May 31, 2008

2008 Seldovia Chainsaw Carving Contest

Inside every tree there is work of art just waiting to come out.

See all of this years contestant entries here: Seldovia, Ak Gazette.

Krauthammer On Global Warning

Yesterday I discussed proposed Global Warming legislation making its way through Congress. The Markey bill is not alone however. On the senate side similar legislation by Leiberman and Warner is also pending. While I agree that efforts to reduce pollution are necessary and reducing our dependence on foreign supplies are in our national security interests these bills are overzealous in their scope and potentially damaging to our economy.

From Charles Krauthammer, "Confessions of a Global-Warming Agnostic; The Church of the Environment needs a nuclear Reformation"

I’m not a global-warming believer. I’m not a global-warming denier. I’m a global-warming agnostic who believes instinctively that it can’t be very good to pump lots of CO2 into the atmosphere, but is equally convinced that those who presume to know exactly where that leads are talking through their hats.

Predictions of catastrophe depend on models. Models depend on assumptions about complex planetary systems — from ocean currents to cloud formation — that no one fully understands. Which is why the models are inherently flawed and forever changing. The doomsday scenarios posit a cascade of events, each with a certain probability. The multiple improbability of their simultaneous occurrence renders all such predictions entirely speculative...

Yet on the basis of this speculation, environmental activists, attended by compliant scientists and opportunistic politicians, are advocating radical economic and social regulation. “The largest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity,” warns Czech President Vaclav Klaus, “is no longer socialism. It is, instead, the ambitious, arrogant, unscrupulous ideology of environmentalism.”

The Politics of Regret

It is difficult for me to see the appeal of Barrak Obama if for no other reason than his resume is so glaringly thin for a person applying for the position of Leader of the Free World. I can understand why he is drawing the majority of the black vote simply because we naturally gravitate to what we identify as own cohort. However, that doesn't explain his other major voting block which are educated upper class whites. White guilt is often noted as the cause for their support but guilty for what? I recently ran across this piece, "I was a Red-Diaper-Baby" by Erica Manfred, which might explain it.

I was a Red-Diaper-Baby O.K., so my parents were Communists. But at least they believed in something.
I never thought I would feel nostalgic about Communism. As a 60's activist and child of lefty parents, I once took as gospel beliefs that now seem quaint: human beings are basically good; if people, not capitalists, owned the means of production, poverty would disappear; economic equality could cure all social ills. Misguided and dangerous though Communism was, the passion for social justice and compassion for working people that it represented is gone from the planet, and I, for one, miss it. Although to their deaths they never admitted it to me, my parents were both card-carrying Communists. How do I know? I can't tell you. I was brought up never to reveal such information. When friends visited my parents, instead of telling me to put out the cheese and crackers, I was instructed to hide The National Guardian, a genuinely mind-numbing lefty publication. In addition to being told never to get into a car with a stranger, I was instructed never to answer a stranger's questions - the questioner might be F.B.I. As a teen-ager, I was secretly disdainful of my peers because they were oblivious to the suffering of others.

My family and I were part of a morally superior secret society that cared more about the fate of the world than did our bourgeois, materialistic neighbors. We - whose showplace home could have been in House and Garden - worried about poverty, racism and injustice, while they worried about how to keep up with the Joneses. Pursued by the evil forces of anti-Communism, we did not name names. As it happened, no one asked my parents to name anyone, but they swore they wouldn't have anyway. My grandparents were socialists who escaped the ghettos of Russia to fight for the right to unionize in America. My parents were Communists who fought for social justice in the 1930's. As the third generation of this proud leftist family, I wanted to make good. As an activist in the 60's, however, I lacked oomph. I missed out on the freedom rides - too obsessed with a guy in my math class. I overslept for a big civil rights demonstration. I did climb over the wall to the Pentagon in 1967 but was too chicken (and too cold) to stick around for the tear gas. I joined a women's consciousness-raising group but was so intimidated by all those fierce women that I dropped out.In 1968, I went to Cuba and signed up for the Venceremos Brigade, American leftists who were invited to help with the sugar cane harvest. That experience was my reality check. I'd spent my life on the ideological left in self-styled anarchist groups with Utopian dreams of participatory democracy. I discovered that an actual Communist dictatorship bore no resemblance to my fantasy. While the Cubans mechanically spewed forth the party line, the notorious Weathermen, who had joined the brigade to recruit new members, used Maoist brainwashing techniques, like all-night criticism and self-criticism sessions, to induce us to sign up. I realized I'd rather be ruled by Richard Nixon than by the kids in the Weather tent. At least you could vote him out.

When I got back, I traded in my politics and went into therapy. But I feared disgracing my family. I felt disloyal about being more concerned with my own turmoil than the world's. My mother wanted to know who was supposed to carry the torch of radicalism into the next century. But what torch? The Weatherpeople were clearly delusional as well as dangerous. My parents passionately believed that the Soviet Union was the promised land, another treacherous fantasy. I recognized that anarchism was a utopian crock.

What was left? Did political passion, no matter how idealistic, inevitably lead to fanaticism? I became a cynic, disbelieving any group's claims to a corner of the truth. What remains of the left in today's me-first political climate leaves no room for grand social visions. The younger generation of leftists has splintered into interest groups - each defending its turf with more arrogant political correctness than my die-hard Stalinist parents - without any unifying vision of a just and compassionate society. Though I long ago dropped the torch, my upbringing has had certain long-term effects. I cannot cross a picket line. I am constitutionally averse to Republicans. I feel guilty every time I miss a demonstration for a good cause. (Lucky for me there aren't too many of those these days.) As with other wishy-washy liberals, my political life consists of voting for the least objectionable candidate. I still long, though, for a political movement I could wholeheartedly embrace. In my fantasy party we would support the interests of the poor and working classes, not the rich; we would fight for the rights of animals and the environment; we would combat discrimination wherever we found it, and, most important, we would not only tolerate but encourage dissent. Maybe the next generation.

What Obama has tapped into it not so much guilt but regret. The regret that past candidates did not live up to the cause to which they still cling. Bill Clinton came closest and generated enthusiasm in the early years but it didn't take long for them to realize he was just in it for himself. Gore may have been a believer but he wasn't able to gain power after eight years of Clinton. Then theres Hillary, how does that song go? "We wont get fooled again." Obama on the other hand has tapped into the fantasy of people like Manfred and has generated cult-like dedication from a faction that HOPES for a relization of a dream.

May 30, 2008

Prayers for Parkersburg

Our hearts and prayers go out to those in the town of Parkersburg that were affected by this week ends tornado.

Photos Here (Thanks Rick)

The New Carbon Tax

You can call it a investment, call it a lease, call it an auction, but whatever you call it companies that produce CO2 emmisions are in for substatial increases in the cost of doing business. Congressman Edward Markey (D. Mass) has announced a plan to penalize those companies that do not meet his future government mandates for greenhouse gasses.

Markey prefers to portray his plan an investment and as he describes, “The bill is called the Investing in Climate Action and Protection Act, or iCAP for short, the small “i” a tip of the cap to the technological potential of clean energy. The bill also proffers a new paradigm in global warming legislation: the Cap-and-Invest system. The bill caps pollution at 85 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. It then uses an auction system that sets a price on carbon, and allows companies to compete for reductions, or buy or trade credits within the system.”

In a roll out of his bill at the Center for American Progress Markey noted that his bill is fashioned after the European plan but where they went wrong is they gave away carbon credits to the various industries FOR FREE. We won’t be that foolish. Instead we are going to auction carbon credits to industries to the tune of 8 Trillion Dollars.

It takes a little Orwellian imagination to call a tax an “Investment” but that is essentially what he has done as the Economic Policy Institute explains; “For example, a lease for 10 tons of carbon dioxide could be sold at auction to an electricity producer. The lease would entitle the purchaser to release 10 tons of carbon over the life of the lease (say five years), but it would also require, for these emissions, a fixed per-ton payment, which would be set in advance by the terms of the lease. Businesses would thus have an upfront cost to obtain the permit at auction (though less than in a cap-and-trade regime), and then they would be responsible for the annual payment for polluting. This payment would act like a carbon tax, increasing incentives to reduce emissions while adding predictability to the market and costs.”

Economically speaking, anytime the government takes money out of the system there is going to be an equal and opposite reaction. In this case the cost of energy and most other products is going to have to go up or businesses that are able are going to go overseas. But don’t fear. To make the plan palatable to the masses Markey is going to throw you a bone. He states “More than half of the funds from the bill goes directly back to low-and middle-income American families to offset any increases in energy costs from the transition of the economy to low- or zero-carbon energy.” As Soapy Smith used to say, “We steal from the other guy and pass the savings on to you.”

It must be noted that former Clinton White House Chief of Staff John Podesta testified before Markey's congressional commitee, along with former Clinton advisor Ian Bowles, and Markey choose to make the announcement at Podesta's Center for American Progress.

May 27, 2008

Barry has "The Sixth Sense"

"On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes -- and I see many of them in the audience here today -- our sense of patriotism is particularly strong."

B. H. Obama

May 26, 2008

Decoration Day 2008

We walked among the crosses
Where our fallen soldiers lay.
And listened to the bugle
As TAPS began to play.
The Chaplin led a prayer
We stood with heads bowed low.
And I thought of fallen comrades
I had known so long ago.
They came from every city
Across this fertile land.
That we might live in freedom.
They lie here 'neath the sand.
I felt a little guilty
My sacrifice was small.
I only lost a little time
But these men lost their all.
Now the services are over.
For this Memorial Day.
To the names upon these crosses
I just want to say,
Thanks for what you've given
No one could ask for more.
May you rest with God in heaven
From now through evermore.

C.W. Johnson

May 25, 2008

Nationalization of Oil

Maxine Waters recent foo pah has evidently heightened my oily awareness. If you need a model of oil industry nationalization you need look no farther than our friend Sluggo down Venezuela way. Since the takeover of the main source of income the economy has headed to the crapper. From Bloomberg: "Chavez Price Controls Mean Record Oil Fails to Prevent Shortage"

Peak Oil Doomsayers

It’s hard to keep up with the newest craze in fear mongering but this article alerted me to the “Peak Oil” craze that has hit the Internet. If you didn’t get on the global warming bandwagon here is an issue you can surely embrace. With oil at $125 dollars a barrel and gas at four bucks surely we must be running out of oil and will soon be returning to the 19th century. From today's Cedar Rapids Gazette:

(AP) BUSKIRK, N.Y. — A few years ago, Kathleen Breault was just another suburban grandma, driving countless hours every week, stopping for lunch at McDonald's, buying clothes at the mall, watching TV in the evenings. That was before Breault heard an author talk about the bleak future of the world's oil supply. Now, she's preparing for the world as we know it to disappear...

Convinced the planet's oil supply is dwindling and the world's economies are heading for a crash, some people around the country are moving onto homesteads, learning to live off their land, conserving fuel and, in some cases, stocking up on guns they expect to use to defend themselves and their supplies from desperate crowds of people who didn't prepare.

The exact number of people taking such steps is impossible to determine, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the movement has been gaining momentum in the last few year. (This sentence should have been enough for any self respecting j-school graduate to hit the delete key on this article.)

What makes this newest end day scenario so absurd is that it is so empirically wrong. From Reason Magazine: "The Tank Is Still More Than Half Full"

So who’s right? Fortunately, it looks like humanity is at least a generation away from peak oil production. Unfortunately, there could be another “oil crisis” any day now.
The world consumes about 87 million barrels of oil per day, or nearly 30 billion barrels of oil per year. How much oil is left? It’s hard to be sure. Proven oil reserves i.e., oil that is recoverable under current economic and operating conditions—are estimated to be 1.1 trillion barrels by the industry journal World Oil, 1.2 trillion by the oil company BP, and 1.3 trillion by the Oil and Gas Journal. In March 2005 the private U.K.-based energy consultancy IHS Energy estimated that the world’s remaining recoverable reserves, excluding unconventional sources such as heavy oil or tar sands, are between 1.3 trillion and 2.4 trillion barrels.

But are proven reserves all that’s left? Several analyses put ultimate reserves at much higher levels. For example, the USGS undertook a comprehensive analysis of world oil reserves in 2000. It calculated that the total world endowment of recoverable oil is 3 trillion barrels. (Its figure is higher because it includes estimates for undiscovered resources and projected increases in already producing fields.) In addition, the total world endowment of natural gas is equivalent to 2.6 trillion barrels of oil, plus 330 billion barrels of natural gas liquids such as propane and butane. The USGS figures that the total world endowment of conventional oil resources is equivalent to about 5.9 trillion barrels of oil. Proven reserves of oil, gas, and natural gas liquids are equivalent to 2 trillion barrels of oil. The USGS calculates that humanity has already consumed about 1 trillion barrels of oil equivalent, which means 82 percent of the world’s endowment of oil and gas resources remains to be used.

In its 2005 Energy Outlook, ExxonMobil estimates “global conventional oil resources total 3.2 trillion barrels…with non-conventional ‘frontier’ resources such as heavy oil bringing that total to over 4 trillion barrels.” In November 2005, the International Energy Agency, an organization created in 1974 by 26 industrialized countries to assess global energy issues, released its annual World Energy Outlook report, which accepted the USGS numbers and concluded that “the world’s energy resources are adequate to meet projected growth in energy demand” until at least 2030. The report predicted that oil production would grow from the 2004 level of 82 million barrels a day to 115 million barrels a day and that any “peak” would occur after 2030. It suggested that world oil prices will decline to around $35 per barrel (in 2004 dollars) by 2010 and eventually rise to $39 per barrel by 2030. At the Montreal Climate Change Conference in December, Claude Mandil, head of the International Energy Agency, declared: “We don’t share the tenets of the peak oil theory. We feel that they underestimate technological developments. For many decades to come there is no geological problem.”

Probably the most respected private oil consultancy in the world is Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) in Boston. On December 7, 2005, CERA senior consultant Robert W. Esser testified at a House Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee hearing on the peak oil theory. “CERA’s belief is that the world is not running out of oil imminently or in the near to medium term,” Esser said. “Indeed, CERA projects that world oil production capacity has the potential to rise from 87 million barrels per day [mbd] in 2005 to as much as 108 mbd by 2015.…We see no evidence to suggest a peak before 2020, nor do we see a transparent and technically sound analysis from another source that justifies belief in an imminent peak.” Instead of a sharp peak followed by a production decline, CERA’s analysts foresee an “undulating plateau” in which global oil production remains more or less steady. “It will be a number of decades into this century before we get to an inflection point that will herald the arrival of the undulating plateau,” said Esser.

There will always be people that are sure that we are living in the end times. Heaven knows I have met more than a few but this craze is no different than the UN takeover, black helicopter craze or the current Global Warming bologna, only this one plays on the fears of people that don't know what to make of sudden rise in oil prices and the gloom and doom predictions of the liberal media. A quick perusal of Peak Oil web sites such as “Life After the Oil Crash" finds that they all have one thing in common; they are all hawking books with titles like “Crude Awakening; The Oil Crash”, “The Coming Economic Collapse”, and "Getting Out; Your guide for escaping America” (Is there really anyplace that would be safe in the event of a total economic collapse.) These books are the product of a paranoia industry that bleeds the unwitting and pushes people like Miss Breault over the edge.

May 24, 2008

Flotsam and Jetsam

Just Links>>>

It's been a while since I have linked to Iowa Hawk but check out "Dear Barry, Tips from America's premier relationship expert".

From Maggie's Farm, The Ultimate in SUV accessories.

From Anechoic Room, "Barry and Me"

From Gateway Pundit, While Iowa senator Tom Harkin and his cohorts go out of their way to defame the efforts of our troops this Aussie has gone beyond the call of duty.

May 23, 2008

Oil and Waters Don't Mix

During an empassioned attack on oil executives Rep. Maxine Waters offered a chance to peak into the heart and soul of the left and thier agenda. In the democrats view the oil industry should be under control of the government. We should not be suprised, Senator Clinton has openly stated the same senitments. It was interesting that to Waters's right Democrat Steve Cohen nods approval to Waters statement until he comes to the realization that she had let the cat out of the bag. The rep to the right of Cohen also realizes that Maxine has stepped in the poo.


Vets for Freedom Response to Tom Harkin

Military Experience a Value not a Flaw

(Des Moines IA) - Vets for Freedom is disheartened by the comments made last Friday by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) stating that a view shaped by "always having been in the military" is "pretty dangerous". These comments are insulting to generations of families who have answered the call of duty to serve their nation in the United States Armed Forces.

"As an Iowa veteran who served on the front lines of the War on Terror, I was offended to hear my Senator demean the distinguished service of generations of American patriots." said Iowa State Captain of Vets for Freedom and Iraq war veteran, Ben Hayden. "To make these comments the day before Armed Forces Day is even more disturbing. Some of our greatest leaders have been 'steeped' in military tradition - from our first President, General George Washington, to John F. Kennedy and General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Senator Harkin's comments are nothing more than a political cheap shot aimed at a true war hero. All Americans should welcome this type of generational commitment to service, as it provides the very foundation of our great nation."

May 20, 2008 Contact: Judy Mayka (202) 338-4070

May 22, 2008

Rope a Dope Redux

While yesterday's boxing analogy got a little out of hand the point was not lost on Robert Novak at the Washington Post. As he points out in today's op-ed McCain will not be playing by Obama's rules in the general election. Much to the chagrin of the Dem's who will yell "you can say that. Its racist" at every turn."

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- When one of the Democratic Party's most astute strategists this week criticized John McCain for attacking Barack Obama's desire to engage Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, I asked what the Republican presidential candidate ought to talk about in this campaign. "Health care and the economy," he replied. That is a sure formula for Democratic victory, but it is one that McCain's campaign rejects. Obama embraced that formula once it became clear that he would best Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. He began pounding McCain for seeking the third term of George W. Bush. At the same time, Obama implores McCain in the interest of "one nation" and "one people" not to attack him. The shorthand, widely repeated by the news media, is that the Republican candidate must not "Swift boat" Obama. That amounts to unilateral political disarmament by McCain. McCain is not about to disarm. His campaign has no intention of fighting this battle on Democratic turf. During the more than five months ahead, Republicans will explore the mindset of this young man who is a stranger to most Americans. That includes his association with the Chicago leftist William Ayers, who has remained unrepentant about his violent role as a 1960s radical. This will not be popular with McCain's erstwhile admirers in the mainstream news media, but America has not heard the last of Bill Ayers in this campaign.

"Are you ready to rumble?"

May 21, 2008

Barry and the Rope a Dope.

Now that Barry has relented and is wearing a flag pin again doesn't that paint him as the same kind of pandering politician that he was trying so hard to transcend? Or perhaps that's the strategy. While the media and the blog o sphere spend thier days jabbing away at his little irrelevancies he deftly plays the rope a dope on what he is really all about. Jab, Does he smoke? Jab, did he give Hillary the finger? Jab, does he really believe there are 57 states? Jab, Hey he's wearing flag pin!!! When he gets popped with a real roundhouse he responds with "let me eat my waffle" or "later sweetie." Then the waffle and the sweetie becomes the jab of the day while he shuffles merrily away for an afternoon of bowling or round ball which again become the jab of the day. He then backs into the top rope and waits for the next flurry from an increasingly arm weary opponent. A couple of uppercuts landed with the one two of Wright and Ayers and for a moment it looked like the contender was staggered but Barry sat in the corner while his trainer took one for the team.
In any campaign the one that controls the narrative is the one that wins the bout and so far Barry has excelled. He has excelled at redirection and dictating the rules of engagement, fighting his fight. He has been able to lay on the ropes and deflect the blows with a taunting smile while we all flail wildly, unable to penetrate his defences. He has gone the distance with Clinton with this strategy and until he is forced to come off the ropes in the next bout his opponent will suffer the same fate.

A Great Obama Video, Via: The Urban Grind.

Trapped like a rat

Yesterday I found myself coupled to the face of the back overhead garage door. “Coupled?” you ask. Yes, there is no auto opener on our back garage and once it is in open mode closing it demonstrates several of Newton’s laws of inertia and mass. It takes considerable force to transition the mass of the door from its resting position. To accomplish that, the general procedure is to grasp the ¾ inch gap between the first and second panel and forcefully pull in a downward motion. Once the door is in motion its weight and the force applied ensures a smooth decent to the closed position.

However, as anyone familiar with overhead door mechanics knows, the gap is a fleeting apparition as the panels make their trek to the full and upright position. With dexterity, a normal person can adjust hand position before that gap disappears encapsulating the tips of aforementioned fingers. As I realized that the critical gapage was fast encasing said fingertips the speed and weight of the door was at first surprising. “What the…” I said moments before the painful realization that I was trapped like a mouse in a trap.
As time and space seemed to slow like a scene out of “The Matirx” my mind, in a split second of lucidity, pondered a way to extricate myself from the situation. If anyone should find themselves in such a similar position I offer the following procedure. Step A: Yell “god damn” at the top of your lungs. This has two purposes. It alerts a loved one that you are in need of assistance in the event that Step B is unsuccessful and it also alerts the adrenal gland to supply a sufficient injection of hormone to yank free the set of digits of your dominate hand. Step B: With that parital victory you will momentarily regain your composure long enough to slow the motion of the descending door. Step C: With your one free hand and one foot (foot choice is optional here) you can reverse the direction of travel a sufficient distance to retrieve your now purple appendages. Step D. Install a frigging handle on the door before you smash your fingers.

This has been a public service announcement from the CR Salmon. “Enduring life’s pains, so you don’t have to.”

May 20, 2008

Freedom Rock 2008 Is Underway

Iowan Ray Sorenson has spent the past nine Months of May painting patriotic murals on a Rock two miles south of I 80 at Exit 86 west of Des Moines. The Memorial Day unveiling has become a local tradition in western Iowa and a tourist destination for travelers.

Pictured: The Rock 2007

May 19, 2008

Does Tom Harkin Hate the Military?

The last time we checked on the Harkster he had earmarked $500K for his constituents at The National Council of La Raza". So it’s been a while since the inanity of Tom Harkin has reached a level worthy of wasting valuable blogging space. However, this week Tom again proved why he is the lapdog of the Democratic leadership when he drew the short straw and got the assignment of attacking John McCain’s fitness for the Presidency because he is a veteran. John Murtha ironically got the job of saying McCain is too old. From the Des Moines Register;

Washington, D.C. — Republican presidential candidate John McCain's family background as the son and grandson of admirals has given him a worldview shaped by the military, "and he has a hard time thinking beyond that," Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Ia., said Friday."I think he's trapped in that,"...

Harkin said in a conference call with Iowa reporters. "Everything is looked at from his life experiences, from always having been in the military, and I think that can be pretty dangerous."…

Harkin said that "it's one thing to have been drafted and served, but another thing when you come from generations of military people and that's just how you're steeped, how you've learned, how you've grown up."…

He said that "I just want to be very clear there's nothing wrong with a career in the military" and that he has friends who are generals and admirals who have served the country well."... (Doesn't qualifying a statement that you have friends in the group you are lambasting indicate a deep seated prejudice? )

But now McCain is running for a higher office. He's running for commander in chief, and our Constitution says that should be a civilian," Harkin said. "And in some ways, I think it would be nice if that commander in chief had some military background, but I don't know if they need a whole lot."

I’m not sure how Mr. Harkin believes we can quantify sufficient military background. In fact neither if the two democratic candidates have any experience. Should we at least make them attend boot camp before they take office? In Harkins own run for the White house he evidently didn’t feel he had enough military gravitas and trumped up his own military record to appear more experienced. For a party that has endlessly laid the chicken-hawk label on the current administration it would stand to reason that in a time of war a military background would be an essential qualification for the job.

Using Harkins reasoning he shouldn’t be allowed to work on farm legislation because he has a background in farming. Hmmm, maybe this does make sense, but I digress.

According to my pocket constitution the first duty of the President under Article II, Sec. 2 states, “The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States” It would seem that familiarity with the military would be a vital attribute in fulfilling that part of the job description. In fact Americans, knowing that security is the main function of government, have consistently elected men with military experience to the presidency. Only ten men that have served had no military experience, seven in the last century. The last guy that didnt have a day in uniform sent the troops into more situations than any previous president. Therefore, at this time it is important that the trend towards military experience is vital.

It would be naïve of me to say that the man has no shame, he is after all a politician, but how can Harkin make this argument with a straight face unless he actually believes it? And...Is Tom Harkin really a reflection of the good folks of Iowa? I don't think so.

May 18, 2008

Flotsam and Jetsam

Hmmmm Beer...Soap?... DOH!

The Ultimate List of Survival Gear. It can all be yours for only $2610.16

One Amazing Photograph.

May 16, 2008

What’s going on in Postville, Iowa?

Postville, Iowa is seemingly the picture of diversity, but underneath it is an example of multiculturalism gone bad.

In the late 80s Postville was just another rural mid west town with an uncertain future. The meat processor had closed its doors and the young were drifting away. In 1987 New York butcher Aaron Rubashkin purchased the plant and about 200 Hasidic Jews relocated to Postville.
But a funny thing happened on the way to diversity. The new residents could not have been different from the newcomers and a feeling of invasion pervaded the town despite the fact that the economic boom to Postville was certainly welcomed.
Two separate and distinct cultures emerged. The Jews were not particularly interested in becoming townsfolk. As the PBS documentary “Multiculturalism in Postville Iowa: When Cultures Collide” points out they in fact set up their own school so that their children would not mix with the Postville children. They held their own celebrations and had even held their own parade. They did not conform to community norms and to the locals that feeling of community was important.

Enter the Meatpackers:
To work the lines in the meat processing facility the owners relied on the labor of Mexican immigrants. The influx of Mexican workers further strained the little town. They had lost the feeling of security and suddenly people found they were locking their doors and keeping an eye on their children. The Catholic Church added a Spanish service but many of the Townspeople choose to commute to a nearby town for mass.
While some would say that the prejudices that emerged were born of ignorance, the underlying prejudices are actually innate to a community that had a tradition of community cohesiveness and the newcomers that were not interested in becoming part of the established community stretched the limits of tolerance.

ICE invades Postville.
Last week 300 illegal Mexican immigrants were arrested in Postville. 300! Shouldn’t we be surprised or appalled? Mexicans have become the slave labor of an industry that was once the economic lifeblood of many Iowans and thier communities. A meatpacker could expect to earn upwards of $15.00 an hour and was ensured of safe working conditions before the switch to immigrant labor. As the Des Moines Register reported;

“A federal search warrant said immigration officials have filed almost 700 complaints about immigration violations and criminal activity by workers at the Postville plant. The activity spans a two-year period, and some workers face multiple allegations.Federal officials allege that as many as three-fourths of the company's workers at the end of last year were using fraudulent Social Security numbers.

Last November, the search warrant said, ICE agents interviewed a former Agriprocessors supervisor who said some employees were running a methamphetamine lab in the plant and were bringing weapons to work. Another source alleged worker abuse, officials said in the warrant. In one case, a supervisor covered the eyes of an employee with duct tape and struck him with a meat hook.

The worker, who had entered the country illegally from Guatemala, was not seriously injured. He declined to report the incident for fear of losing his job, the warrant said. Another plant worker told federal officials that undocumented workers were paid $5 an hour for their first few months before receiving a pay increase to $6 per hour. The minimum wage in Iowa is $7.25 an hour. Company officials could not be reached for comment.

The experience of Postville is not unique however , other Iowa towns have been similarly transformed, with the support of the State Government. Storm Lake is just such an Iowa community that went through the forced migration of meatpackers in the 1980s.

The Hygrade workforce was primarily male and of European descent. Only in its last few years of operation, in the late l970s to early 1980s, did a few women work on the plant floor. The plant’s workforce was from Storm Lake and surrounding communities. Prior to the mid-1980s, Storm Lake was almost exclusively Anglo, and this homogeneity was reflected in Hygrade’s workforce.

Many of Hygrade’s workers put in thirty years or more at the plant, reflecting a low turnover. For many, their jobs supported a comfortable, middle-class lifestyle. Average annual incomes were about $30,000, but some senior workers earned up to $40,000 or more in Hygrade’s last year of operation.

In October 1981, Hygrade closed its plant and Storm Lake lost five hundred jobs. Community leaders immediately set about attracting a new buyer for the plant.In April 1982 IBP announced its purchase of the plant for $2.5 million. After extensive renovation, this became the company's first pork-packing facility (IBP previously had processed only beef.) IBP’s move into pork processing signaled a major transformation of the industry.When IBP opened its doors in September 1982, its workforce did not resemble the old Hygrade crew. Hundreds of former Hygrade workers applied, but fewer than thirty were hired.

IBP would look beyond the Storm Lake community for its laborers. Beginning wages were only $6 an hour, and health benefits become available only after six months on the job. (Today, starting wages are $7 an hour.) The new plant had higher productivity expectations than the old plant. Injury rates climbed, and high employee turnover increased the strain on local labor supplies.

Beyond the fact that this is essentially slave labor in the twenty-first century, one has to ask why did it take two years to execute these arrests and why aren’t the owners of this operation in the Waterloo lock up with their illegal employees. More importantly the experiences of Postville, Storm Lake and others should be a warning to those that believe that immigration without assimilation is the ideal that we want to promote.

May 15, 2008

I'm Back.

*You ever notice that bloggers that don't post for a while always start off with that Terminator line?
*It is hard to believe that a month has passed since I last posted something here. It became evident when I struggled through the second round of exams that I had let my performance slip a tad and some adjustments were needed. I.e. there is a positive correlation between reading and test scores. So for my regular readers I know you are wondering “Whats up?”
*My application at the College of Education was rejected. Of course they don’t tell you why but I can’t help but believe that being a non-traditional student (code for old fart, (O.F.) wasnt a factor. Throughout the whole process I was met with the same question of “Are you a graduate student?” “No… undergrad I reply,” immediately followed by the raised eyebrow of skepticism and a look of what the hell are you doing here? So the path to a diploma required a change of direction and not having a big window to complete this dream (O.F. remember… could drop dead at any moment) I will pursue a poli-sci minor and worry about the teacher certification later.

Not being entirely familiar about the workings of the university system I had another minor setback that needed addressed. When I was accepted to the U. I inquired about the foreign language requirement and was told by admissions that because I was an OF that requirement would be waived. Woohoo cut the OF some slack. Come to find out the University admissions requirement was waved but the College of Liberal Arts would never think of waiving their graduation requirement no matter how friking OF you are. “College of Liberal Arts” the name should have been a tip off. I worked my way up the food chain seeking some sort of relief but as I pled my case to one dimwitted academic after another I was sure I was the convict in "The Shawshank Redemption" asking the warden to reopen his case. The last advisor stared at me dumbfounded and just couldn't comprehend the time restraints that an OF is working under or why I didn't need this aggravation. All involved were every bit "Obtuse" as the warden. So we now move on to plan C. or D if forget now. I refused to learn Spanish on philosophical grounds so I will spend the summer taking ASL back at my old Alma mater, Tall Corn College and Technical Institute then take two more semesters of it at the U.
*Enough about me…..

*We lost Aunt Toni to cancer on April 8Th. As anyone who has ever dealt with what she called “a terrible disease with treatments as terrible as the cancer itself” knows it is wrenching to watch someone as bright, funny, unselfish and caring as Tony struggle toward the end. She will truly be missed by us all.
*As the previous post noted Arwen turned five on Tuesday and is ready to graduate preschool and move on to kindergarten. It is hard not to be proud, as her mom always points out she is such a mini-me… For those of you that that are shaking your heads out of sympathy for her, cut that out! She has been blessed with her moms brains and signing talent and my Carsonesque sense of humor.
*Finals week is winding down, the honey do list is growing beyond any realistic possibility of completion, and plans have been laid to attend Oshkosh in July. So it’s time to roll out the camper, fill the mini fridge and let the summer begin.

May 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Arwen Grace!

The big 5.0! My how you have grown...
Love Dad