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Washington State Firearms Freedom Act Returning in January

The Washington state legislature operates on a biennium, and this coming January begins its second year. Many bills that didn’t necessarily receive hearings, or have any movement last year, could still be picked back up in the new session – thought this is often a very difficult feat.

The state has a few tremendous legislators that are responsible for introducing many great liberty related bills. They are doing their part, and it’s up to us to do ours. By spreading the word about bills that work to protect our freedoms, we can increase our voice from last year and make a real difference in January.

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Gun Control

Gun Control: Protecting Ourselves Or Asking Someone Else To Do It For Us

Why do people commit it?

Violence.

The pummeling of fists, the stamping of feet, the bashing of clubs, the firing of guns. Road rage, reckless driving and rape. And then we have violent acts involving emotional abuse and bullying, which may or may not become physical in nature. The human race finds ways to hurt each other every single day.

Why do we do this?

A great many proponents of gun control believe that the human tendency toward violence can be curbed by gun-free zones, and the disarming of the citizenry. If this is true, then why are we seeing numerous public shootings in gun-free areas where the average citizen is not armed? And, why do we see such violence in foreign states where only the government and/or military are armed?

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Washington State

Washington State Will Keep Pushing For Industrial Hemp

Industrial hemp has gained a lot of ground this year, with legislation introduced and moving in several states, and laws being signed in Colorado and Vermont already. In fact, just last week farmers in Colorado harvested the first U.S. hemp crop in decades – and they did it in complete disregard for federal law. Hemp is such a versatile plant – with uses ranging from food to textiles – and is so heavily imported by the U.S., that it simply makes no sense not to grow it.

HB 1888 would allow for the production of industrial hemp in Washington state. The bill has already made it through two public hearings, and is currently being held in the House Appropriations Committee, where it ran into a last minute deadline this spring. The bill’s sponsor, Representative Matt Shea, has spoken repeatedly about the many uses of hemp, and told me in April that “this is a phenomenal bill, expanding freedom, allowing jobs to be created – a new market here in Washington state – the potential state economic impact is in the tens of millions if not hundreds of millions.”

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Breaking the Go-to-Government Habit

Food Freedom.  It’s one of the big issues of today. I’ve been watching friends of mine who are otherwise completely non politically involved become intense activists over this issue. And they’re right that we deserve food freedom…but what does that look like, exactly?

Here in Washington state, the current legislative excitement over this issue, revolves around initiative 522 – regarding gmo labeling.  Not long ago I wrote about I-591, the supposed protection of gun rights initiative, and how we need to be careful and read before we sign. Don’t get caught up in an excited frenzy. I learned this lesson personally over I-522.

I was visiting friends, the petitioners had just appeared, the labeling battle in California had just been lost and I thought to myself; this is for a good cause. I was caught up in something I hadn’t thought through all the pieces of. I’ve since had a change of heart.

But actually I’m not here to talk about 522. That issue was just the catalyst for my thoughts. I want to talk about this general idea of petitioning government to affect change.

Sometimes we are passionate on an issue, without really understanding the ins and outs of that issue, or the consequences of demanding change, right now, in the same old way we’ve done before. Some state sponsored programs that possibly began with the best of intentions, are now a heinous mess of bureaucracy that hurt more than they help. Worse, there is plenty of evidence that they are fearfully corrupt. Yet, we hate government for meddling in area A, while we clamor for them to be involved in area B. Is that really the answer?

Let’s look at one of the big players in the food freedom debate: Monsanto. Regardless of your personal feelings about it, I believe we can all agree that they are not hurting for money and they have big friends in D.C., illustrated of course, by the passage of the Monsanto Protection Act.

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Lie of the Century: NSA Director Claims to “Stand for Freedom”

We stand for freedom.

Those words were spoken by National Security Agency Director, Keith Alexander at a speech given during the annual Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, Nevada this week.

A little while later, he also responded to a heckler in the audience who told him to “read the Constitution,” with; “I have, and so should you.”

If that doesn’t qualify as the lie of the century, I don’t know what does.

I guess his version of the 4th amendment says this:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated unless the government feels it’s necessary, and no Warrants shall issue, because the government doesn’t need them.”

In an effort to show complete truthfulness, Alexander claimed that he would “answer every question to the fullest extent possible.” This because he welcomed dialog on this issue, and wanted to “put the facts on the table.”  He then assured another questioner in the audience that he had not lied to congress. Although, whether he was speaking only for himself or the entire NSA, is anyone’s guess.  He reaffirmed his stance that the NSA isn’t really doing any information collecting that we should worry about, because they are only collecting metadata.

Interestingly, the ACLU posted a great article yesterday on the truth regarding the intimacy of metadata. MIT media lab has developed a great tool called Immersion which “analyzes the metadata–From, To, Cc and Timestamp fields– from a volunteer’s Gmail account and visualizes it.” It illustrates what a huge repository of information exists as “metadata,” and why we have great reason to be concerned.

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Spokane City Council Brings Up Anti-Drone Ordinance

Spokane City Council members are getting ready to vote on a local ordinance regarding the regulation of domestic drone use. According to city council president, Ben Stuckart, this ordinance is modeled after a similar action that was passed earlier this year in the city of Seattle.

Representative David Taylor introduced a bill in the Washington House of Representatives during the recent session, which would have required state and local law enforcement to obtain legislative approval before purchasing drones. It  reaffirmed the right to privacy by laying down rules regarding the obtainment of information and use of surveillance. Despite being voted out of committee, 9-1 the bill failed to get a vote on the house floor before the cut off deadline. It was heavily lobbied against by both Boeing, and the Washington Association of Sheriff’s and Police Chiefs. Despite this, Representative Taylor still has hopes that the bill can be pushed through next year.

There is valid concern among citizens that because there are no current state regulations regarding drone use, the potential for abuse is incredibly high. Local communities like Spokane are stepping up to provide guidelines to their law enforcement agencies.

The Spokane ordinance would contain three main components;

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Welcoming You with Open Arms

 We had a really terrific weekend at the Tenth Amendment Center, and it just felt wrong for me to channel negative energy, despite concerns I had that I wanted to address. So instead, I decided to take some of those frustrations and use them to write something I considered more positive – a letter to a friend. Though I do have someone in mind, I also realized that there are other people out there in similar situations, and that you might have a friend you would write a similar letter to. If that is the case, please feel free to pass it along.

Dear Liberty Friend,

I want to say thank you.

Thank you for your hard work. For your family values. For working on behalf of people who don’t know and/or possibly don’t care that their liberty is slipping away day by day. Thank you for being a cheerleader to others of us who sometimes feel like we are just trudging through the muck. It’s nice to know someone’s got your back. Thank you for your friendship – and great conversation over cold beer.

I also want to say I am sorry.

I’m sorry for the jerks you’ve had to deal with, and that they didn’t recognize your value.

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Striking at the Root

Here in the northwest, there proliferates a climbing plant known to many people far and wide as Morning Glory.  Though there are different kinds of Morning Glory, they have in common creeping vines, and flowers that bloom at night, or through the early morning.The flowers can be quite lovely, and because they climb so nicely, are often used to cover patio trellises and fencing. The same vines that creep up, also creep out in a vast ground cover.

Unfortunately, all that flowers does not a happy gardener make. Morning Glory is highly invasive with a complicated root system that makes it very difficult to get rid of. “Very,” as in, I am pretty sure the cockroaches will be vacationing in it post nuclear fallout.

Every broken piece of Morning Glory will root and form it’s own plant. It can’t be composted, but rather must be thrown away or burned. The rototiller and the hoe are only helping it to achieve world domination. Weedkiller will take care of it temporarily, but do you want to spray weedkiller in your vegetable garden? The only real way to take it on is to dig up the root system everywhere you can, cover up your garden with black plastic all year (instead of growing anything) in order to burn it out with the sun, and/or just be prepared to be pulling it up constantly… for the rest of your life.

Sitting in my garden, pulling up Morning Glory, I was pondering the recent revelations in regard to the ever growing surveillance state. A local news station posed the question over Facebook of whether or not members of our community felt that Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower, deserved to be tried for treason. Some of the answers disturbed me, and the split was much more even than I would have hoped.

You see, quite many people still see the intelligence community as more interested in our freedom and protection than anything else. It hasn’t occurred to them that it’s power could be (and is being) abused. If it has occurred to them, they have quickly discarded it and gone back to life as usual. I think there are many reasons for this, and I am even willing to say that some of those reasons stem from a habit of looking on the bright side. Obviously there are many more negative reasons as well, but for the moment I am giving people the benefit of the doubt. They want to believe that our government has our best interests at heart. They are good people, their friends and family are good people, certainly the men and women working in our government are at heart, good people. But is this outlook naive? At best.

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It’s Time to Set Aside Our Differences and Focus On Our Similarities

This topic isn’t a new one here at the Tenth Amendment Center. We often discuss the left/right paradigm, and the sentiment of John Adams that; “There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”

Who could have known those words would ring so true today.

I had the opportunity to spend some time with our friends at the Bill of Rights Defense Committee this weekend, along with a few coalition partners. I arrived at our Friday night reception to meet a bunch of really open, and friendly activists. As we headed into our weekend, several of those in attendance identified themselves to me as progressives. Early on, someone labeled me as the capitalist, libertarian contingent in the room. It turned out that for a few, capitalism and libertarians weren’t necessarily the most popular things going around. Fortunately, we were all there to learn and those things didn’t detract. I was able to share a little bit about coalition building, and the need for us to work together, regardless of where we have politically identified up until now.

Within personal bubble, I tend to be in contact with a lot more people who consider themselves to be politically on the right. I am very used to the bad arguments and misconceptions coming from that side. It was incredibly interesting for me to be with a group who almost wholly identifying with the political left. Turns out, they have some of the same misconceptions about the other side, as the other side has about them! Of course I already knew that to be true, but somehow, within the group, it seemed more profound.

As the realization of this sank in, I just felt sad. Because here was a room full of really fantastic people, doing good work. People with amazing perspective, great ideas, and intelligent things to say… and a whole group of people across the aisle were missing out on them. I personally benefited incredibly from the wealth of experience and thoughtfulness that was in that room. I considered a couple of people at home who could have used the experience even more than I. It was challenging for me, at times, because I had one or two preconceived notions of my own that I wasn’t completely aware of. More than challenging though, it was just really inspiring. I was impressed by the level of respectfulness that everyone showed to one another.

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