October 19, 2010

O'Donnell and Coons on the separation of church and state.

Somehow, I can't escape the feeling of obligation to post about this. It's a bit annoying to me, because I cannot stand when people jump to the conclusion that someone they want to believe is stupid is being stupid when they say something that seems wrong. Think first. Is it wrong?

And I hate the converse — the assumption that the supposedly smart person has said something smart. Stop. Slow down. Read/listen closely. It's often the case that what we have is a banal political disagreement. And that's what I think this O'Donnell/Coons thing is.

I really wish I had the verbatim transcript of the colloquy, and that's the main reason I've been dragging my feet posting on this. The reporters aren't presenting the quotes in a reliable fashion. And we need to begin with stark clarity that the text of the Establishment Clause is: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

So let's look at the reporting:
"Where in the Constitution is separation of church and state?" O'Donnell asked while Democrat Chris Coons, an attorney, sat a few feet away.
Plainly, the Constitution does not say "separation of church and state," so there's nothing stupid there. It's provocative, because many people like that gloss on the text.
Coons responded that O'Donnell's question "reveals her fundamental misunderstanding of what our Constitution is. ... The First Amendment establishes a separation."
He's talking about interpretations of the text, and she was talking about the text. What we're hearing is 2 individuals talking past each other.
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?"
She's telling him to pay attention to her limited point about the text.
He noted again the First Amendment's ban on establishment of religion.
Ah, here's where I hate reporters. Give me the quote. I don't think Coons quite gets it. Ah. Here. He says: "Government shall make no establishment of religion."

O'Donnell reacts: "That's in the First Amendment?" And, in fact, it's not. The First Amendment doesn't say "government." It says "Congress." And since the discussion is about what local school boards can do, the difference is highly significant.

Also, it isn't "shall make no establishment of religion." It's "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." There's a lot one could say about the difference between those 2 phrases, and I won't belabor it here. Suffice it to say that it was not stupid for O'Donnell to say "That's in the First Amendment?" — because it's not. Coons was presenting a version of what's in the cases interpreting the text, not the text itself.

The 2 were talking past each other, trying to look good and make the other look bad. It is a disagreement about law between 2 individuals who are not running for judge. It's not detailed legal analysis. It's a political debate and this is a political disagreement. An important one, no doubt. But it can't be resolved by laughing at one person and calling her an idiot, something I find quite repellent.

248 comments:

1 – 200 of 248   Newer›   Newest»
1jpb said...

I linked to the video in the post about Homer.

AJ Lynch said...

Is it OK if I laugh at the law students, in the audience, who laughed at O'Donnell's statement?

1jpb said...

And, because (Larry Summers style) I've already considered all possibilities, and rejected them, here is the final word:

She's hung up on the talking point re 'separation.' But, Coons is never saying that those particular words are in the Constitution. And, she's completely dumbfounded when he's talking about the first amendment, but not the 'separation' phrase. Listen to 7:07 in my earlier link.

BTW, Malkin has a link indicating that Coons was stumped later on re all of the protections of the first amendment. Of course he just chose to not answer, so it's possible that he could have thought of a few of them.

After all of this, what can we conclude w/ certainty? If you take her at her word, it seems like O'Donnell interprets the constitution in a way that would allow public schools to teach the story of a Christian God creating the world in science classes instead of evolution. Is that your understanding? Do you believe that a correct interpretation of the Constitution (as it (and existing law) is legally understood today) would permit this? Do you want O'Donnell and others supporting judges/justices who would agree w/ this interpretation?

tim maguire said...

I don't think they were talking past each other so much as O'Donnell was trying to get Coons to speak precisely whereas Coons wanted to speak in more general colloquial terms.

The real problem is the ignorance of the reporters and the people in the audience who couldn't understand the point O'Donnell was trying to make and so just assumed she was being stupid. The irony being that she was right (and, on this point at least, smarter than them).

tim maguire said...

1jpb, you don't have to divine O'Donnell's position. She's been quite explicit that the curriculum of a local school district is none of the federal government's business.

1jpb said...

"something I find quite repellent"

If that's bad, what about the way Hill's being described in the Thomas post's comments. Or, does Althosue think it's fine, when it's deserved (from her perspective)?

Or how about the way MoDo took a thrashing not too long ago?

Der Hahn said...

Google 'Palin 1773' for more evidence that liberals should be really really careful before claiming their opponents are too dumb to understand what they're talking about.

Bob said...

Factual query: Are either Coons or O'Donnell lawyers? (I live far away from them and haven't been paying attention.)

JAL said...

@1jpd
Of course he just chose to not answer, so it's possible that he could have thought of a few of them.

But he's a lawyer and he's supposed to be Smarter Than a Fifth Grader, right? And he is running for the US Senate, right?

So "...it's possible that he could have thought of a few of them"

??!1!!??1?

Oh.Good.Grief.

Turn your self into a pretzel.

JAL said...

A "few" of what?

FIVE.

Assembly, speech, religion, peition, press.

JAL said...

petition
(typo)

AJ Lynch said...

PB&J:

I think it's fair to say also that O'Donnell simply supports local control of schools. Would that be so bad?

You know when I went to grade school, we learned Columbus discovered America. Which is accurate if you consider that he represented a civilized,advanced society and had found an uncivilized, backward society. And he advanced the progress of civilization to anew continent.

Now fifty years later, kids are taught Columbus "arrived" in America and indigenous people were there already and he killed millions of them via aggression and disease.

What new facts were uncovered in those last 50 years that made them change history books and the story of Columbus?

I suspect local control could help our education-textbook industrial complex avoid these lemming like turns when the PC cops call.

1jpb said...

"She's been quite explicit that the curriculum of a local school district is none of the federal "

What if the public school district decides to have a daily church service? Would O'Donnell's America allow this? Does it matter if the school district vote was in favor of church services by the slimmest majority (say six to five)? Is that just tough luck for the losing side--no federal role?

Jim B said...

1jpb -

Nice attempt at threadjacking. The point is: was O'Donnell incorrect in what she said or was she not?

The answer is: she WAS CORRECT.

You may not like her position, but the question of the day was 'did she know what she was talking about?'

And again, the answer to that is quite clearly: better than Coons did.

He thought there were phrases and words there that clearly are not. She knew that he was wrong, and no matter how many ways you attempt to spin it all he managed to do was duck away from his own ignorance when called out on it.

El Pollo Real said...

Somehow, I can't escape the feeling of obligation to post about this.

Well it's only natural that people would want to hear your opinion on it isn't it? You should instead feel flattered. And thanks for writing more than just a single sentence Instablurb!

1jpb said...

Jim,

Fine. You can have that. Whatever. Next question.

The more important question relates to what she wants to do in the government as a US Senator. Please see my earlier line of questions.

Maguro said...

What if the public school district decides to have a daily church service? Would O'Donnell's America allow this? Does it matter if the school district vote was in favor of church services by the slimmest majority (say six to five)? Is that just tough luck for the losing side--no federal role?

Would any of that constitute Congress making a "law respecting an establishment of religion."?

Is everything that's a bad idea unconstitutional?

edutcher said...

Ann is right about the importance of the specific language of the First Amendment because changing a particular word alters the meaning significantly. This is why the prostitution of the language of the Constitution by the Lefties is so important to their agenda and why the Tea Partiers' insistence in going back to the original document is so threatening to the Left.

Coons clearly didn't want to appear at a loss, given how O'D had not answered the SCOTUS question to the satisfaction of the Lefties, so he declined to try to answer the challenge about the five freedoms, but the business of separation of church and state is one of the classic Lefty dodges which has allowed many a Leftist judge to rewrite the First Amendment to suit him/herself.

Clearly, O'D, like Miss Sarah, is not the dummy people like HD and Bill Maher want her to be and pushed him into a corner.

AST said...

It reminds me of conservatives who constantly have to remind us that the U.S. "is not a democracy; it's a republic." O'Donnell has a point, but she doesn't seem to know how to make it clearly. Instead she sounds like a heckler.

I'm a conservative, but sometimes my own side sounds kind of half-baked.

traditionalguy said...

The Constitution as written was distrusted by the revolutionary patriots who knew how much they were hated by the English King and by the Church of England that he headed. This amendment was a compromise to win their vote on enacting the new government. It was clearly meant to reassure the Presbyterians, who had done most of the fighting,that the new government could not morph into another England that had recently declared all Presbyterians bastards for not being properly married in the Church owned by the English King and also disqualifying them to hold any elective or appointed government offices for which Church membership was a requirement. That was the reason the Presbyterians had left Northern Ireland and come here and so eagerly fought the bloody British Army through the Valley Forge winter and the final victorious battles. The misguided use of that tool to forbid acknowledgement of God anywhere a that of Federal, State, or Local activities were going on was a new abomination never from Congress, but from 5 philosopher Kings that were worse tyrants than George III.

Bob Ellison said...

The notion of "the separation of church and state" is far more deeply embedded in American culture than the text of the first amendment to the Constitution. That's as it should be, because "the separation of church and state" is easy to understand. Not that the SCOTUS should go all wild on it...

Roadkill said...

Here in Minnesota, home of 10,000 loons (and the US Senate clown), we don't coddle to that "separation" thing.

For instance, we have the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, a K-8 public charter school in suburban St. Paul. It is an Islamic school operating at taxpayer expense. Among other things, the school's principal is an imam and almost all of its students are Muslim. It is housed in a building that was owned originally by the Muslim American Society of Minnesota. The study of Arabic is required at the school.

Jim B said...

1jpb -

Now that we've settled the central question, I'll address yours:

There is no federal role in education. Period. Full stop.

If you think differently, I'll be more than happy to admit my error if you can point to the specific language in the Constitution which gives the federal government a role.

P.S. Before you answer, make sure you read the 10th Amendment VERY CAREFULLY.

Synova said...

"What if the public school district decides to have a daily church service? Would O'Donnell's America allow this? Does it matter if the school district vote was in favor of church services by the slimmest majority (say six to five)? Is that just tough luck for the losing side--no federal role?"

Possibly.

It's that "Congress" thing. If the limitation is on the Federal government and not on the local government, then the limitation is on the Federal government and not the local government. Indeed, didn't many States have more or less "established" religions early on?

That's not to say it's something good for local governments to do, just that it could legitimately be argued to be their business if the do or not.

Of course, NONE of this would be an issue except for the compulsory nature of public schooling. Coercion exists. No amount of keeping religion out of it changes that, in fact keeping religion out of it is coercion as well. Leaving the nature of the coercion to the local community is the best solution, it's the one closest to freedom, but it FAILS because the system is coercion. Period.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

You're right she's a genius. The crowd laughing her off just doesn't get the subtle, detailed and highly relevant caveats you posted - free as they were of any real-life examples! Who needs voters, anyway? They're just a pesky lot who get in the way of congress as a wax museum of founding father figurines.

Yawn.

Don't you carpetbaggers have anything better to do with your time?

El Pollo Real said...

Here in Minnesota, home of 10,000 loons (and the US Senate clown), we don't coddle to that "separation" thing.

Oh that would never fly in Madison (home to Annie Laurie Gaylor) especially if it were a Christian-affiliated school.

Minnesotans have much more Scandinavian tolerance hard wired into their character than the more teutonic Wisconsinists.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

1jpb @10:14 FTW.

The rest of you can suck on 49 lemons in November.

Good night.

EDH said...

Squeeze me, babe, 'till the juice runs down my leg

Do, squeeze, squeeze me, baby, until the juice runs down my leg

The way you squeeze my lemon-a
I'm gonna fall right outta bed, 'ed, 'ed, bed, yeah

David said...

Althouse is a real expert in this area, so perhaps she will correct dilettante experts like me. But it seems to me that the phrase "separation of church and state" was completely unknown to the people who drafted and voted to ratify the Constitution. Certainly the statement does not exist in the Constitution. It is a 20th Century gloss, the specific results of which would have been astonishing to nearly all thinking Americans of the 18th and 19th centuries.

The laughing law students in the audience are ignorant. O'Donnell actually pointed out the crux of the entire dispute.

Parliament of Whores, yes, but a nation of fools.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

She didn't even know which amendment addressed the relationship between religion and state.

That's notable.

Synova said...

Ritmo... What matters is that her base already knew exactly what she was talking about. Also what matters is that Coons didn't try to list freedoms listed in the first amendment but appeared to duck the question.

I'm pretty certain that most of those people who already knew what she was talking about could also list "speech, assembly, religion and the press" as applying to the first amendment. I'd probably miss "petition".

Maguro said...

Ritmo - I thought you already checked out, just like all the Yankee fans.

El Pollo Real said...

Ritmo wrote: a wax museum of founding father figurines.

Don't laugh--such things really exist: link.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

At 10:55 David tries to undo what 208 years of time still has yet to make come undone:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.

(signed) Thomas Jefferson
Jan.1.1802


You lost cause dead-enders are a riot. Interesting caveats EBL poses - and completely devoid of real-life application in the context of O'Donnell's sorry misadventures in constitutional babysitting.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

lol chicklet.

wv: couth

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Screw the Yankees.

Synova said...

I should say... this is not something *obscure* that O'Donnell is bringing up. Coons doesn't have to agree, but the fact that he seems to not get the reference means that he's unaware of a great deal of the political thought outside of his own circle.

Synova said...

Yes, Ritmo. The phrase was from a letter. Not a government document. Not the constitution.

1jpb said...

"There is no federal role in education. Period. Full stop."

So if some public school district decides (based on a 7 to 8 vote) to turn every school into a Madrassa, the non-Muslim students will hear the Constitution (and our country's legal precedents and decisions) tell them to STFUP and start praying to Mecca in between learning Arabic and reading the Koran?

No thanks. I'll take Coon's understanding of (and commitment to maintain) a legal framework that will step in and restrain churches or mosques from dominating our public schools. Soon enough we'll see if Delawarians agree w/ me or you.

EDH said...

Ritmo @ 10:55

Were you making an oblique reference to the Lemon Test, simultaneous with mine @10:55, or was the coincidence even more bizarre?

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

The audience - including the crowd of law students - audibly gasped.

And no, Coons doesn't have to care what the 20% base of reactionaries think. Some people actually have elections to win and countries to govern. Rather than make obscure philosophical points.

This ain't no fraternity/sorority party.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

It was a coincidence, EDH.

But that was damn cool, anyway.

At first I thought yours was a response to what I wrote with just seconds to go on the clock.

What an interesting universe we live in.

traditionalguy said...

Ritmo...In God We Trust has always been America's Motto. Coons just identified himself as the newly shaven, bearded Marxist that wants Americans to enact Marxist Atheism as its policy by Supreme Court slight of hand. O'Donnell had the guts to raise such an unspeakable question that you did not even understand it. That's why I predict that she will be a Senator. Gutsy and charming people tend to beat snake in the grass Marxists in elections.

AJ Lynch said...

The objective is let cities & states decide what their schools teach. Then we Easterners can go back to making fun of the Southerners teaching the earth is only 6,000 years old.

That is why we have so many states- so we have plenty of other states to look down on and sneer at. If all states become uniform and homogenized, there goes all our fun.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

MarxistMarxistMarxist yada yada.

In Delaware (less than ten miles south of where I sit at this very moment) they still think O'Donnell's the goofball.

Everyone gets to dabble in silly stuff when they're young.

Running a country means the time has come to grow up.

Thanks for the Senate seat, guys. We appreciate it.

1jpb said...

At least AJ knows how to sell this stuff to DE.

Is O'Donnell taking notes?

Janis Gore said...

Oh, bah. It didn't hurt me to say the Pledge of the Allegiance or the Lord's Prayer when I was educated.

I also did "duck and cover" drills to prevent harm under nuclear attack.

Synova said...

Jefferson, of course, was writing in the context of a State Church which included laws limiting what and how religion could be freely exercised.

Jefferson's statement makes sense as an illustration of what the Constitution means in the context of State Religions. But the Constitution specifically prohibits any *prohibition* of the exercise of religion while that "wall" has come to require that religion not be freely exercised by individuals if their lives intersect the public sphere.

Preferring the clarity of the *actual* text of the Constitution doesn't require thinking that Jefferson was wrong, only that he probably wasn't ignoring the "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," part in the immediately preceding sentence of what he wrote.

AJ Lynch said...

Ritmo:

What do you know about DE? Just because you live in a shitty one-bedroom apt in S. Philly, worship the Daily News's liberal loon Will Bunch- what makes you think you know anything outside of Filthadelphia?

Synova said...

Ritmo...

At some point it might dawn on you that "I don't have to care what you think" is NOT the message that a political candidate wants to send.

And you never know... some of those "gasping" law students might actually go giggling to read the constitution so they can laugh and O'Donnell and find out "gasp" that she was right.

Latonya said...

Thank you. This is pretty much the response I gave to someone earlier today who had linked to and wholeheartedly agreed with a nasty article that mocked O'Donnell and her responses.

1jpb said...

"in S. Philly"

I was in Philly a couple weeks ago, or so. We had horrible rain for a couple days, but then it was gorgeous on the day we were in the city (Most of the time we were at the dressage show at Devon).

Nice place.

AJ Lynch said...

I know someone who just graduated in June from Widener Law School. I will bust his balls tomorrow guaranteed.

AlphaLiberal said...

What sort of merging of church and state do you all want, anyway?

Be specific. Do we have to follow the Old Testament? The Book of Leviticus in it's entirety, or just the selected part that serves the prejudices of the right wing?

Do the TV preachers get added power, then, in addition to the money they hoover up? Will we have ruling clerics like in Iran?

Oh, yeah. I didn't know Cracked magazine was on the web. Funny O'Donnell pic.

AJ Lynch said...

PB&J:

Yeah until this week, the weather has been great here. Devon huh- it's about 4 miles west of me. But I am too low brow to get into the Devon Horse Show.

Did you happen to see Ritmo there shoveling the horse shit?

Fred4Pres said...

It is enought to make you want to bang your head against the wall.

Yes they were talking past one another. But both of them were doing it on purpose.

Synova said...

I do think that the "Party like it's 1773" thing is in a similar vein. The "gaspers" on that one are now busy pretending that they had some imagined reason to "gasp" other than that they thought Palin made a juicy mistake.

1jpb said...

"in addition to the money they hoover up"

Times are tough for them too. I think I read that the Crystal Cathedral in CA is being sold or foreclosed.

Ankur said...

So, according to Ann...Coons is talking about the spirit of the constitution, while O'Donnell is talking about the specific phrase. Got it.

Once, when I was little, my mom made some cookies for some guests we were expecting later. She said to me "Don't you touch these cookies with your grubby little hands!". So I waited until she wasn't paying attention and scooped a cookie up with my mouth. Yup. And she couldn't get mad at me because I followed the 'letter of the law'.

Are we really going to defend O'Donnell using that argument now?

Wow.

AJ Lynch said...

Alpha:

I'd like to see just a one-day merger of church & state. During that one day, their job would be to capture your dumb ass, put you in a big kettle of boiling oil and reduce you to a bag of bones on pay per view.

Then the next day we go back to like it is now.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

I don't live in South Philadelphia (a city that A.J. apparently berates to others).

This is a great place to live for people who have a sense of community, history - (including real American history) and a manageable and quaint urban aesthetic and fabric. In other words, things that Tea Partiers can't stand.

Delaware's a little more loopily libertarian, but they still will not go for a Know Nothing extremist.

I'm so glad Synova thinks that 20% of the electorate matters so much more than the rest.

As for A.J., I'd tell him to screw off with his ignorance and hatred, but it's sad enough to see a fellow Philadelphian so hateful of his own heritage. I'll begrudge him some brotherly pity instead.

Grow up a little, A.J. Stop dividing and hating on America. Start with your own city.

wv: flucksl

Synova said...

AL, what most people want is the part about "nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof" not to be ignored.

1jpb said...

"it's about 4 miles west of me"

I don't have a sense of direction. But, I know that some of the folks (family) that we hung w/ live fairly close to the show. Reading between the lines (and noticing that these houses were giant mansions) it sounded like there was some prestige associated w/ being in a nice place "on the main line" (whatever that main line meant).

Anyway, we were driving around these folks' hood and they were saying they couldn't understand why so many of their neighbors in these mansions had BHO yard signs in 2008. They did point out one house that had a McCain sign.

AJ Lynch said...

Ritmo:

If you are part of the Philly area, I'd have to call in a nucular strike even if it wiped out everyone here.

But I suspect you are from from South Jersey - because that is ten miles from Delaware and it has a bunch of idiots like you.

Lem said...

Right on professor.

It was as though they were waiting for her to trip up.. or something.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Tarring and feathering, huh A.J.? Is that what you're up to now?

You know the intolerant ones were the witch-burning Puritans up north in New England. Middle Atlantic is about tolerance all the way. William Penn would banish you from our gracious colony for all this violent smack-talking of yours.

Synova said...

"I'm so glad Synova thinks that 20% of the electorate matters so much more than the rest."

"matters" != "matters so much more than the rest"

I said that Coons shows he's unaware of a great deal of political thought outside of his circle...

Ritmo expresses this as a virtue...

I point out that not caring what your constituents think is not a virtue...

And it becomes a demand that some people are more important than others?

Why? Because that's the only way you can make what I actually did say wrong?

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

A.J.'s understanding of geometry went out the window with the concept of a radius.

The northern boundary of Delaware is pretty much an arc anyway.

Dude, chill. Stop making people from around here sound so ignorant.

1jpb said...

"This is a great place to live"

I loved the city. I very seriously considered buying a place in an area called Society Hill because it was close to everything. But, a) the name of the area is ridiculously snobby, b) I'm not on the right coast too much, and c) parking sucked.

Ann Althouse said...

@Ankur You're making an original intent argument. Is Coons's idea of the Establishment Clause consistent with original intent?

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

20+% is the Republican Tea Party base and they are not representative of a "great deal of political thought".

What a bunch of egomaniacs!

AJ Lynch said...

Haha PB&J - that may have been my house though it's not a mansion by any stretch.

That is the only yard sign [McCain] I ever had and the only prez candidate I ever donated to. Still have one sign in my garage.

The Main Line refers to the old Pennsylvania railroad line that went from center city out past Devon to Paoli a least. Many of the rich folks had and have homes along that rail line [it's part of SEPTA's regional rail line now].

Fen said...

it seems like O'Donnell interprets the constitution in a way that would allow public schools to teach the story of a Christian God creating the world in science classes instead of evolution. Is that your understanding? Do you believe that a correct interpretation of the Constitution (as it (and existing law) is legally understood today) would permit this?


Please refer specifically to the part of the Constitution that would prohibit public schools from teaching about God.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

I very seriously considered buying a place in an area called Society Hill because it was close to everything. But, a) the name of the area is ridiculously snobby

I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure the name dates back to a time when the meaning of the word "society" might not have carried the sort of implications it does nowadays.

Otherwise, I totally agree with you. A.J. is being completely silly. But it's good that he's so willing to let his snobbery show.

AJ Lynch said...

Ritmo:

On a daily basis, you tell us we are ignorant. That's OK? But if I say you are probably sitting in a shack in S. Jersey under the Walt Whitman Bridge, that makes me intolerant?

1jpb said...

"That is the only yard sign [McCain] I ever had and the only prez candidate I ever donated to. Still have one sign in my garage. "

I have one of his signs in my garage from the 2000 primary.

AJ Lynch said...

But I have to give you this- you picked a shack with good WIFI to flop in.

AJ Lynch said...

Wow I forgot McCain ran in 2000.

I have donated to maybe 3-4 candidates in my life. None of them won heh.

Fen said...

For those who feel a need to waste their time responding to RitmoLitard, via Pogo:

"it's worth reposting a Ritmo comment from one earlier last week, displaying what he's up to at Althouse, and why he comments here:"

Ritmo Brasileiro said...It's good to know that the stupidest threads are just ripe for the threadjacking. I'll be sure to leave a trail of turds on every one of the brain droppings here that suit my fancy. Getting you shit-eaters to complain about the taste after opening your mouths wide and saying "Ahhhh..." to every bad idea under the sun is very satisfying, I must admit.
- 10/16/10 10:28 AM"

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Being ignorant of something is a demonstrable fact, just like being impoverished relative to how other people live (wealth is a relative thing) could be demonstrable.

I don't think it's a sin to be ignorant of something, but it makes me very angry when someone clings to an argument or line of thought while refusing to educate themselves on the basics upon which their arguments are founded.

Similarly, I don't think it's wrong or in poor character to be poor. I'm not much of a materialist but I think my aesthetic taste is balanced and I like to live well. If you guys want to hate on lazy people who ask for handouts without being willing to bust their asses in return, that's fine. But when you put people down for no other reason than your presumption of their unfortunate financial circumstances, I find that very unsettling at best and downright contemptible at worst.

Fen said...

For those who feel a need to waste their time responding to RitmoLibtard, via Pogo:

"it's worth reposting a Ritmo comment from one earlier last week, displaying what he's up to at Althouse, and why he comments here:"

Ritmo Brasileiro said...It's good to know that the stupidest threads are just ripe for the threadjacking. I'll be sure to leave a trail of turds on every one of the brain droppings here that suit my fancy. Getting you shit-eaters to complain about the taste after opening your mouths wide and saying "Ahhhh..." to every bad idea under the sun is very satisfying, I must admit.
- 10/16/10 10:28 AM"

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Jesus Fen. You really are averse to allowing any new thoughts to access that thick cranium of yours, aren't you?

You just take one little quote and ram it into the ground, like a cigarette butt.

Is this reflective of your thought process in its entirety? I sure hope not.

Ankur said...

Ann, I am not a lawyer and I don't understand the semantic nuances.

However, to me, one of the reasons I appreciate living in America is because, to my limited understanding - separation of church and state is enshrined in the constitution. Yes, I sometimes think this 'separation' is taken to goofy extremes - but I'd rather have extreme separation than the opposite extreme.

Anyhow, as a resident of this country, what matters to me is the principle. And what is important to me is that legislators understand that principle. You were speaking of needing a transcript. I saw the video, and it didn't give me any confidence that O'Donnell respected that principle.

I realize taking a loosy-goosy intent based, principle based argument isn't the smart way to argue law. But then, I am not arguing law. Maybe you and I are talking past each other as well.

Synova said...

Libertarians are even less than 20%.

Do you really think that it's admirable for someone not to be aware of other basic ways of thinking about governments, Ritmo?

Imagine Palin saying, "Oh, heck, almost no one is a Monarchist anymore and I can't imagine a single reason to know what an Oligarchy even is. Who is the Green Party anyway. Who cares!"

It's called being incurious... and for conservatives it's a potent insult. For Democrats? Not so much. For Democrats bothering with 20% of the electorate is an inefficient use of their time, and it becomes a virtue.

I'm not buying what you're selling, Ritmo.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Even Pogo tried a new trick or two last night, after he realized that one got old.

Fen, not so much. It's like he just discovered he has a penis and can't stop playing with himself over and over again.

Fen, learn a new position, for crying out loud.

Fen said...

For those who feel a need to waste their time responding to RitmoLibtard, via Pogo:

"it's worth reposting a Ritmo comment from one earlier last week, displaying what he's up to at Althouse, and why he comments here:"

Ritmo Brasileiro said...It's good to know that the stupidest threads are just ripe for the threadjacking. I'll be sure to leave a trail of turds on every one of the brain droppings here that suit my fancy. Getting you shit-eaters to complain about the taste after opening your mouths wide and saying "Ahhhh..." to every bad idea under the sun is very satisfying, I must admit.
- 10/16/10 10:28 AM"

Wikitorix said...

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

You know the intolerant ones were the witch-burning Puritans up north in New England.


So if ignorance is a demonstrable fact, how about this one? There were no witch burnings anywhere in New England. The burnings were all in Europe. The 'witches' in Salem were hanged, except for one who was pressed under stones for refusing to enter a plea.

Synova said...

"But when you put people down for no other reason than your presumption of their unfortunate financial circumstances, I find that very unsettling at best and downright contemptible at worst."

Waiting for you to object to "Wassila Hillbillies" or any number of similar put downs...

(Actually... not waiting at all... I lied.)

AJ Lynch said...

Who here made fun of someone's poor circumstances? Pointing out that you likely live in a carton under a bridge and steal your WIFI connection is not making fun of "someone". It's making fun of a specific person who antagonizes us daily with big words and high faluting pyscho-babble bullshit. Why don't you go do this at Trooper's blog- he is the only one here who can stomach you.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

I'm not buying what you're selling, Ritmo.

I wouldn't think to ask you to. You're way to wedded to something else entirely. Also, you seem to believe that the extreme base of the opposition is what a political party should strive to capture. That's ridiculous.

The Tea Party will probably fizzle out at some point. Americans will get on with their lives. The republic goes in cycles over the generations and it's fine to let the right implode over several years, the same way the left did from 1968 to 1980-something.

It will take your side a long time to lose that sense of privilege, as it did the left. Even into the nineties there were hold-outs who clung to the promise of a far left-wing resurgence. It never happened.

The country will continue evolving, like always, and by the time the right has the kind of control they had from the 1980s through 2006 both their party and the country will be too different for the same old memes and tricks to work.

At least, that's my opinion, anyway. But American history seems to bear this out.

1jpb said...

"Fen, learn a new position"

Remember what happened when Althouse decided that you (Fen) needed to move on? It's good to progress, and progressing doesn't (necessarily) make you a progressive, so don't worry about that.

Fen said...

to my limited understanding - separation of church and state is enshrined in the constitution.

No. What it actually says is "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

It might help if you explained exactly what you think "separation of church and state" means. Because its not enshrined anywhere in the Constitution.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

It's making fun of poverty, A.J. If that's how you feel about poor people - regardless of whether I am or am not one (and I don't see how I could be given where I end up on the income percentiles), then go with that. I don't see what's so respectable about it but perhaps you're onto something in this recession when it comes to seeing money as a form of virtue.

1jpb said...

"he is the only one here who can stomach you."

If we're taking a poll, I'm pro-ritmo.

rcocean said...

Althouse is giving Coons a break. IF you listen to the video its obvious he's not trying to paraphrase but instead is trying to quote from the 1st Amendment. He starts, then realizes he's gotten it wrong and trails off. Then O'Donnell triumphantly and sarcastically says "Thats, in the constitution?" And Coons slumps a little bit.

The crowd of course is too stupid to know Coons was wrong.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Fen's just trying the Shouting Thomas approach to making his point.

Look how well that worked out for the guy.

Fen said...

Remember what happened when Althouse decided that you (Fen) needed to move on?

Yes I remember. She attacked me and then deleted my responses to her attack. Its the day I lost respect for her and discovered her position on free speech was hypocritical when such speech reflected poorly on her judgement.

So whats your point? I'll be here every day, and reserve the right to post Ritmo's confession that he's just trolling you. Every day, every post, if I so decide.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Thanks for the support, JP. There are others who I'm sure think I provide more than noise, as well (at least often enough to not make bizarre threats about nuking people). I'm not bragging and realize I have my antagonists; but A.J. should really stop exaggerating.

AJ Lynch said...

"I am pro-Ritmo" . There's a shocker.

"It's anti-poverty".

So I suggest that you are a homeless shiftless bum and that makes me "anti-poverty"? I thought homeless people developed a thick skin?

Fen said...

For those who feel a need to waste their time responding to RitmoLibtard, via Pogo:

"it's worth reposting a Ritmo comment from one earlier last week, displaying what he's up to at Althouse, and why he comments here:"

Ritmo Brasileiro said...It's good to know that the stupidest threads are just ripe for the threadjacking. I'll be sure to leave a trail of turds on every one of the brain droppings here that suit my fancy. Getting you shit-eaters to complain about the taste after opening your mouths wide and saying "Ahhhh..." to every bad idea under the sun is very satisfying, I must admit.
- 10/16/10 10:28 AM"

Synova said...

"Also, you seem to believe that the extreme base of the opposition is what a political party should strive to capture. That's ridiculous."

It would be if I was making that argument.

"Being aware of," is not "strive to capture."

And it does bother me that someone going into government might not have thought about the theory of government. I suppose that's the libertarian in me. I don't simply assume that there is only one way to think about government. And can someone who hasn't thought about government have thought about liberty?

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

I'll be here every day, and reserve the right to post Ritmo's confession that he's just trolling you. Every day, every post, if I so decide.

Every day, every post, he (Fen) posts one single quote over and over again. But he's no troll. No siree!

I have more respect for Althouse for making the right call.

1jpb said...

"IF you listen to the video "

It sounds like your describing the first time this comes up. Look at the discussion starting a 7:07. Here he actually puffs up.

AJ Lynch said...

Good night all.


wv = zingh [Yes I did tonight!]

Ankur said...

Fen,

What is the meaning of this "free speech" you speak of, oh constitutional maven?

Seven Machos said...

I think it's pretty clear that the Establishment Clause originally meant that the federal government could establish a national religion. The inference there is that states certainly could.

We've come a long, long way from there.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

I just don't find it a humorous put-down, A.J. I think poverty is a horrible, humbling but ultimately potentially noble experience - given how it can test people and what it shows they can overcome. I wouldn't call someone an AIDS victim, either. Some situations aren't worth making fun of. I just think some insults are not very funny and make the person tossing them out look worse than they think they do.

Seven Machos said...

Jesus. It's late. Federal government could not establish a national religion.

AJ Lynch said...

And Ritmo- sleep under a different bridge tonight because I have the GPS for the Walt Whitman and my nucular trigger may get itchy tonight!

Seven Machos said...

Oh. I see. Meadowlark is here, so the conversation will have nothing to do with the history, meaning, or actual text of the Establishment Clause.

Carry on.

El Pollo Real said...

Thanks to Althouse and all the commenters here for giving thought to the meaning of the O'Donnell & Coons exchange. It sure beats some of the cursory and one-sided treatments I saw on other high traffic blogs.

wv = "megadd" LOL. As in Mega's DD's?

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Carry on.

Me or them?

Lol. You can talk about the conlaw of this all you want, and in as narrow a context as you want. No one's stopping you.

AJ Lynch said...

Yeah Ritmo - I get it - only compassionate libs like Bite Me Biden and Presdient Obama get to pick the topics that are joke-worthy and PC.

But God forbid though that those two cheap pricks would donate some of their own money to help poor people.

Fen said...

Ankur: Fen, What is the meaning of this "free speech" you speak of, oh constitutional maven

I never said anything about "free speech". You said:

to my limited understanding - separation of church and state is enshrined in the constitution.

And I responded with:

No. What it actually says is "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

It might help if you explained exactly what you think "separation of church and state" means. Because its not enshrined anywhere in the Constitution.


I asked you a question in good faith because I assumed you were arguing in good faith. If you're going to dodge the question and instead ask me to respond to something I never said, then we're done here.

I'll pitch it to you one more time:

It might help if you explained exactly what you think "separation of church and state" means.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Biden and Obama and the people that vote for them are all entitled to their own definitions of what they find funny, and what they don't. As are you, A.J. As is everyone.

Fen said...

Or you can just be snarky. Thats an answer too. Like waving a white flag.

Ankur said...

I will respond to what I choose. And re-read my post for a clearer understanding of what I meant. You're arguing words. I am arguing principle.


And you didn't mention free speech? Such short memories.

" Fen said...
Remember what happened when Althouse decided that you (Fen) needed to move on?

Yes I remember. She attacked me and then deleted my responses to her attack. Its the day I lost respect for her and discovered her position on free speech was hypocritical when such speech reflected poorly on her judgement.

So whats your point? I'll be here every day, and reserve the right to post Ritmo's confession that he's just trolling you. Every day, every post, if I so decide."

You're welcome.

Seven Machos said...

to my limited understanding - separation of church and state is enshrined in the constitution

You could read the document. It's quite short. The text at issue here is maybe two quill lines long, as AJ notes.

madawaskan said...

O'DONNELL: Well, I would agree. The Supreme Court has said that there are restrictions on our First Amendment rights. Again, you know, you can't, as you said, go into a crowded theater and yell fire. You can't stand up on a plane and yell hijack. You can't slander and libel someone.

However, where the question has come between what is protected free speech and what is not protected free speech, the Supreme Court has always ruled that the community, the local community has the right to decide.


Transcript

madawaskan said...

Is NRO defending that one?

Methadras said...

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

At 10:55 David tries to undo what 208 years of time still has yet to make come undone:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.

(signed) Thomas Jefferson
Jan.1.1802

You lost cause dead-enders are a riot. Interesting caveats EBL poses - and completely devoid of real-life application in the context of O'Donnell's sorry misadventures in constitutional babysitting.


Awwww, it's so cute how you C&P'ed Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptist Association. What you fail to miss is the context of that letter, which Jefferson was expressly concerned about only dealing with federal establishment of any religion. The DBA was more concerned with whether or not their religious freedoms were natural or can be subject to legislation. If you actually understand and read that letter, Jefferson never expressly answers that question, but instead defers to the phrase we all know of as the wall of separation. That establishment of that phrase for one isn't a matter of public policy and never was until enough precedent law co-opted the phrase that we all use today.

Furthermore, Jefferson was more concerned with not offending his party or constituency, but being a fairly religious man of deep convictions, he asked some local politicians for their points of view on the subject and yet be able to word it in such a way as to convey that the federal government nor congress can establish an official state religion.

O'Donnell is saying the right thing, the distinction, which of course you are incapable of making, is that you nor Coons can address the fact that if the Constitution doesn't allow for an establishment of a state religion, then what gives the judiciary the powers to adjudicate that there is a separation between the two, when one can't be established to begin with?

Any expressed legislation in congress cannot allow for any establishment, yet there are any numerous pieces of legislation that clearly allow for congress to acknowledge different religious institutions. The Civil Rights Act allows religious employers to prefer staff who share their religious convictions. The tax code alone codifies that there is no wall between any religious institution or state. That is law in complete contradiction to your childish, snarky assertions. Oh well, I can't really expect a smarmy retard, thread-crapper like you to really be able to discern nuance and distinctions, but one can try I suppose.

Seven Machos said...

For what it's worth, I think the 14th Amendment pretty clearly makes the Constitution applicable to the states, which means that the states can't establish a religion.

Ankur said...

Why are all of you clinging tooth and nail to text? I understand this is a lawprof's blog. But do you really imagine that there is no place for a concept/principle based understanding of the constitution?

Help me understand here - and this once, I am NOT being snarky - is there no place in common parlance for a layperson understanding of constitutional concepts?

Again, maybe we are talking past each other. Maybe this is the same thing as the frustration I feel when lay-people use words like "vibration" and "quantum energy" without any understanding of what they mean.

Methadras said...

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Every day, every post, he (Fen) posts one single quote over and over again. But he's no troll. No siree!

I have more respect for Althouse for making the right call.


And yet the undeniable truth is, is that you said these things. Fen is simply shoving the shit you thread-crap back into that over-bored throat of yours. Now, just go back into your corner, flick on the tv, watch tele-tubbies, eat some ice cream, jack off to a Billy Mays infomercial of Oxy-Clean, and then drift off into that semi-comatose state that you so long for.

Towel underneath your left cheek. Don't want your drool to stain your pillows now do we.

Fen said...

And you didn't mention free speech? Such short memories.

No, I didn't mention free speech in my discussion with you.

That was a response to 1jpb, about Ann's history of championing freedom of speech, and has nothing to do with our discussion of your misguided belief that "separation of church and state" is "enshrined in the constitution".

I will respond to what I choose.

And I choose to consider your lack of response as evidence that you cannot back up your belief with fact, or even explain it.

Really. You can't explain what you mean by "separation of church and state"? Do you just regurgitate slogans without comprehending their meaning?

You're arguing words. I am arguing principle.

No, I'm arguing that the 1st Ammendment doesn't mean what you want it to.

Here's the last pitch, the count is 0-2:

It might help if you explained exactly what you think "separation of church and state" means.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Yep. You're all about the nuance, Meth. No hyperbole whatsoever.

What I said that Pogo obsessed upon was a joke. It was tongue-in-cheek, and he took the bait. Yes, I think certain threads have less promise than others, but so do you guys.

Methadras said...

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Yep. You're all about the nuance, Meth. No hyperbole whatsoever.

What I said that Pogo obsessed upon was a joke. It was tongue-in-cheek, and he took the bait. Yes, I think certain threads have less promise than others, but so do you guys.


I'm about using what I think is necessary to get my point across. If nuance is needed, I apply it, but half-wits like you really only understand direct bluntness. Nuance fails you because you pretend to use it and fail. Let's play again sometime shall we, thread-crapper?

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Jefferson was hardly a religious man, by any conventional understanding of the term.

As for the rest of your challenges, read what Machos wrote.

Seven Machos said...

do you really imagine that there is no place for a concept/principle based understanding of the constitution?

Ankur -- To me, it's not an issue or layperson vs. technician. On the one hand, you really need to read the document (which I honestly don't think you have) and understand it, like any other document. On the other hand, I am strongly populist, and I detest the idea that we lawyers somehow have a monopoly on legal interpretation.

However, none of that is the issue. The issue is: do we limit our interpretation of the text to what it actually says and to what the drafters meant to say (which we can determine using contemporaneous documents), or do we try to extrapolate and reinterpret the text because of social, technological, or other perceived change?

I strongly, strongly believe that we limit our understanding to the text and to its contemporaneous meaning. If people want to change the text, there are three clear ways to do it. So, people who don't like the text and want to reinterpret it should shut the hell up and focus on amending the text to their liking. Trouble is, you have to convince a whole lot of people to do that, and that's messy, and it involves the hoi polloi. It's a lot easier to get a judge or three judges or five judges to reinterpret, thus changing the Constitution in a wholly undemocratic and disgustingly un-American manner.

Fen said...

Get used to eating your own shit, Ritmo.

Every day, every thread.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

I'm about using what I think is necessary to get my point across.

Regardless of whether its a good or bad point? That's called "bluster" and it's no longer about making points but about theatrics.

Ankur said...

Okay. Fair comment. To me, separation of church and state means this: In any of the services (primary schooling, highways, fire department) that the state (nation, state, city, county) provides me, religion will in no way play a part. In any religious activity that I choose to indulge in, that isn't disruptive* to society around me, the state (country, state, county, city) shall not obstruct me.

*disruptive - now one could drive a 747 through freedom of religion using that one. But I don't think mild disruption (like increased traffic near a megachurch on sunday) should count.

p.s. I realize all of you can poke plenty of holes in my understanding above, and feel free to do so, by all means. But I am not speaking of the law. I am speaking of a commonsensical understanding of the constitution.

WV: dangle

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Every day, every thread.

Well, I assume you're younger than ST so perhaps you have much more time to waste than he does.

If not, then that's just pathetic.

Too bad that my worst refuse still tastes better than your best efforts.

Try relaxing for a change.

Methadras said...

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Jefferson was hardly a religious man, by any conventional understanding of the term.

As for the rest of your challenges, read what Machos wrote.


Maybe in your addled brain you wish to believe that, but have you ever heard of the Jeffersonian Bible? He had a direct belief in God and in Christ and his teachings, just not in his divinity. But that doesn't make him unreligious or hardly religious. You just keep on being dopey today, okay?

Methadras said...

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

I'm about using what I think is necessary to get my point across.

Regardless of whether its a good or bad point? That's called "bluster" and it's no longer about making points but about theatrics.


I never argue bad points, but then again I'm getting tips for argumentation from master of blustering theatrics. So at what age were you made aware of your inherent douchy-ness?

Seven Machos said...

that isn't disruptive* to society around me

There's lots to agree with, disagree with, and chew on there, but I chose this part because it seems kind of silly. I mean, come on. Religion isn't a zoning issue. It's a huge part of life and it's obviously going to be disruptive at times.

I also think the part about primary schools is ridiculous. Is it really your theory that it is constitutional for students to accept federal money and give it to the University of Notre Dame (or, presumably, Whatever Baptist High School) but not some little Catholic school that is trying to educate second graders? Really? I would call that distinction wholly untenable and indefensible.

Ankur said...

Seven Nachos - thank you for acknowledging that there is space for a 'pop-science' interpretation of the constitution. Funnily enough, I have read the US constitution.

However, my understanding of freedom of state and religion is a result of having lived in four different continents, and seeing it in action in each of the four countries. In France the definition of "disruption" extends to stuff like religious headgear. In India, no one cares in there are religious symbols on government buildings as long as ALL major religions are represented. In Australia, if I remember correctly, the text is strikingly similar to the US constitution, and yet, isn't as robust as here in the US (I am referring to the way animist religions are treated there, as well as the recent wave of violence against south asians in Melbourne).

I also recognize that a multi-cultural-experiential understanding of separation of church and state might not have any relevance in this discussion. Yet, one cannot shake off one's life experiences.

And I hardly think I am alone in using life experiences to shape a commonsensical understanding of otherwise complex concepts.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

He had a direct belief in God and in Christ and his teachings, just not in his divinity.

Ok. I'm sure this radical deism of his would have allowed him to fit right in with so many congregations of the day.

It's called "spiritual". "Religious" is when it's part of an organized, social activity.

And a lot of what they said about religion in public was just rhetoric to be used as a politician would use any other form of rhetorical demagoguery. You should know about that, Meth.

Seven Machos said...

The United States of America doesn't give a solitary fuck what France or India is doing concerning religion, or anything else. Surely, your "common-sensical" understanding of the Constitution includes this basic tenet.

Incidentally, http://www.theonion.com/articles/area-man-passionate-defender-of-what-he-imagines-c,2849/

Ankur said...

Yes, I had to think twice before putting the "disruptive" there. But I was trying to be euphemistic.

I was fast asleep in a hotel room by the Ganges river in Varanasi one day. I was rudely awakened at about 5 AM by a muezzin's prayer call from the spire of a local mosque. Just as I was falling back asleep, the bells of the local Shiva temple nearby started clanging. It was, on the whole a beautiful and memorable experience in retrospect. But it was also rather disruptive.

Also, one could consider - to stretch a point - 9/11 as disruption in the name of a religion, as well as the Mumbai bombings.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

I never argue bad points

lol.

Every one of your posts follows the same format, with the same silly, gratuitous insult thrown out at the end. Someone who's so concerned about emulating tone and nothing else can't be counted on to focus on making good points.

You can't even figure out when someone agrees with you!

Like the Palestinians, Meth can't take yes for an answer.

Ankur said...

No, you're right. It doesn't give a flying fuck and it shouldn't.

I was answering someone's question about what separation of state and religion meant to me - the individual, with all my experiences and lack thereof.

Seven Machos said...

Ankur -- Religious organizations must follow the secular law, so bombings are not allowed.

Incidentally, we can thank Jesus for that. Unto Caesar and all that...

Methadras said...

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Ok. I'm sure this radical deism of his would have allowed him to fit right in with so many congregations of the day.


His deism wasn't radical by any stretch of the imagination. Possibly not well received, and yet still served as President for two terms in the face of established religious institutions campaigning against him as an infidel. He didn't have a love for religious institutions, but that doesn't deny his religious convictions whether you want to apply the New Age pablum of 'spirituality' to it. Many people today still carry on the deist tradition. He just had a bad disposition towards clergy. Maybe he got diddled too.

It's called "spiritual". "Religious" is when it's part of an organized, social activity.

No, that's not necessarily true. Simple definition of Religious: 1) A religion is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a supernatural agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. 2) having or showing belief in and reverence for a deity; "a religious man"; "religious attitude"

As I clearly defined Jefferson being religious in the definition I present to you now.

And a lot of what they said about religion in public was just rhetoric to be used as a politician would use any other form of rhetorical demagoguery. You should know about that, Meth.

Who is they? And aside of being called a demagogue, but an actual demagogue, I'd have you note that you still haven't addressed the real point of the wall of separation and it's validity as it pertains to law and the common citizen. Instead you put of straw men to cover your ignorance.

Ankur said...

"I also think the part about primary schools is ridiculous. Is it really your theory that it is constitutional for students to accept federal money and give it to the University of Notre Dame (or, presumably, Whatever Baptist High School) but not some little Catholic school that is trying to educate second graders? Really? I would call that distinction wholly untenable and indefensible."

I didn't make a distinction. I was merely using primary schooling as one example. I wasn't excluding public high schools or public universities. I wasn't excluding ANY SERVICE that had ANYTHING to do with public dollars. I could just a easily have said High School or University.

Having said that, I do think public schools should have an optional elective for religious studies. Learning the societal constructs that one lives in would be valuable education for a child I think.

Ankur said...

...oh, and maybe such electives exist? I don't know much about public school curriculum in America, I am afraid.

Methadras said...

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

I never argue bad points

lol.

Every one of your posts follows the same format


Every one? Really? That would make you a liar, but that would only be stating the obvious.

with the same silly, gratuitous insult thrown out at the end.

So says the grand thread-crapper.

Someone who's so concerned about emulating tone and nothing else can't be counted on to focus on making good points.

You know what they say about opinions being like assholes. Unfortunately, I'd send you a box of laxatives if it helped unclog yours. On the other hand, you appear to have a truthiness problem.

You can't even figure out when someone agrees with you!

Like the Palestinians, Meth can't take yes for an answer.


Sure, I can see when someone agrees with me. The distinction and nuance (The word for you today. I can send you some cookies that can spell that out for you if you like) is founded on the notion that I actually care whether or not that matters and whom is doing the agreeing. I get to choose with whom I care to acknowledge agreement with. That is called being an adult. Try it sometime. You might learn something.

Oh no, I've fallen on my template response to you again. Oh dear. [titter, giggle, tee-hee]

Seven Machos said...

I wasn't excluding ANY SERVICE that had ANYTHING to do with public dollars.

Well, this is a problem. Hundreds of millions of dollars in grants, subsidized loans, grants, etc go to American colleges and universities that are affiliated with religion. That's not going to change in our lifetimes or anyone's lifetimes.

While I find reading religious texts from a literary point of view very rewarding, I don't think public schools need a religious studies component. In fact, I think evolution and religion both should not be taught in public schools. Who cares? These kids need to learn about fractions and actual skills.

I do think, however, that a poor person who wants to send her kid to a religious school should be able to do it on the government's dime as long as the government is paying for public schools that fail and requiring school attendance.

Seven Machos said...

Wait a minute, Ankur. Are you American? Because if you aren't, you have no business opining on what the American Constitution should instruct Americans to do. Even Meadowlark will back me up on this.

Ankur said...

Yes, that is a problem at some level but it doesn't bother me as much. I don't mind the government supporting religious institutions. I just don't want religion coloring any of the services it provides me. Or my religion being a liability in obtaining any of the services it commonly provides.

If the government has extra cash (which it doesn't) and wants to do religious outreach, or wants to provide tax breaks to churches, or wants to support religion based hospitals or social service organizations - I don't have a problem with that, even if some of those organizations act within the confines/rules of their religions.

But that is a slippery slope and I recognize that. Which is why we need the judicial system. If everything were cut and dried and understandable according to a solid framework, then all we would have to do is apply a computer algorithm to knotty legal questions, and the answers would pop right out.

Seven Machos said...

Congress makes laws. Executive executes law. Judges apply laws to cases.

The trouble is that the judicial branch too often makes law. This must stop.

Ankur said...

No, I am not American. But I live in America, and as such, her laws apply to me just as much as it applies to Americans.

And as for whether I have any business opining or not - that is for me to decide, and for you to choose whether you care to respond or not.

Incidentally, thank you for your civil responses.

hombre said...

Ankur wrote: You're arguing words. I am arguing principle.

Actually, he is arguing words in the Constitution and you are arguing personal preference.

Seven Machos said...

Okay, I thought for a minute you were some Brit in Bangalore spouting off about American politics.

It happens. I used to work for the State Department. I was stationed in Central Europe. Once, on a weekend getaway in Salsburg, I was cornered by a drunk Austrian who was yammering at me about how bad and terrible the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq was.

Now, as an aside, I happen to be one of six people in the world who supported George W. Bush to the bitter end, but even if I wasn't, I was representing the United States on duty or off, and so I would have had to spout the company line, anyway.

But, anyway, she was just going on and on about how bad it all was, and veering into other terrible things she thought about the United States, and all I could think about was how she was a citizen of the country that produced Hitler about a century ago. I didn't say anything I wanted to say, and I know I have violated Godwin's Law in a roundabout way, but I had to tell the story.

Bender said...

O'Donnell is as stupid as that Constitutional illiteral Antonin Scalia (which is to say, not at all).

All this hyperventilating, all in order to push the idea that O'Donnell is a fool, when it is Coons who time and again is the maroon.

Ankur said...

Even if I were a brit in bangalore, the only requirements for a discussion of the internet is two (or more) willing participants.

Nationality or place of residence has nothing to do with whether someone has the right to have an opinion or not.

Whether you choose to respect or give credence to that opinion (regardless of whether you agree ot disagree), however, is your choice. And your choice is reflected in your willingness or unwillingness to discuss.

Thus, tautologically, the fact that you chose to respond to me proves that I have every business discussing american politics (or french politics, or ugandan politics, or saudi arabian politics, or andromedan politics)

Funny story, nonetheless.

Ankur said...

Anyhow, its getting late and I have a meeting at 7 AM for which I have to be as sharp as I possibly can, so its bedtime. Goodnight, and thank you again for your willingness to engage in conversation.

Seven Machos said...

Ankur -- You are right that as someone living in the United States, and even more so presumably legally, you are on equal footing when you discuss the U.S. Constitution with anyone else, from Antonin Scalia to a bum on the street.

However, I really find it hard to believe that even you agree with what you are saying. If I go to some Egyptian website (not that it exists, but bear with me) and say, "Hey, I'm going to interpret Egypt's principal governing document for you and tell you how I think it should be in Egypt," people are going to tell me to fuck off. And rightfully so.

It's a free country, and a very tolerant comment section here at Althouse, but it's distasteful and naive at best for people completely and totally unaffected by a political situation to spout off about it.

Minzo said...

Oh please- you laugh and mock politicians all the time for less than this. Would you really have been quite so nuanced if say, Obama or Biden had said this?

RightKlik said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miwSljJAzqg

Seven Machos said...

I love when Minzo comes. It means some leftist hothouse has gotten hold of something Althouse has said and posted it somewhere else, and all the leftist crackpots spend time being deeply outraged and disturbed about it.

In fact, Minzo becomes so disturbed that he feels compelled to come here and post about it.

Maybe another thread about Jessica Valenti's fun bags is is order.

Methadras said...

Seven Machos said...

Maybe another thread about Jessica Valenti's fun bags is is order.


That's what got me here. :D

I liked it so much, I've squatted. Oh hey, does this comment qualify as one of Schtickmo's characterizations of the way I post? Oh no, someones nose is growing again.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Whether the phrase “separation of church and state” appears in the text of the First Amendment, the two clauses relating to establishment of religion and free exercise, in their duality and juxtaposition, separate religion from government by banning the establishment of a state religion and barring restriction on the freedom to worship in one’s own chosen house of faith (or none at all). The separation itself consists in the fact that there are two clauses; as a performative act of government the First Amendment itself enforces the fundamental separation. Christine O’Donnell does not know this. Christine O’Donnell is not a respected law professor who publishes articles regularly in top law reviews. Nor is she an attorney. Christine O’Donnell was told by her handlers to argue that ‘separation of church and state’ is not in the text of the Constitution, just as her handlers told her that Kelo was an important case because the conservative base cares about eminent domain abuses and property rights.

The press has been watching her. They saw her reading talking points from a script in the last debate. The reason her ignorance of the law was so profoundly important here is that the debate was held at Widener Law School and the audience, brimming with law students, was unreceptive to her arguments. Law students in attendance did not grasp the nuance and subtlety of argumentation that those who seek to salvage O’Donnell’s reputation claim was there; they gasped because they found her ignorance shocking. The press reported on the reactions in the room, as is fair.

john bailo said...

It really is sad in so many ways because it does reveal the Middlebrow nature of the press, college and our society. How many times do we encounter the self-satisfied know-it-all (usually Democrat) smoking his pipe and huffing and puffing because "he knows" that a Tea Party candidate is wrong. Don't bother following the argument, or understanding nuance (a clear sign of real intelligence).

These plodding "smart men" appear all over the Internet...which has become the middlebrow's stomping ground. In a few short years, what seemed like a place for intelligent discourse has succumbed to entropy...it is now an e-Readers Digest, or maybe e-Saturday Evening Post.

Minzo said...

"I love when Minzo comes. It means some leftist hothouse has gotten hold of something Althouse has said and posted it somewhere else, and all the leftist crackpots spend time being deeply outraged and disturbed about it."

Is that your idea of debate? A pity. And I think you are the guy who called me a troll in a previous thread for pretty much no reason. Are you so threatened by people who disagree with you? But to deal directly with your query- I visit this site everyday. Its one of my bookmarks. I wasnt directed by some 'leftist hothouse' As much as I disagree vigorously with Ann much of the time, I still enjoy this blog.

Bruce Hayden said...

We do have 200 or so years of judicial gloss on the 1st Amdt. and as 7 points out, the 1st was made applicable to the states through incorporation by the 14th.

And, yes, the elite are making fun of the fact that O'Donnell is apparently either unaware of this, or unappreciative.

But she was right, and he was wrong, about the text. And we have at least one Justice who does go back and refers to the actual wording of the Constitution. So, the subject is not a closed book.

And, maybe that is the takeaway here, that O'Donnell supports a more literal interpretation of the Constitution and Coons a more living interpretation. And, this is not really surprising, as she is apparently more a religious fundamentalist, and he a Marxist. And, she is in favor of smaller government, and he is a much more expansive one.

Oh, and the Senate is the body that confirms Justices, and they just confirmed one who would have voted to hear a case where a guy went off his HIV meds to protest being given moderate work, which he couldn't then do because of that protest. His claim was that that was cruel and unusual punishment. The trial and appeals court had considered it frivolous, and only one of Obama's Justices, confirmed by the current very liberal Senate, voted to even hear the case.

So, in the end it does matter. Coons would have voted to confirm Justices Sotomayor and Kagan, while O'Donnell would have likely voted against. As I probably would have also, knowing, fairly well, where they would take the Constitution if ever given a majority on the Supreme Court.

Michael said...

It is curious that we get so much coverage of O'Donnell, that wacky kook, and so little of Al Green down there in South Carolina. Does the press give Green a pass because he is so manifestly dumb, because he is black or because he is a Democrat?

DaveW said...

This strikes me as one of those gotcha-type questions like "can you tell me the name of the president of Uganda?"

Although admittedly it's a little more on point, being a direct question about the constitution. Yet still, outing your opponent as being unaware that the wording is "congress" rather than "government", meh.

I guess since she's been played as an idiot her campaign feels the need to demonstrate her basic competence. And from way out here, far away, I think they're probably right. How this played with the electorate there though, /shrug.

Huh. I just checked and she was born in 1969. I'd have never guessed she was as old as that.

Der Hahn said...

I'm tempted to go with b) he's a Democrat but I think the answer is c) he's got no shot at winning the election. It's a long one, but O'Donnell does.

Paco Wové said...

"Why are all of you clinging tooth and nail to text?"

Ankur: Just so you know, that line right there is probably enough for most people to realize that you're not an American citizen. Since the constitution is the primary foundational text, what the text actually says is considered hugely important by many. (Others don't consider the actual text so important, but they realize that the other camp exists.)

rdkraus said...

Bruce Hayden said...

We do have 200 or so years of judicial gloss on the 1st Amdt. and as 7 points out, the 1st was made applicable to the states through incorporation by the 14th.


Bruce, could you quote the language in the 14th that provides for "incorporation?" This is a pretty simple concept, and since the drafters of that Amendment were, presumably, competent lawyers, it would have been easy for them to clearly state that. Did they? No. The whole incorporation fraud was an early example of "judicial activism."

Let me know when you find that clear language mandating incorporation. You or I could draft such in a few moments. Did they?

As Sobran said, paraphrasing, our founders were no match for today's lawyers.

Lincolntf said...

If O'Donnell had simply responded with an intelligent sentence, instead of snarkily asking an incomplete rhetorical question, she would have been accurate and gotten her point across.
The way she handled it, her point remained buried and she sounded like a C-student trying desperately to sound smart and cool at the same time. She needs to grow the f*#k up if she expects to be a Senator.

Roger J. said...

Once the ad homs and other snark is weeded out, I thought this was a good thread--seems to me the issue rests on the meaning of the term "esstablishment." And if my knowledge of history is still operative, this argument goes back to the English Civil War where the right to establish (mandate and support thru public funding) a state religion.

I believe that issue is what was being addressed in the first amendment. We have the case of Connecticut who, I believe, established the Congregational Church as the Connecticut State church. But my memory may fail me.

IIRC the Constitution did not address the states' right to establish (meaning mandate and support) but rather prohibiting the Congress from mandating a Federal religion along the lines of England's support of the Anglican Church where the monarach is also the head of the church of england.

LoafingOaf said...

Althouse has stated she's a daily reader of Andrew Sullivan's blog, yet somehow she didn't see that he posted the YouTube of O'Donnell and Coons?

Even if she somehow missed that, she's able to search YouTube, no? Why didn't she include the YouTube in the post?

Perhaps because O'Donnell comes off extremely poorly in the video. First, she misunderstands how scientists use the word "theory" when she claims that evolution is just a theory and not a fact. Then she goes on about how it's cool with her if local schools teach kids Creationism/Intelligent Design in science class. Then she reveals her ignorance of the Constitution (see video at the link below).

Althouse, now a full-on Tea Party blogger, wants to act as this Tea Party candidate's lawyer to minimize the damage. Her post would not look good if the YouTube were posted with it -- perhaps the reason Althouse was somehow unable to find it, going on about how she wished she had the full quotes. But she doesn't because she suddenly forgot how to do an internet search.

If you watch the video, you'll see why: Christine O'Donnell ignorant of the Constitution

A shockingly idiotic candidate for Senate.

Roger J. said...

Seems that Delaware has a penchant for electing idiots to the Senate--Joe Biden was senator forever before he became VPOTUS--And then there is Mr Franken from MN--There are clowns aplenty in the senate, so the election of a clown/buffoon/ignoramus should not be a bar to election. (would it be otherwise, but it is not)

At any rate, it is the decision of the voters of Delaware to make.

rdkraus said...

Loafing - the question for voters should not be, which candidate is smarter, or a better historian, or knows the constitution better, but rather, which candidate is more likely to vote the way the voter would wish on important issues.

Roger J. said...

My cynical take is the best argument for Ms O'Donnell is that she is the clown the would cancel out the clown from MN.

(word verification--expecori: plural lugies?

MadisonMan said...

Lesson to politicians: Don't argue about a particular sentence unless you are completely 100% sure that everyone knows exactly what that sentence says.

MadisonMan said...

She should have actually stated the Amendment (Congress shall make no ...) before proceeding with her argument. Why assume that people know what you're talking about if idiot journalists can misinterpret?

MadisonMan said...

The audience - including the crowd of law students - audibly gasped

What does an inaudible gasp sound like?

Roger J. said...

Madison Man--I am not it would have done any candidate any good to make a rational argument using accepted debating rules--these debates are simply the equivalent of a gladitorial contest with the the spinners at the end putting thumbs up or thumbs down.

Our political process has devolved in the Jerry Springer show--and worse, the journalists and pundits, as evidenced by Gwen Ifills foolish tweet about the boston tea party are even less informed than the candidates.

We as a polity are not well served in the current system.

Scott M said...

We as a polity are not well served in the current system.

Given the system we chose all those years ago, we as a polity are not being served by we as a polity.

Roger J. said...

Scott--I take your point--Pogo: we have met the enemy and he is us

JAY said...

Ritmo Brasileiro said...
She didn't even know which amendment addressed the relationship between religion and state.


You are an out & out liar, and a terribly bad one at that.

JAY said...

If you watch the video, you'll see why

Clown:
Your perceptions are not reality.

Fen said...

Ankur: I don't mind the government supporting religious institutions. I just don't want religion coloring any of the services it provides me.

Well, I've got bad news for you: this Constitution you keep referring to is a child of judeo-christian tradition and law.

JAY said...

What sort of merging of church and state do you all want, anyway?

Er, so you were complaining loudly when your sort of a God President said this:

WASHINGTON — President Obama sought Wednesday to reframe the health care debate as “a core ethical and moral obligation,” imploring a coalition of religious leaders to help promote the plan to lower costs and expand insurance coverage for all Americans.


“I know there’s been a lot of misinformation in this debate, and there are some folks out there who are frankly bearing false witness,” Mr. Obama told a multidenominational group of pastors, rabbis and other religious leaders who support his goal to remake the nation’s health care system.


Right?

I mean, you're outraged by this, correct?

Bonus question for you ignorant, godless leftist:
If there is a "separation between church & state" where do we get the values reflected in our government policies?

JAY said...

I just don't want religion coloring any of the services it provides me.


You ought to tell that to President Obama:

Obama said that many were "bearing false witness" and took a shot at his opposition calling the pushback to date: "fabrications that have been put out there in order to discourage people from meeting what I consider to be a core ethical and moral obligation: that is that we look out for one another, that I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper. In the wealthiest nation on earth right now, we are neglecting to live up to that call.


And of course who could forget all you leftists getting the vapors and taking to the airwaves complaining about President Clinton holding a bible during the height of the Lewinski scandal?

Oh, that didn't happend and you kids were utterly silent.

Nevermind.

traditionalguy said...

I re-read the late comments here,and really learned a lot from Ankur's intelligent take on the Freedom he enjoys here in America. Ankur comes from a culture that tolerates all gods and their followers' habits. What he does not see yet is the basic covenant nature of the American experience in a New World Wilderness. The settlers here were protestant believers, that wanted to leave England and come to a wilderness where they found out that all they had was each other. This made covenant documents signed onto by all of the invading families a necessary part of survival. The early on learned about hanging together so the would not be hunted down and killed by savages (The indigenous guys were proud of their savagery used on any weak settlers that could be hunted down, tortured to death if captive males and stolen into slavery if women and children). But th settler's strength came from their pledge to one another in documented "Must Be Obeyed To Survive" covenants. Later on these were found to be far too restrictive to free men. Therefore they were eased up on in one aarea but not others in carefully enactments by local representative assembly's votes. We have never come to the point of wanting to lose the un-changed protections contained in our basic Covenant Documents...at least not without our representative Assembly voting on it. The Amendments 1-10 were the final compromise with the States to solemnly promise that the new National Covenant would not remove their freedoms even with a vote. That basic protection is what was stolen in the early 1960s. So the Tea Partiers have arisen again after 237 years. We want our basic written covenant protections back. No Supreme Court opinion can steal those covenant protections if we want to re-instate them. That IS the Tea Party's raison d'etre.

JAY said...

You lost cause dead-enders are a riot.

As opposed to you, who apparently believes Thomas Jefferson authored the Constitution.

Watching the ignorance come from you leftists never really gets old (nor does it ever stop).

Scott M said...

Watching the ignorance come from you leftists never really gets old

It really does. It's beginning to wear in the exact same way my 3-year-old wears on me and for almost the same reasons.

Scott M said...

...of course, that's without the cherised, heart-melting, "I love you, daddy" moments...

Minzo said...

"Bonus question for you ignorant, godless leftist:
If there is a "separation between church & state" where do we get the values reflected in our government policies?"

Are you saying a society cant have moral values without the bible? Do you think the bible invented morality?

Scott M said...

Are you saying a society cant have moral values without the bible? Do you think the bible invented morality?

Are you purposefully trying to make this an argument about Christianity? His question was so confined.

Original Mike said...

I cannot stand when people jump to the conclusion that someone they want to believe is stupid is being stupid when they say something that seems wrong. Think first. Is it wrong?

She's talking to you, Gwen.

JAY said...

Are you saying a society cant have moral values without the bible? Do you think the bible invented morality?


Is there a reason you don't answer the question?

Again, where do moral values come from?

Answer, I dare you...

JAY said...

Do you think the bible invented morality?


The bible is the word of God and didn't "invent" anything.

Where do you people come from?

garage mahal said...

Again, where do moral values come from?

You would go to jail for a very long time if lived your life literally from the bible.

Patrick said...

Prof. Althouse:
At the risk of wading in nearly 200 comments in, I think you are correct that O'Donnell's language was correct, in terms of the text of the Constitution. I doubt, however, that she chooses her words as carefully as you, particularly in constitutional analysis. You are a very precise thinker, writer and presumably speaker. There is not much in O'Donnell's history that would lead me to believe that she has such a specific understanding of the constitution or the 1st Amend. Perhaps that is not required, as she makes her point very clear that the Federal government should not involve itself in the decisions of local school boards. I agree with that, although I cannot figure out for the life of me, why any sane school board would choose to teach Intelligent Design or anything like it in a science class. If they do, and the parents don't like it, they have a remedy - an election.

Minzo said...

"Is there a reason you don't answer the question?

Again, where do moral values come from?

Answer, I dare you..."

Where did morality come from? Us. Partly self-interest, partly altruism, but there is no reason why we need to tie our moral values to the bible or try to make our government follow it to achieve the right results. (At least thats how I interpreted your post- correct me if im wrong)My point was that the church didnt create/invent morality and while it has helped to sustain it, it hasnt done so on its own.

"Where do you people come from?"

Well it started with the big bang...

"Are you purposefully trying to make this an argument about Christianity?"

Well not Christianity per se, but its role in government and how its values supposedly reflect in government work. If I misintepreted his question, feel free to rephrase it in the 'correct' way you think he meant it.

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