Saturday, April 21, 2007

We was smart back then

After a evening of surfing Wikipedia, I came across the page "Compulsory sterilization". Now, I'm sure this is quite a departure from checking stock quotes or the latest on Lonelygirl15, but bear with me.

I won't go into all the details, but basically, at one point in our country's life (the early 20th century), we as a people thought it was wise and good that those with "undesirable traits" should be forceably sterilized by government edict. Read here for more details.

IMHO, forced sterilization is not right, no matter what the greater good is. I agree that some people should not have babies (druggies, instability, etc), but I don't think it's the government's position to force people into the hospital/clinic. They should make that decision for themselves, with help from their families and friends.

Now, why is this issue not brought up today? Why is it not discussed?

Liberals/progressives were behind the compulsory sterilization programs, as well as Eugenics. They thought they knew best who should and who should not breed and reproduce at the time. Who runs the media? The liberals/progressives, in spite of Mango's statements about Fox News.

And when Eugenics fell out of favor when the Nazis were found to practice this on their citizens, liberals/progressives had to find a new way to save the human race...abortion. Planned Parenthood, anyone?

The point is: At any given time in history, we consider ourselves to be at the zenith of human development, that we knew more than we'd ever known, and therefore we have the right, nay, the obligation to mankind, to make laws and rules that shape and mold us into a "glorified" race/species.

We will NEVER be at a point where we know so much that we can play God. We will never know His insight, His understanding, so that we can emulate 100% His motivation. Why bother? His guidelines are already in print, in the Bible. Why not follow them and leave "playing God" to God Himself?

I'm not trying to rant or force religion "down your throat". I am simply pointing out that we humans think we is smart, when really, we is pretty dumb.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Why I live in the country...

Came home today after mixing and delivering feed, calibrating corn planter meters, and other general farm/business stuff. Jackie had to go to a meeting, so I watched the kids. They both wanted to go outside to the backyard, so we did so.

Gradyon spent his time raking the garden, preparing it, as he says, "for pumpkins for Halloween". He has raked the soil the garden about 50 different times it seems, but it still needs a bit more work. Maddy was busy picking dandylions and bringing them to me to rub on my cheeks and nose. I considered my son's gardening abilities, and my daughter's multi-tinted red hair, and thought - how nice is it to be able to relax and take this all in, just out my back door.

It was quiet, except for the birds chirping and an occasional jet flying overhead. No cars, no trucks, no horns, no loud music...just simple peace and quiet, and the enjoyment of my children. I could look north and know that for the next 3/4 of a mile, it is our ground. Looking south, another 1/8 of a mile to the road, and then a friendly neighbor.

My children have a backyard (and front and side yards) that are bigger than some metro parks. We don't have to worry about about gangs, druggies, etc. I can sit at this computer, look out the sliding window door, and know where my kids are at all times.

This is living.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Are Democrat presidential candidates a bunch of pussies?

Recently, John Edwards, the man with perfect hair (I know - I've been 2 feet away from it) decided that he would not participate in a debate hosted by Fox News. Now, the other two front runners, Hillary and Obama, have declined to take part in the same debate.

Is it now acceptable for presidential candidates to pick-and-choose which forums they want to get their message across in? Why are they cutting and running from Fox, instead of stepping up to the plate?

I don't care if Fox News is considered "biased". Name me one news service that isn't biased in some way or another. CNN and MSNBC are just as bad, although in the other direction.

As a potential leader of the Free World, will Edwards, Clinton, and Obama pick and choose who they want to have attend their White House briefings? Will they select only journalists that meet their left-wing leanings? Will they cut and run once a tough question is lobbed at them, then ban the journalist from the grounds forever?

If you want to show the country that you have any sort of spine, get on the Fox debate and stop whining. Otherwise, you're telling the country that you and your message are not capable of being carried in the arena of public debate; instead, its over in a corner, protected by handlers and bodyguards, and dissenters are removed.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Manure spill in the area

According to the Iowa DNR, the Iowa pork industry's poster boy of poor management, Austin "Jack" DeCoster, made another boo-boo again. One of his facilities, located about 8 miles from here, had a manure spill of about 10,000 gallons, which ran through a tile line and into a tributary of the Chariton River. This same Chariton River is where we get our water from.

I am no fan of Jack DeCoster. In the mid ninties, while I was in college, I worked part time for an organization called PrairieFire, a non-profit advocacy organization in Des Moines. My job as an "intern" was to research ol' Jack and his ways. Jack came out to Iowa in the late eighties from Maine where he had a major egg laying operation, as well as a lengthly list of environmental and labor infractions. He didn't learn anything and had shoddy operations that leaked manure and managers that abused immigrants. When we learned he planning to build in The South of Iowa, we held a meeting nearby in Derby. I spoke on him, informing the audience of the issues behind DeCoster, both in Maine and in Iowa. Unfortunately, he went ahead and built three buildings in the area, but no more. We didn't get turned into Wall Lake township, Wright County Iowa.

I call him the poster boy of poor hog management, as he is the first operator to be included in the "three strikes and you're out" policy that Attorney General Tom Miller put in place to keep habitual violators of DNR code from continuing in their ways. The Iowa Pork Producers have not done enough to distance themselves from fellows like him, and therefore are linked with him by association.

Interestingly enough, I recently delivered cattle feed to a manager of the site near Weldon that had the spill. I'll have something to talk about the next time I deliver...

Friday, April 06, 2007

Is it possible to be a progressive conservative?

Today I traveled to Ames to a quarterly Iowa Farmers Union board meeting. There, we had a presentation by a representative of Iowa Citizens Action Network, or ICAN, about an initiative they are working on called "Our Common Values", a "multi-sector, statewide initiative to change the political conversation".

Here's what the flyer says:

"Ever felt like your highest values - justice, equality, the common good - have somehow gone missing from mainstream political conversation in recent years?

Ever notice that some core right-wing ideas have been repeated so often, on such a wide range of issues and for so long, that they're starting to pass for 'common sense' with a lot of people?**

**For example:
Government = "wasteful; always the problem, never part of the solution"

Markets = "always the best solution, no matter what the problem"
Poverty = "your own fault"
The individual in society = "You're on your own".

If you didn't realize it by now, ICAN is a "progressive" organization. While it fits well with what IFU is about, it made me think a little more critically about how your conservative nut-job author was part of the process.

For example, the host had us close our eyes and imagine the world in 2, 4, and 6 years, when our favorite presidential candidate is elected, when the Congress and State House come together and pass your legislation, and finally, when victory can be declared.

When asked to share, some spoke about clean elections, reduction of corporate welfare, etc. I said my dream would be Tom Tancredo as president in 2008, Wayne LaPierre of the NRA as his Secretary of Defense, and the Dept. of Education abolished! I sure got some looks! :)

The presenter also provided us with a visual description of "Corporate-Conservative Themes", which included a triangle with the following at each corner:
1) Individualism
2) Anti-government (but pro-military)
3) Free market competition

I thought this was waaaay too simplistic, and rather stereotypical. My triangle of liberals, for example, would have Abortion, Gay Rights and Socialized Medicine. This too would be stereotypical, but it illustrates how each side can go after the other with broad, sweeping suggestions rather than try to find common ground.

The basic point is that ICAN, with material like this, wants to hold meetings throughout the state with various "progressive" organizations in the coming months and work to change the political discussion to their favor.

Here are my thoughts:

I didn't disagree with everything the presenter said. Issues such as building communities and having a responsive government of the people are likewise conservative issues. The big difference between my beliefs and ICAN, however, is what is government's role in the day-to-day life of people?

To me, the government should exist to provide basic structure of rules, justice, and services. Services are defined as police, fire protection, roads, etc. Justice means that no one is getting hurt by another party unfairly, and enforcing penalties if necessary. Stability is the goal of the government so that commerce can operate smoothly. I think the people should have a voice in the decision making process; that means talking to their elected representatives, running for office, and basically being active in the process. Or they don't have to, but they have the opportunity.

However, I don't think it is government's role to do everything for everyone with the idea that it is a "neutral" party, separate from the private interests of individuals and corporations. While ICAN oftentimes thinks of corporations as "evil" and "greedy", some of us see government as a monopoly, as the "only game in town" for various services that have been taken out of private hands and put in the public. ICAN would say that at least with government you can vote people out and change the system; that's true to an extent, but the bureaucrats will still be there, and there will still be only one "service provider", instead of many competing for your business.

I guess ICAN has never dealt with the Farm Service Agency, or Dept. of Motor Vehicles, or the Dept. of Natural Resources? These are a few of the examples where we, the people, pay others to stand around, make nit-picky rules for us, take our money, and make us feel bad when we're finished. These organizations are not customer-centered, but rather employee-centered. They exist, or appear so, to be organized to benefit the person working that job. There's no competition to make the DMV better, so you get what you get.

In addition, I don't see anything wrong with being individualistic, as long as you don't take it too far. You have to take care of yourself and loved ones first, as no one else is going to do it for you; certainly not the government, as Katrina victims found out the hard way. I think if you choose to live in a community you need to respect the rules of it, such as not parking 5 Monte Carlos on blocks in your front yard, in order to obtain benefits of it, such as police and fire protection. Individuals working hard have built this country, not diversity committees or union stewards.

Finally, being forced to give does not constitute a gift, and only when something is a gift will another truely appreciate it as the sacrifice it is. If someone is in need, I would rather give of my own to him/her rather than be forced to by a faceless inhuman government agency. When "gifts" are turned into welfare payments and entitlements, they no longer carry the same values as they did before, and the recipient is less thankful for it.

I am "progressive" about helping others; I want to see others in my community succeed; I want to help them open new businesses, get better jobs, make a better life for themselves and family. I want the town to be clean, safe, and healthy. I would like to see racism, bigotry, and animosity wiped out, and equal opportunity for all.

Does this sound conservative? In a way, yes. Conservatives, at least the true ones, have cared about these issues for a long time. Only recently has the term been hijacked by "neo-cons", and our core mission distorted.

While progressives and true conservatives may agree on the end goal, the tools used to get there are totally different. Progressives believe the government is the best to solve problems. Conservatives believe that individuals are best. Progressives worship the god of Government. Conservatives base their decisions on faith in a Higher Power and years of generational wisdom.

So, can one be a progressive conservative? At the risk of sounding oxymoronic, yes, I believe so. It just depends on who is defining the terms, and what their bias is.

Or better yet, to get beyond the nametags, "isms", and stereotypes, you can just call me Bob.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Spoiled rich kids

Think what you will about Karl Rove, but check out the kids who protested him at a speech last night at American University in DC. Talk about your spoiled, ignorant, eastern liberal Democrat wanna-bes. The interviewee, "Brittnay Grow", looks like she should be working at Ambicrombie and Fitch; and the gals behind her are probably planning their next sorority event.

Probably the type of people that will be electing Hillary...(shudder).

Monday, April 02, 2007

A local landmark in the DM Register

One of our town's local treasures, the Humeston Livestock Auction, is featured in an article in last Sunday's Des Moines Register. The angle on the article is about the food served at the auction, provided by local church groups, but it does touch on the sense of community that we have here.

I live a mile from the auction as the crow flies; on Monday evenings and Tuesdays, I can hear calves bawling and the loudspeakers calling up pens of calves from outside the building. We are good friends with 1/2 of the owners of the auction (and on good terms with the other half), a couple of sisters who were left the auction by their father. It is truly an institution in this town.

A surprisingly good article for the DM Register!