Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Have your barf bags ready . . .

because tomorrow night, your stomach contents are going to surge.

It's hard to find anything original or distinctive to say about this grotesque, horrifying situation. Plenty of information, informed analysis, and ranting is available at Today in Iraq, and elsewhere. But I will say this. If that evil, sadistic sociopath gets his way and is allowed to murder a few tens of thousands more people for the sake of his megalomaniacal fantasies, we will finally have to conclude that our constitutional order has failed.

We need to revisit basic issues about the organization of our polity and the rules for both the political process and public discourse in light of the cultural, material, technological, environmental and economic context of the present age. We have to stop regarding the Constitution as a sacred scripture and understand it as a human creation, flawed in its time, improved in important ways since but with many remaining flaws, now seriously out of date.

A few suggestions:

Corporations are not persons, have no rights whatsoever, and exist only at the pleasure of the People's representatives. The People charter them, the People may revoke their charters at any time, and the rights pertaining to people have no relevance to corporations. Corporations are prohibited from donating to political campaigns, to political parties, or to political action committees. Corporations may not employ lobbyists, and may not communicate with elected officials in any way. Obviously, that includes corporations that happen to be in the business of manufacturing weapons or contracting with the military.

So okay, what about corporations that own newspapers, TV and radio channels, Internet sites, etc., that purport to be legitimate journalistic operations? They are common carriers. They must provide access to speech from citizens who they do not employ, and do not control, proportionate to the volume of speech they purvey that they do control. (Yeah yeah, lots of specifics to work out. But right now, freedom of the press applies only to people who own one. That must change. Yes, I have this blog, and in the old days I could have stood on the street corner handing out flyers, but I get to participate in Fox News or the NYT only at their pleasure. There are plenty of creative ideas out there for changing this. Many people thought the technology of the Internet would do the job all by itself, but that, I think, was a bit of a fantasy. Sure, it helps, but it's not the answer.)

Representation in the Senate is proportionate to population.

The electoral college is abolished. Presidents are elected by the plurality of the popular vote.

Congress shall have the sole power to declare war. (Oh, wait a minute . . .)

The tax on estates in excess of 1 million dollars, indexed permanently to inflation, is 100%. That's in the Constitution, it's not a matter of law. Why should dead people have any rights?

The District of Columbia is a state.

So is Puerto Rico, if they want to be.

The president is still Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, but Congress can issue binding orders by a simple majority which is not subject to veto.

Let's eliminate, once and for all, any ambiguity or debate about the place of religion in society. The political order is secular. It has nothing to do with religion. That means, among other conclusions, that religious institutions are not exempt from taxes, and, as corporations, they have no rights including no rights of free speech. Individual adherents of religion of course have an absolute right to speech. Their adherents may peaceably assemble; say, write or believe whatever they want; and attempt to convince others of the ultimate truth of their beliefs. They get no tax exemption to do so, however. The Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion -- in the private sphere. There are no prayers in official sessions of Congress, in school-sponsored events, in official military ceremonies, or in any other occasios of state or publicly funded or sanctioned contexts. Members of Congress, soldiers, students and football players are all perfectly free to get together and pray, speak in tongues, or have ecstatic seizures on their own time.

The United Nations Charter, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are the law of the land in the United States.

Any objections? Any other suggestions?

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