Sunday, December 30, 2012

Circular Illogic

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Repeal Gun-Free School Zones

I was at work when I heard about the murder of the innocents in Newton, Connecticut. I remember hearing the President on the radio. "The majority of those who died today were children — beautiful, little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old," Obama said with great emotion. "They had their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own."

These were children the same age as my own. Like many Americans, like many parents, I felt saddened, outraged and violated by the actions of this madman who committed these despicable acts. Emotionally this felt like the most traumatic attack since 9/11.

Two days later President Obama spoke at the prayer vigil for the victims and hinted about efforts to prevent future tragedies. "We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end," said Obama. "And to end them, we must change." But I wonder how much Obama and his allies are willing to change in response to tragedies like these.

It seems that the more of an abysmal failure a government measure is the more vehemently it will be defended by statists. In regard to school shootings the glaring failure is the federal Gun-Free School Zone Act (and its state and local clones). This law basically forbids the possession of a firearm in a school zone. Will Obama and his cohorts be willing to travel outside their own ideological comfort zone and listen to arguments that just maybe this measure does more harm than good? I'll give them two reasons why the GFSZA should be repealed.

First, it's unconstitutional. I realize that most politicians, like most of my countrymen, don't care a fig about whether or not a law complies with the U.S. Constitution. But, since I once swore an oath to kill or die in defense of that document, I'll include it here for nostalgia's sake if nothing else. In this case you don't have to just take the word of some blogger in his pajamas pounding a keyboard. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed with me and already stuck the law down once.

The federal GFSZA was originally passed in 1990, but the Supreme Court ruled it to be an unconstitutional abuse of Congressional authority under the Constitution's commerce clause in U.S.v Lopez (1995). To uphold the law, the court concluded, "would require us to conclude that the Constitution's enumeration of powers does not presuppose something not enumerated, and that there never will be a distinction between what is truly national and what is truly local. This we are unwilling to do." In other words toting a gun in a local school is none of the federal governments damned business.

Congress responded by adding a few words to the original GFSZA and passing it again. Bill Clinton signed it again and it's been the law ever since. Although it's been challenged in lower courts, it hasn't made it back to the Supreme Court to be re-reviewed. Perhaps someday it will and perhaps the court will have the right mixture of political appointees to uphold it. Regardless of what the Supreme Court has said or will say about it, it is anathema to the intent of the framers of the Constitution.

The second, and I think more practical, reason to repeal the GFSZA is that it doesn't work. In 2000 Professors John R. Lott Jr. and William M. Landes released an exhaustive study of "Multiple Victim Public Shootings." Some key findings from that study:
  • "Right-to-carry laws reduce the number of people killed or wounded from multiple victim public shootings as many attackers are either deterred from attacking or when attacks do occur they are stopped before the police can arrive."
  • "Given that half the attackers in these multiple victim public shootings have had formal diagnoses of mental illness, the fact that some results indicate concealed handgun laws reduce these attacks by almost 70 percent is remarkable."
  • "Not only does the passage of a right-to-carry law have a significant impact on multiple shootings but it is the only gun law that appears to have a significant impact."
  • "[S]tates with the fewest gun free zones have the greatest reductions [in] killings, injuries, and attacks."[Emphasis added.]
In a July 2012 New York Daily News op-ed piece, John R. Lott points out a salient fact from his continued research that should be required reading for everyone on both sides of this debate: "With a single exception, every multiple-victim public shooting in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed since at least 1950 has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry their own firearms." That fact alone is shocking and points out the failure of "gun-free zones" of any kind in this country.

So who in America will "change" to help reduce tragedies such as the Sandy Hook slayings? Will Obama and his friends be willing to change their worldview enough to accept anything other than more restrictions on private gun ownership as a potential aid to the problem? Will the only real change be more loss of freedom, as has happened after so many tragedies in our nations history? I hope not. 

Our nation is already a little darker with the 20 little beacons of hope extinguished prematurely at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Let's not make it darker still by making all the other children grow up in a land less free.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Honey Creek Resort Still Bleeding Dollars

A recent CR Gazette article reports that Iowa's state-owned Honey Creek Resort continues to be an albatross around the neck of Iowa taxpayers. According to the article: "The resort’s revenue fell $549,766 short of its budgeted revenue of $6.4 million, which was better than fiscal 2011 when Honey Creek missed its goals by nearly $645,071."

In 2006 the state issued $33.5 million in bonds (which means they borrowed $33.5 million) to partially pay for the new $58 million resort. Not to worry, taxpayers were assured, this beauty would pay for itself! (Picture a sweaty man with a bad combover, really wide tie and a plaid suit coat selling this idea to state officials.) The state could pay off the bonds with profits from the resort itself.

According to the rosy projections that the bond issue was sold with, the resort may suffer a small shortfall the first couple of years but should already be raking in a small $316,000 profit by the third year of operation.  Honey Creek is now in it's fourth year of operation and it ended FY2012 with a loss of $549,766.

That money has to come from elsewhere in the Iowa DNR's budget. The Gazette report again: "Revenue for fiscal 2012 did not cover bond payments and management fees for the resort, which caused the DNR to shift nearly $1.3 million from statewide conservation efforts to Honey Creek. More than $4.9 million in Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) funds have gone to Honey Creek since the resort opened."

So the DNR built a luxury resort to stimulate the economy (not its job), it has hemorrhaged money ever since, causing the DNR to pull millions of dollars away from the enhancement and protection of Iowas natural resources (its job). Only in the world of government does that make sense.

But surely things could turn around and the state could start earning enough to make Honey Creek self-suffient. Read my much-earlier post Privatize Honey Creek Resort to see why I still wouldn't like it.

State Guard Adds Protection Efficiently

Here's an excerpt from my latest guest column in the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

"After Superstorm Sandy ravaged the eastern seaboard, the states of New York and Virginia, in addition to their National Guard forces, called upon another cost-effective crisis response asset that Iowa currently lacks: state guard units. Twenty-two states (and Puerto Rico) have active state guards, which are sometimes known as state militias or state defense forces, or SDFs.

"Unlike the National Guard, which is operated by the state and federal governments, SDFs are funded and operated solely under the authority of the state. They are under the command of the state governor and cannot be called into federal service. While the National Guard has proved itself to be extremely good at its job, SDFs offer several advantages that allow them to nicely complement National Guard forces."
You can read the entire column here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Marijuana Bills Heading For Des Moines (Again)

After voters in Colorado and Washington state approved laws that legalized possession of regulated recreational marijuana, two Iowa lawmakers hope to introduce more modest marijuana-related bills here in the Hawkeye State. Iowa state Rep. Bruce Hunter (D-Des Moines) and state Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City) are preparing to introduce bills which would allow medical marijuana with a prescription.

In 2010 the Iowa Board of Pharmacy voted unanimously that legislators should allow prescription use of marijuana.  A Des Moines Register Iowa poll at that time showed that 64% of Iowans supported allowing patients to use marijuana with a doctor's approval.

Hunter and Bolkom's bills will face an uphill battle in the 2013 session. House Republicans say they do not support the effort and Governor Branstad says he will veto any bill that would legalize marijuana in any form.

Perhaps opponents of allowing marijuana in any form are being influenced by the likes of Peter Komen­dowski, pres­i­dent of Part­ner­ship for a Drug-Free Iowa, and Steven Lukan, the direc­tor of the Governor’s Office of Drug Con­trol Pol­icy. “What we’re doing,” said Komen­dowski, “is send­ing a mixed mes­sage to our kids that some drugs are OK and some aren’t OK. If you know kids, it’s extremely con­fus­ing to them if you’re not on message.”

Lukan spoke referring to supposedly higher levels of THC in marijuana. “A good analogy I was given is that back in the ’60s, smoking a joint was like drinking three beers. You achieved a quick high that didn’t stick around as long,” Lukan said. “Today smoking a joint can be like drinking a keg.”

Long-time Iowa marijuana law reformer Carl Olsen takes both men to task on his blog:

"So, the mes­sage we’re cur­rently send­ing, accord­ing to these two, is that alco­hol is okay and mar­i­juana is not. Pre­scrip­tion drugs are okay and mar­i­juana is not. That mes­sage is exactly the oppo­site of what it should be. These intel­lec­tu­ally bank­rupt rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the legal drug indus­try haven’t made a step toward mak­ing alchohol and tobacco ille­gal in Iowa, or deny­ing access to pre­scrip­tion drugs. Alco­hol and tobacco, along with pre­scrip­tion drugs, are the biggest killers out there. Mar­i­juana has never killed anyone.

"So, the mes­sage, kids, is that you should drink lots of alco­hol and smoke lots of cig­a­rettes so you can get sick and use lots of pre­scrip­tion drugs. Got it? Good, now shut up and do what you’re told."

Let's hope that the forward momentum of the two states that just legalized recreational marijuana, as well as the 18 states that have already approved the use of marijuana with a doctor's prescription, will allow Iowa to take the common sense step of at least allowing medical marijuana to ease the pain and nausea of select patients in our state.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Debt: Taxation Without Representation

As you probably know, the federal debt is now over $16 trillion. Members of both political parties (elected by us) have added to this staggering total for decades. The debt rose $4.899 trillion during the two terms of the Bush presidency and Obama has managed to rack up more debt than that in just one term. As you may have heard, we reelected him.

Technically it's Congress that wields more power over the federal government's purse strings than the president. Despite record low approval ratings of these big spenders, we just sent 91% of the incumbents back to Congress. Don't look for a sudden change to frugality there.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that the federal debt will be $25 trillion by 2021. Unfortunately, CBO projections historically have been about 40% low 80% of the time.

Of course none of these figures include the unfunded liabilities that we are going to have shell out for Social Security and Medicare. These currently stand at about $121 trillion. Any way you slice it there is a mountain of debt coming down.

Children who didn't get to vote for or against the crooks running up this debt will one day labor to repay it. Perennial Iowa Libertarian candidate Dr. Eric Cooper has called this “taxation without representation in its purest form.” It is hard to argue otherwise.

"No taxation without representation" was the rallying cry that lead the American colonists to rebel against the British Empire. Someday, when we hand a future generation of Americans the bill for tens or hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of taxation without representation, they will be just as morally justified to do to us what the founding generation did to the redcoats.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Iowa First District Election Update

Bruce Braley (D)
Ben Lange (R)

Lange Lunges Ahead

A late October poll shows challenger Ben Lange charging past incumbent "Borrowing Bruce" Braley to take a narrow 46.9% to 45.4% lead in Iowa's 1st congressional district. The poll shows 6.9% are still undecided and has a margin of error of 5.1%, so Lange, who has been burning shoe-leather all across the district, definitely can't coast to the finish line. In this race every vote is important.

Interlopers Support Braley

According to 3rd quarter financial records, 78% of the contributions to Bruce Braley's campaign came from out of state special interests. 92% of Ben Lange's donations came from Iowans. This seems to continue a trend since during the 2010 election cycle 71% of Braley's contributions came from out of state while 86% of Lange's came from in state.

Despite calling for a ban on lobbyist contributions to Congressmen, "lawyers & lobbyists" have given $718,216 to the Braley campaign during this election.

National Rifle Association Endorses Lange

In addition to being A-rated by Gun Owners of America, Ben Lange has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF). In a statement the NRA-PVF explains:

"Ben Lange will protect our Second Amendment freedoms," said Chris W. Cox, chairman of NRA-PVF. "Because of his strong support of our rights, Ben Lange has earned an "AQ" rating and endorsement from the NRA-PVF."

Ben Lange supports the U.S. Supreme Court rulings in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago, which held that the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental, individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms for law-abiding citizens in Iowa and everywhere in America. Lange also supports “The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act,” which would ensure that law-abiding Americans with a valid concealed handgun permit would be able to carry a concealed handgun in any other state that does not prohibit concealed carry. Additionally, Lange will pursue the truth in the deadly Operation Fast & Furious scandal and help deliver justice to the family of murdered Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

In contrast, Ben Lange's opponent, incumbent Representative Bruce Braley, has fought against our constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms and is "F" rated by the NRA-PVF.

Bruce Braley refused to join the historic District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court, making it clear that he does not believe the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental, individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Braley also supported reinstating the failed Clinton semi-auto gun ban and opposed an amendment that would prevent the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives from circumventing the will of Congress, and the American people, by centralizing records of American’s long gun purchases. In addition, he voted against H.R. 4089, “The Sportsmen’s Heritage Act,” which would promote America’s hunting heritage and positively impact sportsmen throughout the country.

"Ben Lange will defend our Second Amendment freedoms and hunting heritage, and the people of Iowa know that Bruce Braley has not," Cox continued. "We urge all NRA members and gun owners in Iowa’s 1st District to vote Ben Lange for U.S. House of Representatives on November 6."

For more about Lange's view on the Second Amendment (and other issues) read my post "10 Questions with Ben Lange."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thank You Good Neighbor Society

Last year my mother's condition with Alzheimer's disease had worsened noticeably. As a family we had decided that she required more care she could receive on my parents farm. Before we could move her into an assisted living facility she wandered off during a trip to town with Dad one day.

Unable to get her back, Dad called the police to help find her. Confused and scared, Mom wouldn't go with the police when they found her. Since she wouldn't go voluntarily she was sent to a "senior behavioral health unit" in Cedar Falls for "observation" to make sure she wasn't a danger to herself or others.

She was increasingly confused about people, words and places but Mom could walk and talk and largely take care of herself with increasing help from Dad and others at that time. After four weeks in the "care" of the big city doctors she was discharged unable to speak, smile, feed herself, display any emotion or hug her grand kids. The nursing home that had evaluated and accepted her a few weeks before said that they didn't have the capability to care for her when she was released.

The family was overcome with shock and despair. Was there nowhere that Mom could go and receive the loving care that she deserved? That's when we discovered the Good Neighbor Home in Manchester.

The Good Neighbor Home (GNH) is a care facility run by the Good Neighbor Society, a non-profit collaboration of 11 local churches. GNH has 133 beds. Mom was able to move into their brand new 20 bed state of the art Memory Care Unit, known as “Marietta’s Place," and later their 12 bed hospice unit until her death last month.

But of course physical facilities are only a small part of the equation. The staff at GNH were professional and caring. Their motto is: "COMPASSIONATE CHRISTIAN CARE FOR THOSE WE SERVE." They definitely lived up to those words. They treated Mom and the family with tenderness and respect.

It's often said that "the Lord works in mysterious ways," but sometimes there is no mystery in it at all. He works openly in plain sight through the dedication and hard work of caring people like those at the Good Neighbor Home. I thank them for making my mom's last year and a half as pleasant and comfortable as possible.

By the way, as a non-profit entity donations are always sorely needed, greatly appreciated and tax-deductible. They can be sent to:

The Good Neighbor Society

105 McCarren Drive

Manchester, Iowa 52057

Friday, October 12, 2012

Obamacare Summed Up in One Sentence

Dr. Barbara Bellar, candidate for Illinois state senate, humorously explains Obamacare in one (really long) sentence. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Iowa Right To Life "Preferred Candidates" List

Here is Iowa Right To Life's "Preferred Candidate List." According to that organization: "Inclusion on this list does not necessarily equal an unqualified endorsement, but is meant to be a guide for Iowans looking to support candidates in their area that will help advance the cause for life as we continue the struggle to end all abortion in Iowa."

Iowa Right to Life Preferred Candidate List

Congressional Candidates

District 1 - Ben Lange

District 2 - John Archer

District 3 - Tom Latham

District 4 - Steve King
Senate Candidates
SD 2 Randy Feenstra
SD 4 Dennis Guth
SD 6 Mark Segebart
SD 8 Col. Al Ringgenberg
SD 10 Jake Chapman
SD 12 Joni Ernst
SD 14 Amy Sinclair
SD 16 David Scott Edwards
SD 18 Vicki Stogdill
SD 22 Pat Ward
SD 24 Jerry Behn
SD 26 Merlin Bartz
SD 28 Michael Breitbach
SD 34 Ryan Flood
SD 36 Jane Jech
SD 38 Tim Kapucian
SD 40 Ken Rozenboom
SD 42 Larry Kruse
SD 44 Brad Bourn
SD 46 Shawn Hamerlinck
SD 49 Andrew Naeve
House Candidates
HD 1 Jeff Smith
HD 2 Megan Hess
HD 3 Dan Huseman
HD 4 Dwayne Alons
HD 5 Chuck Soderberg
HD 6 Ron Jorgensen
HD 7 Ted Gassman
HD 8 Henry Rayhons
HD 11 Gary Worthan
HD 12 Barney Bornhoft
HD 13 Jeremy Taylor
HD 15 Mark Brandenburg
HD 16 Mary Ann Hanusa
HD 17 Matt Windschitl
HD 18 Jason Schultz
HD 19 Ralph Watts
HD 20 Clel Baudler
HD 21 Jack Drake
HD 22 Greg Forristall
HD 23 Mark Costello
HD 24 Cecil Dolecheck
HD 25 Julian Garrett
HD 26 Steve McCoy
HD 27 Joel Fry
HD 28 Greg Heartsill
HD 29 Gabe Swersie
HD 30 Jim Carley
HD 33 Daniel LeRette
HD 34 Patti Branco
HD 35 Terrance Williams
HD 36 Jeff Ibbotson
HD 37 John Landon
HD 38 Kevin Koester
HD 40 Mike Brown
HD 43 Chris Hagenow
HD 47 Chip Baltimore
HD 48 Robert Bacon
HD 49 Dave Deyoe
HD 50 Patrick Grassley
HD 54 Linda Upmeyer
HD 56 Bob Hager
HD 58 Brian Moore
HD 61 Lyn Tackett
HD 63 Sandy Salmon
HD 64 Jim Givant
HD 67 Kraig Paulsen
HD 71 Allen Burt
HD 72 Dean Fisher
HD 75 Dawn Pettengill
HD 76 David Maxwell
HD 77 Steve Sherman
HD 79 Guy Vander Linden
HD 80 Larry Sheets
HD 81 Blake Smith
HD 82 James Johnson
HD 83 James Steffen
HD 84 Dave Heaton
HD 89 Bill Edmond
HD 90 Mark Riley
HD 92 Ross Paustian
HD 93 Mark Nelson
HD 94 Linda Miller
HD 96 Lee Hein
HD 99 Paul Kern
For More Information:
Jenifer Bowen, Executive Director
Iowa Right to Life
515.244.1012 Office
877.595.9406 Toll Free

Saturday, October 6, 2012

GOA Iowa Candidate Ratings

Here are the grades from Gun Owners of America-Political Victory Fund on Iowa's candidates for U.S. House of Representatives. (NR means "not rated.")


Sunday, September 30, 2012

I Like Lange

Although I walked away from the "Grand Old Party" at the national level in disgust during the big-spending Bush years, I'll be proudly marking my ballot for a Republican for Federal office this election. That candidate is Ben Lange. Lange is running for U.S. Congress in Iowa's First District.

Thirty-three year old Lange bills himself as a "new breed of political leader." I believe it's more that he's a part of a new generation than a new breed. This younger generation is picking up at the spot where former generations of politicians have kicked the can down road. They are inheriting obviously destructive and unsustainable levels of federal debt and spending. Ben Lange seems determined to fix this massive problem rather than passing it on to his three young daughters (or allowing it to destroy the nation around them).

“What we are passing off to the next generation, it’s unsustainable, absolutely. It’s financially irresponsible, absolutely. More important, it’s immoral,” he said recently. “We are taking from a generation that doesn’t yet know the problem, nor can they stand up against it.”

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, among others, has identified our own debt as the single greatest threat to our national security. To combat this threat, Ben Lange supports "enacting a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, an essential ingredient to any meaningful debt-reduction strategy, and putting an overall cap on federal spending as a percentage of our GDP" as well as opposing all debt-ceiling increases until a debt-reduction strategy is established.

In related economic issues, Ben Lange supports dramatically simplifying the federal tax code and eliminating the death tax, establishing a 3-year sunset on bureaucratic regulations unless reviewed by Congress, repealing Obamacare, auditing the Federal Reserve and assorted other actions to reduce waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government.

On foreign policy Ben Lange is not a Ron Paul non-interventionalist, but neither is he a neo-con warmonger. He would "[s]upport only those military actions that satisfy the 'Declare War' clause of the U.S. Constitution" and  "[o]ppose unilateral military actions by the President that are not authorized by the U.S. Constitution." He told me: "Our military deserves clear objectives and a definable mission, and when that is accomplished, we should bring them home. America can be the shining city on the hill, without being the world’s police force and nation builder." Sounds reasonable.

On the Constitution, Lange said, "in all I do as a legislator, the Constitution will serve as my north star. I am duty-bound to follow it and protect it from enemies of our state."

One of the first indications that I saw that Lange wasn't just mouthing political platitudes, but actually believed in fiscal conservatism and Constitutional limits on federal action, came during his unsuccessful 2010 run against Congressman Bruce Braley. When the Delhi Dam on the Maqueketa River burst during flooding, Braley went into full pandering mode, promising federal taxpayer money to rebuild it immediately.

Ben Lange took a more principled tack that I don't often expect from a politician.  In a statement, he expressed sympathy for flood victims but explained: "Based on the facts as I now understand them, I believe the repairs will require the state and local governments, working in concert with the private sector, to fix the Delhi dam. Despite the political pressure to reach an alternative conclusion, I simply do not believe the federal government should be involved with this local issue because it is a privately-owned dam on a recreational lake."

Lange continued: "I was disappointed, but not surprised, to read Rep. Braley’s statement yesterday, in which he said that we need to spend federal money to bailout a private entity now, and 'then tough choices are going to have to be made.' I respectfully disagree with the Congressman; our nation has reached a point where tough choices need to be made now. Rep. Braley’s 'spend first, think later' approach to this issue is exactly what is wrong with Congress as a whole, and the kind of thinking that has gotten this country into the fiscal mess we are in today."

Those words hold true today. The "fiscal mess" continues.

Philosophically, I'm a libertarian and Ben Lange is a conservative. Will we agree on every issue? Probably not. But on the issues involving the biggest existential threat to our nation today, our debt and unsustainable spending, we do. I'm willing to cast my vote to give this "new breed" of politician a shot to try to clean up the fiscal mess created by others, so that my kids (and his) might still have an America to raise their kids in.  That's why I'm voting for Ben Lange.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Gary Johnson vs The Zombies

Pretty funny (albiet cheesey) viral video featuring two-term governor turned Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Beth Cody on Prostitution Laws

"It's time to strike down these inappropriate, over-reaching and needlessly damaging laws. Just as modern societies now understand that arresting people for the 'crimes' of homosexuality and interracial sexual relations is both barbaric and not beneficial to society at all, so should the antiquated and inhumane laws against prostitution be struck from the books."

Read Beth's excellent article here for the reasons why she believes "we should leave this archaic law behind."

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Officials Support "Reality-Free Zone"

At a time of unemployment and stagnant economic activity you would think government officials would be happy to see a new business move into a soon-to-be vacant lot in their town. Not so on the southeast side of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Here the mayor, school district and PTA are all opposing a new convenience store, which would be near McKinley Middle School, that was narrowly approved by the city's Planning Commission. Some of their concerns have to do with traffic and safety concerns about the new Kum & Go store but opposition seems to stem largely from government paternalism and health busy-bodyism.

According to a Cedar Rapids Gazette article, Mary Meisterling, vice president of the Cedar Rapids school board, told the commission members that "the store’s fare of alcohol, tobacco and snack foods was not appropriate in such proximity to the more than 600 middle-school students." In their letter of opposition, the McKinley PTA urged the Planning Commission to "consider the negative impact this store will have on the safety, health and education of McKinley’s students and not allow this proposed development to proceed." [Emphasis added.]

Officials' efforts to ban a completely lawful business in an effort to lessen the chances that some students might have to realize that Budweiser, Marlboro, and Kit Kats exist would appear to be an attempt by them to create a "reality-free zone" around the school. This no doubt won't work any better than any of the other prohibition zones that they've erected around our schools. The Gun-Free School Zones Acts of 1990 and 1996 have created known concentrations of disarmed victims and allowed unfettered rampages like the Columbine shootings to occur. When officials came up with the Drug-Free School Zone idea, the fact that efforts to turn the entire rest of the country into a drug-free zone had been an abysmal failure was apparently lost on them.

Planning Commission member Gloria Frost (who voted to allow the new store) first "asked if the company promised to help youngsters coming into the store make 'good decisions,' [and] was willing to work with school officials." Since when is helping youngsters make "good decisions" the job of a retail store? Aren't there things like families, Cub Scouts and churches for that?  Is it a store or a damned social program?

We all want kids to be safe and healthy. I'm a parent, I get it. But sooner or latter we have to admit that they exist on the same planet as the rest of us.  They will be confronted with Lay's Wavy Potato Chips and Mountain Dew. Deal with it!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Zach Wahls Remarks at 2012 DNC

Here is Iowan Zach Wahls addressing the Democratic National Convention. It was a good speech, although I'm not sure how deserving President Obama was of the butt-kissing at the end. Most battles for marriage equality have been fought and won at the state level with President Obama only paying it lip service during his reelection year.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Braley Bytes: Crazy Train Edition

More Braley buffoonery. After (IA-01) Rep. "Borrowin' Bruce" Braley (D) got busted for using taxpayer funds to stage a campaign event (er, sorry, "deficit workshop") in the newly redistricted area he wants to represent, he wisely canceled the event since it was is clear violation of House ethics rules. According to those rules "[m]embers may not use official funds, including the use of staff resources, to conduct ‘town hall’ meetings or other official gatherings outside their districts."

Did Braley learn his lesson?  Apparently not. Braley then issued a press release that said he would  "jump aboard a Union Pacific Train on Friday in Fairfax headed to Marshalltown to promote and support enhancements to infrastructure in Iowa. Before the train leaves, Braley [would] hold a short press conference[.]" Neither Fairfax nor Marshalltown are in Braley's district.  Whoops!

The Iowa Republican points out: "House ethics rules explicitly prohibit Members of Congress from using official House resources, paid for by taxpayers, for purposes outside of their current district. This prohibition extends to new geographical areas, like Fairfax and Marshalltown, that are being added to Members’ districts as a result of redistricting. Members may campaign in these new areas, but not at the taxpayers’ expense."

Let's hope the next time Braley rides the rails it will be as a hobo after he's defeated in November.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Speaker List For NRA/IFC Rally

I recieved the following from NRA-ILA (Ben):

Save The Date!
The National Rifle Association (NRA), Iowa Firearms Coalition (IFC) and Brownells will host the 3rd Annual Second Amendment Rally on Saturday, August 25 from 9AM to 5PM at Brownells' Big Springs Shooting Complex. Firearm and hunting manufacturers and representatives will be in attendance, and the event will offer a variety of shooting and training opportunities. If you are an NRA or IFC member, your range fees will be waived. NRA members and media are invited and encouraged to attend this free event and meet many of Iowa's pro-Second Amendment legislators and activists. The speaker list for this event has now been confirmed, and will include speeches by many notable Second Amendment advocates, including:

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

U.S. Congressman Steve King

U.S. House Candidate Ben Lange

U.S. House Candidate John Archer

State Senator Jerry Behn

State Senator Tim Kapucian

State Senator Shawn Hamerlinck

State Senator Joni Ernst

State Senate Candidate Matt Reisetter

State Senate Candidate Amy Sinclair

State Senate Candidate Dan Zumbach

State Senate Candidate Ken Rozenboom

State Representative Linda Upmeyer

State Representative Chris Hagenow

State Representative Matt Windschitl

Jan Mickelson

Pete Brownell, CEO of Brownells and NRA Board Member

Jeff Burkett, President of Iowa Firearms Coalition

Third Annual Second Amendment Rally
When: Saturday, August 25
9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
(Speeches to start at 11:00AM)
Where: Brownells' Big Springs Shooting Complex
4945 Highway 146
Searsboro, Iowa 50242
For directions, please click here.
RSVP Online: Please click here
Please see Iowa Firearms Coalition's Second Amendment Rally page by clicking here.
To view this event on Facebook, please click here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"Looking Backward" Book Review

Here are some thoughts on the book Looking Backward: 2162 – 2012, A View from a Future Libertarian Republic, by Iowa libertarian author Beth Cody. The review was written by Deborah D. Thornton who is a Research Analyst with Public Interest Institute in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.

Looking Backward: Potential, but Utopia?
By Deborah D. Thornton

The Libertarian movement, as evidenced by supporters of Congressman Ron Paul’s presidential bid, grew in strength during the 2012 Republican presidential primaries. According to the dictionary, a libertarian is one who "advocates for maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state."(1)

The Preamble of the Libertarian party platform makes the following statement:

We seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives, and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others. We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized. Consequently, we defend each person’s right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power.
Inherent in this statement and definition is that society and government as we know them today must be radically changed in order to achieve a better world. The idea is that all would be perfect if we made these changes. We could have a utopian world.

The idea of utopian communities has been a part of the American culture since our very founding. In many ways utopia is what the Puritans were looking for in their quest. Other well-known examples include New Harmony in Indiana, Brook Farm, the Shakers, the Oneida community, and even the hard-working Germans who settled our own Amana Colonies in Iowa. More recent utopian groups include those such as the "Jesus People Movement" of the 1970s. Utopian movements have been formed around socialist, communist, anarchist, and religious themes.(2)
So far, while some have succeeded for brief periods of time, all have ultimately failed.

In her newly published book, Looking Backward: 2162 – 2012, A View from a Future Libertarian Republic, small business owner and writer Beth Cody has crafted a fictional Libertarian world and explains the workings of this society. She uses the honored "accidental" time traveler approach to set the scene for exploring.

A professor from a campus much like those in Iowa accidentally falls into a 150-year coma, emerging in 2162. The United States of America as we know it has fallen apart under the weight of onerous debt and taxation, unsustainable social entitlement programs, overreaching government regulations, continuing wars, and general corruption.(3) The first states to leave were Texas and California. Then the rest crumbled. The most successful of the resulting countries is the "Free States of America," formed around Libertarian principles. The area of the Free States includes Iowa and the states westward to Idaho and Nevada.(4) Most interesting is the idea that various areas of the U.S. have broken off and formed countries heavily influenced by our history.

Much of the environment our professor awakens to is similar to 2012. Cars and homes haven’t really changed that much – we still haven’t figured out how to teleport ourselves like in Star Trek! But the government structure of the time is radically different.

The Constitution of the Free States is strictly Libertarian. Most importantly it includes prohibition of federal and state government taxation. All government is funded by voluntary donations. The federal government can not raise money through debt. Government can not print money or regulate its printing. There is no national military, only voluntary militia. Government can not fund or provide education. Government employees can not be paid with public money. And most importantly, the federal government cannot make new laws restricting the individual freedom of individuals, businesses, or states.(5)

Cody then goes on to have our professor’s sponsor show him around to see how the
really works, and to explain why and how these ideas and systems are better than that
of the old United States.
Looking Backward is an interesting and easy read. It clearly lays out how a Libertarian government might work.

Movement towards many of the ideas and goals discussed is needed in our country
today. Many of the new "Tea Party" Conservatives in Congress and the Iowa Legislature are working towards and promoting these approaches. Smaller government, lower taxes, increased personal freedom, and reduced government regulation are issues which many voters and taxpayers support.

Unfortunately almost 50 percent of the voters and elected officials stand firmly on the other side – believing that bigger government is more effective and more social services programs are needed, along with ever higher taxes. The wealthy must be taxed more because it is "unfair" for them to be successful. Parents are unable to decide how to best educate their children. Families must be forced to have health-care insurance or pay higher taxes. Consumers are unable to decide how much soda to drink.

Though utopian societies have never been successful – and one would not want the
United States as a country to disintegrate – when considering the current government and
economic situation one can not help but wish Cody and those supporting Libertarian ideals good luck.


1 "Libertarian,", accessed on July 9, 2012.
2 "Utopian Communities,", accessed on July 9, 2012.
3 Beth Cody, Looking Backward: 2162 – 2012, A View from a Future Libertarian Republic, p. 50.
4 Ibid, p. 47.
5 Ibid, p. 52.

Reprinted by permission from INSTITUTE BRIEF, a publication of Public Interest Institute.

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