- Arne Mortensen
Are we to be subjects or free people?
On Tuesday the 15th of June 2020, I submitted to the agenda a resolution to unlock the county. For details go to the Cowlitz County Website, the commissioners' department, and look for the agenda and minutes for that meeting.
We all remember the great movie The Shawshank Redemption. There is a scene after Red, played by Morgan Freeman, has been paroled and is working as a bag boy at a supermarket. He raised his hand to get his bosses attention to ask for permission to go to the bathroom. His boss said, “[You don’t have to ask for permission.]” As Red made his way to the bathroom, we hear him think, “[I’ve been asking for permission to go to the bathroom for forty years.]” Here today we are asking for permission, just like Red to live our life.
We are at a serious crossroads, one that arguably defines the future of America. Are we to be subjects or free people?
Many thought that the Magna Carta set things straights, but, while it was a start, it was battle between a King and its vassals. The oligarchy persisted … for centuries. [about Edmund Burke] As Jefferson said, a tyranny of 177 men is no less a tyranny.
Our founding fathers felt compelled to risk life and limb for far fewer and less domineering issues than we face today. They gave us a gift of limited government and codified that gift in the US Constitution, defining our Republic. Benjamin Franklin told us what they had put together along with an admonishment: “a republic, if you can keep it.” The founders were very sharp and knew that the tendency of people is to accumulate power, by whatever means; that led Thomas Jefferson to say: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.“ I don’t mean to suggest that we need violence, although some subset of the country seems so inclined. I mean to say that our founders gave us avenues of recourse which the people must understand and exercise to right a ship that has gone very wrong.
One of those avenues is to resist mandates that are foisted upon the people under the color of law. The Constitution has been amended some 15 or 20 times to address issues. This is a legitimate and rational process to pursue change. Early on, 1803, we had the Marbury v. Madison decision: “All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void.” It is our duty as citizens to resist unconstitutional laws. In cases of supposed Constitutional laws which demonstrably limit the freedom of the people, the people must act. So it has been in several instances in our country.
What Rosa Parks did was violate the “law.” Who here faults her for that? Should she have waited another lifetime of oppression to make things right? John Adams tried to reason with King George III to no avail. Therein lies an important concept for today’s discussion: those in power will not yield immoral or illegitimate power under any but the strongest resistance. If you are not swayed by Rosa Parks, consider the people who have sacrificed everything for humanity: we can go back to Moses, Socrates, Bruno Giordano, Martin Luther … jumping we go to Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela. I left many off the list … the point is that we are better off for their sacrifice … and we must note that what they were able to accomplish was because they spoke to the people and the people supported them. Without the support of the people there can be no resistance to tyranny; and that is why I embarked upon a campaign to collect signatures and emails to support this unlocking of the county. The people have spoken clearly.
My colleagues and I were elected not to carry water for the governor nor for any other entity than the PEOPLE, the ones who pay our bills and honor us with the trust to perform our duty faithfully according to our direct oaths of fidelity to the Constitutions and to the laws of the land. We are elected by the people, not appointed by the governor or any other entity of government. It is time we acted within that oath. We can start that today by adopting this resolution.
Now let me talk about the resolution by focusing on the four be it resolved clauses:
1- “The BoCC supports the Constitutional rights of every citizen.” I am going to assume neither one of you is opposed to this clause. But let me elaborate on this topic because you have mentioned some ambiguity as to who calls a law Constitutional, and I don’t want you to use the Nuremberg defense of just “following orders.” It was on January 30, 2019 that I asked each of them if they would prosecute or arrest under a law they felt personally was unconstitutional. They answered NO, which is the correct answer for a free people. In fact, this resolution has the support of Brad Thurman our Sheriff. I have not spoken to Ryan Jurvakainen about this. But I remind you that the Sheriff is the most important elected office in the county.
2- “Recognizing its limited powers and jurisdiction, the BoCC does not and will not support any regulations or governmental actions that violate the Constitutional rights of citizens.” This is meant to apprise the people that the commissioners will not violate their oath of office, but they want the people to know that they have no control over the machinery at the state level. That means that we and wethepeople will be subjected to various and intense pressures from those who do not want to cede power over us. As Benjamin Franklin said, “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately” It means that the County has no specific means to protect the people, but that it will NOT be the instrument of this tyranny.
3- "The BoCC declares that Cowlitz County is no longer limited by the arbitrary phases of lock down and all businesses and organizations may resume operation immediately" Subject to the disclosure in section 2 immediately above, this means that the BoCC has stopped executing the governors’ orders regarding the lock down and phases.
4- "The BoCC encourages prudence by voluntary adoption of sensible practices to mitigate the spread of infection" This advises the people that Covid remains a threat and that this resolution does NOT mean that the health threat is over. It is our individual responsibility AND NO ONE ELSE’s to behave in a manner that we deem is necessary for our safety.
Let me talk about some of the salient considerations.
1. Common sense
· No laws ever should force us to choose between obedience or survival.
· The lock down has an enormous cost, tangible as well as intangible, yet no elected official discusses that. Making decisions in the absence of cost and properly understood consequences is typical political fare. For more than three years I have been asking for a proper accounting of the money we spend. If we spend $1 of taxpayer money, then unless we get at least a dollar for the taxpayer, then we are making a mistake and building an unsustainable system … common sense tells that we have an unsustainable system because our demand for revenue keeps growing. I have had little success in that request, but in the case of the Covid lock down, I have had no success. The tangible and quantifiable costs are so big than I just say they are enormous and move on. The intangible costs may even be bigger. To help us understand matters, we can refer to the way Sweden handled the epidemic. Read the recent article from FEE about that. So, I ask what have we paid and what have we bought with this lock down? No one seems to want to answer. I have asked the cost of Covid question often, the last time was at the commissioners’ conference last week. Our health officer did not have an answer. The public can view the video of the meeting. But it is not the function of the health officer to set policy, that is the function of the BoCC.
· The vagaries of the data and the pronouncements which have not materialized are legendary. I could have, and maybe should have, put together a bibliography of all the articles on both sides. But I did not. The inconsistencies are legend at this point. The CDC comes out for/against some activity, such as masking. Does anyone know if this really amounts to anything worth even the cost of a cheap mask? The data is reversed and corrected frequently. There simply is no consistency to suggest confidence in the pronouncements. There is only a one size fits all solution. In a current CDC report we have the following: “The risk of complications for healthy children is higher for flu compared to COVID-19.” Yet we close schools and we set in motion some very bad consequences with likely very bad long term effects on the young. (kids should not live in fear just to make some people feel safe.) About the cures, there also is a great deal of controversy. I have read articles that talk about various witnessed cures, yet these “cures” are denigrated and even proscribed by the FDA. Why? Is it because there is big money and power involved here? Furthermore, the people have severe reservations about the government indications of forced vaccinations. We cannot allow forced vaccinations. The data is reported as sensationally as possible, amounting to propaganda. We don’t report cumulative totals for other diseases; why here? We don’t define what the data means. That people will get Covid is UNAVOIDABLE. What is important is the death rate, the demographics, and the impact on hospitals, and a treatment/cure. The holocaust that was predicted to happen to swamp the hospitals has not happened. That was the initial worry and justification for the lockdown; that did not happen here nor in Sweden or elsewhere. How can government take people’s money for school and provide limited to no service? Like everything else is does, it takes from us by using force.
· How many people in county government have lost their jobs due to Covid? The answer is none. You know what it is in the private sector.
· First, the Constitutions were written for the people to read and understand; they were not written, as judges and lawyers would have you believe, that only they can decide the meaning of the Constitutions.
· This country was founded to escape from the tyranny of the kind we are now experiencing: The arbitrary creation and application of “law.” The founders believed that in the Constitution, they had written something that could protect against tyranny. But it could not guarantee against tyranny. ONLY THE PEOPLE can do that. There are no qualifiers in the Bill of Rights! NONE. The moment we let some qualifiers in, we lose the rights to the hands of the tyrants.
· The three branches are a key element of our protection from government overreach, but we see that system has been perverted completely. The governor legislates; the judiciary is highly political; and the legislature is too busy with stupid laws such as licensing, when they are not trying to figure out other ways to defraud the public with more unneeded services.
3. Violating laws:
· Some say that the resolution rescinds the governor’s orders. Really? Where is that in the resolution?
· Let me remind my colleagues that laws are not just whatever some elected official wants to call a law. Let me ask my colleagues where they would have stood in the face of Jim Crow laws?
· Let me remind the public that they have the power to right wrongs. No bureaucracy likes to be challenged, so they will fight this as if their life depends on it. Well, in truth it is either our lives or the lives of the bureaucracy at stake.
· It is time we showed the courage that makes us Americans. What if there had been no Socrates, Mahatma Gandhi, Mandela, Rosa Parks, George Washington, and many more. I think the courage we need here to stand up for what our patriots fought, pales in comparison to the price they paid. Let’s hang together before we hang separately.
· Another aspect of these laws are the unequal and arbitrary application of those laws, which in itself puts them in violation of basic legal precepts. As Orwell said, “some are more equal than others.”
· I could go on for quite a bit. But let me wrap it up by letting the commissioners know clearly that unless we return to the people their rights, the damage will lead to more desperation than is now in the streets. Beware of what happens when the Federal handouts cease. Let’s do better than “let them eat cake.”
· Finally, to my colleagues, if we cannot pass this resolution we don’t deserve to be in our office. We were hired by the people of Cowlitz County, and we must act to protect them from government enforced suicide. We owe fidelity to them not to any other entity. We owe fidelity to common sense and the Constitutions. We are sworn to that.
· Yes, when we pass this resolution there will be extreme pressure on us and we will be attacked. But, regardless of how this plays out, other counties will see this as a signal to take action. We won’t be alone. We will never be alone if we serve the people. Remember Article 1, section 1 of the state constitution. All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights