Heroes – A discussion of Stargate SG-1 and American Foreign Policy

One of my favorite television series of all time is Stargate SG-1® starring Richard Dean Anderson and Michael Shanks. I have been watching through the series on Netflix® for the third or forth time and got to thinking. This show perfectly illustrates the conundrum that is foreign policy.

The show is about a secret military organization that costs the tax payers of the United States billions of dollars annually, but they know nothing about it because it is a black budget expense and a top secret operation. The main characters travel literally around the galaxy “exploring” and fighting a war against aliens. It is quintessential interventionism.

Starting with the 1994 movie, Stargate®, (Kurt Russell, James Spader ) the United States Air Force gets involved in an interplanetary incident and end up toppling a dictator who rules hundreds of planets across the galaxy. Then the television series picks up, continuing the war against the alien dictators, freeing various alien cultures and planets of humans across the galaxy. Along the way the characters interfere with the internal politics of many cultures, cause natural disasters, destroy planetary defense systems belonging to alien races, topple numerous dictators only to see others spring up in their place, and so on and so forth. However, they also meet some great allies, do many great humanitarian works including assist entire populations in relocating to different planets, cure plagues, free planets from chemical dependencies, save aliens stranded on planets far from home, etc.

One of the reasons that I like this series so much is that they don’t appear to have an agenda other than to provide entertainment, and to represent the men and women of the US military forces as what they generally are, idealistic, honorable heroes, fighting for truth, justice and the American way. They depict both the good and bad side of decisions made by the characters, and the governments behind them. It is truly a good vs. evil story. Stargate Command (SGC) is battling through the galaxy fighting a race of egomaniacal alien parasites that need both human hosts to survive and humanoid incubators for their young. It also shows their struggle against corrupt politicians, greedy businessmen devoid of conscience, and organized crime including drug trafficking reminiscent of the Opium Wars.

I most recently watched the 2 part episode Heroes, which I believe to be one of, if not the best episode in any television series, ever. In it a documentary producer is sent to The SGC to tell the story of the men and women of the SGC. Because of their history with reporters, and outsiders in general he is met with hostility, but he persists. He endures despite being shut out of all but the most mundane of daily activities and being almost completely ignored by the men and women he is sent to document. In the end, he writes a truly inspiring story about the heroic things the SGC is doing on behalf of humans everywhere, especially those on Earth. General Hammond, commander of the SGC describes the fictitious documentary in this way: “I’ve written a lot of letters to the next of kin. Nothing ever seems like it’s enough. They deserved more. This is something more.”

I believe that this episode itself, though it does not try to be a tribute to our men and women is “something more.”It describes the sacrifice they go through for us, for each other, and for others. It shows their loyalty to one another, and their anguish when a comrade falls. It honors them not because they die for their country, but because through their sacrifice, we don’t have to. When we condemn the decisions of our President, the Pentagon and their orders to the military, though we don’t mean it, it is only natural for our troops to hear us condemning them for following those orders. Yes, we need public discourse about foreign affairs. Yes, we need military and governmental transparency because our leaders serve We the People. But many times we scrutinize and criticize without understanding. “It’s easy to predict the score when the game is over,”(1) but are we really qualified to judge the decisions made by those in the heat of the moment?

Foreign policy and military action are very complex things, with many motivations, considerations and justifications. We should elect our leaders carefully, and pick representatives with character and integrity. We should conduct ourselves fairly in our dealings with others, and we should expect the same from our government. But we should really be careful when making quality judgments or comparisons, because despite all of its faults we do “live in the greatest nation on God’s green earth.”(2)

 

(1) Dr. Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) in Stargate SG-1: Heroes Part 2, MGM Studios and Sony Productions, 2004

(2) Michael Medved, The Michael Medved Show, michaelmedved.com

*Stargate®, Stargate SG-1®, it’s stories, plots and it’s characters are the property of MGM Studios and their subsidiaries. I make no claim to them, and only reference them in fair use commentary on publicly broadcast media.

The Principles of a Well Regulated Militia

I stole this from an anonymous posting on the Cedar Rapids Craigslist.  I hope you enjoy it.

 

Principles of A Well Regulated Militia

Whereas the Constitution declares; “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state”; and whereas “all men capable of bearing arms for the common defense” constitute the “militia of the several states”; we the people are the only constitutionally authorized defenders of the Republic and guardians of the rights of the people. Therefore to preserve freedom and liberty, we re-affirm the self-evident truths set forth in the founding document of our Republic, the Declaration of Independence:

1. All men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, among them Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness(Private Property). You are born with natural rights that come from God, not from the government. The very word “unalienable” means that no man or government may infringe, usurp or nullify your rights.

2. To secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men. Government is merely the creation of the people. The only legitimate purpose of government is to protect your rights.

3. Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Governments have no inherent or intrinsic powers — only those delegated to it by the people. When governments claim powers never granted, such government is illegitimate.

4. Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government. When the government violates the rights of it’s citizens, it violates its only legitimate purpose and voids the compact by which the people created that government. The people retain the right to decide when that has happened, and retain the right to throw off such oppressive government, just as our forefathers did in the American Revolution.

5. Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes. Therefore, as long as possible, the American people will continue to use every peaceful means at our disposal to protect our unalienable rights and obtain a redress of grievances despite a relentless, sustained assault on those rights by the government.

6. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism . . .. Among the abuses and usurpations were:

[the national government] “declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever,” erecting “a multitude of New Offices,” and sending “swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance”; Denial of jury trial, with trial instead by admiralty courts (military tribunals); warrantless searches (the writs of assistance); confiscation of property; Imposition of martial law — the suspension of legislatures and the appointment of a general to rule the people, rendering “the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.”

The parallels to our time are obvious and ominous.

7. . . . it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government. We the people will determine when that point has been reached. We do not expect, nor require the national government’s approval of that decision by the people. Every tyrannical government throughout history, has twisted and perverted the law and the courts into a weapon against the people. In our own history, every oppressive act of Parliament and the King in the years leading up to the Revolution were upheld by the English courts. But that was not the end of the argument. Nor will it be today.

GOP Gets tough on Special Interest Tax Credits

The US Senate voted Tuesday NOT to repeal a $6 billion tax credit for Ethanol. The bill’s chief sponsor Senator Coburn (R-OK) argued that despite their pledge to not raise taxes, the GOP must stop tolerating wasteful giveaways through the IRS Tax Code. Senator McCain (R-AZ) chimed in stating “Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion…It’s my opinion that it’s a disgraceful subsidy that is unwarranted and a waste of taxpayer dollars.”

For those of you who are keeping score 34 of the 47 Republicans in the Senate voted to repeal this tax credit, despite an ATR pledge by 40 of them to never increase taxes. (Lets be fair, ATR did advise them that so long as they cut another tax to make up for increasing taxes by repealing this credit, they would not be breaking the pledge.)  The credit in question was an earmark granting a $6 billion dollar available tax credit for gasoline producers who blend ethanol into their fuels. This blender’s credit amounts to 1 tenth of 1 percent of the requested Federal Budget for fiscal year 2012 and is in fact not a subsidy for ethanol producers, or corn farmers, but a fuel subsidy for the oil companies who blend and sell gasohol.

Am I the only person who thinks this kind of political pandering is disgusting? Senator Van Hollen (D-MD) is quoted as saying “A realistic conversation about deficit reduction must include both cuts and revenues, and Senator Coburn’s amendment to eliminate $6 billion in tax earmarks for ethanol is an important part of this discussion,” and feels Senator Coburn’s “willingness to cut special-interest tax breaks for the purpose of deficit reduction is encouraging.”

Now, I am all for cutting special-interest tax breaks, but let’s get real, one tenth of one percent is a small drop in the ocean of red ink that is 2012 deficit spending. How about cutting something real like the $121 billion mandatory spending in the USDA budget. (%3.2) Or what about cutting some of the $575 billion being spent by the DOD this year EXCLUDING War Funding for Afghanistan and Iraq. (%15.4) Maybe we could look at cutting the $53 billion dollars being requested for foreign aid this year. (%1.4)

But the Republicans are the only ones pandering. The Democrats continually call for the elimination of tax breaks for Big Oil but they voted to keep this bill on the table instead of bringing the actual tax cut up for a vote. I am sick of reading about “earmarks” and “tax credits,” “deficit spending” and “fiscal responsibility.” Let’s see some real action please!?!

A Pro-Life Betrayal?

This year the pro-life movement in Iowa was presented with an ideal situation. You could even call it a perfect storm. In November we elected a Republican majority in the Iowa House, coupled with a Republican Governor. All of them were self described pro-lifers. Then came the announcement that a renowned abortionist was planning on opening an abortion clinic in the home district of Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal. This led to tremendous calls from his constituents to prevent this monster from moving into the state. In this climate it is entirely reasonable to assume that we could pass virtually any pro-life legislation that we wanted through the legislature.

And early in the session it appeared that this would be the case. The ultimate piece of pro-life legislation was introduced into the Iowa House by State Representative Kim Pearson. House File 153 would have enshrined into the Iowa Code that life began at conception. The legislation appeared to have the support to bring it to the House floor for debate. Twenty-eight members of the Iowa House signed on with Representative Pearson as cosponsors of the legislation, usually a clear indication of support for the bill. Unfortunately this piece of legislation has yet to be brought to the House Floor for debate. Instead a weaker piece of legislation, HF 657 was advanced.

I appreciate the fact that these legislators were willing to cosponsor HF 153. With that said, I am more than a little disappointed with the fact that this is all they did. With a few exceptions, I have not heard many of this cosponsors stand up to demand that the personhood bill be brought to the House Floor for debate. I have to wonder what kind of legislators we have when they have the courage to make a stand by placing their name on a piece of paper, but not the courage to stand up and let their voice be heard.

I applaud the Republican leadership in the Iowa House for taking a stand against abortion, however at the same time I am disappointed in their lack of foresight. I am disappointed that they did not take advantage of the opportunity that has presented itself to rid the State of Iowa of the blemish that is abortion. As I have stated, legislative leadership has found itself in the perfect opportunity to actually succeed in saving the lives unborn children across this state and ending an industry that thrives on the deaths of the defenseless.

I can’t help but wonder if House leadership refused to advance personhood legislation for political reasons. I can’t help but ponder the possibility that Republican leadership in the Iowa House is holding back so that come the next election they can say to us that we need to vote for them because the agenda isn’t complete. Or is it simply that Iowa House Republicans did not have the courage to the right thing.

Senator Sorenson Responds to Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition

“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality”

Dante

Some of you may have recently received an email alert from a lobbyist at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition about my reluctance to sign a discharge petition that would allow a so-called late-term abortion ban to be debated on the senate floor.

I feel the need to explain to you where I stand since this email alert from the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition failed to accurately report where I stand and why, which is unfortunately the sort of tactic I would expect from our liberal adversaries and not someone that’s supposedly on the same team.

If you’re as passionate about the pro-life cause as I am, then there’s something important you need to know that sadly you wouldn’t be aware of if all of your information came from the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition.

What you need to know is that we are close to getting the first historic vote ever on life at conception (or personhood) in the Iowa House. Some pro life warriors in the Iowa House have been working tirelessly to make this happen with a life at conception bill I first introduced when I was in the Iowa House, and its wording is taken literally from the words of the Republican Party of Iowa platform. This vote sanctifying all life from our Creator could literally happen any day.

Sadly, you wouldn’t know that if you all you did was read email alerts from the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition. For reasons known only to the leadership of that organization, which includes a Republican National Committeeman, the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition has done literally nothing to help the fight for life at conception during this legislative session. In addition, the same lobbyist from that organization that sent out the incomplete email alert about my position has done nothing to help persuade my colleagues to vote for life at conception.

Let me say that again just to make sure those of you who believe in the pro life cause as much as I do hear me loud and clear—the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition has done nothing to help pass a life at conception bill.

Nothing.

Why? You’d have to ask them. I’ve tried, and don’t get an answer. Instead, they have spent all their energy attempting to stop a gruesome late-term abortionist from entering our state, an intention I support, but the bill they’re pursuing may not do that at all. All it will do is compel him to kill the baby a few days or weeks earlier than he had previously planned. Not to mention those who generate an income off of the killing of innocent life probably can’t be counted on to keep accurate records of their dirty dealings in the first place. Planned Parenthood has already announced its bringing more abortion mills to Iowa as well.

Still, I can see why some of my fellow pro-lifers are eager to try and do something to stop this late-term abortionist, as am I. This is why I am also spending my energy on passing legislation that wouldn’t just make life tougher for abortionists, but instead put them out of business altogether. I am also working on drafting an amendment that could correct some of the troubling language in HF 657 (formerly HF 5).

However, instead of helping us pass a life at conception bill, the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition instead attacked my fellow pro life warriors in the Iowa House who were fighting for it, and inexcusably urged other pro-lifers to contact them and lobby those legislators to violate their moral conscience.

It appears that the leaders at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition are like too many of my Republican colleagues who didn’t get the message of the last election, which is that voters want principles and have rejected the failed policies of the left. Instead of playing the old political game the way the left would like us to, as the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition is still doing, I believe we should challenge the left head on and defeat them once and for all.

This is why last year I didn’t vote for the compromised pro-Second Amendment legislation until we forced liberals to go on the record on Constitutional Carry first, and it’s why this year I will not support a compromised “pro life” bill until we have actually fought for the core principle of the pro-life movement first–that all life is sacred from conception until natural death. The pro-life movement has neglected the inalienable right to life, and I promise you I will do everything in my power to get my colleagues on the record about who really believes in the right to life and who does not, that way you the voter can be fully informed about where your elected officials stand.

I agree that we can’t win back the victories the left has had for decades in one legislative session or one election, and that we’ll have to incrementally win several battles along the way. But when we don’t advance our principles first and surrender them before the fight has even begun, we’re not moving incrementally in the right direction, but instead increasingly moving in the wrong direction the left prefers.

This is why I agree with State Reps. Glen Massie, Kim Pearson, and Tom Shaw’s valiant fight to have their chamber vote on life at conception, which is a fight I have been proud to help them with. I will also continue to fight to make that vote happen in the senate as well, even if that means adding a life at conception amendment to HF 657. However, my conscience also tells me that if we can’t advance the most principled position we should still do as much good as we can and trust God from there, so I will vote to stop another late-term abortionist from setting up shop in Iowa, regardless of the bill’s obvious imperfections.

Now that I have clarified where I stand and what I am doing to fight for life at conception, perhaps the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition that inspired this note from me in the first place should explain where they stand, and why they have done nothing to support life at conception.

As always I welcome your feedback and covet your prayers. I will keep you updated on this fight for life at conception, and promise you it is a fight I will see all the way through no matter how much I am pressured to compromise—even if the pressure is from people that are supposed to be on my side.

Gronstalling in the Iowa House

When the current legislative session began four months ago many of us around the state were full of hope and optimism. With the newly elected Republican majority in the Iowa House of Representatives we believed that we would be able to advance an agenda that furthered the cause of freedom and in the process actually defend the rights granted to us by the US and Iowa Constitutions. However as we draw near the end of the session, the hope and optimism we felt is quickly fading to despair and anger as we seem to have been betrayed by those in which we placed our trust.

Case in point is the Articles of Impeachment against the four activist justices that remain on the Iowa Supreme Court. In December three freshman Representatives announced their intentions to draft the aforementioned articles in an effort to hold the Supreme Court accountable. Unfortunately, because such a step was unprecedented, it has taken longer than anticipated to draw up the articles. Be that as it may; Representative Shaw, in conjunction with four other State Representatives, filed the resolutions necessary to begin the impeachment proceedings yesterday afternoon.

Upon hearing that the resolutions had been filed a little bit of the faded hope had been restored. We felt that we were finally going to have a victory in the defense of our states constitution. However, it appears that two Republican members of the House are willing to stand in the way of resolutions, thus disregarding the oath that they took to defend the US and Iowa Constitutions.

In a statement he made to the Des Moines Register this morning, Speaker of the House Kraig Paulsen asserted that he “agrees with much of the reasoning behind the impeachment resolutions, I disagree with the remedy.” It is easy to understand the meaning of his words here. The basic principle behind his comments is that yes he agrees with the need to hold the Iowa Supreme Court accountable, he just doesn’t have the moral courage to stand up and do the right thing.

And in an effort to keep the resolutions from being debated Speaker Paulsen assigned the resolutions to the House Judiciary Committee. A committee that is not scheduled to meet again this session. Another obstacle standing in the road of the resolutions is that the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Rich Anderson from Clarinda, has steadfastly stated that he would not allow the impeachment to leave his committee.

Unfortunately at this time it appears that the impeachment resolutions will not be brought to the House floor for debate. In an act of political cowardice, Speaker Paulsen deliberately sent the resolutions to a committee that he knew would not meet again this session. In an act of political cowardice Speaker Paulsen sent the resolutions to committee chaired by a representative that he knew would not stand in the way of the resolutions.

At this point the only hope that we have of getting these resolutions brought to the floor for debate is if we exert some pressure on the Iowa House. This means that we need to move heaven and earth to ensure that we call not only our representatives, but also Speaker Paulsen and Representative Anderson. It is my understanding that they are the only individuals in the Iowa House that can bring forth the resolutions at this time. Below you will find the contact information for both Paulsen and Anderson.  Please take the time to contact them and tell them that the defense of Iowa’s Constitution and the separation of powers is a worthwhile endeavor for the Iowa House.

Speaker of the House Kraig Paulsen

Email Address – kraig.paulsen@legis.state.ia.us

Phone Number – 319.294.2602

Richard Anderson

Email Address – Richard.anderson@legis.state.ia.us

Articles of Impeachment Filed in Iowa House

Articles of Impeachment filed in the Iowa House against remaining four Supreme Court justices

For Immediate Release

Contact: Representative Tom Shaw – tom.shaw@legis.state.ia.us

April 21, 2011

Statement by Iowa State Representative Tom Shaw upon the filing of articles of impeachment against the remaining four Varnum v. Brien Supreme Court justices:

“In order to protect the integrity of our form of government, we must maintain the separation of powers as is required by Article III, Section 1, of the Iowa Constitution. This is our sworn duty as the representatives of the people, who made their will quite well known when they removed three of the Varnum v. Brien Supreme Court justices in the last retention election. Clearly, by changing the simple meaning of the word “marriage,” and attempting to legislate, the remaining four judges committed malfeasance in office by greatly exceeding the scope of their lawful authority. Therefore, if the moral integrity of each individual member of the Iowa Legislature, and the institution as a whole, are to be preserved, these judges must be impeached and removed permanently from the bench.”

The four Iowa House Impeachment Resolutions, file numbers 47, 48, 49, and 50, brought by Representatives Shaw, Alons, De Boef, Massie, and Pearson, can be found here:

http://coolice.legis.state.ia.us/Cool-ICE/default.asp?Category=BillInfo&Service=DspResoRids&frame=y&rid=14&GA=84