Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bob Confer: Terrorist

From the 30 March 2009 Greater Niagara Newspapers

By Bob Confer

Long-time readers of this column probably have a good idea about who I am. You’ve been subjected to my rants about and against illegal immigration, gun control, abortion, the North American Union, the Federal Reserve, taxes, and the economic irresponsibility of the government. You’ve read of my support for the Libertarian Party and third-party candidates. Chances are you’ve also heard me on Scott Leffler’s talk show denouncing ballistics tracking, Constitutional Conventions, and government in general. You might also know that I travel with a CB radio in my vehicle and I use social networking sites like Facebook to share my views and rally support for them. And, you can probably judge by my mugshot that I keep my hair closely-cropped – some might even say I’m a “skinhead”.

I’ll bet, though, that you didn’t know that I’m a terrorist.

Yes sir, I’m an honest-to-goodness right-wing domestic terrorist. You know, one of those “militants”.

I didn’t know I was one, either. There have been times when I wondered if the feds might think I was a terrorist, an enemy of the state thanks to my pithy columns. But, now, I am totally confident that I’ve been lumped together with guys as despised as Tim McVeigh, David Koresh and the Unabomber.

At least that’s what the Missouri Information Analysis Center would like people to believe. The MIAC is one of 58 fusion centers across the United States, created by the Department of Homeland Security to study the habits of, and create a unified plan against, terrorists. A few weeks ago, the MIAC issued an 8-page briefing entitled “The Modern Militia Movement” in which they have identified the mentality and distinguishing characteristics of domestic terrorists. It’s a field guide of sorts to aid law enforcement in determining if you or I might be someone to keep an eye on.

There just might be an intelligence agent watching me right now because I’m the perfect example of what a militiaman is supposed to be. Based on the criteria they’ve laid out in the report, I’m 0-for-15 in the model citizen department just because of the things I’ve mentioned in the opening paragraph alone. Every one of those items is listed as a tell-tale sign of a militant, so, I am, in their eyes, a danger. Consider that from the get-go, there are 15 strikes against me. In total, that’s impressive, perhaps frightening by MIAC standards. Many are quite damning if you consider how hard some of my stances have been regarding the issues.

Think about the stupidity of Homeland Security’s logic: believing in the American Way supposedly predisposes people like me to be wishful of its destruction. And I thought I was being a good citizen. Never have I initiated my so-called terrorist ways in any sort of violent intent towards our nation and our people. My written assaults on bad government are always looking out for the best interests of the people, peacefully, logically and with respect for our Constitution. God forbid that I think that important document should mean something. Reports like the MIAC’s show that maybe it doesn’t anymore.

And that, folks, shows how depraved our federal government has become. Hard-earned taxpayer money went into this foolish study, one clearly indicating that those with an outspoken belief in what government should be - and not what it has become - deserve to be looked at with disdain.

Well, at least I can take some comfort in knowing I’m not alone. You’re probably just as guilty as I. All of you who complain about taxes, are disgusted with Congress and read this subversive newspaper deserve to be saddled with this ill-begotten stereotype and can count yourselves as a member of a militia movement.

I trust, though, that you, like me, won’t be deterred by this name-calling. If what I do and what I am makes me a threat, then so be it: I’m a terrorist and proud of it!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Obama declares war on our vets

From the 23 March 2009 Greater Niagara Newspapers

By Bob Confer

The lingering physical trauma and mental anguish of war are things that most Americans will never experience.

We will never know what it feels like to have limbs ripped from our body by a bomb blast or a hole run through us by searing hot lead. The long road to recovery – or adjustment to a new reality – that comes from such a horror is something completely foreign to us.

Nor will we will ever understand the psychological pain that many a vet carries with him for his lifetime. We know not the vivid imagery trapped in a soldier’s mind that plays like a recurring nightmare, one where his friend is gunned down before him or where he happens upon the remains of women and children defiled by our enemies.

Most of us will never have to suffer those “living casualties” of war because we are blessed. Our national interests and the defense of our nation and other nations much less fortunate are upheld by our impeccable armed forces. More than 26 million men and women count themselves as veterans of our defense, having served and sacrificed so that we may go about doing what Americans do and living in peace and liberty. It is to them that we owe our lives.

It is to them that we owe their lives.

They have given much, and seen plenty, and it is our responsibility as citizens – especially as citizens who did not share in their higher calling – to take care of them, as they did us, when they return to the home front. Many of the vets went about their military business selflessly and with no expectations but to maintain Americana. Regardless of that, we do have an obligation to them, to return the favor in kind and provide them the care they need, both physically and mentally, in their efforts to become whole again. It’s the very least that we can do for them. And it’s still not enough.

Not everyone sees it that way. Remarkably, President Barack Obama, the Commander-in-Chief, is one who doesn’t see their well-being as our full responsibility.

Last week Obama held a meeting at the White House with various veterans organizations at which he dropped a bomb: His Administration is putting serious thought into cutting back on the medical treatment of service-related injuries. Much to the chagrin of veterans everywhere, he believes that their expenses should be covered not by VA funds but by the private health insurances that veterans have access to. Obama looks at this potential move as a revenue generator for Veterans Affairs, believing it will rake-in more than $540 million in new monies.

So, while most people look at the sacrifices of our vets as something priceless, Obama chooses instead to attach a price tag to them. You must assume that if he’s looking at the insurance transfer as a profitable proposition he’s looking at the current system as a losing endeavor. Such thinking further represents the government’s growing mountain of hypocrisy. Our federal government bleeds money and wastes at it every chance possible (see the stimulus package and the glut of bailouts), yet here it is nickel-and-diming the men and women who believe more so than most in what that government should stand for. When you look at it, that $540 million is one of the very best investments we can ever make.

This makes you wonder who’s on whose side. Back in the late-1960’s some Vietnam War vets, upon coming back home, were spit on by antiwar protestors. Here it is decades later and they (as well as all other vets) have been spit on again. But this time, their efforts weren’t punished by protestors. Their current offenders are their own president and his staff who seem to look at the health of those soldiers as a waste of taxpayer money.

It’s really a sad state of affairs in Veteran Affairs.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The fast train to nowhere

From the 16 March 2009 Greater Niagara Newspapers

By Bob Confer

After hearing Governor Paterson’s press conference about the prospects for a high speed rail line that would cut across the Empire Corridor, many people enthusiastically jumped on board with the idea. It seemed that citizens and press all to a man followed the political class, repeating in earnest what local, state, and federal officials had said…that it will be a boon to the economy.

I hate to burst your bubble, but this train will not be the cure for what ails our economy. Not even close. As a matter of fact, it might turn into one of the symptoms: 10 years from now, when its mostly-empty cars pass by your home, the train will be but a recurring reminder of how stale the local economy has become.

A lot of readers will think that I’m being pessimistic here. No, I’m being realistic.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of railroads and a supporter of their future development (refer to my column “America’s Rail Crisis” from July, 2008). But, I know that when keeping our nation’s economy on track two things are first and foremost for rail development: One, moving freight great distances efficiently and affordably and, two, transporting people short distances for the purposes of commuting to their employment (much like the NFTA’s MetroRail does).

The high speed rail fails to address either.

I wrote the following in the aforementioned column: “There are 140,000 miles of track in the US, over which 2 billion tons of freight are moved annually. This accounts for approximately 15% of all freight tonnage transported across the States and its contribution has been growing at a 5% annual rate. This tame growth in rail freight is expected to explode in the next few years as high gasoline prices stifle development in truck transportation. Because of….road congestion brought on by our rapidly-growing population (there will be a third more Americans by 2040)….the expectations for rail freight are expected to double by 2030.”

With such an explosion, logjams and delays will be the norm. In some places, like Chicago, they already are. So, by making freight an afterthought, our government fails to focus on what matters most to the greater good. To stimulate the economy, and thusly employ people, ease of trade must take precedence.

Their logic behind the focus on moving people has me shaking my head and asking questions. Are you telling me that everything will work out just right so that thousands of workers can commute from Buffalo to Rochester daily and have easy access to their jobs? Do you really think that their employer will be located near the train station or is accessible by other forms of public transportation?

That thinking may have worked back in the 1800’s or early 1900’s when development was centralized in the heart of the big cities. But, now it won’t work because the jobs are more widespread. For most of the Upstate region the best and most numerous employment opportunities for the average person are no longer to be had in the hearts of metropolises. The city limits and the suburbs are where it’s at. Centralization is a thing of the past in Upstate, and in many of the other regions that have applied for funds.

The transportation argument continues with state officials saying that this train will incite economic growth by facilitating business and tourism travel. We can see the fallacy of that claim already in this region. In recent years the Buffalo Niagara airport has become home to a bevy of affordable airlines that all service popular destinations. The world is accessible to Western New York and vice versa. On top of that, the Department of Transportation says that among the top 100 airports, it has the eleventh-cheapest fares. So, if cheap and easy transportation is the magic elixir for a sick economy, why hasn’t the air situation, which meets those standards, done anything to jumpstart the local economy?

That said, it’s a no-brainer that the $8 billion of stimulus money is better spent on upgrading the existing rail system, improving the delivery of freight and not people. But, Congress and the States don’t see it that way because they prefer to be salesmen instead of statesmen. The 2030 deadline is too far out there for our elected officials. They don’t think in the long term. They’re more concerned with short-term “victories” because that’s what wins elections. And, so do low-impact ideas that sound sexy - like high-speed rail - because they win the confidence of the average voter who doesn’t see the big picture for what it is…a big picture that shows an economy that could easily get derailed.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Abolish the Federal Reserve

From the 09 March 2009 Greater Niagara Newspapers

By Bob Confer

The Obama Administration’s so-called economic stimulus package has been a lightning rod of controversy. It has, like most political issues, divided America. It’s rare that you find one sitting on the fence; many people think it’s a great idea, a fine example of representative government doing what it can for its citizens while an equal number of folks believe it to be one of the government’s most excessive and wasteful investments.

Both sides have gnashed their teeth at one another over what they perceive to be the rights and wrongs of the deal. You’d have to expect that with a price tag of $787 billion and future implications that will far exceed that sum. But, as mammoth as the bill may be, it’s a pittance in the whole scheme of things.

“A pittance”, you ask?

It is. To understand that, we must distance ourselves from this contrived two-party conflict over the stimulus package which is itself a distraction created by the government and promoted by the press. We must focus not on the ranting of the rodeo clowns in Congress but rather on the reality of this day and age. Our world is so out of sorts that this $787 billion pales in comparison to everything that the federal government and its cronies have done and have promised to do since last summer. The real price tag for the total recovery process – whether by bailout, loan or donation – now exceeds $9.7 trillion. It’s really quite unbelievable that we’re nearing $10 trillion in giveaways. It’s unbelievable, yet it’s reality.

Unfortunately, it’s a reality that we as citizens cannot control. As a matter of fact, neither can our elected officials. You see, most of those trillions were not spread about by the representative arm of government. Instead, they were spent – even created out of thin air - by the ultimate monstrosity of Government Gone Bad: the Federal Reserve.

The Federal Reserve is our central banking system, created by an act of Congress signed in 1913. Feeding off of the lingering fear created by the Panic of 1907 when the Stock Exchange dropped by 50% from the previous year, it was an easy sell for the Wilson Administration. They blamed the Panic on the nation’s lack of a central bank (which we had been without since 1836), so, to casual observers, it made sense for Congress to fashion The Federal Reserve as the means to supposedly prevent all future panics and recessions.

It has not lived up to that purpose. Truthfully, it has failed miserably. Many economists agree that the Fed was solely responsible for the Great Depression because it had interfered far too much in the free markets, pumping reams of new money into the economy in the boom of the 1920’s and then overcompensating so much after the Crash that it delayed the market’s ability to correct itself and right its wrongs, prolonging the agony (this sounds eerily similar to today’s situation).

These problems continue and are exacerbated by the Federal Reserve’s unmatched and unrestrained power. It is a private cartel of banks that is not an entity of our federal government, even though it is counted as one. It is the world’s controlling hand, the rule of which is dictated only by its internal powers. It issues our currency at its whim, not at the discretion of our President or Congress, inflating the money supply and devaluing its worth. It can dictate the ebb and flow of credit in the marketplace. Because of all this, we don’t have a true free market system in the United States or the world because the Fed can dictate – rather than maintain - how much money is in the economy and it can charge a fee for its use.

The Federal Reserve can make or break our economy and there’s not a thing we can do about it. And, that’s what makes it a roadblock to a successful recovery from this recession/depression. Our elected officials - and therefore we - have absolutely no say in how our money is managed. It’s wrong and it’s illegal: Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution states that “The Congress shall have power to…coin money (and) regulate the value thereof”.

In 1913 it gave away that power, our power. It’s time that we took it back and lived by the Constitution. Our government must abolish the Federal Reserve if not bring intense accountability and transparency to it. If it doesn’t, then there’s a very good chance that in only 100 years of its existence the Reserve will have destroyed our once great nation.