Efforts to Legalize Hemp In Kentucky Bring Together Activists, Lawmakers and Business Leaders

Mention hemp and it will likely evoke images of long-haired hippies in sandals banging drums and burning incense. But more likely than not, you will find today’s major players in the full-court press to legalize industrial hemp wearing suits and ties, not tie-dye T-shirts.

In fact, the coalition driving the hemp movement in Kentucky features prominent business leaders, farmers and political figures, including state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer.

Comer began pushing for legalization within a month of taking office in 2011. His efforts paid off when the Kentucky legislature passed SB50 last March. The law legalizes industrial hemp farming in the Bluegrass State, but the federal government must first lift its ban before farmers can begin planting the crop.

“I have long believed that industrial hemp had great potential as a profitable crop for Kentucky farmers. Hemp is used to produce paper, clothing, cosmetics, construction materials, automobile parts, foods, and thousands of other products. We know that hemp grows well in Kentucky and elsewhere in the U.S.,” Comer said. “Kentucky was the leading hemp-producing state in the mid-19th century, and we ramped production up to record levels for the war effort in the 1940s. We should be growing hemp, and making hemp products in Kentucky and the United States. I will do everything in my power to make hemp legalization a reality.”

In fact, a recent Department of Justice memo declaring it will not challenge marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado could pave the way for hemp production in Kentucky, although Attorney General Jack Conway disagrees with that assessment.

A February 1938 article in Popular Mechanics dubbed industrial hemp the “New Billion-Dollar Crop. “ After years of declining production, the magazine predicted a renaissance with the invention of a machine that removed the fiber-bearing cortex from the stalk, opening the door for low cost production of products ranging from rope to paper.

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Government shutdown and debt ceiling FAQ

by Jon Roland, Constitution Society

There have been a number of Frequently Asked Questions pages posted on the Net concerning the government “shutdown” and debt ceiling, which provide commonly conceived “answers”, but it seems fitting to provide some more constitutionally enlightened answers to some of those questions:

  1. If there is no congressional appropriation, how can the government keep spending money on “essential” operations? Constitutionally, it can’t. There is no constitutional exception for “essential” operations. If government complied with the Constitution, it would have to shut down all spending and proceed entirely using unpaid volunteers, as it did in the beginning.
  2. How can some spending be outside the appropriation process? Constitutionally it can’t. It is done on the rationalization that the Constitution does not explicitly forbid setting up “independent” agencies that may be “self-funded” from their own taxes or fees, or forbid multi-year appropriations for other than the Army, but the Constitution doesn’t authorize those things, either, and one cannot logically infer a power from the omission of a prohibition on its exercise. The design established by the Constitution requires all revenues go into the Treasury, and all disbursements to be made under appropriations that may not extend beyond the terms of Congress, which are two year periods.
  3. Why can’t government workers volunteer? Constitutionally, there is no authority to stop them from doing so, although there is a 19th century criminal statute that forbids it. The statute could constitutionally forbid volunteers to use government-owned assets, but the only authority to forbid voluntary action would be to fire them, and they could then volunteer as non-employees using their own resources. Of course, if government prosecutors are “furloughed” there would be no one to enforce the statute. Somehow, one suspects it is a dead letter.
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#NullifyNSA Campaign is Now Underway

#NullifyNSAWelcome to #NullifyNSA – the movement dedicated to restoring the 4th amendment and bringing an end to the destruction of your privacy rights!

We are a grassroots organization working to turn off the NSA’s illegal spying program once and for all.

Because of the vast nature of the Orwellian snooping machine, it takes a tremendous amount of resources to maintain it. Aside from destroying our environment by depleting our precious natural resources, this also leaves Big Brother vulnerable to decentralized political resistance.

The feds cannot force state and local governments to do their bidding. This notion is so uncontroversial that the Supreme Court has even agreed multiple times. This gives us an opportunity to hit Big Brother through legislation at the state and local levels. By stopping local and state governments from aiding and abetting the NSA’s unconstitutional behavior, we can make it impossible – or at the very least far more difficult – for them to spy on us.

In the case of the Utah data center, it is bigger than several Pentagons. Thus, it takes an astounding 1.7 million gallons of water per day to maintain the facility. Most of that water comes from a political subdivision of the state of Utah. That means we can cut the NSA off. Many other NSA centers have similar agreements with local and state governments. They can be cut off as well.

And that’s not all we are up to.

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Sean Wilentz Plays John Yoo on the Debt Ceiling (with my Response)

In the New York Times, Princeton historian Sean Wilentz: Obama and the Debt (arguing that refusing to raise the debt ceiling “would violate [a] ‘fundamental principle’ of the Constitution” and that the President “in times of national crisis, can invoke emergency power to protect the Constitution” by, in this case, borrowing on his own authority.)

(Thanks to Michael Perry for the pointer).

I have some comments, none of them complimentary.  So I’ll start by saying that Professor Wilentz is a great historian and everyone should, at minimum, read his Bancroft-award-winning The Rise of American Democracy: From Jefferson to Lincoln (W.W. Norton, 2006).

Now for the comments:

1.  Wilentz asserts the meaning of Section 4 of the Fourteenth Amendment, chiefly by looking at drafting and ratifying history, prominently quoting Republican leader Benjamin Wade, and referring to the beliefs and motivations of other principal drafters.  In sum, this is the original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.  Apparently Sean Wilentz is an originalist!

But wait, I thought historians denied the very foundations of originalism, claiming that history cannot be used to establish fixed meanings.  Is there actually some deep split among leading historians regarding the use of history?  (See alsohere, in which the great historian Joseph Ellis appears certain of the historical meaning of the Second Amendment).  Or do historians’ doubts about the coherence of originalism only apply when it’s done by law professors, or by conservatives?

2.  Professor Wilentz’s history doesn’t show what he thinks it shows.

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Don’t Be Distracted by the Fake Government Shutdown

If you have been watching CNN, you would think the sky was falling. Our ‘public servants’ have been whining and crying endlessly about how their precious bureaucracy has been shutdown. To these arrogant elitists, this means that the sun won’t shine and the grass won’t grow. However, the state of the country hasn’t changed very much in spite of the alleged shutdown.

In reality, the feds are still drone-bombing children, creating a 1984-style surveillance state, molesting people at airports and racking up astronomical amounts of debt to fund all of this deviousness. And of course, Obamacare is still being implemented in the state of Michigan thanks to the disgraced backstabber Rick Snyder.

The feds are hoping since a small amount of federal workers are temporarily laid off that the American public will panic and forget about the mountain of government incompetence and corruption that is evident at every level. As distracted as many Americans are unfortunately are, they are too fed up with the status quo to forget about how the numerous ways they have been tread upon by government. They see the prices of their food and gas going up, they see the dismal job market, they see the bizarre unhinged behavior of their government officials. All the propaganda in the world cannot keep the American people in the dark any longer.

The good news out of this turmoil is the polarized nature of government. The political system has been polarized for quite some time, but it has to be at a record level right now. This is good news because when these guys are at each others throats, less things get done. When less things get done, it is far less likely for the government to destroy the economy and our basic rights. It is really that simple.

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Oxford, Mass Passes Strong Non-Binding Resolution Against Indefinite Detention

Just days after Albany, New York passed a resolution as a statement of intent against indefinite detention, the Town of Oxford, Massachusetts followed up with another.

Under Massachusetts home rule law, a local community organized as a town preserves the open town meeting or the representative town meeting as their governing body rather than by the vote of an elected body like a town council.  On Wednesday, by popular vote, the People of Oxford approved – nearly unanimously – a strong resolution primarily drafted by People Against the National Defense Authorization Act (P.A.N.D.A).

NO LEGAL EFFECT

Like the one passed in Albany, the resolution in Oxford is not legally-binding – it is a mere statement of opinion and intent.  It holds no force of law over the activities of town employees, or anyone else for that matter.  But, it is a strong first step towards resisting and eventually nullifying indefinite detention (and other) unconstitutional federal powers within the Town, and the state of Massachusetts.  As noted in our report on the Albany resolution, a non-binding resolution – with no force of law – is an important step because it follows James Madison’s blueprint to resist federal acts within the states.    There are 4 steps which James Madison advised for us to take to stop federal powers, and such a resolution is an important piece of that puzzle.  (learn more below)

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A Glimpse into the Basement: Government is Force

This government shutdown gives us just a little glimpse into the basement under Washington D.C.

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.

Most attribute the quote to George Washington, although that remains questionable. But whether the first president uttered those words or not, they stand no less true.

Sometimes when I talk about tyranny, or the danger of centralized power, people accuse me of hyperbole. Honestly, sometimes it is. But any honest study of history reveals mtrushmorethat centralized governments rarely “care” for the people they lord over. They become self-serving institutions detached from the people, obsessed with maintaining their power and extending their authority.

The so-called government shut down cracks the door just a tad and allows us to peek into the dark basement below Washington D.C. I find what I see chilling.

The U.S. government is a bully.

Since the government partially closed last week, we’ve caught glimpses of this petty “I’ll show you mentality.”

The feds shut down websites.

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A Lesson from the “Shutdown”

We have entered week two of the federal government’s “shutdown” and, amazingly, Americans are still hanging in there.  This is a fact that has chagrined federal politicians to no end.  In an effort to convince us all that we really need our omnipotent overlords, federal agents continue to execute their directive which, as one federal employee has unhappily admitted, is “to make life as difficult as possible.”

So far their actions have included closing national parks, barricading monuments, holding elderly vacationers hostage in Yellowstone and, horror of horrors, shutting down Michelle Obama’s Twitter account.  If I didn’t enjoy the silence I would ask someone to tell FLOTUS that Twitter is free.

Sure, these are annoying maneuvers, but they’re fairly innocuous.  They seem more like an overgrown temper tantrum than the triumphant return of the Dark Ages.  On one level it’s actually been pretty entertaining to watch the federal government work so hard at trying to make us miss them.  On another level it’s a little sad, kind of like a jilted teenager trying to make his ex-girlfriend jealous by going to prom with his sister.

Either way, it’s a little hard to miss them when 80% of federal bureaucrats are still on the job, the NSA is still spying on us and our earnings are still being stolen from our paychecks.

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