Wednesday, October 28, 2015


If you have been reading my blogs, you know that I sent a survey on constitutional issues to the candidates for President, and that not a single one of them did me or you the courtesy of a reply.

Now I have installed that same survey on the Convention USA web site, and I am inviting all of my blogees and blogettes to speak up on these same issues.

Simply go to and click on the “SPEAK UP” button and you will be taken to the 23 question survey.  We don’t ask for personal information other than age and sex, so you are not going to be flooded with emails or solicitations if you take the survey.

I don’t think the survey is biased either to the left or to the right. We are talking about basic structural issues having to do with the operation of the government and the relationship between the nation and state governments.

From time to time, I will report to you how the voting is going, so that together we can see if there is any chance of public consensus on these important constitutional issues.

Right now, I want to talk a little about just one of the questions which might, at first glance, leave some folks scratching their head.

Question #8 asks this:

Would you favor an amendment prohibiting voting for more than one member of the House of representatives?

Of course today, no one can vote for more than one Representative because House members are chosen from single member districts. So the only reason for the one vote rule is that, when gerrymandering is abolished, there will be many districts entitled to multiple representatives.

So here is the problem: let’s say that a county is entitled to elect 20 members of Congress. And let’s say that the county is 80% Democrat and 20% Republican. If every voter can vote for 20 candidates, all 20 Democrats will receive 80% of the vote and all 20 Republicans will get 20%.

If, however, voters can vote for only one candidate, Democrat candidates will receive an average of 4% of the vote (80% divided by 20 candidates) and Republicans will receive an average of  1% of the vote (20% divided by 20 candidates.)

If the Republicans only nominate five candidates, however, those five will average 4% of the vote, just as the Democrats.

The same math applies obviously to any minority in a large district. If the minority fields only a few candidates, they will have a strong possibility of winning at least a few seats.

My friend Larry Lessig, the brilliant Harvard Professor and political gadfly who is running for the Democratic Presidential nomination, endorses abolishing gerrymandered single member districts, but his solution to voting in multi-seat districts is a novel form of ranked voting. In addition to the fact that it adds an arcane factor to the counting of votes, it really doesn’t prevent the evils of slate voting, as the least popular candidate of the majority will still receive more votes than the most popular minority.

I appreciate the fact that this discussion is technical and for most folks, boring; about as titillating as watching a math teacher drawing boxes and triangles on the blackboard to explain the Pythagorean Theorem.    

But the fact is that we are talking here about the Constitution; the Supreme Law of the Land; the Charter of our liberties. This is not a place to struggle for power or superiority. This is an exercise in seeking agreement on a system; a system that works, even handedly and fairly, no matter who is currently on top of the political heap.

Tonight we will be treated to the third Republican Primary debate. Looks like this time, Ben Carson will be in the middle. I have tweeted all the moderators of the debate, urging them, at least, to ask the candidates if they favor a convention to propose amendments that Congress refuses to consider.

Hardly the kind of emotion laden “gotcha” question most moderators like to ask. Still, some of us would like to know.


Monday, October 26, 2015


The Founders of our nation knew that the love of power is a natural human tendency. They knew from history that people who gain power rarely relinquish it voluntarily and almost always try to extend it.

So it is with the United States House of Representatives. Despite the fact that the Constitution commands that the House expand proportionally to the population of the nation at every census, members of Congress have, for more than one hundred years, frozen the size of that august body at 435.

Why limit the Congress to 435 Representatives? Is it logical to say “because that is the size of the chamber”?  Or, “because that’s all the chairs or desks we have”? Of course not.

The size of the House has been frozen at 435 for one reason and one reason only: because those 435 people do not want to share their power with anyone else. They want to stay in office; they want to gain seniority, they want to get key committee assignments and party offices. And they want the power that comes with those jobs.

The alienation of the American people from their government can be largely traced to this one big power grab. By freezing the size of the House, members have assured that their constituencies get bigger every year. Bigger constituencies mean more expensive elections. And that means more money has to be raised.  

Some years ago the United States Supreme Court pompously announced that the principle of one-man-one-vote must be observed in all federal and state elections. The result has been some very preposterous practices.

Gerrymandering has become a fine art. New York recently reapportioned its Congressional delegation to a standard of plus or minus one person. That is a totally fictional exercise: the census tracts they used were already two years old and were not that accurate to begin with.

And ridiculously, despite such silly hyper-technicality in many states, the actual distribution of seats in the House of Representative is grossly disproportioned when considered State by State. Thus there are 7 States with delegations below 90% of the norm and 4 States whose delegations are above 110% of the norm.

The Founders originally proposed that the House of Representatives consist of one representative for every 50,000 people. That proposal, known as Article the First, was never ratified, and Congress was left to determine the ratio.

Of course, the Founders had no idea that the nation would one day claim a population of 308 millions of people. As a practical matter, the 50,000 ratio would require a very large assembly and would have great difficulty winning popular approval.

But there is another approach, which has been discussed for years. It’s called the Wyoming Plan. The Constitution requires that each State have at least one representative in the House. Since Wyoming has the smallest population, it is logical to use the population of Wyoming as the base for calculating the size of the House.

Fair enough, simple enough. The difficulty is that merely dividing the population of each State by the population of Wyoming results a whole number followed by decimals. What do you do with the decimals?

This question typically leads to two answers: either Wyoming gets one Congress member because its population equals 51% of the norm, or because its population equals 151% of the norm. Putting it another way, either Wyoming gets one member because its population is the bare minimum required, or Wyoming gets only one member because its population is not quite large enough to warrant two members.

I call these three options Half Wyoming, Double Wyoming and Straight Wyoming. Half Wyoming would actually reduce the size of the House to 273 members; Double Wyoming would increase the House to 814; and Straight Wyoming would increase the House to 546.

The United Kingdom has a House of Commons consisting of 650 members representing a population of 64 million. Canada’s 35 million are represented by 338 members of their House of Commons. Both of those nations are seven times more democratic than the good old USA.

And just what are our illustrious Presidential candidates saying about that?


Friday, October 23, 2015


Back in August, I sent a certified letter to all of the active Presidential candidates. I enclosed a survey consisting of 23 questions about reform of our American Constitution.

They were all important questions about the future of our nation. They were important questions about fixing the culture of politics in the nation’s capital: how to deal with the national debt, how to get our Supreme Court out of Politics; how to break the stranglehold that big money interests have on our government.

I tried to make it easy for them. Each package included an extra copy of the survey and a self addressed, stamped envelope to return the original when filled out.

Only one of the 23 candidates responded. Donald Trump.

Mr. Trump’s staff used my postage stamp to send me a nice form letter thanking me for supporting his campaign, assuring me that he is interested in whatever I am interested in, and enclosing a TRUMP bumper sticker.


Millions, billions, of dollars are being spent on the 2016 Presidential campaign. Hours and hours of television are being consumed by talk shows, interviews, advertising and debates. To what end?

Have the American people completely given up on democracy? Have we completely abandoned the idea that we are a free people, competent to select representatives who can make the laws that protect our lives, our liberty and our pursuit of happiness?

Are we so supine and indifferent to our welfare, security and happiness; so ignorant of our history, so distracted from our civic duties, that we want only a chance to wrangled over who will be our imperial leader?

I watch the parade of those candidates – from both major political parties – and I hear them ticking off all the problems with our government, all the real and imaginary difficulties associated with living in the United States, all the challenges we face as a nation, and the only solution anyone proposes is “elect me, “ “I will be your leader,” “I can fix everything.”

Election of an American President has become the ultimate ‘Mister or Miss America Contest.” All that matters is popularity. All that matters is “Who do you like?” It’s a vast, nationwide, two year reality show.

The talking heads on television are making a lot of noise about “outsider” candidates, the point being that the public seems to be more interested in electing a President who has never held public office than a President who has been a professional politician.

It’s sort of like people on a bus who have no idea where they are going, and all they want is to get someone to drive the bus who has never driven a bus before.

Isn’t it time to return to first principles? Who decides the laws? What laws should be national and which should be left to the States? How should we elect Congress Members and how should they function? Who decides to send our young people into battle? Can the Supreme Court amend the Constitution?

The great French Philosopher, Alexis de Tocqueville, warned us against the “despotism of democratic nations” that arises when government imposes a network of small, complicated rules which can boggle the best of minds and stupefy the people, leading them to think that they can preserve their freedom simply by electing a new set of masters.

De Tocqueville believed that democracies only last until the people decide that they can vote themselves rich. A constitution that is nothing more than a grant of absolute power to a ruling class of political elite is not a constitution at all: it is no longer the Supreme Law of the land given by the sovereign hand of the whole people and confirmed by each generation’s conscious decision not to change its words.

Can we not agree to ask our candidates for President this one simple question: DO YOU SUPPORT A CONVENTION TO PROPOSE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS THAT THE CONGRESS REFUSES TO CONSIDER?

Sunday, October 18, 2015


On Friday, October 9th, I drove my little Pontiac G 6 down to Lansing and had dinner with Tom.  Mostly, we talked about golf. On Saturday, we were a two man team in the Walnut Hills Fall Invitational Tournament.

We teed off in a two man scramble format at ten AM on Saturday. Amidst many familiar faces and much fellowship, Tom and I played well – 73 gross, 66 net, earning a three way tie for first place in our flight.

We went to Saturday evening Mass at Saint Thomas, ran into some old friends and made some new ones. Then back to Tom’s for an early bedtime.
Sunday would be a two man best ball, and we both had to be sharp.

I learned a very important lessen that night: Never take a laxative before bedtime, especially when you are playing golf the next day. About 3 AM, scrambling out of bed in the dark, I fell against a bedside table and broke, or at least cracked, a rib on my left side.

Sunday morning was a time for decision. Should I just pack up and drive back to Harbor Springs? Should I go to Emergency at Sparrow Hospital and get an X-Ray? In either case, we would have to go over to Walnut Hills and get my golf clubs. So we went.

My clubs were already loaded on the cart with Tom’s. Just on a hunch, I pulled out the seven iron and took a couple of practice swings. Easy ones. Then I went down to the range and hit a couple of balls. Not bad. I hunted up Doctor Tim McKenna who was also playing in the event. He applied pressure on my side and asked me to breathe deeply. I asked if he thought I could play. His counsel: “If it hurts don’t do it.”

I told Tom I would give it a try, but didn’t know if I could finish the round. We agreed that I should get a second golf cart, so that if I decided to quit at any time, I could leave the course, and he could finish alone.

Our shotgun start was on the tenth hole, a long par four, that runs from the parking lot almost to the club entrance on Lake Lansing Road. After hitting a driver and two fairway woods, my ball was just off the green on the right. I skulled a chip shot and watched the ball roll over the elevated left side of the putting surface. 

Upset with my effort, I jumped into the golf cart, and drove quickly around the front of the green, and onto some rough about three feet left of the green.

I never saw the sand trap. The right front and rear wheels were in the rough. The left wheels went into the trap. It was deep. The face of the trap was at perhaps as much as six feet. I was thrown out of the cart and down into the sand, where I was pinned down by the overturned vehicle.

They say that at times like that, a person’s whole life flashes before their eyes. The only thought I recall having was a sense of  surprise that I was about to die in most unusual and morbidly comical circumstances.

I never lost consciousness. I remember calling for help. Shortly, Tom Jr., Robin Omer and his partner, Keith Froelich, were lifting the cart off of me, Someone called 911.

EMS arrived in an instantaneous eternity, and the men promptly did what they do so very well. Lifted from the sand on a stretcher, I was hustled into the ambulance and taken to Sparrow. Listening to the crisp, professional reports of the first responders to the emergency room, I began to understand why there were no sirens.

I spent the next four days as a guest of Sparrow hospital. Dr. Mike Clarke stopped by. He remembered seeing me there some years ago when I broke a rib trying to maneuver a heavy outdoor barbecue onto a raised deck. My daughter in law, Catherine, works at Sparrow. She made me feel very special. So did my daughter, Ellen.

I didn’t want to scare Polly; didn’t want her to drive down from Harbor Springs, alone and in a panic. I had Tom call her and hand me the phone. I tried to sound O.K. and assured her that I would be home the next day. I don’t think she believed me. Tom drove my Pontiac north and brought Polly back immediately in her car. I was glad to see her.

Sparrow did a thorough job, with scans and x-rays and monitors of all sorts.
The conclusion: no broken bones except the ribs from my Saturday night spill. No internal bleeding. Multiple contusions, abrasions and a deep puncture wound on the left foot.

Funny how the worst kind of bad luck can feel like the best kind of good luck. On the upside, Father Charlie Irvin came, brought Communion, heard my confession and administered the last sacraments. 

I may not be ready for golf for a while, but I feel like I am ready for some more of the wondrous gift of life. Even with the five inches of snow on the back deck. And even with the Wolverines in the lead, on offense, and ten seconds to play. There is always hope.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


My darling wife is fond of saying that the biggest decision she ever made was to marry me. She has spent a lifetime assiduously trying to justify the wisdom of that decision by making me look good. Nothing escapes her watchful eye. What I wear, what I eat, what I say; everything must pass inspection.

Well, almost everything. There are times when I help myself to another piece of fudge. And there are times – not many – when I put up a blog she doesn’t buy.

Like the one just before this one, called COMING OUT.

She fears that I am getting overly worked up about the Kim Davis matter, the Obergefell case and the whole business of the LBGT political movement.

Mostly, she fears that my preaching, even though it is mostly to the choir, will mark me as a homophobe – whatever that is – and somehow marginalize everything else I have to say about life, love and politics.

I hope she isn’t right about that. Maybe I am just too idealistic, but I can’t give up on the notion that the public policy of of our nation can be discussed by people of goodwill with courtesy and without resorting to ad hominem personal attacks.

Oh sure, the temptation to shrug the shoulders and say “What is, is” has a strong pull for all of us. Especially when our convictions put us at odds with friends, relatives and relatives of friends. Seems like, despite the miniscule statistics, everybody knows somebody who is gay.

But pubic policy in a republic should reflect what the majority of the people believe, and the only time the majority does not rule is when the majority has surrendered its absolute political power by means of  a written constitution adopted by a super majority that is more nearly the voice of ALL the people.

Wise public policy is not merely the product of public opinion, although the gut feelings of the majority is a factor. Good laws should follow good science and solid logic as well as statistical approval.

If we take biology out of the marriage equation, there ought, at least, be some logical reason for doing so. The Supreme Court seems to be telling us that the Fourteenth Amendment has, imbedded within it, a fundamental human right as sacrosanct as freedom of speech and freedom of religion: freedom of sex.

Enshrined by judicial inference in the supreme law of the land, this new constitutional right is undefined. Does it encompass everything that the proponents of the LGBT community advocate?

By what line of reasoning are laws prohibiting under age marriages to be judged? What logic supports the constitutionality of laws forbidding bestiality? How can government prohibit marriage between cousins, siblings, parents and children?

And since the ‘B’ in LGBT stands for bisexual, is there now a constitutional right to tripartite marriage contracts?

How can polygamy, prostitution and pediphilia be outlawed without infringing on the constitutional freedom of sex?

The history of the adoption and subsequent amendment of our federal constitution is a chronicle of proposal, debate, and compromise involving what George Washington called the explicit and authentic acts of the whole people.

The approval of the narrow majority of a single vote on a panel of nine unelected officials hardly meets those criteria. If there is to be a constitutional right defining freedom of sex in America it should, at the very minimum be openly and vigorously discussed and debated in the blogesphere.

So, dear wife, I apologize for overriding your wise and loving counsel. I just felt it had to be said.