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Alaskan Independent Bob Bird on US Constitutional Convention

Sent by Bob Bird to

I have been watching with concern and alarm for many years now the threat of a Constitutional Convention. Article V of the Constitution appears to be a part of the document that was poorly written. Here are some examples:

1. The failed Equal Rights Amendment caused much confusion when states not only rescinded their approval, but Congress unilaterally extended the approval time.

2. The 27th amendment took 203 years to approve. It was a good amendment, but the very fact that there is no time limit on approval is dangerous. In 1807 Congress passed an amendment making it possible to banish natural-born American citizens. It has never been approved by a single state, but it is still out there . . . dangling.

3. If a con-con is called for a specific reason (balance the budget, outlaw abortion, define marriage, ban flag burning), there is no limitation on what is actually discussed or approved in a convention, and then sent to the states.

4. If a hypothetical 16 states call a con-con to outlaw abortion, 9 to ban flag burning, and 22 to balance the budget, have we then reached the required 34 states? Are states that make a call for two different reasons to be counted only once?

5. Can states rescind their call, as some have already done? The 10th amendment would indicate that they do, but what if Congress does not recognize this, and they call a con-con anyway? After all, the ERA did not stop them from making unilateral decisions in the late 70s.

Article V does not answer these questions.

The call for a con-con is upon us again, with Ohio being the focus. I used to think that this would be a dangerous disaster, but perhaps freedom-lovers ought to rethink that fear, and here’s why.

Let’s go back to 1788 when states were asked to approve the new Constitution. Article VII states that the Constitution would not go into effect unless 9 of the 13 states (two-thirds), meeting in local conventions, approved the document. This was reached without the influential states of Virginia and New York. (They later joined, but with the condition that they reserved the right to withdraw should the new government prove not to their liking … but that is a different story).

But what if they and the other two states hadn’t approved? History is unquestioned at this point: they would have gone their separate ways as independent nations, which is what the Declaration announced in 1776 anyway, but has since been smothered by what Southerners used to call “the late unpleasantness”.

Let’s return to our topic at hand: a new constitutional convention. It is true, the sky is the limit. A convention could rewrite, fundamentally alter or perhaps even destroy the work of 1787 and the 27 amendments since then.
It could announce just about anything: a president for life, an establishment of a monarchy, a unicameral Congress, mandatory socialism, global government . . . all kinds of mischief. But such a document would have to be submitted to the states for approval, and 38 would be necessary for ratification.

Please note: there is a bit of inconsistency here with Article V … only two-thirds of the 13 states were required to ratify the Constitution in 1788, but Article V expects three-fourths of the states (38) before any con-con’s recommendations go into effect.

Supposing that 38 states approve whatever comes out of a con-con, what about the 12 that do not?

Why should they be forced to accept the changed conditions that led them into the union of states in the first place?

Sure, brute force might do it, but where would the moral issue of slavery be this time around?

I submit that a new con-con, if indeed its control falls into the hands of the forces aligned against freedom, would in fact provide a mechanism for secession — a mechanism that few would be able to dispute.

This mechanism should always have remained within the prerogatives of states’ rights, but it could now enter the public mind once again, accepted on its own merits, and with an escape clause for all those states that so desire to use it.

Power usually overreaches itself. This might be it for the New World Order.

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  1. Kenny Hopkins Kenny Hopkins January 18, 2009

    RMB // Jan 2, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Mr. Walker is not worthy of an intelligent exchange. He puts words into my mouth, imagines replies that are not there, believes that anyone who disagrees with him must be wrong, and is obviously non compos mentis.
    Mr. Walker is evidently one who imagines we have elected many statesmen to Congress and that “we the people” still exist as in the days that the Constitution was written. Evidently he should read the Constitutional guarantees and assimulate these while watching these people in action, read newspapers and watch television a lot more.
    The Constitution has been trodden down in many respects, with Supreme Court approval, and, yes, I wouldn’t trust Congress or the majority of people in this country today to re-write the Constitution. You will not recognize it once this is done.
    It’s “kinda” like asking some group to re-write the Bible.

  2. Libertarian Joseph Libertarian Joseph January 5, 2009

    I’m an anarchist. I think that, while unlikely, there is possibility of having the USA around, though, as an anarchic, voluntary society /slash/ organization

  3. Libertarian Joseph Libertarian Joseph January 5, 2009

    like how the feds were able to shut down those mariuana dispensaries even though they’re legal in California. California ignored that action. Meanwhile, gov Arnold is begging for a bailout.

  4. Libertarian Joseph Libertarian Joseph January 5, 2009

    imo the relationship between states and the federal government has been pretty damn cooperative.

  5. Libertarian Joseph Libertarian Joseph January 5, 2009

    Technically speaking, it is legitimate, imo, to make decisions at the national level. For example, perhaps, legalizing marijuana. The federal government could mandate members staes, but the states don’t have to listen. Am I right? I don’t think the feds have any teeth to its bite, so mandates can be hastily ignored, but what restricts the federal government from doing so? The minarchist belief that states are sovereign, written or otherwise? That kind of transcends reality. hm

  6. sunshinebatman sunshinebatman January 4, 2009

    Maybe SCOTUS will force the obamazombies to call a con-con to make him legal for prez despite his self-admitted dual UK citizenship? Obamajugen could get rid of that pesky 2nd amendment too.

  7. Bill Walker Bill Walker January 4, 2009

    Mr. Bird, you urge the Constitution be vetoed. You are wrong. There’s nothing more to say. You would have us debate over whether or not the Constitution should be obeyed as if somehow it has become optional.

    With that published attitude, especially when you have to resort to a personal slur (non compos mentis) I agree there is nothing to exchange.

    I notice however you did not refute the basic fact: all 50 states have submitted over 650 applications for an Article V Convention. And sir, regardless of whatever mental state I may posses and I assure you your evaluation is incorrect, such allegations DO NOT change the public record nor the constitutional facts.

  8. RMB RMB January 2, 2009

    Mr. Walker is not worthy of an intelligent exchange. He puts words into my mouth, imagines replies that are not there, believes that anyone who disagrees with him must be wrong, and is obviously non compos mentis.

  9. Bill Walker Bill Walker January 1, 2009

    It comes down to a simple question:

    The states have applied for a convention. The Constitution states we must call a convention.

    Mr. Bird advocates we should overturn the Constitution, not by amendment as is prescribed in that document, but by civil disobedience. He says in sum we should simply disobey it.

    He then gives a laundry lists of complaints in which he alleges the government has violated the Constitution, meaning that they have already exercised their right of civil disobedience. (Of course, in their case, it is a matter of violation of criminal law as well, but I digress.)

    Either the Constitution is obeyed, or it is not. Mr. Bird would have us disobey it. He would have it that we consider the Constitution optional. He would have it that only those parts we agree with do we enforce and that it be left up to whomever is in power, influence or otherwise in control, determine which parts are enforced. In short, Mr. Bird advocates the very thing he complains about. He just simply chooses a different part of the Constitution to advocate civil disobedience.

    In my mind such a position is about as Anti-American as it can get because it undermines the very core of this country and what it stands for. We live in an age that people have taken for granted will always be. They assume the principles on which this nation was founded (and I remind everyone that if the Founders are the fathers of this nation, the convention system was the mother because it and it alone allowed those 55 creative minds to come together in a forum that permitted not only exchange of ideas and thoughts but the ability to actually act on them.) can simply be ignored without consequence or effect.

    Those principles, including the most basic, the right of the people to alter their form of government so to most effect their happiness, was and is the basis of all the other rights we enjoy. Remember it was by amendment that we got the Bill of Rights. It was by amendment that slavery ended in this country. It was by amendment that women were given the right to vote.

    Mr. Bird would have us believe that it is in our most basic self-interest to capitulate this right to the government and allow that only they can alter or change our form of government as they please. He would have us become something other than what we are: Americans.

    Because what he is urging is that we give up on the Constitution and instead turn to civil disobedience and disobey it whenever we find it too difficult or too fearful to face its demands. Should we then disobey that portion of the Constitution which says all officers of the Constitution must be face election on a regular set basis so as to remain in office? For surely, the government will propose this if we do not. He would have us turn from the question of how do we obey the law, to how do we disobey it? This position, he says, the government has already assume and condemns it even as he advocates it himself.

    And after all, does not the government also, given Mr. Bird’s position, have the equal right of civil disobedience? Can Mr. Bird present one example, just one, of the nearly 1000 conventions that have been held in this country and around the world where that which he fears has happened? Nearly 3/4th of those conventions were held in the United States. Can Mr. Bird, regardless of what those conventions did, even name the date of any 10 of them let alone show that they did harm?

    No, he cannot. Because the fact is conventions have been held quietly and routinely throughout the world, proposed their changes and disbanded. They have done so for nearly 250 years and Mr. Bird would have us believe that suddenly all of this will change when we, who originated the very concept of people democracy in a written constitution, hold a convention.

    Mr. Bird presents you one path America should take. He advocates civil disobedience to the very form of government he bemoans the government has overthrown. He advocates we should do the same as the government. He advocates the solution to the government overturning the Constitution is to join them in that effort.

    The other path is admittedly the harder path, the more difficult path but the path which this nation has followed for 250 years. It is to obey the Constitution and come up with solutions to any problems that obedience causes. If Mr. Bird truly believes he is a patriotic American then as that patriotic American he is obligated to see that which he patriotic to, the Constitution and the nation it created, is effectuated, not destroyed. For if the Constitution is destroyed, either by violent overturn or civil disobedience, it ceases to exist and the consequences of that are beyond imagination.

    If Mr. Bird is a loyal, patriotic American then, while he will raise issues and concerns regarding an Article V Convention, he will do so in a positive manner. He will offer solutions to that which he has concerns. He will advance the Constitution, not stymie it. Mr. Bird has not done this. Instead he offers wild, unproven accusations in which he provides no solution, no result—except fear.

    Mr. Bird would have us fear ourselves. For ultimately, finally, we are the Constitution. He has no faith in we Americans. He believes every American would have in mind, when a convention is called, to do no more than set out to destroy every right that we cherish. He proposes we are a nation of madmen, who would suspend themselves by a slim rope over the side of the highest cliff and then cut the rope with their own knife.

    The record of the applications is clear. The states wish to limit the power of the federal government. They wish to increase the power of the average citizen by endowing him with rights he does not currently enjoy. There is not one application on file to remove a single right Americans now have. Yet Mr. Bird would have us believe all of this will be ignored by these delegates we would choose by open election and that these delegates once vetted and chosen by us will suddenly turn as one massive beast and consume us. He presents no proof of the beast. Like those who have said they see dead people, Mr. Bird sees the beast in us. I choose to see the nobility in us.

    I see Americans yearning for change. I see Americans crying out for change. I see them desperate for change. And I see a legal, constitutional method where this change can occur, not for some period of time determined by popular election that can be swept out by the next administration but real, permanent change which can still be undone should we choose, but which will and can improve America because it will reeducate us to a fundamental principle we apparently have forgotten: that as citizens we have the right to complain mightily about the actions of the government but as Americans we have the power and responsibility to do something about it.

    Being an American is not simply about complaining and expecting the next guy to do something about it. Being an American means doing something about it. Being an American means setting a goal and accomplishing that goal. It means living and believing our system of government presents us opportunity, not fear. Let us be American. Let us not live in fear.

    Mr. Bird fears the Constitution. He believes it can destroyed by a group of people, not one of which he could name and fails to realize how well designed to prevent such a catastrophe the Constitution is. He ignores entirely the fact that even if such a beast were to come alive at a convention, we will still hold the greater force: ratification and despite any onslaught a convention might attempt, without ratification in massive number by the states, the onslaught will have no effect.

    Mr. Bird asks that everyone take his path, to disobey the Constitution and live in fear of it.

    I ask that all Americans walk in a path of American Freedom; that we work together to find solution to any issue or problem the question of an Article V Convention presents. When we have taken advantage of what the Constitution presents, we have always benefited in this nation.

    The choice is clear: do we obey or disobey the Constitution. Depending on which path we take, the decision, for now, is up to you.

  10. paulie cannoli paulie cannoli Post author | December 29, 2008

    It has been my experience that this website gets a lot of biting repartee, but at least the participants seem to know their facts, even while they disagree on conclusions.

    We have a large variety of commenters here as well, of all different viewpoints. Some know more facts than others. Some are regulars here, whereas others find a particular article through their web searches or links elsewhere and come in to comment on it.

    We allow everyone to have their say and do not take credit or blame for their views and the thinking behind them.

  11. e00217 e00217 December 29, 2008

    It has been my experience that this website gets a lot of biting repartee, but at least the participants seem to know their facts, even while they disagree on conclusions. It is sad to see someone claiming that “such-and-such a writer doesn’t know his facts” or “he ought to read the Constitution”, when the critic himself seems to not be able to grasp entirely or properly what was written. It’s a sign of the times.

    Mr. Walker: I am NOT a senator, only a two-time loser. I accept this with humility. Please do not try to use such a handle on me because it mocks the suffering and effort that went into it and attempts to make me into an overdone or prideful blowhard. If I am, it certainly does not come from the effort in running for office, but perhaps from my own poor writing.

    The article I sent was performed indeed to accept feedback, because we are entering a part of the Constitution where no precendent exists. We are all free to speculate. What little value lies in your reply comes from the speculative portion, not the factual.

    Here is the unapproved amendment, passed by 2/3 of the House & Senate, that is still dangling. This would seem to shatter your contention that it was somehow made up by me.

    And about reading facts: I put the date down as 1807, you referred to it as 1804. I see it identified as coming from the 2nd session of the 11th Congress, which would make it 1811. I stand self-corrected, but please make proper reference in your responses.

    “If any citizen of the United States shall accept, claim, receive or retain any title of nobility or honor, or shall, without the consent of Congress, accept and retain any present, pension, office or emolument of any kind whatever, from any emperor, king, prince or foreign power, such person shall cease to be a citizen of the United States, and shall be incapable of holding any office of profit or trust under them, or either of them.”

    Mr. Walker’s confusion from the following quote needs to be straightened out: “The senator [sic] obviously doesn’t consider the fact that it requires 2/3rds vote in a convention or congress to pass a proposal much of a political hurdle.” Please note that it requires a 2/3 vote of STATE LEGISLATURES, not state conventions, to call a con-con.

    But, you were perhaps referring to approval of an amendment, not the con-con call? Your comment does not indicate. Perhaps you were confused. In such case, it takes 3/4 of the states, either by the state legislatures or by state conventions, to approve the work of a hypothetical con-con.

    And, about reading an artcile . . . I made full reference to Article VII, where it required only 2/3 of the states to approve the Constitution in 1788, yet Article V asks for 3/4 should a con-con attempt to re-write the Constitution. This is a curiosity of inconsistency within the Constitution, where I was hoping for someone to provide an historical reason I am not aware of. But please note that I am not the one confused about the various articles, as you seem to be.

    “Once voted, always voted” Mr. Walker? States cannot rescind their con-con call? Did you read the 10th amendment? Or do you, like a good collectivist and mega-statist, prefer to ignore that inconvenient amendment? [Hint: In order to properly understand the 10th amendment, you need to read not only Article 1, Section 10, but also the Preamble to the “Bill of Rights”].

    Regarding secession, Mr. Walker. Read what the State House of Oklahoma passed by a 93-4 vote last March. It was not secession, but it was definitely a thinly-veiled threat to do so. Read what the state legislature of Wyoming has said regarding a con-con call. Go visit Vermont and Alaska. See what Montana says about any threat to the right to keep and bear arms.

    While you are at it, read Jefferson’s First Inaugural on the subject; research the Hartford Convention of 1814, the Virginia & Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, see under what conditions Virginia, New York and Rhode Island approved the Constitution; and ask yourself this question:

    How many states would have approved the Constitution in 1788 if it read “No state may leave this union on its own accord and will face the coercive power of the remaining states under the control of the general government should it attempt to do so” ?

    Answer: NONE.

    Yet that is exactly what Lincoln [1861] and even Andrew Jackson [1832] did with their executive power.

    Your conclusion accuses me of wanting to overturn the Constitution. On the contrary, it has ALREADY been overturned, and for generations, with things like: a national bank, social security, foreign aid, undeclared wars, corporate and private welfare, control of education, improper acceptance of amendments that were not obeying Article V’s directives, ignoring the personal liberties recognized in Amendments 1-10.

    Just who are the patriots in this discussion?

    Yet, if a con-con produced amendments, or even a brand new document, that would fundamentally change all or parts of what vestiges are still obeyed in this abused Constitution, I suggest that the states would revert to the conditions of 1788, and could OPT OUT of such a union/empire with little to stand in their way.

    Obviously, I admit being wrong-headed in that regard. There still are “conservatives” who stand by their government at all costs, and match the definition of “conservative” with the party-members of the late USSR.

    En garde!

  12. paulie cannoli paulie cannoli Post author | December 28, 2008

    I read where this article is filed under “minor right wing parties”. Actually it should be filed under “John Birch Society Propaganda.”

    We don’t have any such category. We cover independent candidates and alternative parties, not non-partisan orgs such as JBS. We also don’t go around branding the articles people send us as propaganda. We post a wide variety of viewpoints here, and readers can decide for themselves which ones they consider credible.

    Bird has been an Alaskan Independence Party candidate. We categorize them as a right wing party, although they are quasi-affiliated with the Constitution Party, so some articles about them might be under that heading.

  13. Bill Walker Bill Walker December 28, 2008

    I read where this article is filed under “minor right wing parties”. Actually it should be filed under “John Birch Society Propaganda.”

    This article is so far off the mark, I’m going to respond to it almost point by point, something I usually don’t do. First of all, just in case this comment has a size limit, I invite all who read this to go to and read the truth. All 50 states have submitted over 650 applications for an Article V Convention. You can read the texts of the applications at the website. You can also read about the federal lawsuit in which Congress admitted before the Supreme Court that it is a simple numeric count of states with no other limitations and that for Congress not to call is a criminal violation of law on their part.

    The senator frets over a power that he seems to have no problem Congress having. Both a convention and Congress have the exact same Constitutional power: either can propose any amendment they wish and neither body can be limited or controlled as to what they propose. But that’s all it is, a proposal. The senator obviously doesn’t consider the fact that it requires 2/3rds vote in a convention or congress to pass a proposal much of a political hurdle even though only about 31 amendment proposals out of 0ver 10,000 submitted to Congress have gotten that 2/3rds approval in the history of our nation. He also brushes by the fact that it requires 3/4th of the states to approve any proposal, either by Congress or convention, before it becomes part of the Constitution. So, an amendment proposal, (and I would challenge the senator to produce the text of this 1804 amendment proposal) will “hang” forever as no more than a historic curiosity.

    And by the way, as we’ve never had an Article V Convention, the 1787 convention being authorized under the Articles of Confederation, that means this was proposed by Congress, not a convention.

    In answer to his question about different amendment issues, let’s get the numbers correct. It’s 32 states for right to life, an unknown number according to public record for flag burning and 37 for balanced budget. So, yeah, you’ve reached the 34 states. And remember it’s a simple numeric count of applying states because the application deals with requiring Congress to call (“…on the application of…Congress shall call…[Article V]”) not any amendment issue included in the application.

    No, Article V does not allow applications to be rescinded any more than it would allow Hillary Clinton to rescind her Iraq War vote and thus stop the entire war because it was no longer authorized. It’s a clear principle in this country: once you’ve voted, you’ve voted. You don’t get to come back later and pull it back.

    This guy should read his Constitution. The ratification vote required to approve the Constitution in 1788 was a separate article from that of Article V. Obviously, once the Constitution was ratified, the terms in Article V took over so there is no conflict whatsoever.

    I won’t even waste my time with his 38 states approve what about the 12 that do not comment except to point out that we have one Constitution and one Supreme Law and it applies to ALL states, not just those that chose to ratify a specific amendment.

    So let’s see the senator, without any basis of evidence suggests now secession of states is in the air? When was the last time anyone heard about that issue by the states NOW being flung far and wide around the Internet? Where are the protests in the streets by state citizens demanding they withdraw from the Union? Get real senator. Acts like you suggest just aren’t in the card. Instead what would happen would be an effort to repeal the amendment if it was so bad, just like what happened to the 18th Amendment. You know, when the people in ratification amendment conventions repealed it with the 21st Amendment.

    So, what the senator wants you to believe is he is a patriot who supports the Constitution EXCEPT he urges 1) that it be disobeyed by the government thus overthrowing it and 2) that the nation be broken up if a legal, constitutional method to propose amendments is used. This is patriotism???

    Why not instead think like real patriot, senator? Why not say, “The states have applied. The Constitution says we must call a convention. Okay, I have concerns about issues this raises. How do I go about solving these so that the Constitution can be effected rather than listening to the extreme right and just overturning the entire Constitution.”

    A convention is designed to help propose solutions to our problems in the form of amendments to our Constitution. It is a tool the Founders left to change our system of government when that government will not or refuses to. It can create new tools which in turn solve our problems. It is not a threat. It’s a solution and it should be viewed this way. That’s the American way.

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