Rethinking the role of governments

The following was published as a letter to the editor in The Times-News of Burlington, NC

With the hype of this subject coming out almost daily it’s good to dispel some myths.

In 1798 nullification was born as a result of The Alien and Sedition Acts passed by the Federalists and John Adams. In summary, these acts meant people could not criticize the federal government. Yes, in the early U.S. journalists and others were arrested and jailed under these acts. The acts also stopped French immigrants from coming in while deporting others who were here.

At the time, Vice President Thomas Jefferson (back then the opposing party could be the vice president) and Gov. James Madison authored The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions to oppose these acts and they were passed by the respective state governments. Nullification was also used against Federal Conscription during the War of 1812. The most important example of nullification is how Northern states used it in the fight against slavery and Federal Fugitive Slave Act in the 1840s and 1850s. Nullification has never been used to propagate slavery. It was however wrongly used in an effort to stop integration of schools in the 1960s, and shame on those who did it.

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Judge Napolitano Slams FBI’s Mueller

On Studio B with Shepard Smith, Napolitano lambasted Mueller for testimony given before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday on the government’s surveillance of Americans’ phone and email communications, alleging that he’s “still singing the tune that Constitutional liberties can be subordinate to the government’s need to [find the bad people].”

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Indiana Action Alert: Time to Nullify Indefinite Detention Locally

The Indiana State Senate took a big step forward last session in response to the “Indefinite Detention” powers of the NDAA when it passed SB400 by a pretty strong margin.  But, the House refused to move the bill forward and there’s still work to do to nullify this unconstitutional federal act.

What was most lacking – beyond political courage in the House – was strong grassroots organization behind the bill well in advance.  Last minute support was strong, but next time, Indiana legislators need to be on notice for months in order to get this important legislation passed.  With your work and dedication, liberty will win.

In order to take this to the next level and get a victory, your action is needed right now.  Starting today, and all the way through the rest of the year, local governments around the state need to be pressed to take a similar action – passing legislation in support of due process and to nullify “indefinite detention”.  And at the same time, calling on the state legislature to do the same.  When the state is blanketed with local communities willing to nullify this unconstitutional federal act, the state legislature will be on notice.  Do your job, or else.

It’s going to take work to ensure that this is how things play out.  Here’s what you can start doing right now.

1.  Contact your local legislators – County, City, Town – and urge them to introduce model legislation in support of the Liberty Preservation Act.

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A Founder’s Case Against A ‘National’ Government

File:LutherMartinBig.jpgOn June 27-28, 1787, for over three hours, Luther Martin, Maryland’s Attorney General and delegate, objected vehemently on the floor of the Constitutional Convention. Transcripts of Mr. Martin’s remarks were recorded into history by Robert Yates (NY) and James Madison (VA). Madison was author of the Virginia plan, which Mr. Martin vigorously debated at regular intervals throughout the Convention.

Upon his arrival at the Philadelphia Convention, Luther Martin pondered possible remedies, as was his charge, to amend the Articles of Confederation, ratified and adopted March 1, 1781. An air of mystery presided over the statehouse, as the founders and framers conducted the work of the Grand Convention.

Mr. Martin reflected on his arrival to the Convention, on June 9, 1787, in a speech given to the Maryland Delegation on November 29 of that same year.

When I joined the Convention I found that Mr. Randolph, of Virginia, had laid before the Body certain propositions (the Virginia Plan) for their consideration, and that the Convention had entered into many Resolutions, respecting the manner of conducting Business, one of which was that seven states might proceed to Business, and therefore four states composing a Majority of seven, might eventually give the Law to the whole Union.

Different instructions were given to Members of different states – The delegates from Delaware were instructed not to infringe on their Local Constitution – others were prohibited their assent to any duty in Commerce: the Convention enjoined all to secrecy; so that we had no opportunity of gaining information by a Correspondence with others; and what was still more inconvenient, extracts from their own Journals were prohibited even for our own information.

One of the critical issues debated after the introduction of the Virginia Plan was the distinction between the differing types of general governments, particularly a federation and a national government. A federation exists by a compact, or contract, resting upon the good faith of the states, contrasted with a national government exercising complete control over the operation of the states. The nationalist position of the Virginia Plan was repulsive to many delegates, including Mr. Martin, who opposed the prospect of a central government. He argued it would consume the sovereignty of the states.

Beginning his remarks on the floor of the Constitutional Convention, Mr. Martin addressed the function of a general government.

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A World Without Risk or Responsiblity

The Path that Got Me Here

Early on, I grew up like most people, believing that all government regulations are good. And, we just need even more to stop the problems we encounter. All the fears in our lives can be legislated away, and if the government just locked themselves up in a room, they can solve all our problems.

However that was breaking down after just one semester in grad school. I took a class on exposure, risk management, and regulation. I found I was constantly being talked into circles. There was never an answer to “how clean is clean?” I learned that there are only a handful of chemicals we truly know about. And I even found chemical dose response guidelines from federal regulatory agencies don’t necessarily allow you to translate animal to human exposure. Yet, for most publications it is custom to always sight a government standard. Surprisingly, after attending a national conference, I saw many industries just sick of this model. And instead they were pulling away from government standards. Instead, industries were testing their own products that had risks of toxic exposure and formed their own risk management plan that didn’t coincide with government standards. One that was accurate to human exposure and response.

This experience was just one of the first steps in the direction that ended the idea that federal regulatory agencies have an answer for everything. I’m not saying that these agencies were meant to be evil. In fact, there is plenty of good safety information on their websites and in their articles. I just believe that most things that become law flow from good intentions.

Some of those good intentions are now controlling peoples’ lives.

Therein lies the evil. It’s like voting for either political party’s agenda. One day you just wake up and realize, they are both crap and you need to find a better way that doesn’t involve them.

The next step in solidifying my path came from something one of my friends said.

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Action Alert: Nullify Federal Gun “Laws” Locally in the state of Arizona

Last session, six Arizona state senators sponsored a 2nd Amendment Preservation Act (SB1112) in Arizona. Sadly, that bill died in committee.

But don’t despair! Options to protect the right to keep and bear arms remain open. Through  grassroots efforts in your city, town, municipality and county, you can break down the federal supremacists’ blockade in Arizona.

Even when states failed to interpose, government bodies at the local level can step into the fray. Counties and cities can refuse to assist any federal attempts enforce federal gun laws in their jurisdictions. These measures will not only provide  practical protections, they will send a strong message to Phoenix. Successful actions at the local level will put pressure on state legislators in the next session, and the process of passing local measure will serve as an educational tool both for lawmakers and the general public.

Of course, local governments won’t act without citizen input and grassroots pressure. The good news is a few dedicated individuals can make a difference at the local level.

That’s where you can step up to the plate.

Form grassroots local nullification groups. Bring your sheriff, local law enforcement, and your community together. Educate each other on nullification, the Second Amendment, and the Constitution. Teach community members that no state or locality is forced into enforcing federal laws. Then introduce model legislation to preserve the Second Amendment to your local lawmakers. Encourage your city, town, municipality and county officials to refuse to aid, enforce, or provide resources to the federal government when it attempts to violate Second Amendment.

Local noncompliance can create major obstructions and impediments. Federal law enforcement agencies lack the manpower and resources to enforce federal laws on their own. They always require the aid of state AND local law enforcement. As Judge Andrew Napolitano said recently, widespread noncompliance can make a federal law “nearly impossible to enforce” (video here).

It’s going to take work to ensure that this is how things play out.  Here’s what you can start doing right now.   

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New Texas Law Bans Warrantless Drone Spying

Last Friday, Governor Perry signed into law a bill to severely restrict the use of drones for surveillance.   Dubbed the ‘Texas Privacy Act’, H.B. 912 is an attempt to rein in potential abuses related to the rapidly-developing drone technology that has made its hands into the hands of government at the state and federal levels. The bill was originally authored by Rep. Gooden (R-District 4) and amassed over 100 co-sponsors since it was introduced Feb. 1, showing vast and bipartisan support for stopping the government’s Orwellian takeover of our skies. The House passed the bill by a vote of 128-11 on May 10th. (roll call here)  And the Senate passed a slightly amended version of the bill by a vote of 29-1. (roll call here).

BILL INFORMATION

The bill states that “a person commits an offense if the person uses or authorizes the use of an unmanned vehicle or aircraft to capture an image without the express consent of the person who owns or lawfully occupies the real property captured in the image.” The offender would be charged with a Class C misdemeanor if they were caught violating this part of the law.

Data gathered by law enforcement illegally ‘may not be used as evidence in any criminal or juvenile proceeding, civil action, or administrative proceeding’ according to the bill and ‘is not subject to discovery, subpoena, or other means of legal compulsion for its release.’ This incentivizes police to not misuse the drone technology unless they wish to risk jeopardizing their entire investigation.

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Nullification Returns to Wisconsin

By Phil Zimmermann, originally posted at Wisconsin Republic

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 required citizens of the free states to capture and return escaped slaves. Wisconsin lead the charge against this despicable federal legislation through nullification and widespread non-compliance.

The Wisconsin Legislature passed a nullification resolution declaring the Fugitive Slave Act to be “without authority, void, and of no force.” The Wisconsin courts as well declined to prosecute Wisconsinites who refused to comply with the law.

Justice Smith of the Wisconsin Supreme Court said in 1854:

But the real danger to the union consists, not so much in resistance to laws constitutionally enacted, as in acquiescence in measures which violate the constitution.  It is much safer to resist unauthorized and unconstitutional power, at its very commencement, when it can be done by constitutional means, than to wait until the evil is so deeply and firmly rooted that the only remedy is revolution.

Today the Federal government again threatens civil rights. The Patriot Act and the Orwellian NSA surveillance state have all but destroyed the 4th amendment. The IRS and DOJ targeting of political groups and journalists seems bent on destroying the 1st amendment as well.

Against this backdrop Wisconsin Rep. Michael Schraa has introduced legislation to address the significant efforts being made to limit our ability to protect ourselves and our families, as guaranteed by the 2nd amendment.

“This bill, the Firearms Freedom Act, sends a simple message to the federal government,” said Schraa (R – Oshkosh).  “Wisconsin will not help you take away our second amendment rights.”

Schraa’s legislation targets the overzealous interpretation of the interstate commerce clause that the federal government uses to claim it can regulate all commerce. The legislation makes it clear that a firearm that is manufactured and housed in Wisconsin cannot be considered part of interstate commerce.

This clearly has implications that extend beyond firearms.

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It’s not Edward Snowden who Betrayed Us

by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom Foundation

When you cut through the fog, the NSA controversy is about whether we should trust people with institutional power. Edward Snowden’s courageous exposure of massive secret surveillance separates those who say yes from those who say, “Hell no!”

The trusting attitude can be found among progressives and conservatives alike (with notable exceptions), and even some who have identified themselves as libertarians. Matt Miller, an occasional guest host on the progressive network MSNBC, left no doubt where he stands when he flippantly wrote in the Washington Post,

Do you empathize more with those who govern — and who in this case are charged with protecting us? Or has the history of abuse of power, and the special danger from such abuses in an age when privacy seems to be vanishing, leave you hailing any exposure of secret government methods as grounds for sainthood?…

Is there potential for abuse? Of course. An Internet-era J. Edgar Hoover is frightening to conjure. But what Snowden exposed was not some rogue government-inside-the-government conspiracy. It’s a program that’s legal, reviewed by Congress and subject to court oversight.

So it’s okay if the government monitors masses of innocent people as long as it’s reviewed by a clique of gagged members of Congress and a secret rubber-stamp “court.” That’s what I call trust in power. Frankly, it’s more alarming that the spying is legal rather than rogue. Michael Kinsley once said, “The scandal isn’t what’s illegal, the scandal is what’s legal.”

Miller’s progressive colleague Richard Cohen said much the same thing in much the same tone:

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Action Alert: Nullify Federal Gun ‘Laws’ Locally in the state of Colorado

Colorado state lawmakers showed themselves as anti-gun zealots during the last legislative session, despite tenacious local opposition. In reaction, grassroots activists have initiated efforts to  recall state Senator John Morse, gathering more than 16,000 signatures.

Clearly, at this point Coloradans can’t count on their state lawmakers to protect their right to keep and bear arms from federal infringement.

Bring your sheriff, local law enforcement, and your community together. Educate each other on nullification, the Second Amendment, and the Constitution. Teach community members that no state or locality is forced into enforcing federal laws. Then introduce model legislation to preserve the Second Amendment to your local lawmakers. Encourage your city, town, municipality and county officials to refuse to aid, enforce, or provide resources to the federal government when it attempts to violate Second Amendment.

Local noncompliance can create major obstructions and impediments. Federal law enforcement agencies lack the manpower and resources to enforce federal laws on their own. They always require the aid of state AND local law enforcement. As Judge Andrew Napolitano said recently, widespread noncompliance can make a federal law “nearly impossible to enforce” (video here).

It’s going to take work to ensure that this is how things play out.  Here’s what you can start doing right now.  

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