The Lessons of 2010

The Tea Party represents three important issues for the United States (or, indeed, the Untied States): first, a fanatical group which refuses to compromise, a cornerstone of any democratic system; second, the end result of 30 years of Conservative propagada that violates reality in some senses; and third, the natural result of a lazy electorate who allowed popular culture to divert their attention from important political developments. In that way, they are like a child who refuses to read the safety instructions on their new bicycle and ends up in an accident. In that way, the American public deserves everything that’s coming. I hate to say that.

My Proposal for a Twentieth-Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

I stress that this is a first draft. Recent events prompted me to craft such an amendment. Comments and suggestions are welcomed. Feel free to repost, with attribution.

UPDATE – Some edits added.
UPDATE 2 – More edits, comments made at certain points.
UPDATE 3 – Revisions are ongoing. Suggestions welcome.

Most current revision: 17 August 2011.

A Proposed Twentieth-Eighth Amendment

By

Shawn M. Lynch, Ph.D.
( email )

Section One.
The term of office for members of the United States House of Representatives is hereby set at four years, beginning with the next regularly scheduled election following the adoption of this amendment.

No person shall be elected more than four times to the House of Representatives in any 24-year period. All those re-elected at the next regularly scheduled election following the adoption of this amendment, having previously served two or more terms in the House, shall be eligible for re-election no more than two times.

Section Two.
The term of office for members of the United States Senate is hereby set at 8 years, beginning with the regularly scheduled next election following the adoption of this amendment.

No person may be elected or appointed to the Senate for more than three full terms.

Those chosen to fill the final two years of an unexpired term of a predecessor may also serve three full terms.

All those re-elected at the next regularly scheduled election following the adoption of this amendment shall be eligible for re-election only twice.

Section Three.
The term of office of the President of the United States is hereby set at six years, beginning at the next regularly scheduled election following the adoption of this amendment.

No person may be elected president more than one time in any 12-year period.

Section Four.
All federal judges, including those of the Supreme Court, must retire at age 70.

No person may serve more than sixteen years as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. At the expiration of that term, the Chief Justice may remain on the court as an associate justice, unless said justice has reached the age of 70. The President shall recommend a new Chief Justice to the Senate of the United States.

Section Five.
The President shall have the power to dissolve the House of Representatives and call for new elections under the following conditions:

That an action of the House of Representatives, or its lack of action, shall do real and immediate harm to the American people in whole or in part, or to a state or states, or to the economic or security interests of the nation;

Is judged by the Supreme Court of the United States to be in violation of the constitution;

Or the House is unable to elect a Speaker after four weeks from the first assembly of a new Congress;

Or on the advice of the Speaker of the House, or a majority of the members of the House.

The Supreme Court may hear challenges to this dissolution by the Speaker of the House of Representatives or a designated deputy no more than twenty-four hours following the dissolution decree. The court must rule on the constitutionality of the of the dissolution within seventy-two hours of the issuance of the dissolution decree. If no challenge is made, or the Supreme Court attests to the constitutionality of the dissolution, or fails to rule within the deadline, the House shall be immediately dissolved at the expiration of seventy-two hours from the issuance of the dissolution decree.

New elections for members of the House must be held six weeks following the issuance of the dissolution decree. The election shall be held on the Monday of the sixth week. This day shall be designated both a state and a federal holiday.

Members elected shall fill the unexpired term of their predecessors.

Completion of the term of a predecessor does not count for the purposes of term-limits enumerated in this amendment.

[NOTE: I understand this section has raised objections. I do understand the basis for concern. I do believe that an option for the dissolution of the House is necessary if the terms are raised to 4 years. It does not necessarily have to be the President. Perhaps 2/3rds of the state legislatures, or national referendum, or something similar. Perhaps only with the agreement of the Senate, or they could hear the challenge. Suggestions welcome.]

[NOTE: Of course, we could simply adopt a Westminster system. That would solve a lot of problems, I think. It's not perfect of course, and would have to be modified in some ways, but the idea of an independent (or non-partisan) president as head of state and a prime minister/chancellor/premier as head of government is very appealing.]

[ALTERNATE VERSION(S)]
Two-thirds of the state legislatures may dissolve the United States House of Representatives in preparation for an election to be held within six weeks of the date of dissolution.

All those elected at the election following a dissolution shall fill the unexpired terms of their predecessor.

A dissolution motion may be introduced into any state legislature at any time. Once a state legislature has passed a dissolution motion under its normal legislative process, the remaining states have six weeks to adopt the same dissolution motion. Said motion must include a date for a new election, at any time within six weeks of the proposed dissolution. If two-thirds of the state legislatures pass a dissolution motion within six weeks, the House of Representatives shall dissolve forty-eight hours from the enactment of the dissolution motion.

The voters of two-thirds of the states may dissolve the United States House of Representatives or the United States Senate, or both, through a referendum approved by a majority of voters.

Once a referendum has passed in any state, the remaining states have up to one year from the date of the first referendum to endorse a dissolution motion. Said referendum must include a date for a new election, at any time within six weeks of the date of the proposed dissolution.

Any state must hold a referendum vote within two weeks of a dissolution motion achieving the legal and valid signatures of of five percent of voters in that state’s previous presidential election.

Section Six.
All members of both houses of Congress shall be paid solely from the public treasury, and in an amount equal to the average income of all those employed full-time in the United States.

Expenses related to the office of any member, or the President, or the members of the Supreme Court, shall be published in both print and digital form and made available to the public for free.

Appropriate expenses related solely to the function of the office shall be paid from the public treasury. All expenses are subject to judicial review.

The members of the Supreme Court shall be paid an amount annually equal to twice the average income of all those employed full-time in the United States.

The President of the United States shall be paid an amount annually equal to three times the average income of all those employed full-time in the United States.

Congress may not alter this formula for its members, or for the members of the Supreme Court, or for the President.

Any change in this formula must be approved by two-thirds of the state legislatures.

All elected federal office-holders must pay for their own health insurance, out of their salary and not their expenses of office, and may not accept a pension paid from the public treasury.

All pensions currently owed to, or being paid to, current or former members of Congress, former presidents, or former members of the federal courts paid from the public treasury shall be cancelled on the first of January two years following the adoption of this amendment.

If a single-payer or other form of national healthcare is enacted in the future, all federal office holders, whether elected or appointed, must make use of the national healthcare system.

As Commander in Chief, the president shall make use of the healthcare system of the armed forces.

No person who served in federal or state elective office may be subsequently employed as a lobbyist for any for-profit corporation for a period not less than 10 years.

Any person compelled to resign from any office due to corruption, treason, or other high crimes or misdemeanors, shall repay to the public treasury a sum equal to all monies received from the public treasury during their time in office. Congress shall set a reasonable timeframe for repayment, but such repayment must be made within 20 years. That person’s heirs are not liable for repayment.

Any person who resigns from office for reasons other than those enumerated shall not be liable for repayment of their salary.

Section Seven.
All campaign expenses for federal office shall be paid for out of both the federal and state treasuries.

All candidates for an individual office shall receive an equal amount for campaign expenses, drawn equally from the state and federal treasuries. The Congress shall set the amount for each candidate, and may set different limits for different offices, but the difference must be in proportion to the size of the electorate of each office.

The Federal Election Commission shall determine the amount of hours any television or radio network is required to provide to candidates without charge within the last six weeks of the election. All candidates appearing on the ballot shall be granted the same amount of time.

[NOTE: I feel strongly that all candidates should have equal access to the media. However, if all candidates for each office have the same amount to spend, a provision like this might not be necessary.]

No state or federal candidate, nor federal or state elective-office holder, may accept campaign contributions, gifts, or other emoluments from any corporation or corporate entity, either during the campaign or while in office, whether appointed or elected.

[NOTE: I'm not sure the federal constitution could set up standards for the states in this case.]

[NOTE: Corporations are not people, and therefore cannot claim the same rights as a human. If they could, why not animals? Or trees?]

[ALTERNATE IDEA: All members of congress and the president must affix to their jackets the names of all corporate sponsors from who they accept campaign donations.]

No candidate may accept more than the equivalent of two thousand dollars at the time of the adoption of this amendment from any individual, nor a total of the equivalent of four thousand dollars from any nuclear or extended family.

No candidate for any federal or state office may accept campaign donations or any other emolument from any foreign national or foreign government.

The Congress may alter the formula for individual donations with the approval of two-thirds of the state legislatures.

So-called political action committees may advocate on behalf of an issue, but not a particular candidate for office. No such committee may donate any funds to any candidate, and may not expend money in support of a specific candidate.

[NOTE: I'm not sure that I can explain better what I meant by this. I would want to avoid candidates being able to circumvent campaign finance laws by using PACS; but I understand the free-speech argument. This is a tough one I think.]

The Federal Communications Commission shall immediately enforce the “fairness doctrine” for broadcast radio and television, and cable channels.

The Federal Communications Commission shall enforce the doctrine commonly known as “net neutrality.”

Section Eight.
The date of any election for federal or state office shall be both a state and/or a federal holiday.

The state and federal governments must ensure free, fair, and equal access to voter information and to the polls for all registered voters, without regard to race, creed, gender, social and economic status, or sexual preference in matters concerning consenting adults.

Section Nine.
All those who file a federal tax return may designate the allocation of 50% of taxes paid or owed on their income tax return form (paper or digital). Any percentage not allotted by the taxpayer shall be deposited into the general fund. Categories for the allocation of tax funds shall include, but not be limited to: public healthcare; infrastructure repair; election campaigns; defense; public education; and aid to other countries.

Congress must adhere to such designations as closely as possible and is practical. Adjustments necessary due to emergency situations, or immediate necessity, shall receive the consent of the President of the United States.

Section Ten.
The Congress shall create through appropriate legislation the National Energy and Technology Commission.

This commission shall comprise a number equal to the number of states within the United States, plus a chairperson appointed by the President, two Vice Chairpersons appointed by the House and the Senate, and the Vice President of the United States. The terms of these appointees shall be ten years, excepting that of the Vice President. The governors of each state shall appoint one member of the commission for a term of ten years, with the approval of the upper house of the state legislature. No person may serve on the commission for more than twenty years. Those appointed shall be paid equally by the both the state and federal governments, and may not receive any income from any other source during their service, nor may they hold any other office under a state or the federal government, nor be employed full-time by any for-profit company, agency, or corporation.

Appointees must have generally recognized experience or expertise in the fields of the environment, economics, construction, public and private financing, renewable energy, transportation, or technological infrastructure.

At the first meeting of the commission, all commissioners appointed by the state governors shall be divided into five groups by lot. The terms of office of the first group shall expire in two years; the terms of office of the second group shall expire in four years; of the third group in six years; of the fourth group in eight years; and the fifth group in ten years; so that one-fifth of the membership shall be replaced every two years. Those appointed whose terms end after two or four years to account for this provision may still serve two ten-year terms.

Congress shall determine the appropriate salary for commissioners.

Congress shall allot .0025% of federal taxes collected each year to the commission.

The commission shall have the following powers:

To ensure all citizens have free or low-cost access to the Internet, in whatever manner is most convenient and cost-effective;

To invest in the development of new communications technologies;

To invest in the development of new energy technologies, with the aim to reduce and ultimately eliminate the dependence of the United States on fossil fuels;

To invest in the development of high-speed rail and other forms of public transportation beneficial to the public and the environment;

And to set fuel efficiency standards for all motorized vehicles, and mandate improvements to the same.

The state legislatures may impeach and remove if warranted the commissioner appointed by that state’s governor, for high crimes and misdemeanors including fraud.

Congress may impeach and remove if warranted any commissioner, for high crimes, misdemeanors, or fraud.

The commissioners are responsible to the United States Senate.

The commission may contract with private, semi-public or public corporations when expedient. Said contracts must be publicly available, and the result of an open process. In all contracts and projects, the commission must seek the most cost-effective and efficient method for improving the technological and other infrastructures of the United States, with consideration of long-term costs and benefits, and the best interests of the nation.

The Commission shall select a private accounting firm to audit all expenditures for fraud. This firm shall report annually to the Commission, the state governors, and to the United States Congress

All unspent funds shall be returned the federal treasury at the end of each fiscal year, before receipt of the annual grant designated herein.

Section Eleven.
No corporation shall be granted the same legal or constitutional rights as a citizen.

Section Twelve.
On the advice of two-thirds of the state legislatures, the President shall summon the Committee of the States.

When a summons passes any state legislature, the remaining states have six weeks to adopt the same measure.

The Committee shall meet in the national capital seventy-two hours following the issuance of the summons.

The Congress shall suspend all business during the session of the Committee of the States, except in emergency circumstances.

The Committee of the States shall be comprised of: the governor of each state; the speaker of the lower house of the state legislature; the presiding officer of the upper house of the state legislature; the chief justice of the state supreme court; the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and four members of that house chosen by lot; and the president pro-tem of the of the United States Senate, and four members chosen by lot.

If any state legislature is unicameral, its members may designate the second delegate.

The governors shall choose from among themselves a Chairperson and a Secretary. The Chairperson or a designated deputy shall preside over all sessions of the Committee. The Secretary shall ensure the proper transcription of all sessions of the Committee. All sessions of the Committee must be broadcast over radio, television, and the internet, excepting executive sessions.

The state legislatures must designate the issue or issues of federal policy or law to be resolved by the Committee of the States. Two-thirds of the state legislatures must approve each issue proposed.

The Committee of the States is hereby empowered to remove any federal office holder and designate a replacement to fill the unexpired term; command the armed forces; amend the constitution directly; enact federal policy; dissolve either or both houses of Congress and call for new elections within six weeks; or settle by majority vote any constitutional dispute between federal office holders.

The Committee shall convene no longer than thirty days from the date of first assembly, unless more than one half of the state legislatures vote to extend their term. Such term may not exceed three months.

Any constitutional amendment enacted by the Committee must be approved by two-thirds of the state legislatures, or in such manner designated by the state legislatures within six months of the date of enactment.

[NOTE: Something like this seems an obvious oversight. Yes, the state and the federal governments are different entities; however, we must remember that the United States is a voluntary union of semi-automomous political entities. This point is usually not fully understood, I think. The states agreed to the conditions set forth in the constitution, and therefore I believe should have some oversight. For example, imagine if this were an option during Watergate.]

Section Thirteen.
Any state may secede from the United States with the approval of three-fourths of the state’s electorate.

Any election in which less than 75% of registered voters in that state cast ballots shall be null and void.

An article of secession shall come into effect one year from the passage of the ordinance.

That state must reimburse, or agree to reimburse, the federal government of the United States the value of all federal property held in that state.

The federal government of the United States shall have the power to remove any and all property within said state.

Citizens of that state who wish to remain a citizen of the United States have one year to establish permanent residence in a state within the United States.

Those who do not shall be stripped of their citizenship in the United States one year from the passage of the secession ordinance.

States that secede from the United States must accept responsibility for its share of the national debt of the United States at the time of secession, based on population in relation to other states. No state may refuse to honor that debt.

Section Fourteen.
The American people may recall from office any federal office holder, including members of the Supreme Court, through referendum.

In the case of an individual member of the House of Representatives or of the Senate, a recall motion may be filed with the state government one year after said member’s term of office begins.

A conference of all the state legislatures, or of secretaries of state, must provide a mechanism for such recall elections within six months of the enactment of this amendment, so that all states have the same mechanism.

In the case of the recall of the President of the United States, the Vice President, or members of the Supreme Court, the following provisions shall apply.

Recall petitions may be filed in any state beginning one year from the start of the president or vice-president’s term of office.

Said petitions shall require the valid and legal signatures of 15% of legal and valid voters in any state at the previous federal election.

Once legal and valid petitions have been filed with two-thirds of the state governments, a recall election shall be scheduled in all states six weeks from the date of the filing of last petition.

Said recall ballots shall have the following options:

“Do you vote to remove (name) from the office of (President/Vice President/Senator/Representative/Justice)?”

“If (name) is removed from office as a result of this election, who shall be elected to that office?”

If the President is removed from office as a result of a recall election, he or she shall transmit his or her resignation to the Speaker of the House of Representatives within twenty-four hours of the election.

If the President is removed from office by referendum, but no person receives a majority of votes to replace the president, then the Vice President shall become president, and shall recommend the appointment of a new vice president to the United States Senate.

The President-elect shall be sworn into office immediately upon the resignation of the president. If circumstances demand a delay in the president taking the oath of office, the Vice President shall serve as Acting President until the president-elect is sworn into office. If the vice-presidency is vacant, the Speaker of the House shall serve as Acting President in the event of a delay.

If the Vice President is removed from office by referendum, he or she must resign within 24 hours of the election. The referendum may elect a new vice president, or empower the President to recommended a new vice president to the Senate.

The person chosen to replace the President or Vice President shall take office at that time, and shall fill the unexpired term of their predecessor.

In the case of the removal of a member of the Supreme Court by recall election, the President shall nominate a new member of the court in the manner provided for elsewhere in this constitution.

Section Fifteen.
All elections for state and federal offices shall use the alternative or instant-runoff ballot beginning with the second regularly scheduled election following the enactment of this amendment.

Congress must provide the states with appropriate funds for voter education concerning the alternative ballot, and the changes brought by this amendment.

Section Sixteen.
The Electoral College of the United States is hereby abolished.

The whole electorate of the United States shall directly elect the President and Vice President of the United States. Candidates must receive at least 55% of the popular vote. If no candidate for either office secures 55% of the vote using the alternative vote method, a run-off election shall be held between the top two candidates six weeks following the regularly scheduled elections. In no candidate receives 55% of the vote following the run-off election, Congress shall choose the President or the Vice President as provided for elsewhere in this constitution.

[ALTERNATE IDEA:]
A President-Elect must receive a majority in both the Electoral College and in the popular vote, properly calculated.

If no person receives a majority in both the electoral college and the popular vote, a second election shall be held two weeks from the date of the first election between the two candidates who received the most votes nationwide.

If no person receives a majority in both the electoral college and the popular vote at the second election, then the Congress shall elect the president and the vice-president as outlined elsewhere in this constitution.

Section Seventeen.
No individual, corporation, or agent or agency of any state or federal government shall deprive any citizen of his or her constitutional rights on account of gender, gender status, or sexual preference in matters concerning consenting adults.

All properly-qualified people must be paid the same wage for the same position, taking into account prior experience and other relevant factors.

Those citizens who undergo gender reassignment may apply for a change in gender status with the state and federal governments.

Congress and the state legislatures may enact legislation that reasonably protects the health and safety of all citizens, subject to review by the state or federal supreme courts.

Section Eighteen
All citizens of the United States who reside full- or part-time within the United States are liable for federal and state taxes.

All for-profit corporate entities that operate within the United States are liable for state and federal taxes.

Congress may not provide any tax rebates, loopholes, or subsidies for any corporation or corporate entity, except to encourage the creation of jobs within the United States.

Congress may not provide any tax rebates, loopholes, or subsidies for any individual taxpayer, excepting for expenses related to education, home ownership, payment of rent, care of a minor child or disabled person, loss of income, transportation related to employment, or healthcare expenses.

Congress may provide temporary tax incentives due to a natural or other disaster. Such legislation must include a timetable for expiration, and said expiration date shall not exceed five years.

Section Nineteen.
All citizens employed by any public or private corporation with more than one hundred employees, or by any federal or state government agency, excepting the armed forces, have the right to form labor unions and collectively bargain.

Section Twenty.
The process commonly known as “Gerrymandering” is hereby outlawed.

The power to draw federal electoral districts is hereby granted to the supreme court of each state.

Immediately following the enactment of this amendment, and after every federal census, the supreme courts of the states shall redraw federal electoral districts in that state, conforming to all provisions of this amendment.

The supreme courts must create districts of regular shape, taking into account state borders, containing equal populations, without regard to prior voting behavior, race, ethnicity, gender, or membership in a political party or organization, or any other reason except the maintenance of a population balance when necessary. Such districts must conform to all constitutional provisions.

Neither the Congress nor the state governments may grant to any political organization or party special access to the ballot or other privilege. All political parties within each state with more than 500 dues-paying members shall have complete and equal access to the ballot. All requirements concerning access to the ballot in state or federal elections must be applied equally to all political organizations with more than 500 members.

[NOTE: I feel strongly that smaller parties are discriminated against because the two major parties control the legislation concerning elections at the state level. I don't know if the above the right way to rectify this or not. The intent to free up people to form other parties and be able to compete equally with the major parties.]

No individual, political organization or party that advocates violence or physical harm to any individual citizen or group of citizens, or to foreign nationals outside of wartime, shall be granted access to a state or federal ballot.

Section Twenty-One.
The Congress shall schedule a referendum vote in all states on the enactment of a national health care system within 4 years of the enactment of this amendment.

The referendum must achieve a majority of the votes of the whole electorate of the United States to come into effect.

Any such election in which less than 60% of the registered voters in the United States participate shall be void. A second election must be held within six weeks. If the 60% threshold is again not reached, then no further election need be scheduled.

The Congress may include up to four different plans for a national healthcare system on the referendum, but one option must be a single-payer system. The ballot must contain the option to reject all plans offered; to request a second election in one year with new plans offered; and to maintain the current health-care system at the time of the election.

[NOTE: Leaving these options out was an oversight.]

Voters shall chose using the alternative or instant run-off vote.

The Congress shall have three years from the time of the adoption of the referendum to enact a national healthcare system based on the plan chosen, if one is chosen.

Such a national healthcare service may charge fees for service based on both income and lifestyle, but not based on prior physical or mental illness. Those citizens who make use of the national healthcare service who follow healthy lifestyles as defined by the American Medical Association in conjunction with the federal Department of Health and Human Services may pay lower fees than those who do not. The individual’s primary care physician must make such a designation once per year. The requirements for such designations must be uniform for all individuals, with proper regard for gender, physical or mental disability, or other relevant preexisting conditions.

The national healthcare service may regulate the prices charged for all medications.

Section Twenty-Two.
The Commander in Chief of the United States armed forces may not dispatch any element of the United States armed forces into a zone of conflict without the approval of both houses of Congress. Such consent must be granted within 30 days of the dispatch.

The Commander in Chief of the United States armed forces may not initiate an attack on or invasion of a sovereign nations without a declaration of war provided by Congress.

Section Twenty-Three.
The electorate of the United States may empower the Congress to negotiate entry into a customs or currency union, including the European Union or its successors, through referendum.

Said referendum must be approved by a majority of voters in two-thirds of the states.

Said referendum shall conform to the provisions enumerated in this amendment.

Section Twenty-Four.
The cultivation, sale, and purchase of marijuana by any citizen or permanent resident aged 21 and over is hereby permitted in all states and territories.

The federal and state governments may impose a tax on the cultivation and sale of marijuana or marijuana products.

The consumption of marijuana shall be regulated by the federal government in a manner consistent with regulations concerning the consumption of alcohol and tobacco products.

No person may knowingly provide alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana to any person under the age of 21.

No person may consume or ingest marijuana before or during the performance of any duties related to employment, whether full or part time; in the workplace; while operating a vehicle or heavy machinery; or while caring for minor children, the elderly, the injured, or the disabled.

The prison terms or terms of probation of all U.S. citizens convicted of non-violent possession or distribution of marijuana in either state or federal court shall have said convictions vacated within two years of the adoption of this amendment.

The Department of Justice or state attorneys general may apply to the courts to continue such prison terms on an individual basis.

Section Twenty-Five.
No foreign corporate entity may own a controlling share of any radio or television station or network, broadcast or cable; or any newspaper.

No individual or corporate entity may own a controlling share in more than one radio or television station, or newspaper, in any recognized media market as defined by the Federal Communications Commission.

[NOTE: On second thought, I suppose this isn't a good thing. I'd hate to see BBC America disappear (but I'd love to see FOX "NEWS" gone!]

Congress may not abolish the Public Broadcasting Service, and must fund that service at reasonable levels.

Section Twenty-Six.
All full-time residents of the District of Columbia shall elect one member of the House of Representatives and one member of the United States Senate under the conditions provided for in this amendment.

Section Twenty-Seven.
The tax cuts enacted during the administration of George W. Bush are hereby repealed.

The provisions of the Glass–Steagall Act repealed in 1999 are hereby restored and may not be repealed, without the consent of two-thirds of the state legislatures.

Immediately upon enactment of this amendment, all federal tax rates shall be restored to the level of those passed by Congress in 1993.

These income tax levels shall remain in place for four years, during which time Congress must restructure the entire federal tax code to conform with this amendment.

The Congress may consider a flat tax, a value-added tax, or other methods which conform to this amendment and as seems appropriate to balance federal expenses and revenue.

Section Twenty-Eight.
Upon enactment of this amendment, the United States Senate shall immediately hold public hearings to investigate the financial collapse of 2008. They shall be empowered to charge with a crime any person whose negligence, lack of action, or action, caused or contributed to the economic collapse. The proceedings of this investigation must be broadcast over radio, television, and the internet for their entirety. Executive sessions shall not be allowed excepting in matters of national security. The records of such executive sessions shall be immediately transmitted to the President of the United States and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. If both agree that the executive session transcript should be published in the interests of the nation, then it must be.

At the conclusion of these hearings, the Senate must publish a report outlining all elements and personalities with connection to the collapse, and make recommendations for new legislation to prevent such circumstances from reoccurring.

Following the next regularly scheduled election, the Congress shall create the Iraq War Commission, an independent body made up of historians, legal scholars, journalists, and experts in foreign and military affairs. This commission shall conduct a full public inquiry into the all aspects of the Iraq War of 2003, and in particular any credible claims against any person, agency of government or the military, or corporation for war crimes, fraud, malfeasance, or other crimes.

All members on the Commission must sign oaths of secrecy concerning matters of national security.

This commission shall have the power to conduct some executive sessions, but a full and complete record must be kept of all proceedings. Transcripts of executive sessions that concern matters of national security shall be released to the public in no less than 10 and no more than 25 years. Transcripts of public sessions shall be released in a timely manner.

This Commission shall have the power to issue warrants, compel testimony, and charge individuals and corporate entities with criminal conduct if warranted.

The Commission shall consist of fifteen members …
[NOTE: I don't know how the members should be chosen. I'm not sure what's best. President 5, House 5, Senate 5? Two members of the House, 2 of the Senate, rest appointed by President?]

All sessions of this committee must be broadcast live on television, radio, and the internet and provided to the public for free. The committee is empowered to question any witness for any length of time, and charge any individual with a crime, if a crime is believed to have been committed. The committee may not grant immunity to any elected official or member of the cabinet at the time of the decision to invade was made, or member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at that time.

Congress shall provide the commission with all necessary funds to carry out its mandate.

Section Twenty-Nine
Beginning at the third regularly scheduled presidential election following the adopting of his amendment, the following provisions shall apply.

The election for president and the Congress is hereby moved from November of the year of the third regularly scheduled presidential election at the time of the adoption of this amendment to the preceding May.

The date for future federal elections shall be set as the first Monday in May for both presidential and congressional elections.

The state legislatures may enact similar provisions for state elections.

Those in office at the time this provision is enacted will have their original terms reduced at the end of their current term to conform with this change of date.

The Electoral College of the United States shall meet on the first Monday in June in presidential election years.

All those chosen as presidential electors by the states shall assemble in the same state capital to cast their votes. The Congress shall create a schedule to rotate the state capital where the Electoral College meets each presidential year, so that each state is chosen in turn. The schedule may be randomly altered, or the location kept secret until the actually meeting, if in the security interests of the United States. The costs of travel for the electors shall be underwritten by the state and federal governments equally. The meeting of the Electoral College shall be televised on all broadcast networks, with appropriate commentary to explain the proceedings and actions of the Electoral College. The same shall apply to the meeting of the Congress to count the ballots for president and vice president.

[NOTE: I am not sure about this next one, to be honest. I intend it to be a way to educate the public about how our system functions. But I am not sure if it's a good idea.

"Any political party that nominates a slate of presidential electors shall make available to the public for free the names and occupations of their nominees; or only the occupations if in the interest of security."]

Congressional terms of office shall begin at noon on the second Monday in June.

Presidential terms of office shall begin at noon on the twentieth day June.

If a President-Elect dies or is otherwise incapacitated before the Electoral College meets, the members of the Electoral College shall accept the nominations of the governing boards of all political parties that nominated a slate of electors for the prior election, and choose among them, with the intent of reflecting the results of the prior popular election if in the best interests of the nation.

If a President-Elect dies or is otherwise incapacitated following the meeting of the Electoral College, but before being sworn into office, the Electoral College shall reconvene immediately, and shall accept the nominations of the governing boards of all political parties that nominated a slate of electors for the prior election, and choose among them, with the intent of reflecting the results of the prior popular election if in the best interests of the nation.

If a Vice President-Elect dies or is otherwise incapacitated before or after the Electoral College meets, but before being sworn into office, then the President-Elect shall immediately recommend a successor to the United States Senate. The Senate must vote before noon on the twentieth day of June.

All political party primary elections for federal office candidates shall be held on either the first Monday in November, the first Monday in December, or the first Monday in January, unless that Monday is New Year’s Day. In that case the election shall be held on the second Monday of January.

Each election year, the states shall be divided into six groups based on the regions of: New England; the Mid-West; the West Coast/Pacific; the South-West; the South; and the Mid-Atlantic. The regions should be of similar population overall, as far as is possible and practical. Each group shall be randomly assigned to one of the three dates for primary elections for the first elections held under these provisions.

At each subsequent election following the first election during which this primary system is in operation, the regions shall rotate through the three set election days in turn.

Congress may choose to have the positions randomized in every election, or some variation thereof.

Section Thirty
All laws passed by both Houses of Congress and signed by the President shall expire sixty years from the date of enactment.

The timeframe for copyright is hereby set at life of the author plus fifty years.

Existing copyrights at the enactment of this amendment shall expire under the original rules.

Section Thirty-One
The President may not federalize the National Guard units of any state without the consent of the governor of that state, excepting in the absence of a recognized governor of a state, or if said state is under immediate threat of invasion by a foreign power.

Section Thirty-Two
In furtherance of the clarity of the first amendment, any church and apparatus of government are separate institutions and must remain so.

Section Thirty-Three
Congress and the state legislatures shall have the power to enact any legislation to conform with the tenets of this amendment.

This amendment shall expire twenty years following its passage by Congress, if not adopted by two-thirds of the states in that time. Congress may extend the deadline at that time for another twenty years.

Worse than the Disease

This debt-ceiling deal will do much more harm than good. That is certain. Cutting spending int he middle of a recession is contrary to all that we’ve learned about economics over the 20th century. This is what happens when people elect fanatics who have been captive to right-wing propaganda for thirty years, and have no understanding of economics. Vice President Biden told the Democratic caucus today the Tea Party behaved like terrorists, and he was right. They got their ransom, and now look forward to another round of hostage-taking and capitulation.

In a year, we’ll have civil war, secession, dictatorship, or all three. Of that I am certain.