New York Bill Would Allow Customers to Opt Out of Smart Meters; Undermine Federal Program

smart-meter at Tenth Amendment Center, May 20, 2016 •

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 20, 2016) – A bill working its way through the New York legislature would allow customers to opt out of installing “smart meter” technology on their homes and businesses. Passage of this bill would allow New Yorkers to protect their own privacy, and it would take a step toward blocking a federal program in effect.

Asm. Michael DenDekker (D – East Elmhurst), along with a bipartisan coalition of four cosponsors, introduced Assembly Bill 4364 (A4354) in January. The legislation would allow New Yorkers to opt out of any utility company smart meter program with no penalty.

The Assembly Energy Committee passed the bill on April 28. It now moves on to the Ways and Means Committee for further consideration.

Smart meters monitor home energy usage in minute detail in real time. The devices transmit data to the utility company were it gets stored in databases. Anybody with access to the data can download it for analysts. Without specific criteria limiting access to the data, these devices create significant privacy issues. Smart meters can also be used to remotely limit power usage during peak hours.

A4354 provides a comprehensive smart meter opt-out right for utility customers.

It  shall be the right of every customer of an electric and/or gas corporation, at no penalty, fee or service charge to decline the permission of his or her electric and/or gas corporation, (a)  to  replace  an existing  meter  at  such  customer’s  premises that is assigned to such customer’s account with a two-way smart meter  or (b) to  install  any two-way  smart  meter device at his or her property without such customer’s consent.

The legislation would also require utility companies to give customers 90 day notice before installing smart meter technology with a right to decline installation. It would also allow a customer to require removal of a smart meter with no charge for one year after installation.

Privacy Concerns

The proliferation of smart meters creates significant privacy concerns. The data collected can tell anybody who holds it a great deal about what goes on inside a home. It can reveal when residents are at home, asleep or on vacation. It can also pinpoint “unusual” energy use, and could someday serve to help enforce “energy usage” regulations. The ACLU summarized the privacy issues surrounding smart meters in a recent report.

“The temptation to use the information that will be collected from customers for something other than managing electrical loads will be strong – as it has been for cell phone tracking data and GPS information. Police may want to know your general comings and goings or whether you’re growing marijuana in your basement under grow lights. Advertisers will want the information to sell you a new washing machine to replace the energy hog you got as a wedding present 20 years ago. Information flowing in a smart grid will become more and more ‘granular’ as the system develops.”

The privacy issues aren’t merely theoretical. According to information obtained by the California ACLU, utility companies in the state have disclosed information gathered by smart meters on thousands of customers. San Diego Gas and Electric alone disclosed data on more than 4,000 customers. The vast majority of disclosures were in response to subpoenas by government agencies “often in drug enforcement cases or efforts to find specific individuals,” according to SFGate.

“Mark Toney, executive director of the Utility Reform Network watchdog group, said the sheer number of data disclosures made by SDG&E raised the possibility that government agencies wanted to sift through large amounts of data looking for patterns, rather than conducting targeted investigations.”

No Smart Meter, No Data

Refusing to allow a smart meter on your property is the only sure-fire way to ensure your energy use data won’t fall into the hands of government agents or private marketers, or end up stored in some kind of government database. Passage of A4354 would make opting out a legal option for New Yorkers and give them control over their own privacy.

Impact on Federal Program

The federal government serves as a major source of funding for smart meters. A 2009 program through the U.S. Department of Energy distributed $4.5 billion for smart grid technology. The initial projects were expected to fund the installation of 1.8 million smart meters over three years.

The federal government lacks any constitutional authority to fund smart grid technology. The easiest way to nullify such programs is to simply not participate. A4364 would make that possible. If enough states pass similar legislation, and enough people opt out, the program will go nowhere.

We’ve seen a similar opt out movement undermining Common Core in New York. Opting out follows a strategy James Madison advised in Federalist #46. “Refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” provides a powerful means to fight back against government overreach. Such actions in multiple states would likely be effective in bringing down federal smart meter programs.

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Posted in 4th Amendment, Founders, Learn Liberty, New York News, New York State Constitution, New York State Government, Surveillance State, Tyranny | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NYT’s ‘Gun Control That Works’ Just Another Disarmament Zealot Wish List Attack on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms

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If The Times were really interested in “what works” as far as machine guns are concerned, they’d admit that access to the weapons is “necessary to the security of a free State.”

for Oath Keepers, June 6, 2016 •

“For more than 80 years, the United States has enforced a tough and effective gun control law that most Americans have never heard of,” Alan Berlow claims in The New York Times. “It’s a 1934 measure called the National Firearms Act, and it stands as a stark rebuke to the most sacred precepts of the gun lobby and provides a model we should build on.”

Alan Berlow? So is this going to elaborate on some actual solutions, or does the guy have an agenda?

You tell me.  First, note his forum. Yeah, The Times. There’s an honest broker. They’re the ones who  offered a lame excuse for not reporting on Fast and Furious. Then they did their utmost to run interference for Eric Holder. Still, it was instructive taking on an entire panel they stacked against me on Virginia Tech in  a “How Many 5-Year-Olds Can You Take in a Fight?” kind of way.

And Berlow? He seems obsessed with going after NRA (not always a bad thing, but for the wrong reasons) in anti-gun “progressive” Mother Jones. And it’s not his first time up to bat at The Times.

Still, as much as the medium and the messenger may raise eyebrows, what is it he’s really promoting this time out?  After all, ad hominem argument is a logical fallacy.  We need to instead examine what he’s advocating.

“Leaders of the National Rifle Association rarely talk about the firearms act, and that’s probably because it imposes precisely the kinds of practical — and constitutional — limits on gun ownership, such as registration and background checks, that the N.R.A. regularly insists will lead to the demise of the Second Amendment,” he offers.

Actually, NRA rarely talks about NFA ’34 because they had a strong hand in the abomination. It’s hardly in Fairfax’s interest to have people reminding them of that (this is what I meant above by “not always a bad thing”).

And as for it being “constitutional,” the reason the feds went after a transfer tax instead of a ban is they knew they didn’t have authority to try for the latter. And as for that registration and tax, the district court in the Miller short-barreled shotgun case agreed that it was a violation of the Second Amendment. It was only after the government appealed to the Supreme Court and no attorney showed up to argue the case, and only the government’s side was heard, that the opinion cited in subsequent cases was issued.  And even that had to concede a weapon was protected if it had “some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia [or] that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment, or that its use could contribute to the common defense.”

The function of the militia, defined as “all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense [and] bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time,” was — and is — to field citizen soldiers. And these citizens must bear arms that are suitable for that purpose, “ordinary military equipment” intended to be taken into “common defense” battles. The militia in the War of the Rebellion did not assemble on the green bearing clubs and spears.  They came with the intent to match and best the professional military threat of the most powerful empire of the time.

This is what the American people have allowed to be scammed from them, and what the slick professional wormtongues at The New York Times and other subversive agitprop outlets are counting on the ignorant and the cud-chewers remaining ignorant about.

So here we have this citizen disarmament hack telling a readership he reckons has never heard of NFA ‘34 that we need to extend similar infringements to apply to all gun purchases, and to do that, he pulls another bit of misdirection. He’s also got good reason to be confident most of his readership will never notice that correlation does not imply causation.

Sure, “legal” machine gun owners are extraordinarily “law-abiding.” They filled out the forms, jumped through the hoops and paid for the permission, didn’t they? And with the extreme expense of such firearms due to the limited supply made inevitable by the post-’86 ban, we’re talking a strata of society that can afford individual firearms artificially valued more than the entire collections of many gun owners.

But it’s not just the absence of “machine gun crimes” where such folk prove their trustworthiness. You can bet they also have non-existent rates of rapes, stabbings, liquor store robberies, and you name the violent crime.

So isn’t that proof that only individuals with clean records in that regard should be “allowed” to have guns?  That’s already the case.  There are all kinds of existing disqualifiers designating people “prohibited persons,” and the gun-grabbers are doing their utmost to expand them to include everyone they view as an ideological threat to their collectivist end game. It’s either that or admit the truth that anyone who can’t be trusted with a gun can’t be trusted without a custodian.

Then, once they have everything down to a small and compliant subset of elite owners who have shown a willingness to submit to prior restraints, be registered, pay fees, obey “requirements” and submit themselves for approvals, inspections, permissions and revocations, all the monopoly of violence needs to do is change the rules. (Curious the spokesman for the NFATCA collector’s group tells The Times “You’re not giving up any rights.” Curious, but sadly, not surprising. Such an appallingly oblivious assertion about rights practically begs for an Inigo Montoya response.)

Give the gun-grabbers a few more years morphing the electorate with that “pathway to citizenship” they’ve been paving and adding lanes to, and they’ll have the legislative and judicial confirmation juice to enact and uphold whatever they want, declaring  anyone defying them an “outlaw.” And there’ll be no shortage of hive insect propagandists convincing the dull and the uninformed that not only works, but it’s both desirable and “constitutional.”

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Is Nullification Unconstitutional?

Ed. Note: With State nullification of federal overreach picking up steam all across the country, our mailbox continues to demonstrate that there is still some ambivalence among self-proclaimed constitutionalists regarding these acts of abrogation as a rightful, lawful remedy. So we’re turning to one of the great teachers of our time on the matter, Tom Woods, with a salient article on the constitutionality of nullification from a few years ago. #

By Thomas E. Woods, Jr. at TomWoods.com, February 5, 2013 •

Now on some level, we shouldn’t care: resisting violent people who claim the right to expropriate you and force you around is a natural right, and doesn’t rely on any parchment guarantee.

But I for one prefer to address my opponents from every angle I can, including their own.

These days we’re seeing a lot of newspaper columns condemning the idea of state nullification of unconstitutional federal laws. A common claim is that nullification is “unconstitutional.” I’ve addressed this claim in bits and pieces elsewhere, but I figured I’d write up one post I can use to counter this argument once and for all.

The most common claim, which one hears quite a bit from law professors (this is not meant as a compliment), is that the Supremacy Clause precludes nullification. “Federal law trumps state law” is the (rather inane) way we hear the principle expressed these days.

What the Supremacy Clause actually says is: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof…shall be the supreme law of the land.”

In other words, the standard law-school response deletes the most significant words of the whole clause.  It’s safe to assume that Thomas Jefferson was not unaware of, and did not deny, the Supremacy Clause.  His point was that only the Constitution and laws which shall be made in pursuance thereof shall be the supreme law of the land.  Citing the Supremacy Clause merely begs the question.  A nullifying state maintains that a given law is not “in pursuance thereof” and therefore that the Supremacy Clause does not apply in the first place.

Such critics are expecting us to believe that the states would have ratified a Constitution with a Supremacy Clause that said, in effect, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof, plus any old laws we may choose to pass, whether constitutional or not, shall be the supreme law of the land.”

Hamilton himself explained at New York’s ratifying convention that while on the one hand “acts of the United States … will be absolutely obligatory as to all the proper objects and powers of the general government,” at the same time “the laws of Congress are restricted to a certain sphere, and when they depart from this sphere, they are no longer supreme or binding.” In Federalist 33, Hamilton noted that the clause “expressly confines this supremacy to laws made pursuant to the Constitution.”

At North Carolina’s ratifying convention, James Iredell told the delegates that when “Congress passes a law consistent with the Constitution, it is to be binding on the people. If Congress, under pretense of executing one power, should, in fact, usurp another, they will violate the Constitution.” In December 1787 Roger Sherman observed that an “excellency of the constitution” was that “when the government of the united States acts within its proper bounds it will be the interest of the legislatures of the particular States to Support it, but when it leaps over those bounds and interferes with the rights of the State governments they will be powerful enough to check it.”

Another argument against the constitutionality of nullification is that the Constitution nowhere mentions it.

This is an odd complaint, coming as it usually does from those who in any other circumstance do not seem especially concerned to find express constitutional sanction for particular government policies.

The mere fact that a state’s reserved right to obstruct the enforcement of an unconstitutional law is not expressly stated in the Constitution does not mean the right does not exist.  The Constitution is supposed to establish a federal government of enumerated powers, with the remainder reserved to the states or the people.  Essentially nothing the states do is authorized in the federal Constitution, since enumerating the states’ powers is not the purpose of and is alien to the structure of that document.

James Madison urged that the true meaning of the Constitution was to be found in the state ratifying conventions, for it was there that the people, assembled in convention, were instructed with regard to what the new document meant.  Jefferson spoke likewise: should you wish to know the meaning of the Constitution, consult the words of its friends.

Federalist supporters of the Constitution at the Virginia ratifying convention of 1788 assured Virginians that they would be “exonerated” should the federal government attempt to impose “any supplementary condition” upon them – in other words, if it tried to exercise a power over and above the ones the states had delegated to it. Virginians were given this interpretation of the Constitution by members of the five-man commission that was to draft Virginia’s ratification instrument.  Patrick Henry, John Taylor, and later Jefferson himself elaborated on these safeguards that Virginians had been assured of at their ratifying convention.

Nullification derives from the (surely correct) “compact theory” of the Union, to which no full-fledged alternative appears to have been offered until as late as the 1830s. That compact theory, in turn, derives from and implies the following:

1) The states preceded the Union.  The Declaration of Independence speaks of “free and independent states” (and by “states” it means places like Spain and France) that “have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do.” The British acknowledged the independence not of a single blob, but of a group of states, which they proceeded to list one by one.

The states performed activities that we associate with sovereignty. Massachusetts, Connecticut, and South Carolina outfitted ships to cruise against the British. It was the troops of Connecticut that took Ticonderoga. In New Hampshire, the executive was authorized to issue letters of marque and reprisal. In 1776 it was declared that the crime of treason would be thought of as being perpetrated not against the states united into an indivisible blob, but against the states individually.

Article II of the Articles of Confederation says the states “retain their sovereignty, freedom, and independence”; they must have enjoyed that sovereignty in the past in order for them to “retain” it in 1781 when the Articles were officially adopted.  The ratification of the Constitution was accomplished not by a single, national vote, but by the individual ratifications of the various states, each assembled in convention.

2) In the American system no government is sovereign, not the federal government and not the states.  The peoples of the states are the sovereigns.  It is they who apportion powers between themselves, their state governments, and the federal government.  In doing so they are not impairing their sovereignty in any way. To the contrary, they are exercising it.

3) Since the peoples of the states are the sovereigns, then when the federal government exercises a power of dubious constitutionality on a matter of great importance, it is they themselves who are the proper disputants, as they review whether their agent was intended to hold such a power.  No other arrangement makes sense.  No one asks his agent whether the agent has or should have such-and-such power.  In other words, the very nature of sovereignty, and of the American system itself, is such that the sovereigns must retain the power to restrain the agent they themselves created.  James Madison explains this clearly in the famous Virginia Report of 1800:

The resolution [of 1798] of the General Assembly [of Virginia] relates to those great and extraordinary cases, in which all the forms of the Constitution may prove ineffectual against infractions dangerous to the essential right of the parties to it. The resolution supposes that dangerous powers not delegated, may not only be usurped and executed by the other departments, but that the Judicial Department also may exercise or sanction dangerous powers beyond the grant of the Constitution; and consequently that the ultimate right of the parties to the Constitution, to judge whether the compact has been dangerously violated, must extend to violations by one delegated authority, as well as by another, by the judiciary, as well as by the executive, or the legislature.

In other words, the courts have their role, but in “great and extraordinary cases” it would be absurd for the states, the fundamental building blocks of the United States, not to be able to defend themselves against the exercise of usurped power. The logic of sovereignty and the American Union demand it.

And as for “but Madison later claimed he never supported nullification!” see my NullificationFAQ.com, and/or pages 288-290 of my book Nullification. #

Tom Woods holds an A.B. from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from Columbia University, both in History. He is a senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama and a member of the editorial board for the Institute’s Libertarian Papers.[4] Woods is also an associate scholar of the Abbeville Institute, in McClellanville, South Carolina.

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Battle Rages as GOP Saves Obama Plot to Diversify Neighborhoods

By at The New American, June 6, 2016 •

99cbb5bc30ef8663718380ae002e6def_MAfter some grandstanding to placate outraged constituents, establishment Republicans in Congress quietly voted to fund Obama’s unconstitutional plan to fundamentally transform your neighborhood by bringing in more federally funded “diversity.” In short, if Big Brother’s race-obsessed data-gathering machine determines that there are not enough poor or minority residents on welfare living in your city, town, zip code, or neighborhood, Obama wants to change that using your tax dollars. The scheme also sidelines states and borders by considering “regions” instead, a key element of the agenda to break down the traditional United States and its federalist system of government.

But the battle is far from over. And Americans still have many tools at their disposal to block the scheming. For instance, the “Affirmatively Further Fair Housing” plot is contingent on successfully bribing local officials into compliance. As more than a few analysts have observed, that means cities and communities can easily reject the plan. Simply stated, all they have to do is refuse to accept unconstitutional bribes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). If the bribes (disguised as “grants” and so on) from a bankrupt Uncle Sam are refused, the strings they come attached with are null and void, leaving Washington, D.C., bureaucrats with no leverage. Some cities are already leading the way.

Separately, state governments can and should stand up to the agenda as well. Among other tactics, lawmakers can use the power of nullification to prohibit cities and towns from becoming federal agents in Obama’s quest to re-shape America via anti-constitutional housing policy. Nullification has been used by American states since the 1700s to resist unconstitutional activities, including the “Fugitive Slave Act” purporting to require the return of runaway slaves. The powerful tool promoted by America’s Founders remains relevant and in use today — including by liberals in states such as Colorado, which voted to nullify federal and international prohibitions against marijuana.

Leading the charge to quash the Obama administration’s lawless AFFH program at the federal level was U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), one of the leading advocates of liberty and constitutional government in Congress. Last month, Senator Lee proposed an amendment to the Senate Transportation and HUD appropriations bill that would have defunded Obama’s AFFH edicts and their implementation by the federal Leviathan. It was a simple vote that would have definitively shut down the scheme to relocate government-funded housing projects to middle-class suburbs. And in a passionate speech on the Senate floor, Lee explained why it was so urgently needed.

“Proponents of AFFH, including President Obama, claim that it fulfills the original purpose and promise of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. But the truth is, HUD’s new housing rule isn’t the fulfillment — but a betrayal — of the Fair Housing Act of 1968,” Lee told his colleagues. “The original intent of the Fair Housing Act was to protect the God-given right of individuals and families — no matter their skin color or ethnicity — to buy and rent homes where they please. By contrast, the explicit purpose of HUD’s new rule is to empower federal bureaucrats to dictate where a community’s low-income residents will live. This is not what ‘progress’ looks like, Mr. President.”

Lee also outlined how the Obama HUD edict would purport to empower D.C. bureaucrats to run roughshod over local communities and their elected officials. “If any aspect of a community’s housing and demographic patterns fails to meet HUD bureaucrats’ expansive definition of ‘fair housing,’ the local government must submit a plan to reorganize the community’s housing practices according to the preferences and priorities of the bureaucrats,” he explained. “Critics of AFFH often say — as I have said — that this rule turns HUD into a National Zoning Board with the power to unilaterally rewrite local zoning laws and land-use regulations in every city and town in America…. Under the new rule, HUD doesn’t replace local Public Housing Authorities — it conscripts them into its service.”

“To make matters worse, this new rule will end America’s unique — and uniquely successful — commitment to localism and diversity,” Lee continued, adding that neighborhood-level construction decisions would now be subject to the “whims” of future presidents. “If this past year has not yet done enough to give you pause about handing over such power to the Executive Branch, you’re not paying close enough attention.” He also expressed hope that lawmakers in the House — where GOP leadership has already caved to Obama on this issue (and practically every other) on multiple occasions — would pass a similar measure again in the near future.

Instead of voting to protect their constituents and defend the Constitution, which they all swore an oath to uphold, establishment Republicans joined with Senate Democrats to quash Lee’s amendment. In its place, lawmakers did overwhelmingly support a weaker amendment — described as “toothless” by critics — that was offered by Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a liberal establishment Republican. Under the Collins amendment, HUD may not directly force local authorities “to undertake specific changes to existing zoning laws.” But as Lee explained, the Collins measure would allow the “underhanded and subversive” mechanics of the AFFH to continue.

In fact, the amendment was beyond toothless, because it tackled the non-existent problem of Obama’s HUD being able to force local governments to take particular actions or adopt particular policies. In reality, neither HUD or HUD Secretary Julian Castro have, or have ever had, the authority to compel local governments to do anything. Instead, the AFFH scheme relies on federally funded bribes and the threat of lawsuits to impose HUD’s schemes on local communities — something the Lee amendment would have tackled head on, but which the Collins amendment ignores and enables.

The Collins amendment passed by huge margins, with 87 in favor versus just nine against, showing that a national zoning board is incredibly bad politics, even for extremist Democrats. The Lee amendment, by contrast, which would have actually stopped Obama’s HUD from re-engineering American communities for sinister “progressive” purposes, was defeated by establishment Republicans and Democrats. More than a few analysts and commentators concluded that the Collins amendment was in fact a cheap and transparent ploy aimed at providing political cover for pro-Obama Republicans to bankroll Obama’s AFFH scheme with federal tax dollars. And there can be little doubt about it.

Critics were outraged. “Americans wonder what is going wrong with the system in Washington, D.C. where Senators seem more interested in playing paddy cake with President Obama and his radical agenda rather than standing up and fighting it,” said a statement by Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning, who supported Lee’s measure to de-fund Obama’s schemes bribing local governments for “racial and income gerrymandering zoning requirements.” “Unfortunately, too many of [Lee’s] Republican colleagues were more afraid of the race hustlers who seek to put low income high rise apartments into middle-class neighborhoods.”

Others vowed to keep fighting despite the failure of Lee’s amendment. Property-rights attorney Ethan Blevins with the College of Public Interest Law at the Pacific Legal Fund, for example, vowed to use legal action. “Perhaps Senator Lee’s amendment will get another chance once people begin to feel the impact of the AFFH rule,” he said, citing government-engineered changes in home prices, neighborhoods being re-shaped, communities getting sick of “mummification by red tape,” and people realizing that “the strings attached to federal money end in a noose.” However, in “the meantime,” Blevins said, the Pacific Legal Fund “won’t hesitate to resort to the courts to do what the Senate cannot.”

The New American first reported on Obama’s plan in 2013, long before it became a major political flash point in the administration’s war on America. Among other schemes, the HUD decree makes billions of dollars worth of funding to local governments contingent on the communities accepting federal control of their policies. That means neighborhoods must be re-zoned along income and racial specifications developed by the federal executive branch, rather than the wishes of local communities. It is basically extreme social-engineering on a national scale to further Obama’s “fundamental transformation” of America.

The plan also deliberately ignores state lines in favor of “regions.” The people of Dubuque, Iowa, found this out the hard way when the Obama administration coerced local officials into recruiting welfare recipients from Chicago to live in its tax-subsidized low-income housing. The outrageous policy — and its disastrous effects, not to mention the assault on traditions of local self-government and state boundaries — was outlined in a report by the Public Interest Institute last year. And that is just the beginning of what Obama and his allies have planned.

Aside from the fact that the U.S. Constitution delegates no authority over housing policy to the federal government, making the entire HUD bureaucracy unconstitutional, the evidence also suggests that the HUD “Community Development Block Grant” bribes used to advance AFFH are a massive failure. Indeed, according to a study by the Reason Foundation, the flow of taxpayer dollars has primarily benefited cronies and special interests, while doing basically nothing to reduce poverty. So taxpayers are being unconstitutionally bilked out of almost $15 billion a year to shower on crony capitalists. Now Obama wants to use the handouts to help re-shape America too — and, presumably, to transform the demographics of America’s state legislative and congressional districts.

In fact, even the federal government’s own studies show that the radical “housing diversity” machinations being pushed from D.C. have failed miserably to accomplish the feds’ own stated objectives. “A 2011 study sponsored by HUD found that adults using more generous Section 8 vouchers did not get better jobs or get off welfare,” reported Paul Sperry in the New York Post. “In fact, more went on food stamps. And their children did not do better in their new schools. Worse, crime simply followed them to their safer neighborhoods, ruining the quality of life for existing residents.”

It is time for the American people’s elected representatives to put a stop to Obama’s AFFH scheme, as well as the broader “fundamental transformation” of America that he has helped oversee. The agenda is unwise, unconstitutional, unaffordable, and dangerous to American traditions and liberty. It must be stopped and reversed. #

Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, education, politics, and more. Follow him on Twitter @ALEXNEWMAN_JOU. He can be reached at anewman@thenewamerican.com.

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Nullify! Chapter 6: Effective Strategy

Originally posted at Tenth Amendment Center, November 21, 2015

Thomas Jefferson advised a whatever-it-takes approach with nullification. Part of that approach involved smart strategy. Jefferson called on each state to “take measures of its own for providing that neither these acts, nor any others of the General Government not plainly and intentionally authorized by the Constitution, shall be exercised within their respective territories.”

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Sheriff David A. Clarke Addresses New York Oath Keepers at 2nd Annual Awards Dinner

Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr., honored for leadership, gives Keynote Address to the New York Oath Keepers 2nd Annual Awards Dinner in Albany, New York. June 11, 2016

Clarke is a lifelong resident of the City of Milwaukee and in March 2002 was appointed Sheriff by Governor Scott McCallum, and eight months later was elected to his first four-year term, earning 64% of the vote. His later victory margins up to 73% and 74% of the vote.

Clarke graduated summa cum laude from Concordia University Wisconsin with a degree in Criminal Justice Management, and in May 2003, Concordia honored him with their Alumnus of the Year Award. Sheriff Clarke also is a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. This prestigious school trains law enforcement executives from all over the world, and provides management and leadership instruction. In July 2004, he completed the intensive three-week Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government, at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Sheriff Clarke was honored in May 2013, with the Sheriff of the Year Award from the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association for, “demonstrating true leadership and courage. . . staying true to his oath, true to his badge, and true to the people he has promised to serve and protect.”

Sheriff Clarke spoke about Black Lies (Lives) Matter, Baltimore, Ferguson, politics, law enforcement, and the courts.

For more about New York Oath Keepers, please visit: www.NewYorkOathKeepers.com

Here are Sheriff Clarke’s statements:

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Unraveling Common Core with Dr. Peg Luksik and New York State Assemblyman Pete Lopez

Courtesy of Mert Melfa Media, May 19, 2016 •

This presentation by Dr. Peg Luksik follows the rise of federal intervention into local education from No Child Left Behind to Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and, of course, the disaster now known as Common Core. The forum addresses many grassroots educational issues in New York. The presentation was made in Saugerties, New York on May 18, 2016.

For additional information, please visit FoundedOnTruth.com.

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Michigan House Votes 107-1 to Pass State Privacy Amendment With National Implications

for Offnow, June 3, 2016 •

LANSING, Mich. (Jun. 2, 2016) – The Michigan House overwhelmingly approved a resolution Thursday that would give voters an opportunity to put “electronic data and communications” on the same level as “persons, houses, papers and possessions” in the state constitution. If ultimately passed, it would also set the foundation to help block a small but intrusive practical effect of federal spying within the state.

House Joint Resolution N (HJRN) was introduced by Rep. Jim Runestad (R-White Lake), along with 30 bipartisan co-sponsors, on Mar. 26. If approved, voters will have the opportunity to alter Article 1, Section 11 of the Michigan state constitution in the following manner (changes in italics added):

The person, houses, papers, and possessions, and electronic data and communications of every person shall be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures. No warrant to search any place or to seize any person or things or to access electronic data or communications shall issue without describing them, nor without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation. The provisions of this section shall not be construed to bar from evidence in any criminal proceeding any narcotic drug, firearm, bomb, explosive or any other dangerous weapon, seized by a peace officer outside the curtilage of any dwelling house in this state.

HJRN was approved in the State House on Jun. 2, passing by a 107-1 vote. It previously passed the House Criminal Justice Committee by a unanimous 6-0 vote last year.

NATIONAL IMPLICATIONS

The language in HJRN is similar to Missouri Amendment 9, which passed last year with an overwhelming 75 percent of the vote. Michigan lawmakers hope to duplicate Missouri’s success with HJRN.

If Missouri voters approve Amendment 9, it will set the stage for similar initiatives in other states. Every state except Delaware can amend their state constitution through a legislatively referred referendum. Missouri offers a blueprint. We have the potential to blanket the country with constitutional provisions specifically extending privacy protection to electronic information and data. This would ensure state-level respect for privacy rights and address a practical effect of federal spying, regardless of how things play out in Congress or in federal courts.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a nonprofit research and educational center based out of Midland, endorsed HJRN with the following statement released by the organization’s Executive Vice President Michael Reitz:

The right of individuals to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures is fundamental, which is why it is enshrined in both the U.S. and Michigan constitutions. Constitutionally enshrined rights should not be eroded just because the march of progress makes them easier to infringe…

The resolution has wide bi-partisan support, and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy is happy to lend our voice in support of this effort.

FEDERAL PROGRAMS

While a state constitutional amendment only binds state agencies and not the federal government, the amendment will also set the foundation to help protect Michiganians from a practical effect of federal spying.

By including “access” to “electronic data and communications” under the same warrant requirements – describing them, probable cause, and supported by oath or affirmation – as “person, houses, papers, and possessions,” it makes such data gathered by federal agencies such as the NSA or FBI and shared with state and local law enforcement more likely to be inadmissible in state criminal proceedings. This protection will remain in place for Michiganians even if federal courts ultimately put the seal of approval on warrantless data collection by the NSA and other federal agencies.

That the NSA and other federal agencies pass illegally gathered information to state and local law enforcement isn’t mere speculation. We know for a fact it happens.

As revealed in a 2013 Reuters report, the secretive Special Operations Division (SOD) is “funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.”

Documents obtained by Reuters show that these cases “rarely involve national security issues,” and that local law enforcement is directed by SOD to “conceal how such investigations truly begin.”

Reports in the Washington Post and USA Today last fall documented how “the FBI and most other investigative bodies in the federal government” are regularly using a mobile device known as a “stingray” or “hailstorm” to intercept and collect electronic data without a warrant. Local and state police “have access through sharing agreements.” This issue is especially pertinent for Michigan residents as it was revealed last year that Oakland County, MI is using a hailstorm device with absolutely no transparency and accountability from law enforcement.

The state of Michigan can’t stop the federal government from violating the Constitution and basic privacy rights, but HJRN would provide a mechanism to keep illegally-gathered data out of state courts. That is what makes HJRN such an important reform.

NEXT UP

Now that it passed the House, HJRN will move on to the Senate. It will first need to pass out of at least one committee before the full Senate can consider it. If it passes both Houses, it will bypass the Governor and go directly to the ballot for a vote in the November election.

Michigan residents are urged to contact their Senate and voice their support for HJRN. Find contact information at this link.

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Posted in 4th Amendment, Bill of Rights, Learn Liberty, News, Surveillance State, The Constitution, Tyranny | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The New York Times’ Vision for America: Limitless Federal Power and the End of State Sovereignty

for Tenth Amendment Center, June 2, 2016 •

Once again, the New York Times has published an editorial attacking constitutional principles. This time, it calls for the virtual dissolution of the Republic.

The reasoning behind this assertion? That the government is too small.

Parag Khanna wrote an op-ed article in the May 30 edition of the Times suggesting a dissolution of the states because of “an antiquated political structure of 50 distinct states” holds back the grand fantasies of central planners in Washington D.C. It reads, in part:

The problem is that while the economic reality goes one way, the 50-state model means that federal and state resources are concentrated in a state capital — often a small, isolated city itself — and allocated with little sense of the larger whole. Not only does this keep back our largest cities, but smaller American cities are increasingly cut off from the national agenda, destined to become low-cost immigrant and retirement colonies, or simply to be abandoned…

Washington currently provides minimal support for regional economic efforts and strategies; it needs to go much further, even at the risk of upsetting established federal-state political balances. A national infrastructure bank, if it ever gets off the ground, should have as part of its charter an obligation to ignore state lines when weighing projects to support.

Khanna doesn’t seem to have any concept or regard for decentralized government, or the danger of consolidated power in the hands of a few powerful people. Those are just pesky little obstacles that need to be overcome while pressing toward the goal of “national greatness” achieved through new federal banking apparatuses, more spending binges, and power further centralized in Washington D.C.

Although Khanna may be correct that our nation’s infrastructure is dismal, there is simply no money left to fix it. The federal government blew through nearly $20 trillion while neglecting infrastructure. Even if the feds were to spend more taxpayer dollars to supposedly fix infrastructure, history dictates that they would not do any better of a job allocating those funds than they did with the previous $20 trillion.

Unfortunately, though, this is the mindset that is dominant among the political class and its backers.

The bad news for Khanna is that the public is starting to reject what he is selling. Distrust of the federal government is near all-time highs, something which has become a long-lasting trend. This makes it less likely for centralizers like Khanna to rally public opinion behind lofty fantasies about massive infrastructure projects and the elimination of state sovereignty, regardless of what is published in the New York Times.

On a positive note, the time-tested American principle of decentralization is starting to catch on again. In larger numbers, people are getting sick of the federal government’s heavy-handed nature, and want the power to returned home. States and people are more than equipped to handle their own infrastructure without bringing unaccountable Washington D.C. bureaucrats into the equation. If the momentum continues and gets firmly behind local control, Khanna’s prescriptions will never get off the ground.

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Posted in 10th Amendment, Learn Liberty, New York News, New York State Constitution, New York State Government, The Constitution, Tyranny | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Killing Knowledge in K-12

By Bruce Deitrick Price for American Thinker, April 1, 2016 •

The first schools, the first great universities, were focused on knowledge: figuring out what it is, collecting and verifying it, and passing it on from teachers to students.

Our K-12 schools have drifted far away from this ideal.  Knowledge itself is disparaged.  The transmission of knowledge is sneered at.  These shifts are huge and destructive, and they are by design.

Consider what any real school looks like: judo schools, medical schools, language schools, flight schools, bartending schools, flower-arranging schools.  All possess a body of knowledge they strive to give to the next generation.

That’s not what our public schools are focused on now.

It used to be well understood that the human race is divided into uneducated people (they don’t know anything) and educated people (they know lots of information).  Creating educated people takes work, by the school and the student.  K-12 no longer believes in the importance of that work.

What changed?

John Dewey and his socialist brotherhood, a hundred years ago, decided they would use the public schools to transform the entire society.  They first had to seize control of what is taught in K-12 classrooms. Dewey and his successors settled on two major strategies for controlling what educators call “content.”

First, they discarded as much of the traditional curriculum as possible – i.e., knowledge was thrown out the window by the boxload.  Secondly, they invented many techniques for scrambling classroom instruction so that knowledge was no longer taught efficiently.

So we have here, across a wide front, a well organized war against knowledge and the transmission of knowledge.  Dumbed down schools were created intentionally in order to create dumbed down students.  That, my research suggests, is the horrible reality.

Consider for a moment how extraordinarily successful this campaign has been.  Jay Leno used to go “Jaywalking” and find people who didn’t know which ocean is to the west of California.  That same tradition has been continued by Jesse Watters on Fox News and others.  In this video, Watters asks people what country we fought against in the Revolutionary War.  People say things like “the French?”

To repeat, this rising tide of ignorance is not an accident.  It’s too relentless to be anything but intentional.  So how exactly do our social engineers achieve what Charlotte Iserbyt called “the deliberate dumbing down of America”?

First, they invent redundant, overlapping sophistries that mandate teaching less, always less.  Multiculturalism says you can teach only about foreign cultures.  Relevance says you can teach only about the child’s own life.  Readiness says you can teach only what children are ready to learn.  Self-esteem says you can teach only information the child finds easy to learn.  Constructivism says you can’t teach directly – kids have to assemble knowledge for themselves.  You can’t expect children to actually know anything, therefore no memorization should be required.  That’s six separate gimmicks that guarantee, in toto, a scorched earth policy toward the  acquisition of knowledge.

Secondly, you invent sophistical gimmicks that will jumble whatever little knowledge can still be taught.  We see this, par excellence, in New Math circa 1962, where basic arithmetic was mixed up with complicated high school- and college-level material. Bingo: total confusion and kids learning little.  In reading, you have bogus instruction known as Look-say, Whole Word, Dolch words, and so on.  The schools spend years teaching children to read, but few students become fluent readers.  (This is happening year after year.  Don’t we have to assume that schools are achieving the results they want?)

The schools always profess hostility to direct instruction, mastery of basics, memorization, traditional testing – in short, all the things that work.  They teach as little as possible, and then they create a disconnect with what little they do teach.  The result is probably the least educated general population we’ve had in a century.

One particularly striking result is that students have little sense of  historical time.  You can ask kids in college which came first, World War II, World War I, or the Civil War, and many won’t know.  Students aren’t told to memorize dates, people, or places, so when American citizens are asked, on the 4th of July, what country did we break away from, they look at you in amazement: who knows stuff like that?

People should give credit where credit is due: our Education Establishment, in its war against knowledge, has been cunningly successful.

Where does all this go? The American people are increasingly like a big blob of jelly.  They can’t think critically because they don’t know much.  If leaders lie to them, who is going to realize this?  If the media tell them only half of what’s going on, how could they know the difference?

Thomas Jefferson said it long ago: you can be ignorant or free, not both.

Our professional education class, what I call the Education Establishment, is hopelessly incompetent (or deeply into subversion).  Either way, Americans have to get much more involved in improving their local schools.  Be sure that every kid can read by the end of the first grade.  Make sure they learn basic arithmetic the old-fashioned way.  And teach them lots of facts, one after the other.

It would probably be easy to teach children a new fact each hour, assuming that the fact was taught dramatically and repeated at intervals.  But for the sake of discussion, let’s settle on teaching one fact each day.  Think what that would add up to in a few years.  Our middle school students would know more than our college graduates do today.

Only one thing is required for this dramatic turnaround.  Schools have to love knowledge.

At present, our public schools are having a squalid love affair with ignorance.

Bruce Deitrick Price explains theories and methods on his education sites Improve-Education.org.  (For info on his four new novels, see his literary site Lit4u.com.)

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