We live in desperate times. We live in a time of great opportunities. Our world is out of control. We have never had more knowledge or better tools for bringing it under control. We have never had more laws, more regulations, more taxes, more spending, more intrusive government, ….

So on Thursday, August 28, 2014 @ 7 PM. we have been invited to hear a discussion of a very interesting proposal to scrap unneeded laws and regulations, cut taxes and spending, reduce the size of government, ….

Here is a note I received to today from Delegate Bob Marshall.


Mike Farris and I will debate whether or not we should hold a national convention (with delegates from every state), under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, to propose amendments that will make changes to our United States Constitution.

Both of us have researched this issue in depth and have reached opposite conclusions. I will argue that states should not petition Congress to call such a Convention for the purpose of amending (changing) the Constitution. Mike Farris will argue that we should.

Please join us if you can, and listen to both sides of the argument. There will be an opportunity for the audience to have their questions answered. The debate will take place on Thursday evening, August 28, from 7:00-9:00 PM at Colgan Hall on the campus of the Northern Virginia Community College located at 6901 Sudley Rd. Manassas, VA 20109. I look forward to seeing you there!


Delegate Bob Marshall

Although I have great respect for Delegate Marshall, I have been swinging over to the idea of a Convention of the states.  To see why, here are several posts I have written on the subject.

Nevertheless, I look forward to hearing the debate. Hard to imagine people better equipped for presenting each side of the argument.


  1. I associate conservatism with progress. If you and Keith do not, I respect your right to a different opinion.

    Keith puzzles me a bit here, because he seems to be saying he favors a tax structure that subsidizes the wealthy, a position that I regard that a kind of statist interference with markets that conservatives generally abhor. Again, the problem of self-labelling rears its ugly head.

    The flat tax movement is not a “liberal” or “progressive” (in the current faddish sense) movement. It is based on equity and ensuring that the dead hand of taxation has minimal impacts on the economic vitality of a free society. That Keith favors tax subsidies and supports for certain sectors marks him as a command economy statist. He and I part company on this.


  2. Again, Keith, I think you confuse me for someone else. I favor comprehensive federal tax reform to eliminate the current graduated system in favor of some variation of a “flat” tax (or at least a lot “flatter” than what we have now) and I have never been particularly enamored of the idea of “graduated” taxation, at least not of personal incomes. I would much rather see Gates and Buffett pay 15% of their total income (with no exemptions or adjustments) in taxes along with the guy who works at my neighborhood coffee shop. I am definitely not in favor of capital gains tax increases and believe that corporate income tax rates should be radically reduced to globally competitive levels, and, eventually, assuming other tax reforms can be effected, phased out.

    So, to whom were your referring in your last comment? Beats me. But I join you in thinking that they are hopelessly out of touch with the realities of the modern world, including the complete failure of Marxism as a political philosophy.


    1. Oh, yes. You want a “flatter” tax so that job creators can pay their fair share. And you’d eliminate all deductions to make job creation as unattractive as possible. It is interesting that you describe Marxism as a “complete failure” considering its tremendous popularity in the West, including within European and American academia. But you push his notions in your own subtle way.

      I wonder about your ideas of reducing the corporate tax rates, since your plan is to harvest more revenue (by percentage) from job creators.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


    2. Since Keith’s thunder is quiet sufficient, I have little to say. I will just add this observation. In an earlier comment, scout said this.

      I think we’re all for progress.

      If we each have a different definition of what constitutes progress, I think not.

      In a free country, we have a right to the pursuit of happiness. We have the same basic needs, but after that we may have very ideas about that which we should devote our lives. And it is for that reason we need to limit the power of government. Otherwise, those who see progress (and happiness) as progressively acquiring more and more power will interfere with the rights of others.


  3. I think if you read my comment (I’m thinking of trying pictograms), you’d find that I believe political conservatism to have been a major progressive force in the growth of human liberty over the past two and a half centuries. Nothing wrong with the word “progressive”. I think we’re all for progress. You perhaps trip yourself up, Keith, because you accede to modern Democratic operatives high-jacking of the word to use as a substitute for “liberal” in its modern American sense. I’m not as manipulable semantically as you are, apparently. I won’t cede the meaning of the word to the label-makers at DNC. I think it is a positive, perfectly good word to describe the power of conservative thought.

    And, no, I don’t view the national Constitution as an arbitrary imposition on the People. I view it as the keystone element, along with the rule of law, an educated citizenry and a culture of tolerance, in the protection of individual liberties. I have not researched whether you correctly describe Woodrow Wilson’s views of the document. However, if you have done so, my views are quite the opposite of Wilson’s on that particular point.


    1. Progressive conservatism is not a phrase I coined or even used in my response to you; it would evidently pain you greatly to admit that.

      It is, indeed, a movement in the US of leftists posing as Republicans or “No Party” voters to raise taxes and end what they call “subsidies” to job creators, by jacking up capital gains and income taxes on the high end — “progressive” income taxes, just as Karl Marx suggested. You’ve found a philosophy that fits you well. It it, of course, poisonous to the US, but I can see why you’d like it.

      And that “modern Democratic operatives” you refer to were Republicans and Democrats beginning in the 1880s, though in the last century it has been mostly Democrats.

      You can make up your own private definitions for words if you like, deciding that YOU are going to use in your mind what it used to mean, or what it means outside of politics. But this will make conversation difficult, as there are billions of usages of the word to mean the venomous (or sainted, for folks like you) use of Marxist approaches to attack what is considered “class structure” and damage this country, substituting progressive statism for individual liberty.

      Many don’t realize what they are doing when they support progressive causes. Perhaps that includes you, but you give much reason to doubt.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


  4. “progressive conservative” is a nice descriptor, Keith. Thank you for that. I think we can agree on this point. I have always viewed traditional conservatism as a progressive force that has freed man from the shackles of arbitrary, irrational rule and placed structures in the way of tyranny (political and otherwise) over basic human liberties. Conservatism (as I understand and practice it) is indeed, as you suggest, a most progressive force that has done much to advance the cause of liberty over the past 250 years.


    1. James 3:8 New King James Version (NKJV)

      8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

      So you like that oxymoron? The harm we can do with a single word is amazing.

      Since most social changes create trouble, Conservatives tend to view what passes for social progressivism with suspicion. That includes Burke/Mill/Kirk/ Buckley/Goldwater/Reagan Conservatives.

      Since Liberal Democrats almost suicidally embrace what they call change, to call them “traditional progressives” would be equally ridiculous. But if ridiculous is what you wish to be, then ridiculous is what you will be.


    2. Quoth scout: ““progressive conservative” is a nice descriptor, Keith. Thank you for that.”

      I did not use this phrase, and would not. You are misstating another’s words again. Couldn’t you get through a whole comment without doing this?

      You seem quite comfortable with the word “progressive,” despite this word having been (in the US) strongly associated with the progressive movement, which has been the poisonous driver of the degradation of the US’s governance over the last century and a quarter.

      You’re almost quoting Woodrow Wilson — a fierce opponent of the Constitution as an embodiment of the “shackles of arbitrary, irrational rule.” He fought against the checks and balances in particular, and called them far too binding upon “a vigorous executive.”

      Not surprising that you’d evince a fondness for progressivism, really, but it rather busts your pretense at Constitutional conservatism. That pretense is so completely busted here that I could understand your abandoning it — but you continue to try to sow confusion among people who are not used to your clouds of ink as disguise.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


  5. Dear Citizen Tom,

    I am glad to see that neither side in the debate is using the phrase “Constitutional Convention.” That term is wrong, but even well-meaning folks use it.

    Article V gives the process a name: It is a “Convention for Proposing Amendments.” And as abundantly discussed, it cannot be stopped by Congress nor does it have any power nor ability to replace the Constitution.

    Unquestionably, and sadly, if we were to craft a Constitution from scratch we’d create an abomination. But by narrowly pitting states’ interests against the federal leviathan, and using the existing structure with amendments supported by largely conservative legislatures, we have a shot at making real improvements.

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


    1. Marshall usually conducts himself quite honorably. So instead of playing word games, I expect he will content himself by posing reasons even most of the advocates for a Convention of the States would consider reasonable objections.

      As you observed, if we were to craft a Constitution from scratch we’d create an abomination. That’s because too many Americans have lost sight of the moral importance of voluntarily putting the good of others ahead of their own self interest. So we have not elected enough honorable people public office. Therefore, we are reduced to implementing the strategy of pitting state governments against the federal government, which is what the founders expected. We just have to find the gumption to pull it off. Marshall, quite reasonably, doubts we have what it takes.

      With luck and the grace of Gods the states will bring the federal government under control, but like as not future generations will probably find state governments too have grown too strong and the federal too weak. Hopefully, they will be able to resort to Constitutional means to resolve that problem. If we are successful today, we will have shown that is possible.


  6. This has the potential for being very interesting. It makes me very uneasy to find myself agreeing with Bob Marshall on anything, and I suspect we might come to our positions through different reasoning paths (at least I hope we do, given much of Marshall’s past production). Nonetheless, I might try to take this one in.


      1. In the conservative circles I move in, Marshall is generally regarded as an embarrassment who has no real grounding in traditional conservative political philosophy. He has a political schtick that works well enough electorally for him in his district, but it really is a cartoonish version of traditional conservatism. I suppose he can call himself anything he wants, and in most regions in Virginia outside the Beltway, it’s pretty hard to lose votes by self-labelling as a “conservative”, but I do not view him as being even a remote, tiny branch in the Burke/Mill/Kirk/ Buckley/Goldwater/Reagan sense.


        1. I note that when you use the phrase “traditional conservative,” scout, your writings could be made more honest by substituting “progressive.”

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


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