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Richard Larsen: Idaho Leadership and Fiscal Pragmatism

August 30th, 2010 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

The financial condition of the country and of many states across the Union continues to deteriorate. And there’s no readily apparent recovery in sight, even though the White House, evidencing its continued detachment from reality, is calling this the “summer of recovery.” With a net loss of 2.5 million jobs since January, 2009, and everything emanating from Washington creating more uncertainty in the private sector, there is little to motivate companies to begin rehiring.

This moribund economy is felt deeply at the state level. According to CNN Money, budget deficits for the fifty states could be as high as $260 billion in 2011 and 2012. Some states are essentially insolvent as revenues continue to diminish and politicians lack the spine to reign in profligate spending. California and Illinois, the two states with the highest budget gap, 49.3% and 47.3% respectively, are continuing to witness double-digit decreases in revenue due to the weakness of the economy. Their answer is to increase taxes and levy increased fees and fines in an attempt to make up the difference.

The least logical time to increase taxes is when the economy is struggling, as that takes more capital out of the hands of the citizens, especially small business owners who otherwise might be creating new jobs. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s, confirms that at the federal and state levels, increased taxes “will be a serious drag on the economy at just the wrong time.”

We’re fortunate in Idaho to not only have a constitution which requires a balanced budget each fiscal year, but we also have a governor and legislative leaders who apparently are able to balance the states checkbook. Fiscal year-end (June 30) figures for the state validate the responsible and disciplined decisions made by Governor Otter and legislative leaders during the last legislative session, despite the criticism leveled against them by single-issue advocacy groups, especially the education lobby.

According to a press release from the Governor’s office, the state had to transfer $8.2 million from the State’s Permanent Building Fund to the General Fund in order to balance the budget at the end of the fiscal year. That means the Governor and legislative leaders were only off by three-tenths of a percent in their revenue projections. With a budget of $2.2 billion, that’s a remarkable accomplishment.

Commenting on the year-end figures, Governor Otter said, “Some people vigorously opposed our cautious, conservative approach to budgeting, and some still do. They…urge us to spend millions of dollars in make-believe money, and have nothing but contempt for any other view. Fortunately for Idaho taxpayers, common sense and a steadier hand carried the day. The Legislature and I did what any family does when facing financial trouble – we looked for savings, we thought about what we could do without, and we made do with less. We lived within our means, and we didn’t raise taxes.”

State leaders faced horrible accusations and headlines during the legislative session for the cuts they made in state expenditures. The final figures paint a picture, however, of discipline and proper priorities. Executive branch agencies are facing a net reduction in funding of 19.45% from FY 2009-2011, while the General Fund portion of the education budget was reduced much less, by 8.9%. And even with that reduction, the FY 2011 budget makes up 50.9% of General Fund spending going to public schools, which is the highest percentage of General Fund support since 1989.

While many would have us believe that state leaders were merciless with public education cuts, it appears they did everything they could to protect it while facing the daunting challenge of balancing the state’s budget in economically perilous times.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Maxine Bell said of the budget, “The past couple of years have been tough. Nobody likes cutting services or reducing support for public schools. I’m thankful that we have a Governor who’s willing to join us in this heavy lifting and open to working with the Legislature in making the tough decisions necessary to ensure our State government lives within the people’s means.”

Vice chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Shawn Keough said, “As painful as the budget was for us to construct, Idaho is in a better position than most states right now. We ended the fiscal year with a balanced budget, did not raise State taxes on Idaho’s families and caused no additional impact on State agencies and public schools.”

We have in Idaho a superb leadership committed to the public services we pay them to provide for us, while concurrently they’re pragmatic and realistic in maintaining the state’s solvency and fiscal viability. Governor Otter and the state’s legislative leaders should be commended for protecting our public and collective interests. If only we had such sagacity and fiscal responsibility at the federal level.

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

Bob Webster: Church vs. State

August 30th, 2010 by Halli

By Bob Webster, Constitutional Scholar

Once, I heard an attorney on a radio talk show state that the Supreme Court acquired jurisdiction over religion in America when a lower federal court interpreted a case as a violation of “the separation of Church and State,” under the “establishment of religion clause,” in the 1st Amendment. This lawyer was trained to believe it was the binding law of the land.

This is where the entire legal/judicial system is pathetically out of tune with the intent of the Framers of the US Constitution. Lawyers and judges no longer refer to the Constitutional Convention Notes by Madison, nor the Federalist Papers by Hamilton, Madison and Jay to obtain the Framers’ crucial INTENT. They merely reference the Supreme Court’s own self-serving, usurpations of authority.

To begin with, the foundation stone, the bottom-line principle, demonstrating the Framers’ INTENT in the very fabric of the Constitution itself, is the principle of LIMITATIONS of power on the federal government, the DIVISION/SEPARATION of powers among the three branches, and the CHECKS AND BALANCES on power between the three branches.

Only the Legislature (Congress) may make LAW, and is deliberately limited to the 20 powers specified in Article 1. The Executive is limited to 7 specified powers in Article 2, none of which permits making LAW. The Judicial is limited to 11 powers of jurisdiction specified in Article 3 (reduced to 10 by the 11th Amendment), limiting its jurisdiction to rulings on the Constitutionality of federal laws only, passed by the federal legislature.

The people are the ORIGIN of all political power, and the people create their government to serve their best interests, through elected representatives.

1. The lower federal court, in the case referenced above, had no jurisdiction to begin with. Religion is exclusively a States’ Rights issue.
2. The 1st Amendment INTENT was to prevent the federal government from establishing/requiring a “state” religion – an oppressive condition from which the Framers had just liberated Americans in the Revolutionary War for independence. The Framers intended the people to be free to worship as they chose, without coercion or interference from government or others.
3. The same Framers who wrote and signed the Constitution in 1787, stated in the 1787 Northwest Ordinance their INTENT that new States being formed out of the Northwest Territory should encourage the schools to teach knowledge, religion and morality. Education also is exclusively a States’ Right. Morality (right & wrong) is a function of religion.

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America is being usurped into the very status the Framers fought and bled to prevent, a federally-dominated center of power. The US Supreme Court majority arrogantly says that “the Constitution means what the Supreme Court says it means.” America is being held hostage by the feds: led by the judicial branch, supported and unchallenged by the executive branch, and enabled by a legislative branch that is too anesthetized by partisan politics and their re-election egos to even see America’s near-terminal diagnosis as “The United Socialist States of America” (USSA). Sound familiar?

Where are the hoards of lawyers, judges, attorneys general, state governors, state legislators, federal legislators, university law professors, ministers, free-speech journalists, high school teachers of civics and American Government and angry American citizens?? Doesn’t anybody study the Constitution and believe what they read? The Framers deliberately caused it to be written in citizen language rather than legal largesse. Americans are criminally over-taxed and over-regulated, but tolerate it as “normal,” just as Canada and European states accept their socialist existences. We have as long a list of serious grievances against government today as the American colonists listed in the Declaration of Independence.

Bob Webster

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

David Ripley: Rare Good News from Federal Court

August 24th, 2010 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

It was rather shocking to learn that a federal district judge, Royce Lamberth, issued an injunction against the Obama Administration yesterday, prohibiting it from spending federal tax dollars on embryonic stem cell research.

The lawsuit against Obama’s plan to fund the destruction of human embryos in the name of “scientific research” is being brought by two private companies who are engaged in ethical stem cell research, and who objected to the diversion of federal resources to companies and universities focused on destroying tiny human beings in a mad search for the ills of human kind. The federal court had to agree that Obama’s Executive Order (issued in January of 2009) violated the Dickey-Wicker language enacted by Congress as a rider to various appropriation bills. This law prohibits the use of federal funds in the destruction of human embryos.

It is unclear from news reports whether federal money has already been spent on embryonic stem cell research, or whether the court’s injunction would halt money already awarded by Obama’s government.

Nevertheless, it is an historic development in the battle to protect human life. It also underscores the importance of elections, and the brilliance of the checks-and-balances built into our constitutional government by the Founders.

We are not yet at the point where the Executive Branch alone governs our nation, and the Abortion Lobby will have to persuade both houses of Congress that the restriction on federal funds must be set aside – something not even Speaker Pelosi has been willing to do heretofore.

As an aside, we note that Judge Lamberth has been a federal judge since 1987, after being appointed to the bench by America’s 1st Pro-Life president, Ronald Reagan.

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

Richard Larsen: Obama’s Failed Muslim Outreach

August 23rd, 2010 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

It doesn’t matter what religion our president adheres to, or if he has any religion at all. The Constitution precludes that as a litmus test for public office. President Obama has been engaged in an outreach effort to the Muslim world that seems to be failing. The possibility of a mosque being erected as a victory monument near the site of the World Trade Center and his ill-advised support of that project is one more element of that outreach effort.

But all this outreach has confused many Americans. A Time Magazine poll last week indicates more than twice as many Americans believe President Obama is a Muslim than when he was elected. Again, for the most part, it shouldn’t matter what his religion is, but it does matter that we as a nation are nearly halfway through his first and only term and we are more confused about that aspect of him than we were before he was elected.

The abundance of empirical evidence based on his actions and speeches manifest at the very least, a preferential treatment for the Islamic faith. He proudly proclaimed in his Turkey speech that America is not a Christian nation. His apology tour continued in Cairo, Egypt where he continued his profuse apologies to the Islamic world for all the “evil” the U.S. has perpetrated against the Islamic world. His first sit-down interview as president was with Al-Arabiya TV. NASA will no longer be flying shuttles into space, instead, their prime objectives, and “highest priority” is “Muslim outreach.”

Add to that the “dissing” of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of one of our closest allies, Israel. Also inscrutable is the allocation of $900 million to Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, one of the most proactive terrorist organizations in the world and an avowed enemy to Israel and America. He was, from our perspective, amazingly reticent regarding the democracy movement in Iran, with the perhaps unintended consequence of supporting the existing extremist, anti-American, Islamic Mullah regime of that nation.

He abandoned the tradition of his predecessors of an interfaith prayer in the White House for the National Day of Prayer, yet he continued George Bush’s practice of hosting a celebration of Ramadan, an Islamic holy day, at the White House. So he prays with the Muslims in the White House, but not with the Christians.

In an interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, Obama referenced “…my Muslim faith…” which prompted Stephanopoulos to have him correct it to “my Christian faith,” which many have conjectured was a Freudian slip.

He never has, to my knowledge, publicly accepted the fact that the Fort Hood shooter was a terrorist motivated by anti-American, Islamic-extremism. In fact all references to Islamic extremists engaged in Jihad against the U.S. and the West have been stricken by the administration. Their politically-correct change in parlance does nothing to mitigate the threats posed by those motivated by religious fervor.

In his Cairo speech, Obama committed to allow American Muslims to fulfill their obligation to “zakat.” Zakat is a charitable requirement of all faithful Muslims that requires equal distribution to eight categories, including “military operations.” You know, the kind of operations Hezbollah, Hamas, and Al Qaeda are engaged in.

So regardless of what his religion is, it’s evident that his administration has done everything possible to reach out to the Muslim world to ameliorate their perception of us. Perhaps the only thing they haven’t done in their outreach program is to erect minarets on the White House grounds for calling morning and evening prayer. This is perhaps a little surprising since he once said that the Muslim call to prayer is “one of the prettiest sounds on Earth.” He even recited it with a “first class Arabic accent” in a 2007 New York Times interview.

In 2008, Zogby International polled people in the quasi-friendly Muslim countries of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon, to ascertain their disposition toward the United States. Most respondents, 83%, viewed the U.S. “somewhat” or “very” unfavorably.

If we assume that, as the administration has stated, that their outreach to the Muslim world and the open support of Islam by the president is to improve relations with them, we must conclude their efforts have failed. In those six “friendly” Muslim states, now 85% view the U.S. “somewhat” or “very” unfavorably. That’s actually an increase in their negative perception of us.

In the end it doesn’t matter what the president’s religion is, as long as he espouses fundamental American values and tenets of our republic. And that’s where an increasing majority of us take issue with this president. And since his campaign to reach out to the Muslim world is failing, perhaps we can reassess NASA’s prime objective.

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

David Ripley: Kagan Confirmation Dark Day for Pro-Life Movement

August 7th, 2010 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The confirmation of another pro-abortion ideologue to the U.S. Supreme Court is a sad day for the pro-Life movement – and for America.

It was a predictable event, but we are disappointed by the number of Republicans who crossed over to support Obama’s agenda. Particularly annoying is the vote by Lindsay Graham. At one point he seemed like a solid citizen: conservative, practical, principled. Since his election to the U.S. Senate, and his immersion in John McCain’s political waters, he has just continued to defy his conservative heritage and home state by becoming the new poster child for “GOP moderate”.

Sen. Shelby captured the moment during his debate, when he explained, “Put simply, Ms. Kagan is a political activist, not a jurist.”

During hearings, Ms. Kagan attempted to explain away her dark work for Bill Clinton in finding a strategy to defeat the Ban on Partial Birth Abortions. Her answer to senators – that her writings were merely a service to a pro-choice president – failed to persuade anyone. It is clear from her efforts to deny, obscure, and even hide the medical science around partial birth abortions that she is a true believer in the rite of abortion.

No wonder her fellow traveler – Justice Ginsburg – expressed “exhilaration” at having a young, vigorous ally join her on the court.

Long after America has turned its back on Barack Obama, we will have to suffer the evil of his legacy on the nation’s high court; children yet conceived, most of all.

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

Andi Elliott: Send Stuff to US Soldiers – Please!

August 3rd, 2010 by Halli

From Andi Elliott:

My daughter, Staff SGT Brooke Corson, finished her two year stint in the Army and maintains contact with some of the guys that are still on active duty in Iraq.

This is a recent email she received from a buddy:

If you have an organization that wants to donate items, the things we need are toiletries and snacks. The things we would like are golf equipment in both left and right handed. and other niceties. Please remember I have 150 men and 15 females in my unit.

He also says things that they need badly are foot powder, powder to use after showering, baby powder, and multi-vitamins! Guys, this is something concrete that we can do! Let’s overwhelm them and let them know that WE THE PEOPLE ARE BEHIND THEM!

(Does anyone have a contact for supplements?)

Here is the !SG’s address:
1SG Michael Jones
Bravo Company 3-7 IV
APO AE 09333

Andi Elliott

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Posted in Guest Posts, National Sovereignty, Politics in General | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: To Be Liked or Respected?

August 2nd, 2010 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Sometimes metaphors work, and sometimes they don’t. There are sometimes more differences than there are similarities, yet it appears that Chuck Klosterman, a writer for Esquire and other publications, is onto something.

“Right now,” he said, “we’re like a nation of Kevin Arnolds (from a TV series); being likable is the only thing that seems to matter to anyone. You see this everywhere. Parents don’t act like parents anymore, because they mainly want their kids to like them; they want their kids to see them as their two best friends. This is why modern kids act like animals. At some point, people confused being liked with being good. Those two qualities are not the same. It’s important to be a good person; it’s not important to be a well-liked person. It’s important to be a good country; it’s not important to be a well-liked country. And I realize there are problems with America. But the reality behind those problems has no relationship to whether or not France (or Turkey, or Winnie Cooper) thinks we’re cool. They can like us, they can like like us, or they can hate us. But that is their problem, not ours.”

Politically, especially on the international stage, we are seeing more and more discontent with America. We are not well liked, nor are we respected by many around the globe. And who can blame them? The leader of our nation offends and publicly castigates our closest allies, reneges on promises to our friends, and heaps praise on our avowed enemies, all the while groveling in public ignominy lamenting of our nation’s flaws and errors. If there was a recipe book for politicians on how to ensure their country would not be liked or respected, our president could author it. He has compiled quite the anthology already.

Socially and culturally, there seems to be much truth to Klosterman’s observations as well. We have long departed from the “Leave It To Beaver” era of parenting where values and respect were the foundation of the parent/child relationship. Parents want to be “friends” with their kids, so values and respect take a back seat to child rearing, which has the natural yet undesirable unintended consequence of moral relativism in the children. There is less and less of a sense of right and wrong, and parents allow their children to engage in all kinds of promiscuous and self-destructive behavior, not wanting to press issues of morality for the sake of being “friends” with their kids. They are facilitators and accomplices in their kids’ aberrant and destructive behavior.

It also was the norm not long ago that other adults would often serve as proxy parents for misbehaving children. Adult friends and neighbors would look out for others’ children and reprove them for recalcitrant behavior and report them to their parents for proper disciplining. It seems most adults these days have bought into the same notion of being friends with the local kids rather than acting like adults and looking out for their welfare. No wonder we as a culture have regressed so far. Certainly there are other factors, but this fundamental societal breakdown, this shift from being good to being liked, has to be at the top of the causal list for our social degeneration. I think Hillary Clinton was right, it does take a village.

As Klosterman pointed out, being liked and being good are not synonymous. Neither are “unconditional love” and “support” synonymous. Generally we love our children regardless of the hurtful, stupid, and self-destructive things they do. But do we support them in their actions? If my child wants to commit suicide do I support him in his effort? Of course the notion is ludicrous, and so is it casuistic and specious to think parents should support their children in any other self-destructive behavior. But then, to the parent who prefers to be liked than to be a real parent, maybe the two are indeed synonymous.

There are studies bearing this out as well. Code Blue, a 1990 report by a blue-ribbon panel on the health of American teenagers, warned that “never before has one generation been less healthy, less cared for or less prepared for life than their parents were at the same age.” The experts concluded that the teens’ deteriorating condition was due to their behavior and not to physical illness.

Perhaps the distinction of being liked versus being good is just the reincarnation of the classic Platonic distinction of form versus substance. Someone’s nice or comely, and in today’s world those characteristics have more weight than character, integrity, and substance. What a sad commentary that we pass to successive generations not only a multi-generational national debt that they may never be able to repay, but also a collective social amorality where character matters less than aesthetics and likability.

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Posted in Education, Family Matters, Guest Posts | No Comments »

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