Michelle Ray

Recent Posts From Michelle Ray

Fifth Amendment Challenge Against USDA’s “Raisin Taking” Makes It To The Supreme Court

raisin outlaw

California raisin farmer, Martin Horne, has been battling a Depression era U.S. Department of Agriculture regulation for over a decade. Horne says that the 1937 revision of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act amounts to a violation of his Fifth Amendment protections, and is nothing short of government theft.

The Act gave birth to the Raisin Administrative Committee and the National Raisin Reserve ( yes, these are real things), and allowed them to confiscate a portion of raisin crops each year in an effort to stabilize raisin prices. The regulations are (surprise!) convoluted in that they don’t permit taking of crops from growers (producers) of grapes, but from handlers who dry and package raisins.  Horne is both.

In 2001, Horne claimed he was not subject to the USDA’s raisin taking, but they demanded 47% of his crop. When he refused, they slapped him with a $700,000 fine.  Horne has been navigating the court system since.

In 2013, the Supreme Court booted the challenge back to the Ninth Circuit, which ruled that the Fifth Amendment’s “Taking Clause” was not applicable in the case of raisins, and if it were ( ?) handlers were compensated by the controlled pricing on the raisins allowed to be sold by the Raisin Administrative Committee.

#IAmUnitedLiberty: Michelle Ray’s Fight To Grow The Liberty Movement


Note: This is one of a series of profiles of UL contributors and how they became involved in the “liberty movement.” Share your story on Twitter using the hashtag #IAmUnitedLiberty.

I have my parents to thank for being libertarian, though I didn’t hear the word until I was almost twenty. I grew up in a military family, and while I didn’t realize it then, my parents took every opportunity to turn  life into learning and schooling into a real education.

If I am to be perfectly candid, there wasn’t an “aha!” moment that drove me to the liberty movement. I read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” when I was sixteen. By that time, I was finishing up high school and working two part-time jobs. My feelings after reading it weren’t necessarily different, but they were solidified into more concrete definitions: Men aren’t slaves. People aren’t an unthinking herd, but individuals with ambitions, desires, and rights. I carried those with me as I grew up, got jobs, got married, and had children.

I started my own small business in 2003. It was born with another name, but eventually became “Dagny’s Promise,” a personal affirmation of the oath made by the characters in “Atlas Shrugged.” The promise made when characters finally made the decision to stop allowing the regulations and expectations of society to rob them of their achievements. In 2008, Dagny’s Promise (and millions of other businesses) fell victim to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

New America Foundation, Google, and the Obama Administration.

Google Inside

Google claims its business philosophy is the simple, warm-and-fuzzy, “Don’t be evil.” But behind the scenes, the data-trolling and -selling operations the company perpetrates on end-users could hardly be considered noble; at best they might be called self-serving, and at worst a violation of privacy. And now, the corporate juggernaut is using its connections to a high-level lobbyist foundation to buy positive spin and government influence to protect one of its biggest cash cows.

The New York Times recently ran this article, defining Google+, Google’s social network hub that now acts as the backbone of its universal login services. It’s become the easiest method by which Google can track online behavior and commercialize marketing profiles of web users to online advertisers:

Google Plus may not be much of a competitor to Facebook as a social network, but it is central to Google’s future — a lens that allows the company to peer more broadly into people’s digital life, and to gather an ever-richer trove of the personal information that advertisers covet. Some analysts even say that Google understands more about people’s social activity than Facebook does.

The reason is that once you sign up for Plus, it becomes your account for all Google products, from Gmail to YouTube to maps, so Google sees who you are and what you do across its services, even if you never once return to the social network itself.

Governor Chris Christie Delays Signing Medical Marijuana Bill

Chris Christe

UPDATE: Today, Governor Christie sent the bill making changes to New Jersey’s medical marijuana program back to the legislature.  Christie has said he will sign the bill if changes are made that will require both a physician and pediatrician to sign off on the prescription, and that edible forms of medical marijuana will be made available only to qualifying minors.

Medical marijuana is legal in New Jersey. Former governor of New Jersey, Jon Corzine, signed a medical marijuana bill into law on his last day in office, in January of 2010. Incoming Gov. Chris Christie delayed implementation of New Jersey’s medical marijuana program until July 2011 in order to put in place a regulatory structure that many claim is too strict and overly complicated.

In addition to the complicated existing structure for legal medical marijuana imposed by Gov. Christie, he is sitting on a bill passed in June to allow use of certain low THC strains of medical marijuana to be used by children, along with loosening some of the unduly restrictive regulations for adult use.

The bill, which passed both New Jersey legislative Houses with bipartisan support, would make several changes to the existing program. It would reduce the number of doctors required to recommend medical marijuana from three to one, and remove the requirement that (one) needs to be a psychiatrist. It would allow edible forms of medical marijuana to be made available for children. Lastly, it would remove the restriction that only three strains of marijuana be grown in New Jersey for medical purposes.

KY Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes to Challenge Senator Mitch McConnell


Alison Lundergan Grimes, the 34-year-old Secretary of State of State in Kentucky, announced her intention to challenge Senator Mitch McConnell in 2014.

“I have met with supporters, we had a great conversation,” Grime said at a news conference in Frankfort, Ky.. “We can next make the best move, the best difference by running for the U.S. Senate.”

Grimes, a Democrat elected in 2012, lacks the national recognition that McConnell has, but has the support of many high level Democrats, including former President Bill Clinton. Clinton is a long-time family  friend of Grimes’ father, and reportedly told Grimes’ that he and Hillary would support her campaign against McConnell.

McConnell immediately issued a response to the Secretary’s announcement: “Accepting the invitation from countless Washington liberals to become President Obama’s Kentucky candidate was a courageous decision by Alison Lundergan Grimes and I look forward to a respectful exchange of ideas,” he said. “The next sixteen months will provide a great opportunity for Kentuckians to contrast a liberal agenda that promotes a war on coal families and government rationed health care with someone who works everyday to protect Kentuckians from those bad ideas.”

Polling in late May indicated that Senator McConnell was tied with Grimes’ in a hypothetical race.

Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell May Face Democrat Challenge

Tom FitzGerald

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) escaped a very public challenge to his U.S. Senate seat last month when actress Ashley Judd ended speculation that she would run for the office, but he may have a new challenger in environmental lawyer and activist, Tom FitizGerald.

FitzGerald, 58, is a lifelong Democrat, Founder and Director of the Kentucky Resources Council, and has been active in state evinronmental issues since the 1970s. He says he is being encouraged to run and believes that McConnell’s 28 year tenure in the Senate should come to an end.

“I’ve seen the devolution of McConnell as a progressive, modern county judge in Jefferson County to an increasingly right-wing politician who is defined more by protecting power than meeting the needs of Kentuckians,” he said.

Currently, the incumbent faces no GOP challenger, although speculation remains whether Kentucky businessman Matt Bevins will decide to run for the seat. Democrat contractor Ed Marksberry of Owensboro and Louisville musician and music promoter Bennie J. Smith have said they will enter the race, but neither have a statewide following.

FitzGerald has said he will make a decision by mid-May, and would resign his office at the nonpartisan Kentucky Resources Council if he decides to challenge Senator McConnell.

Michelle Ray


The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.