The Ron Problem? Part II

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Original image from bluegrasspolitics.com

VC note: Back in late 2014, I wrote a piece called “The Ron Problem?” for Ron Paul’s website, Voices of Liberty.com, regarding the situation between Ron and Rand Paul.  As is the case with the other items I have written for that site, I have agreed not to post them anywhere else.  However, that website decided to take down this article several months ago and, as I’d rather not see this piece simply disappear from the internet, I’ve decided to share it with you here.

As the 2016 presidential race begins to come into focus, Rand Paul, the junior Senator from Kentucky and the son of former Representative Ron Paul, is a likely favorite among self-identified liberty activists. However, there are a number of lingering concerns given that Senator Paul has adopted some positions, especially concerning foreign policy, that stand in stark contrast to his father’s.

Back in 2007, I met a fellow named Don Rasmussen while I was in South Carolina as we were both working for the 2008 Ron Paul Presidential Campaign. Along with several other staffers, including the state director, we crafted the campaign strategy for South Carolina as a team. Since the campaign, I have had very few, if any, interactions with Mr. Rasmussen. Nevertheless, I was shocked when, earlier today, I read a piece by the very same Don Rasmussen on The Daily Caller entitled, “The Ron Problem: Rand Paul Must Publicly Denounce His Father to Win the GOP Nomination”.

Although you can read the article for yourself, the author makes a number of disturbing statements. First, he draws a comparison between Ron Paul and the Ron Paul Revolution to Jean-Marie Le Pen and France’s Front National. This idea is particular worrisome; while Paul advocates liberty and reducing the size and scope of government, Le Pen and his followers are exceedingly nationalistic and prefer xenophobia and economic protectionism. In addition, in a recent poll, 91% of French people stated they have a negative opinion of Mr. Le Pen. I have not seen such an American poll taken about the elder Dr. Paul but cannot believe such a large percentage of the population would have that low of an opinion of him.

I must profess that I do not follow French politics closely, but Rasmussen goes on to write that when Marine Le Pen took control of France’s Front National party from her father, she “set about purging the party of its worst elements – holocaust deniers, racists and cranks. Unfortunately for family dinners in the Le Pen home, her father and political mentor, Jean-Marie, was one of them.”  In order to secure the Republican nomination in 2016, as the title of his piece tells us, Don Rasmussen suggests that “when it comes to his father, Rand Paul should look to France” and thus publicly denounce Dr. Paul.  Certainly many of Dr. Paul’s supporters would find such advice loathsome.

I won’t say that there were elements of the Paul campaign that I thought were worrisome during my time in his employ.  Yes, you had the 9/11 truthers whom the Ron Paul 2012 campaign worked hard to purge from the movement.  In fact, the 2012 employment questionnaire specifically asked each potential staffer what he or she thought on the matter.  And there were racists and even a small contingent that believed Ron Paul could very well be a plant from the government.  At a parade in what I think was Aiken, SC, one of them offered to me to “take Ron Paul out” should he turn on the movement.  However, although vocal, let me assure you through my own experience that these radical groups were such a small part of the overall effort.  And under no circumstances should a candidate be condemned or held responsible for everything that his or her supporters say or do.

I understand that the lure of higher political office is extremely powerful and that many pundits and consultants suggest an “ends justify the means” approach to achieve your goals.  In addition, no one is without flaws and if, for some reason, Dr. Ron Paul takes a radical turn, standing apart from him is not a bad idea.  But as far as I can tell, that has not happened.

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, I have had my prickling doubts about the younger Paul given some of his surprising position statements.  Nevertheless, if Rand Paul throws Ron Paul under the bus and denounces him simply for political expediency and to win the 2016 GOP nod, as my fellow Ron Paul staffer Don Rasmussen advises, I’m hopeful that the majority of the liberty movement will look elsewhere for our champion.

American History is not Black History; Black History is not America’s

-1A guest article by Leonce Gaiter

As taught in mainstream culture, American history propagates this nation as the womb of freedom, justice, and liberty.  There are American creation myths as exemplified by the “Founding Fathers.”  There are founding documents as revered as biblical texts for their promise of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

That is why the argument that ‘black history is American history’ is naïve to the point of insipidity.  For most of this nation’s history, blacks were not ‘Americans.’  First, we were owned, and then we were barred from exercising the rights of citizenship.  That’s why our history puts the lie to American history’s mainstream myths.  Almost half of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention, some of whom wrote so eloquently of freedom, owned other men as slaves.  For most of its history, this country profited immensely from forcibly denying us freedom and liberty, by keeping us in chains, and from our labor as sub-citizens.  Our history puts the lie to America’s history as popularly told.

Do we want to continue to teach our children black history through a white racial frame?  That is the practical effect of stating, “black history is American history.”  It states that the majority veil should be placed on the history that we teach our children.  It states that we should forego the right that every other culture assumes—the right to teach our history from our own point-of-view, and to be the heroes of our own stories—and instead, subsume our history within the majority’s. It states that we do not have the right to express our rage at the barbarities we endured, for those are histories that the majority has little willingness to accept and examine, and for good reason: they put the lie to treasured American myths.

To pronounce that “black history is American history” says that every black child should learn that after Vernon Dahmer’s home was firebombed in Mississippi and Dahmer died from his wounds, the outraged white community worked to rebuild the Dahmer home.  It says that black children needn’t learn that in Brookhaven, Mississippi in 1955, Lamar Smith was shot dead on the courthouse lawn in broad daylight by a white man for the crime of organizing blacks to vote, and that the known killer was never indicted because, per the Southern Poverty Law Center, “no one would admit they saw a white man shoot a black man.”

To say “black history is American history” approves the endless repetition of a Martin Luther King quote like:

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

It says black children needn’t bother with another strand of King’s thinking:

“It is an unhappy truth that racism is a way of life for the vast majority of white Americans, spoken and unspoken, acknowledged and denied, subtle and sometimes not so subtle—the disease of racism permeates and poisons a whole body politic.

To insist that black history is American history says that the majority should be allowed to use our history to paint themselves in the warmest light, but that we should not be allowed to do the same.  The two are often mutually exclusive.  To understand the challenges and triumphs of the American descendants of African slaves, it is imperative to understand that almost every aspect of the might of this nation was used to cripple us.  To understand how far we’ve come, the battles we fought, the blood we shed and the triumphs and defeats we suffered, you must understand the weight of the spiked boot that was placed on our necks.  To do that, you must indict America for crimes she would rather forget.

American history is not black history, and our history is not America’s to dictate.  Until we understand that, and begin teaching our history to ourselves in ways that serve our own cultural needs instead of the majority’s, we will continue to internalize this nation’s prejudices against us, instead of arming ourselves to appropriately demonize and deflect them.

Leonce Gaiter is a prolific African American writer and proud Harvard Alum. His writing has appeared in the NYTimes, NYT Magazine, LA Times, Washington Times, and Washington Post, and he has written two novels.  His newly released novel, In the Company of Educated Men, (http://bit.ly/ZyqSuN) is a literary thriller with socio-economic, class, and racial themes.

BOOK LINKS

In the company of Educated Men

AMAZON:  http://amzn.to/1v411Kj

B&N:  http://bit.ly/1Eq5da0

APPLE:  http://bit.ly/1CyF3jo

 

Defeating SB 840

IMG_2729In the myriad of bills offered in the 2015 General Assembly session, Senator John Watkins (R-Midlothian) proposed a piece of legislation regarding redistricting.  As the legislative summary states, SB 840 “provides criteria for the General Assembly to observe in drawing districts, including respect for political boundaries, equal population, racial and ethnic fairness, contiguity, compactness, and communities of interest. Use of political data or election results is prohibited unless necessary to determine if racial or ethnic minorities can elect candidates of their choice.”

As it stands now, legislators in the General Assembly have the right to choose who they represent.  Sounds a bit crazy, does it?  In school we’re taught that voters choose their representatives, but, in Virginia, legislators can draw their own districts to include or exclude voters based upon past voting history, race, socioeconomic status, and a whole host of other factors.

As one such example, this year Senator Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania) crafted SB 1237 which removed the rather heavily Democratic Georgetown precinct in Albemarle County from his district and exchanged it for the Republican friendly Stone Robinson precinct.  Thinking back to Reeves’ small margin of victory in the 2011 election, one article in yesterday’s Washington Post argued that he made this move in order to bolster his re-election chances.  Given the political ramifications of SB 1237 and the fact that Republicans currently enjoy a mere one seat majority in the Virginia Senate, all Republican senators voted for the measure while all Democrats (except one who did not vote) opposed it.  If the tides were reversed, and the Democrats were in power would the Democrats have favored the bill and the Republicans have stood against it?  Is the idea of right or wrong absolute?  Or does it hinge upon who gains power by a given action?  Is gerrymandering a integral part of the “Virginia Way“?

Watkins’ SB 840 would presumably help curtail gerrymandering, which includes the practice of carving up some counties into as many pieces as possible in order to achieve political advantage, as was done to Rockingham County in the 2011 redistricting.  Perhaps surprisingly, the bill passed the Virginia Senate 38-0.  However, yesterday the legislation was killed in the House subcommittee of elections in privileges and elections, squelched by Republican Delegates Mark Cole, Buddy Fowler, Steve Landes, and Margaret Ransone.  What we need to know is why these four delegates killed this bill, which was passed unanimously by the Virginia Senate.  Are there ramifications that could weaken the ability of Virginians to be fairly represented in the General Assembly?  Or was it simply done to preserve legislators’ control of who can and cannot vote to either re-elect or replace these elected officials?

The RPV Needs…

Graphic from bvbl.net
Graphic from bvbl.net

This morning, the Washington Post announced that Shaun Kenney, the executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia, is stepping down from his position.  Reactions from my fellow bloggers have been mixed with some praising Mr. Kenney’s efforts, a few questioning them, and others declaring that the extreme right wing has taken over the party.  As someone who has known Shaun for a number of years, I’m of the opinion that he is a good fellow; I’ve always enjoyed the opportunities I’ve had to speak with him and I certainly wish him well in his future endeavors.

But what’s going on with the Republican Party of Virginia?  According to fellow blogger Black Velvet Bruce Li, the party is in a dire financial situation.  Apparently, the net worth of the party has been in rapid decline in recent months and is now less than -$200,000.  Yes, you read that number correctly, negative two hundred thousand.  Certainly that could spell a lot of trouble for the party, no?  So what is the RPV planning to do about this issue?

Well, on Wednesday night as I arrived in downtown Staunton to meet with a fellow activist, I received a call from the Republican Party of Virginia.  The man on the other end of the phone noted that I had been a long-time supporter of the party and requested a donation of $350.  I could have simply said no, but instead I told him that although it is true that I had supported the party for many years, including working for the RPV, I had been expelled from my local party last year.  In addition, both before and after that time, I had gotten into several disagreements with my Representative, Bob Goodlatte, who I felt has not been doing a particularly good job representing either my values or the values of the RPV as stated in the creed.

The caller seemed a little disturbed, declaring that we ought to have the right to question our leaders when we think they go astray and that dialogue is an important aspect of the process.  I agreed and so he asked if I would “let bygones be bygones” and donate $250 to the party.

I responded by telling him more of my experiences, that in 2014 I ran as a candidate for local office.  Although I was arguably the most conservative or libertarian candidate and the only one who ever mentioned the RPV creed (to the best of my knowledge), I was maligned by the local GOP.  They did so because I was an independent and had the gall to run against the anointed party’s nominees.  Every elected Republican official representing Harrisonburg, including ones that I had volunteered countless hours for in previous elections, publicly opposed my candidacy, regardless of any supposed shared ideological mooring.  With those thoughts in mind, I asked him why in the world would I donate money to the Republican Party of Virgina?  At that point, he decided to terminate the phone call.

I should add that several weeks ago I appreciated the opportunity to speak with newly elected RPV chairman John Whitbeck.  Although I don’t think we reached any sort of resolution, I argued that the RPV ought to do a far better job of insisting its candidates and elected officials hold to some sort of ideological standard.  I still hope that they will.

Getting back to the original point, yes, signs seem to indicate that the RPV is in trouble financially.  But they shouldn’t ask me to help.  I’m happy to support good, individual candidates who believe as I do whether they run as Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, independents, or something else.  However, until and unless the party and its leaders decides to actually adhere to anything approaching limited government principles, I assure you that they won’t be receiving support of any kind from me.  From my conversations with my fellow activists, more and more of us seem to be reaching this same conclusion.  Or, to put it another way, if they think we should support the Republican Party based merely upon nice sounding rhetoric and our past associations, to borrow a lyric from Judas Priest, “you’re mad.  You’ve got another thing comin'”.

The RPV needs money, yes, but far more importantly it needs principles.

ISFLC 2015

On February 13th, 14th, and 15th, Students for Liberty held their annual International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington, D.C.  Some of the featured speakers this year included: Former Representative Ron Paul, Andrew Napolitano, former Mexican President Vicente Fox, and, via satellite, Edward Snowden.

This year’s ISFLC marked my third, having previously attended in 2013 and 2014.  Unfortunately, as was the case last year, no students from James Madison University made the journey.  Nevertheless, Nicholas Farrar, the former president of Madison Liberty did make the conference.

I intended to attend only on Saturday, but on Friday morning I received a call.  Apparently a group of students traveling to the conference from Nashville, TN, broke down in Mt. Jackson, VA, about thirty miles north of my home.  As luck would have it, they ran into a Methodist minister (who also happened to be my last roommate from college) who contacted me.  I was unable to find anyone who could transport the students the rest of the way to the conference and therefore prepared to do so myself.  However, right before leaving Harrisonburg, I received word that a bus coming from Texas would pick up the stranded students and thus that particular crisis was averted.

Early Saturday morning, I left for ISFLC along with a new friend and local Democratic activist.  The drive north was uneventful, though I was disappointed to discover that the conference was not in the same location as it had been the previous two years.  After parking, we made our way from the garage through a dimly lit maze of hotel corridors until we found the check-in counter.  While waiting for the annual taping of the Stossel Show, we explored the various informational tables.  A handful of groups, like YAL, the Koch Institute, and the Libertarian Party had booths in very visible locations while the majority were clustered on a lower floor.  During this time, we ran into the 2014 West Virginia Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate John Buckley.

Marc Allen Feldman
Marc Allen Feldman

One of the first fellows who reached out to me was Marc Allen Feldman, an individual who is seeking the 2016 Libertarian nomination for president.  Although neither the Republican or Democratic Parties has ever had a booth at ISFLC, The Republican Liberty Caucus did, staffed by former RLC national chairman Dave Nalle.

As we sought out lunch, we ran into Representative Thomas Massie (KY-4).  He was speaking to a gathering of students on a variety of topics.  IMG_2805

Over a hundred people stood in line for well over a half an hour as we awaited entrance to attend the Stossel Show.

IMG_2815Although not boasting a list of controversial speakers as they had in previous years, the program did include Representative Justin Amash (MI-3) and a variety of folks who spoke about the abridgement of students’ rights on college campuses, not only in this country, but internationally as well.

Afterward, Representatives Amash, and Massie as well as Young Americans for Liberty leader Jeff Frazee, spoke to a rather sizable gathering of students. IMG_2824

As I mentioned to him before the conference, I would have liked to speak to Representative Amash in person too, but the opportunity never presented itself.  Nevertheless, I was able to snap a photo of him as he hurried from one meeting to the next.  IMG_2827

Given the threat of snow, we decided to leave the conference around 5 PM.  I found that unlike previous conferences, parking was exceedingly expensive, $33 for about seven hours.

The drive back started out relatively uneventfully, though a light snow began to fall as we took I-66 through Manassas.  By the time we reached Front Royal, the snow reduced visibility to several feet and so I pulled off the road, hoping that the weather would subside, worried that I’d have to spend the night in my car.  After a short pause, the snow became lighter and so we continued on.  Shortly after turning on to I-81, we were forced off the highway and told the interstate was closed due to several tractor trailer wrecks.  Switching to US-11, the journey slowly advanced south for several miles until we could return to the interstate.  Although the roads were not in the best condition, we were able to return to Harrisonburg without incident.  A drive that normally takes about two hours instead took four.

All in all, it was another enjoyable conference, though it is my sincere hope that many JMU students will be able to experience it for themselves in 2016.

Virginia’s 2015 Libertarian Bills

283996_10150239890381651_2358105_nA guest piece from Charles Frohman

For the second year in a row the grassroots organization Our America Initiative (OAI) found in Virginia’s legislature the good bills – those that restrain government power and honor personal liberty –  that need your support before adjournment later this month.  Below I’ll share how you can send an email to get your opinion registered before the state legislature closes down for the year.

Admittedly some of these bills already have passed or been defeated, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send an email to get your opinions heard.  If your email is the last thing your representative or senator reads before locking the Richmond office, he or she will remember the unfinished business for next year.

Our America Initiative divided the supported-bills among five categories:  (1) cutting taxes and red tape (regulations); (2) rolling back over-criminalization; (3) expanding choices in education and health; (4) respecting personal liberty; and (5) opening and limiting government power.  Each category is described below.

On the first category Our America Initiative listed bills to study moving away from taxation of income and businesses, as well as cutting our corporate rate.  With eleven states raising sufficient revenue from sales or property values, there’s no reason for Virginia to let other states steal our businesses because we’re too greedy with the citizens’ money.  On regulations we support bills to exempt from inspection food sold directly by farmers to customers.  Requirements to install industrial kitchens to sell homemade dishes or raw milk limits healthful options for families looking for local, superior options.  Two constitutional amendments made the list, one to allow the right to work and another to allow majority votes in the Assembly to strike burdensome regulations.

The second category has some chance since Republicans are facing remorse for their unreasonable “tough-on-crime” hyperbole and carte blanche gifts to the Security State.  Bills include ones to respect the 4th amendment’s prohibition on searches without warrants, forbid asset forfeiture by police until a defendant has exhausted all appeals, prohibit arrest quotas, and study how to reverse the over-criminalization epidemic.  Other bills would require bureaucracies to use the police for enforcement actions instead of creating their own SWAT teams; clarify the sheriffs’ role as a locality’s top enforcement officer; impose regulations on privatized, local cops; raise the reckless driving speed to 85 mph; and end the prohibition on the cannabis and hemp plants (the prohibition of which are the driving force for the over-criminalization disease).

While Common Core and ObamaCare merely piled on national rules to already over-regulated education and health markets, Virginia’s politicians have introduced at least a few bills that achieve OAI’s goal to grant parents more choices in both areas.  One bill would prohibit local school boards from blocking charter choices for parents dissatisfied with their required, local government school, and another bill would block the Common Core federalization of state K-12 standards.  Health freedom bills include one to allow unregulated direct access to local farm food; another to disclose when a product has been genetically modified; a third to allow self-selecting states to replace ObamaCare with an interstate compact to regulate the health market; one allowing dying patients to access drugs that haven’t completed FDA safety reviews; a bill expanding diseases qualifying for doctor-recommended marijuana; and a bill immunizing good samaritans helping over-dose victims.

A smorgasbord of bills made it onto the “Respecting Personal Liberty” category of OAI-supported bills in Virginia’s legislature.  Most would also address the over-criminalization epidemic, by stopping government searches of property without having to get a judge first to issue a warrant identifying what needs to be searched and why.  Other bills would compensate victims of government sterilization crimes in the 20th century; return voting rights to felons who’ve served their time; grant provisional licenses to those refusing DUI road tests; and propose an amendment to clarify the 2nd Amendment prohibition on government interference with the right to armed defense.

The final category of supported-bills includes those that open the government to scrutiny and limits its power.  Two bills would limit the ability of the dominant Parties (Republican and Democrat) to keep out competition from third parties – thus giving voters the choices polls show they demand.  Other bills include those to forbid bureaucrat actions that violate notice requirements; forbid public universities from ignoring Freedom of Information Act requests; limit the revolving door between government employment and working for government contractors; reduce budget gimmicks in spending bills; and call for a constitutional convention but for only amendments that limit government spending or power.

Our America Initiative didn’t capture all the libertarian-leaning bills in these five categories, and not all of the bills on the list are without some risk to liberty.  When you could click here (http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/), then, to get the email address of your state representative and senator, and email them the OAI handout (https://www.ouramericainitiative.com/virginia.html), feel free to emphasize the bills you believe are most important to liberty.  With adjournment later this month or in March, now is the time to show our Virginia politicians that a constituency exists not just for handouts, but also for personal responsibility.

Charles Frohman directs grassroots for www.OurAmericaInitiative, a 501(c)4 chaired by Governor Gary Johnson to advocate libertarian changes in the law, nationally and through the organization’s 50 state affiliates.  After earning a B.A. in Government in 1988 from the College of William and Mary, Frohman went on to work for members of Congress, financial trade associations, the Cato Institute, and, later as a sole proprietor with a large number of small nonprofit clients as well as one of the nation’s largest security guard companies.  For a few years he tried his hand at teaching high school history, earning his M.Ed. in 2010 from the George Washington University.  Residing in Williamsburg, Virginia, Frohman grew up in Suffolk and also is a certified kundalini yoga teacher.

The Schmookler & Huffman Show (Episode XX)

This morning, Andy Schmookler and I appeared on WSVA, 550 AM, for our twentieth time.  Today was a slightly different format; while I was in the studio in Harrisonburg, Andy called in from Shenandoah County.

The three major topics of the show were: the upcoming visit from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the current controversy concerning vaccinations, and the 24th district Senate race in Staunton, Waynesboro, Augusta County, Rockingham County, and elsewhere.  I feel as if we only began to scratch the surface of the senate race, but on-air time constraints cut the matter short.  Hopefully, we can revisit the topic in a future show.

Anyway, in case you missed it, you can find today’s show here.

AFP Lobby Day

IMG_2799Today, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) held a lobby day in Richmond.  Over 160 activists from all over the state came to the capital to have lunch with Representative Dave Brat (VA-7).  Afterward, attendees could watch the House of Delegates and Senate in session as well as to speak to members of the General Assembly and their legislative assistants.

At 9 AM this morning, I boarded a bus in Harrisonburg that had traveled down I-81 from Winchester.  The bus came equipped with donuts, coffee, and wifi.  After a stop in Staunton to pick up a few more folks, we continued to Richmond, arriving a little after 11:30.  During this trip, I looked forward to meeting Senator Chap Petersen, whom I’ve written about in a handful of recent articles on this website.

Everyone in the group gathered at the Garden Inn Hilton on Broad Street where we were offered a multitude of sandwiches, chips, and cookies.  Surprisingly, there were no chocolate chip available.

Flint Engleman, the AFP regional director for the Charlottesville and Harrisonburg area, spoke and introduced Rep. Brat.  Dr. Brat told the audience about his early days in office, including his opposition to the CRomnibus, the National Defense Authorization Act, and his apparent strong support for term limits.  I would have been interested to hear what punishment (if any) John Boehner gave to him for opposing Boehner as Speaker of the House.

When the next AFP speaker took to the microphone, I left alongside fellow Shenandoah Valley politico Dave Mason to explore the General Assembly building.  Both the House and Senate were still in session, so we ended up speaking to a variety of legislative assistants including: Delegate Wilt’s, Delegate Rasoul’s, and Delegate Helsel’s.  While watching the House of Delegates debate several bills, I received a text from Senator Petersen’s office saying that he would be returning shortly.  Unfortunately, I only had about a minute to speak to the Senator before he had to hurry off to his next committee meeting.  Afterward, we stopped by the offices of Delegate Rob Bell and Senator Dick Black before making our way back to the bus.

As we rode back, we enjoyed sandwiches from Subway and heard stories of the adventures of our fellow compatriots.

All in all, it was an interesting day, listening to Representative Brat and enjoying the company of some like-minded individuals.  I just wish that it was scheduled on a day when the legislators weren’t quite so busy so that we could have had the opportunity to engage in a variety of meaningful conversations.  Nevertheless, I certainly appreciate AFP hosting the event.

Petersen on the 4th

Senator Petersen from his Facebook page
Senator Petersen from his Facebook page

Last week, I wrote about how Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) stood up for our political liberty by opposing a bill on party registration.  In this session he also spoke against strengthening the power of the executive branch of the Virginia government.

Well, on his Facebook page this morning, Senator Petersen offered a few thoughts on the 4th Amendment and the right of Virginia citizens to be secure in both their physical and electronic information.  As a bit of background, last month the Virginia Senate passed SB 919 with overwhelming support from Republicans and Democrats.  In fact, Petersen was the lone no vote.

Here’s what he said:

“Stealth Subpoena” Shows Need to Update 4th Amendment

Earlier this session, the Senate passed SB 919, which gives government the right to issue an “administrative subpoena” to collect the phone and Internet records of a citizen. Ostensibly to combat child pornography, abduction and terrorism, the bill authorized the government to conceal the fact of the subpoena from the target if disclosure would “seriously jeopardize” the investigation, i.e. by causing the target to hire a lawyer and challenge an unjustified or overbroad search.

The bill passed 39-1. I was the only “no” vote.

Back in the 18th century, when “a man’s home was his castle,” the government needed a warrant to come on to someone’s property for purposes of search and seizure. That warrant could not be general, it had to specifically describe the object of the search. Today, that requirement (which was incorporated into the Virginia Declaration of Rights) is the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

Times have changed. So have our methods of storing property. Previously, our possessions were inside our house or maybe in a bank vault. Each requires a specific warrant or subpoena to be searched. In both cases, the search must be approved by a magistrate or (in the case of a subpoena) the opposing attorney can quash or limit the review based upon relevancy or scope.

Current technology is shredding these historic protections. Now our computer history, phone history or travel records can be tracked, analyzed and ultimately used against us, even without a formal indictment or charge. What is the purpose of this Orwellian expansion of state power? What happened to the “right to be left alone” as articulated by Justice Powell in Bowers v. Hardwick?

I failed to stop the train in SB 919. (To be honest, I wasn’t even aware of the bill until the last second). However, I do believe that the Senate may be on the verge of doing something historic if we pass SB 965 on the floor today — that bill limits License Plate Readers by requiring police to purge the data within seven (7) days.

The larger issue is the Fourth Amendment. It was written for a low-tech agrarian society. Can it be adopted to a high-tech world? Can these same protections be extended to laptop computers and I-phones?

We have to do it. Otherwise, we will be living in a world where we are all just one click away from a legal investigation.

Apparently, this message caught the eye of other political folks too.  As both a former attorney general and state senator, Ken Cuccinelli wrote on Facebook about an hour ago, “Here’s a Va. Dem who is on the right track re 4th amendment government power.”

Now, much like Senator Petersen, SB 919 wasn’t a piece of legislation that I was following prior to its passage.  And, given that the bill passed 39-1, perhaps there are some good reasons for it.  However, as Thomas Jefferson once said, “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.”

Black Responds to Farris

Senator Dick Black on Lobby Day 2015
Senator Dick Black on Lobby Day 2015

VC Note: About an hour ago, Senator Dick Black released the following response to Mike Fariss’ opinions made in a previous article. 

As you have observed from the last several posts, there are a lot of opinions from a number of political figures in and outside of Virginia.  Although I have heard arguments in favor and against an Article V Convention and have friends on both sides of this debate, I was greatly disappointed by some of the statements made by Mike Fariss to disparage Senator Black.  Although I will admit that I side with Senator Black on this matter, my hope is that regardless of one’s position on this issue, we can remain rational and civil and not launch into personal attacks and declaring one side or the other is resorting to incite hysteria (unless such a claim is undeniably true).

Farris Attacks, With Spittle Flying; Senator Black Issues a Gentleman’s Response

Here is THE TEAM SEN. BLACK rebuttal to Mike Farris:

 

MIKE FARRIS, ET AL: “Michael Farris, J.D., LL.M., Constitutional Lawyer & Chancellor of Patrick Henry College

At the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, George Mason of Virginia insisted that there would come a day when the federal government would abuse the authority it was given under the Constitution. Mason therefore insisted that the States be given the power to propose amendments to the Constitution to rein in the Federal Government. Mason said that Congress would never propose amendments to restrict federal power. And he has been proven right.”

 

RESPONSE FROM SEN. BLACK:  Mason was in a minority of only THREE delegates to the 1787 convention that took this view.

 

MIKE FARRIS, ET AL: “Dick Black’s “Urgent” Appeal is false, deceptive, and demeaning to all Virginians. Here’s why:

1. BLACK CREATES A FALSE IMPRESSION OF IMPENDING CHANGE TO THE CONSTITUTION.

Black claims that “Virginia will vote to change the Constitution of the United States in a few days.” This is a far cry from the reality both as to the timing and as to the scope of the Convention. Virginia is set to vote on whether to begin the process of considering the proposal of specific amendments to the Constitution. We are years away from making any amendments (34 states must first approve the call, the convention must be held, and 38 states must ratify any proposals coming out of the convention before any change is made to the Constitution.

 

Black claims that Virginia could be the “tipping point” to get to 34 states. This is based on the idea that many states have already called for a convention, and that adding Virginia to the list would bring us to the needed number.

This claim is demonstrably false and nothing better than a blatant attempt to incite panic.”

 

RESPONSE FROM SEN. BLACK:  This claim is not false. There is nothing in Article V that requires a petition for an Article V convention to specify a certain topic. It only requires a petition to be made. Mr. Farris has no legal foundation to make his claim that a petition for an Article V convention is required to identify a specific purpose for its request, nor that there must be 34 matching petitions asking to address the same subject in order for the 34 state threshold to be met. If he has such proof, he should provide it.

 

MIKE FARRIS, ET AL:  “The two specific resolutions in front of the Virginia General Assembly are for an Article V Convention to limit federal power and jurisdiction (HJ 497) and an Article V Convention to propose a Balanced Budget Amendment (HJ 499).

Three states have passed the first application, and 24 states have passed the second. Virginia would not be the 34th state for either measure.

Black’s assertion that Virginia could be the tipping point is based on the clearly erroneous assumption that Article V applications can never be rescinded.”

 

RESPONSE FROM SEN. BLACK:  Senator Black makes no such claim. In fact, in 2004, then “Delegate” Black was co-sponsor of a resolution to rescind Virginia’s previous application for an Article V Convention that stated in part:

“WHEREAS, the operations of a convention are unknown and the apportionment and selection of delegates, method of voting in convention, and other essential procedural details are not specified in Article V of the Constitution of the United States;”

This passed the House of Delegates 91-5 (Lingamfelter voting Yea) and the Senate 37-0. (HJ 194 – 2004)

 

MIKE FARRIS, ET AL:  “Every serious Article V legal scholar understands that rescissions are valid. I personally litigated a case regarding rescissions of ratifications of proposed constitutional amendments under Article V. The federal court holding is that rescissions of ratifications are indeed binding. Idaho v. Freeman, 529 F.Supp. 1107 (D.Idaho 1981).”

 

RESPONSE FROM SEN. BLACK:  The ruling on this case was stayed by the court on Jan. 25, 1982. As such it is technically not binding.

 

MIKE FARRIS, ET AL:  “The simple truth is that we are years away from voting on actual amendments to the Constitution. If these applications pass, Virginia will be the 4th state to call for a Convention of States to restrict federal power and the 25th state to call for a Balanced Budget Amendment. These applications can only trigger a convention where amendments will be debated, drafted, and then sent on to the states for ratification. They will “change” the Constitution only if ratified by 38 states.”

 

RESPONSE FROM SEN. BLACK:  According to Mr. Farris’ own organization, we are not years away. Rita Dunaway, who works for Mr. Farris, stated in a public meeting on Jan. 10th that they were no more than one year away (two at the outside) from calling a convention.

 

 

MIKE FARRIS, ET AL:  “2. LIBERAL ORGANIZATIONS CITED BY DICK BLACK ARE NOT “PUSHING FOR THIS.”

Black claims that George Soros, Code Pink, MoveOn.org, New Progressive Alliance and 100 other liberal groups “are pushing for this.”

None of these entities have endorsed or “pushed for” the Convention of States (HJ 497) or a Balanced Budget Amendment (HJ 499) in Virginia or any other state.”

 

RESPONSE FROM SEN. BLACK:  There is nothing in Article V that requires state petitions to be for matching subjects, nor is there any legal foundation that can be pointed to that can limit an Article V convention to the subjects specified in the petitions of the states.

 

MIKE FARRIS, ET AL:  “Not one of these entities even mentions Article V on their website (georgesoros.com, codepink.org, moveon.org, occupywallst.org, and newprogs.org). Not once. Moveon.org mentions Article V of the Wisconsin Constitution and Article V of the Geneva Convention. The Occupy Wall Street website includes reader comments discussing Article V. But not once is there any mention of Article V of the U.S. Constitution by these organizations. Pure silence.”

 

RESPONSE FROM SEN. BLACK:  MoveToAmend.org lists all the supporters of amending the constitution for the purposes of limiting money in politics. Wolf-Pac.com (funded by George Soros) specifically lists an Article V convention as a preferred tool to amend the Constitution. Under Section 3, it states, “Once we have found those states that are the most receptive to joining this battle with us we will focus our time, effort, and money on them until we get that vital and historic first state to call for an Article V. Convention for the purpose of limiting the influence that money has over our political process. According to Article V of our Constitution, Congress must call for an amendment-proposing convention, “on the application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States”, and therefore 34 state legislatures would have to submit applications.” http://www.wolf-pac.com/the_plan

 

MIKE FARRIS, ET AL:  “Dick Black’s source for this claim is a website operated by a group that is seeking an Article V convention for a wholly different purpose. This group seeks to repeal the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court. The organization listed are endorsing the repeal of Citizens United. No organization with that movement has “pushed for” or endorsed either the Convention of States (HJ 497) or a Balanced Budget Amendment (HJ 499) in Virginia or any other state.

Black’s claim that these liberal organizations are “pushing for this”—referring to the bills slated to be voted on by the Virginia General Assembly—is a blatant falsehood.”

 

RESPONSE FROM SEN. BLACK:  There is no legal foundation that allows anyone to limit the scope of an Article V convention. It doesn’t matter why Mr. Farris seeks to call one. Once a convention is convened, it can consider any amendment it chooses. If Mr. Farris has any legal foundation to back up his claims, he should provide it.

 

MIKE FARRIS, ET AL:  “3. WE DO KNOW HOW DELEGATES ARE CHOSEN

Dick Black says that there is no law which states how delegates to the Convention are chosen. There was no such law in place in 1787 when Virginia chose its delegates to the Constitutional Convention. The legislature had the inherent power to appoint delegates—who represent Virginia—and it did so. The Virginia General Assembly has that same power today, and it comes from Virginia’s sovereign power and Article V of the Constitution.”

 

RESPONSE FROM SEN. BLACK:  An Article V convention will be called by Congress, not the states. As such Congress has the power to determine whether or not the States will even be represented at said convention. If Congress does decide to include the states, they can decide to give states proportional representation, similar to the Electoral College. If Mr. Farris has any legal foundation to back up his claims, he should provide it.

 

 

MIKE FARRIS, ET AL:  “4. THE CONVENTION WILL BE LIMITED TO PROPOSING AMENDMENTS THAT LIMIT THE POWER OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

Black claims (citing a video by the John Birch Society) that a convention cannot be limited to the subjects identified in the state applications, but will necessarily throw open the entire constitution. In fact they claim that our original Constitution is invalid because it, too, was adopted by a “runaway convention.”

This argument has been thoroughly discredited.

Dick Black needs to explain why he is listening to and promoting these dangerous people, who have admitted that they will pursue secession if their “plans” for nullification are unsuccessful.”

 

RESPONSE FROM SEN. BLACK:  It is not Senator Black that needs to provide proof of his claims. It is up to Mr. Farris to provide proof of the legal foundation that he claims will allow him to limit the scope of an Article V convention. No such legal foundation exists. If Mr. Farris has such legal foundation to back his claim, he should provide it.

Furthermore, the convention delegates themselves decide upon the rules governing what can be discussed at the convention. Just like every convention convened throughout history. One of the first orders of business at a convention is to vote upon the rules of said convention. The delegates themselves make that decision. They are not bound by the subject matter of any specific petition for a convention.

 

MIKE FARRIS, ET AL:  “5. CONGRESS HAS NO CONTROL OVER THE CONVENTION ONCE IT IS TRIGGERED.

You can see from the text of Article V itself that Congress only has two duties with regard to the Convention mechanism. It aggregates the applications and “calls” the Convention once 34 states apply for a Convention to propose a certain type of amendments. Then it chooses between two specified methods of ratification for any amendment proposals that come out of the Convention—each of which requires 38 states to ratify.

The term “call” used in Article V is a legal term of art with regard to the Convention process. To “call” a Convention is not to control it, determine its rules or decide who represents the parties! Rather, to “call” a Convention is to announce the date, time and location for it to facilitate its occurrence. Virginia “called” the Constitutional Convention in 1787. But did it unilaterally determine the rules or select the delegates from other states? Of course not!”

 

RESPONSE FROM SEN. BLACK:  Review any “call” for a convention and one of the things you will see spelled out is who shall be eligible to be a delegate, how many delegate “votes” there will be, and where those votes shall come from, including whether or not there will be weighted voting, among many other issues. The “call” for a convention does not merely set the time and place. It provides the structure for the convention.

The 1787 convention did not have such a requirement that Congress “call” the convention, but Article V of the Constitution does. If Mr. Farris has any legal foundation to prove otherwise, he should provide it.

 

MIKE FARRIS, ET AL:  “Some of the arguments made by Dick Black are matters of opinion, and as such, are not untruthful per se–even if they have been rejected by most legal scholars. But when he says that Virginia could be the “tipping point,” and when he says that George Soros and Moveon.org are “pushing for this,” he has spoken untruthfully about material facts.”

 

RESPONSE FROM SEN. BLACK:  Mr. Farris provides to you a vision of how he believes an Article V convention should be called and run. If it indeed ran that way, we would probably support him. Unfortunately, he has no legal foundation to back up his claims, and he is putting the very founding document of our Country at great risk if he is wrong.

We are not willing to take that chance.