"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy." John Adams (1780)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Goodbye Tom!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

That's the Ticket!

Unless you've had your telephone and television unhooked for the past four months, you know that the election is Tuesday. Like a growing number of Iowans I already voted by mail. Here are some of the people I was proud to vote for:

U.S. Senate:
Dr. Doug Butzier (L.)

Sadly, Doctor Doug passed away at the age of 59, Monday October 13, when the light plane he was piloting crashed. The good doctor was an emergency room physician and leader at Mercy Hospital in Dubuque.

Given his position, it might not be surprising that flaws in Obamacare and government interference in medicine are what helped convince Butzier to run for U.S. Senate. He believed that there should be a free market for healthcare, not “free” healthcare.  He pointed out: "When you receive anything for 'free,' that means that someone else paid for it.  You should not be forced to pay for or subsidize someone else’s healthcare.  Government involvement only lowers the quality for everyone and drives up the costs."Butzier also wanted America's veterans to receive quality healthcare in their own communities rather than going off to shoddy government run VA hospitals.

Dr. Doug also believed in extending the free market into the education system as well. He believed in curtailing the Constitutional usurpation of the federal government and was a supporter of Americans' Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Although largely ignored by the media until his death, Dr. Doug Butzier stood out from his two mudslinging rivals for the Senate seat.

U.S. House Dist. 1
Rod Blum (R.)
Rod Blum.jpg

Blum is owner of Digital Canal Software.  He is also a student pilot, real estate developer, and has written a conservative column for the Telegraph Herald. Blum is active with Liberty Iowa, a leading "Constitutional conservative" group, and is endorsed by the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America.

The five "cornerstones" of Blum's campaign are: 1. Personal Responsibility 2. Constitutionally Limited Government 3. Fiscal Sanity 4. Free Markets and Competition 5. Sanctity of Life.

Iowa Governor
Dr. Lee Hieb (L.)
Dr. Lee Hieb

Dr. Hieb is a long time orthopaedic surgeon who served as an officer in the U.S. Navy. See has written numerous articles in professional journals, political columns and has a forthcoming book, Surviving the Medical Meltdown.

Hieb states she will use the following principles in governing Iowa: "1. I shall always vote to increase individual liberty. 2.  I shall sign and vote to restrain the power and scope and size of state government. 3.  I will fight to eliminate any tax which compels citizens to pay for things they find morally objectionable. 4.  I will legislate to push back the Federal Government from our border and exercise (for a change) our Tenth Amendment rights to state sovereignty."

Iowa Secretary of State
Jake Porter (L.)

Porter is a business and non-profit manager who has served on non-profit boards, managed several political campaigns, and has retail management experience running multi-million dollar department stores. One of the Secretary of State's most important duties is to oversee the state's elections. Says Porter: "We need someone who is independent of the two major political parties to act as a referee and that is the type of candidate I am." In addition to keeping the Secretary's office independent and transparent, Jake wants to make starting a business in Iowa easier.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Iowa Candidate Gun Grades 2014

Here are the candidate grades for Iowa's office seekers. The first grade is from Gun Owners of America, the second is from the National Rifle Association. I personally put more weight in the GOA grade. If GOA or NRA is in UNDERLINED BOLD type, that means that candidate is endorsed by that organization. NRA does not grade independent or third party candidates. An asterisk denotes an incumbent. Libertarians Party candidates are in red because they kick ass.

Federal Office

U.S. Senate:
Braley (D)   GOA: F    NRA: F
Butzier (L) GOA: NR    
Ernst (R) GOA: A     NRA: A
Smith (I) GOA: NR    

Congressional District 1:

Blum (R) GOA: A     NRA: AQ
Murphy (D) GOA: D   NRA: D

Congressional District 2:
*Loebsack (D) GOA: F   NRA: F
Miller-Meeks (R) GOA: B    NRA: AQ

Congressional District 3:

Appel (D) GOA: F    NRA: C-
Holder (I) GOA: NR 
Wright (L) GOA: A  
Young (R) GOA: NR   NRA: AQ

Congressional District 4:

*King (R) GOA: A  NRA: A
Mowrer (D) NR   NRA: C-

For the NRA's grades of candidates for state office click HERE.

Explanation of GOA Grades:


Monday, September 1, 2014

On Police "Militarization" Part 2

In the last post I posited that there is an obvious need for the police and the violent use of force. I  concluded that, while there probably should be some limits on police weaponry, the debate over specific "militaristic" equipment is less important than debating how and when it is employed.

As you can see in the accompanying infographic from reason.com, SWAT teams (the embodiment of militarized police) are being used more and more often. The approximate number of SWAT raids doubled from about 30,000 in 1995 to 50-60,000 in 2005. However you measure it, that's a hell of an increase.

While we all envision SWAT operations for reasons such as hostage rescue or active shooters, but as you can see, these types of operations only amount to about 7% of SWAT raids. Most raids are for search warrants, usually involving drug searches.

Swat Police Militarization Infographic
So the trend seems to be for violent SWAT raids to be used more often and for more mundane reasons. This trend is what concerns me. As both police and civilians become desensitized to this it may continue to spread until no-knock SWAT raids are the default answer for every police call.

Every interaction I've ever had with the police has been polite, professional, and non-threatening. I'd like my kids to become adults in a similar world, not one where any unpaid parking ticket can earn you a midnight home invasion with flashbang grenades and guns in your face.

Also, as a Second Amendment supporter, when I read stories about perfectly legal weapon permits being used as justification for SWAT raids, I get a little concerned.

The Feds: Assault-Popping The Constitution

While so far we've only discussed REAL cops, the trend toward "militarization" is active with the U.S. Federales as well. Unlike local cops, B.S. regulatory agencies like the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Dept. of Education and the IRS can't say they are arming up to protect us from violent predators in our communities. More likely these arms will be used to shove unpopular edicts down the people's throats.

While federal agencies are arming up, the feds are encouraging local cops to do the same. The Depts. of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security all have grant programs to provide weapons and equipment to local police for the perpetual wars on drugs and terror. I'm going to focus on the DOD's "1033 Program," which gives free military equipment to local law enforcement, but most of the arguments against it work on the other programs as well.  So, why should we end the 1033 Program?

Firstly, it's unconstitutional. If you read the powers granted to the United States government by the Constitution's Article 1, Section 8, arming local police isn't one of them. Ironically. while arming the militia IS a constitutional power, the 1033 Program which can give defense equipment to local cops is NOT authorized to give any to State Guard (militia) units. (Congressman Joe Wilson and a few others have introduced the State Defense Force Improvement Act which would give State Guard Forces access to extra military equipment several times, but it has not passed.)

Secondly, we can't afford it. No organization that is $18 trillion in debt should be giving anything away to anybody. This equipment could be auctioned off to police departments and private citizens rather than given away. Police departments could still get equipment at fire sale prices and the money could toward balancing the budget.

Thirdly, even if you agree with the basic premise of the 1033 Program, since it is a federal program it only takes about one sniff to find waste, fraud, abuse, and general insanity. Some counties sheriff departments have "received enough [musical] instruments to start their own marching band, if they wanted to" from the program.  The defense department has given local police bouncy castles, $16,500 ice cream makers, $11,000 pizza ovens and much more. Yes, the U.S. military is giving local cops $3,500 popcorn poppers (to keep you safe), just as the Founders of our great nation envisioned. Unless these are dangerous "assault poppers" that only specially trained police can be trusted with, I think they could hit the auction block.

The 1033 Program should be suspended immediately. While local cops do need equipment, they need to figure out how to get it without federal giveaways funded by placing our children in debt. Budgets are always tight, but if state and local governments do some soul-searching on what their purpose is, they can cut the frivolities and focus on core functions like police.

In conclusion, there is "militarization" of our police in this country. What weapons and tactics are appropriate and how much is "too much?" I don't know. But in a free state it's a good debate to have sooner rather than later.

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