Our Interview with Katrina Pierson

We had the exciting opportunity to talk to Katrina Pierson. Katrina is running for Congress in the 32nd Congressional District in Texas.

Freedom Forge Press: We love your outlook for freedom, liberty, and limited government. Our mission aligns with your outlook—we found you on Twitter because of these beliefs. Your website indicates that you have a preference for promoting market-based reforms. So to get started, what kind of specific proposals would you bring with you to Congress in terms of improving the healthcare system?

Katrina PiersonKP: I have years of experience in healthcare. I was an administrator at a hospital; I ran outpatient neurology. I have experience with how these things can work. I know lots of people are talking about Heath Savings Accounts (HSAs), which should be on a market level, not a federal level. We need to have full transparency with all medical costs for patients so they can compare costs, rate doctors, and know where to go. We need to incorporate those types of transparency requirements so patients know where to find good quality care at an affordable price.

Tax reform is a good starting point—there’s been talk of eliminating that tax exemption altogether, and providing either a tax credit, or dumping it into an HSA. We can also break up insurance markets to compete across state lines. If you have a plan for a family of four, you could compare the prices side-by-side and have a difference of five thousand dollars from one state to another. [Selling insurance across state lines] would drag down the cost because the companies would have to compete with each other.

Also with regard to Medicare, we’re not means-testing people. I know a lot of people who don’t need to be on Medicare but are, and this shouldn’t be. There are so many common sense solutions that we just so completely ignore.

FFP: One of our editors has had a Health Savings Account since 2008. Talking about transparency: when he got to the dentist and asked about the cost of getting a cavity filled, the response was, well it depends on what insurance you have. It’s that complicated. So should the private market sort this out through an insurance conglomerate, or what?

KP: I don’t think it should be a federal government mandate. Take Texas, for example. If we want transparency in Texas, that would become a state law. Most people want transparency. With larger HSAs, which would cover many insured, you could change health care in just a few years [by increasing transparency]. Something not a lot of people are talking about are wellness programs. AFLAC is ahead of the curve in this. Some big employers are providing wellness programs. Companies should provide wellness programs for employees as a substitute for preventative medicine, even. But as long as we keep things at the state level, individuals have a lot more control.

FFP: Speaking of a national marketplace, Congress’s duty is to regulate interstate commerce. If Congress were to try to set up a national market for insurance, do you think this infringes on states?

KP: I don’t think the federal government should establish a national market; I just think they should eliminate the inability to buy across state lines.

FFP: What would your priorities be if elected?

KP: You wish you could fix everything, but there are a few things more heavy on my to-do list than others: one of those things is I believe we have to make a priority of fundamentally changing the education system in our country. We should be able to have this debate with the public. This is where we lose on a lot of issues; people go into smoke-filled rooms and work things out with fellow bureaucrats, and we lose out.

We should put the states on notice and say “no” to the Department of Education (DOE). The DOE was established in the 1970s. If you look at all the big innovators and the successful people, they didn’t go through public education. We’re losing that [type of innovation] right now—we’re not getting anywhere with education in this country. It’s a big issue for me because if we’re going to change anything in this country, we’ve got to save our kids.

There are simple policies to put in place like a federal check registry. I think we should require every department and agency to do the same thing. We’re living in the age of technology. We should not have to wait for the GSA scandal to break before we find out how outrageously they’re spending money. This is the people’s money; they should see it. The technology is there; the state of Texas does it.

I’d also like to get back to single-issue bills. We shouldn’t have to be in a situation where we have to pass it before we know what’s in it. The reason we have such outrageous spending is they tack on these little things to these bills they know are going to pass, and we find out later we’re paying for things like breast implants for prostitutes. We need to raise the standard on how we do business and how we govern.

Think also about bringing back the anti-appropriations committee. That committee was cranking out three billion dollars of waste. Why is the committee gone? Because it was cranking out three billion dollars of waste!

FFP: Back to education for a moment: What do you think about Common Core?

KP: I am adamantly opposed to Common Core. It’s more of a curriculum thing—I know some people like the structure of it. I have a background in science, and when we look at education standards in the US versus the other countries, we teach linearly. But when you look at the human brain, it doesn’t think in a straight line. It thinks in colors. The BBC did an interesting program about struggling students, and they taught them how to draw their ideas with curvy colors. These students improved in education, and their self-confidence and behavior improved. We’re teaching with a very archaic system, and we won’t fundamentally change it—we need drastic changes to get our children back on track.

FFP: So the Common Core wouldn’t allow for individual flexibility. Looking at the history of our education system, wealthy industrialists contributed to our educational system, and the mindset was, “we don’t want thinkers; we want assembly line workers.” So it seems we’re still training people to live in the 20th Century.

KP: We have an opportunity here. One pet peeve of public school [in Texas] is in the African American community: these students can hardly speak English, but they are required to speak and write Spanish. Mastering lower education—reading, writing, arithmetic—shouldn’t be too difficult. We are taking away kids’ ability to think on their own. They are being pushed into group think. Math classes now push students to do math in group, four to a table, and have to pass or fail based on what your group comes up with. A straight-A student was upset because she was receiving grades based on what her group did, and she wanted to quit school. These students are mixed together so their grades average out. Luckily in some schools, like in Texas, we still have AP classes, but in some states it’s getting really bad.

FFP: Taking America as a whole, thinking about everything that is happening, what do you think is wrong, and what do we need to do to fix ourselves?

KP: We have a morally bankrupt society. We’re too complacent. We’re going to struggle with that. By electing people who are interested in engaging the public rather than joining the club and making decisions behind closed doors, we will fix some of the complacency part. When the Tea Party started, we had people who had never been involved before, and now we can’t get them to stop being involved. Problem is, there are few people willing to lead on principle.

I’ll go back to one of my legislative priorities. We need to have debate about the UN. I have spent years on the local level pushing back against the international standards being pushed into our community, whether it’s zoning, putting up signs that don’t require people to read and speak English, we’re just seeing the UN dictate the way we plan our cities, the way we interact with international communities, the way we hold our elections. That isn’t what our country is about. The UN has been operating outside its mission system for quite some time. We need to revisit the UN and our involvement in it.

FFP: “Soft tyranny” seems to have the UN written all over it. It’s not the power to overtly destroy, but to make every one play to a lowest common denominator. You don’t have pioneers willing to depart from the norm. It’s hard to see or prove.

KP: I think we can fix the engagement of the American public. We have so many qualified people who would be very good legislators, good on a local, state, and national level—good, solid freedom fighters. But our society is so conditioned in fear, in every aspect. They have us afraid of everything and everyone. The cycle of people stepping out there, like myself, it’s a question of “who is going to take the beating?” Once we break that mold and get more people to fight back… well, human beings follow courage. Nothing has changed with the human psyche, but we’re conditioned to not stir up the pot. Hopefully it’s not too late.

FFP: Looking at a recent Gallup poll, a record number of people said big government is the biggest threat to the country. Big government has always been at the top of the list, well above big business or big labor. So what are we missing? Americans seem to think big government is the problem, but we have a president who won the election and is an advocate for big government.

KP: Republicans have to govern on principle. It’s sort of tragic, what we have on “our” side (if we’re on the side of freedom). We’re not just going to blindly vote for anyone. The perfect example is Mitt Romney. When he ran and knocked out each conservative one at a time, before he won the nomination, he was completely against Obamacare. After he won the Republican primary, he said, “I’ll repeal Obamacare, but I want to replace it.” People didn’t like that.

That spring, Romney got on a microphone and said, “There are some things about Obamacare that we’ll keep.” I talked to hundreds of grassroots leaders in swing states, and millions of those people did not vote. Their reason for not voting? They said that they refused to have Obamacare under a Republican. It wasn’t enough to vote against Obama; they didn’t have a reason to vote for Mitt Romney. That was very telling. I mean, you look at Ted Cruz in Texas. People couldn’t find a reason not to vote for Ted Cruz. He beat all odds. That’s what’s happening. The Republican Party is all talk and no action. They say they’re free market, but they’re not. They’re pro-business. This is not the same as free market. It’s all depending where the money’s coming from. Challenge politicians to define what they mean. They’re saying what they want you to hear, but they’re not saying what they mean. For example, the word “amnesty” is one of those words. It means different things for different people.

FFP: You had been a Tea Party activist in your area, and a grassroots leader. It seems like you’ve reached the point where enough is enough.

KP: I can’t just sit there and walk. I met with my congressman for the better part of the year, tried to explain what conservatives in our district wanted, and he just wasn’t interested. He was only interested in supporting John Boehner. He didn’t want to hear it. He made it seem like we didn’t know what we were talking about. He supports farm bills, amnesty, the NSA, indefinite detention. I couldn’t sit back without challenging him.

FFP: Do you think we need a third party. Could the Tea Party provide a viable option?

KP: I don’t know if the question today is if we need a third party. That’s a question for 2010 or 2011. I think the question today is with Republicans actively trying to stomp out conservative voices and freedom and liberty-minded voices. The question today is if we’re going to be able to stop a third party. I have no idea if the Tea Party is a viable option. There are some people saying the Tea Party was “kind of” right about Obamacare, “kind of” right about privacy. I don’t know if they can recover from all the image damage done to them over the years. I think we’ll know over this next cycle or two if we’ll be able to stop a third party, though I think a third party will be devastating to Republicans. I can’t see organizations backing the Republican Party again after all that’s coming. The Republicans are not governing like Republicans. I hope this election cycle, we can make enough noise to guide the ship back onto the right course.

FFP: John Adams said, “A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.” Do you think there’s hope for freedom in the future or is it too late?

KP: I think we still have hope. I do believe once it’s gone, it’s gone; I just don’t think we’re there yet. I think we’re in the transition, and it’s going to be up to the American people to make the final decision. That’s why it’s so important to bring these discussions to the American public so they know exactly what’s going on and exactly how these things are happening… like the IRS, DOJ, and NSA scandals.

If Republicans were smart, they would jump on this, bypass the media, and go straight to the people and say “this is what’s happening to you.” The federal government should send a letter to every single person whose cell phone was spied on. Then you would start to see the American people say, “Wait!” The problem is, everything done in DC is kept in DC. Americans have to be touched personally before they get engaged. There has been no accountability on the federal level, there is no one going to the American public. People don’t know what do to, so they say, “Oh well, nothing I can do about it.”

FFP: So do you believe the media isn’t doing its job for the American people?

KP: Absolutely. The media needs to point out how the government isn’t doing its job. There are now three million signatures on petitions against Obamacare. People had no idea what was coming with Obamacare, but because Ted Cruz  and others went to the American public, people are now questioning Obamacare. That’s why they blamed the shutdown on Cruz, but people can see that he was trying to warn us. That was just a month or two ago, and now no one is mad at him anymore—people are thankful to him for informing them. Imagine if all Republicans did that—how much they could inform the American people.

FFP: Is anyone even about small government anymore? The Republicans don’t offer a difference from Democrats.

KP: I wish Republicans would take the anger against conservatives, and use it against the Democrats every once in a while.

FFP: Grover Cleveland once vetoed a bill from Congress aimed at easing severe drought conditions in Texas by spending $10,000 on distributing grain seeds to farmers.

In his veto message, Cleveland said:

I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering… Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct [individual charity] which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.

We like some Democrats, but it seems the good ones are gone. Thinking about the Texas Seed Bill, does the federal government have a role to play in easing individual suffering?

KP: It is so not a government duty. Think about how long ago that was and where we are today. We’re the most abundant nation in the world. Not only have we given up our responsibilities, but our churches have, too. Our states have, too. The states are now copying the governing in Washington, DC. Texas’s state budget is now fifty percent federally funded. States are going to go crazy, but it [cutting federally-funded budgets and programs] has to be done. It’s not the federal government’s role to babysit people or states. Responsibility has to be put back on the states.

FFP: It’s exciting to find people like you who are standing up and running for office.

KP: It was not an easy decision to run. I tell people, the good news is I’m not your traditional Republican candidate. I’m not an old rich guy, I’m a single mom. That’s also the bad news. I’m going to go into it fully prepared for a full character assault. Nobody else would step up. I’ve reached the point where, as Thomas Jefferson said, “resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.” I’m young enough that I’m able to recover. If I have to move, I’ll survive. I couldn’t consciously not do anything. Ted Cruz always says, you lose one hundred percent of the battles you don’t fight.

Katrina Pierson is a candidate for the United States Congress in the 32nd District in Texas. Keep track of her at her website, on her Twitter feed, and Facebook.

Budget “Deal” Shows Why You Shouldn’t Trust Politicians to Fix Anything

House Republican Paul Ryan and Senate Democrat Pat Murray proudly emerged from crafting their back-room budget deal. Finally, an end to the dreaded “sequester” budget cuts that were promised to be so intense and so devastating that the sky might literally fall if they were enacted. Finally, an end to the threat of another government shut down when the continuing resolution passed in October expires in mid-January.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor praised Ryan for “the hard work behind trying to get a deal in this divided government we’re in.”

Speaker John Boehner was so angry that conservatives in his caucus weren’t widely supporting the budget deal, he yelled “Are you kidding me?” at one point into a microphone at his press conference earlier today.

That’s funny. We think the question really should be asked of him and those who support the budget “deal” and think that something meaningful has actually been accomplished.  Maybe a better question is “who are you trying to kid?”

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office scores the deficit impact of the laws Congress passes.  They evaluated this budget deal and reported the law would result in about $150 billion in deficit reductions. Over ten years.

Of course Representatives have two-year terms–meaning there will be five elections between now and the end of this projection. Even the Senate will go through nearly two full election cycles of its members during this timeline. What is the chance that the cuts enacted will be left in place? If you need a hint, the budget cuts that went into effect January 2, 2013 lasted until…well until about today, so not even a full year. What’s the likelihood that budget cuts enacted ten years from now actually remain in place?

This is the dishonesty of budget projections. All the budget pain is in the later years of the timeline. But politicians claim to have made “the hard choices” now and done “the hard work” now of getting a deal done today. They’re hoping you don’t notice when the cuts go into effect.

The “hard choice” made in the House today is to make NO change to the projected deficit in 2014. That’s right. Zero change. All changes take place after 2014. And we know 2014 is an election year, meaning in 2015, fresh faces in Congress may alter this budget blueprint at will.

The pie chart below shows the dollar value of deficit cuts in each year of the budget plan.  Yes, 2014, the year when Congress could have actually enacted something that would stick, is zero. As each year passes, the likelihood of the cuts remaining in place drops–so we shaded the chart to reflect lighter pie slices until 2023 when the final slice is a pale white-green color.

Seventy cents of every dollar in proposed cuts won’t take place until after the 5 year mid-point (2019) of the budget plan. We won’t even have the same president by then. The remaining 30 cents in cuts will be realized between 2015 and 2019.

But the size of the cuts themselves are unbelievably small. Sure, politicians will claim to have cut the deficit by $150 billion (…*cough*overtenyears*cough*…)

But what does that mean? Even if every penny that is proposed to be on the budget chopping block remains on the chopping block, the size of the cuts is insignificant.

Over the same 10 year period where Republicans and Democrats are slapping each other on the back over their $150 billion in deficit reductions (…*cough*overtenyears*cough*…) your government is expected to spend some $46.6 TRILLION. Suddenly the $150 billion in reductions (your turn! *cough*overtenyears*cough) is little more than an insignificant rounding error–just 0.3% of funds to be spent.

We colored the area of the rectangle below green in a sea of red to represent the value of the cuts as a percentage of expected spending. You might need to zoom in to find the cuts.

This inability of Congress to address the country’s fiscal woes will lead to economic ruin in the form of crippling tax increases, inflation, and a damaged US Dollar in foreign currency markets. These effects in turn limit the freedom we have to enjoy a fruitful and prosperous lifestyle as we have less disposable income, must pay more for basic goods and services with the money the government was gracious enough not to tax, and an inability to afford goods and services that are not produced here.

All of which begs the question of Speaker Boehner and those who voted for the measure, “Are you kidding us?”

Book Review: Emily Gets Her Gun…But Barack Obama Wants to Take Yours by Emily Miller

Emily Gets Her Gun: But Barack Obama Wants To Take Yours (Regnery Publishing) is the story of Emily Miller’s personal experience and observations in navigating the convoluted, hostile, and even incompetent District of Columbia bureaucracy in order to secure her constitutional right to legally own a firearm in her home of Washington, D.C. The book is definitely worth your time, especially if you value your Second Amendment rights to own firearms.  You’ll learn a lot of “need to know” facts about legal gun ownership and information needed to effectively defend your right to “keep and bear arms” when dealing with political figures and “reasonable gun control” advocates who propose policies that are anything but reasonable.

Emily Miller is a journalist and a resident of Washington, D.C. One day she found herself defenseless as criminals broke into a friend’s home as she was house-sitting. Emily decided to follow the District’s process for purchasing and possessing a legal firearm in Washington, D.C., which turned out to be no small feat. The book is a nonfiction account of her journey (of several months) to navigate the city’s red-tape aimed at making legal handgun possession too difficult for most people to achieve.

The narrative is told in alternating chapters. Miller alternates retelling her personal journey for firearm possession with commentary on recent incidents involving politicians and the media, many of whom seem to be aimed at grabbing the guns of law-abiding Americans. Emily’s writing style is easy to understand—it’s almost as if she’s sitting down with you for a one-on-one chat about her experiences. The speeches, laws, and documents she cites are extensively documented, so it’s easy to do further research on any of the points she makes and references she uses.

As an example, here are some statistics she provides in her book:

  • 1 of 4 registered voters believes stricter gun control laws will reduce firearm-related violence. Nearly 1 in 3 Americans owns a gun. There are also 8 million concealed-carry permit holders in the U.S., according to a Government Accountability Office study released in July 2012. (p. 19)
  • Rank and file law enforcement do not support more gun-control laws. PoliceOne did an extensive survey of 15,000 active and retired law enforcement officers across the country in March 2013. When asked what kind of effect a ban on “assault weapons” would have on crime, 71% said “none.” Another 21% said such a ban on guns based on cosmetic appearance would make crime worsen (p. 45)
  • All rifles, whether or not they have the cosmetic features, accounted for only 323 of the 12,664 homicides in the United States in 2011.…Twice as many people—728—were killed by attackers using hands and feet as by all types of rifles. Yet no one is calling for an assault-fist ban. (pp. 46-47)
  • The CDC task force concluded that “evidence was insufficient to determine the effectiveness” of the “high-capacity magazine” ban. According to a Justice Department study released in May 2013, the number of criminal shootings (fatal and nonfatal) has decreased 7% since the decade-long federal ban on “high-capacity” ammunition devices expired in 2004. (p. 65)100 million gun owners own 300 million firearms in our nation. 47% of Americans self-report having a gun in the home, according to a Gallup poll released in October 2011. That number was up from 41% a year earlier and the highest Gallup has recorded since 1993. (pp.155-156)
  • Sturm, Ruger & Co.’s stock was $5.29 on the day Obama was elected in 2008.  On June 3, 2013, the Ruger stock was at $51.02. That is a jaw-dropping 864% increase. Don’t you wish you’d bought that stock? (p.159)
  • About 30,000 people are killed by firearms a year—two-thirds are suicides—while guns are used to prevent crimes as often as two million times a year. (p. 193)
  • The two cities with the stiffest gun control laws—D.C. and Chicago—had increasing crime. Murders in the Windy City were up 16 percent in 2012 to 506 people. And there were 2,460 shooting incidents—a 10 percent increase from the previous year. (p. 199)
  • By a 2 to 1 margin, Americans favor armed security guards and police in more schools, according to the Pew Research Center. (p. 275)
  • 2 out of 3 voters say the Second Amendment was, in fact, intended to protect them from tyranny, according to a Rasmussen poll. Only 17% disagreed. (p. 276)
I met Emily Miller at a book signing earlier this fall. I was amazed by how crowded her signing was!

We met Emily Miller at a book signing earlier this fall. We were amazed by how crowded her signing was!

Her personal journey to legally register a gun is frustrating, to say the least. She had to spend hundreds of dollars in fees (not counting the purchase of the actual gun), take time off work, navigate through a web of city officials ignorant of the actual laws and regulations, and jump through many hoops—when in the very same city, criminals and non-criminals alike refuse to register their guns. Emily proves time and again, that only the law-abiding citizens are being punished by strict gun-control measures.

But the focus isn’t just about guns. The last paragraph summarizes Emily’s primary purpose for writing the book. While the main topic is her fight for personal gun rights, the last line (and our favorite!) is, “A gun is just a tool. The fight is for freedom.” Before experiencing the frightening break-in at her friend’s house, Miller had never shot or even held a gun before. Her motive throughout the book is emphasized as wanting to help law-abiding citizens secure the same rights that criminals seem to have—the ability to own a firearm. She notes how anti-gun legislation doesn’t make anyone safer; it simply removes freedoms.

Throughout the book, she also explains how many of the politicians and “anti-gun” advocates seem to know little, if anything, about guns. For instance, many anti-gun lobbyists seem to believe that Americans can still purchase automatic weapons (think: Rambo). She reminds the reader that the most “dangerous” weapons Americans can possess are semi-automatic, meaning one trigger pull equals one bullet.

She also points out that many gun laws seem arbitrary. For instance, when legislation was recently passed in New York, politicians mandated that residents could possess magazines able to hold no more than seven bullets. Had they done their research, they would have seen that seven-bullet magazines generally don’t exist for most handgun caliber models. The law was amended to allow residents to legally possess magazines that hold ten rounds, but lawmakers still restricted law-abiding citizens to only filling the magazine with no more than seven bullets. As she points out—a criminal will not abide by the law and will (a) secure even higher-capacity magazines by any means possible and (b) will not think twice about placing more than seven bullets in the magazine.

This point, that laws restricting gun rights only hurt law-abiding citizens, is a common theme running through the book. Emily provides examples to illustrate this point time and again in her book.

She also discusses the arbitrary nature of some of the “assault weapons” legislation aimed at limiting the types of weapons people may purchase. But non-functional, even completely cosmetic features of some guns are sometimes enough to earn them a place on an “assault weapon” ban list as defined in some state or city laws.

The gun Emily chose to purchase, for instance, is permitted in the District of Columbia in all black, or in black with a silver accent. But the same exact model was not allowed in the “Scorpion” version. The difference is cosmetic. The “outlawed” version is earth-toned tan. Imagine going to a car dealership to purchase a car, but finding out that you can only buy a white or gray one–red, and black, forget it–too dangerous!

The same is true for rifles. Many assault weapons are banned simply for having one or more cosmetic features. The type of grip, for instance, could make one gun outlawed but another, of the same exact caliber and functionality, would be legal. Adjustable stocks are also a big “no no” when it comes to a weapon’s legal status. It’s ironic that an adjustable stock simply makes it easier for a smaller person—such as a female—to comfortably hold the gun. Things like adjustable stocks and variable grip positions do not give criminals any advantage. Rather, they help people most in need of protection—such as petite women—hold the gun more safely and effectively if the weapon has to be used against a criminal. Once again, the people creating the laws seem to have no practical knowledge of guns, or what specifically makes them dangerous.

As is proven many times in the book, none of the laws deter criminals from possessing or using guns. The point is—criminals are criminals. Murder and theft are already illegal. Criminals ignore those laws. Even police officers surveyed admit that gun bans and stricter gun laws have little impact on criminals using guns. In fact, politicians usually ignore the most important points, which is that there already is a background system check in place for gun purchasers. The “gun show loophole” only actually allows an extremely small percentage of people to buy guns without a background check. Mental health checks—largely ignored, as states fail to upload important mental health data into a  national background check system that already exists—are the most important factor of keeping guns out of the hands of people who would most likely misuse them.

There’s also the argument that gun-free zones become like a playground for criminals. Knowing they won’t be confronted by any citizens who can lawfully conceal-carry a handgun, criminals feel free to shoot as many people as they like without fearing consequences. Just look at the crime rates in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Miller also makes the point that even though gun sales have skyrocketed lately (with the threat of gun bans), crime has been steadily decreasing. Increased gun ownership has not increased gun-related crime.

The examples go on and on. (Someone could write a book! Oh wait, someone has!)

Toward the end of the book, Miller cites examples of seemingly arbitrary and capricious enforcement of gun laws, some aimed at veterans arrested for arbitrary reasons—one for having three unregistered guns in the city, one for having several loose rounds in the bottom of a backpack (but having no weapon). She also demonstrates how celebrities and people with political connections do not have to go through the same scrutiny. For both examples above, veterans were subjected to extensive legal fees, undue stress, even jail time though they committed no actual crimes and were eventually cleared of (most of) the charges.

Miller notes that she could easily move to Virginia, where gun laws are much more fair to law-abiding citizens, but she chooses not to: she wants to stay in Washington, D.C., and continue her fight for gun rights. She notes that, although she is allowed to keep her gun in her home, she is not allowed to carry it outside, even into the lobby of her apartment building. Along her journey to become legally armed, she has met many people who have confided in her, and her goal continues to be helping others exercise their Second Amendment Rights without unnecessary restrictions. Emily is truly a freedom fighter, and one worthy of two thumbs up from Freedom Forge Press.

Published by Regnery Publishing.

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million

Cover Courtesy of Regnery Publishing

This…Actually Won Money…Money…Money…

The US Department of Health and Human Services and Young Invincibles teamed up to spend a sum of some thousands (we think $5,000 but it’s not clear, if you can interpret the beaucra-speak from the contest prizes rules and press release let us know) on this mess…


Even the White House joined in the fun of ripping off a pop song to try to turn it into political propaganda for an age group that so far  is largely not interested in buying into Obamacare.

Here’s why the video isn’t worth whatever price the government and its unwitting partner paid:

1. The video, which received financial compensation, makes heavy and unattributed use of a copyrighted song by Jessie J without attribution. We’re pretty sure if a Tea Party group had used a copyrighted song to illustrate a point against the Affordable Care Act, that concerted teams of IRS agents, left-wing activists, media types, lawyers, FBI swat teams, heavily armed Predator drones, even Eric Holder himself would descend on the Tea Party group to capture those involved and dispense whatever mob justice seemed appropriate at the time.

2. The video’s chorus asks you to “Forget About the Price Tag” for a program that’s been plagued with upward cost estimate revisions since the president claimed it would cost only $90 billion per year. Coming up on 5 years and 5 revisions later the current estimate stands at $2.7 trillion (3 times the president’s original figure) factored in a 10-year CBO projection. Forget about that price tag, indeed…

3. The program’s signature product website healthcare.gov cost taxpayers more than $600 million, and was nowhere near ready for prime time on the administration’s launch date of October 1 of this year. Negligence and gross mismanagement abounded, but no one has been held accountable. But forget about the price tag; we guess it “ain’t about the uh-cha-ching cha-ching.”

4. Speaking of “cha-ching cha-ching,” the $600 million the federal government blew on a non-working website still has NO payment transfer mechanism to pay insurance companies those subsidies the federal government promised. As one observer has pointed out, the Armed Forces of the United States mobilized, deployed, fought, and defeated the Axis Powers, winning World War II in less time than it took the government to develop a non-functional website.

5. In a lilting exhortation, our singer says “there’s no excuse to be uninsured.” But the law applies to all Americans. You get a government-approved health plan, or you get fined. But “just stop for a minute to think.”  Do the super-wealthy like Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, and Warren Buffet really need to purchase individual health insurance?

6. “Keep your mind at ease and get some security.” Like the 5 million+ people who had an individual health insurance policy and have had their plans cancelled due to the Obama Administration’s implementing regulations for the Affordable Care Act? But don’t worry about the “yeah bla-bling bla-bling”!

7. “We just wanna make it more fair with affordable health caaaare.”  But having an insurance policy that has the Obama administration’s gold (or maybe even red!) star seal of approval, does NOT mean you will be getting any health caaaare. It means you have coverage and now have to find a doctor that participates with that insurance program.

8. When coverage expands? Well coverage so far has only contracted with millions of cancellation notices and the president’s extra-legal request that insurers extend policies that his law, as his administration has chosen to implement it, are barred from having…  Even as Obamacare enters maturity as a federal program, the CBO projects we will still have 30 million some uninsured Americans.  But wasn’t that close to the number of uninsured before the government seized control of the health insurance industry?

9. “Take advantage of this opportunity!” What opportunity? Insurance actuarial tables work thusly: a population or risk pool pays premiums. Premiums are used to pay for the bad things that happen to members of the risk pool. Young people in general have far fewer health care requirements–and thus many could benefit from a plan offering catastrophic coverage and socking money into a Health Savings Account, which they control, for later in life when their needs, unfortunately, are destined to change. But like Social Security, the young are paying higher premiums into a program that will pay NOW for sicker people and will not have enough future money coming in to pay for the young when they advance in age and require more costly care.

10. “Why is everyone so oblivious?” Well, many aren’t. A recent poll suggests that only 1 in 4 young people (the target of the video) plan to sign up for “Obamacare,” suggesting that at least the remaining 3 out of 4 aren’t so oblivious and can do the simple math above and see that the program is not a good deal for them. It’s too bad we can’t count the video author among the un-oblivious.

11. “I know we’re in our prime. About time we opened our eyes.” Agreed!

We think the video’s author, Erin McDonald, could have gotten more benefit and closer to the truth if she had stuck with words from the original song:

“Seems like everybody’s got a price” (Like the Louisiana Purchase–Right, Sen Landrieu?)

“…when the sale comes first, and the truth comes second” (Ain’t that the truth? Right, Pres Obama? And your close to 40 recorded promises of “if you like your doctor/health plan you can keep your doctor/health plan.”

“It’s not about the money, money, money//We don’t need your money, money, money.” While Obamacare is precisely about the money, money, money, we’d much prefer a government that espoused this idea!

“Money can’t buy us happiness//can we all slow down and enjoy right now.” This sounds an awful lot like freedom to us. If government would stop worrying about what you and I do with our money and stop trying to steal it to buy votes, corruption, and political power, perhaps we could all just “make the world dance.”

Indi-what-ualism? An Analysis of the 2013 Inaugural Address

not for the weak of heart (or mind!) a journey into how the president used language in his inaugural address to diminish the individual and aggrandize “collectivism” and government action.

The President’s 2013 inaugural address was written in such a way as to gloss over the President’s true agenda and make him seem as if he is bound by the same rules that bind the rest of us. His speech would try to make us believe that the bloated government is in need of further bloating—and all for the greater good. It is a deceptive speech in the most dangerous way. Here, there is no obvious, Orwellian language. There is no mention of dictators or dissenters being vaporized in their sleep or Ministries of Truth that torture citizens into spiritual submission. There is nothing that would stir the average citizen to concern. No, Mr. Obama’s language is far more dangerous. His language, the same language that won him the 2008 election, is the euphemistic language of nonspecific hope—of ideas so vague they cannot readily be argued against, so vague that they allow audiences to project meaning onto them regardless of the President’s true meaning. His language is disarming in the same way skinny actors smile during fast food commercials. In both cases, the feeling the audience is left with is a positive one, and the unspecified and unfounded optimism leaves one unwilling to question the fatty truth behind the message.

In the very first line of his speech, the President uses the day’s occasion to commemorate “the enduring strength of our Constitution.” President wants his audience to make is that the Constitution is being followed, and his sentence presumes it is true without allowing argument. In this one phrase, he dismisses all valid concern that the Federal government’s power is being pushed to (and beyond) its Constitutional boundaries. His phrasing allows for no such speculation.

The very first sentence also begins use of the prominent pronoun he employs for the entire speech, “we.” Using this pronoun, he is not only rhetorically uniting the American people; he is including himself within that fictional unity. He begins with statements difficult to contradict. Yes, we are bearing witness to a peaceful transition of power from one Obama administration to the next. Yes, we are affirming the promise of a democracy in which elections are held and followed peacefully. Yes, we like the fact that we are bound by the ideas within the Constitution. He even throws in the phrase “color of our skin” as a nod to Martin Luther King, Jr. Who can argue with any of that?

Pulling us in with these large, hopeful ideas, quoting our Constitution, and including himself in the collective “we” of the nation, Mr. Obama has disarmed the audience.

Then, he moves into his agenda. But he does so slowly, the way one would turn up the water temperature against a captive frog—so that he won’t realize he is about to boil to death. Like the victimized frog, we all sit and listen, unaware of the inevitable dangers we face and the ever increasing temperature of the pot of water in which we all sit.

In saying that we “continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words [of the Constitution] with the realities of our time,” the President implies that there is something wrong with our nation.

No American will argue that our nation is perfect, but the implication he begins in that sentence continues into the next few paragraphs, eventually implying that our nation needs help the same way it needed help to free the slaves. He is sure to use the phrase “move forward” when describing the nation’s end to slavery. In this implied analogy, he is suggesting that anyone who is against slavery must also be in favor of “moving forward,” which just happens to be his campaign slogan. He does not praise America for being the freest nation on earth; he dwells on the problems still faced by the nation, problems that would pale in comparison to many other countries who face challenges in basic human rights.

Continuing his motif of “we,” the President begins a series of sentences beginning with the word “together.” For example, he writes, “Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.” By using this grammatical structure, he is essentially putting thoughts in the minds of his audience. “Together, we discovered” implies that all Americans reached the same conclusion, in this case, that government is necessary to protect people from evil businesses. Again, the innocuous nature of his phrasing is meant to convince the average listener that his conclusion is valid, and one that is agreed upon by all. He does not open the issue to other possibilities, such as the fact that government regulations added significantly to the recent mortgage and housing crisis by interfering with self-policing market consequences of poor decision making by mortgage companies.  Grammatically, he never allowed that thought to enter the minds of his audience.

He interrupts his list of things we have discovered “together” (which include the need for government to build roads and schools—again, never opening to the option of proven charter schools or private roads) with a paragraph acknowledging distrust of government. This paragraph is conveniently placed just at the point in the speech where someone skeptical of big government might become—well, skeptical of his speech. He includes in this paragraph, though, a condition: “nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone.” The word “alone” is a qualifier that subtly suggests that though government isn’t the only solution to problems, it is a required component—perhaps the major component—in problem-solving. In other words, he’s conceding that perhaps the private sector or individual brainpower is a small part of the solution to our ills, rather than conceding that government is a small part necessary only to supplement the small number of duties the private sector and individuals cannot do alone.

Indeed, the one conciliatory paragraph is followed by a loud “But” when he says, “But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.” In fact, his speech is alarmingly full of suggestions that “we” as a “collective” are necessary to face the future. Again, it sounds innocuous. It rings of family, of parents looking after children, an admittedly comforting idea. But once again, it disarms the audience, encouraging them to accept the premise that government knows best.

Once again, he shies away from being overly-aggressive in his suggestions about collectivism by adding two paragraphs with inspiring language summarizing many of America’s past accomplishments. He is sure to mention that collectively, we fought the evils of fascism and communism, two of the types of government his opponents strongly contest. His language, once again inspirational without discussing specifics, disarms the audience to any sense of aggression. But throughout these inspirational paragraphs, the President is sure to reiterate that “we are made for this moment, and we will seize it—so long as we seize it together.” Together being the key word. And indeed, he adds gentle negatives, stressing his belief that “No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need” or “build all the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs.” He seems to have little faith in individual man, forgetting that individual men have changed the face of the world, from Andrew Carnegie to Steve Jobs—men whose leadership and individual genius provided jobs and an improved way of life for nearly everyone.

Again, he throws a bone to his opponents when he suggests that we (once again “we”—he is again putting thoughts in the audience’s head) “understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time” and that we must “remake our government.” However, in the very next major paragraph he is uncharacteristically specific in praising programs that his opponents believe are harming this country: “The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.”

He does not mention that these are the very programs that are bankrupting this country, that these programs are riddled with fraud and unfunded liabilities, that they are harming the future of this country and leaving future generations with a terrible debt. But he makes no mention of this. Rather, he continues with the innocuous “we,” encouraging the audience to buy into the collective thought that these programs are there for the common good of all.

While ignoring the crippling debt his beloved programs are racking up, he is quick to suggest that we must “respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.” He mentions nothing of failing clean-energy scandals like Solyndra, SunPower, First Solar, and other companies that failed, wasting taxpayer money by the billions of dollars. He does not mention the fact that, to deal with the expense of high wage and union demands, Americans look to China to produce goods. He does not mention the fact that Chinese factories do not conform to the same environmental standards as American factories, and that regardless of what America does to help the environment, all our efforts are but a drop in the bucket when countries like China are harming the environment in much more malignant ways. He fails to mention that energy policies meant to help the environment only prove to punish America economically by making our goods too expensive to produce, encouraging increased production in environmentally-harmful countries like China. But instead of addressing the complexities of these issues, he uses gentle language, beginning his paragraphs in this section with “we, the people,” channeling all the phrase’s patriotic undertones. And please, won’t someone think of the children? Rather than encouraging his audience to question policies and make smarter decisions, the President simply appeals to America’s sense of patriotism, hoping the strong emotion of national pride will circumvent a rational examination of the issues at hand.

His nonspecific language continues when he says, “We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.” He neglects to mention that he, as President for the last four years, is partly responsible for the “perpetual war,” but he quickly moves away from that issue, dissolving into patriotic language that praises those who have served and asks us, in a very nonspecific but somehow patriotic and inspirational way, to “carry those lessons [of those who fought for eventual peace] into this time as well.”

After some nonspecific and pleasing language about promoting peace between America and the rest of the world, he hints ever so mildly at the idea of social justice, saying, “we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice – not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.” This statement returns to his beliefs about collective versus individual concerns. He seems more concerned with finding and righting the injustices of the world, rather than helping individuals succeed. He seems to forget that when an individual like Steve Jobs succeeds, jobs are created. When an individual like John Rockefeller succeeds, the quality of life improves for everyone, as the common man is now able to enjoy new energy sources and all the conveniences that follow. But the President doesn’t see the benefits of this—that when a man like Rockefeller becomes filthy rich, the quality of life improves for everyone. He seems to be stuck on the fact that the disparity between Rockefeller and the common man is too large. It seems that he, as Margaret Thatcher once noted of her opponents, would be happier if everyone’s standard of living were lowered, so long as it meant the disparity between rich and poor were narrowed. That a shared despondent misery is somehow preferable to an unequally divided prosperity.

Solidifying this concern are three allusions he includes at the end of his speech. For a speech filled with such nonspecific language, these three references stand out. Seneca Falls references a convention held for women’s rights; Selma refers to an important protest in the Civil Rights movement; Stonewall refers to protests and riots among the gay community in pursuit of rights. Again, he dwells specifically on groups that are or have been denied equal rights. He dwells on the negatives rather than suggesting, perhaps, that gay rights have been denied largely because of overly-oppressive government legislation. He does not suggest that perhaps government is the problem, standing in the way of people’s rights; he implies instead that government is the solution. There is an inherent danger when the government gets to decide what is right. Hitler tried his hand at becoming a moral policeman. We all know how that worked out. Yet the President completely ignores this in his speech, implying instead that the government of this country knows best and is there to help all the oppressed groups the “we” choose to recognize.

But who gets to decide what is “right” and what is “wrong”? I certainly don’t want that decision to fall into the hands of a government bureaucrat. But the President discourages this way of thinking by using the adjective “our.” “Our generation’s task” and “our journey” pervade the next paragraph. He is sure to sprinkle in references to locations that have recently experienced hardship: Detroit, Appalachia, and, of course, Newtown, Ct. He ends the paragraph with the thought that people from these locations must know “that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.” “Always safe from harm” is impossible. Sure, it sounds good. It’s something a parent would whisper to a child while tucking him in at night. But it simply isn’t realistic. Even under the best circumstances, no one is ever “always safe from harm.” A crazy person can instigate a school shooting at any minute. A crazy person could take a textbook and bludgeon a child to death. Sometimes, crazy people capture commercial airplanes and crash them into buildings. Crazy, angry people exist in this world, and the President’s speech seems to ignore that fact, promising, instead, a quixotic world that simply can never be achieved, and certainly not by government.

Moving into the conclusion of his speech, the President once again conjures the patriotic phrasing of our founding fathers, “Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” But he is careful to add the stipulation that “it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way” and that “progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time—but it does require us to act in our time.” Once again, his language choices gently suggest to his opponents that he, as the government, will decide what liberty means. His words suggest that “progress” demands that the government act without settling the debate of the proper role of government, which, in the eyes of this President, just isn’t an important debate.

His next paragraph repeats the idea that “we must act,” and act without delay. Further stressing his belief in government-as-the-solution is his statement that “it will be up to those who stand here in four years, and forty years, and four hundred years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.” This references people gathered for future presidential inaugurations—and the government being inducted into power—rather than individuals coming up with solutions in the same way unique and innovative thoughts founded this nation.

The President ends his speech by referring to his oath as “not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty” and insisting that his words “are the words of citizens.” “You and I,” he reiterates, “as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course.” Once again, he muddies the water by pretending that he operates on the same level as the average citizen. He seems to forget once again the privileges he enjoys—the ease with which he can secure a stellar, private education for his daughters, the security he enjoys knowing his family is protected around-the-clock by armed guards, the peace of mind he enjoys knowing that even after his final term is served, he will enjoy secret service protection and a salary for the rest of his days.

You and I, citizens, do not enjoy those reassurances. You and I, citizens, must worry about the safety of our children in schools because teachers are denied the right to carry a gun in self defense. You and I, citizens, must endure the rising costs of “clean energy” policies that burden American companies to the point of non-competitiveness. You and I, citizens, are being asked to blindly trust the government to make decision about what is right and what is wrong, what causes to fight for and what rights to infringe upon. You and I, citizens, are different from Presidents and Congressmen and politicians and lobbyists. You and I, citizens, are the lifeblood of this country. And yet our children are being asked to shoulder the crippling debt of the policies endorsed by this President, a debt ignored by this speech and this administration.

I—yes, I, because I speak for myself and let you, the reader, make up your own mind—will not fall prey to the innocuous and reassuring language of this President. I will hold him accountable for rising debt and intrusive government policies that overstep the bounds that were intended. If it’s true that our philosophy of life stems from our experiences, then this President believes individuals cannot achieve greatness on their own, that it is only through the power of the collective that anyone can aspire to greatness. What, I wonder, happened in his life to make him feel this way? How many people did he depend upon to help get him to where he is today? Is it his reliance on unions to channel the collective power of persuasion to build support for himself? Is it his reliance on powerful but meaningless words delivered by his teleprompter to convince a good deal of the American people that he is fighting for exactly what they believe?

I have a different philosophy. While I acknowledge that many people have helped me reach the successes I have enjoyed today, there is one person in particular I could not have done it without: me. This nation was founded by individuals working on their own merit to achieve individual success. What the President fails to understand is that individual success is mutually-beneficial. If he leaves well enough alone, the private sector—and indeed, man’s drive for individual achievement and fame, and even filthy riches—will make the world more efficient, more convenient, and more economical. And that, without the oppressive, inefficient, and corrupt hand of government, is something that benefits everyone.

PHOTO CREDITS:

“Flock of Sheep” by Joan Campderrós-i-Canas
US Debt Clock
“Bell Tower” (China) by Benjamin Vander Steen
“Beginnings” by Kelly Cookson
“Shackled” by Jason Ilagan

 

To Support and Defend

What are they teaching future military leaders at the United States Military Academy (a.k.a., West Point) these days?  The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point published a paper from Arie Perliger, discussing the violent tendencies of the American political right. Perliger is the director of Terrorism Studies at the center and an Assistant Professor at the Department of Social Sciences.

In his introduction, he divides the “far-right” into three sub-groups, one of which are anti-federalists. Of them, Perliger writes, “They also espouse strong convictions regarding the federal government, believing it to be corrupt and tyrannical, with a natural tendency to intrude on individuals’ civil and constitutional rights. Finally, they support civil activism, individual freedoms, and self government.”

Individual freedoms?! Oh no! Anything but that!!!

West Point is of course a military academy. More than that, its prestige makes it one of THE military academies, responsible for training future leaders on the US Army. Its mission statement (from its webpage) is “To educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the Nation as an officer in the United States Army.”

A military organization isn’t exactly a place that encourages individual or independent thought.On a battlefield, orders must be followed. Freedoms are more restricted in a military organization. We understand this. But we hope that some part of learning to be an officer in the US military branches includes a discussion of the values and principles of being a free people.

The US Constitution is a document about establishing limits for the national government. The Bill of Rights establishes limits of the federal government with respect to its citizens. The rest establishes limits for the federal government with respect to the state governments and the balance of power between the three branches of the federal government.

All members of the US military must swear or affirm an oath of allegiance before assuming duty. The oath is not loyalty to the federal government, not even to the President of the United States. The oath each military members swears is to “…support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same…”

So it’s our sincere hope that West Point’s educators would invest some time teaching their cadets about the principles and values that the US Constitution establishes.

They might also teach their cadets about the reasons that America fought a war to separate ourselves from Great Britain in the first place. The Declaration of Independence eloquently states:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…

So if it seams that an “anti-federalist” believes the federal government has taken too much power and tramples the rights of the states and individual citizens and is expressing that concern via “civil activism” toward the end of self-government or individual freedoms, that’s the point.

We do not encourage violence in our quest to raise awareness of freedom issues. But we do believe that the federal government has indeed become somewhat tyrannical in its dealings with the states and with individual citizens. But advocating for awareness and greater citizen activism and a belief that individual freedom ought to have a higher value than government or collective freedom doesn’t make us terrorists. It makes us Americans.

Federal Government Is “Blowing Smoke” in Montana Marijuana Case

We submit to you, Dear Readers, the case of Chris Williams as a cautionary tale of an out-of-control federal government that refuses to recognize the sovereignty of the several states as enshrined in the US Constitution. The federal government does not exist to destroy individual freedom or state sovereignty.

In 2004, Montana voters passed the Montana Medical Marijuana Act by popular referendum. It wasn’t close–the law passed with a 62 percent majority of votes cast.  The law legalized the growing, distribution, and sale of marijuana to customers who had a certified medical need. State residents could pay an application fee and submit a request to be a registered cardholder of the state’s Medical Marijuana Program. All applicants were required to obtain a physician’s certification that they are suffering from a debilitating medical condition. By 2011, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services confirmed approximately 30,000 state residents were enrolled in the program.

In 2009, the Obama administration via the Department of Justice announced that prosecution of marijuana cases in states with medical marijuana laws would be a low priority. Following these statements in 2009, Williams and 3 business partners opened Montana Cannabis.

Williams and his partners established what they felt was a responsible model for medical marijuana providers. As reported in Montana’s Independent Record, ” [Williams] said they set up a legitimate business model in 2009 that would be the ‘gold standard’ for other medical marijuana providers to follow. [Montana Cannabis] had an open door policy, hosting tours for legislators, law enforcement officers and even the chief narcotic officer for the state. They hired accountants, paid taxes and tracked all of their plants ‘from the time they had roots to their harvest’ and as well as when they were being packed and distributed.”

Compounding the situation in the eyes of federal prosecutors was the fact that Williams carried a pistol for protection, in accordance with his Second Amendment rights. But to federal prosecutors, this means Williams was in possession of firearms while committing a drug trafficking felony.

Williams faces nearly 50 years in prison for violating federal drug laws, which consider marijuana to be a Schedule I Controlled Substance. At his trial, the Independent Record article goes on to state that Williams and his attorney were not permitted to discuss the Montana law because the judge ruled “Montana laws…weren’t pertinent to the case and he didn’t allow any mention of them before jurors or as a defense.” Jurors in the case were prevented from even hearing the defense that Williams believed his actions were consistent with state law.

We disagree. On many fronts.

1. The US Constitution grants legislative powers “herein granted” to Congress. If the Constitution does not specifically and explicitly grant Congress authority, then the federal government has none. We do not recognize regulation of marijuana grown, sold, and distributed within a state’s borders to be a federal issue warranting an unlawful excursion of federal power into state sovereignty.

2. The oft-abused “Interstate Commerce Clause” which Congress has relied upon for a host of federal abuses of authority ranging from passing laws about highway speeds to Obamacare does not apply. Montana voters approved their medical marijuana law which impacts residents of Montana. State residents may cultivate, distribute, sell, or grown their own plants for their own purposes within the state’s borders.

3. The Tenth Amendment says simply, “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.” It doesn’t take a law degree to understand this simple statement–though federal prosecutors and a federal judge in Montana seem to be giving it their best effort either to not understand the simplicity of the statement–or to outright ignore it.

We conclude the federal government does not have lawful authority under the Constitution to prosecute citizens who are lawfully following their state’s laws regarding marijuana usage. The federal government cannot effectively micromanage issues that are best left to the states. The United States is too complex and too large for such a federal government to be able to successfully run so many aspects of our lives without being destructive to the freedom and liberty that it exists to protect. With a broken immigration system, ballooning federal debt and deficits, a stalled economy, rising unemployment, we see the federal government clearly has other challenges that it should be focusing on rather than worrying about infringing on a citizens rights and freedom to conduct lawful activity within their own state borders.

It is our sincere hope that the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals will overturn this trial court’s verdict and speedily return Mr. Williams to the freedom that he deserves. His courage to stand up for his rights should be commended and serve as an example to all!

Editor’s Note: As of posting time 11/15/12 18 states and the District of Columbia have legalized various levels of medical marijuana programs. As of 11/6/12, two states (Colorado and Washington) have legalized “adult use” of marijuana by popular referendum.

Photo Credit: JonRichfield