A Look at Our Constitution

I am looking at it.I am looking at our constitution. I say "our" constitution because it is the U.S. Constitution and I am a U.S. citizen. The first feeling I have is that of feeling overwhelmed, nearly overwhelmed with questions. Those questions seem to be marching at me in wide columns and doing so at speed. I may be able to check a few of them carefully and then to find answers to a few of those. In time I hope you may help to find answers to a few. I am directing these words mostly to my fellow citizens, but also to all who may be interested in governance by the people.

It is not difficult to get a copy of this constitution online. One can also have it translated online to a language you can read. The translation are not always great.

I think that I have heard this constitution called the shortest, most elegantly written, and the oldest one still in use. It is battered, but still here.

Within this post I will share many of my questions. I am attempting to test anyone with them. I will be pleased to get answers to them or comments on. They have stirred some thought on my part. I hope that you can find some value in them.

I have though of our constitution as a telling of the way we have agreed to organize. I pretty much think of it that way right now. I have thought that our power as a people has rested less in magic or luck and more in our very agreement.

As this post/essay is intended to be mostly about a constitution, I offer a definition of "constitution:" A constitution may be said to be a body of fundamental principles and/or established precedents by which a state or organization may be acknowledged to be governed. I have a fair understanding of this definition. I have been helped to my understanding by considering the following the following questions:

~ How do you understand the word "body."

~ What are "fundamental principles?"

~ What are 'established precedents?" examples?

~ What does "state" in the definition above mean?

~ What does it mean "to be governed?"

~ How do you use your constitution?



I Begins With What Is Called the "Preamble"

You may find it an informal report.

The first phrase in the U.S. Constitution is, "We the people of the United States," So, we kind of know where we are. We have a place to start. We know who we are talking about. We have a question answered. More questions coming up:

~ How are states united?

~Who are "the people" of the United States?

~ What is the use of a constitution?

~ How do we use our constitution?

~ How is a constitution maintained?

~ How are we to maintain our agreement on the constituent parts of our constitution?

I hope that we can consider some of these questions more later in this post or in a future post.

I have questions about "our," "we," and "us' which may be appropriate, but will put them off until later. I remember a college friend of mine. Often, when I used "us," "we," or "our" in a conversation with him, he would ask, "Do you have a mouse in your pocket?

I am not sure how I will work my way through this review of the Constitution. I may begin with the Bill of Rights rather than with the Preamble or Article I. I don't like the use of Preamble here; I believe Purpose or Purposes would be better. I tend to ramble a bit, but most often get back to the topic. Now questions keep filling my awareness:

~ Our written constitution is still our contract with one another, right?

~ Who are we?

~ Are we those who are united by our agreement on our constitution and perhaps by some common experience?

~ Are we those who love democratic principles.

~ What do you think about our covenant, the Constitution?

~ Why did we not want any hereditary rights


I do not know who I am talking to here. I do know that I'd rather it be "with" rather than "to. Your questions, answers, and comments in the "comment" section just below this post would help. The might begin to make this an important dialogue rather than a monologue.

Questions  are coming again. I hope they will calm down to a couple of questions a post. Here are the present questions:

~ How is a constitution used? How best used?

~ What is it that we agree on?

~ How do we keep our agreement firm?



Well, here I am at the Preamble. I would rather call it the Statement of Purpose. This statement of purpose includes capitalized words which I believe deserve consideration. they deserve to be talked about, discussed with, dialogued into and more. Here they are in order presented:




Common Defense



These words are the heart of the framers expression of specific benefits they intended to get for themselves and their posterity. We may have thoughts and questions related to each of these words. Let's think of how to deal with them in future posts.

The only "word" on this list which consists of two words is Common Defense. It sticks out so my questions begin:

~ When did we decide to become an empire?

~ How we decide to become an empire?

~ Why did we decide to become an empire?

~ Whose responsibility is it to decide?

~ How does the Preamble to the Constitution begin?

~ How do we intend to stay a we?


Your questions will very often differ from mine? Mine differ greatly in different contexts. I would very much like to have your questions in this constitutional contexts. Right now I have questions like these:

~ How had we best select an enemy? a friend?

~ How inclusive are we?

~ What does our common defense consist of?

~ Can our friends be part of us?

~ How do we intend to stay a we?


I have been very slow at getting into the flow of writing this post. Just got back from a bite to eat. I find myself at what I call the purpose of the Constitution.


I find myself looking a "union" and think of unity, unite, togetherness and more. We still say we want a more perfect union. Sounds powerful. Sounds good to me. Then I think. Who are we now? Also I remember how we smashed and neglected our unions. I also remember how we once united in more clubs and other organizations than we do now. Organization? Doesn't union call for organization? I am seeing little participation in national or state dialogue these days. I am told that it is seldom heard in a beer garden, tavern, or coffee shop these days. So what do we mean about forming a more perfect union now? If we are no longer interested in forming union, should we no amend our covenant, contract, Constitution? If we are interested in forming a perfect should we not make a clearer statement of intent? How we to understand one another?  Citizens of America, I once thought of me with you as the "we" I have spoken of. Who are we now?


Do we have all the justice we want? What justice do we lack? What justice do we want? Who is the "we" which will organize to get and keep the justice we lack? How are we establishing justice among us? What have we already said about justice in our Constitution and its Amendments? Have we no more to say about justice? Where does justice come from? I believe it comes from our organization and action, from our union and intelligence.

Might we not be better supported by a better Supreme Court. Might we be a bit better off with a few more justices. Maybe.

Might we be better off by being a better we? How is a we formed?


I need an editor who is free to edit for free.

I feel I am getting better organized here, but that organization may not show itself much at first. We have had some introduction to the Preamble. And in the Constitution we come next to Article One and Section One. Important things are often put first. Section one of Article one Speaks of legislative powers. Legislation speaks to what we intend and how we intend to do about it.

Some thought that the legislative powers were important enough to put first. It seems that some still think so. Congress forms the legislative branch of government. The best among us have said that it is the most powerful seat of we the people. It is where we have the power and responsibility of putting our representatives. There are those who will have questions about these statements. I will reserve mine for later.

I do not choose to begin here, but rather with and review of all of the Bill of Rights.

Remember when you comment, please be kind.

The Bill of Rights

I have learned to call the Bill of Rights the first ten Amendments. The Bill of Rights and have been important to the Founding Fathers and others from the very beginning. If it were not for these ten Amendments we might not even have the Constitution. Many of the former signers refused to sign unless the Bill of Rights be included in the final document.

It might be helpful to print out a copy of the Bill and the whole Constitution from the internet. I am not copying it here. I may be paraphrasing, but mostly I am commenting.


First Amendment Comments

We the people agree to defend among us the establishment of religions and the free practice of them. We are not talking about state religions here. I do take that practice to be nearly complete in church, temple, mosque, home, and elsewhere to the extent it does no  'major' harm to others.

We agree to establish no particular religions nor any religions among us.

Sorry. I intend to continue a review of the Bill of Rights. There is a lot to talk over. Just now I have been trying to edit some of that which I have written about the Preamble and have tired myself out. There is a great deal to learn from the Preamble too. I was thinking that I need an editor. I could also use a web master, but free help is not easy to come by.

I plan to be back and reviewing the Bill of Rights. However, I have been thinking that It might be good to go over the Declaration of Independence soon. Then there is some of T. Pain's work.

Bye......for now.















Little "d" democrat

In the distant past there were democrats. There were democrats in the recent past. There are some democrats now. A democrat might b thought of as a person who believes in people's ability to learn and do. I no little of what democrats are doing at the moment. I do have a sharp memory of that which some democrats have done in my lifetime.

Democrats have tended to promote certain doings Some of those doings have tended to b definitive of their beliefs.

Democrats have promoted:                                                                ~ enhancement of and protection of democracy among us.                    

~ the study of legislation affecting democracy.                                                       

~ vigorous, ongoing education about the use and doing of democracy.           

~ improved communication among political parties and within them.             

~ development of widespread leadership, rather than of "super" leaders.       

~ enhanced education for participation in governance.                    ~ cooperative self-governance.                                                         ~ willingness to thoughtfully and promptly change a bad law for a better one.                                                                                         ~ strong respect for our laws.                                                                                     

~ Inclusivity and diversity in public life.                                                                   

~ cooperation within and among groups.                                                               

~ knowledge of the history of democracy, including it's limitations and advantages.                                                                                                                   

~ our Constitution and it's Bill of rights.                                                                 

~ loving care for each and every child.                                                                     

~ respect and honor for the individual, the family, and the neighborhood.   

~ more nearly equal opportunity for access to healthcare for each person and family.                                                                                                                     

~ strong support for public health.                                                                           

~ respect for and support of the positions of minorities.                                     

~ wide, ongoing educational opportunities for all.


Some of the above could suggest planks for the platform of a party or candidate.


by Richard Sheehan

for Mago Bill   




American citizens have the power for the establishing of a morally better world, beginning in the U.S. So,what?

What has the Department of Labor done for U.S. citizens lately? What have U.S. citizens told it to do recently?

Some called it the Great Depression because the morning news was that a thirteen year old boy had hanged himself that night because he felt ashamed to eat his families food.

Timeline Pages

I am thinking about changing Mago Bill III Timeline Pages to look like the following:

  • 100,000,000 BP to 30,000,000 BP
  • 30,000,000 BP to 1,000,000 BP
  • 500,000 BP to 15,000 BP
  • 13,999 BC to 400 BC
  • 399 BC to 500 AD
  • 501 AD to 1492 AD
  • 1493 AD to 1936 AD
  • 1937 AD to Yesterday


I will almost certainly make changes in these pages which may include adding two or three more to this list.


by RCS


Comments are welcomed, solicited, desired, appreciated, valued, and all good things. Each comment is an important doing.

Please do comment, ask, suggest, tell, correct, add to, etc.

To comment look for the little word "comment" at the bottom of this page. Click on that little word and a nice window should open for your writing.


Writing Better

I intend to write about writing better. I have been interested in the processes whereby one learns to write. Among those processes are learning to write by:       

  • Beginning to write and continuing to write.
  • Reading for pleasure and about writing.
  • Trying to see how your favorite writers do it.
  • Studying under good teachers.
  • Forming or joining a writing group.
  • Reading certain posts about writing


I find that I learn by writing these posts. I hope to pass on to you that which I am learning.

When you really want to improve your writing, a very agreeable and productive activity is  participating in a writing group. Your writing group of individuals wanting to better there writing can help you greatly in may ways. I intend to go into some of those ways later. One important way I will mention right now is feedback. Members of your writing group will learn to how others have felt about and thought about that which you write.

When you care to share an experience, information, or understanding related to better writing please feel welcome to pass it on here. Use the Comment section below.

I believe that one can learn a lot by helping others to better their craft. One can do that in a writing group, right here, as a professional teach, in your published works.

Mr. Peter Elbow who is a fine teacher of writing and has published works on writing, seems to have thought of writing as an important personal growth process. I remember him writing something like: How an organism becomes grown and matured is highly pertinent to writing. One is not surprised by the changes in the writer and his writing from the beginning to the end of a given piece of writing. One expects them. It is natural for the writer to begin a work believing X rather than Y and then ends that work believing Y rather than X.

Peter, a writer on writing I appreciate greatly, wrote of a writing "center of gravity." The list below includes ways I have gathered from him for getting a center of gravity or unifying theme to emerge in my writing:

  • Start writing X because it seems more believable than Y. Note as you write about X what you are beginning to understand about y.
  • Continue your struggle with X and Y and see C come up.
  • As you write along you may honestly say, "Ah, now I see what I have been getting at.
  • Finish what you are writing about. Put it aside for a time. See useful implications as you look it over again.
  • See that your good idea is crap. Then see that that part of the crap looks less crappy. You sort-out good parts from bad. You don't have to throw it away. In fact some of it may be better than your favorite idea.
  • Your first writing may prove a good scaffolding for your next writing.
  • You find a powerful spark in a tiny digression. You keep the same elements of your work, but change the whole orientation for the better.
  • As you progress in your writing be alert to emerging focus of theme.
  • If nothing emerges, sum up what you have written, then sum it up again.
  • Push yourself a bit to keep getting some center of gravity or summing up to occur.
  • Work gradually toward moderation from extreme positions.

And like that.


by Richard Sheehan

for Mago Bill III



Colombia and Colombians: Introductory Comments

Colombians are New-World Americans. They live on the best part of the far north of South America.

Colombians are largely of Spanish heritage and they speak Spanish. When you intend to visit Colombia, it may contribute to your pleasure to be prepared to deal with them in their own language.

Have an oral translation app on your iPhone or a bilingual friend with you. You might take a Spanish class where you live or sign up for some classes here. All the biggest and more important tourist cities have language schools available. It is also possible ti make your first visit a guided tour.

If you are making realistic plans for a visit, investigate getting a correct chip for your mobile phone. It may be that your phone won't work here without a change of chips. There are smart phones available here, but you may find them expensive. However, you can, with some care, buy an ordinary mobile phone and have it set up nicely for you at a reasonable price.

In many parts of the major cities and tourist areas you can find pleasing places to eat and sleep and you will also may be able to find a Colombian able to speak in your language or in English.

Enough about you.

This is supposed to be the introduction to a series of tiny essays about Colombia and Colombians. But first a few words about me.

I am an old American citizen who has lived in Colombia among Colombians for some time. Some have said to me, "You have lived here for a long time. Why haven't you written more about Colombia?" and "Why don't you write about Colombia?" and like that. So, instead of thinking of an answer I thought, "Why not?" I can note some of my observations and maybe even something about what I make of a couple of them.

More to come.


by Richard Sheehan

for Mago Bill III




Acupuctura One

First notes on acupuncture:

    When the wonderfully effective practice of acupuncture becomes common in the United States, healthcare may become more affordable. We may pay less for health-care. Anesthesiologists would probably lose much of their work. We would get better health-care.

    MDs, surgeons, and anesthesiologists form a group not interested in supporting acupuncture for fear of loss of income. Anesthesiologists might have a good reason for that fear.

    What is your experience with acupuncture in your country?

    The huge amount of drugs American doctors prescribe would probably lessen. One reason for this is that acupuncture is great for reducing pain and eliminated it without disturbing and unhealthy side-effects. Fewer prescriptions would mean less profit for drug manufacturers and a savings for many of us. Drug manufacturers, much like insurance companies, have log been active in politics. Those drug manufacturers have formed and used powerful lobbying organizations in Washington. Drug companies contribute huge sums of money to selected kinds of medical research. 

    Drug manufactures are unlikely to support a health system founded on a broad base of health expertise rather than narrowly based on the use of drugs.

     So, a large pare of the medical establishment is organized to resist the use of acupuncture. Acupuncture is better for health than it is for business.

    For the individual, acupuncture could mean significantly lower medical costs and better health. What can an individual do about acupuncture and better healthcare? Not much! However, individuals can do all that is necessary. Please note the "s" I have used as the last letter in the word "individuals." Individuals know about cooperation and can act together to form powerful organizations.



Colombia and Colombians: First comments

   Working from the Pocket Guide of Colombian hostels I find that the Casa Platypus is a good place to sleep in Bogota. Bogota is a great big city and the capital of Colombia. The Casa Platypus is a hostel. A hostel is a kind of hotel designed for foreign travelers. It is a place to get useful information and to have a good chance for finding someone who speaks a language you know. The personnel there are often welcoming persons fro far off lands. This has been the case the Platypus. Their colonial, or republican style building overlooks a plaza called Parque de las Periodistas.

    "Periodistas" can be translated as journalists. I find journalists to be an interesting breed which has not quite died out. "Died out" may not quite be the way to put it. World-wide, journalists seem to be killed before they can die a natural death. Assassinated may be the more honest word.

    Journalists are being assassinated world-wide for doing their best to be honest. They would like to tell us the truth about what they see going on around them. They used to find out about goings on, happenings, and doings far and wide, as well as close to home.

    Some journalists still try to inform us about that which is going on. They have long carried on their craft. However we have been killing them, jailing them, imprisoning them, and hiring fewer of them(as a percentage of our population) for decades. So now we have fewer of them. I remember being told, as a Boy Scout,  that honest was a good practice. Now, because of our lack of interest, it is becoming a death sentence. What are we to tell our youth and children?

    Rather than not getting the back-story, we now, too often, don't even get the story. What are we to tell ourselves?

    It seems that I have heard of a Parque de las Periodistas in other Colombian cities. I may try to learn more about them. Do you know anyone who cares?

    It seems this park in the Cadelaria section of Bogota has bee dedicated to a good, honest, and careful journalist who you may know as a famous modern novelist. That novelist is Gasbriel Garcia Marquez. He is an admierer of those who pracice journalism abd has backed-up his admiration with solid support.

    One cannot even go to be in Colombia without learning something interesting.



by Richard Sheehan

for Mago Bill III

Acupuncture One

        When the wonderfully effective practice of acupuncture becomes common in the United States, health-care might become more affordable. We could pay less for better health care. Anesthesiologists might lose most of their work. We would get better care of our health because acupuncture handles a significant number of procedures better than do present practices.

        MDs, surgeons, and anesthesiologists form a group not interested in supporting acupuncture for fear of experiencing a drop in income. Anesthesiologists might have a good reason for that fear.

        The huge amount of drugs American doctors prescribe would probably lessen. Acupuncture is is great for reducing pain and for eliminating it. Fewer prescriptions would mean less profit for drug manufacturers and savings for many of us. Drug manufacturers have formed and use powerful lobbying organizations in Washington. Drug companies contribute huge sums of money to selected kinds of medical research.

        Drug manufactures are unlikely to support a health system founded on a broad base of health expertise rather than one based on the use of drugs.

        So, a large part of the present medical establishment is organized to resist the use of acupuncture. Acupuncture is better for health than it is for business.

        For the individual, acupuncture could mean significantly lower medical costs and better health. What can an individual do about acupuncture and better care of our health? Not much. However, individuals can do all that is necessary. Please not the "s" I have used as the last letter in the word  "individuals." Individuals know about cooperation and can act together to form powerful organizations. Organizing need not be complicated, but it does take persistence.

        More later.



by Richard Sheehan

for Mago Bill

When We Are Willing to Talk

A new U.S. farm bill comes along every five years or so and I am yet to witness a national dialogue or debate on it. Farm bills not only affect our national debt, but also what we eat and how much it costs. They determine the price of rice in Vietnam and the price of corn in Mexico.They make up our strategy for feeding ourselves. We, as a people, do not take time to talk about them!

Most of us, including our legislators, consider them boring, incomprehensible, and unimportant.

We don't have to be this way. We can educate ourselves. We can create bills that are much easier to understand and we talk-over the issues and our policy. When we find the bills easier to understand we will find them more interesting. As a result we may find ourselves giving our children a better chance to eat well.  

Our farm bill is important. We can benefit, for example, by putting our agricultural policy in better alignment with our health needs and our environmental needs. When we car enough we could make it easier to feed ourselves and our children higher quality fresh food with less poisons added. We could make sure that our farmers got fairer prices and fewer distorting subsidies.

When we get willing to talk with one another we can get our issues on the table where we can look them over.

Among people who are not slaves, it seems important to expand the circle of citizens who decide how we shall get the food we need and want.

Thanks to Michael for his inspiration.


by Richard Sheehan

for Mago Bill

An Active Citizen

You can start your life as a active citizen by taking one or more of the following actions. More may be better. You can find a couple that are truly easy (pizy).


  • What an active citizen can do to help his/her school district, town, city, state. You might start at a local library.
  • Learning a little more than just a little about your county government.
  • Keeping politically humble, curious, and modest.
  • Making an opportunity to attend a couple of meetings of civic organizations.
  • Joining a political party.It is OK to change parties.
  • Registering to vote. It can be more interesting to register as a party member.
  • Getting a better understanding of an issue, a policy, a plank, or a specific bill.
  • Contacting the office of a specific office holder and asking what his or her position is on your issue of interest.
  • Calling the U.S. Capitol switchboard and telling them your zip code. They will transfer you to your Representative. Tell your Representative representative what is on your mind: ask your question or say what it is you want of him.
  • Writing to the office of your Senator. Check on line to see how to spell his name. Address your letter to him in care of the United States Senate, Washing DC 20515.
  • Writing to your Congressman/Representative by name at the United States House of Representatives, Washington DC 20515.
  • Sitting quietly foe awhile and letting what you have learned work itself around in your mind. You may be be beginning to cook a bit politically.
  • Remembering that nobody has to be a politician all the time.
  • Finding a finding a friend who seems to be politically knowledgeable or civically interested. Talk civics or issues of governance and like that.
  • Attending meetings of your city council or of your local school board. You ca just watch.
  • Keeping your sense of humor and having some fun as you remember that political often have seriously important consequences.


Thanks for reading citizen! If you are a citizen of Moldova, Bolivia, or elsewhere you can find some useful actions above. You can use the translation tool in the left hand column. 


by Richard Sheehan

for Mago Bill


War is worth a Thought

    We may be justified in making war to protect our children, but war is often not a just or effective way of doing so. Warring is seldom a good way to take care of loved ones. It seems good to think well before deciding to maim and kill. It seems wrong to maim and kill without first deciding to do so.

    War causes strife. It makes life worse and confuses people. It increases quarrel and contention in the world. Modern war is must often a state of armed conflict for the purpose of killing people and destroying their resources. We kill and maim people and that makes those who live angry and vengeful.

    With war we damage a peoples union and culture. We destroy puppies and kittens in unpleasant ways. We call it collateral damage. We destroy books, schools, and children. We destroy ponds and baby ducks. We destroy farms, and  farmers daughters. We cause men to kill women. We order our very young men to kill other men's loved ones. Making war makes enemies and madness.

    War is made on people by people. Who is responsible for those wars?

    Raising the hell of war is different than, "Going out to raise a little hell?" It is hell.

    Let's think about our present wars and potential future wars of ours. We can decide to take an action.



by Richard Sheehan

for Mago Bill






To those who ask me where I have learned Spanish I answer "With Dr Moreno."
When they ask with which or what Moreno I answer "Mario."