To Support and Defend Article 1 Section 9

The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

Yeah, that means what you think it means. It was saying we were still allowed to kidnap people from Africa, bring them to our shores, and keep them in involuntary servitude, and that we couldn’t open the discussion for banning it before 1808. Not exactly a shining moment.

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

Okay, this is about the rights of the accused. Y’all might to note that the term “rebellion” is not defined, and at some point may be twisted to what we would call a “protest.” A prisoner has the right to challenge imprisonment in court unless there are extreme circumstances. (Habeas Corpus basically means that a person under arrest must be brought before a judge to prove there is a legal reason for keeping them locked up)

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

You have to be tried under the law as it stands when you are accused of having committed the crime. Congress cannot pass a law and have you be retroactively guilty if what you did was legal at the time you did it.

A Bill of Attainder is a law that says a specific person is by LAW guilty of a crime. It is legislative rather than judicial judgement and is Unconstitutional in the US. Margaret Pole, Katherine Howard, Thomas Cromwell, the Duke of Norfolk, and many others were executed via this legal means during the Tudor period. It was a very feared piece of legislation because it could get you killed because the legislative body didn’t like you (or was bullied into it), not necessarily because you had been proved guilty of a crime. If the concept doesn’t scare you cross-eyed, read more history. It should.

No capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid,[unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

Congress was not allowed to impose a direct tax on people. This was changed by the 16th Amendment.

No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

Interstate taxes on goods are illegal. If you buy it in New Hampshire and take it to Massachusetts (ahem! Cheap liquor on I-93…) there cannot be an interstate tax imposed on it.

No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.

Again, this is saying that we’re not going to have Interstate Tariffs or Duties.

No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

Congress must make a public accounting of how they spend money.

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

The United States of America is Republic. There is no such thing as a noble class. We do not have monarchs. No-one who holds a public office of the US is allowed to accept a foreign honor, gift, or title without specific permission of Congress.

To Support and Defend: Article 1, Section 8

This section of Article 1 outlines Congressional Powers:

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

Basically, Federal taxes have to be uniform throughout the states. You can’t give a cheaper import duty to Virginia and a higher one to California.

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

Yes, the US is allowed to borrow money, but only Congress has the power to do it or not.

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian Tribes;

International commerce regulations lie with Congress.

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

We decided we did want to allow people born elsewhere to become citizens. It is Congress’ responsibility to set up those rules. Also laws on bankruptcy must be uniform across the states.

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

It is Congress’ responsibility to regulate the value of the coinage (and paper money). We use pounds, miles, inches, feet and yards because Congress says that’s the standard.

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

Counterfeiting is a Federal offense and punishments for such are regulated by Congress.

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

The USPS was established right here in this sentence. Post Roads were merely roads maintained to help the mail go through easier. I haven’t looked it up, but one wonders about state roads used for the Postal Service and Federal responsibility.

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

Patents and copyright laws are a Congressional responsibility in the US.

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

The Federal court system is also under Congressional power.

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

This is an interesting one. Privateering was an issue between nations was still quite an issue even if the Golden Age of Piracy was still past. It is a Congressional responsibility to define this.

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

Only Congress has the power to declare war and to regulate the dispersal of the spoils of war.

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

See this? TECHNICALLY, we’re not supposed to have a standing army. Given the amount of training a private requires to be useful now in our highly-technical world, I am not entirely sure that’s practical. But since things have changed, perhaps an Amendment would be in order?

To provide and maintain a Navy;

But a standing navy is just fine, apparently…

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

Congress oversees the military.

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

Because we did not have a standing army, the idea was that civil disorder and invasion forces would be dealt with by local militias. Again, soldiering is a highly skilled profession these days. Not sure how that would work out.

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

Again, responsibility for the military forces is a Congressional responsibility. (By the way, this was for a very specific reason. We do not want the US military forces in the hands of one person.)

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; —And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

This allows for the establishment of a government center that does not belong to any state. The last clause is also known as the “Elastic clause” because it basically says, “Yo, if we need to make a law to run the country well, we can!” (You think the Bill of Rights was an accident, do you?)

Support and Defend: Article 1, Section 7

All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

If a tax needs to be instituted, it must come from the House. The Senate cannot originate such a bill, although it must approve it before it goes to the President either to be approved or vetoed. The Senate can suggest changes to the bill.

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it becomes a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.

Okay, Presidential Veto, here we come!

When a bill is to become a law, it will go to the President. If the President and signs it, it becomes a law. If the President does not approve, the bill is sent back to the House or Senate (depending on where the bill originated) along with the objections to the bills. The President is obligated to explain why in cases of a veto.

However, and this is where we really start getting into checks and balances, if Congress really disagrees so strongly that two-thirds (290 people in the House, and 67 in the Senate) of its membership will vote in favor of the bill, it becomes a law anyway.

If the President sits on a bill for ten days (excluding Sundays), it becomes a law anyway and it is presumed that the President did, in fact, approve the law.* If, however, Congress adjourns before the President can sign it, the clock stops ticking, and the bill does not become a law.

Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

If Congress has to vote on something to be enacted, the matter must be referred to the President for approval or disapproval. This also re-iterates the override of the Presidential veto.

* Speculation on the part of the author: If this little clause could be used as a sort of weasel-worded way of claiming disapproval of a law while still allowing it to be enacted. Though being a layman, the author cannot recall if this is common practice or not.

Making the Bed, 10,000 Steps, and 750 Words


I was pondering being obsessive about certain habits recently and whether or not they were really doing me any good. I was wondering if I was using those habits as a proxy for actual good in my life and wondering if I was being kind of a dork about being so insistent on following through on them.

Making the Bed

I make my bed every morning. Mostly, this is because my mother had me and my brother make our beds every morning when we were children. I went through a period of not doing it, but to be honest, it takes very little time and makes the room look 80% neater, even if all you do is pull the darn comforter and sheets straight. Which, to be honest, is really about as far as I tend to go with making the bed.

This habit spills over a bit. It means I’m more likely to tidy my room more frequently. I mean, right now, I have some wool sweaters I intend to wash this week on the dresser, as well as some knit socks I hand-washed and have drying on my desk, but other than that, the room is clean. (There are days when I wonder why I have a desk. I am sitting in an overstuffed chair with my feet on an ottoman at the moment. This is my writin’ chair).

But, anyway, making the bed means I’m more likely to put dirty clothes in the hamper and put away clean ones more quickly. So, is this a habit that is good for me? Why yes!

10,000 Steps

This is not yet a habit, but I am wanting it to be. This is my baseline activity, even though I do go for a swim a few mornings a week. I figure if I get my steps in, I’m not too sedentary for words, and might even get out for a walk every now and then. Though I freely admit I do pace the house to get those steps in.

The way I figure it, that baseline for steps is good for general activity. The swimming? I do better with some HARD activity every now and then. Also, I’m a middle-aged woman. Osteoporosis is not particularly common in my family. I *think* Mom said a reference to Neandertal man was made when she got a bone scan because she had such good bone density. However, Mom does a lot of pretty physically demanding work maintaining her yard and garden. She’s always lifting wheelbarrows of compost and digging holes and stuff. So, she gets that higher-impact stuff for building bone density. I don’t. Swimming is the most physical hobby I have, and it doesn’t do diddly for bone density. But getting in a decent baseline of walking does. So, that works for me. Besides, getting in 10,000 steps isn’t particularly intrusive.

750 Words

I wobble on this one. To write well, you need to write. However, I do wonder if just sitting down and doing a word-vomit really does a thing for you past a certain point. While someone sedentary who starts taking some slow walks is likely going to see some improvements in fitness markers, those same slow walks don’t do much to improve the fitness of an athlete. Regarding writing, I’m not exactly a beginner. These 750 Words aren’t really focused practice.


After I have been doing these exercises for awhile, they do stop being a word vomit and do start to become actual essays with topics, structured arguments, and real conclusions. I start thinking about real things to talk about and try to structure them in a coherent way.

Never mind that what I really need to do is practice fiction. Most especially, I need to practice plotting a story with a real beginning, working to a climax and settling on a denouement. Maybe once a week my 750 Word session should be an attempt as a short-short story to learn this. I feel like I’m not as good at it as I could be. Worldbuilding? I do that pretty well. Characterization? I’m decent at it, though I could be better. Dialog? I dunno. I write like I think they talk, but I know you can fool yourself about this. Criticism of George Lucas’ dialog in Star Wars is a perfect example.

So, while maybe these daily practices seem kind of retentive and obsessive on the surface, I look at what they give me and realize that, yes, while they do take a certain amount of time out of my day, what they give back is worth it.

To Support and Defend: Article 1, Section 6

The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

Congress gets paid, and that compensation is determined by law. Congress has to decide on it, then the President has to sign it into law. If they have not committed a felony, treason or are not actively being violent, they cannot be arrested while in attendance in Congress, and they’re immune from criminal prosecution for the things they do and say as a legislator.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

You cannot hold another Federal office while you serve in Congress.

Avoiding the Post-Holiday Blues

Happy New Year!

I have hated taking down the Christmas decorations for as long as I can remember. It meant the end of the holidays. It meant that the pretty, shiny things had to go away. It typically meant gray skies (I grew up in Virginia, which is cold and rainy most of the winter) and as I got older, the austerity of New Year’s Resolutions in which I tried once again, to be some who actually had her life together.

We always took down the Christmas decorations, though close to New Year’s Day. My grandmother used to think it was bad luck for Christmas decorations to see New Year’s.  Mom wasn’t so fanatic, but we did usually take them down close to then.

So New Year’s just meant going back to the damn grind for me.

I’m not doing that this year. While I have goals I want to accomplish, that’s not special to January 1. What I am going to do instead is actually decorate for January. No, it’s not as elaborate as how we decorate for Christmas, but it is still special decorations and colors.

I’ve chosen ice colors – blues and whites and crystals for this.

I have the snowflake table runner and the cranes in the glass vase filled with blue glass gems. It’s a simple and easy centerpiece to make, and I like it. I’m still waiting for the blue candles that I ordered to arrive, and that will complete the table setting.

I put some of the leftover glass gems in crystal bowls and put a pillar candle in each one to keep with the theme.

However, I also miss Christmas lights. So, I decided to buy a strings of blue ones to use for the month of January. While the days are lengthening now that the Winter Solstice has passed, it still gets dark pretty early and will for the rest of the month. Once the sun starts setting at five in the evening, I’ll probably feel the need for strings of lights a little less.

This really didn’t take a lot of money. I did buy the glass gems, origami paper, and the fabric for the table runner, but other than that, I went searching around the house for things I already had that were blue or silver or glittery to get the effect. But I can tell you that you can often find glass bowls at the dollar store, and you can often get pretty fabric fairly cheaply.

Is this high-end decorating? No, of course it isn’t. But that’s not the point. In fact, the point is that sometimes you really need to do something special with your environment, and you’ll find if you’re creative about it, you can do something nice without necessarily dropping a lot of money.

Though am I going to have pork and black-eyed peas for good luck?  Why goodness me yes! We visit my family in Virginia every Christmas, and I’d mentioned that I needed to pick up some black-eyed peas (you can’t count on finding them in New Hampshire), and Daddy bought me a bag of them to take home.  So, yeah, making Hoppin’ John.