Irving Two Smokes

Cruz in Bartlesville

I just now left Wesleyan University, where Ted Cruz held a campaign rally. It was an impressive turnout of well over 1,000 people. The senator spoke with energy and really connected with the crowd. I appreciated much of what he had to say, but he lost me each time he spoke on defense and foreign policy matters.

I most disappointed in the demagoguery he employed when expressing his opposition to the Iranian nuclear agreement. He began by pledging to tear up the agreement as one of his first acts in office. That got the crowd on their feet. He then said that if the deal is implemented, the U.S. will become the world’s leading financier of terrorism. Cruz has recently received criticism from the press and even Republican party leaders for making this claim elsewhere, so repeating it in front of the Bartlesville crowd was his way of being bold.

Is my mailbox federal property?

“You know, a person’s mailbox is federal property, and it is against the law for anyone other than a postal carrier to put anything in it.” Have you ever heard that and wondered whether it is true, or just an urban myth?  The first time I really wanted to know the answer was in high school – the pre-Google era.

As a classroom exercise in my high school speech class, each student was required to draft a piece of legislation and defend it during a mock congressional session.  Everyone seemed to relish the drafting part of the assignment, dreaming up new laws for their imaginary government to impose upon unruly worker bees.  

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Barnsdall Main Street Well

Sometimes federal agencies seem to parody themselves, conforming neatly with the image contained in the wild imaginations of conservative critics as out-of-touch bureaucracies issuing senseless mandates spoken in liberal shibboleths.  Such is the case with the new Environmental Assessment Template issued by the Osage Agency, which is within the Bureau of Indian Affairs (“BIA”).

To understand it, you will need some background.  In 1883, the Osage Indians purchased from the Cherokee Nation the land that would become Osage County in the State of Oklahoma.  When you cross over into Osage County, you are also crossing over into the Osage Reservation.  In 1906, Congress passed the Osage Allotment Act, 34 Stat. 539, which divided the land in the Osage Reservation among the members of the Osage Tribe. The subsurface mineral estate would be owned by the Tribe, but development of the mineral estate would be overseen by the United States, and the resulting revenue would be managed and distributed by the United States as trustee for the Tribe. Oil and gas leases are entered into between the Tribe and independent producers, but must be “approved” by the Secretary of the Interior through the Superintendent of the Osage Agency.

An Expensive Escape

According to Forbes, the U.S. has hiked the fee to renounce U.S. citizenship 422%, so voting with your feet is becoming more difficult.  This is how the government responds to a record number of citizens leaving for greener pastures — all stick and no carrot.

According to the article, the State Department says that hiking the exit tax is necessitated by the increase in demand on their services and all the extra workload they have to process people who are on their way out.  Notice the statist logic: bureaucrats erect hurdles to escaping the system and then demand more money from those forced to clear the hurdles on the grounds that the hurdles are so expensive to maintain.

Hey, if you don’t like it, leave, if you can.    

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A North Carolina court discovered such a thing in Rothrock v. Cooke (N.C. Super. Ct. June 11, 2014).  Mrs. Rothrock had sued her husband’s paramour, Miss Cooke, for Alienation of Affection and Criminal Conversation.  Underlying these allitera…

Cage the Ignorant

“Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”  That is the retort frequently given by the arresting officer, prosecutor, or judge to the cry of a citizen surprised by an obscure law.  In a decision as recent as 2008, the Oklahoma Supreme Court offered…

No Room for Moral Sentiment

In January, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma released its ruling in Bishop v. United States, declaring Oklahoma’s legal definition of marriage to be unconstitutional.  As part of his constitutional analysis, Judge Kern determined that homosexuals are a non-suspect class, and therefore the Oklahoma law must be reviewed merely for “rationality.”  This standard requires the court to uphold the law “if there is any reasonable conceivable state of facts that could provide a rational basis for the classification” that the law draws between citizens.  Copelin-Brown v. N.M. State Personnel Office, 399 F.3d 1248, 1255 (10th Cir. 2005).  (This is in contrast with an earlier decision invalidating a similar law in Utah, in which the court reasoned that any legal barriers to same-sex marriage is a classification based upon sex, and therefor the law must be subjected to intermediate scrutiny.)