Saturday, December 16, 2006

Rangel's Draft

Incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y has promised that he will introduce legislation calling for a military draft making men and women eligible for service, with no exemptions beyond health or reasons of conscience. The purpose appears to be more a matter of politics and social engineering than pragmatic national defense. Rangel said, “[T]his president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, […] if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm's way.” Maybe, maybe not.

Another reason he offers is that it is a matter of “fairness.” His website states, “As long as Americans are being shipped off to war, then everyone should be vulnerable, not just those who, because of economic circumstances, are attracted by lucrative enlistment bonuses and educational incentives.” For youngsters wary of rifles and crew cuts, Rangel would allow other forms of involuntary servitude: "[Y]oung people (would) commit themselves to a couple of years in service to this great republic, whether it's our seaports, our airports, in schools, in hospitals[.]" I know that I’d sleep a little easier knowing that our airports are being guarded by pissed-off teenagers who don’t want to be there.

Whatever the nature of the service, Rep. Rangel assumes that the government has preemptive claim over the lives of its citizens. From where does this assumption arise?

The Constitution does give Congress power “to raise and support armies…” in Article I, section 8, clause 12. But as Constitutional scholar Akhil Reed Amar points out: “By itself, the authority to ‘raise’ armies in clause 12 no more naturally grants Congress the power to conscript soldiers than does clause 1’s authority to ‘lay and collect Taxes [and] Duties’ grant Congress the power to draft tax collectors and customs officers; nor does clause 9’s authority to ‘constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court’ grant Congress the power to conscript judges and bailiffs; nor does clause 13’s authority to ‘provide and maintain a navy’ grant it the power to engage in the odious practice of impressment (to compel a person to serve in the military).” Perhaps the great statesman Daniel Webster put it more eloquently when, arguing against a draft for the War of 1812, he said, “Where is it written in the Constitution, […] that you may take children from their parents, and parents from their children[?]”

Before some of you accuse me of being a “draft-dodging pinko,” let me just say that I voluntarily served six years as an infantry rifleman, and that I have every respect for our current volunteer military and the conscripted veterans of the past. If I was 18 again I would volunteer again, even if it meant deployment to Iraq. But if I had been drafted, I would have introduced my draft notice to my trusty Zippo lighter. A government that views its young people as property of the state isn’t worth fighting for. Conscription is a statist slap in the face of freedom-loving Americans. Let's hope Rangel's bill goes down in flames.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Raise this!

Here in Iowa the Democrats have retaken the legislature in Des Moines, just as they have in D.C., and at both levels they have promised to raise the minimum wage. Currently the national minimum is $5.15 an hour. I believe $7.25 is the new figure that at least some of the Dems are kicking around. I didn’t want to have to write about the minimum wage because , like most Americans, economics kind of bores me. But our local Iowa media have been running stories on the subject that have been about as balanced as Teddy Kennedy on his way from the pub to his car. So, since the news media aren’t even going to feign objectivity and instead resume their familiar role as cheerleaders for the new Democrat majorities, here goes:

Of course the big reason to oppose raising at least the federal minimum wage (or even having one at all) is because the federal government has no Constitutional authority to impose one. The first minimum wage was established in 1933 as part of the FDR’s “National Industrial Recovery Act.” Two years later the Supreme Court declared the act unconstitutional, abolishing the minimum wage in Schechter Poultry Corp. v. U.S. But FDR and the New Deal Democrats weren’t about to let a little thing like the U.S. Constitution get in their way. They reauthorized the minimum wage and the Supreme Court, cowed by FDR’s threat to “pack the court” with new appointees, later reversed its own ruling. While the Supreme Court may waffle before a tyrannical president, the Constitution does not. It gives Congress NO power to set wage and price controls of any kind. Period.

That is probably not an effective argument these days, after the neo-con Republicans have helped the Dems throw the last few spades full of dirt on the 10th Amendment’s shallow grave, so let me try another. Raising the minimum wage will not help the nation’s working poor. I could argue that if the Dems truly wanted to help the working poor they should raise the minimum wage not to $7.25 but to $15.47 an hour (a nice arbitrary number, just like they like).

Even supporters of raising the minimum wage could deduce that at $15.47 an hour many small businesses, and even many large ones, would feel a hit on their bottom line. Business would therefore have to either hire fewer workers (which would hurt the working poor), lay off some workers (which would hurt the working poor), outsource more work overseas (which would hurt the working poor), and/or raise their prices (which would hurt all consumers including… the working poor). Even if a minimum wage earner was able to find a job and keep it after the wage goes up, the prices he has to pay for every good and service he buys would go up. Therefore the purchasing power of his new wage would end up being pretty similar to what it was before his big “raise,” rendering the whole exercise pointless. If that logic is true at $15.47 and we begin to look back down the pay scale, perhaps one of you Democrats can tell me at what exact dollar amount that logic ceases to exist.

Also, to use a well-worn quote from the left, “for the good of the children” we shouldn’t raise the minimum wage. According to the Department of Labor, individuals between the ages of 16 and 24 accounted for 53 percent of all minimum wage-earners in 2005. David Neumark, professor of economics at Michigan State University, and William Wascher, a researcher with the Federal Reserve, found that increasing the minimum wage decreases the proportion of teenagers enrolled in school, as the higher wage makes leaving school appear more attractive. Throughout their lives these new dropouts will earn lower wages than their classmates who stayed in school. I guess in the Democrats eyes that’s probably a good thing. It will create more working poor that the Dems can “help,” in exchange for a vote of course.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Here at Benandbawb’sblog we managed to track down and corner an average American Sheeple in his native habitat, the shopping mall. In the interest of taking the pulse of the country, we conducted a short interview to see what the man in the street is thinking. Our conclusion is that he isn’t.

BBB: The whole point of this blog has been to illustrate the evils of the 2-Party Oligarchy. Basically, both the Republicans and the Democrats are nothing more than different rooms in the same whorehouse.

S: My side good! Other side baaaaaad!

BBB: But both sides have been ridden with scandals, dirty deals, broken campaign promises, shady practices and pork projects. Both sides lie like a rug.

S: My side tell truth always. Other side lie! Baaaaaaad!

BBB: It would seem you are playing right into the hands of the power mongers. That’s right where they want us. Have you ever considered a Third Party to break the deadlock of corruption and give us a chance at real change?

S: (Pause for long blank stare): Um, throwing vote away! Cannot be on winner’s side! Man on TV say so.

BBB: The programming seems to be working quite well. Um, OK. Shall we address some other issues. One of the few mandates actually given to the Federal Government by the Constitution is to secure our borders. Instead, they let in millions of illegal aliens and do very little to stop them or to punish those who employ them illegally.

S: They are just here to do the jobs Americans can’t or won’t do. Essential to American economy. Man on TV say so.

BBB: According to the LA Times, only 2% of illegals are picking crops while 29% are on welfare. Forty percent of all workers in LA County are illegals getting paid cash under the table and contribute zero taxes. Over two thirds of the births in that county are illegals on Medi-Cal, paid for by the taxpayers. Ninety five percent of murder warrants in LA are for illegals, 75% of the people on the most-wanted list are illegals, and half of the gang members are from south of the border. The cost of illegal immigration to the U.S. taxpayer by 1997 (Professor Donald Huddle, Rice University) was $70 billion.

S: Racist! Xenophobe! Bigot! Nazi!

BBB: Er, yeah. How about education then? Judged against scores of students from other industrialized nations, American students do very poorly indeed. Our colleges have begun teaching what used to be high school level subjects. Some people point out that the purpose of the American educational system is more to produce good worker drones who do not question authority, than to educate or teach independent thinking and critical reasoning.

S: Professor spout Party Line. Koko repeat Party Line back. Koko get banana. Mmmmm, banana goooood.

BBB: So you found your university education useful, then?

S: Me have Liberal Arts Degree, $80,000 in student loans, and JOB! You want fries with that?

BBB: Uh, how about current events? What item in today’s news do you find to be of the most concern?

S: Brad and Angelina fighting over living room d├ęcor! How terrible! Boo-hoo! Such tragedy! Woman on TV say so.

BBB: On the subject of economics…..


BBB: OK, never mind economics. The Second Amendment is near and dear to us here at BBB. What do you say to the fact that when England and Australia enacted draconian gun control laws, their violent crime rates skyrocketed? Or how about Washington, D.C. having the strictest gun control laws, yet the highest crime rates in the country? Conversely, where states have enabled ordinary citizens to carry concealed weapons, crime rates drop.

S: Guns baaaaaad! Guns hurt people! Guns not needed in modern age! Man on TV say so!

BBB: If they are unnecessary, how come “Men on TV” like celebrities and politicians have swarms of armed bodyguards?

S: (Jaw goes slack, eyes glaze over, emits streamer of drool.)

BBB: Maybe we’ll get back to that later. The Middle East is a hotbed of crisis and has been for years. We’ll try to keep this simple. Can you name three Middle Eastern countries?

S: Iraq. (Long pause). Europe. (Very long pause, triumphantly) Guantanamo!

BBB: Super. How about neutral politics, no parties involved. What do you see as the role of government in our country?

S: Government gooood. Government my friend. Government give treats. Government take care of me and all my earthly needs from cradle to grave. Goooood. Woman on TV say so.

BBB: Where do you suppose all that money comes from to take care of you from womb to the tomb?

S: Simple. Government take from you, give to me. Goooood. Man on TV say so.

BBB: How about security issues, like terrorism? What do you think of the Patriot Act and law enforcement abuses and judges who have to answer to no authority giving government more and unlimited power to skate around all Constitutional safeguards and restraints in place to keep them in check?

S: Government good! Government protect me from everything. I not worry. They look out for me. Government always know best. They not abuse power. Man on TV say so.

BBB: So the likes of Hitler’s Nazi Germany murdering 21 million civilians, Stalin’s Soviet Union killing 20 million citizens, Mao’s sixty million…..

S: Stop talk! Must go! New episode of Survivor on tonight! Must see TV. Man on TV say so.

BBB: (Heavy sigh.) Bye-bye. Enjoy the Kool-Aid!

Saturday, November 25, 2006


I know in the opinion of many of today's products of our so-called education system, of which a recent study found only 20% of high school grads could find the Pacific Ocean on a map, only redneck hicks from Fly-Over country still read the Bible. Other early writings, such as Herodotus' Greek history and Caesar's Gaelic Wars, of which maybe 8-10 original copies exist, are regarded by modern "experts" as the gospel truth. But the New Testament, which the ancients found important enough to make 5,000 Greek, 10,000 Latin and 9,300 other copies of, is just superstitious hogwash. Yet some of us rubes in the hinterlands still read it.

I was recently struck when perusing Genesis 11:1-8, the story of the Tower of Babel. When God wanted to dismantle that whole civilization and keep them from doing great things, all he had to do was scatter them and give them all different languages and ways.

Fast forward to modern America. I came across some information given in a speech by former Colorado Governor Dick Lamm at an immigration overpopulation conference he spoke at in Washington, D.C. His last point includes mention of a book by Victor Hansen Davis entitled Mexifornia, which explains how unchecked illegal immigration is destroying California already and spreading to other border states rapidly and will eventually destroy the American Dream nationwide.

So without further ado, here are Governor Lamm's steps guaranteed to destroy this country. All quotes are his.

"First, to destroy America, turn America into a bilingual or multi-lingual and bicultural country."

Second: "Invent 'multiculturism' and encourage immigrants to maintain their culture. I would make it an article of belief that all cultures are equal. That there are no cultural differences. I would make it an article of faith that Black and Hispanic dropout rates are due soley to prejudice and discrimination by the majority. Every other explanation is out of bounds."

Third: "We could make the United States an 'Hispanic Quebec' without much effort.....I would encourage all immigrants to keep their own language and culture. I would replace the melting pot metaphor with the salad bowl metaphor. It is important to ensure that we have various cultural subgroups living in America enforcing their differences rather than, as Americans, emphasizing their similarities."

"Fourth, I would make our fastest growing demographic group the least educated. I would add a second underclass, unassimilated, undereducated, and antagonistic to our population. I would have this second underclass have a 50% dropout rate from high school."

Fifth: "...get big foundations and business to give these efforts lots of money. I would invest in ethnic identity, and I would establish the cult of 'Victimology'. I would get all minorities to think that their lack of success was the fault of the majority. I would start a grievance industry blaming all minority failure on the majority population."

"My sixth plan for America's downfall would include dual citizenship, and promote divided loyalties. I would celebrate diversity over unity. I would stress differences rather than similarities. Diverse people worldwide are mostly engaged in hating eachother; that is, when they are not killing eachother. A diverse, peaceful or stable society is against most historical precedent...'E. Pluribus Unum'; from many, one. In that historical reality, if we put the emphasis on the 'pluribus' instead of the 'unum', we will balkanize America as surely as Kosovo."

Seventh: "I would place all subjects off limits; make it taboo to talk about anything against the cult of 'diversity'. I would find words similar to 'heretic' in the 16th century that stopped discussion and paralyzed thinking. Words like 'racist' and 'xenophobe' halt discussion and debate."

"Lastly, I would censor Victor Hanson Davis's book Mexifornia. His book is dangerous. It exposes the plan to destroy America. If you feel America deserves to be destroyed, don't read that book."

Friday, November 17, 2006

Liberal Indy?

I grew up watching Indiana Jones films, so I was excited to see that they are beginning work on a fourth installment. It has been said that they are going to use old-fashioned stunt work and camera tricks instead of computer-generated special effects, so that the film will have the same “feel” as the first three. I like the sound of that, but I’m worried that they might ruin the franchise anyway. You see, Indiana Jones director Steven Spielberg has become increasingly liberal.

I think there’s something in the water in Hollywood (and Capital Hill) that makes you more of a liberal loony, the longer you’re there. When Spielberg released "E.T." on DVD he went back and digitally removed all those nasty, evil guns from the film. Now the federal agents that chase E.T. and Elliot are toting innocuous things like walkie-talkies, rather than guns. (By the way, Janet Reno has been toiling away in the studio for the last several years trying to do the same thing to the tapes of the Waco non-assault, digitally replacing agents' sub-machineguns with teddy bears, teargas canisters with cans of “chicken and stars” soup and replacing tanks with large, Seuss-looking “tickle-machines.” But I digress.)

Spielberg also recently released his much-heralded film “Munich” in which the Israeli agents sent to kill the terrorists who murdered the Israeli Olympics team are portrayed as being no better than the terrorists they dispatch. As I said, he’s been getting loonier and loonier.

So I thought I’d help Spielberg out and give him some ideas on how he could make the fourth Indiana Jones film more compatible with his liberal world view. I present(with apologies to David Letterman):

Ben’s Top 10
Ways Spielberg Can Liberalize Indiana Jones 4

10) Indy gets disemboweled by an Arab swordsman while struggling with the mandatory trigger-lock and bio-metric identifier on his pistol.

9) Short-Round insists on being called “Vertically Challenged.”

8) After jumping from a flying airplane in an inflatable raft, rather than landing on a snow-cushioned slope, Indy splatters into bare rock due to global warming.

7) Indy realizes that there are no such thing as “Good Guys” and “Bad Guys,” only cultural misunderstanding. Indy lays down his arms and tells the Nazis that he means them no harm. (In return, they torture him with a red-hot poker and shoot him in the head.)

6) When Indy finds himself in a fight, he “redeploys” himself in the opposite direction, just as fast as his legs will carry him.

5) Indy ditches his leather jacket in favor of a “Meat Is Murder” tie-dyed tee-shirt.

4) Indy and Sallah do it.

3) Instead of fighting the Nazis, Indy attempts to teach that little monkey sign language so he can ask it how to heal our Earth.

2) When government agents ask Indy to capture a religious artifact before the Nazis do, Indy refuses, explaining that there is a “wall of separation” between church and state.

And the number one way Spielberg can liberalize Indiana Jones 4 is… UP TO YOU. Post your suggestions below.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Judicial Tyranny; Why Your Vote REALLY Doesn't Count

"Those who vote decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything."
Joeseph Stalin

I thought we had enough troubles as it was. A two-party oligarchy that does everything to screw with ballot access laws to keep Third Parties down and non-viable. A "mainstream" media that's about as impartial and unbiased as Joseph Goebbels. Massive voter fraud that never gets punished. Illegals voting. Touch Screen voting machines with no paper trail wide open to skilled hackers. The City of Chicago.

And now our beloved judiciary, aka The Men in Black, is getting into the game as well.

Here in Montana, there were six citizen initiaives and Constitutional amendmnets on the ballot for "we the people" to vote on, right there in black and white.

Constitutional Initiative 98 provided for much greater power for the people to recall (read fire) incompetent, out-of-control, or legislating-from-the-bench judges.

Constitutional Initiative 97 provided for a cap to the state increasing tax appropriations.

And Initiative 154 was in response to the disgusting Supreme Court Kelo Decision and would have put limits on government takings of private lands.

The votes for these citizen initiatives were never even tallied. You see, judges ruled them "unconstitutional" before they could even be voted on. It was too late to reprint the ballots, however. So the initiatives stayed there on the ballots for the citizens to see what might have been, except for judicial tyranny.

Modern judges, which, in case you haven't noticed, bear more resemblence to Moe, Larry and Curly than to wise King Solomon, usually at least wait until after the citizens pass an initiative or amendment before they over-rule it and spit in our faces. Now they aren't even going to allow us the facade of voting for them.

An old friend of mine once told me there were three "boxes" when it comes to changing things; the soap box, the ballot box, and the cartridge box. I am starting to think of him as my wise old friend, now.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Well, the Libertarians did alright here in Montana, too, garnering over 10,300 votes in the hotly contested Senate race between (D) Jon "I Have a Flattop Haircut So You'll Think I'm Conservative" Testor and incumbent (R) Conrad "Look How Much Pork I Brought Home" Burns. Yes, I voted for Mike Fellows (L).

But recent experiences working for the Federal Government have set me to a-wondering. Even if we could get a Third Party with some brains and common sense and the Founding Fathers' intent in power, is it too late to ever significantly change the fat, bloated, inefficient, wasteful, asinine, self-perpetuating labyrinthine bureaucracy our government has become?

I won't even go into BATF abuses or the Patriot Act or the Army general who had 3 helicopters and two twin-engined executive planes at his personal disposal or even how in our vaunted Welfare System only 10 cents on the dollar goes to the recipients and the rest is gobbled up by the bureaucracy. I'll stick to some minor things in a minor agency I am personally familiar with.

Out here in the hinterlands of "Fly-Over Country", those who still follow the Forest Circus old motto, "Caring for the Land and Serving the People", are stretched increasingly thin on an ever-smaller budget. For instance, I know of someone (who shall remain nameless) who is currently attempting to clean, care for and maintain some 17 campgrounds, 10 fishing accesses, 6 picnic areas, 6 rental cabins, dozens and dozens of "dispersed campsites", and hundreds of road and trails signs, spread out over 3 Montana counties (and counties are pretty big out here...check the mileage from Wilsall to Cooke City, MT, all inside Park County) all by himself. Obviously a slacker, the powers-that-be cut his budget by 30% for Fiscal Year 07. Those in the Supervisors' Office, also known as the Ministry of Truth, want to lay off this last lone ranger for the winter and just close down everything he takes care of to the public. Who cares about the citizen and taxpayer, anyway? We got papers to shuffle and mandates to create and mandatory Civil Rights training to come up with.

I am NOT saying, however, that the Forest Circus needs more of your hard-earned tax dollars. I am saying that they need to spend what they have wisely and efficiently, but from personal experience I expect that to happen immediately after a pig flies past my window.

In a recent article, a retired FS whistle-blower pointed out that 85% of the $$$$ allotted to care for our National Forests never gets out of Washington, D.C. Of the remainder that trickles down, each National Forest's Supervisors' Office (which generally employs more people than all of the Ranger Districts and field staffs combined) automatically takes another 25% off the top for "administrative costs". Which leaves very little at the bottom of the totem pole to hire somebody to clean the toilet and pick up the garbage and paint the picnic tables in your favorite campground.

A recent clever budget-cutting measure enacted did away with the CSEP program. This program provided summer jobs for retired folks who did a great deal of good, hard on-the-ground work for the public and got paid a pittance. So the powers-that-be cleverly shit-canned the lowest paid personnel who did the most work. We just can't find any deadwood to cut in all the office-dwelling bureaucrats, you know.

I recall a recent audit of the Circus by the Government Accounting Office. They were literally millions of dollars, and numerous vehicles, and a twin-engined aircraft unaccounted for. This kind of fraud, abuse and waste obviously could not be tolerated, and with these vast amounts of funds involved the culprits must be at the bottom of the pay scale. Government inspectors really cracked down. The only example I am personally aware of in the big shake down was a guy who almost got fired for "using government property for personal gain". He took a beautiful landscape picture that got published in a magazine. Someone going over the photo with an electron microscope spotted part of a government canoe in the photo. Well, they spanked him but good, and that took care of the problem. Last I knew, though, the aircraft is still MIA.

I could go on and on and make this column approximately the length of War and Peace but blogs are designed for modern Americans with really short attention spans.

Just let me point out that the Forest Circus is just a teensy weeny tiny little fragment of the US Department of Aggravation (which employs 11 people for every farmer and rancher in the United States), which in itself is just a teensy weeny tiny little fragment of the Fed Gov as a whole. I recently read an article about the Department of Homeland Security unable to account for about $80 million, but government investigators decided it was not worth vigorously pursuing such a small amount of money.

That's just running the government here at home.Now toss in the billions each year we give in hand-outs to piss-ant Third World Hellhole nations who hate our guts. You're beginning to get the picture of what a huge, bloated, uncontrollable monstrosity our Federal government truly is.

Can anything stop or even slow down such a juggernaut? Even a Third Party rise to power? Is this the government our Founding Fathers intended? Does anyone even believe the government serves the people anymore?

More importantly, does the American public even give a rat's ass anymore? Oh never mind, I gotta run to the store and get a 12-pack and some smokes before Survivor comes on.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Election 2006 Postmortem

Here in Iowa, Republican Jim Nussle lost to Democrat Chet Culver by over 85,000 votes in the governor’s race. Libertarian candidate Kevin Litten received about 5,000 votes, which means each person who voted Libertarian could have voted for Nussle 16 times each and Nussle would have still lost. I would imagine that margins like that were pretty common across the country. So I don’t want to hear any Republicans whining that the Libertarians split their vote and cost them the election. The Republicans were perfectly able to lose this one themselves. But why?

Of course the elephant in the room is the war in Iraq. But we were in Iraq in 2004 and Iowa went to Bush, the Republicans retained their majorities in Congress, and South Dakota even gave Senate Democrat Leader Tom Daschle his walking papers.

So what changed since ‘04? Answer: The Republicans alienated their base. Back then the paleo-conservatives and libertarians in the party had plenty of bones to pick with the elected Republicans, most notably the fact that they were spending money like whores in a crack house. But in ‘04 many of us were willing to give Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iraq and give the Republicans one last chance to put their house in order. They did not.

If there was one moment when I slapped my forehead and realized that the Republican Party had completely abandoned its guiding principles, it was shortly before Hurricane Katrina hit. I remember driving home from work and hearing President Bush on the radio hailing the new waste-ridden monstrosity of a transportation bill he had just signed. This was the one with 6,371 pork projects tacked onto it, including the now infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska. Bush said it was a good bill that would provide jobs. D’oh!

The conservative response to this is, “How many jobs would have been created if those billions of dollars had been retained by those who earned it, to buy manufactured goods from retailers or to save and invest?“ I had to wonder if it was F.D.R. or L.B.J. that I was hearing, but no, it was G.W.B. To add insult to injury, after Katrina struck, Bush said they would spend “whatever it took” to rebuild the Gulf Coast. This was the straw that broke the elephant’s back. Fiscal restraint, states’ rights, the 10th Amendment, and limited government all were gone from the Republican lexicon.

During the primaries heading into ‘06, the RNC actively slit the throats of conservative candidates in favor of moderates that they felt were more “electable.” (If you think being a moderate made you “electable” during this election, go talk to Iowa’s own incumbent wet-noodle-Republican Jim Leach, if you can find the Wendy’s that he’s working at now.) It was obvious that the RNC had been co-opted by neo-conservatives who didn’t care a whit about any constitutional or ideological issue. They only cared about one thing: consolidating their power. And now that power is gone.

It appears I picked a good year to come over to the Libertarian Party, the Republican boat seems to be sinking. They may have to throw some ballast overboard. I suggest they start with a few neo-cons.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Kevin Litten for Iowa Governor

Nestled safely in his mountaintop bunker in Montana, Bawb probably doesn't care who wins the Iowa governor's race. But for those of us stuck here in occupied Iowa, it is a matter of some importance. (Okay, Bawb doesn't have a mountaintop bunker, but I understand that he has stockpiled a box of Chiclets in his sock drawer.) I recently corresponded via email with the Libertarian candidate for the Iowa governorship, Mr. Kevin Litten. (Picture at left.)

Ben: You weren't on the televised gubernatorial debates. How does the establishment media justify not inviting you, even though you're on the ballot?

Kevin Litten: In America we have a “free” press. What this means is that unless the mere mention of your name sells papers or increases ratings (i.e. you have celebrity status) you can have all the press you can buy. I don’t know that I have seen an actual candidates’ debate in my lifetime. What we have now are actually sponsored forums. Candidates don’t debate each other but give timed sound bites on prearranged forums. This gives the impression of fairness. It is actually a media circus set up to increase market share for the sponsor or ingratiate the candidates towards them. It is not about ideas or issues. People who believe it is the role of the media to disseminate the truth are living in a fantasy world.

Ben: The two plans offered by the Republikrats on improving education appear to be: a) Dump more money into public schools. b) Test and evaluate public schools, then dump more money into them. Is there a third alternative?

Kevin Litten: To improve our schools there must be real choice and real competition. There should be as many choices between schools as there are for grocery stores. Students should be able to move from one school to another as they please. They should be able to get their education at home, from a private school, over the internet, or from a government run tax funded school. The government could give the student a voucher and they could us (sic) it at the school of their choice. We unfortunately can’t do this yet because of federal regulations but the movement is underway. Iowa’s charter school law essentially outlaws charter schools. It needs to be changed. Good teachers ought to be paid better than poor teachers and teachers should have the choice of moving between schools too.

Ben: As a working pharmacist, you have a unique perspective on healthcare that the two career politicians seeking the governorship don't have. Is there a problem with healthcare in Iowa? If so how do we improve it?

Kevin Litten: So many of Iowa’s health care problems come from our federal government’s interference, as Allan (sic) Greenspan used to say, “those strategies only make sense because of the perverse tax incentives we have today.” Until that cycle can be broken one way out would be medical savings accounts. You would buy a catastrophic health plan from an insurance company and then put another amount of money into a tax free savings account to cover minor medical problems, if needed. After the account reaches a certain size you wouldn’t need to pay into it anymore and could draw interest from it or use it as collateral for loans. This gives the holder an incentive to stay healthy, something few of our plans have today.

Ben: Bawb and I are avowed gun nuts. Would you like to see any changes in Iowa's gun law's?

Kevin Litten: Sorry to be lazy here, but I found a group that is close enough to my own feelings that I’ll let them do the talking for me: I notice that both Jim Nussle and Chet Culver are A rated by the NRA. So a vote for any one of us could be seen as a pro-gun vote.

Ben: As governor, would you push for any changes in Iowa's taxes?

Kevin Litten: Iowa is generally ranked as a tax hell, one of the bottom ten states for individuals or corporations. We can’t bring those rates down until we reduce the size of Iowa’s government, no other gubernatorial candidate is talking about doing that except me. By the time government gives you everything you want it will have taken from you everything you have. Most people would rather have a smaller government with fewer services than a large expensive one that tries to provide too many things. Smaller governments are also less prone to corruption although I would like to see more transparency in Iowa’s expenditures no matter what size it is.

Ben: Anything else you'd like to add?

Kevin Litten: Throughout my campaign I have met the nicest people. I have received the kindest words of encouragement and support. I have been treated courteously where ever I went. This is such a surprise when I consider how dysfunctional (can I say corrupt) our political system is.

Ben: If anyone would like to help out in these last days before the election, what can they do?

Kevin Litten: In the 10 days or so remaining please let your online friends know that it is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don’t want and receive it. Your vote for me will send a message to whoever wins that you want fewer taxes and less government. It is all about being heard. Send that message by voting against them. Please vote for me this November. Thank you –

Ben: Thank you very much for your time Mr. Litten.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Next Time They Ask for $$$$

I too have left the Republican Party. Perhaps I should say the Republican Party left me. This year I'm going with the Constitution party, which is showing some nice increases in Montana. One of the biggest issues that has turned me off on the Republikrats is immigration. For those of you who may still receive those "Beg-A-Thon" calls from the RNC, here is a little something you can send them as a "donation". Perhaps they will get the message.

My Declaration of Independence

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one person to dissolve the political bands which have connected him with a party, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that he should declare the causes which impel him to the separation. Today I must regrettably leave the Republican Party.

This has not been an easy decision to make. You see, I came of age politically about the time that the Republican “revolution” of the mid 1990’s was in full swing. I liked the Republican’s ideas about smaller government, a strong military, and lower taxes. Besides, I liked that they were supposedly the underdog party, taking on the “establishment” party which had been in control of Congress for forty years.

So, with my dog-eared copy of the Contract With America (which was inspired largely by President Reagan‘s 1985 state of the union address), I volunteered my time and my money to the Party and her candidates. I wrote letters to the editor, voted in straw polls and primaries, and locked horns with anyone who impugned the Republicans.

Things went well for a while. My party eventually gained control of both houses in Congress, then in 2000, the Whitehouse. Now at last they could advance their conservative ideals relatively unopposed. Surely balanced budgets, massive governmental reform, Congressional term limits, and shrinking budgets would be the order of the day. But, as anyone who’s been awake for the past six years knows, that surely didn’t happen. To their credit, the Republicans did roll back a few infringements on the Second Amendment. And they did cut taxes, but coupled that with massive spending increases that even the Democrats wouldn’t have dreamt of.

Now the party of the Balanced Budget Amendment, fiscal conservatism, and spending restraint has increased federal spending by 33% since 2001. Lest you think this is due to unforeseen disasters like 9-11 or Hurricane Katrina, if you factor out defense, homeland security and Katrina relief, discretionary spending has increased 34% in that time. Federal spending has grown twice as fast under President Bush as under President Clinton. And that rate of growth is accelerating, from 4.1% growth in federal spending in 2001 to 7.9% in 2005.

Now the number of “pork projects,” special appropriations that are “earmarked” for specific recipients in a Congressman’s home district rather going through the usual competitive application process, has jumped from 4,326 in 2000 to 13,997 in 2005. A recent Republican highway bill contained 6,371such earmarks, costing $25 billion. Somewhere up above, President Reagan is clutching his old veto pen sadly.

Now the party of welfare reform has increased “anti-poverty” spending by 39% under President Bush to a record 16% of all federal spending. Medicaid rolls expanded by 10 million and Food Stamp rolls by 8 million between 2001 and 2005. The average benefit levels grew faster than the rate of inflation. The conservative party even created a brand new welfare entitlement program, the Medicare drug plan, with no plan on how to pay for it. A universal entitlement that will go to all seniors regardless of need, it will cost $2 trillion over the next two decades. The Republicans even backed away from their own timid attempts to reform the socialist Ponzi scheme of Social Security.

Now the party that respects the individual wants to know what books the individual reads and who the individual talks to on the phone.

Now the party of states’ rights and defined federalism has increased federal control of many traditionally local activities from fire-rescue services, to law enforcement, to education. Once wanting to eliminate the federal Department of Education, the Republicans have increased funding to it by 137% from 2001 to 2006.

Now that the Republican Party are merely hawkish Democrats, I turn to the Libertarian Party, which I hope will more adequately express my beliefs in smaller, less intrusive government, and more personal freedom. Like many people I’ve heard who switched parties (like former Democrats Ronald Reagan and Phil Gram) I feel that the party left me, not that I left the party. On a few issues I have changed my mind from when I was young, but mostly the party has changed, at least from what I understood it to stand for.

Perhaps someday the Republican Party will return to me. I’ll be here waiting. Until then, I will be voting Libertarian. Will I waste my vote? No more than I have for the past twelve years.