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Guest Post: Does Science Provide Moral Guidance?

June 27th, 2007 by Halli

From Rick Larsen

After President Bush vetoed the latest installment of Congress’ embryonic stem cell research bills, Senator Hillary Clinton made a comment that requires closer scrutiny than that afforded by reporters covering her comments.

The Senator said, referring to the President’s veto, “This is just one example of how the President puts ideology before science, politics before the needs of our families.” The significance of such a perspective on Clinton’s part would imply that science should take supremacy over values and places scientific theory in a position to eclipse morality in policy decisions about using the power provided by science.

I’m not a scientist, so some of my observations regarding science may not be qualified as those of a scientist would, but I find Clintons’ comments alarming. It seems to me that science is devoid of values and addresses the mechanics of life and the world around us, but does not afford moral guidance in the exercise of scientific discovery. Science, devoid of morality, led to the promotion of eugenics and horrible experimentation on Jews by the Nazis during the Holocaust. Devoid of morality (in the classic philosophical context), and in control of unwilling concentration camp subjects, the Nazis freely exercised their scientific experimentation without compunction. A truly frightening yet historical example of science bereft of morality.

In its purest form, science is amoral. It has no value system. Science poses hypotheticals, and provides the system and the mechanics to test, observe, and report. Because of its amoral nature, it doesn’t deal with the questions of “is it right to conduct such experiments,” or “is it right to clone a human,” or “is it right to deprive individual freedom because we think man is causing the earth to warm.” It simply doesn’t deal with questions of “should,” it deals instead with questions of what, how, and why. Science does not contemplate the philosophical purpose, the directive principle, or finality in nature or human creations. These are the province of religion, philosophy, and on a collective practical basis, politics. It harks back to the age old question of “just because I can do something, does that mean I should?”

Applying this principle to the stem-cell debate is extremely pertinent on two levels: first, is a fertilized human egg (embryo) just tissue or is it “life,” and secondarily, is it justifiable to destroy a human embryo for the purpose of alleviating human suffering? We all have our respective views on these questions, but the primary point is to illustrate how absurd it is to either separate science from ethics, or to place supremacy on amoral science, thinking that it somehow trumps values. If we were simply non-sentient beings or animals, the issue would be moot. However, since we aren’t, science and ethics cannot be bifurcated.

The second part of the Senator’s comment asserted that the President put “politics before the needs of our families.” Actually if that was the case the President would not have vetoed the bill. Public opinion is very supportive of stem-cell research. From a purely political perspective, it would have been a much more astute to sign the bill into law.

This is where the politics of the issue enter in, and they are crucial to understand. The bill the President vetoed does not ban embryonic stem-cell research, it just prevented the Federal government from funding it. There is plenty of private research into stem-cells, both embryonic and adult. But why anyone would want to invest in embryonic stem-cell research is a non sequitur. All the successful results are coming from adult stem-cells. The latest research even shows that stem-cells can be generated from skin, which makes the necessity of destroying human embryos totally unnecessary, especially since adult stem cells so generated provide the advantage of a perfect biological match. Which takes us back to the question, “just because I can, does that mean I should?” If there are more viable and efficacious means of generating stem cells for research and medical purposes with no ethical conundrums, why resort to an inferior method that has ethical quandaries?

There is also the hypocrisy element to the Senator’s comment. Although the “science” of man-made global warming is far from settled, the Senator has whole-heartedly embraced the draconian governmental controls and costs proposed by those engaged in “group think” on this topic. It fits her ideology, or value system: more government and more power in lieu of individual freedom and free market economy. It seems to me that she does exactly what she accuses the President of: placing politics and her personal ideology ahead of the needs of families. This speaks volumes regarding the Senator’s ideological priorities.

Illustrating how unsettled the claims of “consensus” are relating to man-made global warming, Reid Bryson, often referred to as the “father of scientific climatology,” recently called “anthropogenic global warming a bunch of hooey.” He says “the climate’s always been changing and [that] global temperatures are going up because we’re coming out of the Little Ice Age, not because we’re putting more carbon dioxide into the air.” He reminds us that the Vikings farmed Greenland for hundreds of years during the Medieval Warm Period, when the planet was much warmer than it is now without any help from industrial activity. Today those Viking farmsteads are covered by glaciers.” In fact, Bryson argues that warming global temperatures are “just getting us back to normal.”

With such eminent dissent from “consensus” views, it is obvious the issue is more political and dogmatic than it is scientific. So Clinton is placing her values ahead of science; exactly the accusation she levels against the President.
What makes us human is our ability to cogitate and reason, and our sense of ethics, or the differentiation between what is right and wrong. Secularization places science in a preeminent position ahead of values, but it seems to me that science only has practical value if used with propriety in light of our ethics.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Politics in General | No Comments »

Idaho Representative Labrador and Closed Primaries

June 26th, 2007 by Halli

Representative Raul Labrador, R-Eagle believes parties should determine the manner in which they choose their candidates. However, he sees the hypocracy of the Idaho Democrats as they first choose their presidential candidate in closed caucus, then condemn Republicans for wishing to close their primary elections.

Rep. Labrador wrote an excellent submission to the Idaho Statesman blog, which elicited an interesting – but typical – response from the Idaho Democrat communications director. Both make valid points. You’ll find it an informative read.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Idaho Legislature, Politics in General | No Comments »

You Heard It Here: Craig and Crapo Split Votes on Cloture for Illegal Alien Amnesty Bill

June 26th, 2007 by Halli

If you have been following Senator Larry Craig and his stand on illegal alien amnesty, you will not be surprised to learn that he voted in favor of cloture, thus reviving the illegal alien amnesty bill in the senate today. Once again, we should reach out and touch Sen. Craig and let him know what we think of his vote.

By the same token, we should let Sen. Mike Crapo know we appreciate his vote against cloture, and therefore the amnesty bill.

There is speculation that “there is something we’re not being told” about this bill, for so many senators to support it, even in the face of unstinting public opposition. Suppose we’ll ever know what that “something” is? Not likely. And that something is quite likely to be threats from special interest groups. It is NOT likely to be national security or the best interests of citizens and legal aliens. It just doesn’t work that way in Washington DC. Yes, the American public is getting the shaft from self-interested senators.

There are still hurdles that must be cleared before the bill becomes law, but we certainly should be quaking in our boots and taking a fresh stand at this point. It will soon be time to renew our efforts contacting members of the House.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, National Sovereignty, Property Rights, Taxes | No Comments »

Guest Post: Judicial Council Screens Out Conservative Jurist?

June 25th, 2007 by Halli

From Bryan Fischer of Idaho Values Alliance

I wrote you last Friday about a lengthy conversation I had with one of the 19 candidates for the soon-to-be-vacant position on the Idaho Supreme Court. Some further thoughts on my conversation.

If Chief Justice Schroeder would have served out his final term, he would have left the choice of his replacement to the voters, as the constitution specifies, rather than to a screening process conducted by an appointed commission with no accountability to voters.

The individual with whom I spoke would likely have run for that open seat, and in my judgment would probably have been the favorite in that race. Due to his experience, he would perhaps have been in the best position to gain the electoral confidence of the public.

It is also likely that his judicial philosophy is more conservative than any of the four candidates who survived the Idaho Judicial Council’s (IJC) interview process.

What this means in practice is that there is a better-than-even chance that Justice Schroeder’s bypass of the constitution has deprived us of the most conservative jurist in the field, the jurist the people of Idaho may well have preferred had the choice been reserved to them as it should have been.

Further complicating this matter, state law requires that there cannot be a majority on the Idaho Judicial Council from any one political party. This means that the makeup of the IJC leans decidedly more to the left than the public, which clearly leans conservative in Idaho. Additionally, the one member of the seven-member IJC who was not able to participate in the interviews was a Republican.

This means that no more than two of the six members who voted on Schroeder’s replacement were from the Republican Party. And since “Republican” is no longer a synonym for “conservative,” it’s perfectly possible that one or both of the two Republicans on the Council were not genuine conservatives. The bottom line, then, is that the IJC simply does not reflect the views of the majority of the Idahoans who would have gone to the polls, putting conservative applicants for the post at a distinct disadvantage.

As a caveat, it’s difficult to get a good read on the judicial philosophy of the candidates, since none of them – including the candidate with whom I spoke – returned the IVA’s “Citizen Information” questionnaire, and the IJC asked no penetrating questions that would have required the candidates to divulge their governing judicial philosophy.

But in a campaign, aspirants for the high court would have been forced to deal with questions from the public and from the press that addressed issues such as judicial activism, whether the meaning of the constitution is fixed or something that changes with the culture, and so forth.

For instance, in the 2002 race between incumbent Linda Copple Trout and challenger Starr Kelso, each was asked to identify the U.S. Supreme Court Justice who most reflected their own judicial philosophy, and each answered that question. (If memory serves, Trout identified Sandra Day O’Connor, who frequently joined activist rulings, and Kelso identified Antonin Scalia, renowned for his adherence to an originalist approach to constitutional interpretation.)

Although the favorite-Supreme-Court-justice question was on the IVA questionnaire, since candidates feared the IJC too much to return it, and since the IJC didn’t ask any of the candidates that question, we simply have no idea how these candidates would have responded to this illuminating query.

Because of the secretive process conducted by the IJC and the virtual blackout on questions pertaining to judicial philosophy, we really have no way of knowing whether the next jurist will respect original intent or not until he issues his first ruling, and by then it will be too late.

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

Illegal Alien Amnesty Bill is BACK, Now Known as Senate Bill 1639

June 22nd, 2007 by Halli

You knew it was coming – once the flood of angry phone calls and emails abated, it was inevitable that legislation creating amnesty for illegal aliens would once again come before congress.

And you now know you were right. Returning as S. 1639, the new bill is nearly identical to the old, and just as pernicious in its effects. (Read more details in a previous post).

It expected that this bill will come up for debate TODAY. Please lose no time in contacting your senators with your opinion. The JBS has provided an easy-to-use link for writing all your congressmen, which even includes sample language. While you’re on the website, you may wish to reach out and touch your congressmen about additional topics.

I know – you thought you had done your part by engaging a few weeks ago. Please remember that people like Ted Kennedy are counting on the people of the United States to have a very short attention span. Don’t give up now! What was it Wendell Phillips said about “eternal vigilance”?

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, National Sovereignty | 1 Comment »

In Support of Closed Primaries

June 22nd, 2007 by Halli

These two letters appeared recently in Idaho newspapers. Each author makes excellent points. The first letter appeared in the June 21 edition of the Times News.

Parties have right to choose their own candidates

After reading several recent letters, I am responding with another viewpoint about closed primary elections in Idaho.

First of all, a primary election is a function of individual political parties to elect their own candidates for the general election. The United States Supreme Court affirmed this in a California case in 2000. Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Constitutions, Greens and any others have the right to elect their candidates with similar political views for consideration by all the voters in November elections.

Please consider the following scenario to place this issue into perspective.

Most of us belong to at least one club or group which elects either a board of directors or officers. Should those who have no affiliation with your group be allowed to attend one meeting per year and vote for the chairman of the group? Do you believe it would be appropriate for a police officer or computer technician to attend an education association’s annual convention and be allowed to vote for the group’s executive director?

Independent voters will not be disenfranchised because they always retain the right and privilege to vote for the candidates of any party they choose in general elections in November.

The statement that this issue is being pushed by the right wing of the Idaho Republican Party is not accurate. As a member of the state central committee, I am a moderate Republican and voted in favor of the closed primary. Sixty percent of the committee voted likewise.

Thank you for your consideration.

DALE EWERSEN

Bellevue

(Editor’s note: Dale Ewersen is the Region 5 chairman for the Idaho Republican Party.)

The following letter appeared in the Statesman on June 19.

Simply a party primary

In the news story “Republicans OK closed primary” (Idaho Statesman, Sunday, June 3), Keith Ridler of The Associated Press writes that Idaho Republicans voted to close their primary elections to “people not registered with the party.” Would those people be “undocumented” Republicans? Former Republicans? Non-Republicans? It is not a “closed” primary, it is simply a “party” primary. If you are registered in the party, then you get to vote.

For Idaho Democrat Party spokesman Chuck Oxley to view this as a “right wing … control” issue is just silly. Membership has its privileges, and the privileges are neither elitist nor closed-minded. I note that Oregon residents lacking the membership of being Idaho citizens and not residing in the designated Idaho counties were blocked out of voting on the new community college initiative in this Valley. Perhaps Oxley sees that as a right-wing conspiracy also, but it seems like good policy to me.

As a registered Republican I (should) lack the membership necessary to choose his party’s candidates. The fact that the law and practice have allowed otherwise simply brings us to the point that it is time to change. Party politics is not a huge mystery — simply join and participate.

Michael Tomlin, Boise

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Politics in General | No Comments »

Often Overlooked: Hypocritical Democrat Closed Caucus

June 22nd, 2007 by Halli

No one’s crying louder for Idaho’s primaries to remain open than the Democrats. We’ve detailed earlier here, here and here that Democrats frequently vote in the Republican primary, and/or change parties to get elected. Now Bryan Fischer, Idaho Values Alliance, reminds us just how hypocritical Democrats are in working to keep them open. Read on:

From Bryan Fischer, Idaho Values Alliance

In the debate in Idaho over the wisdom of closed primaries, in which even GOP party leaders such as Sen. Craig, Gov. Otter, Lt. Gov. Risch and state Republican chairman Kirk Sullivan want Republicans to allow party outsiders to help them select their starting lineup, it should not be forgotten that Idaho Democrats, who are among the most vocal critics of closed primaries, hold closed caucuses to select presidential-candidate delegates to the Democratic national convention. Further, the United States Supreme Court ruled that states cannot restrict the right of political parties to close their primaries if they wish, on the grounds that the Constitution guarantees their right to freedom of association.

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Posted in Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Politics in General | 1 Comment »

North American Union: US, Mexico and Canada Plan August Summit

June 22nd, 2007 by Halli

The “Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP)” between the three nations that comprise North America, plans their next summit for August 20 and 21 in Montebello, Quebec, according to WorldNetDaily.com.

All three heads of state, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Mexico President Felipe Calderón and U.S. President George W. Bush will all be present for the meetings.

PM Harper, quoted at HalifaxLive.com, voices the sentiments seemingly felt by all three:

“We share a continent with the United States and Mexico, and our people, our economies and our security are closely interconnected”.

How closely do we want to be “interconnected”? Are Americans ready for a merging of the police and military of all three nations? For a super-constitutional body to hand out new legislation and justice? For our national security to suddenly look like Mexico’s? Are we ready to allow a NAFTA “superhighway” to bisect our nation to allow MORE foreign trucking and immigration, all completely outside the jurisdiction of the states is crosses?

Surprisingly, the 2005 agreement creating the SPP, also called the “North American Union”, is still unreported by most mainstream media. In fact, the original summit between the heads of state was essentially kept secret. Now exposed by such courageous individuals and groups as Jerome Corsi, Lou Dobbs, WorldNetDaily.com, the John Birch Society, Vive Le Canada, the Eagle Forum, The Center for Media and Democracy, Accuracy in Media, Eco, and the Council of Canadians, the opposition is mounting, at least in Canada.

At this very moment, Canadian protesters are organizing to attend the August summit in Quebec. Canadians fear the SPP is really a power grab for Canadian water and petroleum.

Will there be Americans among the protesters? Probably not – no one south of the border (Canada’s border, that is) seems to be paying attention.

Americans should fear the SPP as an attempt to do an end-run around our constitutionally guaranteed rights, to plunge us into third world status, and to “integrate” us with both Canada and Mexico. Personally, I cannot think of even one way in which I wish my nation to resemble Mexico (or even Canada).

Lou Dobbs rightly observes that Congress should be conducting an in-depth investigation of this entire covert operation. However, most congressmen are completely and blissfully unaware of the SPP, and apparently want to stay that way.

Even though most Americans will not travel to Quebec to protest the summit, we can at least contact our representatives and senators to make our opinion of the SPP known. Check out previous posts on this subject under the category “National Sovereignty” to the left. And be sure to send your email list a link to this post.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, National Sovereignty, Politics in General | 3 Comments »

Press Release: Sali Opposes Bill to Boost Spending for Congress, Legislative Offices

June 22nd, 2007 by Halli

From the Office of Rep. Bill Sali

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congress voted today to put its budget ahead of the family budget by approving a 4.1 percent increase in spending for the federal government’s legislative branch and authorizing a fourth office building for Congress. U.S. Rep. Bill Sali voted against the bill and supported an alternate measure that would have held legislative branch appropriations at the current level. Sali, a leader in the effort to bring fiscal restraint to federal spending, said the funding increase measure takes another $123 million from taxpayers who are working to pay for their own families’ needs.

“Gasoline prices are up. Food prices are up. College tuition is up. Every Idaho family has to live within its budget. The federal government must learn to live within its means. And there is no better place for Congress to start, than with itself.” said Sali. “Congress’ priorities are way out of wack, which explains why just 14 percent of Americans have confidence in the work that it is doing.”

H.R. 2771 passed 216-176.

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Posted in Congressman Bill Sali, Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Politics in General | No Comments »

Articulate Pro-Lifer Speaks Out on “Selection vs. Election ” of Idaho Supreme Court Justices

June 22nd, 2007 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life executive director David Ripley, whose wisdom is frequently read on this blog, has penned a guest editorial in today’s Idaho Statesman, illuminating the real motivation behind liberals’ (and especially Dan Popkey’s) cries to appoint rather than elect our state supreme court.

Ripley observes that even Popkey can’t find fault with the three supreme court justices who were elected by the citizens of the state. Popkey’s only possible motivation for promoting appointment over election is that the latter process gives us justices who are far too conservative .

You’ll appreciate Ripley’s references to the state constitution as he points out the justices retiring mid-term are probably violating their oaths of office. You know – the oaths they swore to uphold the state constitution.

Take a minute to read the full editorial.

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

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