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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Chapter Fourteen

November 15, 2017

To find a form that accommodates the mess, 
That is the task of the artist now. 

Samuel Beckett


The Committee of the Whole, sensing the need to finish before Christmas finally finished their debates, lobbying and wood-shedding and was ready to vote. And vote they did, by a solid majority sending all of the Proposed Amendments to Congress who had the responsibility to send those Proposed Amendments on to the States. Along with the transmittal of the Amendments, Congress was obligated to designate the method of ratification, either by the respective state legislatures or by state convention called for that purpose.

It was then with real relief that Blair took the podium for the last time. “Is there any further business? Hearing no response, I am then, with real pleasure, prepared to adjourn permanently this, the First Convention to Propose Amendments. But two final matters remain. I have asked Rabbi Joseph Black to give a closing prayer. Rabbi?”

Rabbi Joseph Black took the microphone and began: “Our God and God of All creation: God who inspires fear and God who comforts. God who can be found in the rubble of the quake and in the marches for justice in the streets. All around us we confront the debris of existence. We, who try to infuse order into the disarray of daily life, understand all too well that, at any moment, the calm we take for granted can be plunged into chaos without warning – whether by natural disaster or pent-up anger and frustration. In this sacred chamber, the tasks of governance seem both insignificant and indispensable at the same time. When we try to assess our actions in light of the challenges that face us, our attempts to create change can seem insignificant. And yet, our refusal to succumb to a cynicism bred from hubris is a defining characteristic of the divinity You have implanted within us all. As this Convention draws to a close, we look back at the months that have passed with mixed emotions. Thank you, God for the ability to shine a light on the goodness of humankind – even when we face adversity. Thank You for reasons to rise above the petty and the political to make a difference. Thank you for these leaders who share their passion for representing their communities. May the recess that awaits them bring rest, renewal and a re-ignited hope for all that is good. Amen.”

“Thank you Rabbi.” Blair said. “As was the tradition at the conclusion of the Convention of 1787, where, as George Washington noted in his diary, ‘the members adjourned to the City Tavern, dined together and took a cordial leave of each other’, I am pleased to announce that the government of the District of Columbia has prepared a dinner for us at City Hall, and I invite you to join Rachel and me there so that we may thereafter report that we dined together and took cordial leave of each other. That said, this Convention is adjourned, sine die.”

Blair dropped his gavel one last time.

***

“Blair”, Rachel said, “In all the months we have been here, did you ever take the walk up to the upper ramparts and see the Great Hall from there? It is quite a view.”

“No, I didn’t know you could get up there.”

“Well you can, if you know the secret passage way, which I do. Follow me.” Rachel led Blair to the second floor and to a door which opened to a staircase leading up. Taking the stairs up, Rachel led Blair to the ramparts from where, looking down, he could see the Great Hall below:


“Rachel, this is a great view. It is odd to see the Hall empty below, just the chairs and desks testifying to the debates held here over the last months.”

Rachel called from around the corner. “Come see the view from here”, she said.

As Blair rounded the corner he saw Rachel unbuttoning the buttons on her blouse.

“You always said, ‘Women need a reason, Men need a place.’ Well, now that our professional relationship is at an end, I have a reason and we have a fitting place, don’t you think?”

The End

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Sunday, March 3, 2019

Chapter Thirteen -- The Proposals to Amend the Constitution


Chapter Thirteen

November 15, 2017

It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is
resolved in the morning after the
Committee of Sleep has worked on it.

John Steinbeck

The Committees formed by suggestion of and mediated by Sensus worked with startling efficiency. Thirty days after being delegated the task; the Committees had come up with a number of proposed amendments to the Constitution. Upon re-convening, Blair formally presented the proposed amendments for discussion to the delegates. While the debates that ensued, both by the delegates and in public were fierce, they were all for the most part respectful. The scope of those debates is beyond the scope of this monograph, and in all events is well documented elsewhere. However, it is appropriate here to list those amendments that were ultimately approved by a majority of the Delegates at the ConProAm.
  • “The Seventeenth Amendment is repealed returning the election of U.S. Senators to state legislatures as envisioned by Article I, §3, Clauses 1 and 2 of the Constitution as originally written.”
Committee Comment: Realizing the corrosive effect of popularly elected Senator reliant upon special interest money and influence and recognizing the wisdom of the Framers of the Constitution in securing a voice for the States in the federal government, the 100 year experiment in popularly elected Senators is deemed a failure and due to be repealed.
  • Article I, Clause 3: Apportionment of Representatives and taxes is amended to read: “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, by aggregating the U.S. Postal Service standard ZIP Codes sequentially starting with the lowest Zip code assigned to create Representative Districts of no less than 30,000 U.S. Citizens nor more than 40,000 U.S. Citizens. The ‘several States’ shall include the U.S. territories of, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands along with the District of Columbia.”
Committee Comment: Designed to eliminate the grotesque Congressional districts established to protect special interests, this rational, objective system for established Representative Districts will insure a wide diversity of Representatives responsive to their constituents. Where presently each Representative represents 700,000 people, this system will insure that each Representative is responsible to no more than 40,000 people. Two further points. This amendment would mean that the House of Representatives would be made up of some 7,500 Representatives. Second, given the experience of utilizing Sensus, logistical concerns about moving legislation forward in such a large deliberative body are not well founded. Finally, the delegates recognizes and resolved the incongruity of being a U.S. Citizen in a U.S. Territory without a vote in Congress by admitting the U.S. territories of, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands along with the District of Columbia into U.S. Statehood.
  • “Commencing five years after becoming an amendment, English shall be the official language of the United States and all public or commercial speech shall be solely in the English language.”
Committee Comment: The Committee found the sentiment of Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President, in this regard fully contains the reason for this proposed amendment: “In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American … There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag … We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language … and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”
  • “The 16th Amendment is hereby repealed Congress is specifically prohibited from imposing an income tax”
Committee Comment: The present income tax code is riddled with special interest provisions that favor rich donors to political campaigns, distort business decisions and consumer choices, and handicap economic growth and job creation. An income tax is the most degrading and totalitarian of all possible taxes. Its implementation wrongly suggests that the government owns the lives and labor of the citizens it is supposed to represent. Tellingly, “a heavy progressive or graduated income tax” is Plank #2 of the Communist Manifesto, which was written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and first published in 1848. To provide funding for the federal government, the Committee supports excise taxes, non-protectionist tariffs, massive cuts in spending and sales taxes.
  • The First Amendment is amended to read as follows: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of a Judeo-Christian congruent religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Committee Comment: This Country being founded upon the tenets of Judaism and Christianity, the protections afforded its Citizens for the establishment and free exercise of their religion extends only to religions that can claim a congruence derived from the Judeo-Christian religion traditions. The express purpose of this amendment is to prevent seditious creeds from seeking shelter in the First Amendment’s protections.
  • The first phrase of the Article V of the Constitution is amended as follows: “The President, whenever two thirds of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments . . .
Committee Comment: This amendment is designed to remove from Congress any role in amending the Constitution and placing the ministerial task of convening a Convention to Propose Amendments upon the President.
  • The Second Amendment is amended to read as follows: “The right of the a Citizen without a felony conviction to responsibly keep and bear Arms necessary for their protection shall not be infringed except temporarily for thirty days by a court of competent jurisdiction with just cause or upon a verdict by a jury stripping a person of such right upon terms the jury deems just.”
Committee Comment: The purpose of amending the Second Amendment is to ensure that Courts and Legislatures do not infringe upon this fundamental right of self-protection in the 21st Century which is besotted of firearms, legal and not legal.
  • An Amendment to the Constitution shall read: “The rights protected by this Constitution are the rights of natural persons. The words people, person, or citizen as used in this Constitution do not include corporations, limited liability companies or other corporate entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state, and such corporate entities are subject to such regulation as the people, through their elected State and Federal representatives, deem reasonable and are otherwise consistent with the powers of Congress and the States under this Constitution.”
Committee Comment: This proposed amendment seeks to return to the People, and strip from non-human entities, the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. The design of this proposed amendment is to eliminate powers that corporate entities presently enjoy and abuse.
  • An Amendment to the Constitution shall read: “No person shall be denied standing to privately prosecute a public right for at least declaratory or injunctive relief, even if he or she has not incurred, or does not expect, personal injury resulting from the failure to grant such relief.”
Committee Comment: A judicial-created barrier to access to Court known as “standing” is eliminated by this Amendment thus allowing grievances to be aired by any Citizen in a judicial forum.
  • An Amendment to the Constitution shall read: “Every federal judicial officer will sit for a retention election every four years. Those judicial officers deemed unfit for retention by both a majority of the votes casts will be removed from office and disqualified from future service as a judicial officer.”
Committee Comment: As Senator Ted Cruz has noted: “The Framers underestimated the judicial officers’ craving for legislative power, and they overestimated the Congress’s backbone to curb it. It was clear even before the end of the founding era that the threat of impeachment was, in Thomas Jefferson’s words, ‘not even a scarecrow’ to the judicial officers. Today, the remedy of impeachment — the only one provided under our Constitution to cure judicial tyranny — is still no remedy at all.” Accordingly, a direct check on judicial officers is necessary.

Thus it was that these ten proposed amendments were taken up for debate, deliberation and voting by the Committee of the Whole of the Convention to Propose Amendments.

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Sunday, February 24, 2019

Chapter Twelve -- Convening the Convention


Chapter Twelve

October 14, 2017

We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.

Abraham Lincoln


Blair dropped the gavel on the podium set up on the platform in the National Building Museum’s Great Hall. Arrayed before this platform upon which he and Rachel stood, were 350 delegates, chosen at random, from the 50 states and 42 non-voting delegates from the U.S. territories of, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands along with the District of Columbia. Watching the live-feed on C-SPAN and the Internet, were a large majority of the population, not only of the United States, but of the world. The latter had become fascinated by this new permutation of democracy that the United States was about to undertake: granular representative democracy aided by Artificial Intelligence.

Blair commenced: “By virtue of the authority vested in me by Article V of the United States Constitution and the Order of Judge Garland of the United States Circuit Court for the District of Columbia, I, Montgomery Blair Sibley, now call to Order this, the First Convention to Propose Amendment to the United States Constitution. The first order of business will be the qualification of each State’s delegation and identification of its speaking delegate.”

Rachel then called each State in alphabetical order, accepted the proffered credentials and announced its recognition. She then repeated the process for the U.S. Territories and the District of Columbia. Blair then took back the microphone.

“The second order of business is choosing a Chair for the Convention. I open the floor for nominations and recognize the speaking delegate from New York, Mark Nunn.”

“The Empire State is pleased to nominate our present Chair pro tem and native son, Montgomery Blair Sibley, to Chair this Convention.”

“Thank you, Mr. Nunn. Is there a second? Yes, the Chair recognizes the speaking delegate from Florida, Lisa Macci.”

"Thank you. The Sunshine State would second the nomination of Montgomery Blair Sibley, its former resident of the Sunshine State and graduate of the University with the finest Football program in the Nation, the University of Miami Hurricanes.” A light-hearted chorus of objections arose to her description of the Miami Hurricanes.

Blair continued, “Rachel, I think propriety requires that you take over at this point.”

“Certainly. Are there any other nominations for the position of Chair of the ConProAm?” Rachel asked. The Great Hall was silent. After waiting a full minute, Rachel broke the Silence. “Hearing no other nominations, I will take a voice vote on this apparently uncontested issue. All speaking delegates voting in favor of Montgomery Blair Sibley serving as Chair of the Convention to Propose Amendments signify by saying ‘Aye.’”

A chorus of 50 ‘Aye’ voices rang out. “All opposed”, Rachel said. The Great Hall was silent. “Blair, it seems you are the Chair.”

“Thank you Rachel and thank you delegates for your confidence in me. I trust the atheists and agnostics among us will, with due respect, allow those of us who acknowledge a higher power than our consciousness can fully understand, to commence these proceedings with a plea to that power. To that end, I have asked the Reverend Dr. Luis León of St. John’s Church here in Washington to give a benediction. Reverend León:

“Thank you Mr. Sibley. As is your practice, please attend to these words: ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail. Amen.”

A loud chorus of “Amen” rang out from the assembled delegates. Blair took the microphone again. “Thank you for that, Reverend León. As Judge Garland set Robert’s Rules of Order for the procedural rules for the Convention, unless I hear objection to that, I will assume we can proceed.” Pausing and hear no objections, Blair continued, “The let us proceed with allowing each State to rise and address the Convention, keeping remarks to under five minutes. I call upon the speaking delegate from Alabama.”

For the next four hours, with a break for lunch, each speaking delegate rose and addressed the Convention, extolling their State’s history and issues of particular concerns. By mid-afternoon, the delegates were restless and glad that the first meeting of the Convention was drawing to a close.

After the last speaking delegate from the non-voting delegation from the District of Columbia made her plea for full voting rights for District inhabitants, Blair once again took to the podium. “As you know, Sensus has divined from the public dialog a number of areas of concern that amendments to the Constitution may be suitable to address. That list has been provided to each delegation. Accordingly, it is the recommendation of the Chair and Deputy Chair, that committees be established to address each area of concern to be managed virtually by Sensus and populated by each delegation as they deem fit. Further, I recommend that each Committee report back to this Committee of the Whole within 30 days on the progress of reaching a majority consensus on wording of proposed amendments. Do I have a motion and second in that regard?”

Several voices so moved and seconded. “If no objection is raised then”, Blair paused for a few moments, “then the motion is carried unanimously. Lacking any further business, this meeting is adjourned until November 15, 2017, to take up the Committee reports and any other business that may come before the Committee.”

A gratified expression arose from the delegates as the long first meeting had come to an end.

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