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Richard Larsen: Net Neutrality – Another Government Take-over

February 23rd, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Like a cancerous growth spreading throughout an otherwise healthy body, government overreach, regulation, and control of every aspect of our free-market system continues to expand, infesting and damaging economic activity one organ, or industry, at a time. The Internet, that bastion of freedom and entrepreneurship, is about to become the government’s newest victim.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman, Tom Wheeler, an Obama appointee, is presenting the president’s “net neutrality” plan for the commission’s vote in two weeks. As promoted publicly by the administration, even on the White House website, the concept sounds meritoriously egalitarian, preventing internet providers from doling out more bandwidth to some paying customers, like Netflix, than others. But it’s clearly designed to facilitate much more.

fcc-chief-on-net-neutrality-trust-meThe administration’s plan calls for reclassification of the Internet, in toto, as a Title II telecommunications service. Such a designation would allow the government to regulate the Internet based on the Communications Act of 1934, just like the telephone industry.

The 332 page proposal has not yet been made public, though the recommendations are widely known. The “net neutrality” proposal wording was enough for one FCC commissioner to conduct a news conference this week to warn the public of the “secret plan to regulate the Internet.” FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai said the plan was even “worse than I imagined,” and will invariably lead to “rate regulation and taxes.”

The full report and recommendation will not be released to the public until after the FCC approves it at their Feb. 26th meeting. FCC Chairman Wheeler must subscribe to the Nancy Pelosi regulatory and legislative mantra, that it has to be passed so we can know what’s in it. Yet another administration slap in the face of “transparency.”

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai holding the new FCC rules granting government regulatory control over the internet.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai holding the new FCC rules granting government regulatory control over the internet.

As reported in National Journal, commissioner Pai acknowledged that the actual regulations take up just eight pages of the document. Another 79 pages are citations of the Communications Act, which will also dictate the practices of broadband providers. The rest of the document is a summary of public feedback and reasoning for the FCC’s decision, which Pai said is “sprinkled” with unofficial rules.

According to Pai, about the worst part of the proposal is exercising FCC dominion based on Title II. By implementing “net neutrality” under Title II, regardless of the prima facie reason for the new order, the FCC is “giving itself the authority to determine whether a variety of practices—including prices—are ‘just and reasonable.’” In other words, it’s the camel nose in the tent door metaphor. Pretty soon the camel (government regulators) occupies the tent and the providers are out on their ears.

The evidence seems to be on Pai’s side. He explains specifically, “The plan repeatedly states that the FCC will apply sections 201 and 202 of the Communications Act, including their rate regulation provisions, to determine whether prices charged by broadband providers are ‘unjust or unreasonable.’”

Commissioner Pai cautioned that not only does the proposal “open the door to billions of dollars in new taxes on broadband,” but that with the Title II reclassification, technically the government could exercise control over content, as well.

87293_600Current broadband consumption illustrates how ludicrous the proposal is. According to Sandvine data, “in home data consumption is approximately 150 to 200 times greater than mobile consumption. Google (including YouTube) and Netflix account for 45% of fixed broadband traffic. iTunes, Facebook, Amazon and Hulu account for 6% in aggregate. Google and Facebook account for 42% of mobile data. Netflix, Pandora and iTunes take an additional 14%.”

According to the new rules, broadband usage must be shared equally, without allowing providers the ability to adjust for consumption and demand, and other factors. So if you think you’re sick of seeing the spinning “buffering” wheel when watching video online, you “ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” Welcome to the world of net neutrality, a euphemism for broadband socialism – everyone gets their “fair share.”

These are the reasons John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems, said, “To go back to a 1950s voice mentality with Title II and net neutrality would be a tremendous mistake for our country… this is a very bad decision. I think the whole country has to rally [against it]. This will cost the country jobs and economic leadership.”

net-neutrality-comic-3The first step of governmental encroachment into an area of the private sector is always the most crucial. For once the proverbial foot is in the door, they just keep pushing and shoving until the door is clear off the hinges, and they control the industry. We’ve seen it time and time again, from banking, telephony, energy, manufacturing, and most recently, health care insurance. The promises are always minimalist, yet the eventuality always exceeds even extreme expectations. Consequently control increases, costs of production and services increase, and those costs are passed from companies in the private sector down to consumers. And the process always seems most costly and punitive to the middle and lower classes.

Ronald Reagan explained this governmental cycle years ago. “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” Except in the case of “net neutrality,” they’re regulating it first, and then will come the taxation, the fees, and perhaps even control over accessibility and content.

We’ve seen just recently how governmental control over private sector services changes an industry dramatically, a la Obamacare. It appears we’re about to see “Obamacare” for the Internet, if the FCC rules go into effect. But don’t worry, they promise us that everything will be just fine. If you like your broadband, you can keep it. That sounds eerily familiar.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues, Presidential Politics, Taxes | No Comments »

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, Feb. 10, 2015

February 23rd, 2015 by Halli

By Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-BOne

This week reminded me of saying I heard once, “Ideas are like pizza dough, made to be tossed around.” There are a wide variety of topics that will probably shape the outcome of this year’s legislative session.

There are a number of ideas about how to provide additional funding for roads and bridges for the state. There has been a menu developed from which we would be able to choose. One item is to increase the fuel tax five cents per gallon this year and add an additional one cent each year thereafter. Another item is to impose large increases for registration of electric cars and hybrids. Yet another item on the menu is to impose a fuel transfer fee on each gallon of fuel including fuel used in agriculture. Since Idaho has some of the lowest vehicle registration fees in the country, (we are told) another proposal is to increase all registration fees for all types of vehicles with even heavier increases for large trucks.

Those are just a few of the ideas that are being tossed around having to do with transportation funding. While meeting with County officials last week, they put in their idea for a share of the gas tax increase to go to local governments for road construction and maintenance.

There are a few folks around here that are pushing for a separate presidential primary to be held in March of each presidential election year. There have been a lot of concerns expressed about the caucus system that is being used by both the Republican and Democratic parties. I’ve been asked by several what I thought of the idea, and I have been quite frank about it. If you think it is hard to get a good turnout at two elections in a year, just imagine how much more difficult it would be to have a large turnout three times in one year. And then there is the cost to consider. Well, at least at this point it’s just an idea.

Another issue that is getting a lot of conversation around this place is the Idaho Education Network. At this point there is so much conflicting information about where we are and what potential solutions might present themselves, that it is difficult to even come up with ideas to fix the problem. So far rather than ideas, the main focus seems to be on damage control. That lends itself to the idea of correcting problems that exist in the way services are contracted for the state. A lot of different numbers have been floating around about what it will take to keep the network operating at least until the end of the school year.

So there you have it, just a few of the ideas that are being tossed around the legislature like pizza. So far a lot of tossing to see what might stick. Ideas are like pizza in another way, some really good and others not so much.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Education, Idaho Legislature, Rep. Tom Loertscher | No Comments »

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, Feb. 1, 2015

February 23rd, 2015 by Halli

by Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

We were greeted early Monday morning by a crowd of people backed up for almost the entire length of the west and east wings of the capitol. I got a few laughs along the way as I asked, “Is there a party going on somewhere?” I knew of course that they had come from all over the state to participate in the hearing for House Bill 2 (aka; add the words). It turned out to be what is thought to be the largest and longest hearing in the history of the state.

It took over 22 hours of committee time with almost 200 people testifying on the legislation. Everyone who indicated they wanted to testify had a chance to do so. the committee was preached to, castigated for waiting so long, and we even had a lecture or two from lawyers and psychologists. At the beginning of the third day I quoted a former legislator that was famous for his homey little homilies in an effort to expedite the testimony and to avoid duplication. “The oftener you run over a dead cat, the flatter it gets” was his favorite.

Testimony from both sides was passionate and very emotional. After all of the testimony was taken, the vote was to hold the bill in committee. No one in those hearings came away without having deep impressions from what was heard.

There is so much in the background that happens to facilitate a hearing like this. A huge thank you goes out to the Sergeant of Arms and support staff, the Secretaries, the Pages, Security and the State Police. Having directly seen what they did I am in awe.

Other things around this place of interest this week have mostly to do with the budget process. This was the week for education with all of the University Presidents in town to make their pitch for more money, guaranteeing no increase in tuition if the legislature appropriates the money they say they need. The Superintendent of Public Instruction presenting a budget request lower than the Governor is a first, but in either case a large increase.

Hearings will soon begin on the Idaho Education Network. There are several ideas floating around about how to fix this mess, one of which is for the local school districts to apply directly to the Feds for funds to operate the network. I keep thinking about possible outcomes for the Historical Racing issue and I am sure the State Affairs Committee has only begun with interesting hearings this year. As for Medicaid Redesign, I hear a groan every time it is brought up.

It was great to get home for the weekend and get some fresh air and prepare for the week ahead. Linda was in Boise with me last week and as we pulled into our driveway she did what she always does after being gone for a few days. She said, “This is the best place on earth.” Home always is, isn’t it?

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Rep. Tom Loertscher | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Labrador’s Vote for Speaker Elicits Negativeand Illogical Response

January 27th, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

CompromiseThe recent reelection of John Boehner as Speaker of the House brought to light a disturbing trait among some who self-identify as “conservatives.” Boehner has been perceived as a thorn in the side of conservative interests since his first election four years ago, as he has continually acquiesced, or as some say it, “caved” to the left in his chamber, and to the president. The sentiment is captured in a landmark political cartoon showing an elephant reaching across a dangerous precipice toward an indifferent president, titled merely, “The Compromise.”

The sentiment is understandable, and shared by nearly all of us on the right of the political spectrum. But what was disturbing was the reaction of some toward their own congressmen who supported Boehner.

Congressman Raul Labrador, (R-ID)
Congressman Raul Labrador, (R-ID)

Raul Labrador (R-ID) won reelection from Idaho’s 1st Congressional District in November and is as steeped in his conservative ideals, and the classical liberal precepts the country was founded upon, as any conservative in Congress. There can be no question that his loyalties lie with the Constitution, the enumerated powers of the federal government, and the rights ostensibly assured thereby.

But after it became known publicly that Labrador had voted for the Speaker, an outpouring of obstreperous denunciations ensued. Comments on Labrador’s Facebook wall accused him of being a traitor, a turncoat, of betraying his conservative values, and betraying all conservatives who voted for him. Many declared they would never support him again, while others called for his recall.

Anyone with a modicum of political savvy, knows, or at least should know, that our chosen candidates, and elected officials, are not always going to vote the way we want them to, or the way we would if we were there. But the very notion of removing, or refusing to vote again for, the congressman because of one vote, even though he may a Freedomworks conservative rating of 90, on a 0-100 scale, is nothing short of idiocy.

Working Together to Build Bridges
Working Together to Build Bridges

This is a dangerous mentality that seems to be common at extremes of any ideology. “Unless you agree completely with me, or refuse to vote precisely the way I would have you vote, I’m not going to support you.” The only way to assure that your representative votes precisely as you want them to is to hold that position yourself. No one sees issues and solutions precisely the same way, except perhaps pure ideologues.

The derision heaped upon Labrador for his Speaker vote is a perfect example of how illogically and ideologically rigid some can be. Labrador’s conservatism is indisputable, and yet because of one vote, he’s called every pejorative epithet in the book, and many who share his ideological orientation throw him under the bus. This is where the ignorance of governance is so blatantly manifest. A viable educational tool might be to consider what other forms of extremism employ the same tactic that ostracizes and divides based on ideological “purity.”

A critical component to our efforts in working together in this democratic experiment is the didactic process of refining tactics based on efficacy. That includes identifying the destructive tactics that preclude the very notion of compromise, (which is essential in a constitutional republic), and contribute to the increased polarization of the body politic. This is clearly one of the most detrimental tactics; when we are so rigid in our ideological convictions that we destroy the relationship shared with others who think mostly as we do. It’s destructive to the political process, and its nascence and impetus, is based in ideological rigidity.

saul-alinsky-obama-luciferIt’s also a tactic of some on the left, as superbly promulgated by Saul Alinsky. “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Conservatives should realize that the consequences of implementing the tactic on themselves vitiates the advantages of a conservative voting block by dividing and parsing tranches based on perceived fealty to our founding principles. The result basically culls the “nonbelievers” from the “believers,” by lashing out, maligning, and condemning those who are perceived to not agree entirely, essentially ostracizing those who should be our allies.

It should be disturbing to conservatives when they learn that they employ the same tactic as other extremists, but many seem to revel in it, as if it’s a badge of honor of how “conservative” they are. That’s not a measure of political ideological integrity – it’s a measure of political ignorance of how the system works and how we have to work together in this republic of ours.

We should express our disapprobation to our elected officials when we disagree. But it’s totally illogical, and self-destructive, when we marginalize and alienate those with whom we share values, but may differ occasionally on specific votes. There aren’t many affirming or positive adjectives that can be used to describe someone who can only be supportive of, or civil to, someone with whom they agree 100% of the time.

If conservatives continue these tactics, they will succeed only in splintering and dividing themselves, granting the left victory after victory at the polls. It’s so often quoted that I hesitate to say it again, but apparently some need the continual reminder. As Ronald Reagan once said, “He who agrees with me 80% of the time is not my enemy.” Or his variation on that theme, “My eighty-percent friend is not my twenty-percent enemy.”

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Posted in Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues, Politics in General | No Comments »

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, 19 January 2015

January 19th, 2015 by Halli

by Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

Setting the stage for a legislative session is usually what the first week is all about. At least that is what most people around this place would tell you. Generalities were the order of the day as the Governor delivered his message. There were lots of goals with not a great deal of detail about how to get there.

The top of the list this year, as in other years, is education with larger increases than some might have expected. Most of what he outlined might be achievable if the revenue stream for it holds up. Keep in mind that the budget we will set is eighteen months out and is the caution that we look at every year. Subtopics up for a lot of discussion are Common Core (a hot one) and State Affairs will be taking a hard look at what happened and where we are headed with the Idaho Education Network as a part of a larger topic of purchasing for these types of items.

Another theme was more road money and since the State Of The State, legislators have been trying to figure out just what he really meant and how there were no plans laid out for the Legislature to consider. “This is what we need, you figure it out,” does not give a lot of direction. He was firm about not diverting sales tax spent on vehicle related items such as tires, batteries and repairs to the road fund. I can already hear the talk now how this is the right time to up the gas tax because the cost of fuel is down so people can afford it. Just when you thought you had an extra buck in your pocket.

Medicaid expansion suggestion is one of just listen to the folks who worked on the committee and then again, you decide. What I have been interested in is a plan that is being looked at by several here to do a system involving primary care. What will gain traction around here remains to be seen. There are plenty of Medicaid skeptics in these halls.

House Bills 1, 2, and 3 are coming to the State Affairs Committee for further review. It’s a little unusual that the first three are all headed in our direction. House Bill 1 is to designate the Idaho Giant Salamander as the State Amphibian. That should be a great bill to start the session. House Bill 3 is a correction of election law to bring it into compliance with the State Constitution. House Bill 2 will be a big one and I am sure you will be hearing a lot about” add the four words” over the next little while.

So stay tuned and hold on to your wallets, the Legislature is in session. The stage definitely is set for long days and a myriad of topics. And I haven’t even mentioned agency rules.

Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Rep. Tom Loertscher, Taxes | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Economic Optimism

January 17th, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

As we embark on a new year, positive economic indications are abundant. Having experienced the worst recession in modern financial history six years ago, the U.S. has slowly but surely emerged on more sure footing heading into the New Year. What has precipitated economically over the past six years cannot causally be attributed to any policies or governmental programs. Recovery has occurred in spite of government efforts, and is a testament to the free market capitalistic system our economy is based upon.

In December the Dow Jones Industrial Average broke through the 18,000 level for the first time ever, capping a 7.5% gain for 2014. Due to lower gas prices, we saved approximately $14 billion in energy costs for the year. And our moribund Gross Domestic Product (GDP) finally started to show signs of life with a 5% annualized growth rate in the third quarter. These data have significantly improved consumer sentiment, which is a measure of economic optimism. The latest reading of 92.6 represents a marked upward move from a third quarter reading of 82.

Due primarily to these factors, there’s even been improvement in the job market. Nonfarm payrolls have risen 26 consecutive months through December, averaging about 210,000 per month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Job growth is critical to economic growth since 70% of our economy is consumer driven, and more people with jobs, and especially good-paying jobs, augments growth sustainability.

The employment data still do not indicate a full recovery, however. According to the BLS Table A-15, 11% is closer to the real unemployment rate than the present headline figure of 5.8%. Item U6 indicates that the “Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force,” is nearly double the headline figure. There are too many still underemployed or only working part-time, who are looking for better jobs.

The Participation Rate is too low at 62.8%, which is near all-time lows for employable adults holding jobs. Pre-recession Participation Rate was over 66%. Currently, there are 6.9 million fewer Americans in the work force, either working or looking for employment, than there were six years ago. Those who have given up on finding a job are no longer counted in the headline household unemployment rate. Consequently, with 6.9 million fewer Americans working or searching for work, a significant percentage of the drop in unemployment since 2009 is largely due to those who have given up on finding a job. According to the BLS, demographic factors explain less than one-quarter of the decreased labor force participation.

When we look for causal factors for this recovery, however tepid, we cannot find any from the government. Nothing done by the Executive or Legislative branches of government have contributed to the recovery. With but a couple of exceptions, everything government has done in the past six years has thwarted economic growth and recovery.

The three major governmental accomplishments over the past six years have restricted and constrained our economic engine. The “Stimulus” of 2008 did not stimulate. According to the Wall Street Journal, over half of the $850 billion ($1.1 trillion, including interest) “stimulus” bill could be more correctly classified as discretionary spending. The Congressional Budget Office “scoring” of the stimulus package indicated that only 12 cents of every dollar would have a stimulative affect on the economy. The scoring process clearly indicated the impotence of the “Stimulus” for creating positive, let alone sustainable, economic growth.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) doesn’t stimulate the economy, for it is laden with new taxes and fees imposed on individuals and employers to be implemented over the next few years. And actually when the full impact of those new taxes hit, the adverse effect on the economy will be considerable. For as Christina Romer, former chair of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, revealed last year, “Tax changes have very large effects: an exogenous tax increase of 1 percent of GDP lowers real GDP by roughly 2 to 3 percent.”

Likewise, the FinReg, Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform is a deterrent to growth. It solidifies the crony capitalistic relationship between Wall Street, the major banks, and Washington by assuring further government intervention with institutions deemed “too big to fail.” The costs of implementation at the private sector level have resulted in higher fees, charges, and interest rates for financial institutions to recoup the implementation costs. Anything that takes from producers and savers to pay for regulatory overreach is antithetical to economic stimulus.

Those three governmental “successes” were all passed before 2010 when leadership of the House changed hands. This was perhaps the most effectual event leading to economic recovery. After 2010, with a divided congress, less has been done governmentally to interfere with the economy. Consequently, business owners, CEO’s, and employees have adapted to the new “normal” of higher costs of regulation and are gradually digging themselves out of the morass. The greatest benefit of a divided congress is less governmental intervention.

This should be perhaps the greatest measure of a successful government or regime. Rather than measure productivity based on how much legislation is passed, measure it based on how little they encroach on our liberty and our capitalistic economy.
The great economist and Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman, once said, “Government has three primary functions. It should provide for military defense of the nation. It should enforce contracts between individuals. It should protect citizens from crimes against themselves or their property. When government– in pursuit of good intentions tries to rearrange the economy, legislate morality, or help special interests, the costs come in inefficiency, lack of motivation, and loss of freedom. Government should be a referee, not an active player.”

The objectivist philosopher, Ayn Rand, echoes this sentiment. She wrote, “America’s abundance was created not by public sacrifices to the common good, but by the productive genius of free men who pursued their own personal interests and the making of their own private fortunes. They did not starve the people to pay for America’s industrialization. They gave the people better jobs, higher wages, and cheaper goods with every new machine they invented, with every scientific discovery or technological advance — and thus the whole country was moving forward and profiting, not suffering, every step of the way.”

It appears at least ostensibly that the intent of the 114th Congress will be to roll back some of the onerous regulatory burdens conceived by their predecessors. If they are successful in doing so, the growth potential of our economic engine could be unleashed for significant expansion. After all, look at how far we’ve come in spite of their predecessor’s efforts to stifle free enterprise in our capitalistic system.

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Posted in Guest Posts, National Sovereignty, Pocatello Issues, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

David Ripley: The Limits of Scientific Understanding

January 17th, 2015 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The story of Martin Pistorious is not particularly miraculous, but it carries profound warnings for a society moving so quickly to dispatch people at the first signs of serious trouble. As a young boy, Martin suffered from an attack of meningitis. Doctors declared that he had become a “vegetable” based upon his inability to speak, make eye contact or otherwise move. He slipped into a coma. They sent him home to die.

But for 12 years, he refused to die.

His parents cared for him, despite the apparent lack of progress. His father would bathe him and bring him to a care center during the day while he worked. The nurses at the facility would sit him in front of a VCR to watch an endless loop of Barney episodes.

The problem was that Martin was totally aware of his surroundings – but unable to do anything about it.

“After two years, I began to wake up. I was aware of everything, just like any normal person. Everyone was so used to me not being there that they didn’t notice when I began to be present again. The stark reality hit me that I was going to spend the rest of my life like that – totally alone.”

Martin is now 39 years old and married.

What if some compassionate person had decided to simply starve this poor young boy to death? Can you imagine how miserable and painful that would have been? Could it be denied that, if things had taken such a course, young Martin would have been miserably murdered?

Nor is Martin’s case singular.

Kate Allat, a young mother of 39, suffered a stroke and fell into a coma. For ten days she was unable to communicate, move or even breathe on her own. But she was aware. Painfully aware that she would be unable to defend herself should some Samaritan decide to “relieve her suffering” by taking her off life support systems.

Such stories ought to inspire us all – particularly those in the medical professions and positions of power – to a place of humility. It is strikingly obvious that there is much we don’t understand about the human brain, about life itself. From a place of humility and respect for life, we should turn away from the drive to so casually discard people who need care.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues | No Comments »

David Ripley: Japan’s Self-Willed Destruction

January 12th, 2015 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The plight of modern Japan is a very sad spectacle. Each year the country gentrifies as it blindly pursues a path of rampant materialism. While their historical values are not Christian, they are venerable. Those values produced one of the greatest civilizations in history, being built around family. Today, those values have largely been abandoned as the nation continues to destroy its own future through abortion.

Japan was the first nation on earth to have more citizens over the age of 65 than under 15. And that was a quarter of a century ago. Data suggests that Japanese people are not only avoiding children through rampant abortion rates, they are now avoiding marriage as well.

In recent days, stories have appeared regarding strategies of major firms in Japan seeking to build a robotic society which helps compensate for the workers which have been destroyed in the womb. Stories abound of women and the elderly seeking emotional comfort from inanimate dolls, pets and computers. (Sound at all familiar?)

This week a story appeared in the Washington Post (of all papers), suggesting the possibility that Japan may consider a national ban on abortion as a strategy for obtaining a viable future. In fact, a Japanese legislator suggested this obvious notion two years ago, with little response. According to a report on Breitbart, there is virtually no pro-Life movement in the nation.

While there seems small reason for predicting a spiritual awakening in Japan, perhaps the sheer weight of a dismal economic future may lead that nation to re-evaluate the value of human life.

The picture of a noble society destroying itself is not pretty. But it should stand as a warning to other peoples around the world – particularly America. We are, after all, not far behind them on the death spiral.

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Posted in Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Politics in General | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Ideological “Weeds” Thrive Across the Land

January 12th, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

While recently rereading a classical literary piece from a century ago, I realized anew how each person is a microcosm of the demographic group or society to which he or she belongs. Truly, no man is an island, and we all bring to our society characteristics, traits, and attributes which contribute to the whole. When we analyze some of the notable events from the past year, we can’t help but realize how our individual contributions either ameliorate, or vitiate, the cumulative character of our society.

The book, As a Man Thinketh, by the English moralist James Allen, abounds in insightful truisms and verities. The following is but one of many such gems. “A man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.”

As much idiocy as we observed playing out on the public stage this past year, it’s obvious that there are too many minds not being planted or cultivated with ennobling or productive seeds. And, according to Allen, the evidence is manifest behaviorally. Not unlike the timeless wisdom of Forrest Gump, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

Case in point, the “Hands up, don’t shoot,” social phenomenon that was spawned, and perpetuated, based on fictitious accounts of the tragic shooting of a young man in Ferguson, MO. The fact that such a fallacious mantra would gain such traction among the race-baiters, celebrities, misinformed, and even professional athletes, does not portend well for our culture. But why bother with facts and evidence, when a fabricated story can be so superbly spun for the sake of advancing an ideological narrative, or inciting riots and precipitating violence? This provides evidentiary validation of Allen’s thesis, that “an abundance of useless weed seeds” can bear sway in the absence of “useful,” and I might add, informed and fact-based “seeds.”

On a par with that evidentiary validation, but much more consequential in its long-term implications, is the request by law students at Columbia, Harvard, and other law schools, to postpone their final exams. They felt they had been “traumatized” due to their protests of the Ferguson and New York grand jury decisions to not charge policemen for perceived wrongful deaths. Would anyone even consider hiring an attorney who felt “traumatized” because they protested too strenuously, and felt themselves to be incapable of taking tests as a result? Aphorisms aplenty seem to apply in such an instance, primary of which is simply to “grow up.”

As we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Great Society “war on poverty,” the nation’s redistribution of over $22 trillion is one of those governmental policies that evokes great emotion yet, as inefficacious as it has been, clearly is bourn of ideological “weeds.” Our poverty rate is about the same today as it was fifty years ago, which means our wealth redistribution has accomplished nothing, and has not addressed the underlying societal issues which are causal to poverty.

Another example is regrettably provided by our president, who, after claiming that all of his policies were on the midterm electoral ballot, was thoroughly trounced as voters rejected his legislative and ideological pawns who supported his policies. Yet, in the aftermath of such a drubbing, became increasingly pertinacious, clinging to his rejected ideology, and claimed to hear what those who didn’t vote had to say. The mainstream media should have had a heyday with such vapidity, yet, as has been their wont over the past six years, gave the president a pass on his vacuity.

Equally vacuous was the president’s reference to the Biblical story of Mary and Joseph in an amnesty speech delivered last month. He may want to break down and actually read the Bible, if he’s going to “quote” from it. Mary and Joseph were not illegal aliens, and, contrary to his other “quote” from the Bible in the same speech, the Good Book says nothing about “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” It’s bad enough when our fellow countrymen fill their ignorant voids with uninformed “weeds,” but when our president does it, and he gets away with it, it does not bode well for our media or our society.

That such ignorance, bourn of ideological “weeds,” can flourish in our “enlightened” culture is indeed discomfiting. It’s enough to make one wonder if “The Walking Dead” TV series is more reflective of our collective consciousness, rather than simply apocalyptic TV fiction.

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Posted in Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues, Politics in General, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

David Ripley: Some Good News in DC Budget Battle

December 23rd, 2014 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Many conservatives across the nation are angry that the GOP leadership seems to have no plan for responding to Obama’s immigration reform stunt. Some have been hoping that the House would use its budgetary authority to block the president’s unconstitutional amendment of federal statute. Information released by the Washington Post yesterday suggests that we will be frustrated.

However, the same analysis found some encouragement for pro-Life advocates.

Buried in the leadership’s spending bill are various pro-Life provisions. Republicans will once again block the use of federal funds to pay for most abortions, including the District of Columbia. This restriction will now apply to federal prison inmates.

This last is very important because of trends in various county jails where apparently taxpayers are being billed for abortions on a regular basis. This is a potential scandal which requires our future attention.

In addition, the GOP spending plan puts now requirements on the Department of Health & Human Services to make it clear to citizens shopping for health care insurance on various ObamaCare websites whether the plans they are considering cover elective abortion services.

And, lastly, the proposed spending bill cuts enforcement funding for the IRS, and includes a ban on the agency using its police powers to target tax-exempt groups for harassment based upon the group’s political beliefs.

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Posted in Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, National Sovereignty, Politics in General, Presidential Politics, Taxes | No Comments »

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