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Make Mine Freedom

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Why You Should Vote "NO" on the Constitutional Amendment in Idaho

Like many Idahoans who are reading this, I recently received a copy of the “Idaho Voter's Pamphlet: Concerning Proposed Constitutional Amendment H. J. R. 2.”

Upon reading it, I was immediately reminded of the interlude between Boromir, the son of the Steward of Gondor, and Frodo, a hobbit, in Peter Jackson's film, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

During this exchange, Boromir uses sympathy, reason, and logic with Frodo in an effort to secure the One Ring from Frodo in a vain attempt to use it to defend Gondor from the evil Lord Sauron, who made the ring and who is the only one able to control it.

Before Boromir can complete his argument, though, Frodo says, “I know what you would say, [and] it would seem like wisdom but for the warning in my heart.”

I feel the same way about the Constitutional Amendment the Legislature has placed on the Ballot for November.

“Shall Article III, of the Constitution of the State of Idaho be amended by the addition of a new section 29, to confirm that the legislature may authorize executive rulemaking; however, the legislature shall not relinquish oversight, which such oversight is done by approval or rejection, in whole or in part, of an executive rule; and to provide that the legislature's approval or rejection of such a rule shall not require the approval of the governor?”

Basically, this amendment will codify legislative oversight of “executive rulemaking” in the State Constitution. This is not an inherently bad thing, but students of history and of current events should recognize within the words of the amendment some of the most terrifying words ever composed by the state legislature.

It would seem like wisdom but for the warning in my heart. Frodo's words could never be more accurate than in response to this amendment. But why should there be a warning in your heart? Well, there are several:

First, while Constitutional Amendments are more common and more frequent in states than they are nationally, they are important matters and should only be adopted after serious and thoughtful consideration and analysis. And yet, I fear there has not been a sufficient amount of either with regard to this amendment.

Second, separation of powers. Kind of like the United States Constitution, the Idaho State Constitution creates separate branches of government. The Legislative and Executive branches have unique responsibilities. Briefly, the Legislative branch is the one granted the power to propose laws while the Executive branch is the one granted the power to execute laws or, in other words, put them into force.

Yet, the Legislative Council says, “The Legislature's ability to approve or reject executive rules is an important aspect of the separation of powers, because these rules have the force and effect of law” (“Voter Pamphlet”). Tragically, the truth is there is no separation of powers in Idaho, or in the national government for that matter. Otherwise, why is there a need for legislative oversight of “executive rulemaking” when there should NOT be any in the first place?

Third, “the Legislature may authorize executive rulemaking.” Keep in mind, this kind of rulemaking is not the same as an Executive Order which, if true to intent and purpose, conveys policies and procedures to the Executive branch. Rather, this kind of rulemaking refers to executive bureaucracies, extra-constitutional bodies endowed with unconstitutional power to create binding laws. You know what these are as they are usually abbreviated into acronyms. The EPA, DOJ, DHS, and FBI are all national examples of “executive rulemaking” bodies. Should there be Legislative oversight of such organizations? Absolutely! Should these bodies even exist? Absolutely NOT which voids the need for Legislative oversight! Additionally, we must ask ourselves, do we really want Idaho to have it's own version of Washington D.C.'s alphabet soup?

Fourth, of the amendment, a state legislator who was recently interviewed on the Neal Larson Show said, “this was not just bipartisan, but it passed unanimously in both the State House and the Senate; and the Governor has indicated his approval.” (My apologies if the quote isn't verbatim.)

Of course, any time I hear “bipartisan,” I am reminded of a quote from George Carlin: "Bipartisan usually means that a larger-than-usual deception is being carried out." Indeed, it's even worse than that because the entire state legislature and the state executive are in agreement that this amendment is needed.

The amendment has already been unanimously approved by the legislature and by the Governor, and for too many that's enough to make it a reasonable action. Tragically, as with the state health exchange, the legislature and those who support this amendment are wrong.

In the United States, it's not a magical ring, nor a piece of paper with words written on it that provides power to government. Rather, the voice of the people is the sole source of all power. What governments do, the people must empower, or it cannot be done.

Here's the rub, though: unless the people hold their governments accountable, their government will do as it wishes.

To members of the State Legislature who are reading this, I implore you to take this back to the drawing board. If you want to amend the Constitution to strengthen the Legislature, do so without giving away your Constitutional mandate to legislate by eliminating executive rulemaking bodies all together.

To everyone else, on November 4th, I urge you to vote “NO” on H. J. R. 2.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

From Death to Debt

In light of the Republican Leadership's recent cave-in in passing a "clean" debt ceiling bill, I was reminded of Patrick Henry's rally, "Give me liberty or give me death," and conjured up this meme as a result:

Saturday, March 09, 2013

A Letter to the Idaho Legislature about Health Exchanges

Ladies and gentlemen of the Idaho House Health & Welfare committee:

I have the greatest respect for the work in which you and other legislators and the Governor are engaged. Though I do not apologize for the tone or the content of this email, please allow me to apologize in advance for its length.

I would have been there Thursday to present my case in person; however, I do not have the funds to travel even to Boise, and I place the needs of my family over nearly everything else.

Still, I just learned from the Idaho Statesman that you passed H248 with a “do pass” recommendation out of the committee with a 10-1 vote. While I’m grateful to know I didn’t waste my fuel and my breath on a personal appeal for liberty, state sovereignty, and plain old human decency, I’d like to express my disappointment at your behavior. Consider why you are in the state legislature. Is it to help special interests accomplish their goals of making competition scarce? Is it to craft laws imposing your will on the people of Idaho? Or, is it to serve the people of Idaho?

I watched the public comment and testimony on H248 and noted that the vast majority of supporters of the bill were lobbyists for the insurance, medical and dental industries—people whose pocket will theoretically get fatter as a result of the Insurance Exchange and Obamacare. At the same time, the vast majority of opponents were everyday citizens fighting the growth of government. A conclusion here is obvious: with the exception of the 1 no vote, you, like every other corrupt scallywag in a self-serving ruling class, listen to money more than reason and conscience. It amounts to a narcissistic type of cronyism. How very disappointing indeed! While I don’t mean to be rude, I do mean to harshly chastise you.

Ladies and gentlemen, cronyism will destroy Idaho and the US. Yes, that’s an accusation, and if the shoe fits, wear it because 10 of you and 23 in the Senate totally ignored those people who will be responsible for paying the bill the Health Insurance Exchange will generate. 10 of you and 23 in the Senate ignored reason for a false notion of a modicum of control for Idaho.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Stan Lee's Rant on Pennies

While I can't say that I agree that the US needs to simply abolish the penny (how would odd change be made--anything not a multiple of 5?), if it actually costs the US 2 cents for every 1 cent minted, the comic book master has a point. It's problematic too. Perhaps instead of eliminating the penny, we mint it with a metal that equals its value? I know with the out of control debt-based currency the US has, we may not find a cheap enough material out of which the penny can be minted. Still, better that than making shopping math that much more confusing.

Have you ever noticed that little 9 next to the price of gas at a gas station? It's 9/10 of 1 penny automatically rounding your purchase by 1 cent. The same happens at the grocery store and with ever kind of merchandise conceivable. Consider that without the penny, gas prices will automatically be rounded up not by $.01 but by $.05 because there would be no way to collect the any amount not a multiple of 5. The elimination of the penny will create just such a mathematical dilemma.

So, find something more suitable, but do not get rid of the penny.

Nullification in a Nutshell

Ground work
There has been a great debate in Idaho and in the nation about Thomas Jefferson's doctrine of nullification. Many are confused about what it means. Some are afraid that nullification is the same as secession, while others have simply bought into the false notion that the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of Constitutional law. Unfortunately for them, it's not that simple, but at the heart of the nullification debate is the question of states rights.

What are states rights? Well, though they have been debated hotly at times, they are not listed anywhere. So, what are the specific rights that each state has? Note: I do not say, what are the specific rights each state has under the constitution because the constitution is a restrictive document. Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution is titled "Powers Prohibited of the States" and includes a list of actions states may NOT take. Article IV, on the other hand, pertains to each state's interaction with other states including new states, and requires the federal government to supply the states with certain necessities like defense against invasion. Any rights a state may have are not even mentioned until the 10th amendment: "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." But, here it refers to "powers," not rights, so, again, what are the specific rights that each state has?