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Uncelebrating the Fourth of July

by Harry Browne, Originally written July 2003 Unfortunately, July 4th has become a day of deceit. On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress formally declared its independence from Great Britain. Thirteen years later, after a difficult war to secure that independence, the new country was open for business. It was truly unique – the first nation in all of history in which the individual was considered more important than the government, and the government was tied down by a written Constitution. It was the one nation where you could live your life secure in the knowledge that no one would ask for your papers, where you weren’t identified by a number, and where the government wouldn’t extort a percentage of your income as the price of holding a job. And so each year July 4th has been a commemoration of the freest country in history. False Celebration But the America that’s celebrated no longer exists. The holiday oratory deceitfully describes America as though it were the unique land of liberty that once was. Politicians thank the Almighty for conferring the blessings of liberty on a country that no longer enjoys those blessings. The original freedom and security have disappeared, even though the oratory lingers on. What made America unique is now gone, and we are much the same as Germany, France, England, or Spain, with: confiscatory taxes, a Constitution and Bill of Rights that are symbolic only – merely documents used to justify governmental actions that are in fact prohibited by those documents, business regulated by the state in the most minute detail, no limits on what Congress or the President might decide to do. Yes, there are some freedoms left, but nothing like the America that was and nothing that you can’t find in a few dozen other countries. The Empire Gone, too, is the sense of peace and security that once reigned throughout the land. America, bound by two huge oceans and two friendly neighbors – was subject to none of the never-ending wars and destruction that plagued Europe and Asia. Now, however, everyone’s business is America’s business. Our Presidents consider themselves the rulers of the world – deciding who may govern any country on earth and sending Americans to die enforcing those decisions. Whereas America was once an inspiration to the entire world – its very existence was proof that peace and liberty really were possible – Americans now live in fear of the rest of the world and the rest of the world lives in fear of America. The Future Because the education of our children was turned over to government in the 19th century, generations of Americans have been taught that freedom means taxes, regulations, civic duty, and responsibility for the whole world. They have no conception of the better life that could exist in a society in which government doesn’t manage health care, education, welfare, and business – and in which individuals are free to plot their own destinies. Human beings are born with the desire to make their own decisions and control their own lives. But in most countries government and social pressures work to teach people to expect very little autonomy. Fortunately, in America a remnant has kept alive the ideas of liberty, peace, and self-respect – passing the concepts on from generation to generation. And so today millions of Americans know that the present system isn’t the right system – that human beings aren’t born to serve the state and police the world. Millions more would be receptive upon being shown that it’s possible to have better lives than what they’re living now. Both groups need encouragement to quit supporting those who are taking freedom away from them. Become a member and support the TAC! You and I may not have the money and influence to change America by ourselves, but we can keep spreading the word – describing a better society in which individuals are truly free and government is in chains (instead of the opposite). And someday we may reach the people who do have the money and influence to persuade tens of millions of Americans to change our country for the better. I don’t know that it’s going to happen, but I do know it’s possible. I know that the urge to live one’s own life is as basic in human beings as the will to live and the desire to procreate. If we keep plugging away, we may eventually tap into that urge and rally the forces necessary to restore the real America. And then the 4th of July will be worth celebrating again. Harry Browne (RIP 1933-2006), the author of Why Government Doesn’t Work and many other books, was the Libertarian Party presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000, a co-founder of DownsizeDC, and the Director of Public Policy for the American Liberty Foundation.  See his website. The post Uncelebrating the Fourth of July first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.


4 Jul 2012

Rank #1

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Dealing with the Federal Bully

During a recent radio appearance, a caller challenged my assertion that state legislatures should nullify the federal health care act, along with a slew of other unconstitutional measures. His reasoning? The federal government might be mean to us. He came up with a litany of actions the feds might take. They could yank all of the state’s funding. That would mean no more roads or schools! They could stop paying benefits to people living in the state and create a rebellion of dependent people. They could virtually quarantine and isolate the state until it complies. Heck, they could even roll tanks into the streets! OK, he didn’t include the tanks, but I honestly think that was in the back of his mind. The caller was clearly in awe and scared to death of the federal government. He wasn’t about to risk its wrath for something as trivial as stopping them from cramming a one-size-fits-all health care system down 300 million American throats. At the time, I tried to convince the caller that the feds wouldn’t dare retaliate in that manner. It would prove politically suicidal.  I argued the feds would likely back down, especially if a bunch of states nullified. That was, after all, Madison’s viewpoint. Should an unwarrantable measure of the federal government be unpopular in particular States, which would seldom fail to be the case, or even a warrantable measure be so, which may sometimes be the case, the means of opposition to it are powerful and at hand. The disquietude of the people; their repugnance and, perhaps refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union, the frowns of the executive magistracy of the State; the embarrassment created by legislative devices, which would often be added on such occasions, would oppose, in any State, very serious impediments; and were the sentiments of several adjoining States happen to be in Union, would present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter. But when I thought about it later, I had to concede the caller had a point. The feds might well retaliate. They could certainly yank funding. They could conceivably tell the “rebellious” states they weren’t providing any more federal assistance. Heck, if things got really crazy, the feds could even roll in federal agents, arrest state legislators and declare martial law. Would they? Probably not. Could they? Certainly. On paper, the federal government could crush any state, or even a number of states united in opposition. It is big, powerful and overbearing. So was England in 1776. In fact, England arguably stood as the most powerful nation on the planet at the time. It was said “the sun never sets on the British Empire.” Her navy ruled the seas. Her army could turn vast fields into a sea of red. She wielded enormous economic power. And she held the colonies tightly under her thumb. But that didn’t stop the Americans from looking the British square in the eye and declaring, “We will live as free and independent people!” The colonists valued liberty more than security, especially a false security under a despotic and tyrannical ruler who refused to respect any limits on his own power. I’m certain more than one hand trembled as it gripped a quill pen and inked a name on the Declaration of Independence. Those men must have felt the icy fingers of fear as they boldly pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. And this guy is afraid the feds might yank some funding. Wow. At some point, you must face down a bully. You can only let him take your lunch money for so long. If you continue to allow him to dominate you, he will take more and more and more. At some point, you’ve got to punch him in the nose. Yeah, he might punch you back. You know what? Then it’s on. Get the New Documentary Today! The U.S. federal government thinks its power unlimited. The feds believe they can control any and every aspect of your life. If they can’t directly control it, they will tax you into submission. The general government has no respect for its constitutional boundaries and mocks the states that created it – the states it was meant to serve, not lord over. The Supreme Court decision legitimizing the insurance mandate… I mean penalty – err, tax – should prove to everybody once and for all that the feds will never limit the power of the feds. Washington D.C. won’t fix the problem that is Washington D.C. The states must stand up and do their duty. They must interpose to halt the progress of evil. Nullification IS the rightful remedy. Not a rebellion, but a legitimate check on federal power. We simply cannot live in fear. If we do, we will live in chains. On Aug. 1, 1776, Samuel Adams delivered a speech at the State House in Philadelphia. He offered a message for those who would shrink in fear. “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, — go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!” The post Dealing with the Federal Bully first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.


12 Jul 2012

Rank #2

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Resistance to NDAA Kidnapping Powers is our Duty

Representative Brett Hildabrand of Kansas’ 17th district has introduced a bill, HB2161, to nullify the so-called “indefinite detention” powers of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). HB2161 has many co-sponsors including Representatives: Bradford, Claeys, Garber, Grosserode, Hedke, Houser, Howell, Montgomery, O’Brien, Peck, Petty, Read and Rothlisberg. This bill is currently in the Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice. This bill is different from and quite a bit stronger than previous bills introduced around the country to nullify NDAA indefinite detention. It includes kidnapping charges for federal agents attempting to arrest people in Kansas without due process. This concept stands on a strong leg, because when you remove due process from the equation, “indefinite detention” is little more than government-sanctioned kidnapping. The bill states, in part: “A person who violates the provisions of this section may also be prosecuted for, convicted of, and punished for kidnapping or aggravated kidnapping, K.S.A. 2012 Supp. 21-5408, and amendments thereto.” Violators of this bill could be subject to the following criminal penalties, if convicted of kidnapping: Kidnapping is a severity level 3 felony with a potential of 8 years in prison. Aggravated kidnapping is a severity level l felony with a prison sentence of over 20 years being possible. Both of these felonies are subject to a fine “to not exceed $300,000”. The exact imprisonment time is determined by a variety of variables and guided by a complex grid and attorneys. “Indefinite detainers” could also be charged with a misdemeanor charge of “denial of due process” which could include “a definite term of confinement in the county jail which shall be fixed by the court and shall not exceed one year” and “a sum not exceeding $2,500.” This bill also states, “the provisions of this act shall not apply to the court martial of any member of the United States military pursuant to the uniform code of military justice, 10 U.S.C. Chapter 47.” “When I first heard that the federal government was considering indefinite detention, I was horrified, but I was unaware of how to fight it at the state level. After reading about anti-NDAA legislation introduced in Texas, I knew we needed to attempt the same thing in Kansas,” said Representative Hildabrand. He continued, “The kidnapping portion was added to convey the seriousness of the offense. If a non-government official were to take someone against their will and hold them without access to the outside world, we would consider that a kidnapping. If a government official does the same thing, without granting access to a lawyer or the courts, I see no difference.” Representative Hildabrand’s bill will not release jurisdiction from the state of Kansas to the military. “I believe that a person either supports the whole Constitution, in every circumstance or they do not support it at all. Therefore, when any one is denied due process, I consider it an assault on the Constitution. I feel that is a key concept to convey to those serving in law enforcement and the military. If a bill violates the Constitution, it has no authority. The often misquoted Supremacy Clause states “laws pursuant to the Constitution.” The key being that it is pursuant to the Constitution to have validity.” HISTORICAL PRECEDENT A state proposal charging federal agents with kidnapping is not unprecedented in American history. In fact, such an action in the past has held the high moral ground in response to immoral, unjust, and unconstitutional federal slave-catching laws in the 19th Century. In 1850, when President Millard Fillmore signed the second “Fugitive Slave Act,” due process was under serious attack by the federal government. The law compelled people of all states to “assist” federal marshals and their deputies with the apprehension of suspected runaway slaves. It brought all trials involving alleged fugitive slaves under federal jurisdiction. It included large fines for anyone who aided a slave in their escape, even by simply giving them food or shelter. On top of it, bounties were paid to commissioners in fugitive slave cases. $10 was paid if a person was sent back to slavery, and $5 if the person was allowed freedom. The federal government was paying people to capture other people and send them to slavery. The act also suspended habeas corpus and the right to a trial by jury for alleged “slaves,” and made their testimony inadmissible in court. The written testimony of the supposed slave master, on the other hand, which could be presented to the court by slave hunters, was given preferential treatment. In response, state legislatures in Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Michigan, Maine, Kansas and Wisconsin passed what were called “personal liberty laws.” The state nullification bills made it difficult to nearly impossible to enforce the fugitive slave acts in those states. These laws were varied but generally guaranteed basic due process rights for accuse runaways. In some cases, these laws extended habeas corpus, provided for jury trials for accused runaways and harshly punished false testimony. Vermont passed a “Habeas Corpus Law,” requiring state judicial and law enforcement officials to actually help captured fugitive slaves there. Massachusetts took a really strong stand – and passed a law that provided for kidnapping charges to anyone trying to use these “indefinite detention” provisions of the fugitive slave act. In response to the Massachusetts bill threatening kidnapping charges on people who – well, kidnapped someone for having the wrong skin color – no federal agent was charged with kidnapping. Was this because the politicians there were grandstanding to garner support? No, it was no escapee was ever captured for return after the law was passed. The feds simply backed off, and the state response worked. Become a member and support the TAC! THE LESSON In many situations, if you attempted to do what the federal government does every day you’d find yourself in prison for a long, long time. When it comes to issues like kidnapping, the hypocritical double-standard is even worse. Morality and justice demand that we do something about it. The people of Massachusetts and other states took the high moral ground in resisting the indefinite detention powers of the fugitive slave act in the 19th Century. Many states today are taking similar steps against the indefinite detention powers of the NDAA. Whatever form it takes it’s the resistance that matters. When it comes to NDAA kidnapping powers, resistance is our duty. LEGISLATION AND TRACKING If you live anywhere outside of kANSAS, please contact your own legislators regarding anti-NDAA legislation. If none has been introduced in your state, you can email them The Liberty Preservation Act model legislation. Track the status of NDAA nullification in states around the country HERE ACTION ITEMS If you are Kansas resident, join the Nullify NDAA group on Facebook and get active here: http://www.facebook.com/groups/nullifyndaakansas/ Also, please contact the Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice. Chair: Representative John Rubin, District 18 Phone: 785 296-7690 Email:john.rubin@house.ks.gov Vice Chair: Representative Ramon Gonzalez, District 47 Phone: 785 296-7500 Email:ramon.gonzalezjr@house.ks.gov Ranking Minority Member:Representative Gail Finney, District 84 Phone: 785 296-7648 Email:gail.finney@house.ks.gov Members: Representative Steven Becker, District 104 Phone: 785 296-7196 Email:steven.becker@house.ks.gov Representative Rob Bruchman, District 20 Phone: 785 296-7644 Email:rob.bruchman@house.ks.gov Representative Larry Campbell, District 26 Phone: 785 296-7632 Email:larry.campbell@house.ks.gov Representative Blaine Finch, District 59 Phone: 785 296-7655 Email:blaine.finch@house.ks.gov Representative Brett Hildabrand, District 17 Phone: 785 296-7659 Email:brett.hildabrand@house.ks.gov Representative Melanie Meier, District 41 Phone: 785 296-7650 Email:melanie.meier@house.ks.gov Representative Robert Montgomery, District 15 Phone: 785 296-7677 Email:bob.montgomery@house.ks.gov Representative Tom Moxley, District 68 Phone: 785 296-7689 Email:tom.moxley@house.ks.gov Representative Janice Pauls, District 102 Phone: 785 296-7657 Email:jan.pauls@house.ks.gov Representative James Todd, District 29 Phone: 785 296-7695 Email:james.todd@house.ks.gov NOTE: Michael Boldin contributed to this report The post Resistance to NDAA Kidnapping Powers is our Duty first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.


7 Feb 2013

Rank #3

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The Supreme Court’s Game of Thrones

Cross-posted from the Pennsylvania Tenth Amendment Center. “In a room sit three great men, a king, a priest, and a rich man with his gold. Between them stands a sellsword, a little man of common birth and no great mind. Each of the great ones bids him slay the other two. ‘Do it’ says the king, ‘for I am your lawful ruler.’ ‘Do it’ says the priest, ‘for I command you in the names of the gods.’ ‘Do it’ says the rich man, ‘and all this gold shall be yours.’ So tell me—who lives and who dies?” In George R. R. Martin’s “A Clash of Kings” from the Game of Thrones series, the royal advisor, Varys, poses the riddle above to Tyrion, who is the “Hand of the King” – the second in command in Martin’s fictional kingdom. After leaving Tyrion to puzzle over this riddle for a while, Varys gives us his answer a bit later. “Here, then. Power resides where men believe it resides. No more and no less.” Varys then goes on to observe that power is, “A shadow on the wall,” and that “oft-times a very small man can cast a very large shadow.” In other words, Varys’ hypothetical mercenary will obey the instructions of the man who is most powerful, according to that mercenary’s own perceptions. Whatever real assets the three may have, it is the sellsword’s perception of the relative strength of the “great men” that will determine who lives and who dies. Ultimately, it is the sellsword, not the great men, who holds power over life and death. While this dialog takes place in a fictional novel, I believe that it does provide a useful insight into our own world. Here in America, more than 300 million people obey the laws which are brought to life by just 436 people and ultimately adjudicated by just nine others. This would not be possible if the 300 million refused to comply. Why do we comply, even when we may disagree with a certain policy? Because we have been brought up to believe that nearly all power resides in Washington, DC. Unfortunately, this belief is incorrect. For most powers, we should be looking to Harrisburg and the other state capitals. James Madison told us the truth of the matter, quite clearly, in Federalist #45. The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. Unlike many today, Madison, who was known as the “Father of the Constitution”, believed that Washington’s powers are “few and defined” – excercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce. He also believed that numerous and indefinite powers reside with the state governments. This understanding is confirmed by the Tenth Amendment, which states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” While they don’t always do so well on the Constitution, I do think that the Supreme Court has an excellent understanding of Varys’ riddle. Certainly, these nine people cast a very large shadow. If they don’t understand his riddle, then how else can we explain Wickard v. Filburn and related cases? In these cases, the Supreme Court has claimed that the power to regulate commerce “among the several states” enables Congress to regulate how much grain a farmer can grow on his own farm and feed to his own animals. Saying, “even if appellee’s activity be local and though it may not be regarded as commerce, it may still, whatever its nature, be reached by Congress” If the Supreme Court doesn’t understand Varys’ riddle, how can we explain this summer’s Obamacare decision which claimed that the penalty if someone declines to buy health insurance from a private company is, simultaneously, both a tax and not a tax? If the Supreme Court doesn’t understand Varys’ riddle, how do we explain the fact that it has, without ratification by the states, adopted an ad hoc Constitutional amendment process known as the “Living Constitution“? If the American people didn’t believe that power resides in Washington, would we do anything other than laugh at this nonsense? The court gets away with this absurdity only because we believe that the court has the power to do it. The reality, though, is that we have the power to make them stop. The Declaration of Independence tells us so. “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” Unfortunately, as a society, we continue to consent to nonsense. By now, the solution to this problem should be clear. In 1811, Pennsylvania’s own legislature told us what it was. “Should the general government in any of its departments violate the provisions of the constitution, it rests with the states, and with the people, to apply suitable remedies.” It is time, now, for Harrisburg and the other state governments to reclaim the numerous and indefinite powers which have been reserved to them. It is time, now, for Harrisburg and the other state governments to apply suitable remedies. It is time, now, for our society to believe that ultimately, all power resides with the people – not with the supposed great men in Washington. Here is the plain fact. We the people made an agreement, through our state ratifying conventions, that we would follow the Constitution. This Constitution that we agreed to follow doesn’t say a word about who gets the last word in interpreting a law. Is it a state? Is it an individual? Is it the Supreme Court? Is it the Pope in Rome? The Constitution doesn’t say. And the fact that it says nothing specific means that the Tenth Amendment applies. This power was never delegated to the court. Therefore, it is reserved to the states and the people. Under the US Constitution, we can argue over whether the state government or the people get the last word, but the Constitution’s silence on the matter makes it quite clear that the federal government does not get the last word on interpreting a law. We, not Washington, are the ones who are empowered to decide when a law violates the Constitution. Believe it. In Martin’s novels, the power struggle is waged with swords and bows, daggers and poisons. In America, our contests for power happen in the courts and the legislatures, but Varys’ axiom is no less true. “Power resides where men believe it resides. No more and no less.” When we believe that all power resides in Washington, nine men and women on the Supreme Court cast a shadow that covers 300 million people and the better part of an entire continent. This is not the system of limited government that was intended by our founders or accepted by our ancestors. It is time for change. Whenever the federal government exceeds its delegated powers, it is our right and our responsibility to recognize that the power being claimed is prohibited from residing in Washington. It is our right and our responsibility to stop believing that anyone has the power to make us consent to nonsense. The post The Supreme Court’s Game of Thrones first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.


18 Jan 2013

Rank #4

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There’s More Than One Way to Nullify

There is a lot of chest thumping going on across America and people are demanding that one particular federal “law” or regulation or another be stopped by physical force. Is that the right course of action in every situation? Is that the only path? Or, is there another way, a less confrontational answer to the constant barrage of new and more expansive usurpation of power by a federal government seemingly bent on violating every part of the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson referred to state-level resistance to federal acts as “nullification.” But he could just as easily have called it civil disobedience or non-compliance. A nullification of a federal act can take on all kinds of different forms. It often requires an entire puzzle – and each piece of that puzzle plays an important part. There’s education, outreach, non-compliance, and more. But nullification doesn’t always require a physical interposition by local agents – standing between you and the federal government. And while it sure gets the testosterone boiling, an O.K. Corral-style standoff is not required, and is almost never effective. In fact, modern times shows us that the most effective nullification efforts have no such standoffs. They’ve relied almost solely on peaceful non-compliance. Consider the state-level resistance to the 2005 Real ID act. Over the past five years, we’ve learned that a federal law can be effectively held at bay or even pushed back through non-compliance alone. There are 18 states defying Washington DC’s unconstitutional war on weed. Local sheriffs aren’t arresting DEA agents. And state legislators aren’t proposing it either. But year in and year out, more people and more states refuse to comply with the unconstitutional federal acts. As this keeps increasing, the feds keep having a harder and harder time trying to enforce their so-called laws. As big as it is, the federal government cannot be everywhere at once enforcing its so-called “laws” and regulations; it must rely on submission, compliance or “bribery” in the form of federal grants to accomplish its goals. Without local and state government co-operation, the feds are stymied and thwarted in many, if not most, of its efforts. The federal government most certainly needs compliance, if not outright assistance, from the states when it does its dirty deeds. Information-sharing, logistics assistance, access to infrastructure, help from sheriffs blocking roads, and the like. They can rarely pull things off without help from state and local officials. Just ask the DEA when they come to California. They’re never able to pull off a raid of a marijuana dispensary without the help of the local sheriff or police departments. Or, look at the Affordable Care Act, AKA Obamacare. Without states shouldering the burden of operating and funding insurance exchanges, the entire act could collapse. The fact is this: Without state compliance and assistance, many unconstitutional federal acts are little more than a house of cards. Refusing compliance on a state or local level is a big deal – and it sets the stage for others to do the same. So, when local governments like Beaufort County North Carolina pass a resolution stating that they will not comply with federal acts, orders, rules or regulations regarding the right to keep and bear arms, this is an important part of the effort to nullify those unconstitutional federal attacks on the 2nd Amendment. And when states consider similar legislation, they can act as even bigger pieces of the puzzle. North Dakota’s HB 1183 under consideration right now would forbid any state governmental entities from providing aid and assistance to the federal government or any other governmental entity for the investigation, enforcement, and prosecution of federal firearms laws not in force as of January 1, 2013. Virginia’s HB 2340, would, “prevent any agency, political subdivision, or employee of Virginia from assisting the Federal government of the United States in any investigation, prosecution, detention, arrest, search, or seizure, under the authority of any federal statute enacted, or Executive Order or regulation issued, after December 31, 2012, infringing the individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms by imposing new restrictions on private ownership or private transfer of firearms, firearm magazines, ammunition, or components thereof.” State and local legislation like these that I’ve mentioned fit the description of the “moderate middle ground” that Jefferson spoke of when he advocated for nullification. These actions are also in the tradition of Gandhi and Rosa Parks — civil disobedience and non-compliance. Become a member and support the TAC! This kind of legislation is stating the obvious; that the federal government has exceeded its delegated powers under the Constitution and therefore, their actions are “null and void and of no force” and will not be complied with at all. Last year, When Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall spoke in favor of HB1160, which became law and required the state to refuse compliance with NDAA “indefinite detention,” he said, “During World War II, the federal government incarcerated tens of thousands of loyal Japanese Americans in the name of national security. By this bill, Virginia declares that it will not participate in similar modern-day efforts.” When the federal government gives you laws, rules, regulations or orders that are not in pursuance of the Constitution – you are not bound to obey them. In refusing to comply, we are utilizing a tool that has shown us it can be very effective. In refusing to comply, we stand on the high moral ground. In refusing to comply, we can win. Michael Boldin contributed to this article The post There’s More Than One Way to Nullify first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.


31 Jan 2013

Rank #5

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Thomas J. DiLorenzo: Nullification

Add to iTunes Thomas J. DiLorenzo, published author and senior fellow at the Mises Institute, discusses the principle of nullification as a devolution of power away from the central government into the hands of the state or the people, Thomas Jefferson and the Kentucky Resolves as resistance to the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798, ways nullification was put into practice all across the Union in the early days of the Republic, Andrew Jackson and resistance to the bank of the United States, the “Tariff of Abominations,” nullification of the fugitive slave act,  the slander of racism that proponents of big government often throw out at supporters of decentralization, secession as the ultimate brake on government,  the power and control of the IRS and the Federal Reserve, the Second Vermont Republic, and the progression of dictatorial powers through the Bush and Obama administrations. Mentioned in this Show: Hamilton’s Curse Nullification, A Constitutional History The Real Lincoln How Capitalism Saved America Mises.org LewRockwell.com Kentucky Resolutions Virginia Resolution Second Vermont Republic Free State Project The post Thomas J. DiLorenzo: Nullification first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.


21 Jul 2009

Rank #6

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Of Traffic Lights and other Traffic Security Measures – Good and Evil

“Society is produced by our wants, and government by wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices.  The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions.  The first is a patron, the last a punisher.  Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil.”, Thomas Paine During my morning commute the other day, I was stopped at a traffic light.  While sitting there fiddling with the radio dial, my mind wandered.  At that instant, how many cars were stopped on how many highways by how many red-lights all around the country?  How many gallons of gasoline were being wasted while car engines sat idle?  How many minutes were being lost?  How much traffic congestion was being created as groups of cars were being forcibly compressed into tightly condensed clusters? All of these must be huge numbers.  Now multiply them by the number of instants in a day and the number of days in a year, this is surely a huge (and growing) waste, each and every year.  Early in the morning or late at night in my area, it is not even unusual to be caught at a traffic light with no competing traffic moving in any direction through an intersection.  We surrender our intelligence, our freedom, and our mobility to an automaton, thoughtlessly cycling through red, yellow, and green. Well there are many traffic lawyers however I recommend to visit kpnylaw.com/speeding-ticket/ you really should have the highest-quality legal counsel available. When you add it all up, this is an immeasurable evil perpetrated against the American people. The loss of freedom, the mindless submission, the loss of time, the loss of money as our gasoline is consumed….  Yet this evil saves lives.  I am convinced that most of these traffic lights are worthless, merely moving accidents from one place to another, but at least a few of them actually do prevent accidents and traffic fatalities according to the report from a wrongful death attorney in las vegas nv.  As much as I am convinced that traffic lights are evil, I am also convinced that some percentage of them are necessary.  The lesser of two evils, as it were. Last Wednesday, I was picking up my daughter from Blues on the Green. The weekly music festival is so large now that we agreed to meet at the McDonald’s on the corner of Barton Springs and South Lamar. Around 9:30, I saw a young woman on an electric scooter come whizzing by. And then another. And then another. Eventually, Barton Springs was literally swarming with electric scooters. Riders of every age, shape and size. And none of them were wearing any protective equipment or even paying full attention to the traffic lights; no helmets, no knee or elbow pads, no gloves. I even saw one teenage girl wearing heels as she zoomed along. As a personal injury attorney, when I see an obviously dangerous activity taking place, I sit up and take notice. According to Atlanta personal injury attorneys at Harris Lowry Manton LLP, you only have two years from the day you were injured, or the day you could have reasonably known you were injured, to file your claim. Electric scooters have become wildly popular in South Florida. And apparently it’s not just me, E-scooters were first a novelty and then many began to find them annoying: the darting electric scooters have startled and sometimes scared South Florida pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.Electric scooters travel up to 20 miles per hour and can carry passengers, including children, who stand on the floorboard with the driver. Many people don’t have experience operating or riding on e-scooters, adding to e-scooter’s erratic zipping and zapping in traffic. Florida’s Governor DeSantis recently signed HB 453. Under this new legislation, e-scooter riders have “all rights and duties applicable to the rider of a bicycle,” including the use of streets and bike lanes. Cities and municipalities can still place some restrictions on e-scooter use, such a keeping some sidewalks and streets scooter free, and regulating where and how the scooters can be parked. In sum, HB 453 will take some e-scooter riders off sidewalks and put them on the streets with bicyclists and cars. See the potential danger here? E-scooter proponents cite the scooter’s easy and affordable availability, and the ease of taking short trips without getting into a car. They also point to reducing city traffic congestion and pollution from car emissions. But what about Florida’s pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists?Particularly in the populated areas of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, e-scooters add to the already dangerous mix of crowded roads and never-ending construction. A South Florida Sun Sentinel review of Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue records found that 74 scooter riders were in accidents from December 2018 through April 2019. 57 of the accidents required a trip to the hospital, with ten suffering severe injuries. One victim died as a result of e-scooter injuries. Another has been in a vegetative state since late December 2018. Other states besides Florida are also reporting increased accident rates. If you have also been involved in an accident, we recommend contacting a Car Accident Attorney. What can you do to protect yourself from an e-scooter accident? If you’re driving an e-scooter, remember that most scooter accidents occur at night, and during the weekend. Exercise extra caution and care after dark, and especially so on weekends. Think of an e-scooter as any other type of machinery, and don’t use under the influence. Pedestrians, bicyclists or motorist in e-scooter traffic must also exercise abundant caution. Give e-scooters a wide berth, even if it means slowing down considerably: e-scooters can and do weave in and out of traffic. What should you do if you’re in an accident? If you’re hurt, call emergency medical services. But don’t assume that you’re not hurt just because you don’t need an ambulance. Many injuries don’t manifest until well after the accident. Call Chicago escooter crash attorneys if you’re injured in an accident in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan or of course Chicago. Matthew Waring has been on both sides of an accident: from winning for a client the compensation they deserve to being in an accident and feeling the pain and suffering of accident victims. The post Of Traffic Lights and other Traffic Security Measures – Good and Evil first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.


11 Oct 2012

Rank #7

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Don’t Comply. Nullify!

There are currently more than two dozen states considering bills to nullify various federal gun laws around the country.  Some address restrictions on semi-automatic weapons and large capacity magazines, and others address any and all federal rules, regulations, acts, or orders on firearms, ammunition and accessories. Some of them seek nullification success by requiring all state and local agencies to refuse to enforce the specified federal acts. For example, Montana House Bill 302 says the following: A peace officer, state employee, or employee of any political subdivision is prohibited from enforcing, assisting in the enforcement of, or otherwise cooperating in the enforcement of a federal ban on semiautomatic weapons or large magazines and is also prohibited from participating in any federal enforcement action implementing a federal ban on semiautomatic weapons or large magazines. Idaho House Bill 219 provides criminal charges for any state or local agents who help implement any new federal law, rules, regulation, or order that “requires any firearm, magazine or firearm accessory to be registered in any manner.” Bills such as these have gotten strong support from the grassroots, much like the support being given to the many sheriffs around the country who have stated that they will refuse to enforce any of the newly proposed federal gun control measures. The same thing is happening in many states to nullify NDAA indefinite detention powers.  In Michigan, for example, Senate Bill 94 requires non-compliance with the unconstitutional federal act.  It states, in part: “No agency of this state, no political subdivision of this state, no employee of an agency of this state or a political subdivision of this state acting in his or her official capacity, and no member of the Michigan national guard on active state service shall aid an agency of the armed forces of the United States in any investigation, prosecution, or detention of any person pursuant to section 1021 of the national defense authorization act for fiscal year 2012” But some folks, mostly self-professed libertarians, have been attacking such efforts.  These same people who now support “audit the fed” as a path to “ending the fed” claim such non-compliance bills as a path to nullification are worthless.  They call them weak, and many times they actively oppose them.  The general concern?  Well, since these bills don’t require state agents to have an armed standoff with federal agents, they supposedly have “no teeth” or are just symbolic. NULLIFICATION It seems to me that people are getting confused as to just what nullification is. So let’s clarify that first. Nullification is any act or set of acts which has as its end result a particular law being rendered null, void, or just unenforceable within a specific area. So, the question would go like this, “if the state isn’t blocking the federal government from carrying out their acts by arresting federal agents, aren’t we just saying that the state will sit by and watch the feds take our rights or kidnap us?  This isn’t nullification!” First off, nullification is less about the legislation itself and more about the end result.  There are many ways to nullify a law.  The courts can strike a law down.  The executive branch could refuse to enforce it.  People in large numbers might refuse to comply.  A number of states could pass a law making its enforcement illegal.  Or a number a states could refuse to cooperate in any way with its enforcement. NONCOMPLIANCE WORKS Here at the Tenth Amendment Center, we’ve been touting marijuana legalization efforts as a nullification of unconstitutional federal laws since our inception.  And last fall, when voters in Colorado and Washington State legalized marijuana for the public at large, even the Department of Justice agreed.  They put out a press release opposing these acts of the people, and referred to them as an attempt to “nullify.” Why?  Well, it’s because they know the same thing we do.  Persistent, relentless noncompliance on a large scale will almost always end in a complete nullification.  It may take time to get there, but get there we will.  The feds know it, and they don’t like it.   That’s why using state noncompliance laws to nullify an unconstitutional federal act can be so effective. ENFORCEMENT Federal enforcement of an unconstitutional law relies heavily on help and assistance from state or local agencies.  A quick review of recent actions by the ATF, the DEA and even the FDA makes this case quite clear.    Each of these agencies publish press releases on major actions, including convictions, busts, and the like.  And a vast majority of those have a statement like this, “Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies worked in partnership to carry out the investigation and execute the warrant.” Of the ten most recent field releases from the ATF, every single one of them reported on significant state and local support to carry out the investigation and the arrest.  The same goes for the DEA-Los Angeles division.  And even with the FDA, nearly half of the recently published actions included praise for the assistance or even leadership of state and local law enforcement agencies in carrying out the actions. Fact: The federal government does not have the manpower to enforce all its laws.  State and local law enforcement often times carry the water during investigations and actual arrests. If states pass laws banning both state and local participation – in any way – with the enforcement of a federal law – that federal law would never be enforced. MOVING FORWARD When trying to pass a state law that requires an arrest of violating federal agents, state legislators generally freak out.  They’re unaware of the rich history in using this method to successfully nullify.   And many of them have been taught incorrectly that only the Supreme Court can decide constitutionality. Become a member and support the TAC! So, until more state and local politicians learn the truth, and more good people who already know it get in office, such nullification bills with strong interposition requirements will have a very hard time getting passed. Now that doesn’t mean give up and go home.  But it certainly does mean – don’t be an idiot. Demanding that your state go from 0-100 mph in one fell swoop is really just bad strategy. Work to get something strong passed now, but don’t be surprised if you meet a brick wall.  And concurrently, work to get a good non-compliance bill passed too.  That way, you can actually get something done. It’s better to move forward now with something that will have good effect today and could even get the job done on its own, than to go for only the Hail Mary and keep the status quo. That means you’ve done nothing.  As even the federal government already knows, if enough states follow your lead, you just might not have to push for the next step next year. The post Don’t Comply. Nullify! first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.


14 Mar 2013

Rank #8

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Personal Liberty Laws: A Nullification History Lesson

Some opponents of nullification measures – both politicians and people in the grassroots – would have you believe that such efforts in state legislatures are only symbolic and have no real effect. One has to wonder if these folks think that the personal liberty laws passed by northern states to block enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 were merely symbolic. I’m sure northern blacks spared the agony of getting dragged off by some slaver didn’t think so. And Southern states didn’t either. South Carolina listed northern nullification of fugitive slave laws as its first complaint when it explained its reasons for secession in an official “declaration of causes.” “An increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution. The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them.” Pretty powerful symbolism. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 counts among the most disgusting acts ever passed by Congress. This so-called law denied a black person accused of escaping slavery any semblance of due process. A white man could basically drag a black man or woman south into slavery on the power of his word. “In no trial or hearing under this act shall the testimony of such alleged fugitive be admitted in evidence; and the certificates in this and the first [fourth] section mentioned, shall be conclusive of the right of the person or persons in whose favor granted, to remove such fugitive to the State or Territory from which he escaped, and shall prevent all molestation of such person or persons by any process issued by any court, judge, magistrate, or other person whomsoever.” Many northern states simply refused to comply and took steps to block implementation. The Michigan legislature passed its personal liberty law in 1855. The Michigan Personal Freedom Act guaranteed any man or woman claimed as a fugitive slave, “all the benefits of the writ of habeas corpus and of trial by jury.” It also prohibited the use of state or local jails for holding an accused fugitive slave, and made it a crime punishable by a fine of $500 to $1,000. Finally, it made any attempt to send a freedman South into slavery a crime. Every person who shall wrongfully and maliciously seize, or procure to be seized, any free person entitled to freedom, with intent to have such person held in slavery, shall pay a fine of not less than five hundred nor more than one thousand dollars, and be imprisoned five years in the State Prison. Note that the penalties apply to “any person,” including federal marshals and slave commissioners. Michigan wasn’t alone in passing Personal Liberty Laws. A Massachusetts Act called for the removal of any state official who aided in the return of runaway slaves and disbarment of attorneys assisting in fugitive slave rendition. Another section authorized impeachment of state judges who accepted federal commissioner positions authorizing them to prosecuted fugitive slaves. Any person holding any judicial office under the constitution or laws of this Commonwealth, who shall continue, for ten days after the passage of this act, to hold the office of United States commissioner, or any office…which qualifies him to issue any warrant or other process…under the [Fugitive Slave Acts] shall be deemed to have violated good behavior, to have given reason for the loss of public confidence, and furnished sufficient ground either for impeachment or for removal by address. The Act to Protect the Rights and Liberties of the People of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts also provided criminal penalties for any person who removed a fugitive slave from the state without proving his or her servitude in a state court under the criteria set up by the act – no easy task. And like the Michigan Act, the Massachusetts law did not exempt federal agents. How effective was this “symbolic” act? After passage, there is no record of a fugitive slave ever being returned from Massachusetts. The Ohio legislature took a slightly different tack. In 1857, it passed An Act to Prevent Kidnapping. “Forcibly or fraudulently carrying off” a free black person or mulatto would get you three to eight years of hard labor. Anybody trying to take an escaped slave out of Ohio was subject to the same charges if they failed to go to the proper court and prove “ownership.” You simply cannot categorize these acts as merely “symbolic.” They were binding. They were substantive. They were enforced. And they were effective. Most importantly, they were morally justified. These days, states across the U.S. are considering bills very similar to these personal liberty laws. They address different issues, but their substance differs little from these powerful acts. This modern day nullification legislation will seek to stop indefinite detention without due process, blatant violations of rights protected by the Second Amendment, and the glaring overreach of federal power claimed in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Like the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, these federal power grabs do violence to the Constitution and violate the fundamental law of the land. Get the new book today! They are illegal. They are criminal. And they must be stopped. The states can and must interpose for that purpose. The federal government will never relinquish power seized. Judges have proved themselves unreliable protectors of the people for more than 100 years. Our protests in D.C. fall on deaf years. Nullification stands as our last hope. To call these efforts “merely symbolic” mocks the courage and tenacity of those champions of liberty who stood up and said, “No!” to the feds, “rendering useless any attempt to execute” the draconian Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. I’m sure if you asked any of the men or women protected by the personal liberty laws passed by northern legislatures in the 1850s, they would agree with Thomas Jefferson. Nullification is the “rightful remedy.” It’s no less so today. The post Personal Liberty Laws: A Nullification History Lesson first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.


7 Mar 2013

Rank #9

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A Message to The Revolution

For many Ron Paul supporters, the first major shock this year was Rand’s endorsement of Mitt Romney. Others felt the blow from Jesse Benton and John Tate. Still, others looked at the Campaign for Liberty’s obvious shift from liberty only to a republican advocacy group as reason for dismay. And just this last weekend at the Paul Festival, many supporters were freaked out by what people considered a Romney endorsement from Sheriff Richard Mack. One prominent activist that I hold a great deal of respect for put it this way: “Well… I guess i needed this weekend to know that i dont belong or fit in anywhere in politics, including the liberty crowd…. Final straw, finding a new way to change the world…” From charges of the good Doctor getting squeezed out of debate time, to shenanigans in the caucuses, to surprising endorsements of the opposition, to rejecting convention delegates and proposed rule changes that would have made the Republican party an even more centralized power structure than it already is – the frustration level of many of the most dedicated Ron Paul supporters is at a fevered pitch. I do agree that there’s plenty to be frustrated with, even if the concern of some might be blown out of proportion in some cases. I was moderately active in the Ron Paul meetup group #1 back in 2007, and felt that – wow, here’s a guy that even if I disagreed with him on something, he’d start and end all of his actions with the Constitution. The same couldn’t be said for a single politician – in my entire lifetime. That – in and of itself – was something worthy of support. But my dismay started early on – with the direction of “the revolution” as many were already calling it. I remember watching a short CPAC introduction speech by Jeff Frazee, head of Young Americans for Liberty – a group whose existence was tied to Ron Paul as his message. Jeff got up on stage and proudly proclaimed that “YAL was the country’s top organization of young conservatives.” Hmmmm. Wow. My gut reaction? Did this dude just change the name of the organization to Young Americans for Conservatism? To me, that’s really all I needed to hear. While I have a great deal of respect for Jeff and the work over at YAL – I don’t particularly want to be part of a movement to expand conservatism, just as much as I don’t want to be a part of a movement to expand progressivism. I just want liberty. You see, liberty isn’t about politicians, or political parties, or political ideologies either. Liberty transcends all of it. But, I digress. Ron Paul has, all along, considered himself nothing more than a messenger. “I’m an imperfect messenger, but the message is perfect,” is one of his famous quotes. But long ago I had to accept the fact that this message – of the Constitution and your liberty – is unwelcome in Washington DC. And I’ve even grown beyond that understanding too. It’s not just unwelcome, there’s unbridled hostility towards it. Just ask a Ron Paul delegate to the Republican convention what it’s like to be blocked, buried and cheated at virtually every turn. That’s not a “you’re not welcome here” message – it’s a “we hate you and never want to see you again” message. So what’s a good person to do? Ron Paul has certainly stuck to his principles – through attack, ridicule, success and failure. That’s obviously one of the big reasons for Ron Paul’s dedicated support. “He’s the only one with principles,” is something I often hear. Guess again. Washington DC is overflowing with people who stick to their principles. It’s just that these people have a different set of principles. They are megalomaniacs. They’re thieves. They’re liars. They’re thugs. They’re killers. And they’ve been sticking to their principles for generations. I would argue that a person of principles – someone who wants to advance the cause of liberty..or any cause for that matter…would do a far greater service to their goals to stay as far away from Washington DC and the national political machine as possible. That’s why I’ve worked so hard for years now to be a part of a different kind of solution. A new way to change the world. As the famous philosophical question goes, If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it make a sound? I like to apply that to other issues too. If the president starts another executive war and no one shows up, will there be any fighting? If Congress passes a law and no one cares or obeys, is it still a law? And if these people keep holding their imperial conventions and we all turn our backs on them – will they really even matter? Just think about that for a minute. If all the time and effort put into lawsuits over Obamacare was instead put into efforts to nullify it no matter what the federal government people had to say, that so-called law would be dead and gone already. Twenty six states wouldn’t be figuring out the next lawsuit. They’d be resisting. If all the antiwar activists during the Bush administration had spent time nullifying instead of voting for a peace candidate that bombed Libya (and others), there’d be far less war too. If advocates of gun rights, due process, industrial hemp, free markets, civil liberties, better education – and an endless list of other issues – spent their time, money and energy close to home – with the courage to nullify DC instead of hoping to fix it – we’d all be far better off. I know Ron Paul revolutionaries have heard about nullification. Ron himself has spoken in support of it a number of times. Tom Woods wrote a book about it and speaks on the subject quite often. The Mises Institute held a course on it. A number of Lew Rockwell columnists have written about it. And my columns have appeared there and on the Campaign for Liberty website too – before they made their big shift. Liberty isn’t going to come by trying to take over Washington DC, or the republican party, or the democratic party, or your state caucus or a national convention. There is no “lesser of two evils.” They’re all evil. Become a member and support the TAC! Liberty will only advance by rejecting these people and the entire criminal system they’ve foisted upon us. I want the government people to get the hell out of my life, and the only way that’s going to happen is if we work together to nullify all of them into oblivion. The next step for Ron Paul revolutionaries? If you want liberty – it’s not another political campaign. It’s right here. Please come home. We’ve been waiting for you! “I would rather be beaten and be a man than to be elected and be a little puppy dog. I have always supported measures and principles and not men.” –Davy Crockett The post A Message to The Revolution first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.


30 Aug 2012

Rank #10

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Matthew Shea: Standing up for the Constitution

Matthew Shea, State Representative in Washington’s 4th District discusses HJM4009 for sovereignty under the 10th Amendment, putting the federal government on notice, the alarming attempts of the federal government to take over the national guard , the fact that Congress has not followed the constitution’s requirement for a declaration of war since WWII, plans for nullification efforts in 2010, the Sheriff’s First law, how left and right can come together to support the Constitution, and more. Mentioned in this episode: HJM4009 Rep Shea’s Legislative Page Bring the Guard Home Sign up for Rep Shea’s Newsletter Grassroots Central State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee Find Your WA State Legislator The post Matthew Shea: Standing up for the Constitution first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.


14 Sep 2009

Rank #11

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Why the Tenth Amendment?

Add to iTunes by Michael Boldin The following was a prepared statement for the 10th Amendment Forum in Orlando, FL on 08-22-09 First of all, thank you for allowing me a few moments to be here with you today – it’s an honor to be able to speak with you, even if it’s from the other side of the country where I am here in Los Angeles, California. As the founder of the Tenth Amendment Center, I’m often asked – why the Tenth Amendment?  Why do we need it?  And I truly believe that’s just what people like you and I were asking back in the time when this country was founded, too. But, the answer isn’t complex.  It isn’t difficult.  It’s simple and it’s easy to understand. The People of the day, the Founding Generation, like so many of us today, recognized that a government of strictly limited powers is the only one that has a chance of protecting our liberty – and that’s just the kind of government that the People created when they ratified the Constitution so many years ago. They did this because they knew through their own life experience, that a government without limits is a tyranny. The 10th Amendment was ratified as an exclamation point on the Constitution – and it lays out in plain English that our federal government is to be one of limited, enumerated powers – not the nearly unlimited, unchecked one that it has become today. It truly is our modern line in the sand.  On one side, we have those who believe in limiting the power of politicians, and on the other are those that trust the government to do everything. The 10th Amendment is the safety valve that makes it clear, especially in conjunction  with the 9th, that it was The People who created the federal government to be our agent for certain enumerated purposes…….and nothing more. The federal government didn’t create itself – and the state governments didn’t create it either.  It was The People who created the federal government, and it is the People who are sovereign in the American system.  This couldn’t have been more clearly stated than it was in the Federalist Papers, #22. And here’s the quote: “The fabric of American empire ought to rest on the solid basis of THE CONSENT OF THE PEOPLE. The streams of national power ought to flow immediately from that pure, original fountain of all legitimate authority.” And that wasn’t Madison or Jay.  It was the man who at the time was seen as the greatest believer in centralized power, Alexander Hamilton.  So, back then, even the great centralizer recognized that power comes from the People.  And that’s the way it was at the beginning – and that’s the way it is today. So only when “We the People” actually regain that power over the government that is supposed to be our agent – only then will we ever see liberty and prosperity flourish in this country. And, I believe that the path to this is not in Washington D.C.  It’s not in asking federal politicians to let us exercise our rights, or hoping that federal judges will give us permission to exercise our rights.  But instead, the path is in Tallahassee and state capitols around the country.  Courageous State legislators – like your own Carey Baker and Scott Plakon – are calling on the Jeffersonian tradition of nullification to resist unconstitutional federal laws. When a state “nullifies” a federal law, it is proclaiming that the law in question is void and inoperative, or “non-effective,” within the boundaries of that state; or, in other words, it’s actually not a law as far as that state is concerned.  We see this principle being raised in opposition to national ID cards, federal gun regulations and even proposed national health care plans. Starting in 2007, there was a state-level resistance to the federal government that rose up in a way that this country hasn’t seen since the mid-19th century.  Approximately two dozen states simply refused to comply with federal law.  They refused to implement the Bush era Real ID act.   And guess what?  Today it’s gone without even needing congress to repeal it. So what’s the lesson?  Through nullification, we can effectively resist DC and whatever they try to shove down our throats. This year, 26 states have seen a firearms freedom act introduced, and already two states have already made them law – that’s Montana and Tennessee. Sources close to the Tenth Amendment Center tell us to expect to see ten states introduce state constitutional amendments which would effectively ban a forced national health care plan – and your state of Florida is leading the way. There’s plenty of outrage these days, and that can be seen by the activism at town hall meetings around the country.  But think of it this way – If, instead of making demands on federal politicians who don’t listen to us anyway, all this energy was instead focused on state governments, we’d probably see 10 or 20 health nullification bills in states already.  And Obama’s health care program would be just that much closer to being dead in the water today. The bottom line?  As Jefferson wrote back in the Kentucky resolutions of 1798 – the people of this country are not united on a principle of unlimited submission to their general government. So, with that, I urge you – each and every one of you here right now – to take the ball and run with it.  When people like you say “I’m not going to wait anymore – I’m going to lead!” that’s when we’ll see this great movement in support of the constitution and your liberty really take off. Thank you. Michael Boldin [send him email] is the founder of the Tenth Amendment Center. Copyright © 2009 by TenthAmendmentCenter.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given. The post Why the Tenth Amendment? first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.


23 Aug 2009

Rank #12

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Mark Edge: Activism in the Free State

Add to iTunes Mark Edge, co-host of the syndicated radio show Free Talk Live, joins us to talk about the Free State Project in New Hampshire as decentralization in practice, moving towards smaller government on a state level, spreading liberty around the country by example, the insanity of violent response to activists by the federal government, the people of New Hampshire as having a streak of individualism and resistance to government encroachments, the state legislature in New Hampshire, liberty-loving lobbyists, the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance, Free Talk Live’s growing syndication, and more. Mentioned in this Show: Free State Project Free Talk Live Ridley Report Free Keene New Hampshire Liberty Alliance The post Mark Edge: Activism in the Free State first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.


8 Aug 2009

Rank #13

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Curing the American Disease

Some people seem to have the crazy idea that violations of the Constitution started just recently. And that things were pretty hunky dory up until January 2009. Charles in Texas had this to say: “If Barack Obama is elected for another term, the 10th Amendment will be obliterated.” We recently posed this question to a number of supporters – “On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate Mitt Romney on adherence to the Constitution” Janice in Georgia responded with this: “And the point is? We r getting close to nov election & must fire Obama! Get it? You better!” And finally, Mathis in South Carolina didn’t even beat around the bush, for lack of a better term, when he responded with this: “Bring Back George Bush!” Mathis, you either hate the Constitution or have no idea what it says. Until we got the current criminal in chief, Bush was quite possibly the Constitution’s greatest presidential enemy in history. Charles…are you, what…five years old? Or maybe you just woke up from some kind of time-traveling coma. I don’t know. But, to think that Washington DC has respected any limits on its power in recent years, is pure blindness. The 10th has been obliterated for decades. Janice, I don’t even know where to start with you. If Constitutional adherence is of no point to you, then Barack Obama should be just fine and dandy. And to all of you – and everyone else of this kind of viewpoint – things didn’t get bad when Obama got elected. Obama got elected because things already were bad. ALREADY THERE For decades – and decades – people in this country have turned a blind eye to violations of the Constitution. They’ve allowed politicians of their favorite political team get away with things so the other team wouldn’t win. Or, they’ve allowed new program after new program to begin – in order to fend off some great, scary emergency. The result of this has not been good. Why? Because politicians should never be trusted. When you allow politicians to break the rules given to them, or even allow them to simply bend those rules, and you allow them to do it for years without punishment – eventually you’ll end up with politicians who feel that the rules don’t apply at all. So, let me break it to you. We’ve been there for quite some time already. Look, I’m not going to get into reciting a list of Constitutional violations by every modern president – that list would be far too long for any human to read. Instead, I’m going to share with you a personal thought – who’s fault is all this? THE POLITICAL TEAMS Amongst presidential voters in this country, there are two main teams. There’s the people who claim to believe that government does a good job at improving society. This team scares people into believing that if the federal government doesn’t run your life, your world could collapse. These folks rarely spend time talking about Constitutional limits on power. Obviously. We’ll call this the Blue Team. Then there’s the people who claim to believe that massive federal power is a bad thing. This team often talks about limitations on federal power. They praise politicians who talk about the Constitution, and regularly cite the principles of the founders to back their views up. We’ll call this the Red Team. These days, the Blue Team votes for Barack Obama. Even though many people on that team are in favor of ending wars, opposed to the Patriot Act and indefinite detention, and find the escalating war on marijuana to be reprehensible – they’ll still vote for Obama. He’s on their team after all. And, the Red Team these days votes for Mitt Romney. This is the guy that’s supposed to be leading the team that’s in favor of the Constitution. But, maybe that’s not really the case. The word “constitution” barely appears on Romney’s campaign website. The only issue where he makes any reference to it is in regards to the Courts. And there, he makes this statement: “The job of the judge is to enforce the Constitution’s restraints on government and, where the Constitution does not speak, to leave the governance of the nation to elected representatives.” Skipping over powers reserved to “the states, respectively or to the people”- it sounds to me like Romney has rewritten the 10th Amendment to read something like this: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, or spoken of in the Constitution, are reserved to Congress.” Both teams have grown the federal government far beyond anything authorized by the Constitution. It doesn’t matter if it was due to a defensive strategy, or actually cheering things on, or just complete and utter ignorance about what the Constitutional limitations are. The end result is the same. The Constitution – and the 10th Amendment – have been obliterated for decades. But I digress. OUR DISEASE People like Obama, and Romney – and Bush and Clinton. They’re all extremely bad. But they’re not the disease. And merely voting one out for the other has not been our cure either. These people are merely symptoms of our disease. Think of it this way. You open a business that makes and sells cookies. In your hiring process, you probably won’t get too many lawyers or engineers applying for a job to bake the cookies. Instead, you’ll mostly get people who love to cook. Get the New Documentary Today! For decades, the People of this country have allowed federal power to grow unabated – and many have even asked for it too. So what kind of people do you think would apply for a job leading Murder, Incorporated? You got it – people who love power – and not your humble, friendly neighbor. Or even the jerk who lives a few doors down. Those are normal people. Only megalomaniacs want to steer the ship of the most powerful government in history. If you want to know how we got into this mess. Look in a mirror. Until people change their line in the sand, things will never change. Today, people everywhere have a line in the sand – but on one side there’s a red team and on the other is a blue team. Like Barack Obama and Mitt Romney’s campaign websites, the Constitution is rarely – or ever – even mentioned. What is needed a new line in the sand. On one side of that line is the Constitution, and on the other side – the type of government this country has had for a long time. For me, there’s no team. And there never will be. There’s only one thing that matters – the Constitution. Every issue, every time. No exceptions, no excuses. The post Curing the American Disease first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.


16 Aug 2012

Rank #14

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Politicians? None of them are Saints!

In September 1796, George Washington shared some words of wisdom that ring true today… “The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissention, which in different ages & countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders & miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security & repose in the absolute power of an Individual: and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.” — George Washington, September 19, 1796 The political convention season puts partisan politics on a pedestal for all to see. The Democrats and Republicans both host extravagantly choreographed shows designed to convince America that the other guy is the grossest person in the world, even though the two candidates differ less than 10 percent when it comes to actual policies. And it works. The majority of Americans define their political ideologies in terms of their party. Republicans swear electing Mitt Romney will “save America,” and Democrats run around claiming that unless Obama gets four more years, America will find itself thrown back into the “failed policies of last century.” It’s all a load of crap. No matter which one of these men manages to garner enough votes to enable him to call 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue home for the next four years, the federal government will continue to expand, will continue to grow more intrusive and will spiral deeper into debt. Yet millions of Americans cling tenaciously to the myths spun by their respective parties. Take this brilliant comment by Terry. “People have this bad assumption about big government. I want big government if that big government is supporting and defending our founding constitution and supporting those principles that are the core of our country. Republicans have a tendency to lean toward our founding principles. Big government becomes burdensome and dangerous when in the hands of liberals who seem to consider the constitution only when it serves them to do so.” Never mind that big government is the antithesis of America’s founding principles. And never mind Terry baselessly assuming Republicans actually consider the Constitution any time other than when it serves them to do so. The very notion that “big government” serves a great purpose as long as “our guy” controls it should send shudders down any thinking American’s spine. Get the New Documentary Today! Of course, Republicans don’t hold a monopoly on blind partisan loyalty. I saw an Obama 2012 sticker on the back of some care with a peace symbol the other day. Yes – nothing says “peace” like blowing up your neighbor with a well-executed drone strike. This was the kind of mentality George Washington warned about. When we buy into the “our guy’s a saint; their guy’s a devil” thinking, we become willing to place a mantel of power on our guy so he can “get things done.” Terry and many other people get it wrong on so many levels. But their willingness to place big government power levers in the hands of his preferred party guys poses the greatest danger. Big government is dangerous and burdensome. Period. And your guy is not a saint. They are all devils. That’s why we must restrain all of them with the chains of the Consitution – Democrat and Republican alike. The post Politicians? None of them are Saints! first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.


6 Sep 2012

Rank #15

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Who Decides Constitutionality?

Before the Tennessee State Senate Judiciary Committee in support of SB0250 on February 27, 2013 Hello, my name is Michael Maharrey.  I’m the national communications director for the Tenth Amendment Center.  I’m honored to be here. As you know, in the opinion of Attorney Gen. Robert Cooper, SB 250 violates the supremacy clause of the Constitution. I’ve read the opinion, and his basic reasoning is solid. Never-the-less, he came up with the wrong answer. I’m sure you all remember working long quadratic equations in your high school algebra class. You know that you can work each step in precisely the right sequence, but if you insert 2×2=6 in the first step, you will come up with the wrong answer at the end. Why? Because you worked the entire problem operating on a false premise. Cooper spends the bulk of his opinion correctly arguing that constitutional federal law trumps state law where it conflicts. Quite frankly, that was a waste of time. Nobody disputes that. The problem is that he incorrectly assumes that every federal act is a constitutional law and he builds his opinion on that fallacious premise. Fact: Only laws made in pursuance of the Constitution are truly supreme. All the founding fathers agreed – and I mean ALL of them – any federal act that violates the Constitution is no law at all. Alexander Hamilton summed it up in Federalist 78 “Every act of a delegated authority contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the constitution, can be valid.” Cooper apparently wants the People of Tennessee to believe the following federal acts mentioned in Section 5b are constitutional, and supreme. -a Ban on firearms. -tracking of ammunition -federal taxes on firearm accessories Where exactly does the Constitution delegate the federal government the power to regulate firearms? It doesn’t. Some will argue that the federal government has some regulatory authority under the Commerce Clause.  But, we have the Second Amendment, which puts further restrictions on the federal government. Note the most important phrase in the 2nd Amendment –  “shall not be infringed.” Infringe means to interfere with. That doesn’t leave any wiggle room. Cooper mentions the possible unconstitutionality of such acts almost as an afterthought.  He writes near the end of his opinion, “While the bills themselves declare that certain federal firearms regulations are unconstitutional…the responsibility for that determination rests with the judiciary, not a state legislature.” The attorney general rests his argument on Marbury v. Madison. But Cooper is misconstruing Marshall’s ruling. The Chief Justice was merely asserting that the Court CAN in fact NULLIFY an act of Congress by ruling it unconstitutional. Nowhere does Marshall assert the Court has exclusive authority to rule on constitutionality. In fact, quite the opposite. Justice Marshall wrote: The particular phraseology of the Constitution…confirms and strengthens the principle…that a law repugnant to the Constitution is void, and that courts, as well as other departments, are bound by that instrument. The attorney general also cites Cooper v. Aaron to assert the supremacy of the federal judiciary and that its rulings cannot be challenged.That case rests on the same bastardized interpretation of Marbury. Such a notion obliterates the constitutional system, making the Court the de facto sovereign. I shouldn’t even have to point out the absurdity of the Court making itself supreme. It’s like King Arthur claiming “supreme executive authority” because, in the words of Dennis in Monty Python and the Holy Grail,  “some watery tart threw a sword at him.” Ronald Reagan’s Attorney General Edwin Meese said this: The “logic of Cooper v Aaron .. is at war with the Constitution… at war with the very meaning of the rule of law.” We need look only to the Dred Scott case, which denied even free blacks citizenship and went on to proclaim black people inferior, to see the inherent flaw in this idea of judicial supremacy. Do you really accept that Dred Scott was legitimately the law of the land – even for one minute? Abraham Lincoln sure didn’t. In response to the ruling, he said: “If the policy of government, upon vital questions affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court…the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having, to that extent, practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.” Get the new book today! Fact: The Tennessee Attorney General  tells us that only the federal court can determine constitutionality. Fact: Ronald Reagan’s attorney general, plus Abraham Lincoln, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson all disagree. Jefferson said the states “are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government.” And that the “government created by this compact (the Constitution) was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself.” Simply put, the people of the states delegated the federal government its power in the first place. As James Madison said “The States then being the parties to the constitutional compact, and in their sovereign capacity, it follows of necessity, that there can be no tribunal above their authority, to decide in the last resort, whether the compact made by them be violated; and consequently that as the parties to it, they must themselves decide in the last resort, such questions as may be of sufficient magnitude to require their interposition.” The post Who Decides Constitutionality? first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.


28 Feb 2013

Rank #16

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Dear Congress: Get out of the Way!

On August 2nd, Robert Gray, the executive director of the American Open Currency Standard – that’s the company that mints our official Tenth Amendment Center 1 ounce silver medallions – gave testimony before Ron Paul’s Congressional Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy. We thought he made some extremely powerful statements – and wanted to share it with you here. The audio above was the live testimony, as shared on a recent episode of Tenther Radio – and the text version below is the full (not time-constrained) testimony prepared by Rob for the hearing. Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, My name is Rob Gray and I was asked to testify today on the theory of competing currencies, and the practical challenges that make such a theory difficult or impossible to implement. For nearly 5 years now, I’ve successfully directed the American Open Currency Standard – the standard for private voluntary and complementary currencies that compete against each other, not against the US dollar. Allow me to clarify: we do not consider AOCS Approved medallions produced and traded in our private barter marketplace ‘competition’ to the US Federal Reserve Note. Because “fair competition”, as one would find in the “free market”, assumes the existence of a level playing field, the existence of a standard set of rules. Those players who wish to compete honestly do so by relying simply on the merit of the value they bring to the market. No fair challenge can be made between honest men and thieves. Let me be clear that when I say thieves: I refer to the current private central bank and the men in government who allow it to exist. This brings us to a critical point: according to your Employee Handbook, Article 1, Section 8 says: “The Congress shall have the Power …To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof…”. For anyone who has been a manager or business owner, it is not uncommon to find that you may have an employee who may choose to not do the work that is delegated to them, or even that they simply do it very badly. When such a time comes it is necessary for the manager or owner to step in and do the work themselves. I would argue that since 1913, Congress has failed to do the job with which it had been tasked. We the people are now bypassing you and are no longer waiting for you to make it right. It is far better to simply walk away from the system. We are walking away from toxic thoughts, relationships, investments and careers. We are taking the hard intellectual journey to rid ourselves of the indoctrination that keeps us in this system. We are realizing the power we have in ourselves and the everyday choices that we make to either empower some soulless collective or our own families. We are realizing that we simply need to withdraw our time, energy, and money from banks, politicians and corporations that do not serve our interests. In the time since our inception, the American Open Currency Standard has enjoyed nearly five years of growth and success in our mission of issuing a means that allows valuable exchanges among men who produce. In the next five years, we expect to expand our offerings and to increase our ability to keep up with the demand for our private currency. We are doing the job Congress would not. The use of community currencies here in the US became popular back in the early 1930’s. You see, at the time, the theory was that a group of the world’s most powerful men, many of them international bankers, were intentionally and systematically removing currency from circulation, creating an artificial scarcity of money across America. Small cities and towns felt it worse than anyone. But life did go on. Then, during the greatest economic depression this country had ever seen, individuals across this country developed their own mediums of exchange. They still needed things – food, clothing, daily essentials – they still needed to live, and they didn’t have time to wait for the government to fix the problem, and they certainly weren’t going to rely on the same bankers that caused the crash to offer solutions. And so, according to historical records, thousands of community currencies were created, circulated and traded in places where the scarcity of dollars was interfering with the human desire to live, and the market’s desire to trade. And since their elected employees were not doing the job for which they were hired, these individuals took it upon themselves to secure the means to their own survival and potential prosperity. More recently, community currencies have sprung up across Europe as the Euro and national fiat currencies become increasingly unavailable and undependable. Today, communities all across the Eurozone trade their own money instead of the Euro. Community currencies are not simply a good idea in theory; they are necessary, alive, and true examples of the free market’s unwillingness to be artificially manipulated. Right now alternative and complementary currencies circulate widely across this country and in many different forms: Ithaca, New York uses a local fiat currency based loosely on the value of time; Berkshire, Massachusetts uses a fiat-backed fiat system, while many more communities circulate gold, silver and copper AOCS Approved barter tokens as a medium of exchange. How they are issued, accepted, accounted for and reported varies widely, as the participants and procedures are as different as the markets they serve. As for practical issues to overcome in the issuance and circulation of complementary currencies, there are plenty. In a voluntary system, those that participate in the trading of private currencies must deal with the possibility of counterfeiting, fraud, scarcity, acceptance, accounting, storage and other issues, all without the luxury of big brother holding a gun to anyone’s head to ensure their success. Even with all the risks, the market moves on. As in any free market, good ideas circulate with success, and bad ones eventually fade away. Participants voluntarily choose to accept and circulate the highest quality and most valuable currencies in exchange for their best production. Merchants accept complementary currencies based on the premise that someone else is willing to do the same later. Issues arise and are worked out by the market with only one light to guide them: the mutual exchange of value. No guns, no laws, no force: just the willingness to think outside the box and act on principle. Complementary currencies are not new, in theory or in practice. Further, private currencies circulated long before governments erected themselves to interfere. What’s new, however, is the public’s apathy towards you and your policies. You’ve managed for the last hundred years somehow to convince the citizenry that you’re relevant. Now, just recently, we’re beginning to see the tides change on this. And once it catches on, you’ll be rendered completely obsolete. The greatest hurdle you will face over the next few years is trying to convince “we, the people” that you are still necessary in spite of your failures to get the job done. Sure, some will continue to rely on you for hand-outs; it’s what they’ve known their entire lives and they will be slaves right up and to the point of their own destruction. They don’t know any better and I don’t blame them for their ignorance. But as you continue to squeeze the life out of the middle class, watch out for their greatest weapon: apathy. They may not be ready to admit it, but soon they’ll turn their backs on you and never believe another lie – the lie that you are willing and able to do the job for which you were hired. In the future you will not have to worry about million man marches or citizen journalists trying to catch you on camera. What you need to fear is no one paying attention to you. The next American revolution will not be fought with bullets and bombs; it will be won with the opposite consciousness. “It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.” ~Henry Ford To that end, I’m here today to propose a solution. My understanding of this subcommittee is that you desire to be part of the solution. You want to believe you’re doing something good for the country. Today, the greatest gift you can offer to the people you clearly represent is to introduce, not to the legislature but directly to the public, what I call IR 1207 – Individual Resolution 1207 – commonly referred to as ‘Ignore the Fed’. Store your wealth in silver. Bank with a non-fractional bank that pays real money on deposits. Use the card services network to satisfy dollar obligations. Do not try to compete with the federal reserve system: ignore them. This country has succeeded in doing away with two central banks already over the course of its history – it is learning to do the same again. Congressman Paul: on July 13, 2011, you asked Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, a question: ‘Is gold money?’ I ask that same question of you here today: is gold money? Is silver money? They most certainly are not. At least not by the current definition as handed down by Congress’ money-issuing surrogate, the Federal Reserve. And that’s just fine. I respectfully petition you, sir, to seriously reconsider your position on this matter. The government has perverted the word money. My wife is a nutritionist, and she tells people, ‘If your grandparents wouldn’t recognize it as food, don’t eat it.’ I suggest to you that if your great-grandparents wouldn’t recognize it as money, don’t accept or spend it. A great philosopher once said “When destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, ….” Today, conventional wisdom tells us that money is a worthless pile of paper. And for the last 100 years Congress has for a third time (again) shunned its responsibility when it comes to issuing money. Since the creation of the Federal Reserve and Congress’ abdication of their responsibility, the dollar has lost 98% of its value. I don’t suspect anyone would call that stellar job performance. I must be blunt and say that, as employees, Congress, you have not been successful in your charge to “…coin money and regulate the value thereof…” and therefore your services in this area are no longer needed. It is sad that even the men and women in this chamber either do not understand the system they serve or are so dependent upon the system’s favors that they dare not speak in opposition to it. “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” ~Upton Sinclair I ask you to leave the Fed their money and leave the people our silver, gold and copper. Do not push to redefine whatever representations we choose for our wealth as ‘money’. Let the Fed do what it wants with their ‘money’, so long as they leave us alone. I warn you: ‘honest money legislation’ is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The record of Congress over time has proven that it will make a miserable failure of this aspect of human survival as it has so many others. The greatest thing this Congress can do is exactly what you’ve done so far: nothing. “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” — Ronald Reagan. I will not facilitate this government to “help” understand, control and ultimately destroy alternative currencies. All I ask is that you stay out of our way. The people in our world are happy to go right along saving you from your own destruction by producing value against all the odds, regulations, codes, and challenges thrown our way. But leave our money alone. It doesn’t belong to you, and it never will. If you really want to help, I would recommend that instead of trying to DO something, you could start by undoing some things. But that list is far too long for me to get into here today and as a responsible employer, I’ll allow you some room for creativity. One last thing I would like to leave you all to ponder… How is it possible for every single person in the world to be in debt with credit card debt, student debt, consumer debt, auto debt, and mortgages? How is it possible that every small business and corporation in the world is also in debt? Support Sound Money with a TAC Medallion! And finally how is it possible that every single local, county, province, state and nation on earth is also in debt? Who owns the other side of that debt? When you understand that, maybe just maybe, something positive will come out of this chamber. The bottom line is simple: humanity is not going to wait for permission to survive. Things that cannot go on forever… won’t. The market will move on – with or without you. And, based on your rate of success to date, our preference is without you. I thank you for your attention to this matter of life and death. “There are thousands hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” -Henry David Thoreau The post Dear Congress: Get out of the Way! first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.


9 Aug 2012

Rank #17

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Principles vs Personalities

In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson found himself in a position to nearly double the size of U.S. territory. He also sought to avoid future conflicts with France over Mississippi River navigation rights. But, the Louisiana Purchase gave the staunch advocate for a strict reading of federal power a pretty hefty dilemma. He was well aware that the Constitution delegated the general government no authority to take such action. In fact, in a letter that year to John Breckinridge – the man who sponsored his 1798 Kentucky Resolutions rejecting unconstitutional federal powers – he referred to the purchase as “beyond the Constitution.” In order to remain true to his principles, the states would need to ratify a constitutional amendment delegating to the federal government the power to make the purchase. But the clock was ticking and the deal would likely fall apart in the time necessary to complete the amendment process. And, his cabinet insisted an amendment was unnecessary anyway. So what did Jefferson do? He did what every good politician eventually does. He abandoned principle to pragmatism and plunked down $15 million for the 827,000 square miles of land. You have to give the third president credit for at least coming up with a colorful rationalization. In that same letter to Breckinridge, he wrote: “It is the case of a guardian, investing the money of his ward in purchasing an important adjacent territory; and saying to him when of age, I did this for your good.” Jefferson’s obfuscation shouldn’t surprise any of us. Compromise and flip-flopping go with politics like peanut butter goes with jelly. It just goes to show; even those personalities we hold out as the most principled – the so-called great ones – sometimes disappoint us. How should we handle this kind of disappointment? Forever write off the offender as a traitor to the cause? Ignore the foible and continue to prop him up on his pedestal? Tear him down or make excuses for him? Or is there an altogether better way to approach things? Disappointment washed across the liberty movement like a tsunami over the last few weeks. For two years, thousands of freedom lovers poured their hearts and souls into a presidential campaign, only to see it stumble far short of the finish line. Another personality engaged in political maneuvering that some in the liberty movement found shrewd and pragmatic. Others expressed their disgust with all kinds of vicious condemnations. The events of the last several weeks left many liberty lovers sounding confused, hopeless and defeated. This brings up important questions: why do we invest so much time and energy into personalities when history teaches us that disappointment is a virtual certainty? After all, isn’t the liberty movement about a set of principles – and not about a person’s name? Granted, we need leaders to advance our ideas. And when politicians pass good legislation, which is rare, is certainly does help too. But when the personalities become the focus of the movement, we set ourselves up for failure. People will always disappoint us at some point. They will make mistakes. They will abandon principles for one reason or another. And ultimately, they will fade away. We simply cannot afford to place all of our hopes on a single man or woman ascending to the White House throne, no matter how great that person may appear. Electing a handful of “good ones” to Congress won’t guarantee victory for the cause either. Even the “good ones” can prove not so good when elevated to positions of power. So, instead of rallying around a cult of personality, I suggest we continue to build our movement on a set of unchanging principles. At the Tenth Amendment Center, we intentionally avoid getting all wrapped up in the players on the field – especially on a national level. Instead, we tirelessly focus our attention and efforts on advancing one agenda: follow the Constitution. Every issue, every time, no exceptions, no excuses. Of course, we praise politicians and leaders when they support our cause and put our principles into action. We quote them when they get it right. We publish their articles when they articulate them well. But we call them out just as quickly when they fail to uphold our ideals. For us here at the TAC, people serve a purpose as players on the board, but not as the objective of the game. Leaders, politicians and personalities have a purpose, but they are never the purpose. Our focus on principle means we don’t align ourselves exclusively with any particular political movement or their various leaders. We don’t claim the mantle of Republican or Democrat. We aren’t Tea Partiers or Occupiers. We don’t call ourselves liberals or conservatives. And we don’t cast our lot exclusively with libertarians either. We simply want to live free. So, we build coalitions where we see opportunities to advance the principles of constitutionally limited government and the decentralization of power. Sometimes we work with the right. Sometimes we do so with the left. And, most of the time we irritate both sides of the political aisle. With all of the angst in the liberty movement right now, perhaps it’s time to consider a fresh approach. I hope you will take some time to look seriously at the work we do here at the Tenth Amendment Center. Maybe instead of investing so much effort in promoting a few individuals on the national level, we should instead focus on advancing a set of principles. Become a member and support the TAC! I can guarantee you this: no matter who wins the presidential election in 2012, no matter what crazy statement this or that politician may make in the coming year, no matter who casts a stupid vote or makes a disappointing endorsement in the future, we will be right here doing what we’ve done for the last six years – fighting to limit the size and scope of the federal government to its properly prescribed road. To quote Jefferson once again, “In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” There, sir, you were certainly right. Every issue. Every time. No exceptions. No excuses. The post Principles vs Personalities first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.


21 Jun 2012

Rank #18

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Krugman, ThinkProgress. As Dangerous as it Gets

Get the New Documentary Today!Today, Paul Krugman decided to give us his wisdom on the subject of nullification – by saying almost nothing at all. In a short blog post, linking to a “report” by ThinkProgress, he notes – laughingly – that a Senate Candidate in Texas supports the idea of states nullifying acts of Congress. He doesn’t say a thing about nullification, but he’s obviously brushing it off as idiotic. As Tom Woods wrote on his blog today, “Paul Krugman thinks the idea of state nullification of unconstitutional laws is so self-evidently stupid that he doesn’t even need to offer an argument against it.”Digging a little deeper – just a little, mind you – you’ll see that the ThinkProgress article he linked to was referring to Ted Cruz, who had a proposal where two or more states could work together to refuse compliance with the Affordable Care Act. Not outright nullification, but we certainly know that non-compliance in large numbers can in fact nullify a federal law.ThinkProgress, the well-funded liberal blog which was vehemently anti-war while Bush was in office (now they don’t seem to think foreign policy is worth much of their time), has an interesting relationship with such nullification actions taken by the states. They turn a blind eye to them when Republicans rule in Washington. They sometimes give the image of cheering such efforts when politically popular. They attack and denigrate them when Democrats rule in Washington or when they oppose favored policies. And when they see nullification efforts getting popular among their own supporters, they simply freak out. All in all, these people, led by the crackpot pseudo-expert Ian Millhiser, are promoting an extremely dangerous view of how this country should be run.Millhiser tells us that the Supremacy Clause provides that “Acts of Congress “shall be the supreme law of the land,” and thus cannot be nullified by rogue state lawmakers.” In other words, Congress passes a law, the President signs it, and it’s a done deal. Anything and everything is somehow authorized by the Constitution. But that begs the question. If the federal government can do anything it wants, why even write a Constitution at all? Here, Millhiser makes an argument that is so silly that it’s not worth my time. On top of it, his view of the supremacy clause is totally wrong. He knows it. He’s just counting on his readers not reading the clause, like Brion Mclanahan did.STATE NONCOMPLIANCEIn 2005, the Republican Congress and the Bush Administration gave us the privacy-invading, state-commandeering, constitution-violating Real ID Act. In much of the country today, while the law is still on the books in congress and has never been challenged in court – it remains null and void. Why? Because of mass state noncompliance with the act which has led to its de facto nullification. Did ThinkProgress have anything negative to say about such efforts? If they did, it sure wasn’t as prominent as their attacks on those who seek to nullify the federal health insurance mandate, or federal light bulb standards. Millhiser said that the embrace of nullification in those areas “threatens the very union itself.”Isn’t it odd, then, that we didn’t hear a peep from TP about “threats to the union” when they reported on a Democratic governor nullifying the Real ID act in 2007? Here’s all they had to say,Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) said “no, nope, no way, hell no” Tuesday to helping create the first national identifcation cards, signing into law a bill that blocks the state from complying with the REAL ID Act.The articles linked in that brief report were to those supporting the nullification effort. The first was to an article from the editors of the Daily Kos, praising the Democrat for refusing to comply with the federal law. And the other to the ACLU’s Real ID website highlighting state resistance – and encouraging more widespread non-compliance.If ThinkProgress were intellectually honest, they would’ve followed that up by saying things like – “The Governor of Montana just took the wildly dangerous and unconstitutional view that his state can somehow pick and choose what federal laws they want to obey.” But they aren’t and they didn’t.Even after Barack Obama got into office, TP continued to report on state nullification of the Real ID act – without a single negative word about it. In September 2009 Andrea Nill Sanchez reported that “at least 15 states have passed legislation blocking the implementation of REAL ID.” She somehow “forgot” to mention how dangerous state nullification was that time too.In June of this year, Think Progress posted a report on how seven more states may legalize medical marijuana In 2012. With 17 states already directly defying federal marijuana law, you’d think that this article would’ve been an urgent alert informing readers how such state defiance on federal drug policies was akin to South Carolinians who supported slavery in 1865. But of course, it wasn’t. It was supportive of the state nullification proposals – on weed.I also didn’t notice any scathing attacks from ThinkProgress when Krugman’s own New York Times editorial board championed a medical marijuana law in New York last summer. And no, Krugman didn’t put out a short blog post talking about how his employers at the Times had lost all touch with reality by supporting a measure that violates federal law.And just yesterday, Tara Culp-Ressler reported that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer will continue to implement her state’s medical marijuana law regardless of its split with federal policy. But did Tara attack Brewer on marijuana policy like Ian did when Idaho Governor Butch Otter signed an executive order to refuse compliance with the medicaid provisions of the affordable care act? Of course not. With that act of defiance Ian told us that the Idaho governor “has endangered the health of over more than 200,000 Idahoans and forced financial ruin upon his state. OBEY. JUST OBEY!The message from ThinkProgress? Obey. Or people will die. And the economy will crumble. These people sound like George Bush – let me spy on you and wage war around the world, or your safety is in danger.I’m amazed that people still fall for this nonsense.So what’s the practical result of what Krugman, Millhiser and the rest of the ThinkProgress team are telling us today? If you take it to it’s logical conclusion – which isn’t too far-fetched with Obama’s new NDAA “indefinite detention” law – the nearly 1 million who currently purchase marijuana under state law and in defiance of federal law, should be rounded up. Such a move doesn’t appear to be that far off. Millhiser is now taking the position that there is “simply no question” that federal marijuana laws are constitutional. And, that citizens in states with marijuana laws are still required to follow them.The only question that remains for Ian – how do you plan on fulfilling this requirement? Don’t be surprised when ThinkProgress starts pushing for federal agents to raid the homes of cancer patients – because they are, after all, helping nullify federal law.A BETTER PATHIn 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave a us better idea. In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” – while denouncing the Alabama Governor for wrongly using nullification to continue the horrible practice of racial segregation – he taught us that tyranny is tyranny even when it’s “law” – and that such “laws” need to be defied. He wrote:One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with Saint Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”But according to our friends at ThinkProgress, all federal laws are supreme, and we can’t pick and choose which ones we want to follow. It’s up to our corporate-backed political overlords in Washington DC to do that for us.Millhiser, Krugman, and the rest – they represent a wildly dangerous view of the constitution, and of society in general. They disagree with Dr. King that people can decide on their own what is “law” and what is tyranny. And they agree wholeheartedly with killers like Mao and Stalin – and modern ones like Bush and Obama – that there should be a “decider” ruling over us.With these views in mind, I guess Millhiser would’ve arrested Rosa Parks too. The post Krugman, ThinkProgress. As Dangerous as it Gets first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.


2 Aug 2012

Rank #19

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Constitutional Purism or Bust

When talking about the Constitution as the Founders and Ratifiers gave us, there tends to be two primary viewpoints – those that are in favor of strict limitations on federal power, and those who want those limits obliterated. Stereotypes in our society generally separate those views by political party support – or even voting habits. People who vote Democrat are generally considered the ones who look at the Founders’ vision as old, outdated, or simply something that gets in the way of their political plans. Republican voters are generally seen as the ones who want smaller government, and the ones who cite the Constitution as justification for that reduction in federal power. But, many people argue, individual Republican supporters often favor policies that are just as unconstitutional as their Democrat counterparts. They are many who have favored things like the Real ID act, the patriot act, indefinite detention, war without congressional declaration, and much more. In my own experience over the years, I’ve often noticed a difference in how these two “sides” respond to Constitutional arguments. In talking with Democrats about federal actions they oppose, they’ll readily get on board with a viewpoint that the act in question is unconstitutional. But, when they favor it politically, it takes quite a bit more. And, often times, when providing a pretty convincing argument that the act is in fact unconstitutional, the response is generally something like this – “OK, sure. It’s unconstitutional. But why do we need to be stuck in a period two centuries ago. Those old white guys couldn’t have envisioned our needs for today.” Basically, it all gets down to a political viewpoint. Use the Constitution when it supports those view, and trash it when it doesn’t. On the other hand, in talking with Republicans about federal actions they oppose, they’ll also readily get on board with a viewpoint that the act in question is unconstitutional. And when they favor the act politically, it also takes quite a bit more explanation. Where I’ve personally experienced the greatest difference in responses is when providing a convincing argument that a Republican’s favored political program is unconstitutional. I can’t think of a time where I’ve heard that the Constitutional limitation should be ignored because it’s old, or because those “dead white guys” wrote the document. Instead, I have generally heard arguments like this. “Yes, I agree that the founders left marriage rules to the states. So we should amend the Constitution and make that a national issue!” Or, “OK, now I understand the PATRIOT Act issue constitutionally, and I really shouldn’t have been in favor of it when Bush was in office. But I’m not going to vote against Obama over this one issue – we’ve got to get him out of office!” In general, I can understand these positions, even if I don’t agree with them. At very least, when nationalizing something, I’m hearing from these folks that a Constitutional mechanism should be used in some cases. And, when learning that a favored program is unconstitutional, I’m getting less resistance to it, even when actions are taken which will perpetuate it. While this isn’t a great success, it is a slight improvement. But, lately, I’ve noticed a new approach becoming popular, that’s just as bad, or worse. This viewpoint can be summed up no better than by this comment, from Paul in North Carolina: “You are ensuring the enslavement of America thanks to your ‘purism’. Face facts and realize we must oust Obama.” So let me get this straight. It’s us – the ones who want to follow the Constitution, who are the bad guys? It’s not the people who’ve given us nationalized education, nationalized health care, nationalized retirement funds, nationalized agricultural laws, and more. It’s the Constitutionalists who are now the enemy to republicans like Paul. For Paul, I guess he doesn’t care about Republicans who paved the way for Obamacare with Medicare Part D. He doesn’t care about Republicans who paved the way for “Indefinite Detention” in America by setting it up and practicing it at Guantanamo Bay. He doesn’t care about the massive growth in food stamps recipients under Obama as a result of Republicans voting in favor of expanding them under Bush. He doesn’t care about much, I guess. For Republicans like Paul – and on the other side, like the “Peace President” who bombs people, extends the patriot act, and keeps guantanamo bay open – principle means nothing. Only winning does. But, for them to say they want to “save America,” is this delusional? I think so. Every election, we hear from people that the president must be ousted or “we’re all doomed.” But yet, there’s never been a presidential election in modern times that has brought this country anywhere closer to the Constitution. Not one. Become a member and support the TAC! The sad fact is this. America, as the Founders set up, was dead and gone long before Barack Obama or George Bush ever took office. So, like Paul, if all you care about is your team winning, then yes, Constitution supporters are the enemy. And we are certainly that enemy to both Democrats and Republicans. Why? Because both sides have shown a complete disregard for the Constitution for a long, long time. But, it doesn’t really matter to me if we’re their enemies. And, like John Adams so wisely wrote, “Many of the ablest tongues and pens, have in every age been employ’d in the foolish, deluded, and pernicious flattery of one set of partisans; and in furious, prostitute invectives against another: But such kinds of oratory never had any charms for me. And if I must do one or the other, I would quarrel with both parties, and with every individual of each, before I would subjugate my understanding, or prostitute my tongue or pen to either.” Bam. Enough said for me. The post Constitutional Purism or Bust first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.


4 Oct 2012

Rank #20