Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

September 18, 2012

“What kind of government have you given us?”

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on September 18, 2012

An American short story says someone asked Ben Franklin in 1787 what kind of government the Constitutional Convention came up with.

“A republic, if you can keep it,” Franklin supposedly replied.

That’s a fine American story that deserves retelling every now and then.


Monday was Constitution Day in the Republic we received from the Founders.

Constitution Day became a national observance in 2004, when Senator Robert Byrd … added the Constitution Day clause to his 2004 federal spending bill because he believed that all citizens should know about their rights as outlined in the Constitution. This clause mandates the teaching of the Constitution in schools that receive federal funds, as well as federal agencies.

I wonder whether this is a law people in schools and federal agencies paid attention to yesterday.


I think the Preamble to the Constitution is especially relevant to homeland security. It offers – in 29 words – a majestic vision of the homeland security mission:

1. Form a more perfect union
2. Establish justice
3. Insure domestic tranquility
4. Provide for the common defense
5. Promote the general welfare
6. Secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

I (unfairly) compare the Preamble to the 32 words of the National Preparedness Goal:

A secure and resilient Nation with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk.


In honor of Constitution Day, here’s a quiz assessing basic Constitutional knowledge.

1.Where did the Constitutional Convention meet in 1787?
– Boston
– New York
– Philadelphia
– Washington

2. Which of the following isn’t a right guaranteed under the First Amendment?
– Freedom of speech
– Right to bear arms
– Freedom of religion
– Right to petition the government

3. How many amendments were in the ratified Bill of Rights?
– 8
– 9
– 10
– 12

4. What document did the Constitution replace?
– The Articles Of Confederation
– The Bill Of Rights
– The Declaration of Independence
– The Royal Colonial Charter

5. Who wrote the original Bill of Rights and introduced it to Congress?
– Alexander Hamilton
– George Washington
– James Madison
– Thomas Jefferson

6. Who was the first person to sign the Constitution?
– Ben Franklin
– George Washington
– James Madison
– Thomas Jefferson

7. Which series of documents was written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay to convince states to approve the Constitution?
– The Freedom Pamphlets
– Poor Richard’s Almanac
– The Philadelphia Letters
– The Federalist Papers

8. Which of the following doesn’t have an official role in changing or amending the Constitution?
– The House of Representatives
– The President
– The States
– The U.S. Senate

9. When someone “takes the Fifth” amendment, a person is allowed to:
– Use a gun to defend themselves
– Confront their accuser in court
– Refuse to answer questions that incriminate themselves
– Avoid cruel and unusual punishment

10. What is the minimum age for a presidential candidate?
– There is no minimum age
– 25 years of age
– 30 years of age
– 35 years of age

11. What is the longest time a persons can serve as president?
– 4 years
– 8 years
– 10 years
– 12 years

And two fill-in-the-blank bonus questions:

12. Which amendment took the longest to ratify?__________

13. Which Amendment took the shortest amount of time to ratify?__________

Answers later this week.

(If you want a tougher test, go to this link: http://www.constitutionfacts.com/?page=quiz.cfm. Once you pass their 10 question gatekeeper quiz, you gain access to a much tougher 50 question quiz.)

“Right” or “rights” shows up in the Constitution 16 times. “Duty” appears twice — both times about money.

Maybe that’s some Founding Father humor.

Perhaps the imbalance between rights and duties hints at one way we could lose the Republic we were given 225 years ago.

Hope you had a reflective Constitution Day.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

September 18, 2012 @ 2:45 am

Thanks and useful to refresh our memories or at least mine.

Comment by John Comiskey

September 18, 2012 @ 8:44 am


Point taken.

IMHO, a US Bill of Responsibilities should be juxtaposed to the US Bill of Rights. The word “rights” can appear an equal two times neither of which need to refer to taxes.

Happy Constitution Day

Comment by bellavita

September 18, 2012 @ 9:55 am

Excellent idea, John. A Bill of Responsibilities. How about taking a shot at writing one for this blog?

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 18, 2012 @ 11:17 am

#1 Responsibility of course is TO ALWAYS VOTE!

Comment by Responsibility of WH Executive Leadership To Attend Daily Intel Meetings

September 18, 2012 @ 12:40 pm

When we talk of the Constitution and/or the Bill of Rights, I do not think that the WH executive leadership has any excuse for not being in attendance in his daily intelligence briefings for there is no choice whether to attend and fulfill responsibilities given the many who now seek our demise as a direct result of a weakened America created by this “Goldman Sachs WH”

This morning, I received a call from Washington who said that a reporter states that Barry Obama has missed more than half his daily intelligence briefings attending only 38% of the Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) and in fact check a short while ago, Peter brooks, a reporter states that this WH has dissed its own intelligence briefings…Well, given the Constitution and the love many have towards our beloved Republic, why did US Marines guarding the embassy stand with no bullets in their guns and whether 911 or not, why did any Marine stand on behalf of our nation wether in direct order or not and drop a dime!

We expect the WH executive leader who to me is nothing but a Chicago city street slicker, however given his one term elected position, WH briefings are not just to be read later as they are held to enable discussion and the absence of the WH executive leader coupled with a lackluster at best foreign poilcy who has cast us in such compromise from far ashore to domestic insecurity, well, the Constitution which We celebrate every day as well as our Judeo-Christian values states quite clearly that as an American born citizen, my Right to express such disfavor of the “Chicago-Hollywood-Washington Express” which has promoted the Rev Wright-Obama continued empty rhetorical political orations, is evident and so noted!

As Independent voters here on Cape Cod, We shall vote early to use our Constitutional Rights and vote to oust these Chicago scoundrals!

Christopher Tingus
Cape Cod

Comment by Responsibility of WH Executive Leadership To Attend Daily Intel Meetings

September 19, 2012 @ 7:01 am

“Insure domestic tranquility ” — not intent to divide and divisiveness among the good People who fled King George III for the burden government imposed by demanding substantial taxes and fees when itself was accountake to no one and the People had no representation much like today!

As far as posterity, $16 trillion + in budget deficit since ’08 despite the continued empty rhetorical campaign promises from the rev Wright-Obama pulpit and the only way out, increase the price of gold to $10k and devalue the dollar and like all other nations which Will do the same in devaluing currency, our enemy Germany will bring us to War once again sooner than you can imagine.

We have lost the edge in technological innovation and educational standards and achivement with our present culture graduating those who can sing and dance rather than have even a clue how to solve a mathematical equation or reach to the universe as China secures commodities in stockpiling such and sees a Chinese moon colony and a Chinese flag glaring down from teh surface of the moon as China extracts what it can from beneath the moon’s surface and will power its rockets into our universe from fueling facility on asteroid maing it far much more economiacl to reach out to seek a bright future with leaders who are all scientists and engineers rather than the ineptness We portray – just received an article from Asia showing more millionaires now live in the Oacific Rim than here – I guess scratching a lottery ticket is not working for the westerner while the Asians scratch their head using their mind versus their vocal chords or dance steps into depression, personal and global!


Comment by William R. Cumming

September 19, 2012 @ 8:43 am

Since most of the government is corrupted by the FIRE sector of the economy and most of the bailout money went to protect that sector from its own greed and ignorance there seems to be no way that in the 2012 elections the FIRE sector will continue to manage its affairs by government subsidy and bailout.

All should know who will chair Senate Committees should it flip Republican? A flip I have been predicting!

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