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Ch. 1 - The Basics: Each Branch Has a Job Description - and Two Bosses

#184: Sept. - Nov. 2022
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Chris OConnor

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Ch. 1 - The Basics: Each Branch Has a Job Description - and Two Bosses

How to Read the Constitution - and Why
By Kim Wehle


Ch. 1 - The Basics: Each Branch Has a Job Description - and Two Bosses

Please use this thread to discuss the above chapter.
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LanDroid

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Re: Ch. 1 - The Basics: Each Branch Has a Job Description - and Two Bosses

I have a copy in transit from the library... If you're interested in this history, you might get a reference book like the following. It includes the Constitution, the Federalist papers, the Anti-Federalist papers, Articles of Confederation, the essay Common Sense by Paine, etc. One complaint about this version is it includes the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (first 10 amendments), but no other amendments. I s'pose that's OK because the authors are the "Founding Fathers."

https://www.amazon.com/Documents-Revolu ... 915&sr=1-4
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Harry Marks
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Re: Ch. 1 - The Basics: Each Branch Has a Job Description - and Two Bosses

I've gotten half way through this first chapter, and so far there is little to get excited about. The author is careful without being pedantic (well, maybe occasionally, but really not enough to notice), and so I got pulled in some by the discussion of how you would sort the "job descriptions" of the three branches, and how the dramatic expansion of the executive in the 30s has complicated the questions involved.

I await her take on some of the questions she has raised, like what do we do when politics strips the checks and balances of their effectiveness, (you can be impeached for unpopularity more easily than for malfeasance, it would appear), and what has happened to legitimacy in the polarization of the last 15 years, or perhaps the last 30.

She's good at framing the questions. I have a feeling we are benefiting from many years of honing the points in the classroom.
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Re: Ch. 1 - The Basics: Each Branch Has a Job Description - and Two Bosses

The Supreme Court’s decisions regarding the structural Constitution seek to ensure that the federal government is erected and operates according to the architectural blueprint set forth in the Constitution. That blue print lays out rules for how the United States government must function. In theory, those rules make the US government impervious to dictators. If a would-be-dictator tries to take over, he will inevitably bump up against structural barriers. Ultimately, he will lose his power grab not because the American people are smart enough to elect only good people but because the system will (or should) inevitably force unethical, power-hungry people out of power one way or another. The structural Constitution assumes that human beings will continue to act like human beings – meaning some will seek more power regardless of the external costs. The structural axis of constitutional law kicks in when it needs to kick out those people who are trying to violate democratic norms.
p. 37 - 38 (Italics in original)
Wow. I hope she is correct! This was written in 2019, so she knew the risks that are developing, but perhaps not as clearly as they appear now. Also, I notice a few weasel words. "In theory"..."or should..." This could be tested severely in the next 3 years. :hmm:
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Re: Ch. 1 - The Basics: Each Branch Has a Job Description - and Two Bosses

If you take nothing else away from this book, I hope you take away an appreciation for how we cannot take the Constitution for granted. It works only insofar as we enforce it - that is, we throw our elected leaders out of office if they ignore the terms of their representation - and that we do this consistently, from generation to generation, so that our children are not left with a replacement that is far inferior.
p. 54
That is a heavy responsibility. Pay attention...
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Harry Marks
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Re: Ch. 1 - The Basics: Each Branch Has a Job Description - and Two Bosses

LanDroid wrote: Fri Sep 30, 2022 6:50 pm
If a would-be-dictator tries to take over, he will inevitably bump up against structural barriers. Ultimately, he will lose his power grab not because the American people are smart enough to elect only good people but because the system will (or should) inevitably force unethical, power-hungry people out of power one way or another.
p. 37 - 38 (Italics in original)
Wow. I hope she is correct!
Tonight on 60 Minutes the new head of the Southern Baptist Convention was interviewed. He is taking on the suppression of sexual misconduct that has plagued them over the last six or so years, and states outright that Trump did not win in 2020. That's very encouraging. People still care about institutions (even the Southern Baptists do) and so I would like to think we will still have folks who refuse to go along with a Big Lie.

I guess we will see, but there is something that ordinary people can do. There is currently a strategy in swing states to clog the electoral count process with complaints of malfeasance, complaints by what are being called "bad faith election workers" who are coached by right wing money folks. Presumably the hope is that elections will be thrown into the state legislatures, where gerrymandering has given the Republicans a deep advantage.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/ar ... ie/671525/

It has also been covered in the New York Times and Denver Post.

Note that this sort of "clog the courts" strategy has been used effectively by well-funded campaigns in other contexts, notably by Eugene Scalia (the Justice's son). I remember reading about it in the NY Times, but have not been able to come up with the cite using Google. Sorry.

I sense that 2022 is just a dry run, to see how well the clogging can be executed. The real deal is 2024, and those of us who are "normies" can sign up to be pollwatchers and be able to refute these kinds of specious claims.
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Re: Ch. 1 - The Basics: Each Branch Has a Job Description - and Two Bosses

Harry Marks wrote: Sun Oct 09, 2022 10:28 pm the new head of the Southern Baptist Convention was interviewed. He is taking on the suppression of sexual misconduct that has plagued them over the last six or so years,
Instead of "suppression" I should have said, "coverup" of sexual misconduct. The way I worded this is confusing.

By the way, is there a way to edit a post of my own, once it is submitted? Probably something obvious, but I looked around a little and didn't see one.
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