Thursday, March 10, 2011

Further Dispatches from Teabagistan: On the Constitutional Process

The Federal Constitution of 1787 is a model of concision.

It is all of four pages long in its original handwritten form, though when you print it out in a textbook that doubles to eight pages. They wrote small back then, and the pages were bigger. In any event, you’re looking at a shade over 4400 words all told.

The Wisconsin Constitution, on the other hand, covers a much smaller political unit in every conceivable way and still manages to run to 65 pages in the Wisconsin Statute Book, as of January 31, 2011. It’s far more detailed and specific. I don’t even want to know how many words it has.

Perhaps for this reason Governor Teabagger (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries) and his cronies, minions and lackeys might be excused for not conducting themselves in accordance with its demands. It’s a complex document, after all, and one not suited for toddler-scale-simplistic worldviews of the sort they profess.

For those of you who live under rocks, last night the Teabaggers in the Wisconsin State Senate passed a bill destroying collective bargaining in Wisconsin for public employees.

Some people out there are no doubt honestly in favor of such a step. I have nothing to say to those people, nor will I waste breath or energy lowering myself to that level. But whatever moral, ethical or practical economic concerns such a position raises, at least it’s a legally valid one.

The same cannot be said about last night’s actions.

I will skip lightly over the many and numerous violations of Wisconsin’s Open Meeting laws, Sunshine laws, and other laws designed to keep a scheming cabal of conspirators from operating in secret to destroy good government. On those grounds alone those actions were both morally repugnant and legally invalid, and I do hope that criminal charges will be filed against those responsible and that such people rot in the lowest dungeons of the Wisconsin criminal justice system for the rest of their shriveled little lives.

But here’s the thing.

The Wisconsin Constitution is very specific about the procedures for passing “fiscal bills.” Article 8, Section 8 specifies that any such laws must be passed in a recorded vote with at least three-fifths of the elected members of each chamber of the legislature present to constitute a quorum. This is, after all, the section of the Constitution that the Democratic senators relied on when they left, thus denying the radical lunatic fringe the opportunity to shove their agenda down the throats of Wisconsin citizens without public input. Any budget bill must have that quorum present in order for any vote taken on it to be legally valid.

Throughout this ordeal, Governor Teabagger (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries) and his cronies, minions and lackeys have insisted that the portions of the Budget Repair Bill relating to the destruction of public sector unions were an integral part of the budget, that their primary purpose was fiscal, and that without them he would not be able to balance Wisconsin’s books.

That this was a transparent lie was obvious from the start. These portions of the bill were clearly designed as a political power grab and a way to weaken the Teabagger’s opponents going forward. For crying out loud, even Fox News – the Teabagger In-House Cheerleading Service – conceded that much weeks ago.

So when the Teabaggers divided out those sections and passed them as a separate bill, it does set up a quandary that I don’t think they anticipated.

The only way that this could possibly be legal would be for them to concede the point that this is not, has never been, and could never be a fiscal bill. That its sole purpose was political. That it constitutes a deliberate, premeditated attack on the middle class in the name of partisan advantage. That the Democrats were right all along.

This they have not been willing to do. Governor Teabagger (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries) in fact spent much of today arguing that his bill was still an integral part of his budget plan and that it was all about the money, not the politics.

Which, of course, makes the actions taken last night illegal under Section 8, Article 8 of the Wisconsin Constitution, as amended to January 31, 2011.

Those are the options. Either the Teabaggers have been lying all along, or they have illegally passed this bill. There are no other options.

Sweet dancing monkeys on a stick – my state is controlled by criminals or liars and I don’t know which one is worse.

I’m guessing that any halfway competent lawyer could string together enough quotes from Governor Teabagger (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries) and his cronies, minions and lackeys to hoist them with their own petard and get the law overturned.

Not only do we have criminals or liars, but we have stupid criminals or liars.

It is a sad, sad day for American democracy, values and future prospects, whatever one’s position on unions might be.


The Flower Guy said...

Couldn't have said it better..

Beatrice Desper said...

"for those of you who live under rocks..."

David said...

Or in France, I suppose. ;)