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Richard Larsen: Stocks Hit New Highs While Economy Still Floundering

July 21st, 2014 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

The strongest component of the Federal Reserve’s Leading Economic Indicators currently is stock market performance. Such equity strength is more a case of artificial stimulation by the Federal Reserve through Quantitative Easing and the cozy relationship between Washington and Wall Street than it is a sign of a healthy economy or White House policies that have been conducive to growth. After nearly six years of President Obama’s economic policies, there is unmistakable evidence that White House policies have severely hampered economic viability.

The middle class real median household income in 2012 was less than it was at the end of the ’80s, and it’s down 9 percent from its high in 1999. The biggest portion of that decline, 8.3%, came in just the past five years.
The median net worth of a family in 2010 was $77,300, compared to $126,400 just three years earlier. In 46 of our 50 states, the poverty rates have increased over the past six years, and the national poverty rate is over 15% for the fourth year running. The last time that happened was in 1965. More and more families are dropping from the ranks of the middle class into poverty.

One of the greatest factors adversely affecting median household income and net worth is the loss of jobs and extended unemployment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the Participation Rate, which is represented as a ratio or a percentage of the total population, is at the lowest levels in 50 years, with about 62.8% of the population working. According to the BLS U-6 data, 13% of the population is still unemployed or underemployed, and marginally attached to the labor market.

The job situation is directly effected by administration policies, and will not improve appreciably until the cost of doing business starts dropping. Last year the Small Business Administration reported that regulation costs American business $1.75 trillion per year, and costs small businesses as much as $10,585 per employee. Just the costs of Obamacare, Financial Regulatory Reform, and new EPA regulations, are projected to increase that cost per employee as much as 30%, according to Investor’s Business Daily.

In 2012, the President said, “This country doesn’t succeed when we only see the rich getting richer. We succeed when the middle class gets bigger. We grow our economy not from the top down, but from the middle out.” He was correct. But none of his policies have done what he gives such great lip service to.

In spite of the president’s consternation over income inequality, the income gap has increased exponentially under Obamanomics. As MSN Money declares, “The top one percent of Americans — those earning above $366,623 a year — have taken 81 percent of the fruits of the recovery. And the top 0.01 percent — earning about $8 million a year — took an astonishing 39 percent of the growth.”

Let’s look at the economy in general. The National Bureau of Economic Research officially scored the recession as ending in June, 2009, just five months after Obama’s inauguration. Historically, the nation has rebounded with significant growth coming out of a deep recession, but this has been the most tepid recovery in the last 100 years according to Forbes. They point out, “Under President Obama the American people have now suffered the worst 5 years since the Great Depression.”

Steve McCann of the American Thinker earlier this year wrote, “Instead what America got by year five was fewer jobs than before. Even though the employment age population has increased by nearly 12 million since January, 2008, there are now 3 million fewer Americans working, with employment declining from 146.3 million in January, 2008 to 143.3 million in December, 2012. If America enjoyed the same labor force participation rate as in 2008, the unemployment rate in December, 2012 would have been 11.4%, compared to 4.9% in December, 2007.”

The latest revision of 1st quarter GDP growth was adjusted downward to -2.9%. Another quarter of negative growth, or economic contraction, and we’ll be officially in another recession, and it will be primary due to the policies that have restricted job growth, saddled the private sector with an average 91,000 pages of new regulation per year added to the Federal Register, and decimated the middle class.

Every one of these data are adversely affected by policies of the administration over the past six years. There have been precious few initiatives implemented that have facilitated free market principles in an attempt to augment economic expansion, job growth, or reduced fiscal burdens bourn increasingly by the middle class. Instead we’ve had nearly 550,000 pages of new regulation added to the Federal Register, and dozens of Executive Orders that have stymied the engine of capitalism that fuels the country.

worst-presidentsThe new Dow Jones Industrial Average record reached last week is good for investors, but belies the broad-based weakness in the general economy. With two years left of this administration that is so averse to free markets, a substantive and vibrant economic recovery will likely be elusive for the foreseeable future.

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Posted in Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues, Politics in General, Taxes | 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: 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 »

Abby Johnson: Why are Planned Parenthood Abortuaries Closing?

June 19th, 2014 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

With all of these Planned Parenthood facilities closing, pro-lifers are being accused of “shutting down places that provide healthcare to women.” But, are we? Are pro-lifers closing these facilities? Last time I checked, it is Planned Parenthood who is making the decision to close down their centers. Let’s take a look at why that is happening.

Several Planned Parenthood clinics in Oregon and Iowa recently closed, citing that they simply didn’t have the clients needed to keep their clinics open. Why the lack of clients? Probably because of the lack of basic services.

The general population seems to think that Planned Parenthood does a whole lot more than they actually do. Does Planned Parenthood provide actual prenatal care? No. They actually phased out their prenatal care program a few years back, stating that the pregnant patients were “too cumbersome.” Some clinics do continue to tout that they provide this service just so they can continue to include it in their annual report. These centers provide prenatal vitamins and then log that under “prenatal care.” Planned Parenthood actually doesn’t provide any service to pregnant women except for abortion, of course. Maybe if they actually started to provide for their advertised services, they would make enough money to stay open.

Planned Parenthood states they provide care for “breast health.” But that is also a stretch. Planned Parenthood is a level-one breast cancer service center. That means they are not allowed to provide any breast health service past a manual breast exam. You know, the same type of breast exam that you do in the shower every month. It’s the same breast exam that you can receive from any nurse or doctor anywhere in the country. Planned Parenthood does not provide breast ultrasounds, breast biopsies, mammograms or anything other than manual breast exams. Maybe if they started providing women with real breast health care, they could keep their doors open.

Planned Parenthood provides no primary care. You can’t visit a Planned Parenthood if you have strep throat, a sinus infection, or the flu. They can’t treat your high blood pressure, your elevated cholesterol or to help regulate your diabetes. They have no national protocol that allows them to provide any of those primary care services. You can be seen at Planned Parenthood for limited STD screening and treatment, birth control, a limited woman’s exam or an abortion. Other than that, you are pretty much out of luck. Maybe if they started to provide these primary care services, they wouldn’t be so hard pressed to find clients.

In Texas, we have seen many Planned Parenthood facilities close shop. The reasoning here is different. Planned Parenthood is choosing to close rather than bring their current centers up to legal safety standards. In San Antonio, an annual inspection report showed that the Planned Parenthood facility had serious sterilization issues. They weren’t separating clean and dirty instruments. They weren’t testing their autoclave machine to ensure that it was still working. Lots of problems. We see this in many facilities. There was an abortion clinic in Beaumont with the same issues. They have also been cited for untrained staff, dirty equipment, expired medications given to patients…the list goes on and on. So, instead of fixing these problems, Planned Parenthood has chosen to close these facilities. They chose to close their filthy centers. Pro-lifers didn’t force them to close. They chose to close them all on their own.

You see, if Planned Parenthood was really concerned about the health and safety of women, they would be bending over backwards to implement these changes. They would be reinventing themselves as true healthcare centers that can treat primary care issues, provide prenatal care, etc. And, my goodness, they would definitely take the money and time needed to clean up their centers! But instead, Planned Parenthood has exercised their right to choose. By doing this, it is them who have let down the women in their community. They have chosen to abandon these poor women.

So, while Planned Parenthood is making their choices, we pro-lifers will step in and actually help women find the services they so desperately need. Don’t worry, Planned Parenthood, we’ll gladly pick up the slack that you have put down.

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

David Ripley: Casey Kasem’s Fight for Life

June 12th, 2014 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The legendary radio and TV personality made national news several weeks ago as his daughters waged a nation-wide hunt for him, alleging that their step-mother had some sinister plan to harm or even kill him. Media outlets carried their hearty pleas for help in finding their beloved father.

But developments this week sketch an entirely different picture.

Once she obtained legal custody over her father, Kerri Kasem quickly went back to court to obtain a court order allowing her to withhold medical treatment, as well as food and water from her father in a bid to expedite his death.

Standing in the way of her quest was the here-to-fore “evil” step-mother, and Kasem’s wife, Jean. Turns out that it is his wife who has been fighting to sustain his life. And she is worried that the daughters are not interested in what is best for Casey Kasem but in getting their hands on his $2 million life insurance policy.

“Only God knows when to take someone,” Jean Kasem declared.

Tragically, the court in Washington state has granted the daughter’s request to kill her father under the guise of fulfilling Casey Kasem’s last wishes. But the simple facts involved in killing a person by withholding food and water make this claim dubious at best.

Dr. David Stevens, a prominent physician with whom we have been privileged to work on various pro-Life issues, told LifeNews that people simply don’t understand how painful death is when caused by denying human beings food and water.

“Most so-called experts have never seen someone die in this manner,” said Dr. Stevens, who is also president of the Christian Medical Association. Stevens has plenty of experience with this tortuous method from his many years of work in Africa, where the leading cause of death is dehydration produced by gastroenteritis.

“There is extreme thirst, the patient becomes dizy faint and unable to sit or stand,” Stevens said. “People develop severe cramping as the sodium and potassium concentrations in the body goes as fluids go down. The patient tries to cry, but cannot produce tears. They experience severe abdominal cramps, nausea and dry-heaving as the stomach and intestines dry out. Many experience excruciating headaches, hallucinations and seizures.”

“Contrary to those that try to paint a picture of a gentle process, death by dehydration is a cruel, inhumane and often agonizing death,” Stevens said.

How many people really understand what they are signing when giving end-of-life directives? And how can a court deny the right of a spouse to defend her husband against relatives with clear conflicts of interest? And why has the media been so spectacularly silent about this latest struggle over the American icon? Could it be they are afraid of the public’s reaction to Kasem’s forced execution by denying him food and water? It is one thing for the Culture of Death to destroy a “nobody” like Terri Schiavo … but perhaps the golden voice of Rock n Roll may be another matter.

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

David Ripley: ALL Educates Women About the Health Risks of the Pill

June 9th, 2014 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Washington, DC—-American Life League and nearly 60 cosponsoring organizations are coordinating a large-scale, nationwide campaign to inform women about the deadly dangers of the pill and similar hormonal contraceptives.

“The mountain of evidence that these drugs are killers cannot just be swept under the rug,” said Judie Brown, president of ALL. “We need to get out there and warn women of the dangers they face. Planned Parenthood and other pill peddlers are deceiving women and causing their deaths.”

For the next three days, organizers are planning to storm social media on Twitter and Facebook to bring light to the dangers of not just the contraceptive pill, but all other contraceptives targeted at women that damage their reproductive health.

On June 5, #ThePillKills hash tag will be posted on Twitter all day as part of ALL’s #ThePillKills Tweetstorm to bring attention to the devastating effects of the pill. “Because of hormonal contraceptives, women are dying and suffering permanent, debilitating injuries from blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes,” said Rita Diller, director of The Pill Kills campaign.

On Saturday, June 7, all across the country The Pill Kills protests and vigils will take place outside abortion clinics and pharmacies that sell contraceptives. Activists will distribute literature provided by ALL to the public, outlining all of the dangers and risks posed by contraception and contraceptive devices.

Opposition to #ThePillKills has already manifested itself on The Pill Kills Facebook page and Twitter activity, and this past Tuesday night there were attempts at sabotaging ALL’s national organizing conference call by pro-abortion and pro-contraception extremists. “Planned Parenthood does not want our message heard,” said Rey Flores, ALL director of outreach. “We will not be silenced, not when lives are at stake.”

The Pill Kills is on the web at http://thepillkills.org.

Media inquiries, please contact Rita Diller at 540.659.4171 or RDiller@ALL.org

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

Richard Larsen: Conservative Policies vs. the President

June 9th, 2014 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Conservatives have, from the beginning of his candidacy for the presidency seven years ago, been critical of our sitting president. It has nothing to do, contrary to some sophist’s convictions, with the color of his skin. And our criticisms are not ad hominem for they aren’t against him personally, but against his policies and what he’s doing to “fundamentally transform America.” So for political clarity, lets enumerate a few areas where conservative political policies would make such a difference to the country.

First, we would not have more than doubled the national debt from $7.6 trillion, when Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid took over, to over $18 trillion now. As Hillary Clinton said a couple years ago, that’s a national security issue, since it places our entire nation at risk, economically, fiscally, monetarily, and even in terms of our national security.

The deficit would not have quintupled from $263 billion when Pelosi/Reid took over, to $1.6 trillion during Obama’s first year, and remained at $1.3 trillion for the past two years. In other words, we would not be borrowing $.41 for every $1.00 that we spend!

Contrary to what Pelosi did after she became Speaker, and including the first term of the Obama administration, we would have actually had a budget passed by the congress. Until the concurrent resolution was passed just last year, we had not had a budget passed by congress since 2006. They’ve been simply running up the national credit cards at unprecedented levels with absolutely no budgetary restraint.

After creating an all star panel to assess the budgetary and fiscal crises exacerbated by unabated spending, the president’s Simpson-Bowles Commission recommendations to put the nation on a sound fiscal footing would not have been ignored, but implemented as judiciously and expeditiously as possible.

There is still no sign of leadership in resolving the unfunded liabilities, and exacerbated budgetary problems, of Social Security and Medicare. It’s as if the critical mass of those concerns will not be reached during his term in office, so it doesn’t matter, so all that’s occurred is a perpetual “kicking the can” down the road for some future leader who has some backbone and leadership abilities to address them.

A 2,700 page legislative monstrosity that took over 1/5th of the national economy to put government in charge of health care would never have occurred. And we certainly wouldn’t have stolen $716 billion (now $741 billion according to the CBO) from Medicare to pay for it. Instead of piling on requirements for “qualified” health insurance policies, the over 2,200 covered requirements would have been removed so people could buy exactly the coverage they want, rather than what the government compels them to buy. And policies could be bought across state lines for increased price competition.

Realizing that one of the greatest deterrents to small businesses creating new jobs is the high cost of regulation, the current $11,500 regulatory cost to small businesses per employee (per the SBA) should be reduced by getting government out of the business of micromanaging every aspect of the business environment. And certainly the regulatory burden of small business would not be exacerbated by another 30% with the additional regulatory expenses of Obamacare, FinReg, and expanded EPA regulations.

Realizing that our economic model is so severely tainted by crony capitalism, the unhealthy marriage between business and government regulation and policy, it’s time to start unwinding that interconnectedness. The federal tax code for corporations needs to be rewritten, by excluding all loopholes that are favorable to select companies and industries, and create instead a fair flat tax for corporations.

Over the past six years, the Federal Reserve, in the name of “economic stimulus,” has taken over $4 trillion out of banks hands to purchase debt instruments, through the three iterations of Quantitative Easing. There has been negligible benefit other than giving the stock market an artificial high. It’s time to rein in the Federal Reserve, get the FOMC out of the “stimulus” business, and return them to their primary functions of controlling inflation and maximizing employment.

Congress and the American people have a right to demand that the chief executive of the country be held to constitutional and legal restraints of his power. He should not act as if he is above the law by selectively picking and choosing which laws would be enforced, and declare existing laws void because the chief executive disagrees with them. And the use of the Executive Order should be used legally, based in existing federal statute, and not creating new laws and regulations with the stroke of his pen.

That’s just a beginning. I could go on and on. Those differences would contribute to a more secure fiscal and economic future for the country; a stronger dollar; greater participation in the job market and lower unemployment; a more robust economy and expanding job market; lower cost health care insurance; less crony-capitalistic corruption from the relationship between government and corporate America; less meddling in the private sector; more individual freedom; and less totalitarianism in the Oval Office.

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

David Ripley: US Birthrate Hits New Low

June 2nd, 2014 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

America had a birth rate of 63 per 1,000 women of child-bearing age in 2013, a new record low. This continues a trend building since the Clinton Administration, in which the U.S. is following the lead of other western nations in failing to produce enough children to replace aging citizens.

The fertility rate now stands at 1.87 children for each American woman over her lifetime, well below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per female.

Certainly the explanation for America’s collective decision to demographically destroy itself isn’t for lack of the necessary sexual activity. The nation has never been more obsessed with that particular recreational activity. The enormous rate of abortion offers a ready explanation for the dwindling number of new Americans. One sixth of the population has been killed by abortion since 1973. One-in-four African Americans are killed in the womb. As Law Professor Michael Paulsen of St. Thomas notes in a recent article, abortion is the leading cause of unnatural death in America.

The economic and political implications of this demographic implosion are difficult to gauge in their totality; however, we can assume a weakened economic productivity going forward. An aging population will mean fewer resources available to care for the aged and a fierce battle over the allocation of capital for production over consumption.

One wonders where to look for the political and social leadership necessary to help our society confront the practical dangers of our present moral confusion surrounding the value of human life.

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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 »

Richard Larsen: Now It’s “Climate DISRUPTION”

June 2nd, 2014 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

The Obama administration this week released a grim report attempting to link disparate weather patterns to anthropogenic global warming (AGW). “Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” the report says. Unable to make the definitive scientific connection to AGW, the report concludes, “there is new and stronger evidence that many of these increases [extreme weather] are related to human activities.”

Predictably, with a noncompliant congress, the president vows to use his pen to expand the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) power to wage a war on everything in our country that expels carbon dioxide. I wonder how the EPA will regulate our respiration, since we humans exhale it.

The president coined a new phrase as well. Gone are the references to “global warming,” since, according to NASA GIS data, we haven’t warmed since 1998. And gone is “climate change,” since we haven’t cooled appreciably since then either. The new catchphrase is “climate disruption,” because that way any extreme or aberrant weather can be blamed on human activity.

Surrounded by weathermen and meteorologists, the president said, “We’ve been sounding this urgency for the last five years. If we don’t do more, we’re gonna have bigger problems, more risk of economic impact and more risk of extreme weather events that can result in people losing their lives or losing their properties or businesses. And — and we’ve gotta have the public understand this is an issue that is gonna impact our kids and our grandkids unless we do something about it.”
I wish we had known how omnipotent the EPA was. Since the president is convinced they can control the environment and the climate, all future catastrophic hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, and droughts, will be the fault of the EPA! And just think of all of the weather-related damage that has occurred since the 1970 creation of the EPA, all of which could have been prevented if only they had been given more power!

Meteorologist Anthony Watts said of the president’s new report, “To me, this looks more like a glossy sales pitch from a company that is pushing a product they know people may not need, but if marketed just right, it would be something they’d buy.” He concludes with the tongue-in-cheek question, “Who wouldn’t want better weather? Just buy our product.”

Dr. Roger Pielke, a Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, was more academic in his response. “The report effectively implies that there is no climate change other than what is caused by humans, and that extreme weather events are equivalent to climate change…This issue was clearly refuted in National Research Council, 2005: Radiative forcing of climate change.”

The NIPCC, the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, which is a group of over 50 atmospheric scientists, that does not receive any government or corporate funding, and acts as an independent auditor of its U.N. counterpart, had a report of their own that they rolled out a few months ago. They stated many empirically valid conclusions, including, “Global temperatures stopped rising 15 years ago despite rising levels of carbon dioxide, which the IPCC claims is responsible for Global Warming.”

2014-03-17-d826b2de_largeThey also pointed out that, “Temperatures were warmer in many parts of the world approximately 1,000 years ago, during the so-called Medieval Warm Period, a warm period that was, obviously, due entirely to natural causes. (Modern industry, transportation, and energy generation, and the ‘greenhouse gas’ emissions associated with modern technology, did not exist.)”

They stated the obvious, that the AGW scientists are wrong, since their “computer models fail to reproduce the observed reduction in surface warming trend over the last 10-15 years. In other words, previous predictions failed. (The failure or success of predictions is the key to the scientific method. It’s how theories are tested.)”

Even the co-founder of Green Peace, Canadian ecologist Patrick Moore, admits that it’s pseudoscience to claim a causal connection between human activity and climatic or weather change. “There is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past 100 years. If there were such a proof it would be written down for all to see. No actual proof, as it is understood in science, exists,” he said before a Senate committee just three months ago.

He continued, “There is some correlation, but little evidence, to support a direct causal relationship between CO2 and global temperature through the millennia. The fact that we had both higher temperatures and an ice age at a time when CO2 emissions were 10 times higher than they are today fundamentally contradicts the certainty that human-caused CO2 emissions are the main cause of global warming.” There is nothing “settled” about the “science” behind the AGW argument. Their models don’t project reality, so they change them, only to have nature fail to comply yet again. Their terminology changes to adjust to the new realities since empirical data fail to match their catchwords. Meanwhile, our AGW Alarmist-In-Chief cites their ever-changing “science” as justification to expand government control over all human activity. Seems to me, everyone with a modicum of cognitive functionality should be an AGW skeptic by now.”

The Obama administration this week released a grim report attempting to link disparate weather patterns to anthropogenic global warming (AGW). “Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” the report says. Unable to make the definitive scientific connection to AGW, the report concludes, “there is new and stronger evidence that many of these increases [extreme weather] are related to human activities.”

Predictably, with a noncompliant congress, the president vows to use his pen to expand the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) power to wage a war on everything in our country that expels carbon dioxide. I wonder how the EPA will regulate our respiration, since we humans exhale it.

The president coined a new phrase as well. Gone are the references to “global warming,” since, according to NASA GIS data, we haven’t warmed since 1998. And gone is “climate change,” since we haven’t cooled appreciably since then either. The new catchphrase is “climate disruption,” because that way any extreme or aberrant weather can be blamed on human activity.

Surrounded by weathermen and meteorologists, the president said, “We’ve been sounding this urgency for the last five years. If we don’t do more, we’re gonna have bigger problems, more risk of economic impact and more risk of extreme weather events that can result in people losing their lives or losing their properties or businesses. And — and we’ve gotta have the public understand this is an issue that is gonna impact our kids and our grandkids unless we do something about it.”

I wish we had known how omnipotent the EPA was. Since the president is convinced they can control the environment and the climate, all future catastrophic hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, and droughts, will be the fault of the EPA! And just think of all of the weather-related damage that has occurred since the 1970 creation of the EPA, all of which could have been prevented if only they had been given more power!
Meteorologist Anthony Watts said of the president’s new report, “To me, this looks more like a glossy sales pitch from a company that is pushing a product they know people may not need, but if marketed just right, it would be something they’d buy.” He concludes with the tongue-in-cheek question, “Who wouldn’t want better weather? Just buy our product.”

Dr. Roger Pielke, a Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, was more academic in his response. “The report effectively implies that there is no climate change other than what is caused by humans, and that extreme weather events are equivalent to climate change…This issue was clearly refuted in National Research Council, 2005: Radiative forcing of climate change.”

The NIPCC, the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, which is a group of over 50 atmospheric scientists, that does not receive any government or corporate funding, and acts as an independent auditor of its U.N. counterpart, had a report of their own that they rolled out a few months ago. They stated many empirically valid conclusions, including, “Global temperatures stopped rising 15 years ago despite rising levels of carbon dioxide, which the IPCC claims is responsible for Global Warming.”

They also pointed out that, “Temperatures were warmer in many parts of the world approximately 1,000 years ago, during the so-called Medieval Warm Period, a warm period that was, obviously, due entirely to natural causes. (Modern industry, transportation, and energy generation, and the ‘greenhouse gas’ emissions associated with modern technology, did not exist.)”

They stated the obvious, that the AGW scientists are wrong, since their “computer models fail to reproduce the observed reduction in surface warming trend over the last 10-15 years. In other words, previous predictions failed. (The failure or success of predictions is the key to the scientific method. It’s how theories are tested.)”

Even the co-founder of Green Peace, Canadian ecologist Patrick Moore, admits that it’s pseudoscience to claim a causal connection between human activity and climatic or weather change. “There is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past 100 years. If there were such a proof it would be written down for all to see. No actual proof, as it is understood in science, exists,” he said before a Senate committee just three months ago.

He continued, “There is some correlation, but little evidence, to support a direct causal relationship between CO2 and global temperature through the millennia. The fact that we had both higher temperatures and an ice age at a time when CO2 emissions were 10 times higher than they are today fundamentally contradicts the certainty that human-caused CO2 emissions are the main cause of global warming.” There is nothing “settled” about the “science” behind the AGW argument. Their models don’t project reality, so they change them, only to have nature fail to comply yet again. Their terminology changes to adjust to the new realities since empirical data fail to match their catchwords. Meanwhile, our AGW Alarmist-In-Chief cites their ever-changing “science” as justification to expand government control over all human activity. Seems to me, everyone with a modicum of cognitive functionality should be an AGW skeptic by now.

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

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