Patterico's Pontifications


Should We Address a Corrupt Congress with a Constitutional Convention?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:20 am

[Note by Patterico: this post was written by our reader Leviticus and posted at The Jury Talks Back, my companion blog written by readers. I have decided to promote this post to the front page of my main blog because I am interested in seeing people’s responses to the poll question at the bottom of this post. I hope every reader, both lurkers and commenters from the left and the right, will answer that poll question. — Patterico]

[Guest post by Leviticus]

Article V of the Constitution states that Congress, “on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which… shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress.”

To my knowledge, such a mechanism was included to prevent the potential tyranny of a detached national Legislative Branch; that is, it provides an external means of regulating members of Congress — their selection, their tenure, and their powers. It’s a contingency designed to facilitate an end-run around an institution (hypothetically) too corrupt to reform itself. At least that’s my take on it.

My question, then, is this: given the current state of American politics — whatever your take on that rather weighty antecedent may be – would you support or oppose an application for a Constitutional Convention by your own state legislature?

I got some polling software, and I hope it works smoothly, but one way or another I’d appreciate it if you elaborated on your reasons in the comments section. I’m going to be doing some organizing around this issue with disaffected conservatives and liberals in my own state, and I would value the insights of this community as a contextual lens through which to view some of that work.

NOTE: This is the first of an extended series of posts I’m going to be doing at The Jury Talks Back, dealing mainly with big-picture solutions to the major problems of American politics — the first of which I deem to be a lack of true accountability in the American Congress. I’m going to be addressing a number of different ideas I’ve heard proposed as to how to fix that particular problem (as well as others), and I look forward to the sort of philosophical input you all can provide as people whose perspective on these matters (potentially) differs vastly from my own.

— Leviticus

Afghanistan: Obama Signals He Will Steer Middle Course Between Buffoon and Knowledgeable General

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:12 am

The L.A. Times reports:

Asking for patience until he completes an assessment of the situation over the next few weeks, the president urged lawmakers to keep their minds open to a nuanced range of options.

Obama did not indicate to the bipartisan group whether he is leaning toward or against a significant troop escalation. Instead, he suggested he is looking at the middle range of the spectrum, somewhere between a major increase in forces and a large drawdown.

Stay the course!

Of course, when Obama is the President, “stay the course” in a losing situation is not evidence of a stubborn intransigence, like it was with Bush. It’s evidence that Obama is someone who seeks out a statesmanlike middle ground.

“The president reiterated that we need this debate to be honest and dispense with the straw man argument that this is about either doubling down or leaving Afghanistan,” one senior administration official said after the meeting ended.

It’s not a strawman if it’s true. And General McChrystal — or as senior administration officials disrespectfully call him, “Stan” — thinks we need the extra troops.

But, you know, the buffoon whom Obama made Vice President thinks we should lower the number of troops.

So the statesmanlike middle ground Obama seeks is somewhere between the opinion of the buffoon, and the opinion of the general who actually knows what he’s talking about.

Yeah, this is much better than having a President who swings entirely to one side of an issue — like committing to a (winning) surge strategy in Iraq.

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