Oh Sandy!

National Guard graphic imageThis post is part of a 2012 monthly series of MySheCave.com posts on the topic of the U.S. Constitution.

Similar to when Elton John changed his Candle in the Wind lyrics to honor the late Princess Diana (the revised tune was titled, “Goodbye England’s Rose”), if we were to ask Barry Manilow to revise his famous tune, “Mandy,” to honor the victims of this past week’s Hurricane Sandy, he could tweak one of the most famous lyrics of the Mandy song to be:

 “Oh Sandy well,
You came and you left our hearts breaking.

The devastation from Sandy’s wake has left so many of us living in outlying areas wondering, “How can we help?”  Here is a list of charitable organizations to which you can denote to help victims of the storm.

One of the ways the U.S. federal government has been assisting Hurricane Sandy victims is through the deployment of the National Guard of the United States.

Do you know which Article of the U.S. Constitution authorizes the existence of the U.S. National Guard?

According to Wikipedia, Article One, Section 8; Clause 14 gives the United States Congress, “the power to pass laws ‘calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions.’ ”  The Wikipedia entry goes on to state that Title 10 of the United States Code defines National Guard members as a subset of the “Militia.”

What is your experience with the U.S. National Guard?  Are you aware that the National Guard is the oldest component of the U.S. armed forces?

Do you personally know any members of the Guard?  And, have you ever witnessed a live deployment?

Without doubt, many of the Hurricane Sandy victims likely viewed the National Guard vehicles and troops who were trudging through the floodwaters earlier this week like guardian angels.

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Has Uncle Sam Gained Weight?

mariokang wordpress.com site Fat Uncle Sam image

Fat Uncle Sam image – mariokang wordpress.com site

This post is part of a 2012 monthly series of MySheCave.com posts on the topic of the U.S Constitution.

Often during political campaign periods in the U.S., we hear from candidates who tout the importance of “states’ rights” — the political powers reserved to individual U.S. states versus the U.S. federal government.

For example, in the past, Texas governor and former 2012 presidential candidate Rick Perry has been outspoken in his support of the concept of states’ rights and the sovereignty of his home state.  Watch this video of Governor Perry declaring Texas’ sovereignty.

Did you know which Article within the U.S. Constitution outlines the duties of the states in relation to each other and the federal government?  Article Four outlines the jurisdiction of the U.S. federal government with respect to the states and details the authority given to the states.

Beyond Article Four, the Tenth Amendment goes one step further in addressing the powers given to the states stating:

“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.”

States’ rights advocates, such as Perry, often reference Amendment X in their speeches.

Besides Rick Perry, are you aware of other U.S. politicians who are states’ rights proponents?  And, how important is the concept of states’ rights to you?  Do you know of any U.S. states that currently have individual laws or regulations that you think are strange or unjust?

Last, do you think the level of power between the U.S. federal government and the U.S. states is well balanced at this time in U.S. history?

Is Uncle Sam maintaining a healthy weight, or does he need to go on a diet?

Chicken, Cows and the Constitution

Chick-fil-A brand ad image

Chick-fil-A brand ad image

This post is part of a 2012 monthly series of MySheCave.com posts on the topic of the U.S Constitution.

Want another example of how U.S. Constitution-related issues surface in our everyday lives?

This week, Dan Cathy, President and COO of one of America’s most famous fast-food chains, Chick-fil-A, made comments in the press that have been interpreted by some as against same-sex marriage, raising a controversy among gay rights activists and politicians.

In response to Cathy’s comments, three big-city mayors, Thomas Menino (Boston), Rahm Emanuel (Chicago) and Edwin Lee (San Francisco), publicly stated that they disagreed with Cathy and would discourage the presence of Chick-Fil-A establishments in their cities.  For example, Emanuel stated, “Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values,” and Lee tweeted, “Closest #ChickFilA to San Francisco is 40 miles away & I strongly recommend that they try not to come any closer.”

So, how does this controversy relate to the U.S. Constitution?  Well, the controversy has raised questions related to our rights to freedom of religion and speech — both of which are rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Specifically, Amendment I “prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peacefully assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.”

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has publicly disagreed with Menino, Emmanuel and Lee by stating, “trampling on the freedom to marry whoever you want is the same as trampling on your freedom to open a store.”

What do you think?  Do you agree that a COO of a privately-held company like Dan Cathy has a Constitutionally protected right to state his beliefs about gay marriage?  And, do you think that city mayors, like Menino, Emanuel and Lee should have the power to prevent a restaurant like Chick-fil-A from opening in their cities based on the religious-based statements made by that restaurant’s COO?

On a lighter note, I have a question for all of you marketers out there:  what do you think of Chick-fil-A’s 17-year-running renegade Cows brand advertising campaign?

Madeleines and Privilège de l’exécutif

French Madeleines and coffee beansThis post is part of a 2012 monthly series of MySheCave.com posts on the topic of the U.S Constitution.

When was the last time that you considered French influence within America?

American author David McCullough recently penned an interesting book, “The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris,” that provides a historical account of how many Americans between 1830 and 1900 traveled to Paris to study in the fields of art, literature, medicine, architecture and politics and then returned to influence America with their newfound knowledge gained while in France.

Today, here in the U.S., we can see that French influence into the American political arena is still alive and well.  For example, earlier this week, President Barack Obama exercised executive privilege related to the Fast & Furious gunwalking scandal.

How was President Obama’s claim of executive privilege an example of French influence into American politics?  Well, first let’s consider the definition and origin of executive privilege.

According to Wikipedia, executive privilege is “the power claimed by the President of the United States and other members of the executive branch to resist certain subpoenas and other interventions by the legislative and judicial branches of government.”

But, does the U.S. Constitution provide for this right by the Executive Branch?  The answer is no.

Wikipedia explains that the concept of executive privilege is not explicitly stated in the Constitution but that the U.S. Supreme Court has “ruled it to be an element of the separation of powers doctrine, and/or derived from the supremacy of executive branch in its own area of Constitutional activity.” 

And, according to Wikipedia, the separation of powers is a doctrine whose origins are tied to the writings of the 18th century French Enlightenment political philosopher Montesquieu, and many of the Framers of the Constitution were influenced by Montesquieu’s writings.

So, when it comes to the President Obama’s recent exercise of the political concept of executive privilege, there is, without doubt, a historical French connection.

And, who could blame the Framers of the Constitution for being influenced by the French?  Certainly not me.

The fact that I often indulge in French Madeleines with my morning coffee reveals that I also am unable to escape l’influence de la France.  🙂

 

Passwords Protected?

Password and Username fieldsThis post is part of a 2012 monthly series of MySheCave.com posts on the topic of the U.S. Constitution.

Bob Sullivan’s online article, “Gov’t agencies, colleges demand applicants’ Facebook passwords,” is a quick reminder that questions about the U.S. Constitution and the specific liberties that the Constitution protects continue to be raised in today’s world.

The article, focused on the fact that some universities and employers are now demanding access to individuals’ private social media content, raises questions about whether those demanding organizations may be violating the rights of the individuals involved – rights that some would argue are guaranteed by the Constitution.

For example, a Washington D.C.-lawyer quoted in the article states: “I can’t believe some people think it’s OK to do this.  Maybe it’s OK if you live in a totalitarian regime, but we still have a Constitution to protect us.  It’s not a far leap from reading people’s Facebook posts to reading their email. …As a society, where are we going to draw the line?”

I was personally surprised to learn that my alma mater, The University of North Carolina, recently revised its handbook, adding a provision that requires each athletic team to “identify either a coach or administrator who is responsible for having access to and regularly monitoring the content of their team members’ social networking sites.”

Do you think that employers and universities should be able to require individuals to divulge their user names and private passwords for the social networks to which they belong?  And, if not, which individual right or rights do you think are denied when such policies exist?  Sullivan’s article references the individual right to privacy as well as to the right to free speech.

Turning back to the Constitution, do you know which Article or Amendment provides for an individual’s right to free speech?  The answer is Amendment 1, the First Amendment.  And, what about the right to privacy? Is that right protected by the Constitution?  The author of the online article, “Exploring Constitutional Conflicts,” contends that the Constitution “contains no express right to privacy.”

It seems like there are two sides to the social media coin today.  On one hand, we’ve recently seen social media tools like Twitter aid individuals in reclaiming their rights and defeating oppressive government regimes like Mubarak’s in Egpyt.  On the other hand, in the instances like those referenced in Sullivan’s article, social media technologies seem to be putting individuals’ rights at risk.

When it comes to the question of employees and universities demanding individuals to share their user names and Facebook passwords, which side are you on, and do you think the Constitution addresses the question?

Bowie, Crow and Amendments

Changes David BowieThis post is part of a 2012 monthly series of MySheCave.com posts on the topic of the U.S. Constitution.

In his 1971 hit single, “Changes,” Brit David Bowie sang about the changes artists often confront while reinventing themselves and their crafts.  Besides Bowie, countless other singers and singer-songwriters over the years have focused on the concept of change.  In 2010, Robin Raven highlighted 10 modern songs about change in the online article, “10 Best Songs About Change,” and Bowie’s “Changes” made the list.

You may know something about evolving as an individual, but are you familiar with the process for changing the U.S. Constitution?  Do you know which of the seven Articles within the Constitution deals with changing the document?

Article Five describes how the Constitution may be amended and how Amendments to the Constitution can be proposed and ratified.

According to Article Five, there are only two ways in which an Amendment may be proposed.  Changes can be proposed either by:  1- two-thirds votes of both houses of the U.S. Congress or 2- a national convention requested by legislatures of at least two-thirds of U.S. states.  According to Wikipedia, “All of the ratified and unratified amendments” have been proposed by the first method.”

Article Five also identifies two ways in which proposed Amendments may be ratified.  The two ways to ratify an Amendment are: 1- ratification by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states and 2-ratification by state conventions of three-fourths of the states.  According to Wikipedia, “only the Twenty-first Amendment” has used the second method.

Wikipedia highlights that U.S. Representatives and Senators typically propose up to 200 amendments during each year, but “most amendments never get out of Congressional committees.”  In fact, only 27 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution have been ratified to date.  And, did you know that the Twenty-seventh Amendment was ratified in 1993 and 203 years after originally being submitted to the states for ratification?

Without doubt, in crafting Article Five, our Founding Fathers made sure that changing our Constitution would not be an easy task.

What about the changes that you’ve made in your life to date?  Have you applied the same sort of conservative, serious “Constitutional” approach when making significant life changes?  Have you made quick or slow important life decisions?

And, would you agree with singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow that “a change would do you good?

Sharing Constitutional Content in 2012

U.S. Constitution Pocket Guide

U.S. Constitution Pocket Guide

Expect at least one MySheCave.com post per month in 2012 that will examine an aspect of the U.S. Constitution, the anchor of our American society.

Following a year (2011) in which TIME magazine named “The Protestor” as its “Person of the Year” and living in a time in history when so many are protesting for democratic reforms and higher individual freedoms, it seems fitting to remind ourselves of the content contained within the document that has protected our freedoms and ways of life since our U.S. nation was founded.

To begin, how familiar are you right now with the Constitution and its Articles?  For example, do you recall the year and the U.S. city in which the Constitution was signed?  (The answers would be 1787 and Philadelphia.)   And, can you recite the first 15 words of the document?  (“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…”)

In recognition of the fact that 2012 is a presidential election year here in the U.S., I want to highlight Article Two, the Article that creates the executive branch of the U.S. government, defines the role of the President of the U.S. and contains four sections:

  • Section 1 begins by stating, “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.”  Then, the section explains the four-year Presidential and Vice-Presidential electoral process and Congress’ related role, defines the specific personal criteria (U.S. citizenship and age) for the position of U.S. President and calls out the requirement that the President must take a specific Oath “before he enter on the Execution his Office.”
  • Section 2 names the President as “Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States” and primarily calls out his power to make treaties and appoint Ambassadors, U.S. Supreme Court Justices and other Officers of the U.S.
  • Section 3 references the fact that the President will “from time to time” give Congress information about the “State of the Union” and speaks to the President’s jurisdiction “on extraordinary Occasions” to convene both Houses of Congress “or either of them.”  Section 3 also mentions that the President can adjourn Congress “in Case of Disagreement between them” and “shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.
  • Section 4, the final section of Article Two, states that the President, Vice President and “all civil Officers of the United States” will be removed from “Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

In this election year, amidst the partisan fighting occurring daily between our two U.S. political parties as well as the daily political punditry highlighted on TV and the Internet, it’s easy to grow weary of the U.S. presidential election process.

However, when you consider the amount of power that the words of Article Two will require our next President to embrace, don’t you think it’s important for American citizens to embrace the presidential election process?

If you’re an American who’s registered to vote in the upcoming primaries and in the general election in November, I hope you’ll remember all of the power that Article Two will hand to the winner before you place your vote.

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