Sunday, May 5, 2013

148. Rights and Powers

C.W. set my wife off again the other night by coming to the supper table dressed in a sport coat and tie. He calls it his “Mr. Cleaver look.”

“Please tell him to leave and come back when we’re finished,” she said. He smiled and grabbed an ear of corn with one hand. The other held a pocket version of the U.S. Constitution which he studied with interest.

“Tell him yourself, why don’t you?”

She slammed a glass of water onto the table in front of me by way of explanation. Part of it splashed onto my shirt. “He’s your alien,” she said. “Besides, I’m still not over the fact that he’s been using my sewing machine.”

I stopped a plate that she had slid toward me before it landed my lap. “Is this true?” I asked him.

Ignoring me, he waved the Constitution. “This part that says ‘… the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.’ Does that mean what it says?”

My wife glared at me. “Can we not bring up the matter of bearing arms right now?” I said. “But yes, I’m afraid it does.”

“Hmm,” he said. “Weird.” Then he began making machine gun-like noises as he nibbled down the length of his ear of corn.

“That does it,” my wife said. “You two have fun. I’ll be in the living room.” With that, she gathered her plate, utensils, and water glass, then left us at the table alone.

“You sure made her mad,” he said. He shook the document again. “This doesn’t seem to have been written with her in mind.”

“No,” I said. “No it wasn’t.”

“Weird,” he said. “So, these rights are absolute for us menfolk?”

“Actually for all of us now.”

“Hmm,” he said. “What about this ‘…making no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ..’ part.”

“What about it?”

“That’s pretty much of a joke, right?”

“Don’t call our Constitution a joke,” I said.

He reached into a coat pocket and retrieved a dollar bill. Slamming it onto the table, he pointed at the slogan, “In God We Trust.” When I didn’t respond, he put it back into his pocket. “And what about this Article Six thing?” he said.

“What Article Six thing?”

“The ‘thing’ where it says, ‘…no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.’”


“So, have you ever watched one of your celebrated political debates?”

“On occasion.”

“And the first question usually asked is?”

“Sometimes they ask about the candidates’ religion,” I said. “But debates have no official standing.”

“Boy,” he said. “Mrs. Big Dope is right about you.”


“Never mind,” he said. “Now let’s look at this section that sets up the Judicial Branch.”

“Article Three,” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “Article Three ... the shortest of those dealing with the various branches of government.” He turned the pages until he found the article. He studied it carefully with a periodic “Hmm.”

Actually, your Constitution is not a  bad piece
of work for a  bunch of aged white men. - C.W.
I ate in silence until he placed the document gently on the table.

“I can’t find the part where the court elects the President.”

“It has only done that once,” I said. “And I think most everyone regrets it. We have much more respect for the separation of powers as a result of that caper.”

“I see,” he said. “Speaking of ‘separation of powers,’ could you please have your wife bring us some more water?”

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