Saturday, January 02, 2016


So this happened a few days ago:
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a top contender for the Republican presidential nomination, has come out in favor of the idea of a convention of states to amend the U.S. Constitution....

“One of the things I’m going to do on my first day in office: I will announce that I am a supporter, and as president I will put the weight of the presidency behind a constitutional convention of the states so we can pass term limits on members of Congress and the Supreme Court and so we can pass a balanced budget amendment,” Mr. Rubio said in Iowa.
The idea of a "convention of states" has been promoted in recent years by the Koch organization ALEC and by talk radio star Mark Levin in his book The Liberty Amendments. An Amazon reviewer of Levin's book lists some of his proposed amendments for such a convention:
1. Term limits, including for justices.
2. Repealing Amendment 17 and returning the election of senators to state legislatures
3. A congressional supermajority to override Supreme Court decisions....
4. Spending limit based on GDP
5. Taxation capped at 15%
6. Limiting the commerce clause, and strengthening private property rights
7. Power of states to override a federal statute by a three-fifths vote.
The site Convention of States Action adds a few more:
* A redefinition of the General Welfare Clause (the original view was the federal government could not spend money on any topic within the jurisdiction of the states)...

* A prohibition of using international treaties and law to govern the domestic law of the United States

* A limitation on using Executive Orders and federal regulations to enact laws (since Congress is supposed to be the exclusive agency to enact laws)...

* Requiring the sunset of all existing federal taxes and a super-majority vote to replace them with new, fairer taxes
If conservatives succeeded in calling a constitutional convention and passing these amendments, America would be fundamentally transformed. A balanced budget amendment combined with sharply lower taxes would require a curtailment of the social safety net greater than Paul Ryan could imagine after a ten-day absinthe and Atlas Shrugged binge. Deficit spending to limit the pain of an economic downturn would simply be illegal -- no 2008-2009 stimulus, no New Deal. And states would have radically new abilities to nullify Supreme Court decisions and federal legislation -- just imagine the possibilities.

I'm not completely sure why right-wing radicals still back term limits -- that made sense in the era of Newt Gingrich's Contract with America because Democrats had controlled Congress for decades -- but I think it's because term limits mean that the only people in D.C. and state capitals who aren't term-limited are corporate lobbyists. Legislators limited to a couple of terms soon have no motivation to please constituents and every motivation to please the fat cats who'll be their future employers.

Returning the election of senators to state legislatures isn't about admiration for the original language of the Constitution -- it's about saving money for right-wing billionaires. It's a hell of a lot cheaper to win state legislative elections in, say, Florida than it is to pay for the high-cost TV ads needed to win a U.S. Senate election. Keep a friendly legislature seated and you can have two GOP senators from the Sunshine State indefinitely.

That nice, moderate Marco Rubio supports all this.

Here's the way it's supposed to work, under Article V of the U.S. Constitution:
... two-thirds of state legislatures -- 34 of them -- would have to meet and propose amendments on the same subject. Each amendment would then have to be approved by three-quarters of the states to be ratified.
It seems like a long shot to get 34 states to call for a convention, agree on amendments, pass them, and then get them ratified by 38 of the 50 state legislatures.

But after the 2010 and 2014 midterms, Republicans dominate state governments:
... Republicans ... hold total control of 30 of the country’s 50 state legislatures (60 percent) and have total or split control of 38 of the 50 (76 percent.)
Or, to put it another way:
The GOP now controls 68 out of 98 partisan state legislative chambers -- the highest number in the history of the party. Republicans currently hold the governorship and both houses of the legislature in [24] states ..., while Democrats have that level of control in only seven.
Thanks for not voting in midterms, Democrats!

And the right is playing a long game. What do you think the challenge to one-person-one-vote that's currently before the Supreme Court is all about?
The court’s decision in the case, expected by June, has the potential to shift political power from urban areas to rural ones, a move that would provide a big boost to Republican voters in state legislative races in large parts of the nation.

The basic question in the case, Evenwel v. Abbott, No. 14-940, is who must be counted in creating voting districts: all residents or just eligible voters? Right now, all states and most localities count everyone.

The difference matters because people who are not eligible to vote -- children, immigrants here legally who are not citizens, unauthorized immigrants, people disenfranchised for committing felonies, prisoners -- are not spread evenly across the country. With the exception of prisoners, they tend to be concentrated in urban areas.

Their presence amplifies the voting power of eligible voters in those areas, usually helping Democrats. Rural areas that lean Republican, by contrast, usually have higher percentages of eligible voters.
If the Roberts Court finds for the conservative plaintiffs in this case, state legislatures will become even more Republican in the future. And if Democratic voters continue to ignore non-presidential elections, I'm not sure the Kochs and their allies are crazy to think they can make radical changes to the Constitution as the result of a convention of states.

And Rubio -- mainstream, moderate Marco Rubio -- backs this.

But, as National Review's Jim Geraghty has noted, Rubio is no moderate:
This is a man who has a lifetime ACU [American Conservative Union] rating of 98 out of 100. A man who has a perfect rating from the NRA in the U.S. Senate. A man who earned scores of 100 in 2014, 100 in 2013, 71 in 2012, and 100 in 2011 from the Family Research Council. A “Taxpayer Super Hero” with a lifetime rating of 95 from Citizens Against Government Waste. A man Club for Growth president David McIntosh called “a complete pro-growth, free-market, limited-government conservative.” ...

Rubio’s the guy who earned a 100 from National Right to Life in two straight cycles, and a zero rating from NARAL. He supports an abortion ban after 20 weeks, opposes exceptions for rape and incest (although he’s voted for legislation that includes those exceptions), and opposes embryonic stem-cell research....

Rubio opposes gay marriage and has said that “we are at the water’s edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech. Today we’ve reached the point in our society where if you do not support same-sex marriage you are labeled a homophobe and a hater.” He recorded robo-calls for the National Organization for Marriage....

He wants to raise the retirement age for those under 55....

Rubio opposes raising the minimum wage....
I don't think Rubio has the mojo to win the nomination this year, but if he does manage to win it, he'll be sold in the fall -- probably successfully -- as a likable right-centrist. He's not. He's a dangerous radical who just sounds nice.


Victor said...

Yes, unlike the other rabid wolves in running for the Presidency in the GOP, Marco has a smiling human mask that he can put on.
The rubes probably know how radical he is - they use these ratings, or, they have them told to them by the conservative Jesus-grifter's at the mega-church nearest to their homes.

And, if Hillary is the nominee, the MSM won't just turn Marco into a magical center-right politician, they'll do the same for every one of the others, if they win the nomination - including, Trump!

How, Trump?
I'm not sure, but they'll think of something.
Leave it to schmucks at Politico and the putz's at Bloomberg and the WaPo. to lead the way!

The conservative Billionaires sure love the sound of "America."
They just hate non-rich Americans, and the Constitution, the laws, and the government programs which protect them from the capitalist vultures like themselves.

So, now it's, "Nice Constitution you had there. But it was kinda old. Too bad we had to kill it, and put it out of its misery, to make a new one more favorable for ourselves - and you, YOU, of course (snickers)!
But we got a brand-spanking new one here for you! Yeah, we know it's in teeny-tiny small print that only an electron microscope will let you read, but trust us! When have we ever steered you wrong? Ok, forget those times, they're in the past. we have only y(OUR) interests at heart!"

Let's hope the majority of the American voters haven't crossed over the Rubio Rubicon, or the Trump or Cruz-ader one, either.

We're one major terrorist attack here on our soil, or another massive economic downturn, away from the conservatives turning America into the United States of Theocratic Fascist Plutocracy!

The barbarians aren't at the gates. They're already in Governor's mansions and state legislatures, awaiting orders from their Billionaire betters - and, of course, they also have majorities in the US House and Senate.

Help GOTV the vote this year, like your life depends on it!
It does.
So does mine.
And, pretty much, everyone you know who isn't filthy rich.
While we still can...

mlbxxxxxx said...

I've read a few articles about this case before the court seeking to count only eligible voters. As I understand it, and as you present it, this is supposed to advantage the rural areas over the urban and, therefore, the Rs over the Ds because of the reasons you give. However, I have difficulty reconciling this strategy with the fact that in the last midterm election the D candidates in aggregate had more votes than the Rs in aggregate despite losing the House by a significant amount. Those results would suggest that there is a surfeit of eligible voters in urban areas contra the underlying motivation of this case.

Unknown said...

Put the government in a Lochner Box.

Yastreblyansky said...


Or maybe the last 235, since the aim seems to be to get back to the Articles of Confederation, rendering the federal government impotent, and the people as well, against the desires and aims of 50 oligarchies.

@mlbxxxxxx: It's really about diluting the voting strength of districts with a lot of immigrant non-citizens, who are under the current system part of the population but can't vote.

It's similar to the problem of Congressional districts in the debate over the Constitution, when a lot of Northern delegates wanted slaves not to be counted as population, so as to reduce the voting strength of the Southern states, and they ended up with the Three-Fifths Compromise. In Evenwel, the Anglo districts in the Texas legislature want to weaken the districts with a heavier Hispanic population.

Only it's different in that the Northern states in 1787 weren't trying to disempower the slaves, they were trying to take excessive power from slave owners (which could benefit slaves, theoretically, as when they succeeded in banning the slave trade); whereas the Texas Anglos are working to take power out of the hands of Latino citizens in communities with noncitizens.

In drawing Congressional districts, the total population has always been the basis of the count. It was not about voters at the beginning; only men of property had the vote, not women or children or factory workers or dockworkers or hired farmhands, and it had nothing to do with citizenship status either, because everybody was a citizen until citizenship was defined in the 14th Amendment. (Enslaved persons were not citizens, but the reason they were a special case wasn't that: it was because their owners allowed them basically no civil rights of any kind and were demanding extra power for themselves: "Legally they aren't humans but property, but we still want you to count them so we can dominate Congress"). It's horrible if Scotus finds that this isn't a precedent for the drawing of districts in state legislatures, even though those districts have always been drawn on the same principle--it will be a substantial increase in the ability of white minorities to stave off the end of their rule and try to stage some permanent counter-revolution like this proposed constitutional convention.

Ten Bears said...

I am sure they will actually ratify the Sixteenth Amendment, which (contrary to conventional wisdom, was never ratified by a quorum of the states) established the - unconstitutional and contrary to The Founders' intent - IRS and Federal Reserve.

Just as I am sure they'll ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

The Y2K nuts had it right, but they were just off by a little less than a year and didn't quite get their fingers wrapped around it: historians will mark the December 2000 appointment by an ideologically stacked unelected activist court of a blue-blloded frat-boy scion of Hitler financing Robber Barons with limited intellect, little education and no practical experience to the highest office in the land as the End of America. We're where we're at on momentum, which is rapidly running out.

Arthur Mervyn said...

I'm not completely sure why right-wing radicals still back term limits -- that made sense in the era of Newt Gingrich's Contract with America because Democrats had controlled Congress for decades ...

I don't think it made sense even then. From The Washington Post in 1995:

[A term-limit supporter], 44, of Garden Grove, Calif., a beer keg salesman, said that with the measure's defeat, "Congress has got the idea that what they did will keep them in longer. When their constituents find out, to me, those guys will be out quicker than anything."

(My point being, the term-limit supporter was dimly aware that an elected official's constituents could already limit the official's term by voting him/her out of office. No law or constitutional amendment was needed. Yes, there is the problem of the inertia of incumbency.)

Buford said...

I wonder if the "constitutional convention" was the ultimate goal of ALEC and the Koch boys....seems like they spent a lot of capital in the states, resulting in a majority of states being in the claws of the gop/koch all is starting to make sense...With the Fab Forty in the Koch Kaucus, they can really hurt the USofA...I ask one question...Do you want to live under the boots of the Koch boys' puppets?...