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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MSNBC’s Kornacki Attacks Nullification, Makes a Fool of Himself

It’s no secret that MSNBC has no love for nullification.

Back in 2011, Rachel Maddow attempted to link the growing nullification movement to racism. Jason Rink used parts her television segment and refuted many of her statements in his documentary, Nullification: A Rightful Remedy.

The folks over at MSNBC haven’t changed their tune. Recently, The Rachel Maddow Show producer Steven Benen wrote a commentary on the show’s blog page called, Pointless Nullfication in Kansas  critical of the recently passed Firearms Freedom Act. Tenth Amendment Center’s Executive Director Michael Boldin responded to Benen’s article with an audio segment, MSNBC: Where it’s Always Opposite Day.

And the assault continues.

Recently, Up with Steve Kornacki broadcasted a show segment, again discussing the Kansas Firearms Freedom Act.

The anti-nullification slant was apparent just from the selection panel members: Democrat State Senator David Haley, Harper’s Magazine Columnist Thomas Frank who is also author of What’s the Matter with Kansas, Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner from MomsRising.org and the “token” Republican Sheila Frahm, also from Kansas.

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Arizona Voters Get Opportunity To Consider State Sovereignty Amendment In November 2014

PHOENIX, Ariz. ( May 15, 2013) – The people of Arizona haven’t had much to cheer about when it comes to assertion of state sovereignty to block unconstitutional federal acts. Several measures passed through the state legislature over the last two years, but none escaped the ink flowing from Gov. Jan “Finger-wagging” Brewer’s veto pen.

Last year, the Arizona governor vetoed a bill nullifying indefinite detention provisions written into the National Defense Authorization Act and a sheriff’s first initiative that would have required federal agents to notify the county sheriff before operating in their jurisdiction. During the latest legislative session, Brewer rejected a bill that would have allowed the use of gold and silver as legal tender in the Grand Canyon State.

But Brewer won’t have the opportunity to put the kibosh on a powerful state sovereignty bill  garnering final approval in the legislature Tuesday.

The people of Arizona will get the final say.

HCR1016 places a constitutional amendment on the November 2014 general election ballot. If approved by the voters, a direct mechanism will be created to help ensure that the use of state personnel and financial resources will only be authorized for activities consistent with the Constitution. That would functionally prohibit state cooperation with  federal enforcement of  gun “laws” violating the Second Amendment, or attempts to indefinitely detain people in Arizona under the NDAA. The provision would essentially end all state cooperation with  any unconstitutional acts across the board.

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Texas 2nd Amendment Preservation Act up for a Final Senate Vote

AUSTIN, Texas (May 15, 2013) – On Monday, the Texas State Senate Committee on Agriculture, Rural Affairs & Homeland Security approved a bill that would render almost all federal gun control measures toothless within the state.  House Bill 928 (HB928), by Representative Matthew Krause, was passed by a 102-31 vote in the State House last week, and was approved in Senate committee by a 3-1 vote on Monday.

If passed into law, HB928 would require that the state refuse to enforce almost all federal gun control measures enacted at anytime – past, present or future.    It reads, in part:

An agency of this state or a political subdivision of this state, and a law enforcement officer or other person employed by an agency of this state or a political subdivision of this state, may not contract with or in any other manner provide assistance to a federal agency or official with respect to the enforcement of a federal statute, order, rule, or regulation purporting to regulate a firearm, a firearm accessory, or firearm ammunition if the statute, order, rule, or regulation imposes a prohibition, restriction, or other regulation, such as a capacity or size limitation or a registration requirement, that does not exist under the laws of this state.

This would make a HUGE dent in any new federal effort to further restrict the right to keep and bear arms in Texas. As Judge Andrew Napolitano has said recently, such widespread noncompliance can make a federal law “nearly impossible to enforce” (video here). Quite simply, the federal government absolutely cannot enforce gun control in Texas without the help of Texas.

After passing the committee, the bill will now go to the State Senate to pass the bill.  Senate rules require that bills and resolutions be listed on the regular order of business and be considered on second reading in the order in which committee reports get to the Senate.  In other words, it’s essential that committee chair Senator Craig Estes get that report to the full Senate quickly. (UPDATE 05-15: Sen. Estes has finalized the committee report and the bill is going to the full Senate)  

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Not for Racists

The following is a short excerpt from Our Last Hope: Rediscovering the Lost Path to Liberty

Nullification isn’t just for racists anymore.

In fact, it never was.

Nullification is about reining in an overreaching, ever growing federal government and corralling it within its constitutionally defined sphere.

Without a doubt, racists appealed to state sovereignty and nullification, and state governments advanced “states’ rights” arguments to justify trampling on the civil rights of black Americans during the 1940s, 50s and 60s. But those who point these facts out to discredit state sovereignty and nullification make a fallacious argument. The fact that some evil people turned to these principles to perpetuate an evil system of Jim Crow laws doesn’t negate their legitimacy and value, any more than a crazed lunatic wielding a hammer, committing murder, makes the hammer itself an evil tool. Hammers still come in pretty handy for driving nails. And as we’ve seen, nullification has primarily been advanced to promote freedom, liberty and justice.

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Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder to gun, ammo makers: Missouri is open for business

JEFFERSON CITY – Lt. Governor Peter Kinder today urged Gov. Nixon and legislative leaders to back efforts to recruit firearms manufacturers to Missouri.

In West Plains, businessman John Negri has offered up land to any gun manufacturer that wants to move to the Ozarks, a proposal that has gained the support of Gun Owners of America, State Sen. Mike Cunningham and Lt. Governor Kinder. Also, the Missouri Legislature this session passed and sent the governor a measure that declares federal gun control laws unenforceable in Missouri. Meanwhile, Joplin State Rep. Bill White has filed legislation that would give similar businesses tax incentives to relocate to Missouri.

“For years, some states that are home to gun manufacturers have continued to bite the hand that feeds them, passing laws to restrict firearms,” Kinder said. “Some of those companies now are deciding it’s time to pull out and move to more friendly pastures. I encourage Gov. Nixon and lawmakers to send a concerted message to these manufacturers: Missouri welcomes you.”

Beretta recently announced it will leave Maryland, Magpul has promised to leave Colorado and Colt Manufacturing has announced that, after 175 years, it is leaving Connecticut. PTR Industries, which makes high-end rifles in Bristol, Conn., also has said it plans to leave.

Other potential gun-manufacturers that might consider leaving Connecticut are Strum, Ruger & Co., Stag Arms and Mossberg & Sons. Fox News reported the companies represent about 3,000 jobs and an estimated $1.75 billion in annual taxable revenue.

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IRS Lied to Congress about Targeting Tea Party

by Michael Cannon, CATO Institute

On Friday, the IRS admitted that when “social welfare” groups with the terms “tea party” or “patriot” in their names applied for 501(c)(4)/tax-exempt status, IRS agents targeted them for extra (and extra-legal) scrutiny to ensure they were not engaged in politicking. The Washington Post reports, “about 75 groups were selected for extra inquiry — including, in some cases, improper requests for the names of donors.” IRS agents did not apply similar scrutiny to groups with “progressive” in their names.

Over the weekend, more details emerged. It now appears the IRS lied to Congress about this practice for more than a year. It also appears the IRS is still targeting tea-party groups today, in part because IRS bureaucrats believe groups that “educat[e] on the Constitution and Bill of Rights” deserve greater scrutiny.

Here’s a rundown.

Senior IRS officials have known about these abuses for nearly two years. The Associated Press reports: “Senior Internal Revenue Service officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups as early as 2011…on June 29, 2011, Lois G. Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, learned at a meeting that groups were being targeted, according to the watchdog’s report. At the meeting, she was told that groups with ‘Tea Party,’ ‘Patriot’ or ‘9/12 Project’ in their names were being flagged for additional and often burdensome scrutiny…Lerner instructed agents to change the criteria for flagging groups ‘immediately’…”. IRS agents also gave extra scrutiny to groups that “criticize how the country is being run.”

The IRS tried to get away with it again. The Washington Post reports:

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Compact for America: Saving the Republic by Fixing the Debt?

by Nick Dranias

Nearly twenty years ago, on May 23, 1994, President Ronald Reagan wrote a personal letter to Lew Uhler of the National Tax Limitation Committee lamenting the then-latest failed attempt by Congress to propose a Balanced Budget Amendment:

We can’t depend on Congress to discipline itself, as House and Senate leaders have once again demonstrated in rejecting a balanced budget amendment . . . . it is clear that we must rely on the states to force Congress to act on our amendment. Fortunately, our Nation’s Founders gave us the means to amend the Constitution through action of state legislatures, which you have been wisely pursuing . . . . That is the only strategy that will work . . . . Unless we act and act quickly, the people in the White House and those running Congress will bankrupt America.

What Reagan was referring to was the manifest need for state legislatures to advance a Balanced Budget Amendment by exercising their power under Article V of the U.S. Constitution to apply to Congress for a convention for proposing constitutional amendments. As observed by James Madison in Federalist No. 43, Article V gives the states the same power as Congress to originate constitutional amendments. Now that Washington has kicked the can yet again instead of fixing the debt—and President Obama’s administration has made it clear that it prefers having no debt limit at all—isn’t it time to take President Reagan up on his recommendation?

After all, unlike any prudent household, Washington simply refuses to balance its budget. Washington has become so addicted to borrowing money that the outstanding national debt exceeds $16.5 trillion. Our outstanding national debt now exceeds 100% of Gross Domestic Product, a figure not seen since World War II, and it is heading to 200% in the near future. The 2012 federal fiscal year operating deficit was $1.1 trillion. For the fourth fiscal year running, Congress has failed to pass an annual federal budget under which to operate our country.

As Reagan knew too well, the solution to our national debt problem will not be found in Washington. The country faces an overconcentration of power to incur unlimited debt that is too easily leveraged by special interests to enrich themselves at the expense of current and future generations. No matter which party is in control, Congress has been borrowing trillions of dollars from future generations, whose voices cannot be heard, to shower money on special interests who dominate Washington.

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