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Richard Larsen: Government Money Grab – Lessons from Cyprus

March 26th, 2013 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

This week’s iteration of the Euro crisis surfaced in tiny Cyprus, and the EU attempted to force government confiscation of private customer bank deposits before another bailout would be authorized. Can governments really steal from private citizen’s bank accounts, and could it happen here? The answer to both is a qualified, yet disturbing “Yes.”

Due to massive public and private debt and a deep financial connection with fiscally troubled Greece, Cyprus is the sixth of the EU’s seventeen countries to receive massive monetary infusions to maintain solvency. In an unprecedented move, the EU voted to have Cyprus raid Cypriot bank deposits for up to 38% before another bailout would be authorized.

Americans should take note, not only of what’s happening in the Eurozone with Cyprus right now, but especially at how our domestic fiscal policy mirrors what’s been happening in Europe, and at how the U.S. is creating a similar future crisis.

To recapitulate the issue in simple terms, global economic growth, especially in the Eurozone, has slowed dramatically, since the financial crisis of 2008. This has revealed the problematic fiscal policies of many countries, which have continued to spend exorbitantly in spite of reduced tax revenue. When economic growth declines, so do tax receipts. That gap between spending and receipts creates significant budgetary deficits, which is unsustainable, and jeopardizes the liquidity and viability of the banking systems of the respective countries, since they hold much of their debt.
The Cypriot parliament voted late Friday on a plan to come up with the requisite 5.8 billion Euros needed for unlocking the 10 billion Euro bailout. Customer accounts with greater than 100,000 Euros are at risk of being raided by their own government. A defalcation of customer deposits would be a new low for any government that now has to pay the price for their own imprudent fiscal management.

It’s unlikely, given current laws and regulation, that U.S. bank customers would face a similar governmental theft of their deposits. But that can easily change, and some experts fear such a scenario is possible in light of some developments, especially for retirement accounts.

In November, Atlantic Monthly ran a story, “The 401(k) Is a $240 Billion Waste.” Time Magazine ran a similar story. Both referenced a Danish study, that concludes that government should abolish the tax-advantaged status and deductibility of retirement accounts, for they amount to “subsidies” granted to “the rich.” As soon as government recognizes a benefit as a subsidy, they believe they own it.

Also in November, Investor’s Business Daily reported that The American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries had launched a campaign to alert retirement planners to possible changes to individual retirement accounts.

On January 18th, Richard Cordray, the acting head of the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), was interviewed by Bloomberg. They reported, “The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is weighing whether it should take on a role in helping Americans manage the $19.4 trillion they have put into retirement savings, a move that would be the agency’s first foray into consumer investments.” The CFPB was created by the Dodd-Frank legislation with wide-ranging powers. The agency works within the Federal Reserve, a corporation privately owned by member banks, and is insulated from congressional oversight, and its budget is not subject to legislative control.

The National Seniors Council (NSC) issued this warning two years ago. “A recent hearing sponsored by the Treasury and Labor Departments marked the beginning of the Obama Administration’s effort to nationalize the nation’s pension system and to eliminate private retirement accounts including IRA’s and 401k plans.”

“This hearing was set up to explore why Americans are not saving as much for their retirement as they could,” explains National Seniors Council National Director Robert Crone, “However, it is clear that this is the first step towards a government takeover. It feels just like the beginning of the debate over health care and we all know how that ended up.”

Deputy Treasury Secretary J. Mark Iwry presided over the hearing. He is a long-time critic of 401k plans because he believes they “benefit the rich.” He also appears to be the Administration’s point man driving this effort.

“This whole issue is moving forward very quickly,” warns Crone. “Already there is a bill requiring all businesses to automatically enroll their employees in IRA plans in which part of every employee’s paycheck would be automatically deducted and deposited into this [government] account. If this passes, the government will be just one step away from being able to confiscate all these retirement accounts.”

There are many who question the NSC’s take on this, and others who outright deny it. But when those at the highest levels of government harbor an ideology distinctly more European than American, anything is possible. Once sacrosanct principles of private property ownership and individual liberty are at risk of subjugation to the prevailing ideology. Cyprus may be just the beginning, and not just for EU states.

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

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, March 25

March 25th, 2013 by Halli

by Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

I like to look at headlines and as I was looking at a list of headlines from the past week, I think you could agree that the legislature has been extremely busy. I know that I have been very busy and continue to work on some projects, before the legislature in the very near future comes to an end for this year.

One of the most talked about issues this year that will be before the full Senate is the personal property tax issue. The bill does provide for the removal of personal property taxation for approximately 90% of the businesses in Idaho. There have been so many editorials on the subject both pro and con, that the only conclusion you could draw would be that at a minimum it will reduce a lot of paperwork problems for small businesses. Likewise it would provide some relief for the County assessor in trying to get the list of all personal property from business owners every year.

This seems to be the year of the “informational” meeting. This last week I was involved in two of those, one was a joint meeting of the House and Senate State Affairs Committees and the other was a joint meeting of the House and Senate Health and Welfare Committees.

In State Affairs it was a presentation by the “Add the Words” group. In contrast to last year, the group conducted itself very well and gave only information on the subject of changing our human rights law to include gender identity and sexual orientation. It was not an official hearing on legislation, but was meant to be informational for members of the legislature.

An early morning session of the Health and Welfare Committees was a listening session with no public testimony, on the repeal of the County Medically Indigent law in addition to the repeal of the Catastrophic Healthcare Cost Program. I was asked to make presentation on that item and then the director of Health and Welfare gave a presentation on Medicaid Expansion, which he labeled Medicaid Redesign. There were a lot of questions and some eagerness by some committee members to move forward. These two items should be a very hot topic for the coming week.

While I served in Germany and as I learned the German language, I was told that you could tell how well you had learned to speak, if you dreamed about your mother speaking German to you. I guess you could say around this place that the session had gone on just about long enough if you are dreaming about passing legislation all night. So I guess that time has arrived because I find myself thinking about what is going on in the House during my sleeping hours. At least I think I was asleep. How did that old saying go? “I dreamed that I was awake, and then I woke up and found out I was asleep.”

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

David Ripley: Legislature Gives Final Approval to Obama Exchange

March 23rd, 2013 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The Idaho Senate gave final approval to Obama’s Exchange on a 23-12 vote Thursday. The last act of the drama will be Governor Otter’s signature in the next week or so.

Voting for Obama Exchange: Sens. Steve Bair (R-Blackfoot), Les Bock (D-Boise), Bert Brackett (R-Rogerson), Cherie Buckner-Webb(D-Boise), Dean Cameron(R-Rupert), Bart Davis(R-Idaho Falls), John Goedde(R-Coeur d’Alene), Jim Guthrie(R-McCammon), Marv Hagedorn (R-Meridian), Lee Heider (R-Twin Falls), Brent Hill (R-Rexburg), Shawn Keough (R-Sandpoint), Roy Lacey (D-Pocatello), Todd Lakey, (R-Nampa), Patti Anne Lodge (R-Huston), Fred Martin (R-Boise), Jim Patrick (R-Twin Falls), Jim Rice (R-Caldwell), Dan Schmidt (D-Moscow), Jeff Siddoway (R-Terreton), Michelle Stennett (D-Ketchum), John Tippets (R-Montpelier) and Elliot Werk (D-Boise).

Voting No (the pro-Life position): Sens. Cliff Bayer (R-Boise), Branden Durst (D-Boise), Russ Fulcher (R-Meridian), Dan Johnson (R-Lewiston), Curt McKenzie (R-Nampa), Dean Mortimer (R-Idaho Falls), Bob Nonini (R-Coeur d’Alene), Sheryl Nuxoll (R-Cottonwood), Monty Pearce (R-New Plymouth), Steven Thayn (R-Emmett), Steve Vick (R-Dalton Gardens), and Chuck Winder (R-Boise).

Here is the Senate vote on our Religious Liberty Amendment (Nuxoll/Fulcher):

Voting to Amend the bill: (the pro-Life position): Sens. Cliff Bayer (R-Boise), Branden Durst (D-Boise), Russ Fulcher (R-Meridian), Dan Johnson (R-Lewiston), Curt McKenzie (R-Nampa), Dean Mortimer (R-Idaho Falls), Bob Nonini (R-Coeur d’Alene), Sheryl Nuxoll (R-Cottonwood), Monty Pearce (R-New Plymouth), Steven Thayn (R-Emmett), Steve Vick (R-Dalton Gardens).

Voting Against the Religious Liberty Amendment: Sens. Steve Bair (R-Blackfoot), Les Bock (D-Boise), Dean Cameron (R-Rupert), Bart Davis (R-Idaho Falls), John Goedde (R-Coeur d’Alene), Jim Guthrie (R-McCammon), Marv Hagedorn (R-Meridian), Lee Heider (R-Twin Falls), Brent Hill (R-Rexburg), Shawn Keough (R-Sandpoint), Roy Lacey (D-Pocatello), Todd Lakey (R-Nampa), Patti Anne Lodge (R-Nampa), Fred Martin (R-Boise), Jim Patrick (R-Twin Falls), Jim Rice (R-Caldwell), Dan Schmidt (D-Moscow), Jeff Siddoway (R-Terreton), Michelle Stennett (D-Ketchum), John Tippets (R-Montpelier), Elliot Werk (D-Boise), Chuck Winder (R-Boise).

And here is how the Idaho House of Representatives Voted on the Obama Exchange, which passed by a vote of 41-29:

Voting yes: Reps. Anderson(01), Anderson(31), Anderst, Bedke, Bell, Bolz, Burgoyne, Chew, Clow, Collins, Erpelding, Eskridge, Gannon, Gibbs, Hancey, Hartgen, Henderson, Hixon, Horman, Kauffman, King, Kloc, Malek, Meline, Miller, Morse, Packer, Pence, Perry, Raybould, Ringo, Romrell, Rusche, Smith, Thompson, VanOrden, Ward-Engelking, Wills, Wood(27), Woodings, and Youngblood.

(13 Democrats + 28 Republicans)

Voting No (the pro-Life position): Reps. Agidius, Andrus, Barbieri, Barrett, Bateman, Batt, Boyle, Crane, Dayley, DeMordaunt, Denney, Gestrin, Harris, Holtzclaw, Loertscher, Luker, McMillan, Mendive, Monks, Moyle, Nielsen, Palmer, Patterson, Shepherd, Sims, Stevenson, Trujillo, Vander Woude, and Wood(35)

Here is how the House voted on our Religious Liberty Amendment (Barbieri/ Boyle), which failed on a 32-38 vote:

Voting Yes (the pro-Life position): Reps. Agidius, Andrus, Barbieri, Barrett, Bateman, Batt, Boyle, Collins, Crane, Dayley, DeMordaunt, Denney, Gestrin, Harris, Hartgen, Holtzclaw, Loertscher, Luker, McMillan, Mendive, Monks, Moyle, Nielsen, Palmer, Patterson, Shepherd, Sims, Stevenson, Thompson, Trujillo, Vander Woude, andWood(35).

Voting No: Reps. Anderson(01), Anderson(31), Anderst, Bedke, Bell, Bolz, Burgoyne, Chew, Clow, Erpelding, Eskridge, Gannon, Gibbs, Hancey, Henderson, Hixon, Horman, Kauffman, King, Kloc, Malek, Meline, Miller, Morse, Packer, Pence, Perry, Raybould, Ringo, Romrell, Rusche, Smith, VanOrden, Ward-Engelking, Wills, Wood(27), Woodings, and Youngblood

(13 Democrats + 25 Republicans)

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Politics in General, Presidential Politics, Rep. Tom Loertscher, Taxes | No Comments »

David Ripley: Idaho Catholic Charities Undermines Faith Once More

March 20th, 2013 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Catholic Charities testified before the Senate Commerce Committee this week, urging legislators to impose ObamaCare upon the citizens of Idaho by creating Obama’s insurance exchange.

In so doing, the Church-affiliated organization gave some political cover to legislators grasping to maintain their pro-Life credentials while helping President Obama expand his attack on the sanctity of human life.

In essence, Ms. Tiddens told committee members: Our priority is helping the poor with more government money. We may feel bad about that abortion stuff … but that is really a federal problem. What’s important here is the money.

To say the least, this is troubling – particularly because many legislators believe that Ms. Tiddens was/is speaking for the Bishop of Idaho.

Ms. Tiddens is factually incorrect when she argues that there is nothing Idaho legislators can do about the Obama Mandate to provide free abortifacient drugs under a health insurance exchange. We have been pushing a “Religious Liberty Amendment” all session, and continue work behind the scenes to secure this basic protection for Idaho citizens and employers. We have done so, by the way, without any help from Ms. Tiddens or Catholic Charities.

Catholic Charities is also apparently oblivious to the fact that the threats posed by ObamaCare go well beyond abortifacients.

For example, what will their rationalization be when health care is restricted for certain citizens deemed “unworthy” of communal resources? When the Death Panel begins imposing rules and regulations upon the people of Idaho?

The Catholic Church has long taught the doctrine of refusing to cooperate with evil. It is indisputable that much evil is loose in ObamaCare – which is more about imposing a foreign value system than it is health care. But it seems that Catholic Charities is blinded by a different doctrine – a “social justice” agenda that is often nothing more than whitewash for social activists at war with traditional Catholic values.

The Lord himself declared that we cannot serve God and mammon.

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

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, March 18

March 18th, 2013 by Halli

By Representative Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

When I was a younger man, I once heard a speaker tell our group that the best way to kill time is to work it to death. I don’t want to give anyone the impression that we just kill time in the legislature, however, this last week we certainly did work a lot of it to death.

It may be ancient history for most now, but the floor debate on setting up an insurance exchange was a history making event on several fronts. I suppose the House felt the necessity of outdoing the Senate by debating the issue for an hour longer than they did. Last Wednesday was a very long day and the debate on the bill took exactly 7 hours. I guess I am as guilty as the next guy and did spend just a couple of minutes describing what I think the basic issues revolving around the exchange issue are. After all of the long faces during that whole process I thought I might try to put a smile on those faces with a lighter comment. I said, “If you laid all of the members of this body end to end that had drifted off to sleep during this debate, they sure would be a lot more comfortable.” My plan worked.

I still remain skeptical as to whether this is the right approach for us to take. Two of the overriding issues for me have been, (1) what is the benefit of having an insurance exchange and how would it help all concerned, health insurance companies, their customers, health care providers and the state, and (2) what will be the added cost of the exchange that will be borne by the taxpayers? In all of the discussions that I have had with regard to this issue, those two questions have yet to answered. After weighing all of the evidence on both sides of the issue, I voted no. I do think that expanding our health insurance markets would be a good thing. But I don’t think this plan provides that when there is no ability to shop for insurance across state lines.

Several weeks ago, I had two bills drafted that have turned out to be the talk of the town after they were introduced (printed). The first is the one that’s nearest and dearest to my heart, the repeal of the county medically indigent law along with the repeal of the Catastrophic Program. The other that has caused the most interest, at least in some circles, is the expansion of the Medicaid program in the State of Idaho. Both of these issues would of necessity need to be considered together, because if Idaho decides to expand Medicaid, the catastrophic fund and the county responsibility for the medically indigent would have to end. There is no way Idaho taxpayers could sustain both programs. The Department of Health and Welfare has compiled cost estimates in consultation with the Medicaid actuary they use for projecting the cost of programs. It looks like we would not save a great deal of money, but it would not increase our general fund expenditures either. The real benefit comes when you consider that property taxes statewide would be decreased by an estimated $478 million over the next decade if the counties are no longer in the business.

So, as a result, I will be spending quite a bit of my time this next week evaluating these two bills and their cost, and determining if the legislature desires to move forward. I was asked by one reporter why I had waited so long to introduce these two bills. The short answer is that I was asked to hold off until the exchange legislation was voted on in the House. My agenda for this next week will be extremely full and I intend on working a lot of hours to death.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Politics in General, Presidential Politics, Property Rights, Rep. Tom Loertscher, Taxes | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: New Highs or Stocks Belie

March 18th, 2013 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

As the stock market has been advancing into all-time high territory this week, many Americans are wondering how the economy can be so great while they’re struggling so hard to make ends meet. Let’s correct that perception immediately: the stock market is not the economy, and should not be conflated with it. The stock market is only one of many indicators that measure the financial health of the country. Wall Street, our metonym for the financial markets, rarely resembles Main Street, U.S.A., and this market run provides a perfect illustration of that fact.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), a composite of stock prices of 30 of the top companies in the country, has been in record territory for the past week. The Standard & Poor 500, an index comprised of a broader selection of 500 of the largest companies representing all sectors of the economy, closed Friday within five points of its closing record high. This is encouraging to investors, until we consider that factoring in inflation, the Dow is still about 1,500 points shy of its previous record in 2007. So while the markets are high, the significance is not.

There are primarily three reasons the markets have ascended to these lofty levels. The first is that after the market correction of 2008, earnings projections were dramatically lowered in the wake of the reduced economic growth prospects. The bar of expectations was lowered so far that they had no place to go but up, and for the next eight quarters of earnings reports, over 90% of publicly traded companies exceeded their reduced earnings forecasts. Positive earnings represent profits, which is the fuel for appreciating equity (stock) values.

The second reason is based on the cozy crony-capitalistic relationship between Washington and Wall Street. With tax-advantaged treatment, bailouts, grants, and interest-free loans, Washington has, for self-aggrandizing purposes, infused massive amounts of capital into select industries, sectors, and companies, that has significantly augmented their financial condition.

The third, but arguably most significant reason, is Fed monetary policy. Historically, the Federal Reserve, through their Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) has had two conventional tools at their disposal to stimulate the economy, the Fed Funds Rate and the Discount Rate. The target Fed Funds Rate is the rate at which banks and other depository institutions actively trade balances held at the Federal Reserve, on an uncollateralized basis. And the Discount Rate, or window, is the rate the Federal Reserve charges member banks when borrowing money from the Feds for themselves, and not for lending to other banks.

The lower these rates are, the cheaper money is to the banking establishment, which at least theoretically, increases their lending capacity, and lowers the prime rate to borrowers. The Prime Rate, which is usually about 300 basis points (3%) above the discount rate, is the best rate for banks’ best customers, and is what most other retail interest rates are tied to.

The Fed Funds Target Rate has been at 0-.25% for the past four years, as the FOMC has attempted to “jump-start” the economy after lapsing into a deep recession in the fourth quarter of 2008. The affect has been negligible. The leading indicators of economic activity continue to show weakness.

Since near zero Fed Funds and Discount Rates have been ineffectual, and governmental policy has been counterproductive in stimulating the economy, including the much-hyped $800 billion “stimulus” spending, the Fed has had to resort to an unconventional means of economic growth. Ben Bernanke borrowed a book from the Japanese central bank to launch a process of Quantitative Easing; this is a means of infusing money into the economy by the central bank buying financial assets from commercial banks and other private institutions. Like the rates that the Fed controls, this process is designed to increase liquidity with lending institutions for new loans, using market forces to move long-term rates lower on the yield curve.

Ben Bernanke’s Fed is now in their third iteration of Quantitative Easing, referred to as QE3. The central bank is buying $45 billion in Treasury securities (bonds and notes) as well as $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) every month, with newly minted cash from the Treasury. By so doing, over $2 trillion in new cash has been injected into M1, which accounts for all of the money in circulation, including coins, currency and demand deposits, like checking and savings accounts.

Even this unconventional economic stimulus is inefficacious to Main Street, the broader economy, but Wall Street loves it, as it has been the primary mover of equity prices for the past four years. As the DJIA has been steadily recovering since 2009, actual economic growth has virtually stalled. Recently revised fourth quarter gross domestic product (GDP) figures show the economy barely grew at an annualized rate of .01% last year. This is not a healthy or expanding economy, especially when compared with China’s 7.5% GDP growth rate.

“It really feels like this is what $8 trillion gets you, between deficit spending and money printing,” said RC Peck, chief investment strategist and CEO of Fearless Wealth. “It’s been about $8 trillion over the last four years and I really don’t think we’d be at these prices [if it weren’t for that].”

Bond manager Jeffrey Gundlach, CEO of DoubleLine Capital concurs. Gundlach says, “The slow-growth U.S. economy is living on cheap money as is the bull market, which is in its last stages.” He explains that the central bank is committed to “easy money,” referring to the accommodative low rate policy and quantitative easing. He calls these policies “circular financing schemes.” He believes that the equity bull market is in its seventh inning and when the game ends it will be “unpleasant.”

Those with 401(k)s are beneficiaries of the market run, as are other private investors with stock holdings. But aside from that, ascending stock prices have little impact on most Americans.

The economy has not improved in any tangible way for the millions of Americans struggling with unemployment and underemployment. A healthy jobs market is crucial to strengthening the middle class, which currently exhibits a troubling lack of long-term stability. More people have dropped out of the work force than at any other time, and median household income continues to decline.

Lawrence Katz, an economics professor at Harvard said recently, “You’re really struck by the unevenness of the recovery. The top end took a whack in the recession, but they’ve gotten back on their feet. Everyone else is still down for the count.”

The latest income figures from the Census Bureau confirm this. “Median household income after inflation fell to $50,054, a level that was 8 percent lower than in 2007, the year before the recession took hold.”

Just this week, the Federal Reserve announced a historic shift in its primary focus. Previously, the central bank held to the conviction that controlling inflation was their primary function, in order to stabilize and grow the economy. They now believe that improving the labor market and reducing unemployment is the key to economic recovery, growth, and stability, and their tone in doing so has been with increasing urgency. Those of us who work in the financial industry wonder why it took so long for them to realize it.

The real unemployment rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics U-6, report, is 14.3%. And until that rate improves, which will have to come in the form of fiscal and regulatory reform by Washington, not just by Fed easy money policies, the middle class will continue to struggle, which translates to reduced consumer spending and fewer durable goods orders, and more small businesses strapped for cash as they compete for reduced spending dollars. As it is currently, Wall Street is ascending, while Main Street declines. When this bifurcation ends, it will be cause for celebration when the markets reach new highs.

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

Richard Larsen: One Man with Courage Makes a Majority

March 17th, 2013 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

“One man with courage makes a majority,” penned Thomas Jefferson. When that courage is armed with principle and backed by constitutional precepts, it’s formidable. Such was the case this week when Kentucky’s Junior Senator, Rand Paul, took to the floor of the senate in a one-man filibuster, reminiscent of the 1939 “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

Unlike his counterpart in the classic Frank Capra film, however, Paul’s filibuster was over constitutional principles, and citizen rights.. The issue for him was whether the President of the United States was presumed to have power to supercede the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments to the Constitution by killing American citizens, on American soil, with unmanned aerial devices (UAV), or drones.

The setting was the confirmation of John Brennan as the new director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Brennan refused to answer Paul’s question during the Senate sub-committee confirmation hearing regarding the use of drones to attack American citizens domestically. Senator Paul was appalled at the idea that the administration would even consider using drones domestically without a citizen ever having been charged with a crime in a court of law.

An American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) lawyer, Nate Wessler, validated Paul’s premise in an interview this week, when he referred to the administration as, “Judge, jury, and executioner,” if they used drones domestically.

Drones have been used to kill Americans on foreign soil. In 2011 a drone strike targeted, and killed, Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Islamic cleric born and educated in the United States.

Since Brennan refused to answer the question, Paul sought clarification from Attorney General Eric Holder. In a March 4 letter to Paul, Holder superciliously said the Obama administration believes it could “hypothetically” carry out drone strikes against Americans on U.S. soil, but “has no intention of doing so.” Such a response was hardly comforting.

Holder declared, “The question you have posed is therefore entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no president will ever have to confront. It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.”

That Holder would declare the issue to be “entirely hypothetical,” leads one to believe he’s not at all familiar with how the technology has been, and is being used by the administration. And that he would merely “suppose” that “it is possible,” clearly indicates not much thought had been applied to the issue, a sobering admission from the government’s top attorney.

Senator Paul said, beginning his thirteen hour filibuster, “I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court. That Americans could be killed in a cafe in San Francisco or in a restaurant in Houston or at their home in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is an abomination. It is something that should not and cannot be tolerated in our country.”

That such could be possible, and not merely hypothetical, should be self-evident. Drones are increasingly utilized domestically for research purposes, as well as for regulatory compliance enforcement by the government.

We extend citizen’s rights to expatriates, regardless of where they are globally. Yet after the administration’s 2011 targeting of al-Awlaki with a drone attack, the next logical question is whether it matters where such a target happens to be. This all seems duplicitous on the part of the administration, when our own citizens are not afforded the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, while simultaneously extending citizen’s rights to non-American enemy combatants.

Just this week, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, the al-Qaida spokesman, fundraiser and son-in-law to Osama bin Laden, who is not an American citizen, was afforded citizen’s rights denied to al-Awlaki, as he made an appearance in court just blocks from ground zero in New York City.

Holder finally sent Paul the answer he was looking for. “No,” was Holder’s ultimate response, which finally brought the Senator’s filibuster to a close. This was not just a victory for Paul, to finally get the definitive answer he sought, but also a victory for all of us. Especially since it was a mere six weeks ago that Holder’s boss took an oath to protect and defend our Constitution, that inconvenient founding document that this administration seems to have such a difficult time upholding.

Senator Paul’s one-man crusade for the rights of American citizens, regardless of station, status, creed, color, or party affiliation, was a victory of principle over political expediency, and essentially validated Thomas Jefferson’s aphorism. One man with courage may not a majority make, but armed with truth and principle, can have the same effect.

larsenfinancial.us/2013/03/11/one-man-with-courage-makes-a-majority/

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

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, March 11

March 11th, 2013 by Halli

By Representative Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

Our house chaplain, Pastor Tom, usually starts the day off with a quotation accompanied with a Scripture. One from this last week was a quotation from Sylvester Stallone, “I am not the smartest or most talented person in the world, but I succeeded because I keep going, and going, and going.” At this stage of the session we certainly don’t want to just keep going and going but it will take some sticking to the task to get it done.

I was talking to a member of the Appropriations Committee just prior to one of the floor sessions starting and I asked him if all the money was spent yet. He said, “Pretty much, and maybe a little more.” We are required to have a balanced budget by our state Constitution so we do have to make sure that we don’t overspend . The tricky part in all of that is to make sure that the revenues are there and come in as anticipated. Even though the revenue numbers were up for the month of February, they do not reflect any income tax refunds that are being sent out to taxpayers. Some of those numbers will not be seen until we see what happens in March and April.

We had an introduction hearing in the state affairs committee a few days ago that would increase the brand inspection fees used for predator control from five cents per head to an additional twenty five cents per head as would be requested by the Idaho cattle Association. Interestingly enough, the destination for the funds would be to the sheep and goat fund and ultimately would be used to finance the federal predator control folks. If I read the bill correctly, it seems to me that it will be imposed only on cattle, horses and mules. Some of that discussion came up in committee prior to introduction but the bill was sent on for discussion in the Agricultural Affairs Committee and will be up for debate first thing Monday when we go on the floor the House. To me this looks like a fee being imposed on producers who have not caused the problem (wolves) in the first place. I’ll be voting no.

We are now seeing the fiscal year 2014 budgets and so far all have passed the House. There are some however, that have had quite a few no votes. When I voted no on a particular budget this past week my seatmate asked me why I voted against the appropriation. I told him that I tend to not support appropriations that exceed the percentage increase in our projected revenues.

Health insurance exchange legislation that has been modified from what the governor proposed, has been passed out of the House Health and Welfare Committee and will be seen early in the week for full debate by the House. That should be one of those things that will keep going, and going, and going.

This is what I call one of my marathon weekends, where most of what I did was drive. Linda doesn’t always go with me when I travel to other parts of the district, but this week as we traveled to Preston for the Franklin County Lincoln day celebration we had an enjoyable trip and a delightful time visiting with the folks there. This is also one of those perfect storm weekends. Mixed in all that, was the change to daylight savings time. How vain can man be to think he can save daylight. Oh well, we’re tough and will stick to it but with a little less sleep.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Politics in General, Presidential Politics, Rep. Tom Loertscher | No Comments »

Andi Elliott: Continue On

March 11th, 2013 by Halli

By Andi Elliott, Idaho State Tea Party Patriots Coordinator

Seldom do I go to town that I don’t find myself talking with someone, friend or stranger, and to a person they are lamenting the sad situation of America. And I’m often asked, “What can we do?”

My suggestion: continue doing what you are doing. Continue to fail to contact your legislators and county/city representatives about issues important to you. Continue to sit in front of the television when you should be voicing your opinion at a public meeting. Continue sitting in the coffee shop with like-minded folks who have the same complaints as you. Continue to ignore what is being taught to your children in the public schools.

Continue to sit idly by rather than attend rallies and protests against issues affecting our lives. Continue to fail to hold our elected representatives accountable or to thank those deserving such. Continue to be too busy to be involved. Continue not to “make waves.” Continue to allow our Constitutional freedoms to be usurped piecemeal. And especially, continue to fail to speak up. And we will continue to get the type of government we deserve.

If you want things to change, then change what you are doing for that’s the only way we won’t continue to get the same failed policies and the mistrust of our government will continue to build. All you have to do is to continue exactly what you’re doing now for things to continue as they are. And by all means, continue your silence which implies your consent.

Andi Elliott
Hamer

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Politics in General, Presidential Politics, Property Rights, Taxes | No Comments »

David Ripley: ICL Testimony Against Obama Exchange

March 9th, 2013 by Halli

By David Ripley

The following testimony was delivered by David Ripley on behalf of Idaho Chooses Life before the House Health & Welfare Committee on March 7th:

MR. CHAIRMAN … MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE…
I RISE TO OPPOSE HB 248.
THE FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM WITH THE LEGISLATION IS THAT IT IMPLEMENTS OBAMACARE.

THE SO-CALLED “AFFORDABLE CARE ACT” HAS ALREADY BUILT A PILE OF BROKEN PROMISES, GUARANTEED TO GET LARGER AS THE ENTIRE LAW TAKES ROOT. BUT THERE ARE OTHERS HERE WHO CAN ADDRESS MANY OF THOSE ISSUES, PARTICULARLY THE HORRENDOUS FINANCIAL BURDENS ASSOCIATED WITH THIS ATTEMPT TO REVAMP AMERICAN SOCIETY AND ITS ECONOMY.

I WILL CONCENTRATE ON THE GRAVE THREAT THIS FEDERAL LEGISLATION POSES TO THE SANCTITY OF HUMAN LIFE. IN THE INTEREST OF TIME, I WILL JUST SUMMARIZE THE POINTS MADE BY THE BOARD OF IDAHO CHOOSES LIFE IN THE RESOLUTION JUST DISTRIBUTED:
A STATE INSURANCE EXCHANGE IS THE FUNDAMENTAL BUILDING BLOCK OF OBAMACARE.

BURIED WITHIN THE FEDERAL LEGISLATION IS A RIVER OF TAX MONEY TO SUBSIDIZE THE ABORTION INDUSTRY, AS WELL AS ABORTIONS THEMSELVES.

THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT ALSO CONTAINS PROVISIONS FOR A 15 MEMBER PANEL WITH ENORMOUS POWERS TO RATION HEALTH CARE FOR THE DISABLED, SENIORS AND THOSE DEEMED AN UNWORTHY SOCIAL BURDEN.

THE FEDERALIZATION OF HEALTH CARE POSES A SERIOUS THREAT TO CONSCIENCE RIGHTS OF HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS – AS WELL AS TAXPAYERS, EMPLOYERS AND CHURCHES.THAT BECAME EVIDENT FROM THE OBAMA MANDATE TO PROVIDE “FREE” ABORTIFACIENTS.

WE FEAR IT IS BUT THE BEGINNING OF A WIDE ASSAULT ON THE 1ST AMENDMENT.

WE ALSO SEE AN UNPRECEDENTED THREAT TO PERSONAL LIBERTY BY THE COLLECTION OF MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF PERSONAL AND INTIMATE FAMILY DATA. NEITHER THE ACA NOR THE BILL BEFORE YOU PROVIDES ANY REASONABLE SAFEGUARDS TO PROTECT THE RELIGIOUS AND PERSONAL LIBERTIES OF THOSE WHO USE AN EXCHANGE TO PURCHASE INSURANCE — WHETHER BY ENTICEMENT OR UNDER COERCION.

THERE ARE THOSE WHO CLAIM THAT THE ACA IS NOW THE “LAW OF THE LAND” AND THAT WE MUST SUBMIT. IF WE ARE COMPLIANT, PERHAPS OUR NEW FEDERAL MASTERS WILL ALLOW US TO MAKE HELPFUL SUGGESTIONS FROM TIME TO TIME. CURB ONE EXCESS OR ANOTHER.

TO THAT I WOULD ANSWER THAT THE EXISTING MEDICAID PROGRAM OFFERS US ALL THE EVIDENCE WE NEED OF WHAT WE CAN REASONABLY EXPECT AS WILLING SUPPLICANTS IN A “PARTNERSHIP” WITH AN OVERBEARING FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

I WOULD ALSO SUBMIT THAT THE ACA IS NOT YET THE LAW OF THE LAND. NOT THIS LAND, ANYWAY. IT WILL NOT BECOME THE LAW OF IDAHO UNTIL AND UNLESS THE IDAHO LEGISLATURE SANCTIONS IT AND LEGITIMIZES IT.

OF COURSE YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SPECIFIC PROVISIONS OF OBAMACARE. BUT MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT THIS LEGISLATION. YOUR VOTE FOR HB 248 ENABLES IT TO BECOME THE LAW OF IDAHO. YOU WILL THEREBY BECOME RESPONSIBLE FOR THE FEDERAL RULES AS THEY EXIST TODAY … AND WHATEVER OUTRAGEOUS THINGS SECRETARY SEBELIUS DECIDES TO IMPOSE UPON IDAHO CITIZENS IN THE MONTHS AND YEARS TO COME.

MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE, WE ASK THAT YOU REJECT THIS BILL.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Education, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Politics in General, Presidential Politics, Taxes | No Comments »

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