-- Posted 6 August, 2006 | |
The Wallace Street Journal
By David Bond, Editor
The Silver Valley Mining Journal
Wallace, Idaho – Eric LeMaire, our astute Parisian friend, whose politics peregrinate between libertarianism and anarchy, emailed the other day wondering why on Planet Earth Idaho’s contribution to the 50-state (“collect ’em all”) issue of ersatz quarter-fednote coins would be an offering of the likeness of a peregrine falcon on the reverse side. Each state, one recalls, gets to present its best side on the backside of these special-issue slugs stamped out by the government mint.
Why, inveighed Eric, will there be no mention of mining – or, more important, silver – on the Idaho quarter? Why, indeed? Silver and mining have paid the spud state’s rent for 116 years of statehood and for several decades before that. Idaho’s official nickname is The Gem State. The Coeur d’Alene Mining District is the most prolific recorded producer of silver in the world, and we achieved that distinction in a mere century.
The short answer, my good friend, is that Idaho is the unfortunate home to the capitol city of Boise, which is in turn home to the World Center for Birds of Prey, which is in turn home to The Peregrine Fund, which is in turn home to about 200 breeding falcons and condors. We are sure that the raptor center does good things, but the peregrine falcon is not even Idaho’s official state bird; that assignment belongs to the mountain bluebird.
This new sandwich quarter design is, in fact, not the only insult visited upon silver and silver mining by the boys and bozos of Boise. Idaho’s famous “Famous Potatoes” license plate – a slogan which began appearing first on plates as long ago as 1928, grated for decades upon the mountainous North, where the only things that grow well here are rocks and white pine trees. So, genuflecting to the sensitivities of us grouchy northerners, the state began (for a surcharge, mind you) in 1988 or so to offer license plates without the “Famous Potatoes” line.
The no-spud alternative was so popular that, now, you can now get 20 variations of the Idaho plate, celebrating a range of things from Agriculture to Youth. Want to suck up to the cops? Get a Peace Officer (can we say oxymoron?) plate; honour firemen with a Firefighters plate. You can celebrate Appaloosa horses, the Basques, the Boy Scouts, downtown Lewiston (phew!), Lewis & Clark, Snowmobilers, Snowskiers, Timber, White-water Rafting, Elk, Trout, and even the Chevrolet Corvette with your custom Idaho license plate. And of course the default “Famous Potatoes” slogan survives. (It is our personal favourite because it is the cheapest of the lot.)
But not mining. Not silver. No way. Not in the Gem State. Not in the home to the greatest silver-mining district in the world. Not in Idaho. No “Famous Silver.” No “America’s Deepest Mines.” No “World’s Richest Silver District.” Not even a generic “Mining Rocks” or “Get The Lead & Zinc Out,” or “Miners Do It Deeper.” Those idiots in Boise are utterly f–
BREAK BREAK BREAK (or in Morse, BK BK BK)!!! We interrupt this rant for an important breaking screed concerning the official Last Day of the Republic. Countdown to May 1, 2008, when the Department der Fatherland Security brushes aside what’s left of state autonomy and climbs, quite literally, into your back pocket. That’s right. Last year, the Republican congress and the Republican president ordered that states submit to the Abteilung der Heimatlandsicherheit’s as-yet unpublished requirements for standardized national identification – in the form of driver’s licensing – which you’ll be required to possess and carry if you want to drive, to board a plane or bus or train, enter a courthouse or a national park, or so much as use a public crapper.
This, like the antics of Idaho’s recently departed Gov. Kempthorne, is too weird and frightening to make up. The “National Real ID Act” passed the Republican House of Representatives in February 2005, languished in the Republican Senate until May 2005 when it was stuck on to a military spending bill there and promptly signed by the Republican, George W. Bush. It becomes effective May 1, 2008. But there is nothing republican, in the classical sense, about this deadly business. “Your papers, please?” will be the newest battle cry of our erstwhile “Peace” Officers, who no doubt will be stationed along the sidewalks to ensure we’re not harbouring disruptive elements under our beds.
Because Abteilung der Fatherland Security has yet to issue its guidelines on the nationalized “state” driver’s license, it’s only possible to guess whether the things will need to contain a microchip listing the bearer’s vitals, or perhaps even a radio-frequency locator chip – all currently off-the-shelf technologies. Hollywood director-producer Aaron Russo (“Rose,” “Trading Places”) speculates in his latest soon-to-be blockbuster “America: Freedom to Fascism”) that the new ID cards almost certainly will carry the locator chip, so the bearer’s every movements can be tracked by ground-based homing devices or possibly by satellite.
Russo’s film deals mostly with other, equally grave topics, such as the utter illegality of the Internal Revenue Service and the federal income tax and how they finally marked the overcoming of the Republic’s founders by the European banking cartel. He may be overboard on the homing chip, but given the events of the five years since 9/11 empowered the Imperial Presidency, we’re inclined to lean toward the pessimistic.
And chip or no, if your state submits to the Congress and the Imperial President and you get stuck with having to carry one of these nasty little cards, better carry a pile of silver in the other pocket. Because two years from now you’re going to need it, to bribe the screws and the cops blocking your every peregrination, even to the store for that $25 6-ounce can of tuna.
-- Posted 6 August, 2006 | |