Friday, February 18, 2011

Testimony in Support of SJ1 (MD State Sovereignty Resolution)

by Joshua Lyons  |  February 16, 2011

The text of SJ1 can be found HERE. The audio of the hearing can be found during the last 20 minutes of the recording found HERE (Budget and Taxation - Wed, 2/16/11).

Chairman Kasemeyer - Vice-Chairman McFadden - Members of the Committee,

We were in this room one year ago, voicing our support of this same resolution. It is just as important now as it was then, maybe even more so.  The decision that you make related to this legislation will have a profound impact on my family and other families in the state of Maryland for generations to come.  While it may at first seem that the resolution states already existing facts, it is often important to restate them so that the truths may be heard again by all.

While a resolution may not carry the force of law, it does deliver a forceful message; a message that firmly supports what the framers intended.  As Madison, generally referred to as the father of our Constitution, wrote in Federalist [No.] 45 prior to the Constitution’s ratification:

  • The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined.
  • Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.

Our governmental structure was not established as a National government; it was designed as a Federal system of governance, one in which two governments have jurisdiction over the inhabitants (i.e. a dual sovereignty); this is federalism. We the people consented to delegating very specific authority to the federal government, but the balance was retained by the states and their people.  This said – the purpose of federalism is protection of the liberties of people and the rights of individuals.

SJ1 is non-partisan and gives the people of Maryland an opportunity to assert our states proper authority as a co-equal level of government – just as our founding fathers intended.  It is troubling that we even need to take steps to assert such limitations outlined in our U.S. Bill of Rights.

Those in support of federalism and this resolution are not anti-government; we’re proponents of proper government. We firmly support all levels of government as the framers intended.

This resolution is about bringing the appropriate power back to Maryland, where it belongs. You, our state Senators and Delegates, are more aware of our Maryland culture and are closer to the people, just as you should be. A rebalance of power is crucial for a Constitutional republic rooted in federalism to survive. Otherwise the federal government will continue to increase its voracious appetite for more and more power. This will result in less freedom for Maryland citizens and more government debt that will never be paid back.

Unfortunately, we’ve reached a point that our representatives and the judiciary of the federal government have usurped authority that ‘We the People’ never consented to. They have done this over many decades and through various measures; most of the time the vehicle used by the legislature is the General Welfare clause or the Commerce Clause and this is done with the collusion of their federal counterparts in the judiciary citing case law, not original intent or meaning.  If the people were to retain their unalienable rights, the founders knew the federal government could not be the final and only arbiter of its own power and authority; the people of the states must also hold the federal branches accountable through their state representatives.

Because of the federal governments’ usurpation, it is left to the Peoples representatives in the state governments to serve as the final sentry and to halt the rapid usurpation of power and authority by our federal government.  As Senators and your counterparts, the Delegates, you have been sent to Annapolis not simply to represent the concerns of your constituency.

In closing, let me humbly remind you that your most basic purpose is to assure the rights of the people are to be protected and preserved.  Your primary responsibility to Maryland citizens is to secure our freedom and liberty. This is why SJ1 is so desperately needed to pass.

So I ask you my fellow Marylanders…Will you help us citizens by asserting our authority before it is too late? Liberty will not preserve itself. It is our civic obligation to be its guardian.  Will you be a champion of liberty?


Joshua J. Lyons
Resident of Frederick County, MD

Joshua is the co-host of The Forgotten Men radio show Saturdays at 12 noon, Eastern, on AM930 WFMD – and the co-founder of We Surround Them Frederick.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Restoration...Through Federalism

A discussion occurred on The Blaine Young radio show this past Monday (1/3/11) related to the 2nd Amendment. This discussion was predicated on the topics of enabling the local sheriff to issue concealed carry permits to Frederick County citizens and changing MD law from "may issue" to "shall issue" as it relates to gun permits. I called in toward the end of the show to highlight the common misconception that as it was ratified, the Bill of Rights prohibited a state from regulating firearms. Essentially the 2nd amendment was not ratified to bar states from getting in between citizens and their guns; it was to bar the federal government from doing so.  I also stated that I supported [vehemently] that MD law should be change to “shall issue”, but this would have to be taken up in Annapolis, MD.

During The Blaine Young radio show on Wednesday (1/5/11), a caller brought up my comments from the previous Monday’s show. The caller said that "the colonies had a Constitutional Convention" – I mean no disrespect to the gentleman, but this highlights his unfortunate misunderstanding of history (which is not unusual).  The treaty after the war recognized them as sovereign independent states; not as a unified country.  These sovereign states first made a compact as a Confederation (under the Articles of Confederation).  The states essentially sent representatives to meet (i.e. a Congress) and fix what wasn’t working.  Well, that turned into something else….a Constitutional Convention!

They were not colonies at the time of the Constitutional Convention (& subsequent ratification), they were sovereign states that gave certain, limited authority to the federal government; this authority was enumerated in the US Constitution.  The US Constitution was ratified by the states.  The states did not give up their sovereignty; they only gave up limited authority enumerated within the Constitution. The Bill of Rights was drafted to limit the federal government because the anti-federalists knew throughout history that a powerful central government would become a tyrannical government; always…every time!  The states also drafted their own Constitutions to delineate the authority the people granted to their states' government; many of these also included a Bill of Rights (enumerating specific authority the people wanted to ensure that their state government didn't usurp from them). These state Constitutions were similar in many respects, but they were not the same; the way sovereign entities joined by compact should be!  Until the 1920’s (and the advent of the Incorporation Doctrine), it was common knowledge that the states were not “under the umbrella” of the US Bill of Rights.  They were however held to the Supremacy Clause (in Article VI of the US Constitution), which asserts that federal laws made in pursuance of the Constitution, and treaties made by the United States with foreign nations as "the Supreme Law of the Land". Meaning the states couldn’t supersede the Federal Authority where granted (hence the enumerated powers). This is an example of the teeth that the Articles of Confederation lacked.

As an quick example, Massachusetts state ratified the Constitution with this as its first request for amendments (this is in reference to what came to be the Bill of Rights):
“And as it is the opinion of this Convention, that certain amendments and alterations in the said Constitution would remove the fears, and quiet the apprehensions, of many of the good people of this commonwealth, and more effectually guard against an undue administration of the federal government, — the Convention do therefore recommend that the following alterations and provisions be introduced into the said Constitution: —
I. That it be explicitly declared that all powers not expressly delegated by the aforesaid Constitution are reserved to the several states, to be by them exercised.”

The topic of federalism is not easy to cover, especially in 5-10 minutes calling into a radio show.  However, it is through Federalism where we return to the system that our government was designed to operate within. 
Summary: Federalism is a system of governance in which two governments (in our case: Federal & State) have jurisdiction over the inhabitants of the respective geography…where the authority is essentially divided up.

This concept/topic will be discussed more in depth this Saturday (1/8/11) at 12noon ET on The Forgotten Men radio show.  We hope you tune in and gain some insight on such a vital topic that you probably weren’t taught!

At the end of the day…..We should be furious at how our history has been rewritten and much of what we’ve been taught (and what has been propagated through academia and the media) is essentially based on a usurpation of authority of the Federal government and the states and the people allowing this to happen.

Joshua is the co-host of The Forgotten Men radio show Saturdays at 12 noon, Eastern, on AM930 WFMD – and the co-founder of We Surround Them Frederick.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Reflecting on 8/28

As I found myself mowing the lawn late Sunday morning listening to an eclectic playlist including songs by Rage Against the Machine, Jack Johnson, and Louis Armstrong, I began reflecting on my experience at yesterday’s event as well as the coverage it received (from both the Main and “Side” Stream Media).

Detractors (on all sides) will focus on the negative aspects of how the event, its organizers, and attendees will affect them or their agenda. I choose to focus on the positive aspects (such as the spotlight on faith and honor) as well as identify bridges that can be built with those who may have a different perspective.

Most of us agree, but many are afraid to say this due to potential blowback: August 28th does not belong to any individual, group, or race. It doesn’t belong to Al Sharpton, the NAACP, Alveda King, Glenn Beck, or even Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It belongs to the social fabric of “all that is right with America.” Dr. King, an inspiration to millions, was a product of the American principles and values that have provided hope all over the world. America is not just a destination, it is also an idea; an experiment. This experiment is not without its painful scars that we dare not forget. But to advance the dream that Dr. King shared with us all, we must focus again on what makes us great, such as honor, character, integrity, and principles.

Some of the sweetest victories over injustice were brought about by solutions that created new (sometimes difficult to grasp) problems. Regrettably, we’ll never be afforded the chance to know if our scars would have been healed without the power of Federal force (for example: a Constitutional solution of implementing Frederick Douglas’ vision of electing men who “deny that the Constitution guarantees the right to hold property in man” into office to “use their powers for the abolition of slavery”).

In spite of the many differing opinions on how solutions to challenges were employed throughout our history, we can choose to celebrate the positive aspects of our nation’s journey; such as the courageous men and woman who worked tirelessly and selflessly to peacefully bring rights to those affected by grave injustices as well as their deep-seated faith that successfully guided them.

Hopefully all who attended the Restoring Honor event yesterday left with a measure of hope that citizens will focus inwardly, just as much as focusing on other important elements. Restoring honor in everyday life will be the cornerstone of our persevering through the tumultuous times that lay ahead.

Early in the Restoring Honor program, Deb Argel-Bastian spoke about how her son (a special ops officer who died in Iraq in 2005) came to the realization of the importance of honor and keeping a promise at a very early age. Last night I drew upon the content of her speech and applied it in a hopefully meaningful life-lesson for my oldest son. We had a conversation about the importance of character and honor and how this woman’s son grasped these concepts, to which my son listened intently. I’ve since made a commitment to continue giving him every tool available to become the “next George Washington or Thomas Jefferson”, should he make that decision on his own. Additionally, in our highly divided culture, it is the responsibility of us all to provide an example of honor, regardless of worldview and political agenda, so that our posterity will know what to emulate during their own turbulent challenges they will face.

One of the readings at a church service I attended in early August was Genesis 18:20-32, to which I instantly associated with the state of our society. Do we have at least ten righteous people and an “Abraham” who will negotiate our nation’s saving grace? I pray that we do and that our sons and daughters will rise to the challenge when their time comes; I believe they’ll have a fighting chance as long as we properly equip them with honor.

Joshua is the co-host of The Forgotten Men radio show Saturdays at 12 noon, Eastern, on AM930 WFMD – and the co-founder of We Surround Them Frederick.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Building a Bridge: From TEA to Coffee

Building a Bridge: From TEA to Coffee
By: Joshua J. Lyons | March 14, 2010

The movements that have grown in the past year have provided important outlets for average citizens. They have also been moving targets for those on the periphery to paint or define. The greatest strength of the TEA Party is also sometimes its greatest weakness; it is decentralized and without uniform leadership. The greatest strength of the newly formed Coffee Party is that it is an alternative outlet to the TEA Party.

For those in the TEA Party who think that stopping or removing our current president will solve our problems – NEWS FLASH: These problems have been building for well over 100 years! For those in the Coffee Party who think that the TEA Party is a Republican front group consisting of racist crackers who do not want poor people to have healthcare – NEWS FLASH: We’re primarily your neighbors who do not like the direction our nation is headed.

Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of each group's participants are not knuckle-dragging, racists or granola-eating Marxists. However, we must acknowledge that both warm beverage parties' include people who:

- are only complainers
- are partisan to the core
- are uninformed of history
- have blinding prejudices
- believe their cable news channel tells the truth
- do not think beyond what the talking heads tell them

Just because each group includes those that fit these descriptions (sometimes in organizing positions), we should not paint the entire TEA or Coffee movement with a single stroke of a broad brush. I state this because most participants are normal citizens fed up with seemingly unsolvable problems. It is because of this actuality that I believe bridges can be built between the TEA and Coffee partiers. I also believe that we have more in common than not. I have been able to have meaningful conversations with those who do not hold my same views. These conversations have not always resulted in the changing of positions. But they have positively affected each other’s understanding of the other person’s views and why they hold these views. At a minimum, an appreciation of the other person’s perspectives was born.

Moving forward, the single most important question that must be answered is around our general government’s charter document: Is the US Constitution a constant document (with a specific process defining how to amend it) or is it to be interpreted through the then current cultural lens? I submit to the former.

The second most important topic that must be addressed is Democracy vs. Republic. I believe our form of government was established as a Constitutional Republic (including a democratic element for choosing representatives). A good definition of my position is illustrated in this video.

A third most important topic we must resolve is one of authority. I believe that the state governments created the federal government and granted it limited authority (i.e. defined in the Constitution and clarified within the Bill of Rights). The founders designed a federal system of governance (i.e. federalism), one in which two governments have jurisdiction over the inhabitants. Furthermore, authority granted to the federal government is defined within the Constitution while the balance is retained by the states and the people. This allows for the states to serve 50 sovereign laboratories of experimentation. A good definition of my position is illustrated in this video.

Many will accurately point out that much of this has already been ‘resolved’ by case law and precedent, to which I submit this two part rhetorical question: A) Was that the founders’ intent and B) how’s that working out for us?

Readers may not share my views, but I have great optimism that if we continue this discussion with civility (i.e. choosing not to fall into the trap of calling the other side names); we can have a positive impact on the national dialogue.

Joshua is the co-host of The Forgotten Men radio show Saturdays at 12 noon, Eastern, on AM930 WFMD – and the co-founder of We Surround Them Frederick.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Dialogue from Ray Pastora

Dialogue from Ray Pastora!

(as presented on WFMD am930 last week)

I am an adopted son of this great Republic. I proudly took the oath of citizenship on July 5th, 1985 and have been a proud American ever since. My family came to this country to escape Marxism and Leninism that was taking hold and strangling my native land. I have personally experienced government oppression based on class warfare and an assault on liberty.

My grandfather was a doctor in a small village who owned a small and very productive ranch. Marxists came and seized his land right after the Nicaraguan Revolution. He was labeled as bourgeoisie and put under arrest. I remember being a child and standing outside of the jail he was being held in the hopes that my family would be permitted to see him. He was an old man at the time and was put under house arrest under the guard of a child with a machine gun. This is how he died and I was never able to see him again.

I understand oppressive government. I understand the assault on liberty and freedom. Our Founding Fathers understood the frailty of freedom and how government needs to be structured to protect it. They created a Republic because of the understanding that Democracies inevitably fail.

What was the beauty of this new Republic? It was governed by a Constitution that was created not to control its citizens, but to put shackles on government in order to prevent tyranny. The Constitution created a system of checks and balances to protect any naked grab for power. But what has happened over the course of the last 100 years?

Our elected officials have abandoned the limits of the Constitution. The limits placed on the branches of government are being ignored and our public officials scoff at the idea of justifying their actions.

Naked disregard for our Constitution is the greatest threat to our individual liberty and freedom. Our Constitution is under assault by the executive and legislative branches of government. It's a process that isn't new, but is now no longer being masked. Questions of Constitutionality get deflected or laughed at or dismissed.

So now our country is at a crossroads. Do we run to the safety of a government that promises to solve all our problems while we give up our personal choice, or do wish to restore our freedom and liberty by freeing ourselves from the shackles of an obese Federal government.

There's a hard tyranny, like the one followed by Marxists and who were instrumental in the death of my grandfather. Then there is soft tyranny. Soft tyranny removes the freedom of basic and everyday choices from our lives as citizens without the threat of a gun to our head. Government currently controls banking, transportation, education, energy, student loans, and is in the process of seeking more power by taking over healthcare.

We are currently experiencing soft tyranny.

So is there hope? Is there an end to the mess we are in?

The one hope is the American people. While progressives deride the American people and insult everyday citizens with accusations of stupidity, the American people are proving the opposite. The American people are a sleeping giant that has awakened. All one has to do is look at the questions that Americans are asking at town halls and at protests. The arguments aren't about the policies, but are about the Constitutionality of the legislation and actions of our government. They're arguing with progressivism head on with words such as Constitution, freedom, liberty, and personal responsibility.

American citizens are devouring books on our Founding Fathers. They are organizing in groups like We Surround Them and educating themselves on Article 1, Section 8 of The Constitution. They are standing up to politicians and questioning the role of government and are fighting back against the rise of the nanny state.

We know as a people that our liberty is under threat.

We hunger for freedom. We seek to shake the shackles of tyranny and seek to restore our glorious Republic to it's Constitutional roots. November 2010 is only the beginning! We as a people will not be bamboozled anymore by politicians who claim to be for small government and waive around their pocket Constitutions while they vote in blatant disregard of that Constitution.
So I stand next to you, my fellow citizens. I stand next to you as an adopted son, willing to lead this restoration, for I have tasted tyranny and refuse to see it take root in my country! We are at the beginning of this Restoration and we will have liberty!

A government that has the power to give you everything you want has the power to take from you everything you need.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Getting educated about the Constitution

Getting educated about the Constitution

(important correction follows at the end on logistics!)

By Jim Lehmann

Originally published in the Frederick News Post as an LTE on February 14, 2010

There is no shortage of opinions on why Americans are expressing strong dissatisfaction with the way government is operating these days, and I get a radically different reasons for the outcome of the Massachusetts election every time I check the news. There just seems to be so much speculation about what's driving all the emotion and I think there is a multitude of very good causes behind the backlash, but it can all be boiled down to one simple thing: education.

I'm not referring to what's missing in the public schools; I'm talking about the simple fact that Americans have become smarter about how Washington and our local governments work, and that has got a lot of people upset.

People know more about the Constitution, the legislative horse-trading that wastes money through earmarks (who even knew what an earmark was?), the balance of power and how it's become unbalanced, the financial hole we've dug for ourselves and our children through deficit spending, and the fact that common sense seems to be missing in decision-making whether it's in Washington or Annapolis. We are smarter because we are becoming more educated about how things are being done and how far we've let our elected officials drift from what we the people believe they should do.

That brings me to two opportunities to further our education and therefore our influence.

The first is a seminar being held in Frederick on March 6 by the National Center for Constitutional Studies (NCCS). It's called the Principles of Liberty and it will cover how and why the Constitution and our form of government were created.

It will give us all a chance to learn what we did not learn in our public schools, so children are welcome. The seminar will be held at the Holiday Inn Conference Center at FSK Mall. For more information or to learn how to register for this event you can visit the NCCS website at Or you can go to the We Surround Them -- Frederick website at

The second thing is a piece of legislation recently submitted by state Sen. Alex Mooney giving the state of Maryland sovereignty from national laws not authorized by our Constitution (SJ1 and HR2).

This would include things such as a national health care bill, and it would give Maryland the freedom to choose its own path toward a solution for health care and other similar national programs. The bill is a step toward wresting the power from the one-size-fits-all solutions presented by the federal government and returning it to the states.

Several states have already passed such laws (and as many as 40 have introduced such legislation); however, there is much opposition in Annapolis. The bill is scheduled to be heard in Annapolis on Feb. 17 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. I urge everyone to become familiar with this courageous move by Mooney and come out to Annapolis and support this piece of legislation. If you cannot come, contact your representatives and tell them to support it and the freedom it provides us to choose our own destiny.

These two events are linked, in that understanding the Constitution and becoming familiar with states' rights go hand in hand (both concepts are based on the belief that the federal government should remain small). They give us the opportunity to learn about how our government is and should be working, and an educated citizenry is the best way to ensure we retain the liberties we were so lucky and blessed to have received by being born Americans.

No matter what political label one wears, these two events can only help us all become better citizens, allow us to hold our representatives accountable, and focus our frustration into productive actions for the future health of America. Please get involved.

[something that needs to be corrected. The SJ1 and HR2 bills will be heard in Annapolis on Feb. 17th between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., not Feb. 7. Also, for anyone who is interested, We Surround Them - Frederick has chartered a bus to travel to Annapolis for these hearings on Wednesday, Feb. 17th. If you are available and would like to reserve a seat, the cost is $15. For info about taking the bus go to

Original post is on:

Jim Lehmann is co-organizer of We Surround Them -- Frederick. He writes from Ijamsville.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Once in a Blue Moon

Once in a blue moon

by Katherine Heerbrandt

[Originally published January 01, 2010
Frederick News-Post]

Last night a blue moon made a rare appearance. Blue moons aren't really blue, they're just scarce. Another one won't come along on New Year's Eve until 2028. In deference to the blue moon, here's what I like about the local Tea Party movement.

I was initially dubious and questioned the validity of a movement that reportedly embraced everyone and eschewed partisan politics, then invited career politicians like Congressman Roscoe Bartlett to its first rally last April and gave "birthers" time at the mike. I was suspicious of the timing, coming on the heels of the election of a Democratic president, whose job it is to mop up the mess of the last eight years.

After meeting founders Joshua Lyons and Mark Kreslins, I was impressed with the intellectual vigor they brought to their group, We Surround Them, despite its roots in Glenn Beck's radio program. Though we still have fundamental differences over the role of the federal government in the lives of the less fortunate, immigration law, and the need for federal regulation of our financial institutions, one thing is clear: The impetus for a grass-roots rally of disenfranchised voters has merit.

How the movement ultimately manifests itself depends on people like Joshua and Mark to sharpen its focus, offer realistic solutions and welcome people from all walks of life, regardless of party, race or ethnicity.

President Barack Obama hasn't lived up to his mantra of change, but rather extended the policies of his predecessor by taking a middle-of-the-road approach that has diluted his message. We still see our federal government bowing to corporate interests at the expense of middle-class Americans. We still can't see a light at the end of a war-torn tunnel where thousands of young Americans and innocent bystanders continue to lose their lives in a conflict without purpose or resonance. We see our once proud and prosperous economy cracking under the pressure of greed-driven policies and lack of ingenuity and leadership.

And we see petty partisan politics that belittles and diminishes us as a people and a country. We need adults in office who can do the job that needs to be done without compromise by recognizing the serious consequences if we continue on this path. We need statesmen, not career politicos.

We even see the Tea Party movement being usurped by crass opportunists looking to make a fast buck and score points for their chosen candidates in the Republican Party. In a recent article in Mother Jones magazine, a Florida Tea Party organizer cries foul at the hijacking of the Tea Party message by political operatives. "Tempest in the Tea Party" describes how the Tea Party Express is run by a political action committee for the purpose of forwarding the Republican agenda and collecting donations by those sympathetic to the cause.

Lyons agrees.

"This is exactly what Mark (Kreslins) and I have been warning about since this past spring," he said. "A partisan force co-opting the true populist grass-roots movement has been a concern of ours for a long time now."

He urges people to get the facts before being suckered by forces who view the Tea Party movement as a cash cow. Politics as usual isn't serving us well, and it doesn't take a blue moon for us to agree on that. Where we go from here is up to us.

For the original content and "comments" see: