Wow, a lot of food for thought, and not something I have time to address all at once.
Yeah, I’m aware of the pitfalls of the Internet. As I said, I write for a blog, so I also visit other blogs and opinion sites, both Left and Right (Huffington Post and National Review, for example). I just use opinion sites to gauge what other people are saying. It’s not often I link to such sites to make a point unless it’s to highlight an interesting point that someone else has made. Sites like Truth or Fiction, FactCheck.org and Snopes are fine for debunking erroneous information, but when I’m looking for the truth about something (the absolute truth, not someones version of it) I try to find original writings and original audio or video, both of which are not difficult to find if you know where and how to look.
There was a concerted effort on the part of Progressives beginning in the 30’s to re-write a lot of history, particularly political history, a largely underground movement originating with a handful of foundations (Carnegie, Ford, Rockefeller, etc.) I used to have an excellent hour and a half video interview archived with a prominent statesman who was recruited back in the 30’s to be an integral part of the effort, but I can’t seem to find it. That was a couple computers back. The interview was done in the early 80’s, and the gentleman died shortly after the interview. Fascinating stuff — if I find it, I’ll forward a link, as it explains a lot. Anyway, history continues to be distorted to advance political goals. If you’ve looked at an elementary or high school history book lately, you know what I mean. But the distortion today has gone way beyond re-writing history to blatant efforts by the likes of a major network like NBC editing audio, video and 911 calls to advance an agenda or make someone look bad — or keep someone from looking bad.
WRT the Constitution, I hold the entire document, including the 27 amendments, inviolate. The amendments aren’t footnotes, they’re permanent changes to the document to reflect changing times. The entire document forms the rules by which we govern ourselves, or at least that was the original plan. The rules are either rigid, but with a formal means of amendment or we have no rule of law. America has been the greatest experiment in self-government in the history of the planet, but, beginning a century ago, when original interpretation gave way to case law and precedent, the whole thing began to go off the rails, to the point that, today a large portion of what the federal government does is not constitutional according to original intent. Now, that said, the evolution of the Constitution during the Progressive era is so much toothpaste that can’t be put back in the tube, although, theoretically, I guess, it’s possible for case law and precedent to swing the pendulum back the other way. It’s probably not going to happen absent some kind of societal upheaval or economic collapse, and many people smarter than I am think we are getting very close to just such an event. Although I agree with the building consensus among many economists and historians that an economic collapse is more likely than an insurrection, it’s not something I obsess about, as it’s totally beyond my control, and I learned a long time ago not to dwell on things beyond my control — just be the best I can be on any given day, treat others as I’d like to be treated, hope that I don’t screw up too often, and when I do, learn from it so I don’t make the same mistake again.
Today’s politicians simply ignore the Constitution most of the time — several have even admitted as much publicly. I don’t consider myself a constitutional scholar by any stretch of the imagination either, but I have put in a lot of study, attended a 2-day constitutional workshop sponsored by the Indiana Constitution Society in Indianapolis a couple years ago, and I’ve collaborated on several blog articles on different aspects of the Constitution. I have lots of Constitution-related resources archived, including a fully searchable file of the Federalist Papers, as well as the writings of Blackstone and Vatel. If you’re interested in understanding and learning more about the Constitution, the Federalist Papers are an excellent resource, because they explain, in the Founders own words, the rationale behind why the Constitution says what it says — a sort of reading between the lines of the Constitution, if you will. The original Federalist Papers are pretty heavy reading, but they were compiled into a book re-written in modern English a year or two ago. Once I’m retired (hopefully soon) I’m thinking of taking the free constitutional courses (101 & 102) offered by Hillsdale College on-line. Several of the people in my email forum have taken them, and have given them glowing reviews.
In college I had a major in Business Administration with a minor in Economics, and only an hour or two short of a dual minor in history, so this stuff has always fascinated me. I have always (well, for at least the last 20 years or so) attempted to have informed opinions. I think if everyone took that attitude, the world would be a whole lot better place. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, and, as you noted, some opinions stink. A good, historical example of informed vs. uninformed would be: “Washington was not a religious man” (uninformed opinion based on what someone else has written about Washington). “Washington prayed to and referenced God regularly, both publicly and privately.” (informed opinion, backed up by Washington’s own words and writings).
More of my response in Part 3