Friday, June 19, 2009

Minnesota Congresswoman Refuses to Complete 2010 Census

This is what I'm talking about. At least someone in "the system" understands what the census is supposed to be and is making a stand.

I know for my family the only question we will be answering is how many people are in our home," she said. "We won't be answering any information beyond that, because the Constitution doesn't require any information beyond that.
Of course, a census bureau spokesperson says Mrs. Bachmann is "misreading" the law.

I don't believe that Mrs. Bachman said anything about "the law." I believe she mentioned "the Constitution." Shall we see what the Constitution has to say about the matter? Let's start with Article I Section 2.

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.
I'm not seeing anything about race, creed, religion, income, political affiliation or anything along those lines.

Of course, feel free to answer all the other questions and see what happens.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Senator Durbin Cashes Out After Meeting with Bernanke and Paulson

From Bloomberg News:

As U.S. stock markets plummeted last September, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin, sold more than $115,000 worth of stocks and mutual-fund shares and used much of the money to invest in Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

The Illinois senator's 2008 financial disclosure statement shows he sold mutual-fund shares worth $42,696 on Sept. 19, the day after then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke urged congressional leaders in a closed meeting to craft legislation to help financially troubled banks. The same day, he bought $43,562 worth of Berkshire Hathaway's Class B stock, the disclosure shows.

Altogether, Durbin sold investments worth $116,000 in September. By Oct. 2, he had invested $98,046 in Omaha, Neb.-based Berkshire Hathaway, the form shows.

I have nothing to add. As Moe Szyslak once said: "Choking on my own rage here."


Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act

Tennessee has followed Montana's lead and passed HB 1796/SB 1610. The new law states:

[F]ederal laws and regulations do not apply to personal firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition that is manufactured in Tennessee and remains in Tennessee. The limitation on federal law and regulation stated in this bill applies to a firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition that is manufactured using basic materials and that can be manufactured without the inclusion of any significant parts imported into this state. This bill states that firearms accessories imported into Tennessee that are subject to federal regulation do not subject a firearm to federal regulation under interstate commerce simply because they are attached to or used in conjunction with a firearm in Tennessee.
Unfortunately for Tennessee, their Governor does not back the bill. Governor Bresden -- who it turns out is a carpetbagger from New Jersey with a Harvard ecucation -- believes that the law is unconstitutional:

This bill is not about firearms. It is about a fringe constitutional theory that I believe will be quickly dispensed with by the federal courts.

The Tennessee General Assembly lacks the Constitutional authority to limit the power and authority of federal government in this way…

Now, I don't disagree with him that the fed will try to -- and probably succeed in -- squashing this law. But that's not the point. The point is that Tennessee's law, like Montana's, is absolutely constitutional and is, technically, unnecessary given the Tenth Amendment and the Commerce Clause.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Jim Wiseman: 'Suburban Survivalist'

Alright. This guy's been popping up all over the web and MSM lately (like here and here).

He's getting some praise and catching a lot of flak. I've left some comments around about how I feel, but I figured I'd clarify here instead of jacking someone else's blog.

First off, I'm not claiming to be an expert on survivalism or preparedness. I've had the mindset ever since I was in Boy Scouts and especially after the Loma Prieta Quake back in '89. I've always had a small stash of food and ammo, but I've only started actively increasing my stashes in the past year or so. I started off with the Rambo mentality and stocked up on magazines and ammo before considering food. I'm not entirely sure that was a mistake, though. Ammo prices have gone up considerably faster than food prices, so I may still come out on top for that one.

Secondly, I'd like to say that I'm very happy that this man has his shit together and believes he is "pretty well set." He and his family are better set than I and mine. I'd like to be at his level of preps, but I'm not. There's one thing I read that really sets Mr. Wiseman apart from me and most of the people I know:

In the last six month he's spent about $20,000 on food, a 250-gallon water storage tank, a water filter, medical supplies, a grain mill (which can be operated by hand if there's no power), a generator for his RV, and guns and ammunition. "I believe I'm pretty well set." Wiseman says he spent $6,900 alone on food...
After my mortgage, utilities, car payment, insurance premiums, gasoline, regular food, diapers, and day to day food, I'm lucky to have that much discretionary income over the course of two or three years.

Whether he intended it or not, Mr. Wiseman has become a poster child of sorts for the survival/preparedness movement. The MSM has latched on to him -- for better or for worse -- and thrust him, and the movement, into the spotlight.

The better: Finally, a story in the MSM that doesn't portray all survivalists as armed, anti-government, xenophobic, racist extremists with itchy trigger fingers. A well written story like this could help more people get the idea that they should be prepared to take care of themselves; that Uncle Sugar may not be around or willing or able to help out.

The worse: Someone reading these stories may see the price tag associated with Mr. Wiseman's purchases and immediately balk at the idea of becoming prepared. If someone is actually watching MSNBC (or most of the other MSM outlets), he's probably not "woken up" yet. If he's interested in the stories about Mr. Wiseman, the viewer is probably starting to wake up. Unfortunately, I worry that many people will see the pricetag of Mr. Wiseman's purchases and walk away.

It's absolutely lovely that Mr. Wiseman could drop 20G's over six months and get himself squared away. If I had the resources, I'd have already bought acerage, built a bunker and a castle and stuffed it full of beans, bullets and band-aids. That's just not an option for most of us.

Being on a budget means doing things slowly and having patience. I'm doing a lot of sale shopping. I normally go grocery shopping twice a week. I'm spending about $10-$15 extra each trip on buying canned goods (mostly fruits and vegetables). About twice a month, I'll throw in a few pounds of dried beans or rice. When flour, sugar, salt and other baking needs are on sale, I'll pick some up. I grab a case of bottled water -- needed or not -- every time I go grocery shopping. We only go through a case a week, so we're stockpilking one to two cases per week.

Over the course of about 2 months, I've managed to accumulate nearly four months of food for two adults and a toddler. It may not be delicious Mountain House lasagne and chili mac, but it's a good variety of things we normally eat. If the shit doesn't hit the fan, I'm not out as much money since we'll probably eat and rotate 90% of our supplies before they expire. When they do get close to expiration, we'll take them to a canned food drive and claim a tax deduction on it.

I also bought a pressure canner recently. When we make a big batch of beans or lentils or just about anything else, we now can what we won't eat for leftovers. We're also starting a small garden plot in our backyard. It's basically going to be a 10'x15' plot of containers, but it will end up cutting down -- albiet marginally -- on our regular grocery bill as well as on the money we spend on preps since we'll be able to can our own vegetables. Also, in the event of SHTF, the garden will provide a welcome morale boost in the form of fresh food. That assumes we will have enough water to keep the garden going, though.

Over at Boniface's Treatise, Wyn mentions fishing is probably the best way to supplement one's stores. I am inclined to agree with him, but, unfortunately, it's a lot easier for me to bag squirrels or rabbits than fish. If I lived 20 or 30 miles south or west, it would be the opposite. Either way, fresh meat and fish should be simply looked upon as a way to supplement one's food stores. Unless you're some kind of super wilderness man and a professional hunter/trapper, you will definitely starve if you plan on living off the land. Even if you are an expert, one bad season will still kill you.

I don't want to come across as a jerk -- any more than I already have already -- but I do have some concerns about the way Mr. Wiseman has chosen to spend his money. I'm going to try to be critical, but constructive.

None of the article's I've come across have mentioned anything about Mr. Wiseman's personal history with firearms. I'm curious if any of the $20,000 he spent involved any training or range time for him or his family.

Mr. Wiseman has a generator, but does he know how much noise those things make? If there is a complete economic meltdown and he and his family are living off of the food in his garage, that generator is going to be screaming "come loot us!"

I also wonder how Mr. Wiseman plans on filling -- or how he filled -- his 250 gallon water storage tank. Did he just run the tap? Is he counting on rain water? Collecting 250 gallons of rain is going to be quite a task given that California is going to be pretty dry until winter comes back around.

Has Mr. Wiseman come done any contingency planning? Unless he's managed to fortify his home to the point where it's fireproof and impenetrable, he may have to bug out. Does he have any routes mapped? A bug out location just as well stocked as his home? Pre-positioned supplies? I don't either, but that's one reason why I'm not completely confident in my preparations.

Being private orgainizations (assumedly), the MSM outlets are not -- nor should they be -- required to convey my point of view. It would be nice, though, if someone who wasn't fabulously well-to-do were to be the focus of one of these stories so that the average Joe can see that it is possible to build preps without selling a kidney.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wrote a Song for Everyone

Saw the people standin', thousand years in chains.
Somebody said it's different now, look, it's just the same.
Pharaohs spin the message, round and round the truth.
They could have saved a million people, how can I tell you?
"Wrote a Song for Everyone" by Creedence Clearwater Revival (written by John Fogerty).

I was listening to some CCR on the drive in to work this morning and the lyric above stuck with me.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

So, This is What a Failed State Looks Like

Surprisingly, all of the budget related ballot measures in last night's special election did not pass. The only measure that passed was the "stick it to the man" measure that denies raises to the state legislature if the budget is not balanced. I'm sure the legislature will find ways around that: cost of living increases, stipend/per diem increases, all that good stuff.

Maybe people are finally waking up in California. Or maybe they're just tired of being taxed to death. Or maybe they just blame our Republican-in-name Governator for the mistakes of his liberal predecessor, the liberal voters of the past, and the current liberal legislature.

While I'd normally be quite please about this, Arnie is now threatening to take "drastic" measures to make up for the lost monies. He's talking about laying off 5,000 state employees, including 3,000 corrections officers. He's also talking about releasing 38,000 inmates from the state prison system.

I'm sure there are going to be tax increases as well. Property tax revenues are down since the real estate bubble burst. State property taxes are 1.1% of the property's purchase price or last appraisal. We have some built in protection that caps how fast the taxes can go up, but no protection on how fast they can decline. My own property taxes dropped over $1,000 from 2007 to 2008. I'm expecting 2009's property taxes to be even lower, but in 2010 they will probably be double what they were in 2007. Not that I think my home's value is going to rebound, but I think that the state is going to triple or quadruple the property tax in order to pay for its youth indoctrination public school program.

Our sales tax went up as a "temporary" measure on 01 April of this year. I'm sure that there will be an "emergency" extension of it in the coming weeks, if not another "emergency" increase.

Our vehicle registration fees also doubled on 01 April of this year.

Our unemployment rate is 11.5%. If I remember correctly (and I'm too lazy to research it) back when times were "good" it was projected that at 7% unemployment the unemployment program would pay out more money than it took in by 2013. If this high rate holds up, it will probably be in the red by 2010 or 2011. I'm expecting the unemployment withholding to either skyrocket or for the unemployment checks to stop getting mailed.

We already stopped mailing welfare checks once this year. That will probably happen again.

All of this makes me want to re-check my pantry and re-count my ammo.

I guess I'll be re-reading a lot of FerFAL's old posts.

The hell of it is that I'm pretty much stuck here. It seemed like a good idea to buy a house in 2005. I could probably sell it now for less than a third of what I owe on it, which I'm not willing to do.

I wonder if Texas would accept me and my family if we claimed political asylum.

It's not that I don't support the state layoffs (other than law enforcement), unemployment cuts, and welfare cuts. I'm worried about what the people who feel they are entitled to their jobs and my money might do when they no longer have them.

Texas Constructs U.S. Border Wall To Keep Out Unwanted Americans

This was too good not to pass along.

WICHITA FALLS, TX—Calling it an essential step toward securing the Texas border and protecting his people's way of life, Gov. Rick Perry announced Tuesday the completion of a 1,953-mile wall designed to keep out millions of unwanted Americans.

According to Perry, the 75-foot-high barricade running along the northern boundary is the culmination of more than 160 years of escalating tensions between Texas and the United States.