11A008 Theater Galleries by Jim Davies, 1/8/2011    

New performances opened all over the country this week, and for originality the prize must go to the one in the House of Representatives; they actually read, out loud, their own terms of reference! It was their 116th opening day, but apparently no previous Congress had thought to do that. Members took turns, and some stumbled a little over the unfamiliar words, but generally the acting was pretty good. One might be forgiven for supposing they intended to honor what was read.

Those terms of reference are a fraud from top to bottom - but that's common enough in theaters, the scripts they act out are all works of fiction, so don't let's be mean. We must note however that this Constitution was not ratified by all the people of these united States, as claimed in its opening three words; that even if it had been it has certainly not been ratified by all 308 million of us subjected to its terms today; and that in any case it pretends to delegate powers to the Congress that the delegators never possessed in the first place, and which are 100% incompatible with human liberty. These fundamental flaws I've detailed a little in several places listed here, notably in Constitutional Rule.

For all that, it does have a couple of merits; at the end of its six Articles it plainly says "This Constitution... shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby." If only they were, we'd be quite a bit better off. Then further, at the end of its first set of Amendments, comes this: "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." So if the powers allegedly delegated aren't enough for you, tough luck; you can't do it. That some Congresscritter should have to read that must have choked him.

As if to confirm that nobody actually pays such limits heed, notably the Amendment One prohibition on acting to limit speech, the guy with the big gavel came down like a ton of bricks on the brave Theresa Cao in the spectator gallery who called out in protest when she heard that the President must be a "natural born citizen." She was arrested for speaking so freely. Now, to me it matters not at all where the Prez was born; he has no business presiding over my life whether he's Barry Sotero or Barack Obama - I alone am qualified for that job, as you are for yours - but these are their rules. So as even Chris Matthews recently asked, why doesn't he simply produce the birth certificate?

Actors in a New Hampshire theater also did something unusual this week: they granted themselves - and others! - permission to carry handguns into their debating chamber. How about that for a gimmick to get audience attention! Their rule says members may not "display" the weapons, so if a heated debate should arise it would be improper for a Rep to wave a gun at a Dem's head, for example, but even visitors up in the gallery are no longer to be denied their freedom to carry. Of course, if ever one were to use a gun to defend himself against massive theft by the assembly of thieves below, a different rule might apply. But this is theater, remember, and in theater what matters most is the appearance, not the reality.

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