Michael Boldin, founder and executive director of the Tenth Amendment Center, discusses the states’ rights approach to fighting NSA spying on Americans; the unlikely coalition that pushed through the NDAA-defying California Liberty Preservation Act (AB-351); and using anti-commandeering court precedents to withhold water and power from NSA data centers in Utah and Texas.Details
Many of the liberty-minded and tea party groups in Tennessee and across the country are gearing up for the 2014 elections. Groups and coalitions are forming up to “beat this guy” or “elect that gal.” This is all well and good. Getting good people who understand constitutional principles into office and keeping them there is a noble and important endeavor.
Not surprisingly, the Tenth Amendment Center gets constant requests to endorse candidates, or join coalitions to choose candidates to run for a particular office. A few months ago, a Tennessee state politician offered the Tenth Amendment Center $1,000 to support a campaign for federal office. Needless to say, the offer was flatly refused.
The Tenth Amendment Center does not endorse candidates or politicians, and it never will.
People aren’t infallible.
First, people disappoint. With rare exceptions, even politicians that start out with the best of intentions and a commitment to their principles become corrupted over time with access to power. It’s a given that no human being is perfect or infallible. That’s why we maintain our allegiance to the ideals and principles of the Constitution – never politicians.
While we work with a elected officials to accomplish our goals, we are adamant about maintaining our objectivity and independence. Suppose a politician runs a good Tenth Amendment bill, then turns around and does something incredibly stupid. An endorsement implies that we support all aspects of a politician’s policy initiatives. But by maintaining our objectivity, we can praise elected officials when they do the right things, and call out politicians when they stray. Keeping our distance from campaigns keeps us from getting caught in the predicament of having to ignoring bad behavior because of an endorsement.
Chasing every barking dog…
This so-called government shutdown has provided a lot of political theater and more than its fare-share of silliness. But state governors reaffirmed a very important fact in the midst of the lunacy.
The federal government depends on states to get things done.
The National Governors Association sent a panicked letter to congressional leadership on Monday, begging them to avoid a shutdown. In this email, the governors affirm something we’ve been saying for a long time – the feds need the states.
States are partners with the federal government in implementing most federal programs. A lack of certainty at the federal level from a shutdown therefore translates directly into uncertainty and instability at the state level. [Emphasis added]
Did you catch that? Most federal programs.
That means the states have a great deal of power!
States can refuse to serve as cooperative partners and SHUT THINGS DOWN!Details
Nullification is a funny thing.
We can’t always tell where or when the next domino will fall, but trends matter.
When it comes hemp cultivation, the federal government isn’t having an effect on the states; rather it’s the states having an effect on each other, and in turn influencing the federal government!
Last year’s legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington is the gift that keeps on giving.
Last August, Eric Holder’s Department of Justice essentially backed down in the face of marijuana legalization by popular vote in both states, saying it would not challenge the new state laws. It’s nearly impossible to enforce these types of prohibitions without local and state support, so in an effort to prevent further embarrassment, the feds issued a stand down order for prosecutors in Colorado and Washington. Now it’s not just Coloradans and Washingtonians taking advantage of this turn in events since the feds abandoned ship. Advocates of industrial hemp see the DOJ announcement as an open door for state production of the crop.Details
One criticism leveled against nullification is that it is usually a “partisan thing.”
In other words, most of the proponents of nullifying Obamacare are Republicans. Also, a vast majority of proponents of nullifying the war on drugs are Democrats.
This is a true statement.
With most nullification efforts now underway, the effort is partisan. This is not a real argument against the movement; it is simply an observation. In reality, any effort, with certain exceptions, will of necessity be partisan. (As it will be nullifying an act of the federal government controlled at the time by one party or the other).
Of course, these same critics would hold up the Patriot Act (passed by a Republican, and sustained now for five years by a Democrat) as some shining example of good governance. To these people, the fact that an act passed Congress, the Senate, and was signed by the president, gives automatic legitimacy, as long as some of the people who passed the bill were on both sides of the “aisle.” They would have you believe that the acts of Congress all represent the consensus of the nation at large.
But what is consensus?Details
Many think university research is funded by tuition and student fees. This is false. In fact, research in colleges (both public and private) gets most of its funding through federal grants.
In scientific research, a majority of these federal grants comes from the NIH, NSF, and DoE. Some of it comes from private sources, but most flows from federal sources. And private funding becomes harder to get every year. The Ghostbusters line sums it up: “Personally, I liked the university. They gave us money and facilities, we didn’t have to produce anything! You’ve never been out of college! You don’t know what it’s like out there! I’ve worked in the private sector. They expect results.”
This being the case, getting universities to stop accepting federal grants that promote NSA won’t be easy and will call for some creative thinking. But it’s not and impossible task.
What we need is funding competition.Details
I rarely get to report something “good” coming out of Congress.
But the Senate filibuster on Obamacare by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) certainly falls into that category.
Cruz stood on his principles. He stood for 21 hours and 19 minutes. He stood, and he talked. He stood despite a lack of support from Republican leadership (ie. Mitch McConnell). He stood up for the American people in the face of a draconian and unconstitutional law that will do unimaginable damage to the economy, and more importantly to freedom and liberty.
“I rise today in opposition to Obamacare,” Cruz said at 2:41 p.m. Tuesday.
Technically, the speech wasn’t really a filibuster. He did not delay a procedural vote scheduled for Wednesday and gave up the floor at noon per to Senate rules. Essentially Cruz gave voice to a whole lot of Americans who rarely get heard. Kudos to him.
The speech featured some great lines, including a reading of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham, and some amusing senatorial self-deprecation.
“This fight is not about personalities. Look, most Americans could not give a flying flip about a bunch of politicians in Washington. Who cares? … You know, almost all of us are in cheap suits with bad haircuts. Who cares?” Cruz said.
Rand Paul quoted Bastiat.Details
Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey went on the ClarkCast radio show last weekend to talk about the n-word – nullification.
They focused their discussion on Maharrey’s book Our Last Hope: Rediscovering the Lost Path to Liberty. In the book, Maharrey makes the moral, philosophical, and constitutional case for nullification.Details
These steps are just the first step of what will likely be a multi-year campaign to resist, refuse to comply, and nullify the unconstitutional NSA programs. Once these first steps are moving forward in a number of states, the next – more aggressive – levels of resistance can take place successfully.Details