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.

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