what the US Supreme Court should decide which counts, it is what the US Supreme Court does decide which matters.

    The framers of the US Constitution assumed that those in public office were educated and intelligent people working selflessly for the betterment of the republic. Therefore, the founders used very brief statements to make very big points. The entire second amendment is one sentence long.

    Today, we have a power drunk federal government which is hopelessly and irretrievably corrupt. The rot runs to the core of both parties on Capitol Hill. Fueled by special interests and self-serving agendas the national politicians have fully separated themselves from the electorate. Meanwhile, well meaning people like Ken Cuccinelli ask those same national politicians to regulate themselves when he sets in motion a process which will end up being decided by a group of national politicians appointed for life by another group of national politicians.

    We need a new constitution with clear, overt and dramatic limits to the power of the federal government. While the current constitution has serves America well over the 220 or so years it has been in force, it no longer meets the needs of the country. Sadly, it fails to meet the needs of the country because the country can no longer assume and honest cadre of politicians working in the nation’s best interest.

    Cuccinelli will probably lose his lawsuit. Obamacare will be the law of the land. Since the cost fo health care in not meaningfully contained in Obamacare the insurance premiums will continue to rise. Feinstein, et all will get premiums capped and private companies will stop writing health insurance policies. At which point Obama et al will have just what he wanted - a federally owned health care system.

    The US Supreme Court is part and parcel of the rot in Washington. They will not protect anybody from federal over-reach. We need a new constitution. We can get one with or without the permission of the nanny-fascists in DC.

    Marshall is right in wanting to respect the constitution but wrong in thinking that there is a viable political process in place to do that.

  14. Kevin C said on 2 May 2010 at 10:01 am:
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    Disgusted said on 2 May 2010 at 7:41 am: “Thanks, Kevin, for the value added comment.”

    I suppose YOU’D rather HOLD HANDS with the TROLLS !!!

    That way your comment on the other thread would be even MORE relevant !!!

    From the “When Standards Are Inconvenient…” thread:
    Disgusted said on 2 May 2010 at 7:37 am: “Its our own fault…”

    No surprise your “high school son” has MORE sense than you !!!

    *** *** *** *** ***

    Disgusted said on 2 May 2010 at 7:41 am: “Best be heading back to your backyard bomb shelter now!”

    Thank YOU, Disgusted, for ending your post with MINDLESS, MEANINGLESS, MORONIC babble proving, with your own words, that your HEAD is STUCK in a very, VERY dark place !!!

  15. Anonymous said on 2 May 2010 at 10:38 am:
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    Kevin……..naw, its too easy.

  16. Disgusted said on 2 May 2010 at 11:56 am:
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    Groveton - Democrats do care about the Constitution. They just have a different view from yours. Please refer to my first post. I’d lump you with Mr. Marshall’s crowd in that you only think its unconstitutional when you disagree with it. It IS your right to hold such a view, but your logic is naive.

    You wrote, ” The framers of the US Constitution assumed that those in public office were educated and intelligent people working selflessly for the betterment of the republic.” Really? Remember all the checks and balances they included in the Constitution? Remember that they DID NOT want an established, government sponsored religion? Why is that? Because they were very familiar with human nature, their own included, and the demonstrated history that humans can’t be trusted and have to be monitored to be accountable for their actions. They were afraid of having too much power concentrated in too few hands. I give them credit for being that honest with themselves.

    Now, be honest with us and with yourself. You dislike Obama and Democrats. No problem. You will fight them, however, not on the merits of their causes, but simply because they are Democrats. You are blinded by your ideology. Good ideas come from many directions. Your narrow minded eschatology will likely cause you to ignore what might otherwise be useful ideas simple because they are from the “wrong” political party. I don’t know why you are fretting the Supreme Court since the “majority” is conservative. However, the conservative, fundamentalist Christian, nonexistent government utopia you seek never existed in the first place and never will until AFTER the tribulation and rapture.

  17. Groveton said on 2 May 2010 at 12:31 pm:
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    Disgusted -

    You are kind of funny. I am not a rabid Republican. I vote for some Democrats in every election. The only political contributions I have made in the last 10 years have been to Democrats (and I have made several totaling several thousand dollars).

    I oppose both the death penalty and abortion.

    I think Regan and Clinton were the two best presidents in my lifetime. I think Carter and GH Bush were the two worst (although Dear Leader is giving them a run for the money).

    I think the Patriot Act is wrong-headed and unconstitutional. Same for Obamacare.

    Sorry, but I just don’t fit your mold.

    Term limits were part of the Articles of Confederation. They were dropped from the US Constitution because the framers felt that politicians would rotate into and out of office of their own accord. For quite a while, that’s exactly what they did. Then, a few of the slippery eels decided that they wanted to be professional politicians. The slipperiest eel of them all - FDR - decided he would be emperor for life. After his death, even the rest of the eels knew they couldn’t let that happen again and voted term limits into the constitution.

    Districts are gerrymandered to keep “safe” seats “safe” for both parties. Special interests pour money into the campaigns of the incumbents of both parties. Bills are written and then voted on before anybody can read them. Special riders are inserted into legislation to sneak the legislation through without being noticed (student loan legislation in Obamacare, for example).

    Since you claim an understanding of the founding fathers, here’s a quote for you …

    “We may consider each generation as a distinct nation, with a right, by the will of its majority, to bind themselves, but none to bind the succeeding generation, more than the inhabitants of another country.”.

    Thomas Jefferson

    The government of the United States is fundamentally broken. This dysfunction goes well beyond any one president or any one party. It goes to the core of an opaque and corrupt political elite. Absent revolution, the only way we are going to sieze our country back from those presently in power is to remake the constitution. And I don’t give a damn who wins in November.

  18. Disgusted said on 2 May 2010 at 1:57 pm:
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    I am with you 150% on Reagan and Clinton. You should have stopped after “Thomas Jefferson” because you were making some nice points. But you didn’t. Fun looking up quotes on Google though, eh?

    1) The founding fathers were an elitist group. They created a constitution that considered only white male property owners (themselves) as mattering enough to be allowed to vote. The state legislatures picked the senators, not the common rabble.

    2) If you are able to convince enough like minded folks to hold a Constitutional Convention, by all means have at it. I’d love to see the result. I’d be glued to CSPAN. Then, if you can convince enough of the state legislatures to ratify your changes, you win! Unfortunately, you’re in a minority. Kinda sucks, huh?

    3) Define “broken”. Do you mean not carrying out the wishes of the people? See point 1. I think they are carrying out the wishes of the “people” - only you and I aren’t in it. They wear expensive suits and are called “CEO” and “Director”. Kinda sucks again, huh?

    4) Why do ya gotta crack on FDR? I mean, come on. Been dead forever. Democrat, and its always open season on Democrats, right? Why didn’t you mention Nixon. He seemed to hold the Constitution in high regard. Oops, not a Democrat.

    You are dreaming if you think we can approach today what the Founders did in their day and create a better Constitution. We have what we have, given some minor tweaking. I think the Constitution IS working because everyone still follows it, even Democrats and liberals. The Founders were smart enough to design the amendment process to give our generation a way to tweak it. Groveton, don’t give up; just be realistic and stop expecting Utopia.

  19. Groveton said on 2 May 2010 at 2:35 pm:
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    A lifetime in Virginia including a degree from the university Mr. Jefferson founded has given me more than a Google-level understanding of the man.

    Yes, the founding fathers were elitists. So was Harry F. Byrd and the Byrd Machine. So was FDR. So are the Kennedys.

    I am definitely in the minority with regard to wanting to overhaul the US Constitution. In a minority? Yes. Alone? No. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_More_Perfect_Constitution

    In my opinion, the surprising support that Ken Cuccinelli gets in Virginia for wanting to sue the federal government over health care, carbon taxes, etc is the start of something bigger. The various states which have passed laws highlighting the importance of the 10th amendment is the start of something bigger. I am in that minority who thinks it will build into a full scale revamping of the US federal government.

    I pick on FDR because he represented the focal point of the “big government is better” philosophy which is still haunting us today. I referred to him in the last post because he was an example of a “politician for life”. The kind of politicians the founding fathers hated. The kind of politician who is too numerous today. Nixon was a disaster but Roosevelt was a bigger disaster.

    The only people I see in the federal government following the constitution are Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

    America is at a cross roads. We’re embroiled in two wars which seem like they will go on forever. Our economy is fragile at best and broken at worst. We don’t secure our own borders. We spy on our own people. Our health care system is a mess. Our educational system is a mess. Nobody trusts the government. The baby boomers are retiring and the country can’t afford it. Meanwhile, the UN, the IMF and the World Bank would like us to transfer our wealth to other, less fortunate countries. They have siezed on the carbon cap and trade movement as a way to accomplish their goals and we have a president who might just help them.

    Time for a change.

  20. Disgusted said on 2 May 2010 at 3:26 pm:
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    Got it! Well stated, even for a Wahoo!

    So what do you propose? Saying you want change is great. Give me some specifics. I don’t want ranting about this and that. Give me some concrete examples. I take it you’re for term limits. What else? How do you account for continuity within government? We can’t have a new administration starting the WHOLE government from the ground up. It’s too much. What about permanent staff? Want them or not? Limits? I’m all ears…well eyes since this is electronic…you get what I mean. Convince me. Convince me it can work for ALL Americans, conservatives, liberals, progressives, moderates, etc. Can’t please everyone, so who is gonna win?

  21. Rez said on 2 May 2010 at 4:51 pm:
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    Continuity in government will occur naturally. Only 1/3 of the senate is up for election every 2 years–even the house which elects all members every 2 years, have members who have been elected in different years. So if you make it every 8 years and every 12 years for term limits, not all members would meet that at the same time.

  22. Citizen12 said on 2 May 2010 at 6:15 pm:
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    The problem lies within those entrusted with upholding the Constitution as well as those entrusted with making sure it is being upheld. The recent efforts by various states to challenge the Federal Government is to be commended and those that would condemn such actions must be shown to be at the least, misguided or party to the corruption bent of violating our Constitution.

    For far too long our states, once having given limited power to the Federal Government have failed to ensure its proper execution of such. Now the ball is rolling and the gloves must come off. It is not enough to say we disagree with these actions but make the direct distinction that to usurp power with the intent to violate the Constitution is not only illegal but an act of treason as well, with prosecution forthcoming.

    I think Groveton is on to something regarding the need for a full scale revamping of the Federal Government. The forces steering our direction and triggering the events of recent history reach far beyond the levels of two party politics, span decades of infiltration and evolution and will not be addressed nor corrected under the corrupt and broken system we suffer under today.

  23. Disgusted said on 2 May 2010 at 6:37 pm:
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    I went to the website our friend Groveton cited and saw it belongs to Larry Sabato (One Wahoo shilling for another, perhaps?). One of the changes Mr. Sabato suggests is raising the number of members in the US House from 435 to 1000!!! The logic being the increase in number results in much smaller districts and, hopefully, a better chance for the voice of the people to get heard. If nothing gets done in a chamber of 435, what do you think will happen when 1000 get in there? I just have a mental image of one of those Taiwanese legislature free for alls taking place. No thanks, I prefer this system.

    Another is line item veto. Like it. Not very original, but A+ for sticking with it.

    Citizen 12, I am waiting for this judicial fun to begin. I think you are right in saying the states should challenge the federal government. I really am interested to see what happens because I don’t have any idea how this will play out. Mr. Marshall’s statement in support/defense of HB10 was very good and had legitimate citations. My question to you, hypothetically, is what happens if the states judicial challenge fails? Would you contemplate insurrection? Seriously or just blasts in a blog?

  24. Citizen12 said on 3 May 2010 at 12:41 am:
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    Disgusted said on 2 May 2010 at 6:37 pm:

    My question to you, hypothetically, is what happens if the state’s judicial challenge fails? Would you contemplate insurrection? Seriously or just blasts in a blog?


    If the judicial challenge fails in the first round they should continue the fight. It is not only health care but a history of federal over reach which must be challenged. Insurrection is not an option. Restoration and vigilant protection of our government as intended by the founders should be the goal.

    As for changes in the constitution, IMHO there is merit in its current rendition, to its longevity and shortness. Much can be accomplished without the need for serious restructure of it.

    As for alternatives, some startling reading can be found in The Emerging Constitution, written by a former member of President Roosevelt’s brain trust, Professor Rexford Tugwell. A scary thought that many think this guy was on the ball with his Newstates Constitution. Read this review of the book.


  25. Groveton said on 3 May 2010 at 7:32 am:
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    Wahoos don’t generally school. The biggest step forward provided by Prof. Sabato (professors at UVA are, by custom, never referred to as “doctor” sine Thomas Jefferson was not a PhD) is his willingness to gore the sacred cow of a permanent constitution. He dicusses what various states have done - Virginia’s constitution has been rewritten 7 times - and what the founding fathers really intended - they all seemed to think the the constitution would evolve as “we the people” saw the need for evolution.

    More on specifics when I have a chance.

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