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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 »

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