The State of Crazy

Recently several state governments have been outdoing themselves to prove they are buggier than an ant farm. Now my state-of-origin, Missouri, has upped the crazy ante and made some moves that could shove it ahead of even Texas, Florida, and the Carolinas for the honor of leading the Barking Moonbat Parade.

First, the legislature passed a bill nullifying all federal gun law, and even making it a crime for a federal agent to enforce federal gun law. A Missouri citizen could sue a federal agent who arrested him for violation of federal law.

The Democratic governor, Jay Nixon, vetoed the law last month. But the legislature is expected to override the veto when it meets in September.

In the House, all but one of the 109 Republicans voted for the bill, joined by 11 Democrats. In the Senate, all 24 Republicans supported it, along with 2 Democrats. Overriding the governor’s veto would require 23 votes in the Senate and 109 in the House, where at least one Democrat would have to come on board. …

… What distinguishes the Missouri gun measure from the marijuana initiatives is its attempt to actually block federal enforcement by setting criminal penalties for federal agents, and prohibiting state officials from cooperating with federal efforts. That crosses the constitutional line, said Robert A. Levy, chairman of the libertarian Cato Institute’s board of directors — a state cannot frustrate the federal government’s attempts to enforce its laws.

Seems to me what Missouri is doing borders on sedition. And yeah, the New York Times seriously did attempt a “both sides do it too” move by bringing up state marijuana laws.

Gary Marbut, a gun rights advocate in Montana who wrote the Firearms Freedom Act, said that such laws were “a vehicle to challenge commerce clause power,” the constitutional provision that has historically granted broad authority to Washington to regulate activities that have an impact on interstate commerce. His measure has served as a model that is spreading to other states. Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit struck down Montana’s law, calling it “pre-empted and invalid.”

If firearms, which easily move across state borders all the time and are even sold on the bleeping Internet, do not fall under the Commerce Clause, nothing does.

And what about the supremacy clause that says federal law is the supreme law of the land?

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Tenth Amendment Center finds an out in the words “in pursuance thereof.” Legal experts say that “in pursuance thereof” means that U.S. law is supreme if the law falls within the federal government’s constitutionally enumerated powers. But the Tenth Amendment Center argues, in effect, that states can interpret the U.S. Constitution any way they like. Taken to logical extremes, this means states may respect federal law only when they’re in the mood to do so.

And, anyway, state representative Doug Funderburk says that what Missouri is doing isn’t nullification at all.

“What the bill does is positions Missouri to have standing to protect all Missourians, should the federal government decide to go down the course of people who literally just want to take your guns away,” he said in an interview. “It does nothing to intervene with reasonable regulations.”

But if the bill does nullify all federal gun law, and makes it criminal for federal agents to arrest anybody, this suggests to me that they think no federal regulation is reasonable.

Charles Pierce:

When we talk about modern conservatism’s being the province of reckless vandalism, this is what we’re talking about. Nullification has been tried several times in the country’s history. (During the nullification crisis that marked his presidency, Andrew Jackson called an aging Mr. Madison out of retirement to knock it down.) It always ends badly. The Supremacy Clause is as much a part of the Constitution as the Second Amendment. This is not government by principle. This is government by don’t-give-a-fk.

But there’s more. Missouri also is trying to nullify Obamacare. John Perr writes,

An estimated 877,000 people in Missouri are currently uninsured. But despite Gov. Nixon’s best effort, Republican legislators block the expansion of Medicaid, leaving 267,000 in Missouri stuck in the “coverage gap.” All told, some 5.5 million people in GOP-dominated states, McClatchy explained, will find themselves trapped in “a bureaucratic twilight zone where people with poverty-level incomes don’t qualify for Medicaid and can’t get tax credits to help buy coverage on the new insurance marketplaces.”

But in Missouri, things will be even worse. Republicans there didn’t just refuse to accept billions in federal Medicaid dollars or set up their own state health care exchange. They are actively undermining any outreach or customer service for Show Me State residents seeking information about or help enrolling in new insurance plans made possible by the Affordable Care Act.

The barriers to health insurance erected by Republicans are staggering in their size and scope. Last year, the Washington Post reported, “voters approved a ballot initiative barring state and local government officials from helping to implement the law.” Along with Arizona, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming, Missouri is refusing to enforce the ACA’s new insurance reforms and prohibitions, such as refusing to cover those with pre-existing conditions, using “rescission” to drop coverage for those who become sick, discriminating against women and setting annual or lifetime benefits caps. And while Colorado, California, Oregon and other blue states are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to fund thousands of customer service “navigators,” in Missouri “local officials have been barred from doing anything to help put the law into place.”

Maybe the feds should stop worrying about Syria and pay attention to Jefferson City instead.

15 thoughts on “The State of Crazy

  1. 10/4 on your closing statement, Omaha!!! ( my spelling is not screwed up, this damned pad thingie is “correcting” me.

  2. OY!
    We’re back to this insane and stupid nullification BS – AGAIN!!!

    I say, if Obama’s intent is to lob some missiles and drones into Syria, that the military first perfect its aim by targeting the MO State House – after, of course, warning the Democratic Governor and Democratic state legislators to make like shepherds, and get the flock out of there!
    Give the Real Murkin patriots something to think about.

    Ok, semi-seriously, in my ideal world, here imo (take that for what it’s worth, since I don’t know squat) is what should happen:
    The AG needs to tell MO’s stupid Republican state legislature, that if they don’t follow the rule of US law completely, and immediately, the US will accept that as proof that their state has seceded.

    MO can then make plans to defend itself, because the US government will no longer defend a state which has seceded.

    They can expect no other kind if help if they secede.

    And certainly, not financial.
    ALL of the revenue already received from MO, and any money allocated for use there from other (mostly Blue states) will be put in escrow until the term of the current state legislature ends – at which time, within a month of the swearing in of the new MO legislature, if they apologize, ask for reinstatement, and make amends, then that money will be taken out of escrow, and reallocated, accordingly.

    Also, all SS, Medicare, and other Federal “Earned Benefits” funds, will also be held in escrow until said time when sanity returns.

    The people of MO can, in the interim, seek defense, retirement, and health care, resolutions from that state’s legislature.

    And if the legislature’s responses are inadequate, let them see if they get reelected, the next go-’round.

    And if the people of MO decide to stand behind their state legislature, by reelecting, or maintaining, a Republican majority, then all of the money will be taken out of escrow, and the money divided up amongst the remaining 49 states.

    Then to any other states who want to do what MO’s doing with nullification, we can then say, “Please proceed…”
    But I suspect that the people in the other states will finally bring their Republican politicians to their senses, when they find out that if they follow in MO’s path, they too will lose their earned benefits, as well as everything else.

    And if not, well, “When you leave, don’t let the door hitcha, where the Mason-Dixon Line, splitcha! GOODBYE!!! And good luck.”
    And we’ll figure out some sort of hostage exchange program, where we can send our rural Blue State crackers to the South, in exchange for the good Southern Liberals and Progressives.

    Yeah, I know – it’s a pipe-dream…

  3. The Xth Amendment guy is full of shit. He goes an a rant about “federal supremacists,” and cites Alexander Hamilton in support of his position? The founder of the Federalist party? So named because Hamilton was the archetype and original of all federal supremacists? The author of the doctrine of implied powers, and great champion of the necessary and proper clause? That Alexander Hamilton?

    And look at this, he just overturned Marbury v. Madison:

    Nixon would undoubtedly counter that the Supreme Court determines constitutionality. But how can we expect a government defining its own authority to remain limited?

    Actually it goes beyond that, these lunatics would write John Marshall out of the history books altogether. These are basically the exact same issues that Hamilton and Jefferson fought over so bitterly, so it’s the height of either ignorance or dishonesty to cite them both in support of a strict constructionist reading of the Constitution.

  4. Stephen,
    And none of it matters.
    Facts don’t matter.
    Evidence doesn’t matter.
    And logic doesn’t matter.
    Nothing matters when it comes to what Conservative writers write – because the rubes who read them, haven’t read the Constitution, or any SC decisions, or much of anything else, for that matter.
    What little they DO read, are what their favorite Authoritarian writers have written about the subjects – and they’ll never know if THEY ‘VE read them, themselves!
    An original, non-herd mentality thought in a rube, if even possible, is immediately considered an evil thought, and must be banished from the mind.

    And everyone in the Conservative echo-chamber tells one another what they WANT to hear – not what they NEED to hear.

    It’s a self-perpetuating cycle of “TEH STOOOOOOOOOOOPID!!!”

  5. Taken to logical extremes, this means states may respect federal law only when they’re in the mood to do so.

    No, that’s not taken to logical extremes; that’s exactly what they’re saying.

  6. Why can’t citizens of states that are rejecting medicare expansion sue their state governments for blocking access to a federal program that they are entitled to?

    “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, OR TO THE PEOPLE.”

    In short, why can’t people living in screwed up red states do an end run and petition directly to the feds? I know health care is not technically an “enumerated power”, nor is this issue in the same league as segregation or DOMA, but COME ON, are we not all Americans, even those of us who have ended up from circumstance in hostile backwaters?

  7. There is an element of the conservative state of victimhood in all this. They want to provoke a fight they know they will lose to PROVE they are being picked on. The federal government looks oppressive if they move against the states in any way.

    I’d like to see the federal government move to set up emergency clinics in the major cities of the states who have refused the Medicare expansion. Provide federal FREE health care to the citizens who have fallen through the hole created by the state opposition. Reverse the victimhood – make the states use their police to shut down health care for the poor – and let the federal government and the poor be the victims in the game of ‘bigger asshole’.

    • The federal government looks oppressive if they move against the states in any way.

      Andy Jackson would have sent troops already.

  8. Amen, Gulag! Shakespeare would be hard pressed to match those prose in articulating the conservative reality as well as you have. It’s so true that it’s humorous. How does one make sense out of nonsense?…Become a conservative writer!

  9. @Doug: “I’d like to see the federal government move to set up emergency clinics in the major cities of the states who have refused the Medicare expansion.”

    That’s very much the kind of fresh thinking I’m calling for. Individuals living in states held captive by GOP bondage should be able to pick state OR federal administration of basic services: medicare, abortion services, voting (for states that don’t let college students or african americans vote, like NC, currently)

  10. We are replaying the choice of Jim Crow over populism from the 1890s when southern whites were offered a class based coalition (populism) or a race based “coalition” which supported the ruling class. Much of the “national” battle (e.g. midwest) between McKinley and Bryant is also being re-played with fear in a deep, long term recession being played and an anti-labor card by the oligarchs.

    What is different is that the farm states and mountain states in 1896 were populist and the northeast was in favor of the wealthy then. Today, the roles are reversed.

    Ironically, the “crazy”position is being supported mostly in states that are poor, at least by US standards. Twenty states (including DC) are wealthier than the national average. Of these, seventeen voted for Obama and three (Alaska, Wyoming, Utah) voted for McCain and Romney. The schizoid states that voted for Obama but have hard core Republicans elected in the lower turnout elections are mostly below average in incomer and often declining industrial states under those policies (WI. PA, AZ, MI, OH, FL, NC). MO and NM are split states and both are poorer than average.

  11. “Andy Jackson would have sent troops already.”

    Washington would have sent troops already (but he also would have been their commanding general).

  12. Looking at the Tenth Amendment Asylum – a few comments about the origins of the Constitution… (probably pretty boring stuff, really. You’ve been warned.)

    The Federalist Papers were an anonymous set of essays published mostly in and for NY state in support of the proposed US Constitution. The US Constitution was not ratified by the state legislatures (The majority of state governments were opposed to a strong national government.) The Constitution was voted on by state conventions of delegates elected by the people – an end run around the state legislatures designed by the founding fathers.

    I want to make two points. First, Hamilton was arguing FOR a strong federal government and trying to persuade potential delegates and the people who would elect delegates that the power of the states would remain intact. But the Federalist Papers were a sales pitch – highly biased – with no legal standing. Hamilton was telling voters what they wanted to hear – and his arguments might or might not have represented what Hamilton truly believed about the way the Constitution would be implemented. In other words, The Federalist Papers may have been a complete snow job, as deceptive as anything Machiavelli wrote, which did NOT reflect what Hamilton hoped the new government would become. Hamilton’s objective was to get NY to approve the Constitution – since nothing would happen unless the Constitution was approved by 9 of the 13 states.

    Conservatives try to define the Constitution as a compact between the states and the new federal government. It’s not. The US Constitution is a contract between the PEOPLE and the new federal government created by the Constitution. Included are some conflicting and vague clauses. Conservatives think the US Constitution was written around the LAST Amendment of the Bill of Rights – and remember that the Bill of Rights was an addition – an afterthought. Within the Preamble is the clause progressives favor – the General Welfare clause, which in my book entitles the US federal government broad powers. In any case, the states do not have authority over the federal government – never have – and never will.

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