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Author Topic: Christine O'Donnell...well, let her tell you
The White Whale
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Youtube link

Highlights at 2:37, 3:35, and 7:03.

Washington Post Article

quote:
"Where in the Constitution is separation of church and state?" O'Donnell asked while Democrat Chris Coons, an attorney, sat a few feet away.

Coons responded that O'Donnell's question "reveals her fundamental misunderstanding of what our Constitution is. ... The First Amendment establishes a separation."

She interrupted to say, "The First Amendment does? ... So you're telling me that the separation of church and state, the phrase 'separation of church and state,' is in the First Amendment?"

How is she still around?
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BlackBlade
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Because in debates the actual text of the constitution is often ignored in favor of simply discussing hot button issues.

While tests are illegal for voter eligibility, I would have no problem with candidates being required to pass a basic constitutional exam or else fail to qualify for candidacy on election day. It would have hilarious and shocking results on the day of election.

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scifibum
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To be fair, she was probably making a point about the "actual text" in which the specific phrase she mentioned doesn't appear. It's a pretty lame point, but she wasn't outright denying that the 1st amendment contains anything related to the matter.
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The White Whale
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It's more that a pretty lame point. You hear the phrase "separation of church and state" and you should think of the first amendment. Talking about the exact phrasing is pointless and an evasion of actual dialogue, especially in a public debate like that.
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MattP
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Well, a later exchange was this:

Coons: The government shall make no establishment of religion.

O'Donnell: That's in the First Amendment?

So yeah, his wording wasn't exactly right, but this time she wasn't responding with the "the words 'separation between church and state' aren't in there" canard. She was questioning a passable paraphrase of the actual language.

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Juxtapose
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So THAT'S what a microcosm looks like.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Because in debates the actual text of the constitution is often ignored in favor of simply discussing hot button issues.

O'Donnell's antics are not indications of Rand Paul-esque selective parsing of the constitution for electoral gain (which I find more odious) but rather of actual, legitimate ignorance of what the constitution actually says versus the common 'constitution loving' tea partiers' easily lampoonable interpretation.
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Blayne Bradley
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And predictably enough she knows zero about science and repeated the whole "evolution is a theory not a fact" stupidity, heck I may have misheard but I suspect she may even have said "... its not even a theory..." as well.
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Lisa
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O'Donnell is a Palin plant to make Palin look smarter by comparison.
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Lisa
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And by plant, I mean zucchini.
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Geraine
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I thought it was pretty hilarious too. I think part of what she was trying to get at was misunderstood. The first amendment prevents the government from establishing a state religion. She was probably referring to some of the other aspects of separation of church and state that have popped up over the years and are not in the consitution, but she didn't do a decent job of explaining that. She never does.
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Amanecer
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I have been rather appalled by the news presentation of this. I am personally a gigantic fan of the separation of Church and State, but I don't think the point she was making is utterly stupid or shows her utter ignorance.

Most people seem to think that all of the founders wanted a complete separation and that's just false. There were State Religions that continued for years after the Bill of Rights was law and nobody saw a conflict. Current Constitional law is not based solely on the Constitution and I do not see any harm in addressing that fact. Hearing the context, I think that's the point she was getting at. If the attacks against this idea were more than character attacks, I'd be all on board. But the majority of what I've seen is character attacks (even on NPR!) and I find that upsetting.

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The White Whale
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If that was what she was trying to address, than she should have said that.

Asking "Where in the constitution is separation of church and state?" in a public debate, and then later fumbling over the details of other amendments, shows more of a lack of understanding. Not a nuanced discussion of the evolution of the Constitution.

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Amanecer
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I don't understand why "where in the constitution is separation of church and state?" is so controversial. It's not there.
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The White Whale
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The phrase, no. But the concept, yes.

I don't think she was arguing about the exact phrasing, at first.

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Amanecer
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The concept as it relates to teaching intelligent design in schools is not there. At least, the people who wrote it certainly did not mean it that way. Clearly, modern law has extrapolated from that.

Please note: I am extremely against intelligent design being taught in schools. I just don't think her statement is worthy of the ridicule it is receiving.

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The White Whale
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Do you think she has enough of an understanding of the constitution to be a good senator?

I think that's the point that everyone is ridiculing. She has shown several times that has a poor understanding.

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Amanecer
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I think that she would be a horrible senator partially because of the way she seems to think that Constitutional law should be completely based on the text of the Constitution and the original intent. However, this is a main tenet of tea party thought and I think that ridiculing it does not help create a productive conversation. Explaining the full repercussions of this thought process and why it's a bad idea does create a constructive conversation.

*Edited for spelling

[ October 20, 2010, 12:44 PM: Message edited by: Amanecer ]

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kmbboots
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Tenet
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rollainm
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Tenet

Eh. I could make some sense out of it. [Wink]

I do completely agree with Amanecer's overall point, though.

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MattP
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quote:
I don't understand why "where in the constitution is separation of church and state?" is so controversial. It's not there.
"Separation of powers" and "Checks and balances" isn't there either.

Multiple more narrow wordings, specifically preventing the establishment of a state religion or giving preference to individual denominations, were rejected prior to the much broader (especially in that context) "respecting an establishment of religion" language that we have now.

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The White Whale
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Anderson Cooper expresses the general befuddlement with O'Donnell
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Amanecer
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MattP,

While the words aren't there, separation of powers and checks and balances were intentionally established in the Constitution. The idea of a separation of church and state as we think of it now (keep all forms of government out of religion and religion out of all forms of government) was most certainly not what was intended in the first amendment. Until the 1830s. Massachusetts required every person to belong to some religion and pay tithes to it. Many other states had official state religions. The religious clauses in the first amendment were meant to keep the federal government from getting in to the religion business.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by The White Whale:
Anderson Cooper expresses the general befuddlement with O'Donnell

A seven day education on the constitution.
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MattP
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quote:
The religious clauses in the first amendment were meant to keep the federal government from getting in to the religion business.
The Supreme Court has consistently recognized the Fourteenth Amendment as bringing this same protection to the state level. If that's her issue then she's arguing about the wrong Amendment or the wrong branch of government. Incidentally, she made a stupidly wrong comment on that point as well:
quote:
The Supreme Court has always said it is up to the local communities to decide their standards.
When it comes to schools this is virtually never the case. The Supreme Court rarely uses "local standards" as the overriding principal.
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King of Men
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I'm not sure if that's a silly mistake or a clever pun.
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Amanecer
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MattP, I'm not arguing that she's super knowledgeable about Constitutional law- clearly she's not.
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Lyrhawn
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You know, a variety of things come to mind after watching these videos.

First off, there's no way she's any sort of constitutional expert. A belief in small government and in Federal overreach is one thing, but not knowing what is in the first and fourteenth amendments? Wow. You know there are a lot of amendments that don't affect our everyday lives, but some of them are utterly key to understanding our basic civil rights. Those two are two of the biggest. But then I hear that her special expertise was a week long seminar at a Republican think tank, and I begin to dislike her even more. For not only is she ignorant, but she's misrepresenting herself as an expert on a subject she clearly has a knowledge deficiency in. I don't like being called stupid to my face.

Moving on, trying to defend her for some sort of literal nitpicking, that the actual words weren't there, ignores too many aspects of that debate. One, the fact that she smiled after what she said. I think she thought she was zinging him. Like "Oh snap Coons, that's NOT in the Constitution." She follows that up by repeatedly asking about Coons' repetition of a paraphrasing of the first amendment and more facial expressions that look like sarcastic disbelief. She makes the same facial expressions earlier in the debate when talking about religion in schools and trying to differentiate between intelligent design and creationism, which floored me a little.

I have respectable disagreements with her on Constitutional interpretive theory. Disagreements like that are nothing to resort to name-calling over, as they stem from an honest disagreement. I think Scalia is wrong, but man, the guy is smart, and writes like a mad genius. Christine O'Donnell however is no mad genius. She's just mad.

Furthermore, even if she did understand the Constitution, how the hell is that the only criteria that she'll be using to base her decision on what to vote for in Congress? She's telling us that is her only litmus test? So anything that's constitutional she'll vote for, and unconstitutional she'll vote against? That means she can't vote for a lot of her own religion-inspired legislation that might cross her desk, and might have to vote to legalize anything from marijuana to prostitution, none of which are prohibited by the constitution. It's one of those stupid statements that sounds good to a certain subset of people, but means absolutely nothing at all.

This woman really irks me, not because she's stupid, but because she's so blissful and forthright in her ignorance.

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The Pixiest
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I'd be happy with someone who voted against anything unconstitutional no matter how loony she otherwise was.

Someone who votes against things are just a roadblock. Not someone who uses the force of law to coerce others to live by their own wild socio-political schemes.

That being said, I figure O'Donnell has her pick and choose approach to the constitution just like every other politician. She's still a better pick than Coons or Castle. Just like McLame was a better choice than Obama. One still should bring a motion sickness bag into the polling place.

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
This woman really irks me, not because she's stupid, but because she's so blissful and forthright in her ignorance.

As well as being smug and smirky. She's Sarah Palin (even) lite(er). She appeals to people who resent smart, educated people for being smarter and better educated than they are. It is the popular kids looking down on the nerds. I wonder if the downfall of US politics stems from learning our voting habits from holding class elections in high school.
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Destineer
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Her ignorance of the document aside, she's not saying anything that Pat Buchanan and his ilk haven't been saying for decades. "America is a Christian country."
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Tresopax
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America can be a Christian country while still separating church and state. What she is saying is a major step beyond that claim. I don't think Buchanan would deny that the basis for such a separation is set in the Constitution. He disagrees with the Supreme Court on what that entails though.
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MrSquicky
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I think there's definitely a strong air of people resenting people who are smarter and better educated than them (plus, any movement that springs largely from evangelist Christians is going to run afoul of education and reason), but, as with most reform movements, a lot of this comes from people feeling that the government is not doing right by them.

I had a thread about this a bit ago that didn't seem to get off the ground. In terms of selecting political candidates, how has picking the "smart" ones really been working out? I think there's a fair number people who really don't feel like they have much to lose by selecting a Sarah Palin or Christine O'Donnell or even a George W. Bush (although I've got say that their unwillingness to own up to their responsibility for the mess that last one got us strikes me as dangerous).

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Destineer
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
America can be a Christian country while still separating church and state. What she is saying is a major step beyond that claim. I don't think Buchanan would deny that the basis for such a separation is set in the Constitution. He disagrees with the Supreme Court on what that entails though.

As far as I can tell, the only thing that would count as a violation of separation for someone like Buchanan would be making particular religions against the law. I don't think O'Donnell is in favor of that either.

The rhetoric is a little different, but there is no practical difference.

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Blayne Bradley
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quote:
Originally posted by The Pixiest:
I'd be happy with someone who voted against anything unconstitutional no matter how loony she otherwise was.

Someone who votes against things are just a roadblock. Not someone who uses the force of law to coerce others to live by their own wild socio-political schemes.

That being said, I figure O'Donnell has her pick and choose approach to the constitution just like every other politician. She's still a better pick than Coons or Castle. Just like McLame was a better choice than Obama. One still should bring a motion sickness bag into the polling place.

I think this shows how fundamentally unfit libertarians are to discuss politics.

You can't say "you figure" and other 'from the gut' style truthiness to discuss this at the sametime as state with complete conviction about what the text/meaning of the constitution actually is.

Miss "Peggy Hill" #2 there is ignorant of the constitution, why would you support or figure her the "lesser" of two evils when almost your entire paradigm is practically based on the specific idea of determining the correct meaning, wording, and content of the constitution?

It's partisan thats what it is, youll ignore or downplay her very obvious record just so you won't have to risk the other guy who you disagree with on principle from winning.

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The Black Pearl
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Whose Christine Odonnel? I heard she was black or something.
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kmbboots
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No, that's Sharron Angle and she's Asian. Looks Hispanic though.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by The Pixiest:
That being said, I figure O'Donnell has her pick and choose approach to the constitution just like every other politician. She's still a better pick than Coons or Castle.

I really want to understand how your political narrative could end up vetting O'Donnell as a better pick. This sounds like the most desperate libertarianism ever.
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Strider
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by The Pixiest:
That being said, I figure O'Donnell has her pick and choose approach to the constitution just like every other politician. She's still a better pick than Coons or Castle.

I really want to understand how your political narrative could end up vetting O'Donnell as a better pick. This sounds like the most desperate libertarianism ever.
Especially given that her inadequate and faulty grasp of the constitution should make you question whether she is actually capable of making constitutionally sound decisions.
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kmbboots
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The more government sucks the better the argument for getting rid of it.
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AchillesHeel
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Do we move on to anarchy or revert back to the monarchy system?
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Juxtapose
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Feudalism would be my bet.
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The Pixiest
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Inadequate understanding of the constitution is better than the outright contempt for it shown by most republicans and all democrats.

When Nancy Pelosi was asked if the health care bill was constitutional, rather than defending it with a catch-all version of the commerce clause or even a carte blanc treatment of the general welfare clause, the best she could come up with was "Are you KIDDING?"

Ignorance and even stupidity can be educated out (to a certain extent.) A complete disregard for the constitution can not be. And neither can the arrogance of the last 4 years.

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Blayne Bradley
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How is "Are you kidding" even anywhere close to "contempt"? Shouldnt the context easily be "Are you kidding how could you even think its unconstitutional?!"

Since after all, national healthcare IS constitutional.

A senator that has no understand of the constitution just ends up being a waste of tax payers money at best and a catastrophy waiting to happen at worst.

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The Pixiest
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quote:
I think this shows how fundamentally unfit libertarians are to discuss politics.
Maybe in Blayne's Maoist Canada. Fortunately I live in the People's Republic of California where, for now, we still have free speech and can vote without going to the gulag for flipping the wrong switch.

quote:

You can't say "you figure" and other 'from the gut' style truthiness to discuss this at the sametime as state with complete conviction about what the text/meaning of the constitution actually is.

So your problem is the way she speaks, not the content of what she's saying?

I believe someone above mentioned that she was taking issue with concept that the first amendment builds a wall of separation between church and state. I disagree with that assessment but that doesn't mean she doesn't know what's in the constitution.

quote:

Miss "Peggy Hill" #2 there is ignorant of the constitution, why would you support or figure her the "lesser" of two evils when almost your entire paradigm is practically based on the specific idea of determining the correct meaning, wording, and content of the constitution?

The reason I take the lesser of 3 evils approach with her is because the other two have demonstrated their exuberance to vote for bills that will destroy the American economy. Cap and Trade and Health Care. DE can vote this crazy puta out of office once those issues are repealed/stopped.

quote:

It's partisan thats what it is, youll ignore or downplay her very obvious record just so you won't have to risk the other guy who you disagree with on principle from winning.

Why, yes, I vote against people who support collectivism. I often vote for lesser collectivists to stop greater collectivists. I have voted for religious nutjobs to keep collectivists out of office.

Is that partisan or voting strategically? What good would it do me to vote Libertarian every election when they can't win? I voted for Bush twice to stop a much greater evil! Can you imagine if Gore or sKerry had won? If you fervently disagree with everything I say and get excited dreaming about that what-if, then you understand why I'm happy about taking that bullet in the shoulder instead of the forehead.

There simply are NOT any good candidates. If someone believes in freedom they're probably off exercising it instead of working night and day to Control Other People's Lives through force of the ballot box. For those of us who believe in both social and economic freedom, we have to take a big bite out of a turd sandwich no matter WHO we vote for.

And Blayne, I would appreciate not being told that I am unfit to discuss politics in my own damn country.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by The Pixiest:
When Nancy Pelosi was asked if the health care bill was constitutional, rather than defending it with a catch-all version of the commerce clause or even a carte blanc treatment of the general welfare clause, the best she could come up with was "Are you KIDDING?"

Ignorance and even stupidity can be educated out (to a certain extent.)

For instance, you might possibly (if not likely) be educated to a certain extent necessary to learn that the healthcare bill hasn't been ruled at odds with the commerce clause, and that — as written — it's no more unconstitutional than the Massachusetts required coverage bill.

But, I'm sure what's actually constitutional is a completely abstract idea to hyperlibertarians who insist that even income tax is unconstitutional; they've been chasing that particular phantom for decades now.

"Are you kidding" is not, as advertised, the best she could do; it's the most she was willing to offer in the context of the transaction as it transpired. Interestingly, when context is expanded, things are rarely as simple as you make them out to be.

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The Pixiest
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Samp: Not sure how one can say the healthcare bill has been ruled anything yet as it's still in the courts.

It seems to me requiring someone to buy something by virtue of the fact they are breathing taxes the commerce clause to places that would make FDR blush.

However, just because something that is obviously unconstitutional is before the courts doesn't mean they will certainly rule one way or another. McCain-Feingold was upheld after all. Even the Fairness Doctrine was upheld back in the day.

As an aside... why do progressives seem to hate Libertarians even more than they hate republicans? We don't have any power at all.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by The Pixiest:
Samp: Not sure how one can say the healthcare bill has been ruled anything yet as it's still in the courts.

Because, so far, the major issues presented that indicate its 'unconstitutionality' that I mentioned — commerce clause issues, right there in my post — have been ruled on, and also poured over by constitutional scholars and appear pretty solidly not to be unconstitutional.

quote:
However, just because something that is obviously unconstitutional is before the courts doesn't mean they will certainly rule one way or another.
Okay. It's a good thing that the health care bill isn't obviously unconstitutional!
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Strider
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Progressives don't hate Libertarians Pixiest. I know many liberals who are very sympathetic to aspects of libertarianism. I was even a registered libertarian for a few years. Besides some general issues with the philosophy that ended up pushing me away from it, I was forced into progressivism by the realities of our political situation. The blatant disregard and rejection of issues that are important to me by the republicans will likely ensure I will never vote republican.
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The Pixiest
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Samp: The commerce clause, nor the general welfare clause can be used as a justification for "anything that strikes our fancy" without rendering the entire constitution meaningless.

No matter how the courts have been packed.

Strider: That's the same reason I'll never vote for democrats. One must have economic freedom before the other freedoms even matter. To control our wallet is to control our life.

Never the less, both here and other places, the leftie hate for Libertarians seems stronger than their hate for the conservatives.

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