Monday, January 29, 2007

Short & Sweet

"A two party government is only one party ahead of North Korea."
-Ben

Saturday, January 20, 2007

"Dung Heap" Headed For the Trash Heap?

The U.S. Senate has voted to amend S.A. 3, the "Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act", removing Section 220 from the bill. Section 220, among other things, would have restricted the ability of groups like the National Rifle Association or ACLU from sending out email alerts asking readers to contact their congressperson. It would have even required bloggers (a group near and dear to my heart) to go through the time and expense of registering as federal lobbyists if they were to write an article urging their readers to contact Congress. If the McCain-Feingold Incumbent Protection Act was the “camel’s nose” slipping under the tent, then Section 220 was the neck, with the “body,” an absolute ban on political speech, on its way. Thanks to the hard work of the very type that Congress was seeking to ban, this outrage was stopped.

Among the 43 Senators (all Democrats by the way) voting to keep this malicious gag rule was Iowa’s very own demagogue Tom Harkin. The same Tom Harkin who, only a short while ago, was one of only 16 senators to vote against a measure that forbid government officials from arbitrarily seizing your property (in the form of your guns) after a disaster, leaving you defenseless against roving thugs. The same Tom Harkin who said that six billion dollars of taxpayer money was “pencil dust.” The same Tom Harkin who said that the Second Amendment only protects the right of states to maintain a “National Guard.” The same Tom Harkin who raised his hand and swore an oath to fairly judge an impeachment proceeding, then labeled the prosecution’s case a “heap of dung” before actually hearing it. The same Tom Harkin who fights for the “little guy,” the “common people,” the “poor and downtrodden” from his home in the Bahamas.

When asked to explain his recent vote restricting free speech, Senator Harkin clasped his hands over his ears and shouted, "The voice of the People is like the buzzing of flies to Senator Harkin!" Okay, I made that part up. Harkin didn't say that... but I bet he wanted to.

There is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel however. Rumors abound that “Dung Heap” Harkin may not seek reelection in ‘08. That would give the Republicans a good opportunity to pick up another seat in the Senate, it they don’t screw it up.

There’s speculation that western Iowa’s U.S. Rep. Steve King might try for Dung Heap‘s senate seat. Though I’m a Libertarian, I could vote for King without holding my nose. Another good candidate for the GOP would be Nora Springs farmer and ex-Marine Bill Salier who sought the Republican nomination to go up against Harkin in ‘02, but lost the nomination to a moderate weenie who Dung Heap quickly made minced-meat of. Both Salier and King are strong defenders of the Second Amendment, but probably pretty hawkish on the war on terror and the privacy infringements that go along with that. But regardless of who the Republicans run, it would be an improvement over that socialist charlatan Dung Heap Harkin.

By the way, since ol’ Dung Heap voted to ban people like me from urging people like you to contact him, why not drop him a line? Let him know what you think about political free speech.

The “Honorable” Tom Harkin
United States Senate
731 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-1502
DC Phone: 202-224-3254 DC Fax: 202-224-9369
Email Address: http://harkin.senate.gov/contact/contact.cfm

What the heck! As long as we're at it, we should thank Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley for voting to strip Section 220 from S.A. 3, a vote in favor of free speech.

The Honorable Charles E. Grassley
United States Senate
135 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-1501
DC Phone: 202-224-3744 DC Fax: 202-224-6020
Email Address: http://grassley.senate.gov/webform.htm

KISS MY NAIS

Something not even many folks in ag-related states such as Iowa and Montana are really aware of is the senseless, intrusive, bureaucratic nightmare-to-come NAIS, or National Animal Identification System. People should be aware of this, as food is a mighty important factor in human survival. It ranks right up there with water and air. Sadly, a great many of our populace think food "grows" under celophane in super market shelves and fridges.

What NAIS wishes to do is make every farmer and rancher in these United States (and remember, the United States Department of Agriculture employs eleven people for every farmer and rancher in the country, and these bureau-hacks have to justify their existanence somehow) to register their property with the government, individually tag each animal, including chickens, with an RFID tag, and report every "event" that happens to that critter to the NAIS database. The overall net effect would be to destroy what is left of family farms and small "hobby" and organic farmers.

All the Big Brother intrusiveness aside, this boondoggle is gonna cost people alot of money. As the saying goes, "Follow the money!" And NAIS was designed by and for (surpise!) huge corporate agri-business. You know, the people who already have a huge monopoly on everything from seed corn to meat packing plants. But unlike Bill Gates and Microsoft, big agri-business is smart (and crooked) enough to pay vast sums of "protection money" to the boys and girls on Capital Hill and, with the best politicians money can buy safely in their pockets, voila! they are not a monopoly.

These are the boys to whom money is the bottom line. You know, the ones who raise animals in assembly-line feedlots and confinements and have to pump the critters full of hormones and antibiotics and steroids and altered genes and God knows what all (a) just so they can survive in overcrowded, unnatural conditions and (b) so that growth and profit will be maximized. The ones who splice fish DNA into your tomatoes so they look all red and pretty in the grocery aisle. The ones who produce genetically altered "terminator" seeds that cannot reproduce naturally so you are totally dependent on them for next year's crop. The ones who got the USDA to recently approve cloned meat; just how have they conducted long-term health studies on that one? The ones who have led these United States, with the world's greatest and most fertile farmland, to become a net importer of food. The ones who hire illegal aliens for their fields and slaughterhouses. And by the way, does anyone besides me wonder about these recent e. coli outbreaks when we have thousands of illegals from impoverished central and south American countires full of exotic diseases we eradicated decades ago and poor sanitation and health care out defacating in the middle of the lettuce fields they are picking?

No, don't worry, the big boys will do fine under NAIS. They will buy their RFID tags in vast lots at a substantial discount, unlike the hobby farmer who needs only a half a dozen tags. They can hire more illegals to do the dirty work for a pittance. They can afford the $1000 scanners. They will receive "special dispensation" so that huge poultry farms with thousands of birds need only one "group ID" tag. And they can just pass any extra costs on the the consumer while the system helps to eradicate the tiny amount of small farm competition they have left.

Just think. Hobby Farmer Joe has a couple of dozen laying hens out in the shed. Since they came from two different "premises of origin", each and every one has to be given an individual identification number and tagged with an RFID chip. If he sells one to his brother-in-law for Sunday fried chicken, this must be reported to Big Brother. If, one morning, he finds fresh coyote tracks and chicken feathers, he must go through and identify all the other chickens so he can report the one that got eaten. If Dick and Jane enjoy weekend horseback rides, they will have to report to Big Brother each and ever time the trailer leaves the house for a trail ride, fair, exhibition, or even change of pasture. Even little Susie's 4-H bottle baby calf will also be under Federal scrutiny.

NAIS will apply to horses, chickens, cows, goats, sheep, pigs, deer, elk, bison, turkeys, pigeons and even fish ponds. I have not heard a definate answer to the rumors whether your doggies and kitties will be included too. It seems odd to me that the same bloated Federal government that cannot keep track of 20-25 million illegal people thinks it can suddenly keep track of many times that number of livestock animals.

All this, of course, is supposedly for our safety and protection, according to the benevolent Nanny State. Allow me to offer a few other reasons I suspect weigh heavily in the bargain.

First, of course, is for the benefit of the big agri-business monopoly. If there are no independent small farms left, you have no choice but to buy their genetically altered shot-up mass-produced products and pay whatever they demand. The government, too, would of course benefit. The Federal government is the single largest employer in these United States these days (not, I suspect, what the founding Fathers quite had in mind), with a very powerful union to back it up. Just think of all the good=paying full-benefits job packages for uncaring, indifferent bureaucratic drones and hacks this boondoggle will provide. And it will enable the USDA to belly up to the trough for a huge influx of taxpayer dollars in the form of "Homeland Security" money.

So my motto is "Kiss my NAIS", and I have been letting my duly elected reprehensitives know.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Dear Newbie Democrat

Dear Newbie Democrat:

Congratulations on your new position as Representative. As you look forward to your future in Washington DC it may be instructive to consider the past and what forces propelled your party to power once again.

Voter disgust with the Republican regime would seem to be the obvious reason. The Republicans disgraced themselves and deserved to lose. The war in Iraq, ethics scandals, and a complete abandonment of spending restraint top the list of why voters booted the Republicans from congressional power. The lesson to be learned is that, when aroused, the voters aren’t afraid to fire their congressional representatives, even long-time incumbents.

So why did voters originally “fire” the Democrats in 1994, giving Congress to the Republicans? One reason was the Democrats’ support of gun control. After the 1994 election, Campaigns & Elections magazine documented how the gun issue was a major factor in 55 races where pro-gun challengers beat sitting incumbents. As President Clinton put it in January of 1995, “The fight for the assault-weapons ban cost 20 members their seats in Congress… [and is] the reason the Republicans control the House.” In 1999 he said: “This Congress came to power after the 1994 elections because […] the people who voted for modest things, like the Brady Bill […] got beat.”

This is because, as Gore spokesman Doug Hattaway put it after Gore’s defeat: “Guns are a motivating issue for a sizable number of voters on the right, but that’s not matched elsewhere on the [left].” In other words, support of gun control will net more votes against you than for you. Many of the rural Democrats and union workers in your district will break ranks and vote against you if they feel that you’re a threat to their gun rights.

In short, gun control is not only bad policy, it’s bad politics. I hope you’ll vote against any restriction upon the Second Amendment right of private citizens to buy, keep and bear arms for recreation or defense.

Sincerely,
Ben

Thursday, January 11, 2007

WE ALL LIVE IN A MELLOW APATHY

Some 300 plus odd years ago, British Professor Alexander Tyler, in examining the fall of the Athenian republic, had some words to say that bear a chilling note of warning to modern America.

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence:

from bondage to spiritual faith,
from spiritual faith to great courage,
from courage to liberty,
from liberty to abundance,
from abundance to selfishness,
from selfishness to complacency,
from complacency to apathy,
from apathy to dependency,
from dependency back to bondage."

We'll skip the fact that these United States of America are not even supposed to be a true democracy. Benjamin Franklin, that famous dead white guy who has been removed from public school text books to make room for the part played in the founding of this nation by handi-capped gay and lesbian cross-dressing Wiccans, said a pure democracy is nothing more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. We're supposed to be a republic, a representative or Constitutional republic. But don't bother trying to explain that to the man in the street; he's too busy getting home to pop a cold one and stare glassy-eyed at the television set.

At any rate, if Alexander Tyler's model of past fallen civilizations is accurate, I would place our modern US of A down there towards the bottom of the list, much closer to the fall than the rise. In my own personal opinion, I'd put us somewhere in the complacency-apathy-dependency timeline, currently in apathy slipping into total dependence.

In slogging through The Fall of the Roman Empire I can't help but notice many similarities between that great nation in its decline and our own at present. The Romans had bread and wine given out, we have the Welfare state and more government grants and hand-outs than you can shake a stick at. Rome had circuses and brutal spectacles of violence in the coliseum; we have 347 TV channels, most of which offer nothing of any value. Barbarians from the northlands took over the once mighty Roman Legions when their own people were too lazy and apathetic to man the ranks; we have an increasingly mongrelized "Army of Juan" in which individual soldiers can barely speak English and are funcationally illerate in the language.

As to Tyler's apathy-dependency-bondage timeline, I feel that's pretty obvious too. Even trying to get the people of this country out to vote shows the apathy. The vast welfare state and subsidy system shows the dependency. And the War on Terror, judicial activism and tyranny, the War on Drugs, government law enforcement abuses, the rash of meaningless litigation, eminent domain abuses, ponderous bureaucracies that absolutely refuse to do anything for the people they're supposed to be servants of, and such legislation as the Patriot Act show strong leanings towards bondage and dictatorship rather than what the Founding Fathers intended.

Paraphrasing good old Benny Franklin again, those who would give up their liberty for security deserve neither. Yet right at this moment we have politicos, some of them purporting themselves to be conservatives, calling for the "reigning in" of our Constitutional rights and liberties so we can "win" the War on Terror and be "secure" in our homes, at least until the government arbitrarily confiscates and razes said home because they can grab more tax revenue if they let a privrate contractor put up another strip mall.

I don't see any real allies in the fight to curb these abuses and the downhill slide towards bondage, either. The media is only worried about one tiny portion of the First Amendment concerning freedom of the press and actively campaign to destroy the Second Amendment, and pushes "Hate Speech" pogroms that effectively abolish freedom of speech. The ACLU's founder, Roger Baldwin, made no bones about his organization when he clearly stated, "Communism is the goal." Ask the residents of Stalin's gulags and mass graves how well that one works out. Even the NRA stands for only a single Amendment and, in my personal dealings with them, would seem to have become just another bloated inefficient bureaucracy that doesn't respond to its members, just like our government.

About the only way ideas and opinions that are not "officially" sanctioned can be disseminated these days is via the Internet. And mark my words, the government is at this moment desperately trying to figure out a way to get us Cyber heretics under their thumb, too.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Execution Ambivalence

The Butcher of Baghdad is dead and I don’t care. Well, it's not that I don't care, really, but I'm of two minds on the issue. Given that Saddam Hussein has been America’s boogieman since I was a sophomore in high school, I figured the day that he got his just deserts would be a jubilant one. However, I feel ambivalent about it.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel no remorse for the man. Saddam was a mass murderer and a tyrant and he received a fate befitting a tyrant. I’d like to see a few more world leaders, past and present, with their heads in a noose.

Nor do I feel ambivalent because I’m against the Iraq war, or war in general. War is as natural of human endeavor as is love or trade. Our nation was birthed by it. While I’d like to see America return to the peaceful foreign policy of “free trade with all and entangling alliances with no one” envisioned by our founders, I’m not so na├»ve as to think I’ll see that in my lifetime. For good or ill, America will continue to be the world cop into the foreseeable future. Putting Democrats or Republicans in charge is merely to choose whether that world cop should be Barney Fife or Dirty Harry. If those are my only two choices I’ll choose Dirty Harry, since the world seems to be populated with a cast of characters much more dangerous than the denizens of Mayberry. So, while I might not agree with everything about it, I’m not going to take the easy route and Monday-morning quarterback the Iraq war. Within the framework of current U.S. foreign policy, it wasn’t entirely a bad call.

But with Saddam dead am I, an average American taxpayer, any safer? Saddam’s regime obviously was a deadly threat to his own people. But what’s that to us? Why should the American people slip their necks into the yoke of oppressive taxation in order to free oppressed people in countries that most Americans can’t identify on the map.

Despite what the popular press reports, Saddam did provide support to some terrorist organizations including Al-Qaeda. But he did so less than the Saudis, our stalwart “allies” in the “war on terror.”

Obviously the biggest threat that Saddam’s regime posed was a threat to the “stability” of the region, meaning he may try to capture territory from his neighbors (as he did) or attack Israel (as he did). However, the lines on the map of the middle-east were arbitrarily drawn by the British empire. While threatened countries certainly have the duty to defend themselves, why should the rest of us treat these lines as being sacrosanct? And if every last Israeli citizen was butchered and raped, would it really affect the average American’s daily life? That’s the flip side of “entangling alliances with no one” that Americans won’t have the stomach for. Most of us are usually compelled by our compassion to want to help.

So while the Butcher of Baghdad is dead, I feel no safer. In fact, I didn’t really feel threatened by him to begin with. While foreign despots and terrorists do present somewhat of a threat to my life and limb, the only credible threat to my liberty and property is my own government and it’s still here.