It’s the rainy season in Thailand, which means commuters like me are primed to get wet on our way to and from work. To me, the worst thing about this is constantly having rain-soaked shoes. There are few worse ways to start your day than feeling yesterday’s rainwater seep through a fresh pair of socks as you place your feet in shoes that have not had time to dry.
As bad as monsoon shoes are, I’d take them over Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s shoes any day of the week.
President Trump has recently nominated Brett Kavanaugh from the United States Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Unlike Justice Neil Gorsuch, Kavanaugh’s brand of constitutional originalism does not show much respect for the 4th Amendment. For those who do not know, the 4th Amendment intends to protect Americans against unwarranted searches and seizures. Without this amendment, police and other law enforcement officials may not be legally barred from rummaging through or confiscating our property, private documents, or even our bodies without just cause.
If you want to know more about Kavanaugh’s unfortunate history with the 4th Amendment, you can listen to Judge Andrew Napolitano, maybe the most pro-liberty judge in American history, discuss it with Tom Woods here.
Rand Paul, a 4A diehard and the 50th of the GOP’s 50-49 senator majority (John McCain, who is currently unable to vote for health reasons, would make 51) finds himself in an extremely tough situation as his vote may ultimately determine whether or not Kavanaugh is confirmed. The following are what I consider to be the most probable potential outcomes depending on the choice Rand makes.
The Sellout Scenario
If Rand Paul votes in favor of Kavanaugh, he will almost certainly become a SCOTUS justice, which could put all of our 4th Amendment rights on the line for decades to come. In the process, Rand would lose plenty of pro-Constitution credibilities. The Liberty movement would pile on with accusations that Rand Paul lacks the gumption his father Ron Paul possessed, and is just a slightly better version of the swamp creatures lurking throughout Washington.
From a political standpoint, Rand would likely secure his position in the Senate if he decides to run for reelection in 2022. I imagine that the typical Republican voter is far more concerned with making sure a Liberal justice does not take the place of Anthony Kennedy than he is with the technicalities of what the 4th Amendment entails, which means Rand’s seat in the Senate, unlike his credibility, would likely be safe.
In the long run, keeping Rand’s vote in the Senate for years to come could serve as more valuable than having a perfect originalist justice on the bench as Gorsuch and the four liberal justices (a majority) seem to be on Rand’s side when it comes to 4A. In other words, Kavanaugh’s impact on the 4th Amendment may be minimal anyway.
The Swamp Scenario
If Rand votes against Kavanaugh, he may still be confirmed via red state Democrats. At least three or four senators up for reelection in November are Democrats in Trump country. These senators are often forced to part ways with their party in order to maintain their positions in Congress. Due to their sticky situation, Rand’s decision may not ultimately matter in the confirmation process.
Voting against Kavanaugh would preserve Rand’s pro-Constitution credibility, and would likely have little effect on his reelection prospects as his choice to stand is ground would cost Trump and establishment Republicans nothing.
The Hero Scenario
If Rand votes against Kavanaugh, he may not be confirmed. However, this could work out beautifully for Rand in the end.
By blocking Kavanaugh’s nomination, Rand would help preserve the 4th Amendment (at least temporarily) and bolster his Libertarian credentials. And although he would defy Trump and rain on Republicans’ parade in the short run, sunnier skies could be on the horizon.
If the GOP retains control of the Senate after this year’s midterms (and they are expected to do so), Trump will be given another chance to nominate a more pro-4A justice. If Trump’s next choice winds up being more Gorsuchian, Rand will have taken a massive political risk and won big for the country as well as himself.
The Scapegoat Scenario
If Rand votes against Kavanaugh, he is not confirmed, and the GOP loses the Senate, Trump may not get another chance to nominate a SCOTUS justice as president. If a Democrat beats Trump in 2020, and Democrats retain control of the Senate, you can bet that a “living document” justice will be placed on the SCOTUS bench, probably resulting in a liberal majority for years to come.
Under these conditions, Rand may succeed in preserving the 4th Amendment. Conversely, the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 9th, 10th, and many other rights guaranteed by the Constitution could fall by the wayside.
Rand would have committed political suicide in the process, and a future reelection bid could result in comical defeat.
Let’s hope for the best.
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On Sunday morning, following a speech by Iranian President Rouhani that threatened the United States with ‘the mother of all wars,” President Trump rattled off an incendiary verbal warning against the Iranian State via Twitter. In a message that was written in all caps for the world to see, the President demanded that Iran “NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES.”
This gaudy show of juvenile bullymanship is only the latest in a string of petty and dogged counter-intellectualism that has come to characterize a President who practically embodies “If it bleeds, it leads.” On the topic of American interventionism and a global democracy, Trump’s watery stance has seen him use Bush’s failure in Iraq as a campaign placard while also quietly stroking the dogs of war in response to Iraq’s wealthy and theocratic neighbors to the East. Trump’s blatant messages of unabashed aggression are similar in tone to those of every American President’s position (outside of Obama) when addressing Iran since the fall of the Shah. It brings a consistent and malignantly manufactured campaign of fear and mistrust with Iran that is striking in its uniformity of allegiance from both political ruling classes over the past century.
Americans were quick to lambast and mock the President by editing the tweet to include lyrics to their favorite pop songs. The flippant response from users is telling in its suggestion of two disconcerting truths: first, that the American people don’t take a word Mr. Trump has to say seriously, and more importantly, that they don’t believe they have a real and honest voice in the endless, bloody, transnational pursuit for ‘democracy’ and ‘justice’ that has symbolized and consistently dotted American foreign policy throughout their lifetimes. The sad poetry of the anti-imperialistic American politico is written in the meme markets of absurdity and anger.
Of course, much of the discussion regarding Iran is actually, at its core, an uninterrupted debate about Israel. Though we boast about a ‘special relationship’ with The United Kingdom, it is our ‘open secret relationship’ with Israel that has informed so many missteps in the region. Relations between The United States and Israel have only strengthened under Trump’s presidency as he moved the American embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem. Many see this action as a symbolic gesture of the unyielding political, ideological and military support for the Zionist state that has often sparred with Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was said to be pleased with the tweet and called the President’s stance on the ongoing geopolitical unrest “strong.” As long as The United States has a financial and military obligation to Israel, these sorts of complex foreign entanglements will never cease. The complexities of the Iran-Israel relations in no way, shape, or form have any resonance with the fundamental ideas of an American republic and the simple aspirations of common Americans for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
In their beds at night and in the fields of Idaho where wheat grows, Americans do not worry about Israel, Iran, or whichever cold war proxy that is drummed up next on the list. These decent people know inherently that it is the elite showmen of the political and media class that demand we place our foreign policy of death and imperialism before the domestic interests of food and family. They know it is rarely the neocolonialist class that is called upon to suffer the toils. It won’t be the President or Congressman’s children who end up dead on the battlefields across the sea.
The major tension between The United States and Iran dates back to the 1950’s when democratically elected President Mohammed Mossadegh nationalized all oil industries of Iran. Mossadegh advocated for secular democracy, demanded sovereignty from the British empire and was a champion of his people. It was the CIA, an unelected body, that overthrew the democracy of Iran in 1953 for their own slighted interests. They installed Reza Pahlavi as Shah against the wishes of the free people of Iran. And the American taxpayer, under the guise of democracy, funded the tyranny of Iran for oil resources through 1979 and the fall of the Shah.
With the triumphs of WWI and WWII at our backs, The New American Empire had taken its unrightful and post-philosophical seat as the ultimate arbitrator of good and peace throughout the free world. The ingrained policy of overextended foreign interventionism has yet to change much in the decades that have followed. Whether Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Israel, or Palestine. “If it bleeds, it leads.”
The list goes on and the names begin to blur. The list grows, the enemies broaden and the financiers get richer. The pitiful truth of our misadventures in the post-classic wars is that they have never been about the intellectual triumphs of our miraculously free society or the merits of our material and philosophical splendor. They have gone against every bold aspiration of peace that lays face up for all to see in our first and bravest documents.
So let us be clear: the good people of the United States have no interest in war with Iran. That 60% of ‘independents’ who have given up on the political process are so disenfranchised by the ballot and the screen that they have given up on an idea without wartime. The American public has no interest in war with Syria, or Libya, or Afghanistan, or Russia, or Iraq. We want to be done with all of them. When the American people see Donald Trump tweeting about Iran, they wonder what stake any of us have in the businesses of people more than 8,000 miles from our shores?
They can’t remember Iran ever attacking an American city (because they haven’t.) They couldn’t name Rouhani if you offered them up a million dollars. When has it ever been our duty to be so pathologically involved and mindlessly uninformed as we are in 2018? Is this about nuclear weapons? If it is, how can we be in any position to lecture? Americans see through the blatant hypocrisy of our demands for a neutered Iranian nuclear program when our country currently holds almost half of the nuclear weaponry in existence. Whether Americans are left or right, they all want a few simple things. They want their family, their food, their property and to be left alone.
This brand of conservative isolationism is not rooted in ‘false comfort’ as George Bush warned during his 2006 State of the Union Address. According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted during the Second Iraq War, 42 percent of Americans agreed that the U.S. “should mind its own business internationally.” Furthermore, the study found that a staggering 84 percent of Americans preferred “protecting jobs of American workers” to only 24 percent who supported “promoting democracy in other nations.” It wasn’t that George Washington and the founders of our country were cold to the world. It was simply that they understood that bringing justice and peace outside our borders was a fool’s errand with a bottomless pit of unsolvable morality. Washington realized what the scale and scope of global policing meant in its over-extension of resources and personnel.
In his Farewell Speech to the country, President Washington warned of foreign entanglements. Madison, an ideological minarchist, was noted for his belief that the country should possess no standing army unless attacked. When Bush led the makeup war for his father’s disastrous missteps, the President called in over 400,000 reserve troops to fight and die on warm Arabian sands in the name of peace and freedom. Today, the utter size of the United States military is such that there is no going back. The brokers and dealers of blood and tyranny are too entrenched. There will be forever an enemy and Iran is just the latest in a string of foregone conclusions.
The president’s call to action, his drab demand, and fettered foolishness are not representative of Americans I know. They have always wanted, above all, peace. Harmonic, egalitarian, tolerant, loving, peaceful, they seek meaning in their lives. The great lie about contemporary America is this: for all of our terrible, marauding, unjust, vicious, serpentine, blood wars, it is not the people of this country who organize and instruct the death machine. It is not the people who cheer for the denigration of ancient art and the dehumanization of civilized peoples behind the callous drumbeat of ”freedom.’ Wars and more wars. Death and taxes. The ghoulish carousel of private interests and public lies that the American public is made to shoulder. New enemies and faces that never end. Don’t blink, you might miss the next war.
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The history of the United States has been a history of the growth of the federal government and the degradation of individual and local sovereignty. As government centralizes, the State forces us into a “one size fits all” approach to not just government, but culture. With the death of local sovereignty comes the rise of the superstate, where the only checks on their power are the arbitrary rulings of the elites within their own ranks. To put it quite simply, the federal government will not check itself, and the American Empire will continue to grow so long as no outside force puts the federal government in check.
There is, of course, one way to resist federal tyranny that the government does not want you to know about: nullification. For the sake of this article, nullification will be defined as “any act or set of actions, that result in a particular law being rendered null, void, or even unenforceable within a particular area.” With this definition, we can see that nullification is simply an action that stops a law from taking effect within the geographical confines of a polity. So, if a state government passes a law forbidding the enforcement of a specific federal law in the state, the state is taking part in an act of nullification.
While the establishment wants you to believe that it is the job of the Congress to determine the laws in the US and the Supreme Court’s job to shut down unconstitutional laws, this is far from the case. In truth, any unconstitutional law immediately loses its legal power within the United States, and it is the right and the duty of state and local governments, and also the common individual, to resist these laws to render them null, void, or unenforceable. In other words, it is the right of the people to nullify tyranny.
Whereas state and local governments value their sovereignty, they have an incentive to limit the federal government as much as possible. The state’s right to nullify, however, does not come from the state, it comes from the people and their right to self-defense. As a self-owner, you have the right to defend yourself and your property from aggression; this includes aggression from a government. While the government is inherently unjust, we live in a world where the State does exist. With that in mind, the only role of government should be to preserve the natural rights of the people. In a federal system, this role of government gives local and state governments the duty to stop the federal government’s influence on the people.
Nullification is Constitutional
One of the top objections to the idea that the states should nullify federal laws they deem unjust or unconstitutional is that it is unconstitutional. This could not be more false. The Tenth Amendment reads that “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.” Nowhere in the constitution is the power of nullification given to any federal entity, so clearly that nullification is not an enumerated power of the federal government. Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution outlines powers that the states are not allowed to do, and nullification is not on the list either. So, nullification is not a federal power. Nullification is not prohibited to the states. Therefore, Nullification is a protected power of the states as delegated under the 10th Amendment.
One objection that some will use is that the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution gives the federal government the power to stop nullification. The Supremacy Clause reads as such: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”
The “constitutionalists” say this settles the argument, but the ignore the true meaning of this clause. To be specific, they completely ignore the phrase “in Pursuance thereof.” This phrase makes it clear that the federal government is only supreme when they are pursuing actions specifically authorized for them to pursue by the Constitution. The Supremacy Clause, when put in modern terminology, essentially says “This Constitution and the Laws of the United States which this Constitution authorizes… shall be the supreme Law of the Land….” In other words, there is no argument that the constitution bans nullification. In fact, the 10th Amendment encourages it.
Kentucky and Virginia
In 1798, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison drafted the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutionsrespectively. In these resolutions against the Alien and Sedition Acts, the two founders explained why nullification is the path to liberty.
In the Kentucky Resolution, Jefferson declared nullification as “the rightful remedy” to federal tyranny. In fact, he did not see nullification as a power of the states, but as a natural right of the people. In Jefferson’s mind, an unconstitutional law is already null and void (Alexander Hamilton concurred with Jefferson in Federalist 78), it is just the duty of the states to refuse to comply with this law. Jefferson’s justification that Nullification is a natural right stem from his belief in self-defense. Simply put, if a government becomes tyrannical, it is the right of the people to abolish that government.
Madison echoes much of the sentiment of Jefferson in the Virginia Resolution. But he also outlines a process of how to nullify a law, which he also elaborated upon in Federalist 46. The way to nullify, according to Madison, follows as such:
Noncompliance with the officers of the Union. If the federal government passes tyrannical legislation, it is the duty of the state governments to treat the feds the way the colonists treated the British. Ensure that they are not able to enforce these laws in the states. Northern states did this in the 1850s by passing Personal Liberty Laws to resist the Fugitive Slave Act.
Mass Protests. When the masses come out against federal tyranny, state-level officials realize that they risk their power if they choose to comply with federal orders. We can see this with the example of Sanctuary Cities in the modern immigration crisis. City and state governments that resist ICE likely have a dissatisfied voter base who believe that Trump’s immigration policies are unjust and are willing to protest these.
Outspoken governors. Voters don’t take their state and local officials seriously anymore. But they should. It is incredibly important that the state officials feel emboldened to speak out against an overbearing federal government.
State legislation. If state governments pass laws saying that a federal law is unenforceable within that jurisdiction, this law is nullified. The states have this right, especially when the federal government is passing unconstitutional laws. We can see this with the state governments passing laws that decriminalize or legalize cannabis, even though it is banned at the federal level.
If All Else Fails
The most extreme act of nullification is, of course, secession. If a central government becomes too overbearing, it is within the rights of a local sovereign to assert their rights to self-defense and separate from their oppressor. In the same way, nullification comes from the right to self-defense, so too does the right of secession. Secession nullifies not just a specific law, but all laws passed by the central government.
We must remember, however, that secession is not just a state right. It is an individual right. If we reject the right of secession, we reject the right of one political unit to dissolve its bands to another. Divorce, for example, is an act of secession. The American Revolution was an act of secession. The right of secession is an individual right that must be revived in order to stop the rise of the total state.
Nullification: A State Right AND an Individual Right
While the states have the ability to nullify federal tyranny, who will nullify state and local tyranny? Individuals, of course! It is the individual right to self-defense from which the right of nullification comes, so why would the individuals not have the right to nullify? One of the most famous examples of individual nullification, though none dare calls it nullification, was the Underground Railroad.
In 1850, former President Millard Fillmore signed the Fugitive Slave Act, which made a farce out of due process, into law. The public responded by establishing the Underground Railroad, a system of activists who aided escaped slaves by helping them go to Canada, where slavery was illegal. It was after the Underground Railroad’s establishment that encouraged almost every northern state to pass Personal Liberty Laws, which restored due process for those accused of running from slavery. Some states even went further than that. There are several recorded instances of state law enforcement arresting federal marshals for attempting to enforce this law.
A more recent act of nullification is Cody Wilson’s work toward 3D printing firearms. The rights of all people are being violated by unjust state and federal gun laws. Wilson, however, has made a way for one to bypass all gun laws: print your own! You have every right to bear arms and the government has no right to infringe upon that. Cody Wilson’s innovation has made all gun laws effectively unenforceable. Cody Wilson used nullification to grow freedom.
Answering Objections to Nullification
The people who are against nullification, especially secession, claim this issue was answered in 1865. However, as alluded to before, nullification was used to fight slavery. From Personal Liberty Laws to the Underground Railroad, the states were resisting the adamantly pro-slavery federal government. And they won. Despite the fact that the federal government upheld slavery through the Fugitive Slave Act and the Dred Scott decision, slavery was unenforceable in northern states. In fact, one of the main reasons South Carolina seceded from the union was because the northern states so successfully nullified the Fugitive Slave Act. Nullification opposes slavery. Although one should never use the force of the State to decide right and wrong, I guess the naysayers are kind of right. The question was answered in 1865, and the nullifiers won with shining colors.
Some naysayers point out that state governments used nullification as a means to enforce Jim Crow laws in the mid-20th century. This is a problematic truth, at best. Plessy vs. Ferguson, a federal SCOTUS decision, ruled that Jim Crow laws were constitutional, giving the “separate but equal” doctrine. But the background of this case proves that nullification would have helped. The 1890 Separate Car Act forced racial segregation on train cars in Louisiana. But the train companies opposed this law. This is why a company allowed Homer Plessy to board a “White Only” train car. The private sector was attempting to nullify a tyrannical state law (remember that nullification is an individual right) but failed due to an out of control Supreme Court.
In addition to the Plessy vs. Ferguson case, we can see that the greatest atrocities of human history were committed by governments. From the Holocaust and other instances of genocide, democide committed by the communists, slavery, the eradication of the Native Americans, the Trail of Tears, war, and so on, government has killed and oppressed far more than the private sector could ever dream to.
But even if this was not the case, and that nullification was used to enforce civil rights abuses rather than the federal government (which was the entity that actually enforced these abuses), this does not discredit nullification. Nullification is a principle separate from the policies. It does not matter why one nullifies. It matters that they nullify because that is their right.
Nullification is Happening Right Now, and it is Saving Money and Lives!
In 1996, California passed Proposition 215, legalizing medical cannabis. California did this in spite of the federal ban on all forms of cannabis. Upon the successful passage of Prop 215, the Bill Clinton Justice Department announced their intentions to still enforce the federal ban. Since Clinton made this statement, 9 states have legalized recreational cannabis, 13 more states have decriminalized it, 30 states have legalized medical cannabis, and ZERO federal cannabis arrests have occurred in states that have legalized pot.
Nullification is the Rightful Remedy to Centralization
Nullification is the path to curbing the federal government. As time goes on, it becomes more and more clear that freedom will not be defended by a central entity. What matters is local sovereignty. At the local level, politicians are more easily held accountable. They are more inclined to align themselves with the values of their constituents. So, in terms of government, smaller is better.
When government localizes, the world sees a greater diversity in policy and culture. The people within each polity are more inclined toward cooperation whereas we know our neighbors, but not the communities that are thousands of miles away from us. In other words, we should let the Californians be Californians, let the Texans be Texans, let the Kentuckians be Kentuckians, and so on.
Imagine a world under one government. Imagine if China became a hegemon to the extent that it could impose its will on Americans. Imagine if China declared itself the world’s policeman. Imagine if China bombed hospitals and schools in the US to impose its will upon you. Would you not rebel?
To deny decentralization is to accept the idea that we should centralize and that one size fits all in terms of culture and politics. But we can objectively observe that this is not the case. So long as we reject world government, we must accept decentralization. If the US has the right to exist independent of a world government, should not the states have the right to exist independent of the US? Should not the cities have the right to exist independent of the states? The neighborhoods independent of the cities? The individual separate from the neighborhoods? In matters of decentralization, logic dictates the importance of consistency. To reject one facet of decentralization is to reject all facets of decentralization.
In other words, nullification is the answer. To resist tyranny, localize. Not only will this stop tyranny, it will also lead to greater harmony among communities, diversity in policy, and a greater power of the people to “vote” with their footprints.
This week, the state of Missouri’s Senate race took a personal turn. In a call to Austin Petersen, a caller to radio host Gary Nolan’s show described some controversy with Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley involving one of Petersen’s road signs.
The caller, after placing a Petersen bumper sticker on his car, ran into a friend, who asked about it. He then informed the friend about the sign and the opponent to Hawley. Following some conversation, the friend informed him that Hawley was, in fact, his neighbor. The caller then gave him one of Petersen’s signs to place in his yard for the attorney general to see.
But according to the caller, the sign lasted a mere twelve hours, forty six minutes.
After that brief span, he reported, the candidate himself appeared on his neighbor’s doorstep, holding a copy of the community’s rules. One such rule, which Hawley had highlighted, was to not post any political signs.
Hawley’s neighbor suggested that “usually he sends his wife over” for matters concerning the neighborhood covenant.
Petersen, on his Twitter, mocked Hawley for the event. He first called the candidate “man enough to do his own work”, before asking “how petty is [Hawley]?”
He also stated that Hawley’s measure was hypocritical, because it shows a rare acceptance of the law of the land. Petersen has often stated that the attorney general does not respect the Constitution when it comes to the Second Amendment. Yet, he says, he is now fully able to use it to advantage in the form of a homeowner’s agreement.
The communist island nation of Cuba is currently undergoing a significant and historic process, which is sure to shape the future of the country. Cuban lawmakers have been working since early summer to create a new constitution, which seeks to modernize the government. The last constitution was created in 1976, meaning the document is due for an update. Former President Raul Castro and his commission proposed a draft version on July 14th. It includes 87 new articles. Several reforms listed have caught the eye of those hoping the nation will begin guarding individual liberties.