Falsehoods Mark the Campaign for a Constitutional Convention

Falsehoods Mark the Campaign for a Constitutional Convention
by JBS President John F. McManus

For one excellent reason, The John Birch Society has always opposed the creation of a constitutional convention (Con-Con) as authorized in Article V of the Constitution. The Society isn’t opposed to amendments and would support any that would cancel existing Amendments 16 (Federal Income Tax) and 17 (Popular Election of Senators). This could be done via the other route to adding an amendment noted in Article V, the passage of the measure by two-thirds of each house of Congress and then ratification by three-fourths of the states. This is the only route to adding an amendment that has ever been employed in the 228 years of the Constitution’s existence.

Willis Stone wrote the original Liberty Amendment 50+ years ago. Image from Old Politicals Auctions.

Having both houses of Congress agree to an amendment before sending it to the states for ratification is the safe route to adding any amendment. It was the route taken when Amendment 18 (Prohibition) was erased by Amendment 21. A Con-Con, however, would open the entire Constitution for change, even total erasure – which is what occurred in 1787 when a Con-Con assembled under the Articles of Confederation met with the sole assignment to revise the Articles. But because a Con-Con cannot be limited, America’s Founders used the power any Con-Con would have and scrapped the Articles. They then proceeded to write an entirely new Constitution, even changing the state ratification requirement from unanimous (under the Articles) to three-fourths in the new Constitution. Such a runaway could happen again because a Con-Con can’t be limited.

Most of today’s proponents of a Con-Con want to use it to add a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. Calling their proposal a “Convention of the States,” they claim that it can be limited. But, in reality, what they claim for a Convention of the States is a nothing but a Con-Con which can’t be limited to a single topic. Some of these proponents also claim that John Birch Society Founder Robert Welch and Congressman Larry McDonald, his 1983 successor, advocated the Con-Con route in favor of the “The Liberty Amendment.” This proposed amendment, written more than 50 years ago by Willis Stone, is a brief proposal whose most appealing feature would require the federal government to divest itself of every “business, professional, commercial, financial or industrial enterprise except as specified in the Constitution.” The money saved would enable the Federal government to abolish the federal income tax – another clause in the proposed amendment.

But neither Robert Welch nor Larry McDonald nor this writer (current JBS President) has ever advocated a Con-Con on behalf of the Liberty Amendment or any other amendment. After sponsoring Willis Stone for a speech in 1965, I became quite friendly with him (he is deceased). He even implored me to accept appointment as a state chairman for the amendment; a request I declined because I was already overloaded with other commitments. But I discussed the matter with Mr. Stone at length and knew that his plan sought to have state legislatures pass a resolution asking Congress to create a Con-Con was simply a tactic to call attention to his proposal. He very clearly explained to me that he feared a Con-Con. He expected that members of Congress, themselves fearful of what might happen if a Con-Con were created, would use their Article V authorization to propose the amendment directly and singly in both houses of Congress (the alternate method for starting the amendment process spelled out in Article V). When the number of state legislatures calling for a convention approached 34, he was certain that Congress would act and turn to the far safer portion of Article V to accomplish the first step toward passage of the Liberty Amendment.

I vividly recall questioning Willis Stone about the danger that 34 states would indeed call for a Con-Con. I noted that if that number of state applications for a convention were reached, then the Constitution requires that Congress “shall call a convention for proposing amendments.” He emphatically assured me, “No, I don’t worry about that because no one is stupid enough to want a Con-Con. We know what happened when the Con-Con met in 1787; its members cancelled the Articles of Confederation. If a Con-Con were held today [1965], it could and likely would lead to cancellation of the present Constitution and put in its place something far different.”

I know that Robert Welch never wanted a Con-Con. I know of no JBS official who wanted it. I never discussed the matter with Larry McDonald, but I’m sure he discussed it with Robert Welch. Anyone who claims that JBS leaders (past or present) ever intended to have Congress create a constitutional convention either doesn’t know what he or she is talking about or is being deceitful.


Mr. McManus joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966 and has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.


Climate Skeptic Faces Attack

Climate Skeptic Faces Attack
by JBS President John F. McManus

Scientist Wei-Hock Soon doesn’t agree with the fright peddlers who insist that man-caused global warming is propelling the planet toward a cataclysm. For steadfastly maintaining his position, he has become the target of many who hold an opposing view. Born (1966) and raised in Malaysia, he earned his doctoral degree from the University of Southern California and now serves as a researcher for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Massachusetts. His special interests are earth science and solar physics, and he is a leading authority on the relationship between solar phenomena and global climate.

Dr. Soon, known widely as Willie, co-authored a paper in 2003 which stated that “the 20th century is probably not the warmest nor a uniquely extreme climatic period of the last millennium.” He has never backed away from that view and has, therefore, incurred the ire of militant environmentalists and leftist political groups. Rather than challenge his scientific stands (likely because his position cannot be challenged scientifically), his opponents now claim that he has failed to be open about the sources of funding for his research. Kert Davies of Greenpeace, Dr. Soon’s chief protagonist, recently left Greenpeace and is now the executive director of the Climate Investigations Center, a new organization insisting that global warming is indeed a grave threat to the planet.

In 2013, theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson told the Boston Globe, “The whole point of science is to question accepted dogmas. For that reason, I respect Willie Soon as a good scientist and a courageous citizen.”

Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the Senate’s leading global warming skeptic, has cited the findings of Dr. Soon and commented, “Willie Soon is a hero of the skeptical movement [doubters about global warming claims]. When you are an early pioneer, you are going to face scrutiny and attacks.”

Asked to defend himself, Soon says, “If a journal that has peer-reviewed and published my work concludes that additional disclosures [about financing] are appropriate, I am happy to comply. I would ask only that other authors – on all sides of the debate – are also required to make similar disclosures.” He has even accused the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a promoter of global warming claims, for being “a pure bully” and engaging in “blatant manipulation of fact.” He calls for all to “Stop politicizing science!”

None of those who question the funding received by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astro-Physics, Dr. Soon’s part-time employer, dispute Dr. Soon’s scientific work. Of his work, Soon claims that he has “never been motivated by financial reward in any of my scientific research,” wryly adding that he “would have accepted money from Greenpeace if they had offered it.” He insists, “No amount of money can influence what I have to say and write, especially on my scientific quest to understand how climate works.”

The Heartland Institute agrees with Dr. Soon. The Institute’s president, Joseph Bast, stated, “He’s a brilliant and courageous scientist … and his critics are all ethically challenged and mental midgets by comparison.” The evidence to back up that statement should not be left out of any discussion of the worth of Dr. Willie Soon.


Mr. McManus joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966 and has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.


Gains in Right to Work Legislation

Gains in Right to Work Legislation
by JBS President John F. McManus

With both houses of its legislature approving a measure calling for an end to a labor union monopoly, and Governor Scott Walker signing it, Wisconsin recently joined 24 other states and became a “right-to-work” state. This means that Wisconsin has banned what is termed a “closed shop,” where an employee must join a union (or pay union dues even without formal union membership) if the labor union has been chosen as the agent for more than half of the employees in a particular site.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signs right-to-work legislation on March 9. Image from Gov. Walker’s Facebook.

In recent years, both Michigan and Indiana preceded Wisconsin’s decision. Labor union power continues to decline. In the 1950s, approximately 35 percent of workers nationally paid dues to a labor union. By the end of the 1980s, that percentage had shrunk to less than half that percentage. And it has continued to recede. Part of the reason for the decline is traceable to factories closing down and fleeing overseas, encouraged to do so by NAFTA and other so-called trade agreements. When a factory closes, it hardly matters whether a labor union represents workers; they are no longer working. Some who lost their jobs have correctly figured out that liberals who support compulsory unionism are the very same individuals who supported the trade agreements, such as NAFTA, that cost them their employment.

During a heyday of union power in the immediate post-World War II years, Congress passed the important Taft-Hartley labor law. President Truman vetoed the measure but Congress successfully overrode his veto. Section 14 (b) of this law, always fought against by labor union leaders, authorized states to adopt right-to-work legislation. This provision permitted an employee to refuse union membership as a matter of choice. In states that never passed such legislation, an employee in a unionized place could refuse union membership, but he or she still had to pay union dues. Labor unions have traditionally been huge supporters – both organizationally and financially – of liberal politicians and causes. Forcing workers to pay union dues would mean that some who personally supported conservatives and their causes were being forced to support what they abhorred. Not much freedom there.

Labor unions certainly have a right to exist. If working conditions are intolerable, or pay rates are deemed too low, a person has two choices: a) quit that job and find another, or b) invite labor organizers to come and generate support for a labor union. But forcing people to join a labor union as a condition of employment, which remains the practice in half the states, should never be allowed. In some states, the right-to-work provision (the cancellation of compulsory union membership) exists as part of the state’s constitution. Other states, as in Wisconsin, don’t have such a provision in their constitutions and legislation has to be enacted to do away with compulsory unionism.

The state where union membership is least is North Carolina (2.9 percent) with Arkansas a close second. The state with the highest number of union members in its workforce is New York (23.2 percent) with Alaska a close second. The area of the nation where right to work prevails is the southeast. And this is where large corporations are building new plants and creating new jobs. Also, unemployment rates are lower in right-to-work states. Especially is this the case with automobile manufacturers who have established new plants in right-to-work states.

The issue boils down to compulsion versus freedom. In the United States, freedom is supposed to prevail. Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and 22 other states have shown themselves partisans for freedom.


Mr. McManus joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966 and has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.


He Changed Notre Dame

He Changed Notre Dame
by JBS President John F. McManus

Theodore Hesburgh was born (1917) and raised in Syracuse, New York. He claimed to have aspired to be a priest from the age of six. Some of his seminary training occurred at Notre Dame, much of it in Rome. Ordained in 1943 and assigned to Notre Dame as a member of the Holy Cross Fathers who built the institution, he won appointments as the leader of its religion department in 1948, vice president in 1949, and president in 1952. Many remarked that at 35, he was unusually young to be given such a prestigious post.

Fr. Hesburgh greets President Barack Obama to Notre Dame. Image and caption from Wikipedia.

In 1950, he participated in a Ford Foundation project, his first known contact with America’s leftist establishment. In 1961, his acceptance of appointment to the board of the Rockefeller Foundation (he was later named its chairman) raised more eyebrows because of its funding of pro-abortion and population control organizations. He later arranged a private meeting with Pope Paul VI for John D. Rockefeller to request that the Catholic Church relax its strict stand against contraception. In 1968, after the Pope condemned that practice in his Humanae Vitae encyclical, Hesburgh publicly supported an outspoken priest member of the Notre Dame faculty who defiantly opposed the Pope’s condemnation.

In 1969, the Notre Dame leader added his name to an ad placed in The New York Times extolling the efforts of the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) to force instruction about sex to youngsters in school, even those in primary grades. In his 1974 address to the Catholic Press Convention meeting in Colorado, he referred to anti-abortion partisans as “mindless and crude zealots.” He would later allow Notre Dame to host the annual convention of the Planned Parenthood Federation, the nation’s foremost abortion provider.

As early as 1967 at a gathering of American Catholic colleges leaders held at a Notre Dame Retreat Center in Land O’Lakes, Wisconsin, Hesburgh steered the group into eliminating unwanted church influence at their schools. The official statement emanating from that gathering declared that “the catholic university must have true autonomy and academic freedom in the face of authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical.” That attitude, a virtual secession from all Church authority, immediately spread throughout Catholic higher education and gave impetus to most Catholic institutions tolerating uncatholic attitudes and practices, replacing clergy on their boards with lay persons, and downgrading instruction in the Catholic Faith.

The long-serving president of Notre Dame would later call for making the world “somewhat divine” in a work where he promoted a form of New Age pantheism he called “Christian Humanism.” Along with several other New Age promoters, Hesburgh held membership on the advisory council of Planetary Citizens whose “Human Manifesto” called for creation of a world order while supporting “a United Nations capable of governing our planet…” Also a member of the advisory board of the World Federalist Association, a well-known opponent of national sovereignty, he exhibited the very opposite of patriotism toward his country. Nevertheless, he received the Sylvanus Thayer Award from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1980 during a ceremony in which he “trooped the line” of the assembled cadets. He was the only Catholic priest ever named to Harvard University’s Board of Overseers and even served as this board’s president from 1994 to 1996.

Accepting membership in the world-government-promoting Council on Foreign Relations in 1966, he never ceased agreeing with its desire to eliminate national sovereignty in favor of United Nations rule over the planet. In 1991, he told a convocation at Notre Dame that he supported the “new world order” that would include strengthening the UN, providing it with its own military arm, and divesting the United States and other permanent Security Council members of veto power over Security Council resolutions. The CFR rewarded him for his loyalty to its goals by naming him one of its directors (1976-1985) and naming him chairman of its Membership Committee, a post he held for several years.

When the most pro-abortion president in our nation’s history, Barack Obama, received an invitation from Hesburgh’s successor to deliver the 2009 Commencement address at Notre Dame, President Emeritus Theodore Hesburgh sought to defuse widespread protests by defending an outspoken pro-Obama faculty member and publicly agreeing with the plan that included granting Mr. Obama an honorary degree.

Father Hesburgh’s career clearly indicates that he was un-American, un-Catholic, and unworthy of the adulation he regularly received during his life and at his death in March 2015.


Mr. McManus joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966 and has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.


Threat Posed by ISIS Spreads

Threat Posed by ISIS Spreads
by JBS President John F. McManus

Recently, when ISIS revolutionaries murdered 21 Christians in Libya, they sent a video message to the world threatening to move on to Rome. It stated: “Today we are south of Rome. We will conquer Rome with Allah’s permission.” Many Italians laughed at such blustering. We don’t think they should be laughing.

ISIS made headlines during the past year when its forces seized portions of Syria and Iraq and declared the conquered area a “caliphate” and announced that its leader was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. More headlines announced a series of beheadings, a threat to move on to Baghdad, and a campaign against Yezidism, a small religious sect whose adherents were classified as infidels. Now seemingly stalled within the confines of their caliphate, ISIS has recently gained additional partisans in Libya and in northern Sudan where the murderous Boko Haram has terrorized area residents.

In Britain, well-known Islamic State cheerleader Anjem Choudray explained that haphazard offensive jihad is of no value without a caliphate and that waging war to expand its domination is essential. Image from Wikipedia.

Recruits by the tens of thousands have relocated to the ISIS caliphate in order to assist al-Baghdadi. They came from France, England, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Australia, United States, and elsewhere to enlist in a force that intends to rule the planet. A report in the New York Times told of three teenage girls from Scotland who had just abandoned their families and moved on to Syria where they will marry jihadists and support the caliphate. The recruiter for these girls, also from Scotland but living in Syria after relocating a year ago, contacted her anguished parents and informed them that she had no intention of returning and would see them again only on “judgment day” in heaven.

Passports of some French young people suspected of wanting to go to Syria have been confiscated by the authorities. In Australia, Prime Minister Abbott announced measures to tighten security and prevent possible emigration of anyone seeking to travel to ISIS. Similar moves have been taken in the U.S.

Writing in The Atlantic after meeting with ISIS supporters in England, Australia, and elsewhere, journalist Graeme Wood pointed to the importance held by ISIS believers in establishing their caliphate. In Britain, well-known Islamic State cheerleader Anjem Choudray explained that haphazard offensive jihad is of no value without a caliphate and that waging war to expand its domination is essential. Choudray even claims that crucifixions and beheadings are “sacred requirements.” Wood noted that, according to the Islamic scholars he interviewed, sacred doctrine requires believers to reside in the caliphate. This impels Muslims to drop everything wherever they currently reside and head for the portion of Syria controlled by ISIS.

President Barack Obama insists that that ISIS is “not Islamic.” Is he correct? Does he agree with the Italians who consider laughable any threat from ISIS? He insists that Islam is a peaceful religion that is being used by bad people. Time will tell if the threat posed by ISIS is a local problem or a threat to the entire world.


Mr. McManus joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966 and has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.