Potomac Chronicle

Is a Constitutional Convention in the Works?

In attacking recent court decisions on gay marriage, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore told reporters, “The moral foundation of our country is under attack. Government has become oppressive.” He went on to urge the nation’s governors to push back by asking their state legislators to call for a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution. Moore is in good company. Faced with issues like balancing the federal budget, protecting gun rights, preserving state prerogatives in health care and insurance, and deciding who gets to marry whom, at least 20 states have already joined the “convention campaign.” 

One of the last pieces of the Constitution that James Madison proposed in 1787 was how to keep the document alive. He was very conscious of the uneasy compromise he and his colleagues were trying to frame throughout the Constitution, and he wanted to make extra sure that there was procedural room that would allow the document to bend without breaking. He was especially conscious of the need to balance national with state power, since the convention in which he was sitting had been called by the states because the Articles of Confederation had crumbled. READ MORE

Poverty Won't Be Solved by Congress

As the Great Recession recedes at a painfully slow pace, the emergent national issues are the twin threats posed by increasing economic inequality and stagnant social mobility—both of them decidedly un-American.

Their emergence comes as we mark the 50th anniversary of the nation’s War on Poverty, the 20th anniversary of the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the inept launch of the first new significant health-care reform effort in decades, and the beginning of the first wave of baby boomers moving into government retirement and health-care programs. All these are interrelated. READ MORE

How the Feds Finally Reduced Crime on Indian Reservations

For residents of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, which stretches across a large swath of the central Dakotas, crime was an enormous problem a few years back. By mid-2008, violence on the 3,500-square-mile reservation was six times the national average. Residents had so little confidence in the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to do anything about it that they often didn’t even bother to report crimes. 

Arnold Schott, both a mayor and coroner on the reservation, said at the time, “I can look out my door [and see] our little kids, 8, 9, 10 or younger” being lured into the drug trade. The director of the tribal health administration, Randy Bear Ribs, agreed that the crime problem was linked to drug and alcohol abuse. The reservation’s chairman, Ron His Horse Is Thunder, added that soaring crime was fueling “a sense of hopelessness.” READ MORE

America Risks Wasting Fracking’s Potential

Late this past summer, my senior biking club pedaled our way 120 miles along the spectacular Pine Creek Rail Trail in north central Pennsylvania’s Tioga County. We stopped in Wellsboro, where the commercial buildings and trendy shops all had been carefully restored and preserved, the Victorian houses were spacious and grand, and the town square and park were perfectly manicured. The roots of its wealth are in the timber industry, which dominated the local economy for a century, from 1820 to 1920. Later, recreational tourism— everything from biking, hiking, fi shing and rafting to snowshoeing and cross-country skiing flourished.

And then came fracking. We had noticed large trucks carrying drilling equipment on the local roads and fi gured they were involved in the relatively new process of hydraulic fracturing—injecting huge amounts of water, sand and toxic chemicals deep into the ground to break up shale formations and free up natural gas and oil. READ MORE

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Angry About Partisan Gridlock in Washington? Blame the States.

Fed up with nonstop congressional gridlock? You’re not alone. A recent poll showed Americans had a higher opinion of root canals, head lice, cockroaches, Brussels sprouts, Genghis Khan and colonoscopies than of Congress. And that was before the government shutdown.

At the height of this fall’s embarrassing crisis, the New York Daily News ran the headline, “D.C. cess-pols shut down government,” to which The Washington Post responded, “The problem with that funny headline: These pols aren’t from D.C.” One Post writer went on to remind America, “You sent these wackos here.” READ MORE