Sunday, March 27, 2011

Iowa Bill Would Ban "Distribution or Possession” of Farm Photos

The National Press Photographers Association’s Advocacy Committee is reporting on a proposed Iowa law (HF 589) that "elevates editors and news organizations to the status of criminals if they publish, or even possess undercover footage of farms, crops or animal facilities."  This is no doubt an attempt to avoid some of the embarrassing videos chronicling supposed abuse of farm animals that have surfaced in recent years.
Specifically the bill states that “distribution or possession” of photographs that were illegally obtained (through violations of earlier portions of the bill). Under the proposed law, “A person is guilty of animal facility interference if the person. . . [p]ossess or distribute a record which produces an image or sound occurring at the animal facility which” is a “reproduction of a visual or audio experience occurring at the animal facility, including but not limited to a photographic or audio medium” without the consent of the owner.

To give some perspective to the blatant unconstitutionality of this bill consider this – the only time that the Supreme Court has upheld a law that bans distribution and possession of any kind of photography it was a law against possessing and distributing child pornography. As powerful of a lobby farmers are, elevating exposes of farms to the level of child pornography is absurd and I can’t see how this would hold up. Just last year the Supreme Court ruled that a law banning possession and distribution of video of cruelty to animals was unconstitutional. See U.S. v. Stevens, 130 S.Ct. 1577 (2010). The intent of that law was to prevent animal cruelty but even it went too far (the NPPA signed an amicus brief advocating for the overturning of that bill).

The government can’t even prevent the possession and distribution of documents that put U.S. security interests at risk so it is hard to imagine how the public relations interests of farms would be considered more compelling than U.S. security interests.
I'm certainly no animal rights nut (on the contrary, I'm a proud omnivore, son of an Iowa pig farmer and an occasional hunter and fisherman), but this bill seems over the top to me.  Iowa should respect the First Amendment right to freedom of the press.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

TSA Tyranny Update

Ticket To Tyranny

Here's text from a video-recorded exchange in November between a TSA supervisor and airline passenger John Tyner.

TSA: "If you're not comfortable with that [groin check], we can escort you back out and you don't have to fly today."
Tyner: "OK, I don't understand how a sexual assault can be made a condition of my flying."
TSA: "This is not considered a sexual assault."
Tyner: "It would be if you were not the government."
TSA: "By buying your ticket you gave up a lot of rights."

Tests of Body Scanners Show 10 Times The Expected Radiation

When the TSA recently tested its 500 new nude body scanners it found radiation levels much higher than expected.  TSA says it was a simple calculation error.  Others aren't convinced.

The Association for Airline Passenger Rights says the TSA should stop using the machines until they can be retested.  "Airline passengers have enough concerns about flying — including numerous ones about how TSA conducts its haphazard security screenings," said Brandon Macsata, executive director of the group. "So it is the TSA’s responsibility to ensure passengers are not being exposed to unhealthy amounts of radiation."

Texas Bills Would Ban TSA Scanners/Enhanced Pat-Downs

A state legislator in Texas has introduced two bills to protect Texans' rights from TSA violations.  One bill from Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) would prohibit "body imaging scanning equipment" at any airport in the state and  provides penalties for any airport operator who installs them.  According to the Tenth Amendment Center, the second bill "criminalizes touching without consent and searches without probable cause."

If passed, these laws would set up a legal showdown between Texas and the federal government.  Good!  Texas would have a little thing called the Constitution on its side.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Free-Market Foreign Aid

Doug Newman over at Foodforthethinkers's Blog responds to criticism by Christians United for Israel (CUFI) against Ron Paul's proposal to end aid to Isreal.  As an alternative to continued government aid, Newman proposes a "three-step plan for free-market Zionism."  While Newman focuses on Israel, the principals he articulates would apply equally well to all foreign policy in general.

Here are the main points of his plan:
1) Shaking down the American taxpayer to provide aid to Israel – or, for that matter, any foreign country – is not just unconstitutional. It is also unbiblical. In the words of II Corinthians 9:7, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Christians are never to bankroll their works by force. So if CUFI truly wants to support Israel, let its members reallocate their funds. Instead of, say, building bling-bling megachurches that resemble the Burj Al-Arab Hotel in Dubai, why not pass the hat for Israel? Perhaps CUFI supporters could take a special love offering after each service.

2) Of the 12 current senior members of CUFI, only two have any military experience. Instead of sending kids from places like Camden, New Jersey and Muskogee, Oklahoma to fight and bleed and die all over the Middle East for the sake of Israel, why don’t they pay the bill with their own blood? Why don’t they enlist as infantry privates in the Israeli Defense Force? (IDF) And why don’t they encourage the CUFI rank-and-file to do likewise?

3) If the IDF will not have them for whatever reason, let them form their own detachment to fight alongside the IDF. There are precedents. During the Spanish Civil War, for instance, a group of Americans calling themselves the Abraham Lincoln Brigade fought for the Spanish Republican forces against Franco’s Spanish Nationalists. To be sure, a lot of them were communist sympathizers, but I will give them this: they produced enough testosterone that they put their own lives on the line for their convictions.
Sounds like a good plan to me.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Right To My Head

Apparently there's an award of sorts floating around the blogosphere called the "Stylish Blogger Award."  If another blogger awards it to you (by mentioning you), you're supposed to "[l]ist seven things about yourself that other people might not know. Then pass the award to 15 other bloggers."

Since my online friend strandediniowa over at Between Two Rivers blog mentioned me on his list as "Iowa's hard fighting libertarian," I figured I'd better respond.  (I'm not sure how "hard fighting" I  really am or how much of that I owe to my silly choice of a blog title which makes me sound like a professional wrestler or something.  Nonetheless, I appreciate the mention.)

Now for the hard part: finding seven things to tell about myself without putting anyone to sleep.  Here goes:
  1. I spent six years as an infantryman in the Iowa Army National Guard.  This was back in the pre-9-11 Clinton years when people still called us "weekend warriors" and all we fought off were hangovers.
  2. Except for 6 months at Fort Benning Georgia, for basic training and infantry school, I've lived in Eastern Iowa my entire life.
  3. I was in Moscow the month before the August 1991 coup attempt or 5 months before the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
  4. I'm actually the fourth Benjamin Cashner in my family.  (Not in direct succession however.  My dad's twin brother had the name, but passed away too young to pass it on.)  My son is number five.
  5. I've voted in every presidential and off-year election since I turned 18, first as a registered Independent, then Republican and now Libertarian.  (Perot, Dole, Bush, Bush, Barr.  Yes, I regret a couple of those.)
  6. I've smoked a Cuban cigar.  (I didn't like it.)
  7. A childhood friend and I thought we saw Bigfoot.  In retrospect, it might have been a farmer.
Okay, now to pass the award along.  Honestly I don't read enough blogs to be able to list 15 that I like, and a few that I do list probably aren't "blogs" in the truest sense of the word.  Anyway, here's a few stylish "blogs" that I enjoy:
  1. Between Two Rivers: The only blog that I read every day.  I find it interesting that blogger strandediniowa and I often reach the same conclusion on political topics, but many times take different intellectual paths to get there.  Stranded's coverage of the Iowa firearms preemption battle has been great.  He appears to be a human web crawler with some of the local news stories he unearths.
  2. Iowa Freedom Report:  More of a news site than a blog, it is maintained by Iowa freedom activist Steve Hoodjer.  Hoodjer seems to have his finger on the pulse of the Tea Party/freedom movement in Iowa.  It also occasionally has articles by yours truly (though not often).
  3. Beth Cody, Libertarian Writer: A collection of Cody's recurring columns from the Iowa City Press-Citizen newspaper.  Unfortunately it's only updated a few times a year.
  4. Republic Now:  Local libertarian firebrand "Commentator X" and his merry band of patriots "seek to make Iowa a freer, safer, and constitutional place to live."  Some of the "New World Order" and conspiracy theory stuff might scare off uninitiated readers, but there's good information there.
  5. Des Moines Gun Rights Examiner: This is written by Sean McClanahan who is the host of the webcast Firearms Weekly and is the President of The Iowa Firearms Coalition.  Keeps you up to date on Second Amendment issues in Iowa.
  6. Roberts Gun Shop:  Die-hard gunrights supporter Robert Fowler posts gun news from around the web on his blog.  Fowler organized the April 19th, 2010 Second Amendment March at the Iowa capital grounds.
That's it.  Thanks for the award stranded!

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