Thursday, September 26, 2013

Has the Federal Government Inadvertently Set a States' Rights Precedent? Delegates Sobonya and Cowles Think So

Since 1819, McCullough v. Maryland has served as the law of the land.  At that time, state governments exercised more power and held more credibility than the still infant federal government.  Chief Justice John Marshall and the Supreme Court sought to bolster the federal government's position to prevent disruption from jealous states.

Marshall wrote the opinion broadly enough so that it legally prevented any state from officially acting in contradiction to any federal policy or agency.  State police cannot even legally pull over a federal vehicle that is speeding.

Obviously this decision came in the context of its times.  The federal government was very small and claimed few powers.  Some of the states had existed for almost or over 200 years as political units.

Delegates Kelli Sobonya (R) Cabell, and Darryl Cowles (R) Morgan, think they may see a breach in the iron wall of McCullough.  

In a recent Legislative committee meeting on medical marijuana covered by the Charleston Daily Mail , Sobonya queried about the inconsistent enforcement of marijuana laws by the federal government.

If Sobonya and Cowles are right, then the Obama Administration may have opened the door to states ignoring laws that they find onerous to their citizens.  EPA regulations and Obamacare were cited by the delegates as examples.

Delegate Gary Howell (R) Mineral later noted "civil society depends on rule of law.  You can't just have the president and his political aides pick and choose what to enforce.  Then we have a government of men, not of laws, which John Adams saw as a prime threat to liberty."  He also SAID that the inconsistent enforcement could set a precedent where states can legally defend their own interests.

It should be noted that no court or statute has ever refuted the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions penned by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.  If the federal government violates the Constitution, according to Madison in the Virginia Resolution, "necessary and proper measures" must be taken to protect the people's rights.    Madison never specified what those ought to be.  At the very least, it would seem that Virginia, Kentucky, and West Virginia can refer to these works as grounds of legal argument.

Post Script:  Full disclosure.  I support legalization of medical marijuana.  Frankly those who support it should take more issue with the Obama Administration's non enforcement than with either enforcing or getting rid of the law.  By not enforcing the law, Obama is allowing businesses to grow.  Those businesses will always be subject to legal extortion by the federal government because the law can always be held over them as a Sword of Damocles.

Cabell County Delegate Sick of Welfare Subsidized Drug Violence

From Delegate Kelli Sobonya, (R) Cabell County:

I am past sick and tired of drug thugs taking over our state. The recent Huntington shooting is the last straw for me. The shooting victims all have criminal records. I'm trying to find out if any of them are on public assistance. I've cosponsored bills to require drug testing for taxpayer benefits with leadership standing in the way of debate. Today, I and Delegate Cowles sent the Secretary of WV DHHR a letter to give us a full report of how many on public assistance have been convicted of drug crimes. WV currently has a lifetime ban on drug convicts receiving food stamps. We've also asked for a report of how this is enforced. I'm calling on Governor Tomblin to call in the National Guard, much like Georgia and Puerto Rico have done, to help with our war on drugs. The line in the sand has been drawn. Drug thugs be on notice. And for those who want to buy or deal drugs on public assistance, no longer with the taxpayers' or my money!!

Huntington News Net's coverage of the tragedy.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Obama's Stimulus Mess Continues to Create Havoc

Back in 2009, Obama convinced the Democratic led United States House of Representatives and Senate to pass what the country was told was around $800 billion worth of economic stimulus.  Others argue that the real price tag to the country ended up between $1 trillion and $1.7 trillion .  Ever since its passage, reports have continued to detail the horrific waste of resources.

Among the first signs of trouble came when Franklin Center reporter Bill McMorris uncovered billions sent to non existent congressional districts.  This included assertions by the federal government that $2.5 million in stimulus funds created a total of 14 jobs in the 54th, 9th, 4th, 12th, 13th, and 00th congressional districts in the Mountain State.  Elected representatives from each of those districts were all unavailable for comment then or now.

Then came questions from Congress about stimulus funds intended for expanding broadband access in West Virginia.  Marmet's tiny public library with a single obsolete computer received a $20,000 router designed for much larger and powerful networks.  Similar purchases of expensive equipment went directly  into storage because the state had no use for them.

An Obama administration official defended these purchases on the grounds that the state anticipated future needs.  It would be interesting to know how much the West Virginia state government anticipates that the Marmet branch of the Kanawha County Public Library will expand.

Now come revelations from the West Virginia Legislature that even more stimulus money was misspent.  Furthermore, both the Legislative Auditor Aaron Allred and at least one delegate, Gary Howell of Mineral County, publicly stated that the misuse of money was illegal.

According to the Charleston Daily Mail, money from a $126 million federal grant, which also overpaid for the routers, went towards the construction of a series of microwave towers.  The allocation of funds bypassed the bidding process as required by West Virginia law.  Non licensed and out-of-state subcontractors did much of the work on the towers while funds were distributed through county governments to avoid state purchasing oversight.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has promised to examine the Legislature's report.  A decision to request an investigation from the US Attorney's office has not yet been made.

Post Script.  This does not mean that all state agencies wasted funds.  But the ones who spent responsibly and followed the law are now being combed over by federal auditors.  This process uses up countless manhours to answer questions about money that was spent that originally had very few guidelines.  Questions must be answered.  It is a shame, though, that the foolishness of a few has thrown many state agencies into major behind the scenes anxiety when they acted responsibly all along.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

War On Boys: Kids Play With Air Soft Gun, Police Called, Kids Expelled From School

WAVY TV in Virginia's Tidewater section reports that two seventh grade boys will be suspended for a year for playing with toy guns.  At home.

A neighbor called police even though she knew that the boys were playing "zombies" with their toy guns.  She claimed that she felt "uncomfortable," which must be a crime now in Virginia.  The school board met, despite the boys playing on private property, and decided that they needed suspended.

The parents then learned they could send their children to an alternative school, likely one with real criminal offenders.

This follows a now long established pattern of public school systems' increasing prejudice against boys.  This article from The Atlantic in 2000 illustrates the problem even back then.  Normal boy behavior is increasingly seen as aberrant while girls thrive.

Boys play guns.  Boys like to play like they are killing bad guys.  This is natural behavior going back to caveman times.  Adults should not worry if they like playing at killing bad guys, or in this case zombies.  It shows a respect for societal norms.  One would think that in choosing a mythical creature as their target instead of a human, they might be praised by the adults around them.

The woman who called police said that it made her uncomfortable to see a boy pointing a gun.  He was pointing it at a target when she called.

But no, zero tolerance for common sense is now the norm. Especially in public school.

Hollywood Is Not All Leftist. "Hitchcock" Shines With Great Messages

The AMC show Breaking Bad has spawned an entire minor industry of writers great and small commenting on its greatness.  It is a great opportunity for the educated to show their knowledge of the history of Western culture, indirectly putting the show in context.  Breaking Bad does resemble a multi-year running of a Shakespeare tragedy.  Family underlies the entire series.  The not perfect Hank Schrader relies on the love and faithfulness of his family while the evil of Walter White embraces manipulating the love, support, sympathy, and faithfulness of his own.

In the wake of the national attention bestowed on television's golden age, the motion picture industry has taken a lot of heat.  Its creativity and storytelling has declined in relative, if not absolute, terms.

But it does still have the ability to tell a story.

The movie Hitchcock, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins, has hit cable television.  This interpretation relies on two important themes, risk and marriage.

The film begins with Alfred Hitchcock finishing up North By Northwest and looking for something to do.  Its storyline hints at some vices, such as his fascination with his blonde stars, and his overindulgence in food and alcohol.    He also has noted the gradual drifting apart of his marriage with wife Alma.

Hitchcock finds his new project very quickly.  As studios seek to pigeonhole him as a spy thriller director (he is offered what could have been the first James Bond picture), the director searches for a project very different from his previous success.

Then the recently published novel Psycho crosses his desk.  Hitchcock immediately jumps on it and ignores the work of a man trying to wriggle into the life of his wife Alma.  The trouble comes when the studios reject funding what they assume will be a flop.  They do agree to distribute the film if Hitchcock can raise the money himself.

Which he does by taking a heavy mortgage on his home.  If Psycho's film version flopped, he faced financial ruin.  And therein lies the heroism of capitalism.  Believing in a product against the advice of others.  Risking security to make it happen.  Pouring hard work into a project to make it work.  The audience gets to see Hitchcock's pain, his fear, his uncertainty as the film runs into typical problems.

They also see a marriage under strain.  Attention given to Alma pays off when she spends more and more time with her friend Whit helping with his book.

In the movie, Psycho is saved when Alma sees what Whit actually is, a cad, and puts more effort into her usual collaboration with her husband.  While the film fell flat with Hitchcock alone, the partners and spouses together make it one of the all time greats.

Rarely do the two great themes of modern conservatism, the value of family and capitalism, get intertwined as they do in this film.

As for Hopkins, he once again shows why he is one of the great actors of his time.  I had to actually click info to prove to my teenage son that he was seeing Hopkins.   As a special treat, on another channel, Silence of the Lambs came on directly after we finished watching Hitchcock.  Seeing one after the other shows the range of this great man.

As for Hitchcock the movie, definitely see it.  No beautiful young people in sexual situations or explosions, but it is an honestly good story that is pretty well told.