Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

January 28, 2014

The Constitution as homeland

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on January 28, 2014

This is the eighth in a series of posts closely reading the Constitution of the United States for homeland security implications. Readers are encouraged to use the comment function to add background, analysis, exegesis or exposition related to the text highlighted.



We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.


The Constitution is a covenant of the founding generation with their unknown (unknowing?) descendants.  It puts in place what modern scholars of complexity theory might call simple rules for self-organization and self-correction.  The Framers were wise enough to know they could not know — and ought not try to control — how future generations would decide.  But they could put in motion a system predisposed to liberty and justice.

In 1780 John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail:

The science of government it is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take the place of, indeed exclude, in a manner, all other arts. I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.

The first generation did its job extraordinarily well (the perpetuation of slavery being the dramatic exception). The second generation was at least as gifted (though there does seem to be a systemic bias toward concentration of wealth). We were also helped by the profound folly of others. The transition to the third generation has, however, been a bit uneven it seems to me. We may now even need remedial instruction in the hard-learned lessons of the first and second.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

January 28, 2014 @ 4:57 am

Some would argue the Preamble is hortatory only and establishes no rights or responsibilities and is not substantive.
I respectfully disagree and adopt the principle of statutory construction [see SUTHERLAND] that additional words purport additional meaning and cannot be ignored.

What I admire in Phil’s highlighted words is the Founder’s desire to keep doors and options open for future generations, not the opposite. Thus, reorganization of society may well be periodic based on new knowledge or learning from experience.

At the moment as we are plagued by party factions we might ask which one, or both, or none, appear to govern beyond the short term and think in terms of posterity.

How are freedom and liberty nourished by today’s decisions? Is the power to protect also the power to destroy?

Comment by John Comiskey

January 28, 2014 @ 6:28 am

The Constitution as Homeland and Hometown Prosperity

1. Global cities and prosperity
NYC epitomizes the concept of a global city. See http://www.amazon.com/Global-City-York-London-Tokyo/dp/0691070636/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1390906288&sr=1-1&keywords=global+city
Last Sunday, I spent the afternoon at Yankee Stadium watching a hockey game. This Met fan has also visited the Bronx to watch Notre Dame play a game of football against the U.S. Army. Next on my Yankee agenda is a soccer game. While Super Bowl LXVIII, will be played in East Rutherford, N.J. the event is as much a NYC phenomenon and potential economic boom: http://www.news.com.au/finance/business/a-super-bowl-economic-boom-for-nyc-no-so-much/story-fnda1bsz-1226811173504

2. Education and prosperity

Assuming that prosperity has a lot to do with democratic rule, we should consider the Education of Henry Adams (grandson of John Adams) and particularly his lamentations over a classical education that failed to prepare him for the scientific and technological revolutions of his time (mid to late 19th and early 20th centuries).
See: http://www.amazon.com/Henry-Adams-Education-Paperback-Classics/dp/1598530607/ref=la_B000APYYZC_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1390908207&sr=1-6

3. Equality and prosperity

Alex de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America praised the fledgling nation for many things, first of which was its quest for equality. Much has been accomplished since then: the abolition of slavery, universal civil rights, men on the moon and Mars may be on our bucket list, and others TBD. See http://www.amazon.com/Democracy-America-Penguin-Classics-Tocqueville/dp/0140447601/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1390908317&sr=1-1&keywords=Democracy+in+America

4. Constitution as synergy

U.S. politics 2014 seems to be dominated by factionalism and special interest influence.
At the same time, democratic rule celebrates the dialectic –the proposition of a thesis about how things should be and how those things should be accomplished, countered by an antithesis –alternate ways to do the same or other things and means to accomplish either. Theoretically, the result is a synthesis of all. Inherent to the process is compromise and collaboration.
Note: Bill Bratton’s Collaborate or Perish recently got an impressive mention and perhaps a sense of things to come in NYC. See http://nypdconfidential.com/ and http://www.amazon.com/Collaborate-Perish-Reaching-Boundaries-Networked/dp/0307592391/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1390907890&sr=1-1&keywords=Collaborate+or+Perish

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 28, 2014 @ 11:03 am

Nice try John! But unlike the 30’s and 40’s when bright, educated and energetic people flooded NYC Eurotrash now largely denominate the culture and economy and without the NY Federal Reserve it would be far more apparent that NYC a place to work to live there as opposed to a place to work to live there.

The Eurotrash are often wealthy but poorly educated and are largely temporary residents. They don’t give up their former citizenship!

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 28, 2014 @ 11:51 pm

Maybe an apology in order since the dominating thought of the year for me is the Century mark for the start of the Great War [War to me is the antithesis of HLS] and the suicide of Western Civilization in that war. The Belle Epoque found the wealthy elites of Europe escaping from the hard work of governance into some frothy notion of warfare despite the onset of industrial war fare in the American civil war. Now the wealthy elites of Europe again escaping from reality with the rise of the Right in politics in Europe.

Can we stop pretending that the USA has depth in its leadership and leaders committed to government of the people, by the people, for the people?

Comment by john comiskey

January 29, 2014 @ 8:07 am


RE: Can we stop pretending that the USA has depth in its leadership and leaders committed to government of the people, by the people, for the people?

I will not pretent to do so nor delude myself that the ideal exists.

In the way of an explanation AND NOT an excuse, government of the people by the people is our hope.

Aspirations can become expetations. The Great American Experiment is a pandoras box of sorts. Pandoras box also provided hope.

230 years later some of our forefathers hopes are now expectations.

Leaders deal with realities. I sense that President Obama has now accepted some of the limitations of the office of the Presidency.

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