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As another Constitution Day approaches, we really have met the enemy

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Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or

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Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

You can bet that if an actor portraying James Madison walked around an office this Tuesday repeatedly hounding the cubicle-anchored employees to “Guess what day this is?,” he'd get the same reception that camel gets in the Geico insurance commercial about “hump day.”

More's the pity.

So, what day is Tuesday? No, not the day before hump day, all of you wiseacres who were about to say that. It's Constitution Day. And as that annoying camel would say, “WoooooHOOHOO!”

Indeed, some Americans will revel in the day knowing that public schools across the land will offer a few much-needed special programs on this nation's charter. And given what keeps going on in Washington, we all should reacquaint ourselves with Mr. Madison & Co.'s handiwork. But if after doing so, you don't come away shocked, perhaps your review was on the skimpy side. For your government continues to bend, fold, staple and mutilate the Constitution.

Think of the almost constant attacks on the right to bear arms. Think of the federal government's domestic spying operation, shredding our right against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Think, too, of the IRS caught red-handed in the kinds of political thuggeries many have long suspected but those regularly dismissed by its apologians as being the provenance of nutty conspiracy theorists.

Then think of ObamaCare. The Supreme Court, in rendering the Commerce Clause a dead letter, ruled that inactivity is a taxable activity. And think of the Obama administration, faced with the law's discombobulation, cherry-picking what provisions of the law it will enforce and when, eviscerating the separation of powers doctrine.

And just this past week, those we charge with preserving, defending and protecting our Constitution disemboweled it again. The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a fetid attack on the First Amendment.

Under the rubric of “protecting” journalists from the government forcing them to reveal — or secretly trying to uncover — their confidential sources, the committee actually restricted freedom of the press by defining who and what a “journalist” is and is not. It even proposes an Orwellian News Media Review Committee.

Never mind that the First Amendment is explicit in its prohibition that “Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom ... of the press.”

Particularly sickening is a provision that denies First Amendment protections to those whose principal work involves disclosing “primary-source documents ... without authorization.” The government's authorization, that is.

And the amoeba-minded Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press supports this kind of deadly virus? It redefines intellectual vapidity and sends an open invitation to fascism.

As we commemorate the 226th anniversary of the Constitutional Convention's adoption of the Constitution, we find it in a world of hurt, supine on the ground and gasping for air. And to paraphrase Pogo, that great comic strip philosopher, we really have met the enemy and it really is us.

Colin McNickle is Trib Total Media's director of editorial pages (412-320-7836 or

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