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Last time I saw my old friend Justin, he was training to be a union plumber. You see, in order to be a plumber, you have to have specific training. It’s not good enough just to be smart.

The presidency is like that, too.

That’s why “Sarah Palin” continues to be the the two words separating John McCain from electoral viability. And yes, some people still have the balls to call her smart. One of them is Illinois grad Stephen Moore, who recently embarrassed himself parroting the GOP line contrasting Barack Obama and Palin on executive experience. It starts at about 6:12 of this video.

The point no one seems to be making, when contrasting the experience of Obama and Palin, is that Barack Obama taught Constitutional Law for seven years at The University of Chicago, arguably the top law school in the world.

Training for the presidency requires the same basic set of materials as training for citizenship — but there’s some extra work. That extra work might be thought of as a master class. To become a citizen, you have to learn the basics. To be the president, you have to understand the nuance. That’s what you learn in the study of American Constitutional Law.

As I pointed out in my Vashti McCollum piece, Sarah Palin has not made a lifelong study of American Political History, and American Constitutional Law. She studied to be a sportscaster.

Even loyal Republicans fear her vapidity. The only people who like her are the people who are like… guns, television, racing, television, inconvenient pregnancies, television, anti-intellectualism, television, and television.

They hate everything. Somehow, they make the rest of us — people with the introspection gene — heed their claim to Superior Americanism Skills.

It’s patently ridiculous, of course. You know you’re an American. You saw your birth certificate. You know your opinions are American. You had them, and you are an American. Therefore, they are American Opinions.

Truth is, no matter how Sarah spins it, the typical “I’m More American Than You Are American” American hates America more than anybody. And I’m not talkin’ ‘bout secessionist tendencies (because, c’mon, secession is a basic American principle). I’m talkin’ ‘bout hatred of political opposition speech, preference for states’ rights when it suits the issue, and preference for federal supremacy when states’ rights choose wrong.

Diane McWhorter, writing in Slate>, compares the Palin fringe to proponents of George Wallace:
“Like Wallace’s base, Palin’s “true Americans” owe their authenticity to their rebellion against American institutions.”

Lisa Schiffren at around 7:00 of this video defends the “morons for Palin” by saying “I think that’s what the intellectual class did with Barack Obama. He’s an intellectual. He’s attractive. He’s smart. He has no experience. They fell in love.”

Host Bill Maher (my hero) queries “You don’t think he’s smarter that Sarah Palin? You don’t think he’s more well-versed?”

“No, I think he’s smarter,” she concedes. “I don’t think he has more useful experience.”

The idea here, if you missed it, is that the collective judgment of “intellectuals” is equivalent to the collective judgment of people who don’t know nuthin’ ‘bout ‘nuthin. Between doughnuts, Schiffren writes for The National Review, whose founder was perhaps the most erudite speaker and writer in all of punditry. Shame, shame, shame upon her for her egregious sin of populism. (Schiffren, in this same episode, uses the phrase “larded with pork,” which metaphor she would be wise to avoid in the future.)

Furthermore, Lisa Schiffren is not even the best conservative lesbian feminist who gets the Sarah Palin argument totally wrong. That prize goes to Camille Paglia.

Paglia remains one of my favourites polemicists on any subject. She’s brash, funny, and unpredictable. No one, but no one, will ever agree with all her opinions. But she will always make you think.

She writes in :

As someone whose first seven years were spent among Italian-American immigrants (I never met an elderly person who spoke English until we moved from Endicott to rural Oxford, New York, when I was in first grade), I am very used to understanding meaning through what might seem to others to be outlandish or fractured variations on standard English.

It could be that Paglia, like Moore, is merely swooning because she wants to fuck Palin. Whatever her purpose, this is a good point. And immaterial. It doesn’t change the verdict on Sarah Palin. Even if Palin is smart, the presidency deserves someone who’s made a lifelong pursuit of understanding our history and governance. Sarah could be Secretary of Fishing.

Our Constitution: What we aren’t teaching our children

You know what the First Amendment concerns, right? Freedom of speech, and stuff.

Do you know what Article I of the Constitution concerns? (Hint: It’s not what Joe Biden said during the Veep debate.)

If you said anything along the lines of “legislature” or “legislative body” or “congress” then you get a pass. If you didn’t get it, you might comfort yourself in the knowledge that no one else knows what our Constitution says, either. But of course, you don’t need for comforting. Like everyone else in America, you wear your ignorance like a badge.

WILL-TV broadcast Questioning the Constitution> Sunday night. It was not the radical, rabble rouser I’d feared. The only wacko opinion came from an old white guy who said we must, must do away with the Electoral College. When you contemplate that idea, consider the people of Elko, Nevada. Would they have met Barack Obama were it not for the Electoral College? Would their voices ever be heard by/would their lives ever be touched by a presidential candidate without the Electoral College?

No.

The program played out like an 8th grade civics tutorial. It taught the basics of constitutional history and foundation.

The token commentator for the “right” was Maryland Republican Michael Steele, who pointed out that “privacy” is not enumerated among our Constitutional rights. Therefore, he posits, abortion should be illegal. His logic is good, but stops one syllogism short of making sense.

You see, there is also no enumerated right of government to hang out in your bedroom, your toilet, or your doctor’s office. The only thing the constitution does say is, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

So the people retain all the rights not specifically given to government by the Constitution. But does that include unborn people? Yes, it does.

Unborn people are protected by Roe v. Wade. That’s why the decision included the term “quickening” and the trimester breakdown.

It’s the potential people, the partial people, the could-be-people who aren’t quite people — they’re the ones who get sucked through the vacuum tube. They don’t have any rights. Why? Because they aren’t people.

To argue that six grams of cells is a person requires a big leap of faith. Like most of the people in the “a fertilized egg is a human being!” movement, Steele is a devout believer in a Bearded Man Who Lives in the Sky. His particular branch of the Bearded Man Cult runs a world government from Rome. This world government does not allow its members to debate policies — as undemocratic as that may seem.

Steele is not stupid. So one might assume that he bases his contention of a state’s right to poke around in your vagina and uterus as coming from this passage:

“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. “

As a brownskin man, Steele ought to know that the states’ rights provisions were stuck in the Constitution not to alleviate concerns about a state’s right to womb-access, but rather a state’s right to keep n*ggaz in chains.

But if you really want to extend the concept of people to our embryonic, pre-quickening state, then what about the recently dead? Isn’t it silly to think that science is any further from extending lives of the recently dead — people who were alive, and people, just seconds ago — than it is from developing life from six grams of tissue?

Where is the protest, the outcry at our sadistic ritual burying of people who, until very recently, lived active lives? Oh the humanity!

That world government in Rome is right to not heed the petty hatreds of its congregants just because they are congregants. It fails because it also ignores the wisdom of its congregants. It’s a tricky thing to separate the good arguments from the bad. But it’s necessary. And it requires a scalpel rather than a hatchet.

Where have I heard that before?