Principled Policy Blog

Promoting The Steady Hand of Biblically-Based Christian Statesmanship on Public Policy

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26 Nov

An Article V Convention: Fact Vs. Theory

There is a great deal of talk, more like shouting really, about Article V of the Constitution and what it does and doesn’t say. Currently, the “pro” side of the argument seems to have a nearly unstoppable momentum. Some proponents, many of them bearing the ill-defined and self-appointed political label of “conservative,” are working tirelessly to assure rightfully suspicious opponents and fence-sitters over to, if not actively opposing, a new convention. That these proponents have been as successful is testimony to the methodology they are using. It is our duty, however, to point out that the methodology they are using is that of the political left.

How so? Primarily, it is how the message is being disseminated. For instance, Article V convention proponents, generally speaking, don’t like debate. So, they actively work in ways to squeeze out opponents in public forums. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Goldwater Institute in recent years, as part of their well-funded convention campaign, invited state legislators from all over the country to attend meetings in a resort setting where they were treated to open bars, lobster and steak dinners, and golf outings sprinkled liberally with slick, professionally prepared handouts and Power Point presentations touting the wonders of the Article V convention process. These materials were prepared with talking points and “facts” compiled by so-called “conservative” constitutional “experts” and “scholars” who wrote papers purporting to prove that the Article V process was completely “safe” and totally in the control of the forces of constitutional conservatism. Furthermore, it was touted as the last, best hope to restore the republic to its roots in “liberty.” In the interim other groups like Convention of States have tapped into a mysterious fountain of money available to groups with large mailing lists of constitutionally uneducated families who can be easily swayed, out of loyalty to the leaders of these groups, to come over to the convention proponent side using the materials generated by ALEC and the Goldwater Institute.

Why would this be a problem? The problem is not with these groups using their wealth and influence to bring people to their viewpoint. That is how the game is played. The problem is with maneuvering opponents into a position of having no access to media, meetings, legislators, and other influential people and venues to counter their message. That’s not how the game is played if genuine debate is being courted. and that’s exactly the point. In Ohio legislators have given convention proponents nearly open access to committees and members of the Senate and the General Assembly. At the same time opponents have been relegated to discovering that convention-call resolutions have been fast-tracked, set for single hearings in committee followed by an immediate floor vote with only sponsor and proponent testimony (no opponents allowed!) are mere hours away and having to mount grassroots campaigns to get a fair hearing in a rigged environment AND prepare testimony. We have also found ourselves on the outside looking in when TEA Party groups hold state-wide meetings in which convention proponents are in control of the agenda and opponents are simply not permitted any access.

So, why are they running their campaigns this way? The answer is actually fairly simple. They know that we are well aware that their “scholars” and “experts” are hiding behind their degrees and reputations to offer less than honest presentations of what history, the Constitution, historical documents, court cases, etc. actually say about how a constitutional convention actually works and what it can and cannot do. They know that if we get equal access in these venues that we will ask questions, using the same materials they are presenting, that they cannot honestly answer in a way that supports their case, and they know we will call them on their dishonesty. They know what this will do to their case and will mean that the tens of millions of dollars (where is the money coming from?) spent on the campaign to get a new convention will have been wasted. And they also know we can do all this with short, simple and easy to understand presentations.

The video presented below is an illustration of what we mean.

Watch as we ask the following questions that the proponents of a new convention claim they have answered-

1) How many conventions of the type being asked for have there been in Anglo-American history?
2) What is the difference between an Article V “amendments convention,” a “convention of states,” and a “general” or “national convention?”
3) Is there any other kind of convention?
4) What exactly is an Article V convention and how much power does it have?
5) Why does a convention exist at all?
6) What has been the result of EVERY general convention called in Anglo-American history?
7) Who controls a convention?
8) Has any governing body ever controlled a convention? Has any body tried to control a convention?
9) Who is in charge of calling a national convention?
10) Why is the notion that it is the states who will control the delegates and agenda fatally flawed?
11) Why didn’t all 13 states send delegates to the Philadelphia convention?
12) What modern view of the relationship between the states and the Federal government insures that Congress controls all aspects of a convention?
13) What does Article XIII of the Articles of Convention mean for the supposedly iron-clad protection of the ratification procedure?
14) What did James Madison think would be the result of another convention?
15) What are the problems with what conventions are being called for and what are the problems with those proposed amendments?

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22 Nov

Principles and Policies Podcast for 11/22/2014- What Do The 2014 Election Results Really Mean?

Our Principles and Policies radio show for Saturday November 22, 2014. Barry Sheets and Chuck Michaelis take a more detailed look at the election results and discuss what it all means, including what you can expect in the next 2 years.

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20 Nov

Constitutional Brinksmanship: Series Introduction

Constitutional Brinksmanship;
Amending the Constitution by National Convention

By Russell L. Caplan

Occasionally a book comes out that has a quiet importance. Quiet because almost no one has read it. Important because those who have read it founcliff_edge_signd it to be a repository of information and analysis that speaks to an issue that has a historic importance to a large number of people or even an entire nation. The book we are beginning a review of is such a book. Unless you are a Constitution geek or academic the chances are you’ve never heard of this book let alone read it. As the name indicates it is a book about amending the Constitution. But not in the usual way, the way we’ve gotten all 27 of the existing amendments. No, this book is about a current hot topic- the Article V convention method.

If you haven’t heard anything about the current effort to have a new constitutional convention called and you travel in conservative or liberal political circles then ask around or just wait. You’ll hear about it. And what you will hear will, sadly, be mostly just plain wrong, either based on honest misinformation or, worse, on deliberate obfuscation with a specific political goal in holding a new constitutional convention, especially on the conservative side. The liberal side is more honest; they want a constitutional convention in order to write a new constitution. And be sure that among the propaganda that is currently being disseminated, mostly among conservatives, is that even the phrase “constitutional convention” in relation to an Article V convention is a “misnomer.” The current propaganda is that an Article V convention isn’t a “constitutional convention” at all. It is, in fact, either an “amendments convention or a “convention of states.” There is currently a national group with this very name, Convention of States, who is diligently working in the homeschool community to convince mostly constitutionally illiterate conservatives that a “convention of states” is the only “answer” currently at our disposal to “reign in” an out of control federal government and that there are virtually no risks in it. “Don’t worry,” the proponents claim, “the process is completely in the hands of the states and most state legislatures are under Republican control.” As if this was any comfort, even if true. It isn’t true but more on that later.

It is this confusion and deliberate obfuscation that makes this a very important book, one worthy of a review. “Why?” you might ask. For a number of very good reasons. First, this book is more than 25 years old and is long out of print. That means it isn’t easy to find and is usually expensive when you can find it. And both sides of the new constitutional convention (con con) debate have used this book as a reference. Second, its age demonstrates that movements to call a new constitutional convention are nothing new. There is a new effort to use the Article V mechanism about every 10-15 years. In the 80’s it was about a “balanced budget amendment (BBA).” In the 90’s it was about the so-called “flat tax.” The current movement has numerous goals among the different political viewpoints, chief among them a BBA, term limits, etc. from the conservative side and the elimination of the Electoral College, re-writing the second amendment, federalizing control of campaign finance, among many others on the liberal side. The con con movements of the recent past lost momentum when it was made clear by opponents that the considerable risks of a new convention outweighed the alleged benefits. Many of the same arguments from the movements of the 80’s, 90’s have been recycled by the current proponents, despite being handily refuted by conservative watchdog groups like Eagle Forum and even the John Birch Society. But the arguments have a new sophistication from the conservative side that reveals that there is a great deal of money being poured into the effort, the source of which is difficult if not impossible to track down.

These new arguments now have the backing of a bevy of “constitutional experts” and “scholars.” Some of these “experts” quote liberally from the book we are reviewing. It is sad to report that some of these “scholars” have demonstrated that they are willing to twist and deliberately misinterpret what the books, historical documents, court decisions they are using to make their cases actually say. Even worse, it appears that they believe that they can do this because of their status as “experts” and “scholars.” They know that most will simply take them at their word and not bother to follow the footnotes of their books and papers to see if the documents quoted actually say what is claimed in the writings of these “scholars” and “experts.” This in fact is how we discovered this particular book. Several of us at the Institute for Principled Policy actually began finding some of the sometimes obscure references of these authors and reading them. What we discovered was disturbing. But, more about that in the review which we will be doing chapter by chapter.

You may never take the time to track down and read this book. We hope you do and we hope this sparks your interest in fact checking so-called experts who may hold the future of the governance of your country and your liberty in their hands.

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15 Nov

Principles and Policies Podcast for 11/15/2014- Election 2014 Analysis

Our Principles and Policies radio show for Saturday October 25, 2014. Barry Sheets and Chuck Michaelis look at both the sense and the nonsense that accompanied the 2014 elections (the “silly season”). We find that, as usual, the nonsense outpaced the sense by a significant margin. It looks like a landslide.

We also dissect an article calling for an “end to mid-term elections” and expose the idea for what it is. Perhaps more importantly we discuss the 6th Circuit Federal Court decision upholding the constitutionality of traditional marriage laws and amendments in states within that circuit’s jurisdiction.

Artice links- Kill the Mid-terms

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08 Nov

Principles and Policies Podcast for 11/8/2014- Our Emerging Surveillance Society

Our Principles and Policies radio show for Saturday November 8, 2014. Chuck Michaelis hosts as Tom DeWeese of the American Policy Center explains how the seemingly unconnected threads of illegal immigration (note that we did NOT say “undocumented immigrants” or use some other politically correct misnomer) and government surveillance are, in fact, inseparably intertwined.

This lecture is available as a video- http://www.campamerican.com/products-page/2009-camp-videos/our-emerging-surveillance-society/

You can also get a copy of Tom’s book Now, Tell Me I Was Wrong at the link below-

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01 Nov

Principles and Policies Podcast for 11/1/2014- The Principles Of Freedom And The Complexities Of Defending Them

Our Principles and Policies radio show for Saturday November 1, 2014. Chuck Michaelis hosts as Tom DeWeese of the American Policy Center teaches about The Principles Of Freedom and The Complexities of Defending Them.

Tom connects the dots on a number of persons topics that touch on our personal liberties. This lecture is available as a video- http://www.campamerican.com/products-page/2010-camp-videos/the-principles-of-freedom-and-the-complexities-of-defending-them/

You can also get a copy of Tom’s book Now, Tell Me I Was Wrong at the link below-

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29 Oct

It’s Levy Season- Be Informed On What Renewal, Replacement, Etc. REALLY Mean

taxEvery year around tax levy time we run a series of articles written by our friend Carolyn Blow which seeks to make the types of levies and their effects on your taxes clear. It also explains why, even though levies claim “not a new tax” your taxes increase, anyway.

This is a 10 part series. It can be accessed here- http://www.principledpolicy.com/series/understanding-property-tax-levies/page/2/

It will open on the link to the first article and you can get the rest by clicking the “next entries” button on the bottom of the post or by clicking on the links to the rest of the individual entries of the series at the top of the post.

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25 Oct

Principles and Policies Podcast for 10/25/2014- A Primer On Biblical Ethics

Our Principles and Policies radio show for Saturday October 25, 2014. Barry Sheets and Chuck Michaelis interview Dr. Mark Hamilton, Professor of Philosophy at Ashland University and Chairman of the Institute For Principled Policy.

Dr. Hamilton gives us the details about his new book A Primer On Biblical Ethics. Dr. Hamilton discusses the evolution of the book, how he came to write it and how he uses it in his classes on ethics at Ashland. We discuss the theological and philosophical foundations of Mark’s teaching and his book as well as their long term effects on society.

You can get a copy of Dr. Hamilton’s book at the link below-

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18 Oct

Principles and Policies Podcast for 10/18/2014- Worldviews And Their Consequences

Our Principles and Policies radio show for Saturday October 18, 2014. Barry Sheets and Chuck Michaelis discuss a number of topics related to worldviews and their effect on the culture. We touch on Mike Huckabee, John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court and the John Freshwater case, Puritan Post-millenialism, Dr. Greg Bahnsen and “neutrality” in the public square, Ross Perot (remember him?), journalistic “neutrality,” the first amendment, homosexual “marriage,” the declaration that article IV of the Constitution is unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court, what the 9th and 10th amendments really mean, post-modernism and federal courts, the Great Commission, The composition of Christ’s kingdom, the Supreme Court and oligarchy, the meaning of “soviet,” the doctrine of “judicial review,” bad arguments from state attorney generals defending homosexual “marriage” bans, Alfred the Great and English Common Law, and marriage rates in the wake of redefining marriage.

A cornucopia of topics the really do have something to do with one another.

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04 Oct

Principles and Policies Podcast for 10/4/2014- Worldviews And Being Plundered- Part IV

Our Principles and Policies radio show for Saturday October 4, 2014. Chuck Michaelis hosts as Dr Michael Coffman of Environmental Perspectives, Inc discusses our worldviews, how and why some worldviews are at war, and how we are being plundered as a result of that war at Camp American.

Fourth part of a 4 part series of talks.

Here is the link to part I

Part II

Part III

 

A copy of the video can be obtained here- http://www.campamerican.com/products-page/2012-camp-videos/plundered-how-progressive-ideology-is-destroying-america/

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