Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Grab Grab Grab (What I Just Gave You)

You can always count on Tea Party types to make arguments in defense of the U.S. Constitution that fundamentally misunderstand the U.S. Constitution.

Here's the latest from Fox News spokes idiot Sarah P, as quoted in Salon. Her beef is with "power grabs" by the federal government.

What we're seeing today is the inevitable result of national leaders who have forgotten the fundamental wisdom of the Tenth Amendment [which provides for America's federalist system]. Just as Mr. Jefferson warned us, as soon as we as a country disregarded the fact that the federal government's powers are limited, and that we as states and individuals hold the balance of the power, the floodgates were opened to the torrent of federal power grabs we're seeing today. Take the federal income tax, for example. We tend to think there are two constants in life: death and taxes. But America hasn't always had an income tax. The first federal income tax on individuals was imposed in 1861 to help pay for the Civil War. But the tax was never meant to be permanent, and Congress repealed it ten years after it was enacted. It wasn't until 1913 that the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified and the individual federal income tax that we know today was created.

What is most dangerous about these power grabs is that they're usually done in the name of a good cause--insuring the uninsured, for example--and have a big wad of cash attached to them.

Hilarious, as usual. She's right on some things. Of course we haven't always had an income tax. And the original tax she cites was not permanent. But once you make an amendment to the constitution, that's pretty much meant to be permanent. (18th Amendment, we didn't mean you.) And that's what we did.

What's dumb about this, on first glance, is a typical case of 10th Amendment confusion, which is sadly prevalent in the TP. Here's what the 10th says.

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
Okay. And the 16th Amendment was...in the constitution. The constitution can't be unconstitutional, lady. Oy.

But the dumbest thing about Mrs. P's complaint is that any time the constitution is amended -- and I'd love to know, as I would with most of her pronouncements, whether she doesn't know this or she's just conveniently ignoring it -- it has to be ratified by 75% of the states. In other words, a constitutional amendment cannot, by definition, be a federal power grab. At least 38 of our 50 states have to say yes for it to take effect. And 42 of the then-48 states said cool to the 16th Amendment. (Three rejected it and three more never took it up.) Assuming that Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia's silence on the matter equalled consent, that's 93% approval from the states from whom power was being "grabbed". Nice.

This nitwit continues to say dumb shit on a regular basis. And our media continue to quote her dumb shit. Please stop. Or at least have the common decency to say, "Hey, that is some dumb shit right there. And here's why." It isn't all that difficult. What are you people going to do when you come up against an actual skilled sophist (like, say, Karl Rove)?


Mrs. Chili said...

I love you. No, really.

I really wish that someone would take up, full time, the debunking of the dumb shit that people are saying (and that an alarming number of people are buying wholesale). I have neither the time nor the stomach to do it.

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