Fighting Mad

August 7, 2009

It appears the federal government has grown weary of states in this union reaffirming their rights under that pesky piece of paper called the United States Constitution.
   You’ll recall that over the last few months, dozens of states have sent resolutions to Washington reaffirming the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which protects the powers of states and limits federal interference.
   Montana shot one of the first volleys over the bow of Capital Hill when it declared that firearms manufactured, sold and owned in the state of Montana are not subject to federal registration requirements or, in fact, any federal regulation whatsoever.
   Most recently, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has sent out a letter to several states which, about as bluntly as you can get, tells them that their declarations of sovereignty under the Constitution of the United States are meaningless and that they will submit to federal power.
   The 10th reads, “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.”
   Tennessee got the same letter. Their Senate Judiciary Chairman Mae Beavers had this to say: “Be it the federal government mandating changes in order for states to receive federal funds or the federal government telling us how to regulate commerce contained completely within this state – enough is enough. Our founders fought too hard to ensure states’ sovereignty and I am sick and tired of activist federal officials and judges sticking their noses where they don’t belong.”
   States can expect more of the same. Some are already declaring state sovereignty to battle many of the taxes and other regulations being sent down to states from Washington.
   But the feds have a couple aces in the hole. The biggest is withholding cash, and that’s a heavy hammer to swing. For decades now the feds having been passing down mandates – unfunded mandates – on everything from water quality to health care. It’s not a new problem, but it’s come to a head.
   For instance, Oklahoma was threatened by the Department of Justice if it made English the official state language.
   The Bixby Bulletin reports, “The Oklahoma Congressional Delegation’s letter… points out that several other states have passed similar legislation and asks if they too have been ‘accused by the Department of Justice to be in violation with Title VI, or formally threatened with funding termination.’ The delegation letter asks for an explanation for what prompted the DOJ to write the state of Oklahoma on this issue and seeks explanation for what funds would be eliminated should Oklahomans pass the English only amendment.”
   When some congressmen questioned whether or not the federal stimulus package was working, the governors of their states received letters such as this one from Ray LaHood, Secretary of Transportation:
   “On Sunday, Arizona Senator Jon Kyl publicly questioned whether the stimulus is working and stated that he wants to cancel projects that aren’t presently under way. I believe the stimulus has been very effective in creating job opportunities throughout the country. However, if you prefer to forfeit the money we are making available to your state, as Senator Kyl suggests, please let me know.”
   Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior helped gang up on Arizona in the same manner: “However, if you prefer to forfeit the money we are making available to Arizona, please let me know.”
   The precedent for states’ rights was set early on, During the forging of the Constitution, James Madison advocated a strong fed, giving Congress the power to veto state laws. He was soundly defeated, vesting all power in the states not given to federal government more than 200 years ago.
   “Why did the founders of our nation give us the Bill of Rights?” asks Walter Williams, in the Harrisonburg, Virginia Daily News Record. “The answer is easy. They knew Congress could not be trusted with our God-given rights. Think about it. Why in the world would they have written the First Amendment prohibiting Congress from enacting any law that abridges freedom of speech and the press?”
   Walters concludes, “The Ninth and Tenth Amendments mean absolutely nothing today. Americans have developed a level of naive trust for Congress, the White House and the U.S. Supreme Court that would have astonished the founders, a trust that will lead to our undoing as a great nation.”
   Several states are declaring nullification of federal authority.
   Authored by Jefferson and Madison, the concept is that states can decide for themselves if federal authorities are out of bounds in their actions. If so, states can ignore such actions.
   Nullification was successfully used against George W. Bush’s RealID act.
   Meanwhile, word broke last week that congressmen are afraid to have town hall meetings these days.
   “’I had felt they would be pointless,’ Rep. Tim Bishop said, referring to his recent decision to suspend the events in his Long Island district. ‘There is no point in meeting with my constituents and [to] listen to them and have them listen to you if what is basically an unruly mob prevents you from having an intelligent conversation.’”
   Well there you go, the typical politician’s mindset: You don’t want to hear what your constituents are saying, you go in hiding. You call them names. You don’t listen. You were elected, after all, to be King and Emperor. They are now King Georges, and anybody who disagrees are colonial rebels.
   Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Lloyd Doggett and many other members of Congress were soundly shouted down by furious constituents at local meetings. Bishop himself faced a room full of furious constituents demanding his head. And amazing as it may seem, if you watch the videos of these events, you can see them, along with their aides, rolling their eyes at the outburst, dismissing and demeaning the very people they were elected to represent.
   The media has become so twisted and biased it’s hard to get anything straight. In fact, it seems most media outlets are accusing a right-wing scheme to disrupt any left-wing town hall meetings with “mob” shouting. They accuse that these thousands of Americans are merely pawns in some right-wing scheme, and that none of them really believe what they’re saying.
   Certainly, there have been some activist organizations pushing for rebellion. Certainly the town hall participants are not exclusively prop jobs: Some news outlets with a little character checked on membership, and found most of the participants were local citizens, not the alleged traveling band of rabble rousers.
   Yet you have reporters all over the country, like this one at the Miami Herald, interjecting comments like these into what are supposed to be straight, non-biased news stories: The group was rowdy, rude and fired up…protesters have disrupted town halls…the rally on Wednesday in Klein's 22nd congressional district office was orchestrated by a Republican campaign rival. None of this is journalism, this is propaganda gone amok.
   Because that’s what we’ve become in this country. We dismiss those who disagree with us by demonizing and dehumanizing them. No matter the issue at hand, you’re either wrong because you’re a liberal or wrong because you’re a conservative. Both sides do it, but neither admits it. One is completely as guilty as the other. Both sides have become mirror images of Nazi Germany and its assault on Jews, and don’t even have the sense to realize what they’ve become and that they’re flip-flopping roles constantly.
   Case in point: “I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration, somehow you’re not patriotic, and we should stand up and say, ‘we are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration!’” – Hillary Clinton, 2003
   In between are the average Americans, angry because they’re just trying to make a living, save up to retire and realize something else: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
   And here’s the coup des gras. In response to the outrage, the White House Web site put up this note:
   “There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain e-mails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an e-mail or see something on the Web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.”
   The White House is asking you to turn in people who disagree with them. To snitch on your countrymen. The White House is making you all spies in a Gestapo state that would be laughable if it wasn’t so terrifying. And we thought we were rid of that kind of insanity when George Bush left office.
   Like the Who said back in the sixties: Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.
   This not about the proposals or the personalities. This is about the provisions of the Constitution, the rights of states and the guarantee of the people to protest and petition the government with their grievances.