The New Hampshire House of Representatives (all 400 of them!) will debate a resolution tomorrow to exercise NH’s power to call on Congress to convene an Article V convention. This is an important decision for New Hampshire. I just hope the confused rhetoric of the John Birch Society doesn’t confuse the issue. 

Article V of our Constitution governs the procedures for amending the constitution. The original draft of that provision gave Congress the exclusive role in proposing amendments. On September 15, 1787, George Mason raised an obvious objection: What if Congress itself is the problem? That led the framers to add a second path in the amendment process: State legislatures can demand (if 2/3ds so vote) that Congress “call a Convention for proposing Amendments.” Those proposals are only valid if 3/4ths of the states (38) ratify them.

The John Birch Society has long opposed this bit of the framers’ design. Their fear is that a “constitutional convention” could “run away” (which is code for the idea that it could change the constitution). That was the view expressed by one NH representative to a constituent in an email that I saw. As that representative wrote:

"If a constitutional convention is begun, the entire constitution is open for adding, removing, or changing amendments. Are you willing to risk the loss of some of your constitutional rights" 

But this is just a confusion. Yes, of course, according to our tradition, a “constitutional convention” has the power to “alter or abolish” a Constitution. That was the premise of the Declaration of Independence. And that’s a good reason to fear such a beast.

But Article V has nothing to do with a “constitutional convention.” Its focus is a “Convention for proposing Amendments.” And if the English language has any meaning, a “Convention for proposing Amendments” is not a “convention with the power to adopt amendments” (i.e., a “constitutional convention”). It is instead a convention with a precisely limited scope: the power to “propose amendments.” 

"But," I’ve been asked, "what if the convention proposed some crazy amendment?"

Fair question. Let’s do the math: 

It takes 38 states to ratify an amendment to the Constitution. That means the vote of one chamber in 13 states could block any amendment to the Constitution. 

According to Wikipedia, there are 27 double Red states in America  — meaning states whose legislature is controlled by Republicans — and 18 double Blue states in America — meaning states whose legislature is controlled by Democrats.

To fear some “crazy amendment” from the Right, you’d have to believe that we couldn’t find 13 chambers among the 18 double Blue states to vote against it. Or to fear some “crazy amendment” from the Left, you’d have to believe that they couldn’t find 13 chambers among the 27 double Red states to vote against it. 

Those are possibilities, of course. But in my view, they less likely than world peace and an end to unemployment happening next Wednesday. Maybe, but it seems INCREDIBLY remote. 

On the other hand, what isn’t incredibly remote is the possibility that our government will fail if we don’t find a way to address the system of corruption that now infects it. That, in my view, isn’t a hypothetical. That is a certainty. 

The call for an Article V convention is supported by sane souls on the Right (see Convention of the States). It is supported by sane souls on the Left (see Wolf-PAC). (Not that either side of that divide would necessarily agree with my characterization of the other, but that’s my view).

It’s my hope that New Hampshire will join this mix.

After all, the New Hampshire Constitution expressly protects the right to revolution. The power to propose amendments, by contrast, is pretty tame standing next to that express guarantee. If any state should understand the difference, New Hampshire certainly should. 


http://globochem.tumblr.com/post/78118887968/phoenix-side-with-lawrence-lessig-on-lisztomania

globochem:

Phoenix Side With Lawrence Lessig On “Lisztomania” Fair Use Lawsuit

Yup. This is all about that video I made. This whole thing is wonderful and crazy, not to mention pretty historical for the internet. Check it out.

Here’s what happened, as explained by The Sydney…

From the creator of the original video.


ONE OF THE GREAT BEAUTIES OF THE DIGITAL ERA IS TO LIBERATE SPONTANEOUS CREATIVITY - IT MIGHT BE A CHAOTIC SPACE OF FREE ASSOCIATION SOMETIMES BUT THE CONTEMPORARY EXPERIENCE OF DIGITAL RE-MEDIATION IS ENORMOUSLY LIBERATING.

WE DON’T FEEL THE LEAST ALIENATED BY THIS;

APPROPRIATION AND RECONTEXTUALIZATION IS A LONG-STANDING BEHAVIOR THAT HAS JUST BEEN MADE EASIER AND MORE VISIBLE BY THE UBIQUITY OF INTERNET. IN A FEW WORDS:

WE ABSOLUTELY SUPPORT FAIR USE OF OUR MUSIC, AND WE CAN ONLY ENCOURAGE A NEW COPYRIGHT POLICY THAT PROTECTS FAIR USE AS MUCH AS EVERY CREATORS’ LEGITIMATE INTERESTS.

PHOENIX on the right to remix

from their blog.

Bravo. This, in the end, is the only “victory” that matters, because copyright is for artists. 


One year ago today, I presented “We the People, and the Republic We Must Reclaim” at TED. 1.2 million views later, I’m celebrating in three great ways.

  1. There’s a now a print edition of the companion book that I wrote to expand on the talk: image(Thanks to Jin Suk for the fantastic cover design.)
  2. There’s a new free podcast of me reading the companion book.
  3. Republic, Lost, which was the foundation for the talk and the new book, is now #cc licensed. You can download it freely here. Please share it well.  

Thanks to everyone for the incredible feedback on the talk, and the endless help to spread these ideas — by TED of course, but by many others too. 

Here again is the TED talk:


Hey TransUnion: Exactly why do I need to “click” to protect my ID on your service? Shouldn’t you be doing the clicking, if you’re going to be handling all that personal data of mine? 

Hey TransUnion: Exactly why do I need to “click” to protect my ID on your service? Shouldn’t you be doing the clicking, if you’re going to be handling all that personal data of mine? 


jfklibrary:

This morning, the world learned of the passing of legendary folk singer Pete Seeger. Take a look at this letter from Seeger to President Kennedy in March of 1961. Seeger was facing trial for contempt of Congress after refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. As a fellow Harvard classmate, Seeger was appealing to the President for help.

(From the White House Central Name File, Box 2513, JFK Library)


We were incredibly fortunate in New Hampshire with press. Every paper covered it, we got tons of TV time, and lots of radio. (You can see links to them all here). And beyond New Hampshire, we had some great coverage — Diane Rehm, The New Republic, even Le Monde. But I am very happy to see this piece that will run this weekend on Bill Moyers. Happy, and very proud to see my friends who I very much miss. 

If you want to watch the old fashioned way, you can find times when the show will be played here


Today, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)  stands with House hero, John Sarbanes (D-MD), to introduce the Government By the People Act. After years of struggling, finally the Democrats (and at least one Republican) have lined up behind a fundamental reform of the campaign finance system. Small bore is out; fundamental reform is in. Congratulations to the Leader, and all who pushed the Democrats to lead (and at the very top of that list is Arnold Hiatt who has been fighting this fight for more than 18 years — see the story in the last chapter of Republic, Lost).

But a nagging bit to this debate remains: What is the problem that the Government By the People Act is meant to solve?

Last Thursday, Jon Stewart called it “corruption.” But Leader Pelosi denied it. “The system isn’t corrupt,” she told Stewart. “There is corruption in the system …” (watch beginning circa 5:50)

I can’t for the life of me understand why this incredible woman continues to insist on calling pure a system which obviously is not. Why, in other words, she insists on believing that the only way to use the word “corruption” is to speak of corrupt individuals.

But it seems that since time immemorial, Members of Congress (and the Supreme Court: see the upcoming decision in McCutcheon v. FEC) have been divided between those who see corruption in the system, and those who think the only kind of corruption possible is the corruption of individuals. 

Senator McConnell — like Pelosi? and Justice Scalia? — is a corruption skeptic. Here he is in October, 1999, on the floor of the Senate, challenging John McCain who had begun to frame his presidential campaign around the “corruption” of “the system”: 

McCain v. McConnell (4) from lessig on Vimeo.

McCain responded in what to these ears sounds like a perfectly true reply: 

McCain v. McConnell on Corruption (1) from lessig on Vimeo

But McConnell (at least acts as if he) didn’t understand it. He asks again (and here you see him trying out for a part in Austin Powers): 

McCain v. McConnell (3) from lessig on Vimeo

McCain loses his patience for a second (“either the Senator from Kentucky did not listen to what I said…”) but then recovers beautifully: 

McCain v. McConnell (2) from lessig on Vimeo

And then Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN) tries focus the debate with a great question — leading McConnell to a classic “oops-not-really-what-I-meant-to-say” moment (“I’m extremely grateful that these companies are giving us the opportunity to engage in vote buying” [sic])

McConnell on Votebuying (oops) from lessig on Vimeo

But no one makes this point more clearly and powerfully than the late Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN), as he responds to the squabble between McCain and McConnell about the meaning of the word “corruption.” And this is the clip that the Minority Leader really needs to watch: 

Wellstone on the meaning of “corruption” from lessig on Vimeo

Amen, brother. We miss you. We need more to listen to your words.


#NHRebellion put together a “Superbowl Ad,” about our 185-mile journey to fight systemic corruption. Plz share. #NHR http://thndr.it/1e8TAGw

#NHRebellion put together a “Superbowl Ad,” about our 185-mile journey to fight systemic corruption. Plz share. #NHR http://thndr.it/1e8TAGw


On the first day, a backpack with a GoPro, a projector, and a bunch of electronics (total about $1500) disappeared. Reminding us all: Don’t put all your electronics in a single backpack. 


The #NHRebellion walk is over. Sadness follows. It was an incredible team that walked more than 6,400 miles in aggregate, and I miss them already. After I catch my breath, I’ll write about what I learned. For now: stuff you can’t see from in front of a computer screen. 



Posts I Liked on Tumblr