Guest Commentary

Just in time for the convention: a new Republican Bill of Rights

My calls to John Ashcroft have gone unanswered. I keep getting his voicemail--a deafening recording of his rendition of that insipid soaring eagle song. I guess he's busy chasing terrorists who wear the wrong headgear. (Keffiyehs, as opposed to NRA caps.)

But darn it, I have something extremely valuable to offer the Republican Party, just in time for their convention: a tidy little rewrite of the Bill of Rights--an update, a reordering, if you will, of the liberties we have cherished lo these couple hundred years.

I offer it here as an open letter to our intrepid Sen. John McCain--Mr. Straight Talk Express rides again!--or any other Arizona Republican willing to carry this bold vision to Washington and insert it into his party's platform and redirect it to that shining city of truth on the hill! (Or wherever it is Reagan wandered off to in his dementia.)

To wit, the Bill of Right:

· Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of corporations, or prohibiting the free enterprise thereof; or abridging their freedoms of speech, or control of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble in obscure protest zones to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

· A well-funded militia being necessary to the supremacy of a capitalist State, the right of the corporations to produce and sell arms shall not be infringed.

· No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any other country without the consent of its puppet government, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by the executive branch and rubber-stamped by law.

· The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall be issued but upon political cause, supported by secret oath and intelligence affirmation, and particularly describing the bodily cavities to be searched and the terrorists to be seized.

· No executive officeholder shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment by a Republican Congress, especially in cases arising from the deployment of land and naval forces, in actual or perceived time of war or public danger; nor be twice put in jeopardy for crimes that the press have already dismissed or chosen to ignore; nor be compelled to be a witness against himself or his cronies; nor shall private property be taxed for public benefit, without exemption for corporations and the wealthy.

· In some criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a sordid and secret trial by a military tribunal of the State, far from the district where the terrorism occurred; in others, the accused shall enjoy the right to a tasteful and public exoneration, by a carefully screened and inherently partial jury within a state and district advantageous to the accused, which right shall have been previously ascertained by wealth and privilege, and secured through the assistance of high-powered counsel for his defense.

· In certain suits brought by commoners, where the value of corporate damages shall exceed $20, the right of trial by jury shall be negated, and no fact settled out of court shall be otherwise re-examined in any public domain.

· Excessive regulations shall not be imposed, nor excessive fines levied, upon corporations, unless as a nominal cost of doing business; nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted, unless upon terrorists in secret camps on foreign soil, or deserving scumbags in United States prisons.

· The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to provide these rights equally to all persons, nor to deny or disparage others retained by the wealthy and privileged.

· The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution shall be seized by force, and reserved to the people in charge.

Lastly, in anticipation of another vote-counting debacle in Florida, or Ohio, or anywhere else the Bush Mafia controls the voting technology, this tiny tweak of the 15th Amendment:

· The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged on account of race, color or condition of poverty, unless necessary to decide the election and get on with the business of running the country.

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