23 March 2015

Update no.692

Update from the Heartland
16.3.15 – 22.3.15
To all,

The orbit of Mother Earth reached the vernal equinox at 22:45 UTC/GMT {17:45 [S] CDT], Friday, 20.March.2015.  It is officially springtime . . . at least in astronomical terms.  Happy Spring to all.  In addition, Europeans experienced a solar eclipse from 07:41 UTC to 11:50 UTC on Friday, with the full solar umbra tracking across the Faroe Islands, Norway.

Republicans in the Kansas Legislature are reportedly considering whether the state will join the constitutional convention movement.
“States urged to call for convention amending U.S. Constitution”
by Brad Cooper
Wichita Eagle
Published: 03/20/2015 4:25 PM, Updated: 03/21/2015 7:32 AM
Article V of the Constitution requires Congress to call for a constitutional convention upon application by the legislatures of 2/3 of the states (34).  Any amendment to the Constitution from such a convention would require 3/4 of the states (38) [assumed to be state legislatures, rather than by public vote] to ratify the change(s).  The professed public rationale for a constitutional convention cover numerous populist topics, including:
Fiscal constraints on federal spending,
Balanced budget,
Term limits for Congress, or
Constraints upon election donations and spending to override the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling [558 U.S. 310 (2010)] [424].
The potential scope of a constitutional convention would become a topic for vigorous public debate and undoubtedly for legal challenge.  Article V provides very little guidance beyond the use of the words “. . . for proposing Amendments . . . ,” id est, what does ‘amendments’ mean?  Given the precedent of the 13th Amendment, which superseded (voided) Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3, of the original Constitution (1788), constraints upon a constitutional convention would be hard to imagine.  Thus, in this debate, we must assume there are no boundaries since none are defined by the Constitution, id est, a properly convened constitutional convention could rewrite the entire document.  There is little, if any, doubt the constitutional convention method of amending (or rewriting) the Constitution is the business of the states – not the people, other than via their elected representatives.  This opens the entire money dimension – who can buy the most influence on the process.  Further, given the penchant of social conservatives within this Grand Republic, we must consider the potential that a constitutional convention might well choose to address matters of contemporary political contention, exempli gratia:
Citizen’s privacy rights (if any),
Establishment of a State religion,
Term limits for or election of the Judiciary,
Personhood defined as the instant of conception,
Apportionment, or
a host of morality issues, like marriage, sexuality, life style choices, pornography, death with dignity, obscenity, prostitution, psychotropic substance consumption, gun rights, et cetera ad infinitum ad nauseum.
The number of states who have already made application is rather confusing.  According to the Cooper article, three state legislatures have passed bills of application calling for a constitutional convention – Georgia, Florida and Alaska; and, 26 other states, including Kansas, are considering bills of application.  Other sources suggest the 34-state threshold was crossed in 2010, when Michigan submitted an application.  The difficulty here rests upon how that count is determined and what the rules are for the process.  To my knowledge and a search of the Internet, Congress has not yet called for a constitutional convention.  Further, it is not clear who exactly is the keeper of the official count.  At the end of the day, a constitutional convention is a really bad idea and fraught with risks of incalculable dimensions.  Risking the very foundation of this Grand Republic, because foolish ideologues never learned the art of compromise, has zero appeal for me.  In this instance, stalemate is better than trusting the very politicians who brought us to this sad state of affairs to fix things.  Eventually, we will find leaders who appreciate the value and meaning of the words negotiation and compromise.

News from the economic front:
-- Sveriges Riksbank, Sweden's central bank, lowered its benchmark rate to minus 0.25% from minus 0.1%, and the bank indicated it would buy government bonds worth kr30B (US$3.45B) to counter recent krona appreciation.
-- The Federal Reserve concluded its scheduled two-day meeting and dropped the word ‘patient’ from its public announcement, which many believe signals the Fed’s willingness to raise short-term interest rates by midyear, but offered several reasons it is still in no great rush to do so.  The Fed also indicated it would raise rates when it is reasonably confident that low inflation is on track to return to its 2% target and as long as the job market continues to improve.

Comments and contributions from Update no.691:
Comment to the Blog:
“I am not an aviation aficionado; however, I am a renewable power student and enthusiast. The import of the Solar Impulse 2 for me is the solar cells and especially the batteries that will meet this high demand. I have not been able to find useful technical information about either during a casual search. Airborne flight, as I am sure you know, is a larger energy challenge than any other means of transport. Meeting that challenge should produce further progress in batteries and solar power collection.
“If the Logan Act of 1799 remains valid and enforceable, it should be enforced on the 47 Senators who have openly violated it. Probably it has not needed enforcement before. Few of the powerful are so brash. The current Congress may have the most arrogantly foolhardy majority in history.
“Marijuana came to Wichita, Kansas, long ago. Decriminalization may be on its way.
“We shall see over time what results from the Fed's stress test. As we have seen in the past, the big banks have ways of changing outcomes.”
My response to the Blog:
            Re: Solar Impulse 2.  Well said.  I expect efforts and achievements like this endeavor will help us along the way to weaning ourselves off fossil fuels.
            Re: Logan Act.  Yes, certainly, the law should be enforced or repealed.  I am disappointed the more experienced members did not rein in such a young, foolish, freshman senator.  There have always been firebrands in Congress, but in the past, their ardor was sufficiently dampened.
            Re: drugs.  Yes, and I shall vote for this small baby step on the path to more reasonable treatment of consumption of psychotropic substances including THC.
            Re: big banks.  You are probably correct, but I hope not.

My very best wishes to all.  Take care of yourselves and each other.
Cap                        :-)