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Richard Larsen: No Longer a Nation of Law

November 29th, 2014 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

“Congress will not act, so I will,” warned President Obama over the past few weeks as he projected the possibility of acting unilaterally on the issue of illegal immigration. And act, he did.

rickmckeeIn an announcement Thursday evening, the President granted amnesty to millions of those who have entered the country illegally. Those granted amnesty, are those who have been in the country for at least five years, have children who are citizens or legal residents, who pass a criminal background check, and are willing to pay taxes and register with the government. The impact could include as many as 6 million people.

The elements of his plan have merit, but to be legal, the proposal must be enacted legislatively, which he could have done easily when his party controlled both chambers of congress during his first term. What he proposes to do is to rewrite U.S. immigration law without the Constitutional or statutory authority to do so.
His actions stand in stark contrast to what he has been saying over the past six years. On March 28, 2011 in a Univision appearance, he declared, “For me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates, would not conform to my appropriate role as president.”

On July 25, 2011, he stated, “I know some people want me to bypass congress and change the laws on my own. But that’s not the way our system works.”

On November 25, 2013, he declared, “If in fact I could solve all these problems without passing laws in congress, then I would do so. But we’re also a nation of laws.”

On March 6, 2014, he clarified, “I cannot ignore those laws anymore than I can ignore any of the other laws on the books. What I said in the past remains true. Until congress passes a new law, then I am constrained in terms of what I am able to do.”
On February 14, 2013, he said, “The problem is that, I’m the president of the United States. I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute the laws that are passed.”

Then, in reference to his 2012 Executive Order where elements of the stalled Senate Dream Act were implemented, he said, “What we have tried to do is administratively reduce the burdens and hardships on families being separated. And what we’ve done is, obviously, pass the deferred action which made sure that the DREAMers, young people who were brought here and think of themselves as Americans, are American except for their papers, that they’re not deported.
“Having said all that, we’ve kind of stretched our administrative flexibility as much as we can. And that’s why making sure we get comprehensive immigration reform done is so important.”
And on January 30, 2013, he told Univision, “Well, I think it is important to remind everybody that, as I said I think previously, and I’m not a king. I am the head of the executive branch of government. I’m required to follow the law.”
In fact, there are at least 25 times the president has expressed those convictions, and are captured on video. His comments focus on three key areas: 1) we are a nation of laws; 2) as president, he hasn’t the authority to make law, for that’s the role of the legislative branch; and 3) he is not a king or an emperor, i.e. a despot. Clearly, from his speech on Thursday, those convictions have changed. He either feels he is above the law, can now make law, subordinating congress to irrelevancy, or he feels he is now king or emperor.

The Executive Order (EO) does not grant the president the authority to do what he said he’d do this week. There are three things the EO can be used for: operational management of the executive branch, operational management of the federal agencies or officials, and implementing statutory or constitutional presidential responsibilities. Executive Orders cannot be used to either create new law, or to annul or reverse existing law. After all, his primary function, according to the Constitution and his oath of office, is to “faithfully execute the office” in enforcement and execution of the laws legally passed by the legislative branch.

Many have cited executive order precedence of prior presidents. Those situations were far different. President Ronald Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986, which granted limited amnesty to some qualified illegal immigrants. He subsequently issued an executive order that included minor children of those specifically covered under the Act.

In 1990, President George Herbert Walker Bush issued an Executive Order related to that Act that broadened the scope to include spouses and children of those granted amnesty under the Simpson-Mazzoli Act. The EO was a logical inclusion not specifically delineated in the Act. Both Reagan’s and Bush’s Executive Orders were supported by the legislative intent of Simpson-Mazzoli, were legal declarations of how Simpson-Mazzoli would be implemented, and were supported by Congress.

What the President did this week establishes a dangerous precedent and arguably creates a constitutional crisis over the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches and the rule of law. As disturbing as it is to have a president so willfully and intentionally exceed his constitutional authority, is the fact that his party leadership is entirely supportive of his illegal actions.

In a few years there will be a Republican president who may, using his “pen and his phone,” rescind the Affordable Care Act, or outlaw abortions altogether, or initiate tax cuts just by Executive Order. Those who have no problem with what the President did this week will have no legal leg to stand on in their denunciation of such future executive actions.
Regardless of which party he hails from, and regardless of the viability of his proposal, President Obama this week declared that we are no longer a nation of laws, and that he is our emperor.

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

Richard Larsen: Most Americans Self-Identify as Conservative

September 13th, 2014 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

It is always entertaining to witness the unsolicited counsel pontificated from the left, telling the Republican Party what’s wrong with it. Since many liberals don’t view Republicans as simply different-minded Americans, but as enemies to be vanquished, isn’t that a bit like the U.S. being counseled by Russia? Republicans should be listening rather to the groundswell of grassroots conservatives who see where the country is headed and fear for our future.

125120_600Unlike the querulous ones barking from the left’s sidelines who cheer the current transformation of America, grassroots conservatives are calling for a return to the classical-liberal precepts upon which the nation was built; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Not only is the country being fundamentally transformed into something it was never intended to be, but the economic and fiscal tipping points of debt and government intrusion are hastily approaching.

Republicans must disallow the liberals from dictating the premises of public discourse. When they shape public perception based on fallacious premises, the outcome will always to accede to the left. As it is now, rather than questioning whether we should have a deficit at all, it’s, “How much is too much of a deficit?” Rather than all human life is sacred and should be protected, it’s, “How many innocents’ lives are too many to abort?” Instead of government should not be bailing out any businesses, it’s, “How big is too big to fail?” And ultimately, instead of what government should be doing for (or to) us, it should be, “What is the proper role of government in a free republic?”

obama-media-bias-womens-vote-democrats-political-cartoonDemocrats do an excellent job of making promises to niche groups and demographics, and then, more often than not, failing to deliver. But they’re judged by their acolytes not based on results, but on their intent, and their expressed fealty to their objectives.

For example, the “Great Society” has redistributed trillions of dollars over the past five decades, and poverty levels remain, as a percentage of the population, about what they were when the “war on poverty” was declared. Promises to political niches are no more than efforts to buy votes, with someone else’s money. If Republicans want to win elections again, commit to doing what’s best for the country, and all demographic groups, rather than attempting to outbid for their votes, or dissect the electorate based on clichéd parsing of issues or catering to special interest groups. Return to the basic constitutional premise that government is to “promote” the general welfare of the nation, not “provide” it.

In our republic, government was intentionally granted specific, enumerated powers to maintain law and order, ensure our national security, protect life, facilitate interstate commerce, and preserve freedom. Government was never intended to be a panacea or balm for all the ills and travails of society. It was intended to provide a legal structure for the protection of liberty and rights that would allow individuals to get out of life what they were willing to invest personally into it. If Republicans are to succeed as a party, and save the nation from our self-destructive course, they must differentiate from the other side, based on correct constitutional principles, rather than competing to be “Democrat Lite.” Moving to the left will not save the Republican Party or the nation, but moving to the right will.

healthcarebillQuestion D3 on the bipartisan Battleground Poll conducted by George Washington University provides the evidence. It reads, “When thinking about politics and government, do you consider yourself to be… Very conservative, somewhat conservative, moderate, somewhat liberal, very liberal, unsure/refused.” Over the years the poll has been conducted, most Americans self-identify as conservatives. With just a point or two differential over the past ten years, 20% of Americans consider themselves to be very conservative; 40% somewhat conservative; 2% moderate; 27% somewhat liberal, and 9% very liberal; and 3% either didn’t know, or didn’t have a clue what the question even meant. Clearly, 60% of American voters consider themselves to be either very or somewhat conservative. Interestingly, these results were nearly identical in December 2012 after Obama won reelection, validating the obvious, that turnout of voter base is the determinant of electoral outcomes.

cartoon 12-20 lixz dnxon gocomics 12-19 democrats going off the precipice w healthcare. In fact, according to a more recent poll by Harris, self-identified conservatives outnumber liberals in every state in the union, except for Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Republicans would succeed electorally much more if their appeals were based on constitutionally correct principles, and logically sound premises, rather than allowing the left to shape the debate.

Thomas Jefferson, who oxymoronically is heralded as the founder of the Democrat Party, succinctly stated, “A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned – this is the sum of good government.” That is not the message promulgated by the party that claims Jefferson as their founder.

If the constitutional and logical premises of “good government” are well articulated and marketed, there should be no election out of reach for conservative candidates. That’s what the data tell us.

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

David Ripley: Idaho Public TV “Celebrating” George Tiller

September 3rd, 2014 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Your tax dollars at work – with a little help from Planned Parenthood and NARAL.

On Labor Day, Idaho Public TV aired a special called “After Tiller”, depicting the life and times of notorious baby killer, George Tiller. Before his death, Tiller was the nation’s leading late-term abortionist, operating under the legal and political protection of Kathleen Sebelius back when she was governor of Kansas.

Tiller’s operation was so vast that he had his own backyard incinerator to dispose of the little babies he butchered in his clinic. We remember the ashes of preborn children descending upon the shoulders and hair of pro-Life protesters outside his abortuary.

Public Broadcasting will “celebrate” George Tiller on Monday evening (10 pm, Boise time) and apparently mourn his passing.

ALL’s Judie Brown issued a blistering commentary about the matter on Friday morning. She has, of course, not yet seen the broadcast. But she has carefully the promotional materials PBS is using to encourage viewership. She also ran across an interview with the producer, Lana Wilson. She defended her work, arguing that people like Tiller deserve “to have more compassion… instead of judging”.

Mrs. Brown also uncovered the uncomfortable fact that the production of this dark propaganda effort came from America’s abortion industry.

We certainly don’t recommend that our readers take the time to watch this ugly “documentary”. Your time would be better spent asking your legislator whether the State of Idaho should continue to underwrite the operation of Idaho Public TV as a public relations vehicle for Planned Parenthood.

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

David Ripley: Obama Seeks to Circumvent the Supreme Court

September 3rd, 2014 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

As pro-Lifers and constitutionalists were celebrating the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, Obama’s lawyers were figuring out a way to forestall defeat.

The Department of Health & Human Services has just issued “new” regulations for private employers and non-profits who believe killing preborn children in the womb with chemicals is wrong. While appearing to make accommodations for religious and moral objections, Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) argues that President Obama is just finding new ways to impose his agenda:

“Here he goes again. This new ‘notification option’ is really just another highly coercive regulation – a direct, obnoxious, unprecedented government attack on the conscience rights of religious entities and anyone else who for moral reasons cannot and will not include potentially abortion-causing drugs – such as Ella – or contraception and sterilization procedures in their private insurance plans.”

Smith argues that the new and “improved” regulations could cripple Christian colleges and businesses by imposing a $100 per employee/ per day penalty on private organizations who fail to comply with the Obama contraception mandate.

Obama’s cynicism and contempt for the Constitution is difficult to overstate. By modifying the regulations following his defeat at the Supreme Court, Obama is calculating that businesses like Hobby Lobby will be forced to launch new lawsuits – all the while accruing fines worth $36,500 per employee per year of litigation.

There are other lawsuits out there in the federal system by Christian entities like Little Sisters of the Poor and Wheaton College which may provide the vehicle for blocking Obama’s latest maneuver to impose his values on America. Much will depend on the skill of the lawyers involved and the integrity of the judges they’re dealing with.

But, ultimately, America must turn out this corrupt man from office if we are to restore constitutional government. Perhaps a first step in that direction will take place this fall in the battle to oust Democrats from the U.S. Senate.

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

Richard Larsen: Is Paying Taxes Patriotic?

August 20th, 2014 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Six years ago Vice President Joe Biden said that paying taxes is patriotic. Citing the need for the wealthy to pay more of their “share” of taxes, he said it was, “time to be patriotic,” even though the top 20% of wage-earners pay 93% of federal income taxes. The latest iteration of the “paying taxes is patriotic” meme came last month when Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden calling for a “new sense of economic patriotism.” The payment of taxes by a citizenry in a free society is not inherently patriotic, but such statements are not unexpected from those who conflate emotion with logic.

jack-lew-611×442The context of Secretary Lew’s letter is important, however. Dozens of American companies have made acquisitions or merged with other companies based in the United Kingdom, or more advantageously, Ireland, in order to circumvent the U.S.
confiscatory 35% corporate tax rate, which is currently the highest in the world. By basing operations in Ireland, these newly migrated companies pay a relatively paltry flat 12.5% tax on profits. Nine of the top ten global pharmaceutical companies now have operations in Ireland, and some of the largest technology companies, including Google, Twitter, and Facebook, do as well.

The process is called inversion, and here’s how it works economically. A company acquires or merges with a company in Ireland (or Britain, Switzerland, or the Netherlands) and re-domiciles there for the cash savings from U.S. tax rates. The company then lends cash back to the U.S. creating tax-deductible interest payments to benefit American operations. And in the more elaborate variation, interest costs and royalty payments made to Dutch subsidiaries reduce the tax bill in Ireland to 6%. Royalties and interest payments are then funneled to Bermuda, which then cuts the tax in Ireland to zero since Ireland views it as a “Bermuda resident.” This creates a veritable “cash mountain,” as the UK’s Financial Times refers to it, allowing the newly reorganized Irish company to pay nothing in taxes. The Financial Times estimates the “cash mountain” built up through such inversions to be as high as $1 trillion.

blog_corp_tax_cbppThe absurdity of our 35% nominal corporate tax rate is magnified when we realize that the $1 trillion sitting overseas is worth a paltry $16 billion in tax revenue to the treasury, as Secretary Lew said on CNBC last month. In other words, to save $16 billion in federal corporate taxes, formerly U.S. based companies have relocated $1 trillion in cash, and all of the economic activity, including jobs and manufacturing, that a trillion dollars of cash (M1) velocity can generate. Our inordinately high tax rates have exceeded the point of diminishing return.

The reason the tax revenue can be so low as Lew’s estimate is because the average corporate effective rate is about 12% after deductions. Our tax code has become so porous through crony-capitalism that a company the size of General Electric with sales of over $120 billion, and net profit of $14 billion, could file a 57,000-page tax return for 2010 and pay no corporate income taxes. Our sieve-like tax code hemorrhages tax receipts to the U.S. Treasury.

It’s nothing short of duplicity for the administration to call for “patriotism” from entities they have been arguing are not people, and should not be afforded freedom of speech or freedom of religion rights. They have bemoaned the Citizen’s United case in which the Supreme Court ruled corporations have free speech rights, and the Hobby Lobby ruling affirming corporate freedom of religion, yet they claim such companies can have patriotism, which is an emotion and a trait that can’t be felt or manifest by inanimate objects or organizations. For logical consistency, they can’t have it both ways.

Even though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claimed a few years ago that paying taxes is “voluntary,” our taxes are collected from us based on principles of coercion. We pay our taxes under legal threat of fines and penalties, which could include jail time. Companies withhold a percentage of our income as a payroll deduction under threat of fines and penalties. This is also why paying taxes to “share the wealth” is not an act of magnanimity either, for coercion can never be mistaken for giving freely of our substance.

BstMy4OIEAAiQ_m.png-largeThe claim that paying taxes is patriotic is prima facie specious, even if some of the benefits from paying taxes are beneficial to us personally, for tax collection is facilitated by the threat of penalty, which is coercive. As such, it much more closely resembles extortion than patriotism. In a legal context, extortion refers to how the funds are expropriated, not in how they are appropriated. Extortion is forced, while patriotism is clearly voluntary. And since patriotism is attitudinal, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with harboring such sentiments whilst paying.

Taxes are an essential component to facilitate the operations of prudent and constitutional governance. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.” However, when tax code incentivizes the relocation of America’s engines of economic growth, its effect is deleterious to the nation. And taxation for reallocation is clearly immoral for our founders formed our system of governance to preclude the possibility of our government doing what would be illegal for an individual citizen to do.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Senator Ron Wyden is correct to not take the band aid approach to closing the inversion loophole. His preference is to overhaul the corporate tax structure which currently incentivizes U.S. corporations to relocate headquarters and manufacturing elsewhere in the global marketplace.

The most efficacious means of repatriating that $1 trillion sitting in overseas banks would be to shred the entire corporate tax code and go to a flat corporate tax rate. That additional trillion dollars in monetary velocity could make a significant contribution to GDP expansion, as well as augmenting U.S. tax receipts.

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

David Ripley: An Atomic Thrust at ObamaCare

August 15th, 2014 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The recent ruling by judges on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals represents a major threat to the entire structure of ObamaCare. It is, by far, the most serious threat yet to Obama’s agenda.

Media outlets have focused on the issue of tax funded subsidies flowing throughout the ObamaCare enterprise to individuals and insurance companies. The fact that the Appeals Court struck down those subsidies in the majority of states who did not create a “state exchange” is certainly a major blow. Among other implications, it would seem obvious that the ruling – if upheld on certain appeal to the Supreme Court – will have the effect of invalidating most of the individual contracts being purchased to date through the federal exchange.

The aspect of the ruling receiving less attention – that federal exchanges cannot impose penalties on individuals and companies – seems to be the most important. Unless the federal government retains the coercive power to impose ObamaCare on people and businesses, there is no possibility that ObamaCare can function. This is the part of ObamaCare which has spread fear and loathing throughout the private sector as business leaders face the prospect of IRS agents swooping down upon small and medium businesses to impose draconian penalties if they failed to comply with the insurance mandates.

Of course the Obama Regime has been fighting madly to deny that their law made any meaningful distinction between a “federal” exchange and a “state” exchange. At most, they have argued, the absence of language to impose penalties or give away tax dollars in the code section creating a federal exchange is a “typo”.

But, of course, laws are laws. They say what they say, regardless of post-hoc constructions. The legislation Nancy Pelosi said we had to pass in order to actually read does not say anything about the federal exchange’s power to impose penalties. All of that language is in the sections dealing with state-based exchanges.

And, it turns out, this is no accident. The intrepid Rush Limbaugh has uncovered public statements by the law’s leading architect, one Jonathan Gruber. The man is an economics professor at MIT. Mr. Limbaugh has two video clips on his website right now in which Professor Gruber clearly explains that the ObamaCare law was written to coerce states into partnering with Obama in remaking America. There were the incentives of subsidies … and the sticks of penalties. Professor Gruber makes it clear that Obama & Company never envisioned that a majority of states would declined their gracious offer. This is a key piece of the backstory over ObamaCare’s disastrous roll-out.

This whole issue was hotly debated when the Idaho Legislature considered creating a state exchange. We were among those telling legislators that the ObamaCare law was badly written and that there was every chance that Idaho’s employers could be protected from serious sanctions if Idaho stood firm against Obama and his agenda. We were scoffed at by proponents.

At the very least, it seems clear that Idaho made a serious mistake in rushing to create a state exchange. On the other hand, the problem may be a more serious one for those who voted to partner with Obama.

The ruling by the DC Circuit demonstrates that our concerns were not only valid, they were very serious.

The matter will not be settled until the Supreme Court considers Obama’s over-reach and sleight of hand in pretending that the ObamaCare law gives the IRS enormous powers to regulate American enterprise. Our bet is that Obama is going to lose this fight, meaning that he will have to wait upon Congress to amend the law or abandon the whole scheme.

Such a ruling will not, tragically enough, bring any relief to the citizens or businesses operating in Idaho since the Legislature has made its pact with the devil. In that event, pressure will be fierce for the Legislature to repeal the state exchange.

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

Richard Larsen: Of Freedom, Patriotism, and American Exceptionalism

July 21st, 2014 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

“Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?” Those lines from our National Anthem reflect what has been felt by most Americans over the years; that this country is the land of the free, and precisely because of those who are brave.

There has historically been a sense of pride in the level of freedom and liberty afforded Americans; a time when our National Anthem reflected a grateful people who lived in relative freedom from government coercion and tyranny. And as a people, we were proud of our heritage of liberty. But two new polls reflect a drastic change in how we view our freedom, and our pride in being Americans. There is perhaps no better time, than the celebration of our Independence Day, to reflect on what it means to be an American.

Just eight years ago, when Americans were asked in a Gallup poll how they felt about their individual liberty, 92% were satisfied, and felt they were living the American dream of optimal personal freedom. At the time, that was enough to earn the United States of America the top ranking, globally, in personal freedom. In just a few short years, Americans have responded to the same question in ways that reflects the diminution of liberty that comes from expansive government intrusion and a floundering economy that severely restricts economic freedom. We now rank #36 in the world, according to Gallup this week.

We were not the only nation to experience such a precipitous drop in our sense of freedom. Other countries that experienced comparable declines were Egypt, Greece, Italy, Venezuela, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Romania, Yemen, Pakistan, and Spain.
Certainly a significant contributor to this deterioration is the rise of governmental power and the micromanagement of nearly every aspect of our lives. Governments, and those who wield power within them, are historically the culprits in coercive erosion of freedom.

But another component is likely economic, as it’s hard to feel free when jobs are scarce, good-paying jobs are even more scarce, and when the middle-class in America has taken a 9% trimming in real median household income, from $54,489 at the end of 2007, to $50,020 last year.

Patriotism-FlagPerhaps even more disconcerting than the perceived erosion of our liberties, is what was revealed in an extensive typology survey released last week by Pew Research. One of their shocking findings in their 187-page paper researching American attitudes was that a full 44% of us are not proud to be Americans. They separated polling groups by substrata of political self-identification, but in the conglomerate, 60% of “strong liberals” answered “no” to the question of whether they “often feel proud to be American.” The only groups that solidly agreed with the statement were those on the conservative side, from 72-81%.

Patriotism is now quantified as a dying trait of 21st century Americans. There was a time not long ago when in spite of ideological differences, the common glue holding our nation, society, and culture together was a shared love of country, a commitment to leave her better than we inherited her. We recognized that we were all Americans, and that we were a unique nation established upon fundamentally correct principles recognizing the equality of man because of our God-given inalienable rights.

9-11neverforgetReflect on how the nation coalesced for a time after the attack at Pearl Harbor, or even more recently, after the attacks of 9/11. As a nation we were unified with a love of country, a patriotic fervor, and a determination to overcome all obstacles and enemies that stood in the way of our perpetuity as a free and prospering nation. Flags, patriotic bumper stickers, and unifying messages on signs and placards were virtually omnipresent. Such unity is predictable from people filled with the American spirit, when we feel we are at risk and fighting for our survival.

I would submit that we are still fighting for our survival, and the risks are no less onerous or menacing now than they were in 1941 or 2001. But even more than those exogenous threats to our physical existence, the policies of governance today, which are so intuitively antithetical to those upon which the nation was founded, are a fulfillment of Thomas Jefferson’s fear. As he said, “Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” The greatest threat unraveling America today is domestic, and ideologically driven.

There is nothing erudite or chic to those who harbor antipathy toward America. It may indicate some deep psychological maladies, but it’s certainly not “cool.” Not only is it possible to love America and all she stands for while still being critical of politicians and policy, but I think that’s what is meant by dissent being the ultimate form of patriotism: a devotion to America and a commitment to her perpetuity so great that we speak out in opposition to those policies that we’re convinced challenge the unique position America bears as an ensign of freedom to the world.

960×540There are some incontrovertible facts about America that must be recognized across the entire political spectrum, for they are historical verities. For example, we all should recognize that for the first time in history, a nation, even this nation, was created by people, for people, based on a series of principles and tenets recognized to be God-given, not government bestowed. As James Madison said regarding the patriots who founded this nation, “Happily for America, happily, we trust, for the whole human race, they pursued a new and more noble course. They accomplished a revolution which has no parallel in the annals of human society.”

For the first time in history, a group of agrarian subjects united to throw off the tyranny of their monarch, and establish a new nation founded in the notion that rights are not simply granted by the ruler, but by God. And that since they were granted by God, they were inalienable, meaning that they were unable to be separated, surrendered, or transferred. And that among those rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This is the essence of American exceptionalism.

Even those who engage in national self-loathing, lamenting America as the cause of all the world’s grief, must recognize the power behind a country founded on the principle that for a government of free people to be legitimate, its powers must be derived from the consent of the governed.

America’s greatness is not based in an arrogant presumption of supremacy on our part, but on a recognition of our unique origins, national credo, historical evolution, distinctive political and religious institutions, and of America’s qualitative dissimilarity from all other nations. It is not arrogance to claim greatness in this young republic; it is historical and empirical fact. Our Declaration reduced government from master to servant for the first time in history, regardless of the fact that the role has in recent years been reversed.
Our United States of America is not perfect. No temporal entity operated by man can be, yet the principles upon which this country is founded are fundamentally correct, based in freedom and individual liberty, and the resulting government by and for the people, at one time was the best on earth.

patriotismPatriotism is not a matter of waving a flag, but is rather manifest in how we talk of America, and how we treat her and our fellow citizens. Adlai Stevenson admonished us that our patriotism should not be “short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”

In this context, to be true patriots, we don’t just fly our flag on the 4th of July, but we live lives of dedication to preserving this land, and passing it on to later generations in better condition than we received it from our forbearers. To fail in this most basic task is to fail as Americans.

“Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?” To which we answer unwaveringly, “Yes!”

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

Richard Larsen: Operation Choke Point – Another Presidential Abuse of Power

July 5th, 2014 by Halli

by Richard Larsen

In a free-market capitalistic system, the economy grows as companies compete freely for consumer dollars by producing superior products and services, adding jobs while their bottom-line grows. In such a system the government plays a role as referee by protecting consumers and ensuring all corporate players compete legally, and fairly. But in a crony-capitalistic system, the government does more than referee — it intervenes, attempting to assure success of some sectors and companies, while thwarting and even penalizing those that are out of favor with the prevailing ideology. Over the past six years our economic system has become increasingly controlled through governmental cronyism, and it just got much worse, and it’s based purely on ideology.

1. Obama_Constitution_ObstructionEarly last year the Department of Justice (DOJ) initiated a new probe into questionable mercantile ventures facilitated by commercial banks. Initially, “Operation Choke Point” targeted banks that service payday lenders, especially online, and other services that they thought to be dubious. DOJ pressured banks doing business with such firms to “choke” or restrict access of such firms to banking services, even to the point of closing the accounts of such firms.

This policy is not traceable to the passage of Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, commonly referred to as FinReg. That Act created consumer protection regulations, as well as other measures such as “too big to fail,” which were designed to prevent a collapse of the financial services industry as we saw in 2008. Those regulations are enforced through the Department of the Treasury.

2. Lose-some-Weight-ALG-600Operation Choke Point, however, is being run through the DOJ as an extension of the president’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF). The Task Force was created in November 2009 for the express purpose of holding accountable the individuals and institutions that created the last financial crisis. This task force, headed by the DOJ, includes the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Secret Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The evidence for potential abuses is generated by banks through their reporting of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs), making banking institutions partners with law enforcement agencies in identifying and flagging questionable financial activity.

This puts banks in a tenuous position with law-enforcement and government agencies. As the Wall Street Journal reported last month, “Banks, which need a reliable and safe payments network to survive, have always worked with law enforcement to fight fraud and even terrorism in the financial system. Banks provide tips to law enforcement when a customer’s behavior seems fishy, and they assist in investigations when asked. In the past year alone, banks have filed nearly a million suspicious activity reports with regulators, including suspicions of mortgage fraud, identity theft, counterfeit debit and credit cards, tax evasion and wire-transfer fraud.”
Clearly the intent of the FFETF is appropriate, as it relates to curtailing illegal or dubious financial ventures and transactions, and restricting money-laundering schemes. The problem is, it’s now gone much further than the original intent.

4. ObamaCare_Thomas_Jefferson_Tyranny_1-300×300Two weeks ago, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee reported that, based on internal DOJ documents, the administration is now using Operation Choke Point to target companies and sectors that are completely legal, yet not viewed favorably by the administration. The report stated that the DOJ is using pressure on banks to “shut down” companies that they find “objectionable.”

“We have documented that they are going after gun and ammunitions manufacturers, gun sellers and non-deposit lenders. Their own memos show they are well beyond enforcing the law,” said Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) after the report was made public.
And it doesn’t end there. The documents released by the House Oversight Committee show that the DOJ has included the entire firearms industry and classified them with other “high risk” targeted businesses. The trade association for firearms and ammunition manufacturers, The National Shooting Sports Foundation, has reported that, “several of its members have had banking relationships wrongfully terminated as a result Operation Choke Point.”

5. obama-tyranny-irsWe have yet again an example of the administration utilizing the tools of governance to discriminate against activities and companies that are legal, that they don’t approve of. As previously documented, the administration has abused their power with the IRS, DOJ, Environmental Protection Agency, the Labor Department, FBI, ATF, and OSHA. The administration has abused the power of government, based on ideology, to harass, intimidate, and put out of business, companies led by conservative contributors, and conservative non-profit organizations.

This is the type of political corruption we would expect from a banana republic, or a despotic Middle-Eastern regime, certainly not the United States of America. Columnist Charles Krauthammer believes we’ll be dealing for years with the “toxic residue of this outbreak of authoritative lawlessness.” This is no longer simply a partisan issue of concern. This goes right to the heart of what defines our constitutional system of government, for we have, until now, been a country governed by law, not presidential whims based on ideology.

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

David Ripley: Tremendous Victory at Supreme Court

July 1st, 2014 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Thank You Lord.

Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case was of tremendous importance to the pro-Life movement. At stake was the question of whether a president of the United States could force private employers, against their wills and conscience, to pay for the destruction of innocent preborn children.

Thankfully, the Supreme Court upheld the sacred principle that the whims of those holding political power do not trump religious freedom. (Remember that the “Obama Mandate” is not the result of legislation duly enacted by the Congress and signed into law by the President – but a gross abuse by Mr. Obama of his executive authority).

It is chilling, indeed, to consider the consequences for America had the Court failed to recognize and uphold the First Amendment, which is the founding notion of this nation.

Among those joining us in celebrating the victory is Dr. David Stevens, CEO of the Christian Medical Association: “We are very thankful that the Supreme Court acted to protect family businesses from government coercion and fines for simply honoring the tenets of their faith. This is a much-needed victory for faith freedoms, because this Administration continues its assault on the values of the faith community. We are witnessing increasing attempts by the government to coerce the faith community to adopt the government’s viewpoint in matters of conscience.”

Idaho’s Governor Butch Otter also issued a statement yesterday:

“As governor of one of the states weighing in on this case, I’m encouraged to see religious liberty trumping ObamaCare’s headlong rush to impose a contraceptive mandate on the American people. Today’s ruling confirms once again the President Obama’s policies when left unchecked – are eroding our Constitutional rights. I remain committed to challenging that misguided course at every opportunity, and I’m grateful to courageous individuals and employers willing to stand up and be counted.”

The governor’s acknowledgement of the Green Family is more than appropriate. They are patriots who have stood in the breach not only for the Christian community in America – but for that golden idea which inspired a new and great nation.

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

David Ripley: Wasden Joins Hobby Lobby Fight

June 22nd, 2014 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The U.S. Supreme Court should release its very consequential ruling in the Hobby Lobby lawsuit very soon. We ask that you commit yourself to serious prayer on behalf of the Court and this nation as we sit at the crossroads.

Will the Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom be protected by the highest court in the land? Or will we be compelled to painfully set-aside our religious values and God’s teaching in order to accommodate the political agenda of the latest occupant of the White House? Most people probably don’t understand the huge stakes in this legal fight; in part that is the result of a liberal press committed to protecting Obama and the Left’s sexualized social agenda.

The simple fact is that America’s liberals have virtually declared war on a citizen’s right to “opt-out” of their social agenda. We have even seen Idaho Democrats consistently attack the notion of religious liberty and rights of conscience over the past six years or so – whether that be the right of small businessmen to refuse to participate in the homosexual political agenda , or pharmacists’ right not to dispense abortion-causing drugs.

Liberals have “progressed” well beyond any notion of tolerance. Now they are boldly prepared to use the power of government to squelch dissension and ensure conformity to their social agendas.

One of the important developments in this case – ignored by the media – is that a number of states have taken up the cause of Hobby Lobby. An amicus brief was filed in January by 20 states’ Attorneys General arguing that the Obama Mandate was not simply an attack on religious liberty, but an assault on states’ rights as well.

Since the founding of this nation, corporations have been a matter regulated by the various states. They are the entities which issue articles of corporations, manage tax policy and other areas vital to the nation’s economic vitality. Suddenly the Obama Regime seeks to dictate the terms of their operation and create a federal “common law” which supersedes the powers of the various states.

We are encouraged that Idaho’s Lawerence Wasden was one of those attorneys general going to bat for us before the Supreme Court.

Fervent prayer is in order as this battle is fundamentally spiritual in nature. It will be hard to return to First Principles if the Supreme Court holds that the First Amendment no longer safeguards our right to follow God rather than Caesar.

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

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