Less than 50 miles from the Lehigh Valley, as the crow flies, is the only museum dedicated entirely to the world's most important document.
The National Constitution Center is two blocks from Independence Hall, where the U.S. Constitution was signed 11 years after the world's second most important document, the Declaration of Independence, was signed there.
It is embarrassing to admit I have been to the center only once since it opened 10 years ago, even though I have spent many years firing thunderous salvos in support of the Constitution and in angry opposition to those who regularly try to subvert or violate it.
I just never got around to going back for another visit, always making sincere plans to go in a week or so. Fresh waves of guilt washed over me in recent days after I was hit by a bolt of dissertational lightning from the center's president.
This was not just another politician or pundit wringing his or her hands over unwarranted and illegal searches and seizures aimed at innocent American citizens.
This was Jeffrey Rosen, a professor at George Washington University's Law School and one the nation's most respected legal experts. The Los Angeles Times called him "the nation's most widely read and influential legal commentator."
Now, Rosen has written a scathing condemnation of the Obama administration's subversion of some of our most precious constitutional precepts, focusing on the president's smarmy Aug. 6 appearance on Jay Leno's "Tonight Show."
With Leno stopping just short of kissing his shoes, they took up the topic of the National Security Agency's heroic crusade to protect us from the threat of terrorism, by engaging in unwarranted searches of American citizens' private telephone conversations and other communication.
"Is it safe to say we learned about these [terrorism] threats through NSA intelligence programs?" gushed Leno.
Obama first referred to the ridiculously named Patriot Act, indicating all its un-American provisions are not his fault. "A lot of these programs were put in place before I came in," Obama said, and then proceeded to brag about using them — but not in any improper way, mind you.
"There is no spying on Americans. We don't have a domestic spying program," Obama told the fawning Leno. All the intelligence activities, you see, are aimed at terrorist threats from abroad.
Those statements, wrote Rosen, "were contradicted by two revelations at the end of [the previous] week."
He pointed out that it was revealed the NSA has been searching the mail and text communications of American citizens, "looking not only for Americans who communicate with foreigners under surveillance, but also for those who mention information about them." In other words, if you say something about foreigners the NSA spooks don't like, they can snoop into your mail and phone calls.
Prior to that disclosure, Rosen said, it was learned the NSA has a "secret backdoor" to let it search for the names of Americans who have foreign contacts. My brother-in-law lives in Japan, so I guess they can eavesdrop on me without a warrant.
"The administration feels it can't reveal the details about its surveillance program, so it uses funny language and then gets caught 'lying' [as other commentators said of the Leno show], creating an atmosphere of dishonesty and distrust," Rosen wrote.
For me, even more damning than Rosen's legal points were the disclosures last May of the Obama administration's efforts to go after a news organization — not to protect anybody from terrorists but in response to that organization telling the discomforting truth, thanks to confidential sources.
After an Associated Press story told how a 2012 terrorist plot in Yemen tried to get a bomb on a plane headed for America, Attorney General Eric Holder whined that the leaks that resulted in the story "put American lives at risk." Absolute rubbish.
As I wrote at the time, Yemen is a puppet state of Saudi Arabia, the world's most evil theocracy and the real source of most of the world's terrorism. Oil-rich Saudi Arabia, however, is a U.S. ally, much to our shame, and the White House does not care for stories that make it or Yemen look bad.
So the Obama administration began unwarranted searches and seizures to find out who the AP's confidential sources were, grabbing thousands of AP telephone records, including the personal records of individual reporters and editors.
That had nothing to do with terrorism. It had to do with the feds trying to suppress news stories they didn't like. If they can get away with doing that to a powerful news outfit like the AP, what chance do you think you'll have if they decide to come after you because they don't like what you stand for?
I once worked for the AP, in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, when Richard Nixon was president and was running roughshod over individual rights. Even then, there was nothing approaching the kind of deliberate subversion of the U.S. Constitution by government authorities we see today.
Come what may, I swear I'll get on the Pennsylvania Turnpike within the next few days to make another visit to the National Constitution Center — while it's still there.
Paul Carpenter's commentary appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.