Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Iowa Ron Paul Update

Things are looking good for Ron Paul here in Iowa.  The "Real Clear Politics Average" of several polls currently shows him in first place among likely voters. State Senator Kent Sorenson, Michele Bachmann’s Iowa campaign chairman, recently defected to Dr. Paul's campaign.

Steve Hoodjer over at Iowa Freedom Report wrote up a nice endorsement of Dr. Paul. "In 30 years in Congress, Dr. Paul has compiled an unprecedented voting record," writes Hoodjer. "With his strict adherence to his oath of office to defend the Constitution, Paul’s votes have set him apart from both Democrats and his fellow Republicans.  By standing alone for liberty, sometimes on the losing end of 434-1 votes, Paul has well earned his title as 'the one exception to the gang of 535 on Capitol Hill.'"

He continues: "Of all the votes Paul has taken during his lonely watch as a sentry for freedom, perhaps none was more important than his 'no' to the Iraq War.  With the Wilsonians and globalists in firm command of the Republican Party, all lofty conservative goals are now sacrificed to one aim – a constant state of global welfare and global warfare.  By daring to challenge the party orthodoxy, Paul re-opened the debate over the proper reach of American foreign policy and introduced truly republican (with a small 'r') ideas into the mainstream[.]

"By operating above the banal traditions of blind partisanship, Ron Paul has united under the libertarian banner a coalition diverse in race, religion, age, sexual orientation, and prior allegiance.  Riding this wave of enthusiasm, victory for Paul in the nomination contest is no longer out of the question."

Let's hope Hoodjer is right.  Be sure to caucus for Ron Paul on January 3rd.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Belated Merry Christmas

As I was flipping around the channels this Christmas vacation I came upon a movie where Santa Claus and a talking dog were in a cavern beneath the North Pole observing the giant magical icicle which gives Santa his powers. It seemed the damned thing was melting because people were forgetting the true meaning of Christmas. Let me say that again: Santa Claus and a talking dog were lamenting the loss of the true meaning of Christmas.

I didn't watch the rest of the movie, but in the short bit of the conversation between Santa and the talking dog that I did catch, the birth of Christ never came up, and I doubt it did in the rest of the movie either. So to put Santa's mind at ease (and to keep the old boy's magical icicle from melting), here's a bit from the holiday's original source code to remind folks (including any movie producers) of the true meaning of Christmas.

Matthew 1:18-25 (Today's New Internat'l Version)

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Luke 2: 1-20

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ron Paul: Champion of the Constitution

Like many others I once raised my hand and swore an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution. Bill Salier once reminded me that that oath has no expiration date. Whether or not you formally took that oath is immaterial. It is incumbent upon all Americans to defend the Constitution. It is the basis for our form of government and our very way of life as Americans.

Ignored, abused, and denied by the political class for decades, that Constitution is now under direct assault. The “Father of the Constitution,” James Madison, wrote: "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined… [and they] will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce.” But now the federal government has usurped so much power that seemingly every human activity falls under its purview. The price tag for this constant encroachment is a loss of freedom and a crushing debt upon our children.

Only one candidate for president has a long, proven track record of defending the Constitution: Ron Paul. He has defended it not just when it was politically convenient, not just when campaigning, not just when addressing “Tea Party” activists, but always and often. When you cast your vote in the January 3rd Republican caucus, cast it in defense of the U.S. Constitution. Vote for Dr. Ron Paul.

[I just sent this in to the Cedar Rapids Gazette as a letter to the editor.]

Iowa Caucus Countdown

There is less than a month to go until the Iowa caucuses on January 3rd when Iowa becomes the center of the American political universe for a day.  Probably to the chagrin of some of my Libertarian Party friends, I am once again a registered Republican so I can go cast a vote for Ron Paul.

For any who also want to do so, you can find an Iowa voter registration form here.  Simply print it out, mark the box for Republican Party and send it in to or drop it off at your local county auditor's office.  But do so quickly, time is running out!  If you're normally an independent or some other party you can change your party affiliation back after the election.

Also, if any Ron Paul supporters are on Facebook, check out the event page for the "Ron Paul Iowa Caucus Mail Bomb" I set up.  It's an easy and free way to support Dr. Paul's efforts here in Iowa.

Ron Paul may be on the verge of major upset in the Hawkeye State.  A Paul win would send shock waves throughout the statist political duopoly.  Sounds like a winning proposition to me!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Ron Paul Plan

At a time when we are adding over a trillion dollars to our national debt every year, the Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (a body designed to make the hard decisions that Congress itself has been too cowardly to make) is expected to recommend making about that much in spending reductions over ten years. When they’re driving us over a fiscal cliff I guess it’s nice to know that they’re at least thinking about downshifting. This laughable budget-cutting contrasts with the economic plan offered by Congressman and Republican presidential hopeful Dr. Ron Paul.

Dr. Paul’s detailed “Plan to Restore America” would cut $1 trillion from the federal budget during the first year of the Paul presidency and deliver a balanced budget by the third year. Paul’s plan would eliminate five do-nothing federal departments (Energy, HUD, Commerce, Interior, and Education) and reduce the federal workforce by 10%. It would block grant Medicaid and welfare to the states, allowing flexibility and cost-savings.

If you think such cuts are too much and would knock the federal budget back into the 1800’s, no such luck. Nationally syndicated columnist Jacob Sullum points out, “Paul's plan would not return the country to the 1990s, let alone the 19th century. It calls for total outlays of $2.9 trillion in 2015, which is about as much as the federal government spent as recently as 2003, adjusted for inflation.” They are substantial cuts, but not oppressive.

Ron Paul would extend the Bush tax cuts, lower the corporate tax rate to 15%, and abolish taxes on inheritance, capital gains and personal savings. Paul’s plan would repeal the job-crushing Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, and Sarbanes-Oxley laws and repeal many onerous regulations. It would audit the Federal Reserve and use free market techniques to strengthen the dollar and stabilize inflation. In a symbolic gesture, President Paul would take a salary of $39,336, the median income of the American worker.

You can read the plan in-depth at At a recent forum, Governor Branstad praised Ron Paul’s plan as “the boldest plan to reduce the federal deficit.” With the country careening ever closer to socio-economic collapse, if now isn’t the time for “bold plans” such as Dr. Paul proposes, when will be? I’ll vote for Ron Paul in the January 3rd Republican caucus.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Braley Bytes: Ben Lange Back To Battle Braley Edition

According to Craig Robinson at The Iowa Republican:
On Wednesday, Ben Lange, the Republican nominee in the 1st Congressional District in 2010, will announce that he will begin to actively prepare for a rematch with Congressman Bruce Braley in the reconfigured 1st Congressional District. Lange narrowly lost to Braley in what was one of the closest races in the country in 2010. Lange lost to Braley by 4,209 votes, which was less than two percent of the vote.
A rematch between Lange and Braley would be interesting, but while the candidates will be familiar with one another, the reconfigured 1st District will make the 2012 campaign much different from the 2010 contest.
Other potential Republican challengers to Braley include Cedar Rapids businessman Steve Rathje and former C.R. mayor Paul Pate.  Robinson continues:
Not only is Bruce Braley is vulnerable, but it seems certain that Republicans will once again put up a tough candidate against him. Braley took less than 50 percent of the vote last cycle, a critical threshold for campaign odds-makers. Since the last election, his star has continued falling, including losing his choice seat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He has become marginalized in Washington and has continued casting votes (aside from government takeovers, bailouts, and Obamacare) that will put him at odds with the majority of voters in the new district.
Since he's a conservative and I'm a libertarian, Ben Lange and I don't agree on every political point.  But, I have to admit, I've got a soft spot for Lange, not just because of his noble sounding first name, but because we both grew up around the same unpronounceable small town of Quasqueton.  Besides, I wish luck to anyone who wants to add Bruce Braley to the ranks of the unemployed.

Greg Graver Grabs Grand Win

About a week late, but for those of you outside the area who might not have heard, Chief Deputy Greg Graver won the special sheriff's election mentioned in the previous post.  Although Graver was nominated by petition and was running against the two major party candidates, he walked away with an impressive 72% of the vote.

Congratulations Sheriff Graver!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Jones County Sheriff's Election and the Second Amendment

Here in Jones County Iowa we will be having a special election to choose our sheriff this Tuesday.  Our long-time and well liked sheriff Mark Denniston retired this summer.  Besides being a good all-around law enforcement officer and administrator, county gun owners liked Denniston because of his friendly stance on Second Amendment issues.

Sheriff Denniston maintained a "shall-issue" policy on weapons permits back when the state left issuance solely to each sheriff's discretion.  After the statewide shall-issue law (which Denniston championed) passed, Jones County supervisors considered passing a carry ban in the county courthouse.  Sheriff Denniston threw cold water on their idea (in the form of common sense), pointing out that signs with a line through a picture of a gun don't stop deranged shooters and that a true "gun-free zone" would require additional personnel and screening stations at each entrance, costing scads of money that the county didn't have.

When he decided to retire, Denniston initially asked his Chief Deputy Greg Graver if he'd be interested in finishing the balance of his term.  Graver discovered that if a special election was called during that time, and if he lost, the appointed sheriff would lose his employment with the county.  With a wife and three kids at home, Graver passed but expressed interest in running in the next election (which he assumed would be in 2012).  Denniston then turned to long-time deputy and jailer Harvey DeSotel, who accepted.

The Jones County Supervisors approved DeSotel as the new sheriff and he has served in that office since June.  The transition from Denniston to DeSotel was pretty seamless and smooth.  Indeed, most Jones County residents probably never noticed.  However, supporters of the other candidate that the Supervisors considered for the job, Rick LaMere, successfully circulated a petition calling for a special election to fill the spot.

That election will be this Tuesday, October 4th.  On the ballot are Rick LaMere (Republican), Harvey L. DeSotel (Democrat), Greg A. Graver (Nominated by Petition) and Scotty Shover (Nominated by Petition).  I wanted to ask the candidates their positions on some Second Amendment issues.  I was only able to dig up email addresses for Sheriff DeSotel and Chief Deputy Graver.  Thankfully, they're the only two I was considering voting for anyway.

LaMere is a retired DEA agent.  The pragmatist in me says that the experience of being a federal agent doesn't directly translate into being a good local law enforcement officer.  The libertarian in me says that the federal war on drugs has been one of this country's biggest, most expensive, unconstitutional failures leading to increased crime, corruption, and violence and decreased civil liberties, especially Fourth Amendment protections.  If that's where this guy cut his teeth, no thanks.  The other guy, Scotty Shover, has no law enforcement experience whatsoever and his main qualification seems to be that he collected the requisite number of signatures to appear on the ballot.

I asked DeSotel and Graver the following three questions via email:

1. Do you support Iowa's current "shall issue" weapons permit law as written?

2. Will you push for any additional carry restrictions in the county, such as on county property?

3. Would you support a permitless carry system ("Constitutional Carry"), such as been adopted in Vermont, Alaska and a few other states?

Here are Sheriff DeSotel's responses:

Question 1. Just as the former Sheriff, Mark Denniston, I fully support the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution. Mark would not have supported me without sharing the feelings.

Question 2. No I will not push for additional carry restrictions in the county. I believe there are too many restrictions as it stands.

Question 3. Should a state “Constitutional Carry” laws be brought up for adoption I am not certain. I still think there needs to be some sort of accountability. I’m not saying a big brother or myself needs to know, but any way we can keep the guns out of the bad guys hands is better than the other. I feel that every law abiding citizen that can show that they know how to handle a weapon safely should be given the right guaranteed to them by the constitution to carry that weapon as a matter of personal defense. I feel that the more that the public and the criminals know that the citizens of Jones County are carrying weapons for personal defense, I think that the amount of personal impact crime will stay down to where it is now. Jones County has long been known as a heavily carrying county, and the criminals know this too.

Here are Chief Deputy Graver's responses:

Question 1. I do support the "shall issue" law, but I would like to see a few minor changes. For example. If a retired vet brings in a DD214, he is issued a permit. Even if he has not been in the military since 1948. Yet a active war vet back from his 3rd tour of duty in Iraq, needs to show small arms quals. To me, although I support our vets, the 1st vet may not have held a firearm for 60 years and yet the law makes more of an issue for our active vets. It offends me, can't believe how they must feel!

Question 2. I spent 8 years of my career working mostly felony crimes. I know the criminals I sought out had access to firearms, no matter what the law said. Unless the county is willing to man 1 entrance with a metal detector and make it a safe zone, not going to happen. A sign on the door restricting firearms is not going to affect those looking for criminal activity. Those who are carrying lawfully should be permitted to carry on county property. Shootings at a court house have happened in the past and I would hope someone I issued a permit to, could intervene and stop the threat if I can't!

Question 3. I do not know enough about that to make an opinion. Since other states have gone to this, I would like to know from their experience, does the good outway (sic) the bad and how. I could base my opinion on their experience and this would give me great insight to make an informed decision.

In my humble opinion, Graver or DeSotel both are fine for sheriff.  They both have plenty of experience in local law enforcement and neither appear anti-Second Amendment.  Since I can't vote for them both, I'll be marking my ballot for Greg Graver.   I believe Graver's wide-ranging experience (from patrol officer, to EMT, to supervisor, to criminal investigator) edges out DeSotel's.  But if DeSotel wins, I'll sleep just fine at night too.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Walk to End Alzheimer's 2011

Those of you who've read this blog for awhile know that every year about this time I participate in the Alzheimer's Association "Walk to End Alzheimer's" (formerly called "Memory Walk").  This year is no different and I'll be walking in the Manchester Iowa event on October 8th.  If you would like to find a "Walk to End Alzheimer's" near you in Iowa check here.

The walks raise money for the Alzheimer's Association which bills itself as "the leading, global voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care and support, and the largest private, nonprofit funder of Alzheimer's research."  Alzheimer's disease is an incurable, degenerative brain disease.  An early symptom is short-term memory loss, but eventually it leads to severe confusion, loss of linguistic abilities, and ultimately death.  It is currently the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. and its toll is raising.

If you've read the blog for awhile you'll probably also know that I have a personal interest in Alzheimer's disease.  My mom was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's about nine years ago at the age of 60.  Although she was able to live at home with my father most of that time, this year her condition worsened dramatically and she had to move into a nursing home.  It now appears that her time with us is growing short.

Although any cure found with current research funding that may come along will be too late for my mom, it will help somebody's mom... or dad or brother or sister.  That's why I'll be walking in the event.  If anyone would like to sponsor my walk with a small contribution to this worthy cause, please click here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ron Paul: The Media's 13th Floor

Many of us Ron Paul supporters have been biting our knuckles for a long time over the fact that Ron Paul can't seem to get any notice from the mainstream media.  Apparently others have begun to notice too.  Check out this video of Daily Show host John Stewart (who is probably not a supporter of Dr. Paul, but just enjoys pointing out the media's foibles) as he demonstrates the media's ignoring of Ron Paul.  (Stewart humorously likens the media's treatment of Paul to the 13th floor of a hotel.)

So why don't the media like Ron Paul?  Writing for the Chicago Tribune, John Kass has some theories.  One is that "the media is merely trying to provide us with loving protection from Paul and those challenging libertarian ideals:

"Such as the view we shouldn't be eager to be groped in airports or to fund another war in the Middle East, or that we should legalize drugs rather than fight the drug wars, or the wild idea that a coffee shop waitress should not be expected to pay taxes on her tips.

"These are extreme notions, though the principles behind them were once held dear by a few old guys in powdered wigs who founded this country.

"The TV people are happy to do the work for you, and tell you what notions are fit for public debate."

But another theory that he proffers is that the Democrat and Republican establishment (and thereby their cohorts in the media) are just plain scared of the old boy since he could steal votes from the existing power structure.  Writes Kass:  "Paul is anti-war, and there are many independent Democrats who've been anti-war, including those who elected President Barack Obama in 2008 and have since turned on him because, well, he recently help start a war in Libya, turning America's two wars into three.

"Paul also doesn't campaign on social issues, like outlawing abortion, or involving the government in the bedroom. He's not a political evangelical, so Paul's stance would be attractive to many Democrats."

Republican power brokers fear Paul mucking up the works too.  "[I]t's obvious Republicans see Paul as a threat," writes Kass.  "Perhaps it's the fact that Paul ridicules the GOP military drumbeat against Iran. It may be that he appeals to tea party fiscal conservatives, and if these voters begin to lean toward Paul, the establishment GOP will be left with defense contractors, neocons and evangelicals, not enough to win a national election."

So the media has lots of reasons to downplay Dr. Paul's campaign.  Is there anything that can be done about it?  Some local Ron Paul supporters are going to try.

Liberty-activist Brandon Echols recently informed me that a grassroots group will be staging a "protest in response to the Mainstream Media's blackout on coverage of Ron Paul."  They will gather at the Cedar Rapids Gazette Headquarters (also home of KCRG tv news) at 500 3rd Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa from 4pm to 5pm on Friday, August 26.  All who support Dr. Paul or are against biased journalism are encouraged to attend.  You can view their Facebook event page here

According to Echols, this will be a "peaceful and lawful" rally in support of Ron Paul.  I should note that this assembly is not affiliated with, nor sanctioned by, Ron Paul 2012 Presidential Campaign.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Day at the Straw Poll

Representative Ron Paul addresses supporters at the Ames Straw Poll.
Dr. Paul is on the covered stage at center left.  (Photo by author.)
After months of planning and hard work the Iowa Straw Poll in Ames is finally over.  I spent the day there and, although the results weren't exactly what I wanted, it was time well spent.

The day began early as myself and some local Ron Paul supporters boarded a bus provided by the campaign in Anamosa.  Fourteen of us got on at Anamosa and the bus already had about that many on it from Maquoketa.  One septuagenarian that got on with us told me that his daughter had chided him for not riding with her group on the Michele Bachmann bus.  He said that he told her that he wanted to ride with "the young people."

That might be a bit of an overgeneralization of Ron Paul's supporters, since they run the gamut, but Dr. Paul certainly does have more young and energetic followers than the others.  I'm betting that our bus had more examples of tattoos and body-piercings than, say, a typical Rick Santorum bus.  It's somewhat ironic that 76-year-old R.P., the oldest candidate in the race, would have so many young supporters.  My theory on why is because younger Americans have been so immersed in commercial media their whole lives that they can tell the difference between when they are being talked to and when they are being marketed to.  R.P. just says what he thinks while other candidates spout poll-tested platitudes designed to elicit the desired response (a vote).

As soon as the bus arrived at the ISU campus (where the Straw Poll takes place) a Ron Paul campaign staffer escorted our group up to the voting area and everyone voted.  After that we were free to enjoy the festivities.  Ron Paul's area was in the prime location in the central courtyard next to Hilton Coliseum.  He had a stage with bands playing, games for the kids (including a dunk tank featuring someone in a Ben Bernanke mask getting dunked), and barbecue and hot dogs being served.  I even spent an hour or so helping hand out pop and water to the thirsty crowd at Dr. Paul's beverage tent.

For once the campaign of the candidate I was supporting had all the bells and whistles and I didn't seem to be in the minority.  People in R.P. t-shirts where everywhere, seemingly outnumbering all other supporters.

Besides all of the candidates, various groups such as Strong America Now, NRA, and Us Against Alzheimer's had booths or tents set up.  High on my to-do list was to stop by the Iowa Gun Owners booth and get myself an IGO t-shirt.  However, due to high demand, they were out by the time I made it to their booth.  I guess I'll have to order one on their website.

Our group waited around as long as we could to hear the results of the Straw Poll but eventually had to go catch our bus home.  On the ride home the news came in on cell phones that Ron Paul had came in a close second behind Michele Bachmann.  The final results looked like this (Votes, %):

1. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (4823, 28.55%)

2. Congressman Ron Paul (4671, 27.65%)

3. Governor Tim Pawlenty (2293, 13.57%)

4. Senator Rick Santorum (1657, 9.81%)

5. Herman Cain(1456, 8.62%)

6. Governor Rick Perry (718, 3.62%) write-in

7. Governor Mitt Romney (567, 3.36%)

8. Speaker Newt Gingrich (385, 2.28%)

9. Governor Jon Huntsman (69, 0.41%)

10. Congressman Thad McCotter (35, 0.21%)

Scattering (218, 1.30 %) Includes all those receiving votes at less than one-percent that were not on the ballot.

While Bachmann won the Straw Poll fair-and-square, we Paulistas can console ourselves with a few thoughts:
  1. It ain't the caucus.  The straw poll is non-binding test of campaign strength primarily used as a fund-raiser for the Iowa GOP.  Hopefully the Paul campaign used it to identify their strengths and weaknesses and will put this information to good use winning the Iowa Caucus.
  2. It was darned close!  Only 152 votes (0.9%) separated Dr. Paul from the first place finisher.  If Ron Paul had won by just a fraction of a percent (as Bachmann did), you can bet the press would be playing up what a squeaker the win was.
  3. He did darned good!  Ron Paul's second place vote total was higher than Mitt Romney's first place vote total in 2007 and was the fourth highest vote total in Straw Poll history.  He won a higher percentage of the Straw Poll vote than the eventual caucus winner in three of the past four election cycles (including Mike Huckabee's 18.1%).
  4. Bachmann gave away more free tickets.  While most Ron Paul supporters like myself had to pay (a discounted price) for our tickets into the Straw Poll, his campaign did buy give away 4,750 tickets for free.  Bachmann's campaign, by contrast, gave away 6,000 freebies.  There's nothing underhanded about that, it's just easier to pack the house with free tickets to a free meal than a discounted price.  Ron Paul supporters mostly had to pay to vote for him and he still almost won.
Anyway, Straw Poll down.  Next stop: The Iowa Caucus.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Help Welcome Obama To Iowa

For those of you who live in Northeast Iowa (or those of you who don't mind driving a little way) here is an email I received from the Dubuque Tea Party regarding President Obama's upcoming visit to the state. 

As you probably know by now our job-killing president will be in Peosta, Iowa at Northeast Iowa Community College THIS TUESDAY for a Rural Economic Forum (another Agenda 21 initiative).
We are planning to protest this president during his visit. The information we have gathered shows that the Rural Economic Forum is scheduled to begin at 11:30 AM. We are planning to arrive in Peosta just before 10:00 AM. We will have to "play it by ear" as far as where we will be allowed by the Secret Service to park and protest.
Personally, I am going to try to park at the Red Roof Diner or at the Americinn which are very close to both the off ramp of Highway 20 and NICC. In my first email I mentioned that there is only one road in to NICC. I was wrong. There is also an entrance to NICC off Burds road to the north. Hopefully they will use the Enterprise Drive entrance.
I have got to believe the president's bus will come in on Highway 20 and exit onto Sundown Road/Y-21/Peosta Street and pass by the Americinn Motel and Suites. That's where I hope we can gather - along Peota Street in the grassy area in front of the Americainn.
For those who cannot make it in the morning there is another opportunity for you to protest. The Rural Economic Forum is scheduled to conclude at 2:30 PM. So, if you want you could gather at about 2:00 PM in the same above location to protest as the president departs.
Please spread the word. We would love a huge crowd to show the president and all the democrats in this area that we are still here in force, we are still very angry with this president's job-killing Keynesian policies, we are NOT going away, and we will do whatever it takes to make him a one-term president.
Bring your signs and join us THIS TUESDAY, AUGUST 16TH at 10:00 AM.
Yours in Liberty,
Jeff Luecke for YOUR Dubuque Tea Party

P.S. I know most of us work. I am taking the morning off to do this. We need to resist this man's incompetent manipulation and command/control of our economy. Let's send him a strong message!!!
Update from Jeff Luecke (8-15-11):

It has come to our attention that the streets/roads in Peosta will be shut down at 9:45 AM tomorrow morning.

So, we need to get to Peosta and check things out no later than 9:30 AM to see where we can park.

If worst comes to worst we can park on the shoulder of Highway 20 and walk to wherever we want to stand as we await "The Destroyer in Chief."

Hope to see you ALL there in FORCE to send a strong message to Mr. Obama that we do not want or need him and his oppressive policies in our lives.

Friday, August 12, 2011

"Santorum and Obama: Two Peas in a Pod?"

Senator Rick Santorum:
As president would impose his personal values
judgements in place of  U.S. Constitution.
An excerpt from an article by our friends at The Tenth Amendment Center:
Congresswoman Bachmann [...] has positioned herself repeatedly as a leader in the tea party, state’s rights, and Tenth Amendment movements. Asked last night whether there was a difference between the state or federal government mandating that an individual buy a product (referring primarily to health care insurance), Bachmann responded that there was no difference. It is “unconstitutional,” she maintained, regardless of whether it is imposed by the state or federal government. She did not cite which part of the Constitution denies states this authority.

Of course, that’s because no clause in the Constitution prevents states from doing it, as Congressman Paul rightly noted in response to Bachmann’s doublethink. Paul stated that the federal government is not empowered to go in and stop states that do bad things.

Moments later, Senator Santorum jumped in to criticize both of them, claiming that their responses were indicative of “the Tenth Amendment run amok.” Said Santorum:

Michelle Bachmann says that she would go in and fight health care being imposed by states, but she wouldn’t go in and fight marriage being imposed by the states. That would be okay. We have Ron Paul saying oh, whatever the states want to do under the Tenth Amendment is fine. So if the states want to pass polygamy, that’s fine. If the states want to impose sterilization, that’s fine. No! Our country is based on moral laws, ladies and gentleman. There are things the states can’t do. Abraham Lincoln said “the states do not have the right to do wrong.” I respect the Tenth Amendment, but we are a nation that has values. We are a nation that was built on a moral enterprise. And states don’t have the right to tramp over those because of the Tenth Amendment.

Leaving aside the fact that he inaccurately portrayed Rep. Paul’s stance, it is obvious that Santorum is no Tenther, but rather a power-loving thug looking to impose his personal set of morals and values on any people living under whatever level of government he can use to accomplish his goals. In this respect, he’s hardly different from Barack Obama at all.

Obviously, Santorum has either not read or understood the Tenth Amendment — included in the Constitution which he has on several occasions sworn an oath to support and defend — which provides for the very things he is criticizing.

States do have the ability, under the constitutional system the Founders put in place, to “do wrong.” They have the sovereign authority to decide whatever they wish on whatever matters they like, provided that this authority has not already been delegated to the federal government, or has not been explicitly denied them in the Constitution.
When we sit back for a moment and recognize that the federal government already claims the power to require to you to purchase health insurance, to tell you what size toilet you can have, what kind of plants you can grow in your back yard, what kind of light bulb you can use, and so much more – don’t we realize there’s already too much federal power? For people like Obama and Santorum, it sure doesn’t seem that way.
Read the entire article here.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ron Paul vs. Michele Bachmann: A Leader or A Cheerleader

Recently Jones County Ron Paul supporter Roger Kistler attended both a Ron Paul and a Michele Bachmann campaign event in the same day.   In this letter Kistler provides an interesting comparison of the styles of those two candidates.

Dear Jones County Ron Paulers,

Yesterday I took the day off from my work. I’m glad I did. I learned a lot and I would like to share some of that with you.

At noon I attended the Ron Paul “meet and greet” in Cedar Rapids. At four o’clock I attended a Michele Bachmann event in Maquoketa. The difference between the two campaign events was stark. I am convinced more than ever before that Ron Paul should be our nation’s next chief executive.

At the Ron Paul meet and greet, people came into the meeting at the Marriott Hotel and either stood talking to one another or sat and chatted with the person sitting next to them until Dr. Paul was introduced. Before Dr. Paul began speaking the only sound was that of people talking to one another. At the Bachmann event held in the parking lot of Flapjacks restaurant, driving music was playing over loudspeakers as the people arrived. I chatted briefly with the lady next to me but really there were very few conversations taking place.

Bachmann campaign signs and stickers were freely passed out. Ron Paul had campaign signs as well. They were neatly stacked by the exit and could be picked up on the way out.

The Bachmann campaign was literally staged. They set up a tent and a stage probably twenty feet long in front of the audience with Ms Bachmann’s campaign bus serving as a back drop. On the stage were 8 chairs with people seated facing the audience holding Bachmann signs. Ron Paul stood at a hotel podium by himself.

Not counting campaign staff, I counted between 140 and 150 people at the Ron Paul event. I counted about 60 people at the Bachman event. I found it interesting that the front page of the Dubuque Telegraph Herald today reported Bachmann having “200 Iowans” present.

The numbers in attendance did not impress me as much as their ages. The Ron Paul group was by and large younger. I was on the older side of the age curve. The Bachmann crowd was older. I was on the younger side of that crowd’s age curve.

The messages of the two candidates were as different as night and day. Dr. Paul identified problems with the country as he saw them and then proceeded to explain how they could be solved in the political arena. The audience enthusiastically but politely applauded to statements to which they obviously agreed. Bachmann on the other hand was full of questions. “Do you think Washington is spending too much of your money?” “Do you want to get rid of Obama care?” Depending upon the question, the audience responses were either a loud, vocal “Yes” or “No” occasionally accompanied by spastic applause.

Dr. Paul repeatedly referenced the US Constitution often citing specific article and section numbers. Michele Bachmann mentioned the Constitution once then added, “By the way that’s what we should follow … the Constitution.”

After Dr Paul completed his prepared remarks, he fielded questions. Michele Bachmann did not. She spoke for a little over 15 minutes and that was it. The questions Dr. Paul was asked were very thoughtful and specific. He spoke for probably 30 - 40 minutes.

On cue the music started again and from the elevated stage Ms Bachmann quickly began shaking hands as the people reached up to her while she occasionally reached down to scribble an autograph. When Ron Paul stopped talking, the crowd members started talking to each other again. Dr Paul positioned himself by the door and one by one, face to face, shook hands, fielded one-on-one questions, posed for photos and signed autographs for those interested.

I think my day could be summarized in the following way. One campaign provided thoughtful insight and those present were obviously intent on learning. The other campaign had the depth of and sounded much like a junior high pep rally.

On the way home I kept wondering, “As a nation, are we going to elect a leader or a cheerleader?” If you haven’t done it yet, get your tickets for the Ames Straw Poll at so you can vote for a leader August 13.

Ron Pauler Mike Angelos gave me a Ron Paul / Michele Backman comparison sheet. You will find it attached. Feel free to make copies and share it with your friends and especially with those who don’t really know much about Ron Paul. Thanks Mike.

It was good seeing all the Jones County Ron Paulers at the Cedar Rapids meet and greet. Keep up the good work.

Yours in liberty,
Roger Kistler,
Jones Co. chair
Ron Paul Presidential Campaign
Olin, Iowa

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Federalists v. Anti-Federalists Lecture Tuesday

The Jones County 9-12 Project is hosting Professor Lee Strang who will conduct a lecture entitled, "The Federalists v. Anti-Federalists and Lessons for Today."  This event is free and open to the public.  Here is the information from group's website:


Tuesday, July 26 - 7:00 to 9:00 pm

Monticello City Council Chambers - Community Center

220 East First Street - Monticello

Why did the Federalists support the Constitution? Why did the Anti-Federalists fear the Constitution would give the federal government too much power? Professor Lee Strang will provide a foundational understanding of the debates between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists, what prompted the debates, what they debated and lessons for Americans today.

Professor Lee Strang is a Professor of Law, University of Toledo in Ohio.

This event is FREE and open to the public!
I attended Professor Strang's lecture on the U.S. Constitution last year and really enjoyed the informative event.  I'll be attending this one as well.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

TSA Tyranny Update

Old Woman's Diaper Raided By TSA Agents; No Weapons Found

In a move sure to make the founding fathers and the Almighty Himself beam with pride, TSA goons strip searched a 95-year-old woman in a wheelchair, going so far as to force the woman's daughter to remove the woman's adult diaper.  The elderly woman, Lena Reppert, is in the final stages of Leukemia and was trying to fly from Florida to Michigan to be with family during her final days.

“It’s something I couldn’t imagine happening on American soil,” said Jean Weber, the woman's daughter. “Here is my mother, 95 years old, 105 pounds, barely able to stand, and then this.”  For something done in the name of security, I doubt that Jean and her mother feel more secure after the nerve-wracking encounter with TSA.

With the wisdom of an everyday American, Jean added: “I’m not one to make waves, but dadgummit, this is wrong. People need to know. Next time it could be you.”

Texas Fold'em

A Texas bill which would have banned invasive TSA searches such as the one that Lena Reppert endured has been quashed in that state's legislature.  Calling the anti-groping bill a "publicity stunt," Texas  House Speaker Joe Straus used parliamentary procedures to kill the bill in a special session.

The bill had previously passed in the Texas House during the regular session but was pulled from the state Senate when the TSA threatened to turn Texas into a "no-fly zone" if it passed.  Because of overwhelming popular and legislative support, the bill was later re-introduced in a special session where it seems to have met its ultimate demise.

State Representative David Simpson, who introduced the bill, had this to say on the floor of the Texas House, "The people in support of this bill have succeeded in shining the light on those who collaborate with the growing tyranny of our federal government.... Its’ defeat only propels the liberty movement in this state.  The people now know that it is possible to fight back."

Let's hope so.

4th Amendment Supporter Detained By, Then Sues TSA

According to a article:
A 21-year-old Virginia man who wrote an abbreviated version of the Fourth Amendment on his body and stripped to his shorts at an airport security screening area is demanding $250,000 in damages for being detained on a disorderly conduct charge.

Aaron Tobey claims in a civil rights lawsuit that in December he was handcuffed and held for about 90 minutes by the Transportation Security Administration at the Richmond International Airport after he began removing his clothing to display on his chest a magic-marker protest of airport security measures.

“Amendment 4: The right of the people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated,” his chest and gut read.
According to the suit, while under interrogation on December 30, the authorities wanted to know “about his affiliation with, or knowledge of, any terrorist organizations, if he had been asked to do what he did by any third party, and what his intentions and goals were.”

Two weeks later, Henrico County prosecutors dropped the misdemeanor charge.
Apparently TSA agents were unable to decipher the strange alien symbols on the man's chest, having never laid eyes upon a copy of the U.S. Constitution before.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Pennies from Heaven in Iowa

Here in my pastoral Iowa town of Monticello (pop. 3,796) there's been a small debate about getting a new terminal building for our airport.  I say a "small debate" because only a couple of people have spoken out against it at City Council meetings.  Why would the community be against it?

According to our local paper the Federal Aviation Administration will fund 95 percent of the new structure and the remaining 5 percent will come from private donations to the airport.  Perhaps the gist of the pro-terminal side of the debate can be summed up in the words of one member of the local Airport Board.  He said: “This is a ‘no brainer.’ It will cost the Monticello taxpayer nothing[.]”  [Emphasis added.]

Free money!  The federal government will pick up the tab. It's a common refrain all across the fruited plain.  It won't cost local taxpayers anything... unless they also happen to be live in the U.S. or have children who will.

The U.S. is already $14 trillion in debt and is borrowing another $3 million every minute.  That's $46,000 of debt for every man, woman and child in America.  If you include the unfunded liabilities for Social Security, Medicare and the Republican prescription drug entitlement, that number is much, much higher.  According to Strong America Now, "Americans born in the 1980′s and 1990′s could face an income tax rate of 60% just to cover the interest on our national debt."

President Obama and the Democrats say we can pay for government's constantly skyrocketing spending by increasing taxes on those dastardly rich people.  But, as Amy K. Frantz (writing for Iowa's own Tax Education Foundation) points out, already "the top 10 percent of tax returns paid 69.9 percent of all federal income taxes, and the top 25 percent of tax returns paid 86.3 percent of all federal income taxes."

A recent Wall Street Journal article cited by Frantz states that even if the Democrats placed a confiscatory top income tax of 100% on all millionaires and billionaires "[t]hat yields merely about $938 billion, which is sand on the beach amid the $4 trillion White House budget, a $1.65 trillion deficit, and spending at 25% as a share of the economy, a post-World War II record."

In a Washington Times article, Cato Institute senior fellow Richard W. Rahn concludes that to balance the budget through tax increases, "[T]he only way for the government to obtain significantly more revenue is to increase taxes greatly on the lower- and middle-income groups who now pay very little. But increasing tax rates on the upper-, middle- or lower-income groups will have the nasty side effects of further slowing economic growth and increasing unemployment."

What money the government can't tax or borrow to cover its spending it often prints out of thin air which causes inflation. U.S. Representative Ron Paul has called inflation the "hidden tax" since nobody really thinks about what causes it. Paul explains: "The inflation tax, while largely ignored, hurts middle-class and low-income Americans the most. Simply put, printing money to pay for federal spending dilutes the value of the dollar, which causes higher prices for goods and services. Inflation may be an indirect tax, but it is very real — the individuals who suffer most from cost of living increases certainly pay a 'tax.'” Those "individuals who suffer" higher prices include those lucky folks in Monticello or your community who got some "free" goody from the feds.

My point here is not that my community does or doesn't need a new airport terminal or that your community does or doesn't a new parking ramp or Earwax Museum.  The point is that we can no longer treat federal largess as manna from heaven that comes with no cost whatsoever.  It comes with the shackles of indebtedness that we are slapping on our children.  May they and God forgive our selfishness.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Brandon Echols Joins IFR

Steve Hoodjer's site Iowa Freedom Report (at which I am an occasional contributor) recently announced another contributor joining the team: Iowa liberty activist Brandon Echols.  Hoodjer introduced the new writer like this:
Iowa Freedom Report would like to introduce our newest contributor. Brandon Echols is an energetic young freedom activist from eastern Iowa. His organization is Republic Now and we’ve covered their activities here before. Mr. Echols is the Deputy Chair of the Libertarian Party of Iowa, but he still gets out to freedom events across partisan boundaries. You can expect firsthand report [sic] in an easygoing style from our new contributor[.]

In his first report Brandon briefly introduced himself as well.
My name is Brandon Echols and I am a near-lifelong Iowan. I have lived in Anamosa since I was one year old, originally being born in Rolla, Missouri. And, yes, I have a produceable birth certificate I can share.

I am a Deputy Chair of the Libertarian Party of Iowa, longtime Ron Paul supporter, and founder of the Eastern Iowa activist group, Republic Now (
Brandon then went on to report about the Strong America Now summit in Des Moines.  You can read the complete post here.

I've known Brandon since the 2008 Bob Barr presidential campaign. (Barr didn't win.)  Brandon is a good guy willing to stick up for his principles and he has much more youthful energy than I do.  He'll be a good addition to Hoodjer's team.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Ron Paul Gains Ground In Iowa (Literally)

It may come as a surprise to former Congressman Anthony Weiner, but the best way to judge a politician's efficacy is by the size of his... uh, tent.  At least that's how it works at the Iowa Republican Straw Poll in Ames.  Judging by the site awarded to candidate Ron Paul, the good doctor plans on having a lot of supporters in his tent.  (I'll be one of them.)

The straw poll is held in and around the Hilton Coliseum on the ISU campus which is sectioned off and lots are "auctioned" off to the respective campaigns.  Of course not all lots are equal and the choicest spots go to those who cough up the most cash.  (The proceeds go to the Iowa GOP.)  According to the Iowa Republican (which listed Ron Paul as one of the big winners of the straw poll real estate auction):

The Ron Paul Revolution will take center stage at the Iowa Straw Poll now that Paul has purchased the same lot that has hosted the previous two winners of the event, Mitt Romney and George W. Bush. Paul had to pay a hefty price, $31,000, but the space is the closest of any other to the voting locations. The elevated walkways that will surround the Paul compound make it an ideal spot for the media to use as a backdrop.
This will be quite different than when I attended the event in 2007.  Back then the deep-pocketed candidates (like Romney) were in the center of the action and had huge tents, catered meals, bands, and carnival rides.  Dr. Paul's lot was a bit off the beaten path and I can only recall one open-sided picnic tent.  He had some local garage bands and campaign volunteers grilled a few hotdogs.  (That was still better than 1999 when I supported Alan Keyes.  His small space was literally out in a parking lot.  He had a small GI pup tent set up and he and I split a Fresca.  Okay, I made that last part up.)

This time Ron Paul appears to one of the major players at the event.  Unlike 2007, Ron Paul will be providing charter bus transportation for supporters to get to the event.  The IowaForRonPaul website boasts that Dr. Paul's tent will include free food, drinks, literature, music and games.  Before supporters had to pay their own way into the event, this year Paul's campaign is subsidizing the tickets so supporters only pay $10 for everything, including transportation.

If you'd like to attend, you can order your ticket at

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

TSA Tyranny Update

Former Miss USA Sexually Assaulted by TSA

TSA Not Just In Airports Anymore

According to a recent American Thinker article, the TSA is currently storming about 8,000 public places per year.   In one typical TSA operation, "[b]us travelers were shocked when jackbooted TSA officers in black SWAT-style uniforms descended unannounced upon the Tampa Greyhound bus station in April with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and federal bureaucrats in tow.  A news report [...] showed passengers being given the signature pat downs Americans are used to watching the Transportation Security Administration screeners perform at our airports. Canine teams sniffed their bags and the buses they rode."  TSA conducted a similar operation at a Des Moines Greyhound bus depot this month.

Not impressive enough?  More spectacular was a recent operation where "the agency led dozens of federal and state law enforcement agencies in [an] exercise that covered three states and 5,000 square miles. According to the Marietta Times, the sweep used reconnaissance aircraft and 'multiple airborne assets, including Blackhawk helicopters and fixed wing aircraft as well as waterborne and surface teams.'" 

As the TSA extends its reach well beyond airports, the apathetic masses might soon rephrase Pastor Martin Niemöller's famous statement, "First they came for the air travellers, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't an air traveller."

Texas/TSA Showdown Continues

Earlier in the year the Texas legislature introduced a bill banning the TSA's intrusive "enhanced pat-downs" and one banning the TSA's new nude body scanners in Texas airports.  (See "TSA Tyranny Update" March 20, 2011)  Support for the bills apparently crumbled after the Obama administration threatened to shut down air traffic in Texas if the bills passed.  Neither bill made it out of the regular legislative session.

Now, however, Texas governor Rick Perry has added the anti-groping bill to the agenda of legislative special session at the urging of state legislators.  According to the Texas Tribune, "The bill would criminalize any intentional, knowing or reckless touching of a person's private parts during a security screening, including through clothing."  It appears that the bill now has the necessary votes to pass.

Don't mess with Texas!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Iowa In Top 15 Freest States

Ever wonder how Iowa stacks up against other states in the area of freedom?  Pretty well according to a recent study by Mercatus Center at George Mason University.  Iowa came in 13th in this study that "comprehensively ranks the American states on their public policies that affect individual freedoms in the economic, social, and personal spheres."  Iowa ranked 7th and 30th in the economic and personal freedom subcategories respectively.

According to the study, Iowa "particularly stands out on economic regulation. Iowa also has a light touch on land-use planning. Labor regulations are business friendly, with right-to-work laws [..] and a decent workers’-compensation regime." 

Iowa appears to be more of a mixed bag when it comes to government paternalism.  Private schools and homeschooling are over regulated while marijuana sentencing and asset forfeiture laws need reformed.  However, much gambling is allowed and most  PAC political contributions are unregulated.  The same-sex marriage ruling occurred after the period studied in the report (as did Iowa's new right-to-carry firearms law).

The study makes the following policy recommendations for Iowa:

"1.Improve the environment for personal freedom by cutting sin taxes and reforming marijuana sentencing guidelines.

"2.End private-school teacher licensing. Reduce standardized testing and notification requirements for homeschoolers.

"3.Reform asset forfeiture by placing the burden of proof on the government and redirecting proceeds to the general fund."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Vote Ron Paul At The Ames Straw Poll

 I’ll be supporting doctor and U.S. Representative Ron Paul at the Ames Straw Poll on August 13th.

At a time when the U.S. government is borrowing $3 million every minute, many Republicans have signed on to a supposedly “bold” plan that pretends to have unknown future politicians balance the budget 50 years from now. Ron Paul, however, supports balancing the budget while we still have a country. In his 21 years in Congress, Paul has never voted to raise taxes and has voted AGAINST every unbalanced budget. Imagine what he could do with a presidential veto pen.

He never votes for legislation unless it’s expressly authorized by the Constitution. His votes have earned him the derisive name “Dr. No” from his big-spending colleagues in Congress and “Taxpayers' Best Friend” from the National Taxpayers’ Union. He realizes that we can no longer afford to fight war after endless war where we no longer even bother to define victory. Ron Paul is pro-life, pro-free market, and pro-Second Amendment.

If you want to support Dr. Paul in the Ames Straw Poll you can get your ticket at If you register before July 4th, you get roundtrip transportation to the event, a Ron Paul T-shirt, and food, drinks, and entertainment at the Ron Paul tent for only $10.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Don't Forget Them This Memorial Day

Name of war, year and number of U.S. military killed and wounded:

American Revolutionary War 1775–1783 50,000

Northwest Indian War 1785–1795 1881+

Quasi-War 1798–1800 556

First Barbary War 1801–1805 138

Other actions against pirates 1800–1900  294+

Chesapeake–Leopard Affair 1807 21

War of 1812 1812–1815  ~25,000

Marquesas Expedition 1813–1814 7

Second Barbary War 1815 148

First Seminole War 1817–1818 83

First Sumatran Expedition 1832  13

Black Hawk War 1832  390

Second Seminole War 1835–1842 1535

Mexican–American War 1846–1848 17,435

Third Seminole War 1855–1858 53

Civil War 1861–1865 646,392 (Union Forces)

Dakota War of 1862 (Little Crow's War) 1862 220–263

Shimonoseki Straits 1863 10

Snake Indian War 1864–1868 158

Indian Wars 1865–1898 1,025

Red Cloud's War 1866–1868 226

Korea (Shinmiyangyo) 1871 12

Modoc War 1872–1873 144

Great Sioux War 1875–1877 525

Nez Perce War 1877 291

Bannock War 1878 34

Ute War 1879 67

Ghost Dance War 1890–1891 99

Sugar Point- Pillager Band of Chippewa Indians 1898 23

Spanish–American War 1898 4,068

Philippine–American War 1898–1913 7,126

Boxer Rebellion 1900–1901  335

Mexican Revolution 1914–1919 70

Occupation of Haiti 1915–1934 184+

World War I 1917–1918 320,518

North Russia Campaign 1918–1920 424

American Expeditionary Force Siberia 1918–1920 380+

China 1918; 1921; 1926–1927; 1930; 1937 83

US occupation of Nicaragua 1927–1933 116

World War II 1941–1945 1,076,245

China 1945–1947 56

Berlin Blockade 1948–1949 31

Korean War 1950–1953 128,650

U.S.S.R. Cold War 1947–1991 44

China Cold War 1950–1972 16

Vietnam War 1955–1975 211,454

1958 Lebanon crisis 1958 7+

Bay of Pigs Invasion 1961 4

Dominican Republic 1965–1966 213

Iran 1980 12

El Salvador Civil War 1980–1992 35

Beirut deployment 1982–1984 169

Persian Gulf escorts 1987–1988 31

Invasion of Grenada 1983 138

1986 Bombing of Libya 1986 2

Invasion of Panama 1989 324

Gulf War 1990–1991 1,231

Somalia 1992–1993 153

Haiti 1994–1995 3

Colombia 1994–Present 8

Bosnia-Herzegovina 1995–2004 18

Kosovo 1999–2006 22+

Afghanistan 2001–present 12,035

Iraq War 2003–2010 36,395

*Source: Wikipedia

Monday, May 23, 2011

Let Imperial Foreign Policy Die With Bin Laden

On May 1st the gallant warriors of SEAL Team 6 delivered justice to a wicked man, Osama bin Laden, the founder of al-Qaeda who was ultimately responsible for the deaths of over 3,000 Americans.  With the symbolic face of our enemy in the "War on Terror" now resting in the cold depths of the North Arabian Sea, perhaps this is a good time for America to draw down it's forces in that nebulous war and reevaluate it's interventionist foreign policy in general around the globe.  Meddling foreign policy, which has occupied our efforts for over a century now, is creating more enemies, stretching our brave military dangerously thin, and helping to bankrupt the nation.

To see how our foreign policy creates enemies we can look at bin Laden himself.  Osama wasn't the threat he was just because he could motivate a few religious kooks against us.  He was dangerous because, in his heyday, he was able to strike a chord with a large segment of the mainstream Muslim world.  And what was he saying that was resonating with rank-and-file Muslims?

Michael F. Scheuer (who, as chief of the Osama bin Laden tracking unit of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center, was studying Bin Laden before most Americans had even heard of him) summed up the case that bin Laden presented to his fellow Muslims against the U.S. in his 2004 book Imperial Hubris.   "Bin Laden has been precise in telling America the reasons he is waging war on us," Scheuer wrote.  "None of the reasons have anything to do with our freedom, liberty, and democracy, but have everything to do with U.S. policies and actions in the Muslim world.  [...] He could not have his current -and increasing- level of success if Muslims did not believe their faith, brethren, resources, and lands to be under attack by the United States and, more generally, the West.  Indeed, the United States, and its policies and actions, are bin Laden's only indispensable allies."

Scheuer says that we are not "misunderstood" in the Muslim world, as our politicians often claim.  Rather, we are hated because of "how easy it is for Muslims to see, hear, experience, and hate the six U.S. policies bin Laden repeatedly refers to as anti-Muslim:
  • U.S. support for Israel that keeps Palestinians in the Israelis' thrall.
  • U.S. and other Western troops on the Arabian Peninsula.
  • U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • U.S. support for Russia, India, and China against their Muslim militants.
  • U.S. pressure on Arab energy producers to keep oil prices low.
  • U.S. support for apostate, corrupt, and tyrannical Muslim governments."
In short, "Muslims are bothered by our modernity, democracy, and sexuality, but they are rarely spurred to action unless American forces encroach on their lands. It's American foreign policy that enrages Osama and al-Qaeda, not American culture and society." 

And that's just one culture.  Rest assured that your federal government is enraging people of many cultures all around the world (in your name).  When foreigners become incensed with our government's meddling in their affairs they sometimes lash out.  The CIA casually calls that "blowback."  As 9-11 demonstrated, blowback can be disastrous.

In order to guard its empire of intervention, the U.S. maintains an archipelago of some 507 to 1,180 foreign military bases (even the government is unsure of the actual number).  To put that in perspective, our nearest competitors, Russia and Great Britain only have a few such bases.  China, Iran, North Korea, Libya, and any other nation on our "naughty list" all have zero.  It's unclear how much these overseas bases cost the U.S. taxpayers, but in 2010 the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform estimated that cutting U.S. garrisons in Europe and Asia by one-third would save about $8.5 billion in 2015 alone.

The total U.S. defense budget is about $700 billion, or 20% of the total federal budget.  This figure represents about half of all military spending in the world.  This doesn't include related expenses such as care of disabled vets, pensions, or "homeland security" costs.  Since the federal government borrows about 40 cents of every dollar it spends, that means the government will borrow billions per year (often from the likes of the Red Chinese) to fund defense programs supposedly to defend us from the likes of the Red Chinese.  This when both the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have publicly stated that the national debt, not some foreign power, represents the single biggest threat to U.S. security.

In conjunction with its massive military, the U.S. maintains "alliances" with hundreds of much weaker nations that threaten to drag us into any war that breaks out anywhere in the world.  Our "allies," who expect our protection from their menacing neighbors, often spend a smaller percentage of their national wealth on defense than we do.  Why should they waste their blood and treasure to defend their own country when starry-eyed Americans will do it for them?

Since many neo-conservatives try to dismiss any criticism of aggressive foreign policy as unpatriotic piffle from the "blame America first crowd," perhaps I should pause here to clarify a few things. 

First, I have nothing but profound respect for our brave men and women in uniform, who don't set our foreign policy but whose lives are often risked by it.  I wore the uniform in peacetime and served with some of the Iowa Guardsmen who are in Afghanistan right now.  They're a great bunch of guys.  Nor am I some pacifist who thinks that war is always wrong.  It' a rough world and nations, like individuals, have a responsibility to defend themselves.  Lastly, I don't think America or her people are "bad."  On the contrary, she is a great nation populated by brave, honest and industrious people.  It's just that our country has a convoluted, self-destructive foreign policy.  Again, that's not because we are bad but because foreign policy is a product of the federal government and our government could screw up a cheese sandwich.

So what is the alternative to the current quasi-imperialist foreign policy?  Perhaps a return to the peaceful, noninterventionist foreign policy that the founders of our country envisioned.  Thomas Jefferson famously advised "peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none."  In his farewell address, George Washington stated, "It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world."

I believe the most elequent statement of traditional American noninterventionism, however, comes from John Quincy Adams' speech delivered on July 4, 1821:  "America, in the assembly of nations, since her admission among them, has invariably, though often fruitlessly, held forth to them the hand of honest friendship, of equal freedom, of generous reciprocity.

"She has uniformly spoken among them, though often to heedless and often to disdainful ears, the language of equal liberty, of equal justice, and of equal rights.

"She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own.

"She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart. [...]

"Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be.

"But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.

"She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.

"She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. [...]

"She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom.

"The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force....

"She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit...."

As we look at the state of our great nation at home and abroad, she is beginning to look like that "dictatress of the world" that Adams warned of, whose principles are changing "from liberty to force."  Perhaps now is the time to correct that.  Our great enemy Osama bin Laden is at the bottom of the sea and our nation is sinking in a sea of red ink.  If we can't honestly reexamine our foreign policy now, then when can we?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"Atlas Shrugged" Now At More Theaters

After racking up a respectable first week of box office grosses for an independently produced and distributed film, "Atlas Shrugged- Part 1" producers hope to increase the number of theaters showing it from the current 300 to about 1,000 by this weekend. This translates to more screens showing the film here in Iowa.  Here's an updated list:

Cedar Rapids

Carmike Wynnsong 12

2435 Edgewood Road SW, Cedar Rapids , IA 52404


Rave Motion Pictures 53-Davenport

3601 East 53rd Street, Davenport, IA 52807


Carmike Wynnsong 16

5233 Stoney Creek Road, Des Moines, IA 50131

Sioux City

Carmike Southern Hills 12

4400 Sergeant Road #15, Sioux City, IA 51106

West Des Moines

Century 20 Jordan Creek and XD

101 Jordan Creek Parkway, West Des Moines, IA 50266

Sunday, April 17, 2011

TSA Tyranny Update

Groping Kids on the Taxpayers' Dime

TSA: Making the world a safer place... one sobbing child at a time.

DHS: We Have the Authority to Routinely Strip-Search Air Travelers

According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC):
The Department of Homeland Security told a federal court that the agency believes it has the legal authority to strip search every air traveler. The agency made the claim at oral argument in EPIC's lawsuit to suspend the airport body scanner program. The agency also stated that it believed a mandatory strip search rule could be instituted without any public comment or rulemaking. EPIC President Marc Rotenberg urged the Washington, DC appeals court to suspend the body scanner program, noting that the devices are "uniquely intrusive" and ineffective. EPIC's opening brief in the case states that the Department of Homeland Security "has initiated the most sweeping, the most invasive, and the most unaccountable suspicionless search of American travelers in history," and that such a change in policy demands that the TSA conduct a notice-and-comment rule making process. The case is EPIC v. DHS, No. 10-1157.
TSA Agents Busted for Stealing From Checked Bags

According to the New York Post two TSA agents, Davon Webb and Couman Perad, were arrested in February for stealing $160,000 in cash from passenger luggage at JFK Airport.  According to the article, "Perad and Webb would screen bags looking for loot, then swipe the cash once the luggage was opened in a private screening room, sources said."  These two got caught, but a lot of luggage goes missing every year.

John Locke philosophised that man has three basic rights: to life, liberty and property.  From their invasive searches and gropings, it's clear that the TSA doesn't care about the American people's liberty.  When they're stealing from us, they apparantly don't care about our property.  Perhaps Congress should bring the TSA to heal before the other right on Locke's list begins to fall victim to abuse by the TSA or its sister agencies.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Atlas Shrugged Movie- Now In Theaters

The movie based upon Ayn Rand's classic novel "Atlas Shrugged" hit theaters today.  The book, a defense of laissez-faire capitalism, had been in Hollywood "development hell" for almost four decades before finally making it to the big screen.  Check out the trailer:

The film is currently playing at the following Iowa theaters:


Rave Motion Pictures 53

3601 East 53rd Street, Davenport, IA 52807

West Des Moines

Century 20 Jordan Creek and XD

101 Jordan Creek Parkway, West Des Moines, IA 50266

Check out the film's website to find the latest theaters and news about the movie.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Iowa DNR Proposes Ban on Lead Shot

Iowa’s Natural Resources Commission recently announced its intent to ban hunters’ use of lead shot on numerous state and federal wildlife areas across Iowa, except for use in turkey and deer hunting. The ban will also prohibit the use of lead shot in target shooting.

According to the Commission, the purpose of imposing this ban is to “begin limiting the use of lead for all hunting and fishing on all public areas”. The proposed ban would also designate three wildlife areas as completely “lead free,” including rifle ammunition and fishing tackle. The announcement does not mention any research showing that the use of lead shot is having a negative impact on the state’s wildlife populations. The DNR should base any proposals to restrict hunting on science, not politics and emotion. Unfortunately this is not the case in this instance.

This proposal should be treated as a statewide ban because of the size of the area it covers and because of the Commission’s intent to extend it to all public lands in the future. It is critical that the Commissioners hear strong opposition to its proposal from hunters, shooters, and anglers across the state. Written comments are being accepted until April 27 and can be sent to Dale Garner, Wildlife Bureau Chief, at

The Commission is not alone in advocating a ban on lead ammunition and fishing tackle. They are keeping company with anti-hunting extremists, anti-gunners, and radical environmentalists who are campaigning for a nationwide ban.

Lake Delhi- We Will Be Back- Trailer

Someone is making a documentary about Lake Delhi and the 2010 flooding and dam breach.  The trailer looks interesting.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hein Responds

In the previous post I discussed state Representative Lee Hein's apparent flip-flop on Constitutional Carry.  Hein emailed me back and rather than translate his position (and potentially put words in his mouth) I decided just to include our correspondence below.
Sent: Friday, April 01, 2011 9:13 PM
To: Hein, Lee [LEGIS]
Subject: Constitutional Carry

Dear Representative Hein:

I was disappointed to hear from Iowa Gun Owners that although you said you would support a "Constitutional Carry" bill while campaigning you now say that you will not. I realize that gun issues have gotten a lot of media attention and have become a contentious issue this year, but I hope that you will reconsider and SUPPORT Constitutional Carry as you originally said you would.

As you know, Constitutional Carry is a simple, straight forward idea. If passed, it simply permits anyone who is eligible to own a firearm to carry a firearm concealed without a permit. This legislation would not get rid of the current permit system, but it would merely give gun owners another option for exercising their right to bear arms. For reciprocity between states, citizens might still want a permit, but that’s their choice under the Constitutional Carry system. Constitutional Carry is currently law in Alaska, Arizona, Vermont and now Wyoming.

Again, please support Constitutional Carry in Iowa. Thank you for your time.

 Benjamin R. Cashner
[Address redacted]

Here's Hein's response, which I received April 4th:


I want you to hear my position on the Constitutional Carry bill. I would support the bill if they would add some education to the bill. I believe everyone who carries a firearm should understand the law before they get put into a situation. The education can be as simple as a pamphlet that they receive when they get the Right to purchase permit. I want to protect the average citizen who needs to understand the consquences [sic] of what can happen after he or she pulls and points the firearm.

I believe that law abiding citizens who wants [sic] to carry should be able to. What I do not want, is to have to put that citizen in prison because he did not understand the laws of the state of Iowa. I do not think this is to much to ask. I would like to hear your views on this.
Rep. Lee Hein

Lastly, here's my reply which was sent April 7th:

Dear Representative Hein:

Thank you for your prompt reply and for explaining your position on Constitutional Carry.  I'm still somewhat confused since I believe that HF 2241, which you expressed support for while campaigning, contained no education requirements for citizens who choose to carry firearms without a permit, which you now say is needed for your support.  Some are characterizing this as a deliberate misrepresentation on your part.

I can appreciate your not wanting citizens going to jail because they don't fully understand Iowa's self-defense laws.  While that danger would exist under a Constitutional Carry system, it already exists under current law.  I doubt, for instance, that many of the people now getting their permits to carry using their military discharge papers as proof of training received much instruction on the intricacies of Iowa weapons and self-defense laws.  Ultimately the duty to educate oneself resides with each individual.  With freedom comes responsibility.

If it turns out that some Iowans are going to jail because Iowa laws run contrary to the average Iowan's concept of what is "self-defense," then the laws need changed. (Your support of the Enhanced Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground bill was a good step in that direction.)

That said, if the state did want to create some type of public awareness campaign or pamphlet (as you suggest), that might not be a bad idea.  However, I don't think that the people's right to freely exercise their pre-existing Constitutionally-protected right to bear arms should be made contingent upon it.

Once again, thank you for your time.

Benjamin R. Cashner

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Lee Hein Backpedaling On Constitutional Carry?

Since I'm a newly-minted member of Iowa Gun Owners (IGO) who happens to live in state Representative Lee Hein's district, IGO Executive Director Aaron Dorr recently let me know of an about-face Hein has done on the issue of Constitutional Carry. 

When campaigning for the House District 31 seat against incumbent Democrat Ray Zirkelbach, Hein filled out IGO's candidate survey.  The very first question dealt with Constitutional Carry, IGO's pet issue.  It read: 
1. In 2010 the legislature passed SF2379 which took Iowa from a 'may issue' state, regarding permits to carry weapons, to a 'shall issue' state. This was an important first step. However, the REAL Right-to-Carry bill (HF2241) did not pass, falling 6 votes short in both chambers.  REAL Right-to-Carry recognizes that every law abiding citizen has the right to carry a gun, openly or concealed, for any reason they want to, except to commit a crime. Thus, with no government bureaucracy or license, Iowa citizens can defend themselves and criminals who use arms are severely punished. This is the law in Vermont, Alaska and most of Montana. This concept is close to becoming law in Arizona and Wyoming as well. If passed in Iowa, this law will allow thousands of people the right to carry a firearm for self-defense who currently are required to beg government permission, pass a class and shooting test every 5 years, pay fees, and be subject to a background check like a common criminal.

Would you support House File 2241 or similar legislation, known as Vermont carry legislation, which would allow all law abiding Iowans the right to carry a weapon, either concealed or openly, without having to first beg government permission as is done in several other states?
Hein answered in the affirmative.  Largely because of this promised support (and because Zirkelbach was no friend of gun owners) IGO supported Hein and spent their own money sending out mass mailings in his district urging gun owners to support him.  Hein eventually defeated Zirkelbach.  Now that he's safely in office, Dorr says that Hein has told him that he will NOT support any Constitutional Carry bill.

I don't want to give the idea that Hein is entirely bad on Second Amendment issues.  In a recent email he assured me that he would vote for the Enhanced Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground bill and the bill that would have prevented gun seizures during declared emergencies.  Perhaps Hein is only hearing the shrill squawking of the media and others in opposition to Constitutional Carry. 

If you live in Hein's district and support Constitutional Carry, please politely let him know that there IS support out there and that he should honor his campaign promise.  His email is and his capitol phone is 515-281-3221.

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