The Government We Deserve

We all have people in our lives who influence not just what we believe, but how we think.  For me one of those people is economist and author Walter Williams.  Dr. Williams is one of a handful of people who have helped shape the way I think about economics, history and government.  Lately I’ve been thinking about a point that I have seen him make on several occasions.

I came across this point while reading a collection of Williams’ essays in a book titled Liberty Versus the Tyranny of Socialism.  It comes from a February 9, 2005 column in which Williams criticizes then-President Bush for ignoring the boundaries of the Constitution in his proposals for disaster relief.  The key point that stuck in my mind comes from this section of the column:

“Today’s politicians can’t be held fully responsible for our abandonment of constitutional government. While they can be blamed for not being statesmen, the lion’s share of the blame rests with 280 million Americans. Elected officials simply mirror public misunderstanding or contempt for constitutional principles. Tragically, adherence to…constitutional values…would spell political suicide in today’s America.”

In a 2011 interview, Williams reiterated the point and shared how this idea, an “epiphany” as he calls it, was illustrated to him in a conversation with the late Jesse Helms, a Senator from North Carolina.  As Williams tells it, Helms explained why he supported unconstitutional agriculture subsidies this way:  “He said, ‘Walter, I agree with you 100% that these farm subsidies ought to be eliminated.’ But then he asked, ‘Can you tell me how I can remain the senator from North Carolina and vote against them? If I do what you say, I would be voted out of office.’”  Williams continues, “Politicians who talk about cutting these programs are going to run into trouble. We have to get the American people, as much as politicians, to respect the Constitution.”

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Alaska REAL ID Nullification, Round Two.

In 2008, Alaska refused to implement REAL-ID with Senate Bill 202. This law states,

“A state agency may not expend funds solely for the purpose of implementing or aiding in the implementation of the requirements of the federal Real ID Act of 2005.”

DHS has been quietly working behind the scenes – trying to get states to implement REAL-ID through back door deals. One such deal has turned out to be a scandal in the state of Missouri. The Department of Revenue (DoR) in Missouri was caught red-handed. It was found that they were implementing sections of the real id act in defiance of a law banning it. They were also using DHS grants to scan biometric data pro, and storing that data to a 3rd party known for it’s workings with DHS, DoD, and the TSA. Click here for the full scandal.

As a result, the director of the DoR has stepped down. That’s not all, Representative Bahr has introduced legislation that would make it possible to fire any department director or deputy director caught “instances of misconduct, perjury before any committee of the general assembly, violation of any state statute, a conviction or plea of guilty for committing any crime, habitual drunkenness, willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, incompetency, or any offense involving moral turpitude or oppression in office.”

In Alaska,

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Missouri House Votes to Nullify all Federal Gun Control Measures, 115-42

Today, in the shadows of a pro gun-rights rally at the state capitol, the Missouri House voted to approve House Bill 436 (HB436), the 2nd Amendment Preservation Act, by a strong veto-proof majority.

Earlier this week, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed into law what many are calling the strongest state-level protection against federal infringements on the 2nd Amendment in the country.  But that title might be short-lived, as Missouri’s HB436 (and the companion bill, SB325) up the ante.

The bill, which passed by a vote of  115-42, would nullify virtually all federal gun control measures on the books – “past, present, or future.”  It reads, in part:

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Florida Anti-Drone Bill Passes Unanimously in Both Houses. Off to the Governor’s Desk

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (April 18, 2013) – A bill nullifying warrantless drone spying in the Sunshine State unanimously passed the Florida House this morning.  The 117-0 vote in the House concurred with last week’s 39-0 Senate vote and the bill will now go to Governor Rick Scott’s desk for a signature.

If signed into law, SB92 would prohibit any law enforcement agency from using unmanned drones to gather evidence or other information without a warrant.  It reads, in part:  ”A law enforcement agency may not use a drone to gather evidence or other information.”

The bill opens the door for any person whose privacy is violated by a drone to take civil action and would also make any evidence gathered in violation of the act inadmissible in court.

The act makes its only exception allowing for the use of drones “to counter a high risk of a terrorist attack by a specific individual or organization if the United States Secretary of Homeland Security determines that credible intelligence indicates that there is such a risk.”

Some activists have criticized the bill due to this particular exception for one person in the federal government to authorize its use. While it does raise legitimate concerns, as things exist today,  Floridians have no protections against drone.

Today, without The Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act: 

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Illinois House Votes to Nullify Federal Marijuana Laws, 61-57

The Illinois House passed a bill legalizing marijuana for medical use on Wednesday.  Passage into law would nullify, as 18 states are already doing, unconstitutional federal bans on the plant.

The 61-57 vote for HB1 was cheered by supporters who say the House has long been the highest hurdle for legalization; the Senate has previously passed similar legislation and Gov. Pat Quinn said Wednesday he was “open-minded” about the proposal.

Congress and the president claim the constitutional authority to prohibit weed. The Supreme Court concurs. But sharing an opinion on something doesn’t necessarily make it a fact. You can claim you are a unicorn, but you’re not. Clearly, the Constitution delegates no power of marijuana regulation to the feds. And the so-called war on drugs rests on the same legal authority as all of the other modern-day undeclared wars.

None.

So, more and more states continue to do exactly what they should do when the federal government tries exercise power it does not legitimately possess.

Ignore it.

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Nullification for Dummies

Reading Steve Benen’s article Nullification must never be on the table, I was left trying to decide is Steve an idiot or a liar.

What?

Too harsh?

I’ll let you decide.

“Not to put too fine a point on this, but there’s nothing to discuss — state lawmakers can’t pick and choose which federal laws they’ll honor”  or so says Steve.

Well I guess it’s settled then, “there’s nothing to discuss.” Nullification is a no no.

What — you don’t buy his argument?

Well, neither do I.

On seeing his article, I was drawn to the picture of Abraham Lincoln standing in front of a Union Army tent with the caption “The last time we had a debate over nullification.”

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Third Kansas City Passes Second Amendment Resolution

LAKIN, Kan. (April 18, 2013) – The state of Kansas took center stage in the fight to stop federal violations of the Second Amendment on Tuesday when Gov. Sam Brownback signed the Second Amendment Protection Act into law.

But folks at the local level in Kansas continue to fight for their right to keep and bear arms as well.

On Monday night, Lakin became the third southwest Kansas city to approve a resolution in support of the Second Amendment. The city council unanimously passed a measure affirming support for the Second Amendment and declaring that city officials will not enforce laws or executive orders that violate the rights of gun owners.

“I feel most of the citizens in Lakin support the Second Amendment wholeheartedly, and we just wanted to get it on the books to say to the state and national level that we do support the Second  Amendment,” Lakin mayor Troy Michel told KSN news.

The cities of Ulysses and Syracuse recently passed similar resolutions, along with county councils in Seward and Grant counties.

Syracuse was the first town in Kansas to take a stand for the right to keep and bear arms, demonstrating how one local government standing up and create a domino effect.

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