A guide to the US constitution...anyone know a good one?

#1
I'm trying to ‘Gen up’ on all things US, one area of weakness is an explanation of the constitution and structures (+ relationships of) federal and state governments. i.e. How the US functions at a political level.

The ideal book would be aimed at snr high school students or a freshman majoring in politics. Preferably, fairly easy to read and well structured.

Any ideas???
 
#2
I'm presuming this is for your own consumption, Jailor.

You can pick up a hard copy on Amazon for about $4-5- or just download it from t'interweb. I'd also suggest you also take a look at The Federalist Papers. They were written for mass consumption around the time of the framing of the Constitution to try explain what was going on, the framers' thinking and garner support for its ratification. They're sort of the bedrock for most scholars' attempts to understand the thinking of the framers, but you have to be aware that since they were attempts to influence public opinion, they also have to be considered pieces of spin to a degree.

I'd suggest this as a good place to start:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0195304438/?tag=armrumser-20

If you want a hand to look at the legal and political considerations at the time of the Framing:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1400062624/?tag=armrumser-20

Or a contrasting (much more critical) view:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/048643365X/?tag=armrumser-20

I'm sure Virgil can help you out, but since he's a lawyer, he'll probably try to bill you. :wink:
 

Auld-Yin

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#3
I thought the US Constitution was very clear. Throw out the Brits, kills the Red Indians (who had never been anywhere near India) and take over the world.

Of course you had to go through a civil war (most countries do at some stage) and arrive 'late' at the major wars of the 20th Century, while making shed loads of cash.

Now you have the Good Ole US ofd A.

Not much different from previous powers. :cry:
 

Goatman

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#4
Jailor

Last year I did an OU course entitled 'America in the 20th Century' D214.

One of the course books goes into the most laborious detail you could need on the checks and balances in the US system, covering not just the Constitution but the pivotal role of the Supreme Court and how the Senate and Congress function and inter relate.

Sounds like it might fit the bill - joo wan' ?

Le Chevre
 

Nehustan

On ROPS
On ROPs
#5
Goatman said:
Jailor

Last year I did an OU course entitled 'America in the 20th Century' D214.

One of the course books goes into the most laborious detail you could need on the checks and balances in the US system, covering not just the Constitution but the pivotal role of the Supreme Court and how the Senate and Congress function and inter relate.

Sounds like it might fit the bill - joo wan' ?

Le Chevre
If he doesn't I know someone who could really do with a copy, drop him a line, tho' I have a feeling he might not be that interested...

president@whitehouse.gov
 

Goatman

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#6
dude, I think the current incumbent knows the THEORY pretty well.....it's the tricky thing about 'putting it into practice ' he has some ...uh...difficulties with.

Mind you , groaning under the iron tipped jackboot of Neue Arbeit neo-fascists and the reality-challeneged Celestial Navigator as we do -

" Pot DE Kettle K ?"


Le Chevre
 
#7
Auld-Whinge said:
I thought the US Constitution was very clear. Throw out the Brits, kills the Red Indians (who had never been anywhere near India) and take over the world.

Of course you had to go through a civil war (most countries do at some stage) and arrive 'late' at the major wars of the 20th Century, while making shed loads of cash.

Now you have the Good Ole US ofd A.

Not much different from previous powers. :cry:
Dearest madame,

I humbly and profusely apologise for the heinous crime of "being Uhmurrikun". Speaking for one and all (past, present and future) we'd like to make it up to you. May we pay for your monthly menopause treatments? Please do RSVP on this urgent matter.

Regards,
a humbled resident of South Canada
 
#9
combatintman said:
Septics - get over it - I'm sure Auld Whinge was having a laugh. I'm just grateful I'm not typing this in German.
Dipshit, get over it. I was just having a laugh too. I'm just gratefull that you can tell when someone is just having a laugh...oh, wait.
 

Goatman

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#10
sawdusty said:
combatintman said:
Septics - get over it - I'm sure Auld Whinge was having a laugh. I'm just grateful I'm not typing this in German.
Dipshit, get over it. I was just having a laugh too. I'm just gratefull that you can tell when someone is just having a laugh...oh, wait.
Now hang on....was that ironically or sardonically said?

Jailor - the course book is called
" The United States in the Twentieth Century: Democracy"
Edited by Richard Maidment ISBN 0-340-75823-6


Rather apposite quote, relating to the tyranny of the majority:
' The concerns of the Founding Fathers...were not those of of 2othC democrats (small C).They did not share the values of contemporary democracy. The F-F did not embrace majority rule nor did they want to see the enactment of the wishes of the majority into legislation, at least with any rapidity. They did not value effective and efficient govt. Quite the contrary, they had a profound fear and concern about how a majority would rule...In The Federalist No10, Madison gave voice to his concerns. According to Madison ,there is indeed a faction that is dangerous above all others: the majority faction.

'When a majority is included in a faction, the form of popular govt on the other hand, enables it to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens. "

So what is President Bush's ruling passion then? According to the arch-demon Greg Palast it's pretty simple.

'Ya dance with them that brung ya"

Texas 'Pioneers' raised $40 million for George W Bush ... and investigative reporter Greg Palast asks, "What have they gotten in return?"

The Newsnight team flies to the Alcoa Aluminum lignite strip mine and power plant which Texas Governor Bush, following secret meetings with company execs, permitted to dodge demands that the plant cut its sulphur
emissions in half. Now as President, Bush and his Secretary of Treasury have proposed a budget which eliminates all funds for civil enforcement of pollution laws.
Savings to Alcoa: about $100 million. The Secretary of the Treasury, Paul O'Neill is selling $100 million of Alcoa stock. On camera, Texas senator Teel Bevins, Bush buddy and 'Pioneer' funder, explains why it's only fair that the big funders get special access to the President, while others are locked out: "
LIST OF BIGGEST ENERGY INDUSTRY DONORS TO REPUBLICAN PARTY DURING BUSH CAMPAIGN:

ENRON $1,800,000
EXXON $1,200,000
KOCH INDUSTRIES $970,000
SOUTHERN $900,000
BP AMOCO $800,000
LEHMAN BROTHERS $808,000
EL PASO ENERGY $787,000
CHEVRON OIL CORP 780,000
RELIANT ENERGY $642,000
TEXAS UTILITIES TXU $635,000

VOICE OF LaNell ANDERSON, TEXAN BUCKET BRIGADE
“Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the that the lobbyists’ money has found its mark”
hey ho...time to go...

Lee Shaver
 
#11
Back to original question (boring :D ), in addition to booklets try "The American System of Government" by Ernest S Griffith - picked up a copy (1983, 6th edition) today at a book fair. Only got as far as page 3 before "management" interrupted, but it was written by Prof. Griffith (lecturer at Oxford and other minor Unis) in the 50s and "... written specifically for those whose experience is more with governments of other types, especially the British parliamentary system."

No idea where you'll get one, though - eBay?

USA airport shops also sell similar items, presumably to persuade departing visitors to the "Great Nation" that there is some logic behind what goes on. Surprised they don't issue them free at the Immigration Desk!

Please spare us (you) a UK written constitution, although hopefully Bliar should be gone before Cherry has finished drafting it :D :roll:
 
#12
Try the Bible.It works for Bush, it will work for you.
 
#16
Jailor, I have all my knowledge of the Constitution and the checks and balances inherent therein supplied to me by President Josiah Bartlett and his merry men in "The West Wing".
It really is quite educational, and opens your eyes to the workings of Government. Essentially not a lot works unless you are willing to sell your soul to the other side. A good idea goes to the house, and in the words of the Great Bard Billy Connolly "Gets kicked about until it is a shadow of its former self".
I am always mightily impressed that they manage to get so much good governance done inside 40 minutes too.

As an aside - CJ Cregg - You would, wouldn't you?
 
#17
Heedthebaw said:
As an aside - CJ Cregg - You would, wouldn't you?
Thanks everyone for your assistance, have started to read some of your suggestions. The challenge is putting this information into the context of the US government/defence responsibilities.

CJ Cregg, :? I do not own a TV, not a Wah, I get my news off the internet Newnight and C4 News and PBR in the evenings for worldservice. Sad as I am I would rather spend some time with my Kids!
 
#18
Heedthebaw said:
Jailor, I have all my knowledge of the Constitution and the checks and balances inherent therein supplied to me by President Josiah Bartlett and his merry men in "The West Wing".
It really is quite educational, and opens your eyes to the workings of Government. Essentially not a lot works unless you are willing to sell your soul to the other side. A good idea goes to the house, and in the words of the Great Bard Billy Connolly "Gets kicked about until it is a shadow of its former self".
I am always mightily impressed that they manage to get so much good governance done inside 40 minutes too.
"The West Wing" corresponds to real government about the same way that "Batman" corresponds to real law enforcement.

It's propaganda calculated to make the merely sordid and disgraceful appear noble and glamorous
 
#19
crabtastic said:
...

I'm sure Virgil can help you out, but since he's a lawyer, he'll probably try to bill you. :wink:
Frankly I stay waaaaay out of constitutional discussion on the internet! I will say a basic knowledge of the constitution without at least a familiarity with the Federalist papers and a history of Supreme Ct decisions is limiting.
 
#20
Not_Whistlin_Dixie said:
Heedthebaw said:
Jailor, I have all my knowledge of the Constitution and the checks and balances inherent therein supplied to me by President Josiah Bartlett and his merry men in "The West Wing".
It really is quite educational, and opens your eyes to the workings of Government. Essentially not a lot works unless you are willing to sell your soul to the other side. A good idea goes to the house, and in the words of the Great Bard Billy Connolly "Gets kicked about until it is a shadow of its former self".
I am always mightily impressed that they manage to get so much good governance done inside 40 minutes too.
"The West Wing" corresponds to real government about the same way that "Batman" corresponds to real law enforcement.

It's propaganda calculated to make the merely sordid and disgraceful appear noble and glamorous
Hang on - what are you saying? Batman ISN'T real?????

I think I need a lie down :(

So Come on NWD - CJ Cregg - Yes or No? :D
 

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