Things That Are Stronger Than an Elephant

For about two weeks, the focus of much of the media’s attention has been the partial shutdown of the federal government.  If one needs to rehash how the shutdown came about or is unfamiliar with names such as Cruz, Reid, Boehner or Obama and how they all played a role, one likely won’t care to learn about it now as the shutdown comes to a close.  Much of the Republican establishment has caved, fully funding not only ObamaCare, but continued drone wars overseas and domestic spying.  Our regularly scheduled tyranny resumes.  We have learned, in fact, that in the slowing of the encroachment of government upon more and more of our lives, there are things a great deal stronger than the Republicans’ resolve.

90 year old veterans

When barricades were erected to block World War II veterans’ access to open air memorials, the generation that pierced the Siegfried Line of Nazi Germany had no issue with breaking through the “Barry-cades” that were supposed to impede their attempts at remembering their departed brethren.  People then carried the remains of the Obama Wall to the White House.

A bison

While the Democrats have the donkey, and the Republicans have the elephant, may I humbly suggest the bison as the symbol of the Tenther movement.  Nearly hunted to extinction, just like our precious liberties, they have been making a gradual comeback over the last few decades.  This particular bison apparently did not take kindly to the Barry-cade that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere.  But did the bison start screaming to throw the bums out, start an email campaign to its congressman or go to court?  You have to watch to get your answer.

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From Drugs to Taxes, New Amendments Won’t Make a Difference

From talk show hosts to taxpayer defense organizations, a lot of people out there are justifiably sick over how our government is operating.  Many of them have proposed new Constitutional Amendments, either to reign in the power of the federal government, or to force it to exercise its constitutionally delegated powers and responsibilities.  It occurred to me while driving (I do a lot of thinking and praying behind the wheel), that the things these groups propose are why the Constitution was written in the first place – to define yet limit the powers of the federal government.

Congress, presidents past and present, and the Supreme Court have disregarded their Constitutional responsibilities and limitations on their authority for over a century.  If they fail to respect the Constitution and all the Amendments currently included in it, any proposed new Amendments, even if they got past 290 Representatives, 67 Senators and 38 state legislatures, will do nothing to restore one iota of our God-given freedoms.

In the year 1919, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, which stated:

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Chris Christie is Wrong. And So is Eric Holder

Late last week, Governor Christie had some extremely rare criticism of the Obama Administration, particularly Attorney General Eric Holder.  Holder, regarding marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington, had announced that he would not challenge the new marijuana laws and said he would “let the two states” go ahead, saying he had “bigger fish to fry.”  No…

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Personal Liberty Laws for Whistleblowers?

Over the past few months, a name that has become well-known among Americans following politics is Edward Snowden.  Mr. Snowden caused shockwaves throughout the country with his leaking of information in regards to the NSA’s warrantless domestic surveillance program.  Supporters and detractors alike have had strong opinions on the matter, and the issue does not appear to be going away anytime soon.

Snowden’s ability to avoid arrest for these leaks has depended upon him finding sanctuary somewhere.  For the moment, he has been granted asylum in Russia (Author’s personal note: I remember when Russian whistleblowers came to the United States), much to the chagrin of the Obama Administration and former Bush Administration officials.  The thought that few, if any, have voiced is, what if Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers didn’t have to go outside the United States to find asylum?

When slavery was still legal in the United States, several northern states passed Personal Liberty Laws to combat the Fugitive Slave Act (FSA).  More than one version of FSA had been passed, the 1850 one being the most egregious, essentially allowing the kidnapping of a black person on the say so of an alleged owner.  

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Talk to Your Kids about Nullification

(Dedicated to Gabby)

A couple weeks ago, I was texting with my daughter, getting caught up on what was going on in our lives, when she mentioned being on grand jury duty.  The discussion inevitably, with a Tenther for a Dad, went to jury nullification.  I felt like a failure as a parent when she told me that she was not familiar with the concept.  It was then that I knew I had to work hard to make up for lost time.

There are many things that are important to discuss with your kids if you are a parent.  Some of them are things that, if you don’t talk to them, I can guarantee someone else will, such as drugs.  I have to confess, I tried to find a link to an old PSA from when I was a teen, but had no luck.  Other things, if you don’t talk to your kids, there’s a good possibility no one will.  Ronald Reagan, in his farewell address spoke of a new patriotism, and urged the youth of America:

All great change in America begins at the dinner table. So, tomorrow night in the kitchen I hope the talking begins. And children, if your parents haven’t been teaching you what it means to be an American, let ‘em know and nail ‘em on it. That would be a very American thing to do.

Jury nullification fits into that latter category.  Better late than never, I explained how the jury has the right not only to decide based on the facts of the case, but based on the law itself and whether or not that law is just and/or constitutional.  I then proceeded to share with her some of the history of jury nullification, from William Penn’s trial in 17th Century England to the NJ Weedman case last year.  As I explained the cases, I was told that was, “interesting.”  I replied, “And empowering as well.”

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A Certain Amount of Voter Apathy Can Be Good

“It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires in the hearts of men.” - often attributed to Samuel Adams

It has been nearly three weeks since the 2013 New Jersey primary election, a date so uneventful it would have gone barely noticed, despite a gubernatorial primary on the ballot.  The front runners in both major parties won by enormous margins, and most state and local elected offices had no real primary.  If one saw more than one name for a position, it was most likely because it was something like county freeholder or a municipal council position that usually says to vote for any two or three.  

Newton’s first rule of motion certainly applies not only to physics, but to politics as well.  Sure, we New Jerseyans show up every four years for the presidential election, but voters at rest on primary day tend to stay at rest on primary day.  What if somebody told you this voter apathy could be the liberty movement’s greatest asset to gaining a foothold in New Jersey politics?  For Tenthers hoping to shape the direction of their parties, be they Republicans, Democrats or independents, now may be the chance to start gearing up for a future run, not so much next year, when Congressional elections may increase voter turnout, but in 2015.  That’s not to say we shouldn’t try to find good, constitutional candidates next year for local offices, or contact this year’s candidates to encourage them to embrace nullification.  Doing so now could lay the groundwork for solid local candidates in two years.

Scott Grossman, Republican primary challenger to incumbent Governor Chris Christie, pointed out that voters in the primaries have twenty times more voting power than those in the general because of the difference in voter turnout.  It makes sense.  In an election where there are 100 people voting, getting one person to vote for you gains you 1% of the vote.  If you have 2,000 people voting, one vote gets you 0.05% of the vote.  If both people receive 51 votes in their respective scenarios, the former is elected, while the latter is up to a whopping 2.55%.

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Liberty, Raw and Natural

In Minnesota, a man accused of the illegal sale of raw milk was acquitted, not because he did not violate Minnesota state law, but because the jury decided the law itself was unjust, and therefore no law at all.  The story by JG Vibes was reported in September of 2012, but is certainly worth reviewing as a blueprint for using the power of the jury to nullify unjust federal, state and local laws.

The concept of jury nullification is older than the Constitution, the Articles of Confederation and even the Declaration of Independence.  In 1670 (h/t Dr. Julian Heicklen), William Penn and William Mead were out on trial as Quakers for “unlawful assembly,” as Quakers did not have the freedom to worship in England.  The jury refused to convict the two men, even under orders from the judge to go without food or drink until a guilty verdict was delivered.  After further refusal to convict, the jurors were jailed, but their sentence was overturned on appeal in the Common Court of Pleas.

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