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David Ripley: America Faces a Crucial Decision Point

July 18th, 2015 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

A firestorm has been lit by the release of a video showing Planned Parenthood actively involved in the gruesome business of harvesting, packaging, marketing and selling body parts and human tissue harvested from the thousands of babies it destroys each day.

Many talking heads are rightly outraged. Plenty of fresh material for bloggers, presidential candidates and talk show hosts. And, certainly, in the Age of Obama, the last thing Americans need is more cause for outrage: the bucket is overflowing.

But this issue is different. This outrage carries with it tremendous spiritual and societal consequence.

What happens now?

We are guaranteed to have a week or so of media attention and discussion regarding the true scope of evil surrounding Planned Parenthood and legalized abortion in America. We believe God has created a window, has pulled back the curtain on the institutionalized evil in our midst. But after the shock passes, what will America do about this heinous practice?

Will we simply turn the page? Go back to our comfortable space and pretend this is not happening?

Will we allow ourselves to be too disgusted to turn our outrage into persistent, undeniable demands for action by our government and elected officials? Will Planned Parenthood be brought to account? Will Congress enact legislation to clearly prohibit the disgusting practice of trafficking in human remains for profit? Will they move to strip these gangsters of all public tax subsidy?

In short: Now that this huge morsel of evil is in our mouths … will we spit it out as the moral poison it is? Or will we allow ourselves to swallow another chunk of evil, going back to the ball game, movie or even a discussion of any other political issue beside abortion and its broad bevy of consequence?

If we collectively digest this evil, America will fall another ten or twenty fathoms into the moral abyss. One would be left to wonder what obscenity or practice Planned Parenthood could commit that would finally be “too much” for our collective conscience to bear.

Of course, the sale and marketing of fetal tissue pales in comparison to the industrialized slaughter of the babies themselves. But it is a concrete place from which to reinvigorate our battle against evil.

So what is to be done?

First, we ask you to speak, personally, with your pastor or priest. We need the moral leadership of our clergy to confront this evil and to rally the Body of Christ to concrete action.

Second, we need to call upon on our Congressional delegation to ensure that there are broad investigations into this practice on a national scale – by both the House and Senate.

Third, we call upon Governor Otter and Attorney General Wasden to launch independent, state-based investigations into the practices of Planned Parenthood here in Idaho. This is likely a criminal conspiracy, and it must be taken seriously at the local, as well as the national, level. Not only is the trafficking in human tissue-for-profit illegal – the evidence produced thus far strongly suggests that Planned Parenthood may be violating the national and state bans on Partial Birth Abortions. The state must also make demand on Planned Parenthood to establish whether the mothers involved in aborting their children have given informed consent regarding the harvesting and sale of their baby’s remains to various research firms and universities.

Will YOU take a moment to pick up the phone and demand action from your elected officials and pastors?

May God save us from spiritual lethargy at this critical hour.

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

Richard Larsen: Religious Freedom, Whither Goest Thou?

July 18th, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

The ramifications of the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage two weeks ago extend far beyond the institution of marriage itself. With the ruling, people of faith are perhaps intentionally set in the crosshairs of an intolerant, fascistic secular movement on the left that proscribes adherence to religion-based tenets which are thought to be antithetical to their secular, politically correct, orthodoxy.

Government treatment of religious institutions will inevitably change as a result of the ruling. During oral arguments before the court in April, Solicitor General Donald Verrelli, arguing the administration’s case for same-sex marriage, responded to an inquiry from Justice Samuel Alito, verifying the religious institution conundrum. Verrilli responded, “I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is going to be an issue.”

That issue is rearing its ugly head with increasing frequency. A Christian cake-baker in Oregon, citing their faith as justification, declined baking a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. As a result, the state Bureau of Labor slapped the proprietors, Aaron and Melissa Klein, with a $135,000 penalty for declining the request. The nuptials claimed they had been “mentally raped” by the Klein’s refusal to bake their cake. The state has also issued a gag order, disallowing the cake shop proprietors from talking about the case. It was not enough for the state of Oregon to deny free exercise of the Klein’s religion, but with the gag order, stripped them of their freedom of speech as well.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s happening all over the country. Some church ministers are now reluctant even to express explicit support for traditional marriage or denounce homosexuality from the pulpit, for fear of recrimination from the Rainbow Mafia and excoriation from the mainstream media. As fundamental as the traditional definition of marriage is to society, and to biblical dogma, this is tantamount to restricting discourses on the Decalogue from the rostrum.

It seems there’s a segment of the population that is so intent on making sure the whole world is tolerant toward their favored group, that they’re willing to be intolerant themselves toward those of disparate convictions. In other words, they themselves are bigoted toward those to whom they allege bigotry. And fearful that the Christian world may “force their will” upon them, the Rainbow fascists have no compunction about forcing their ideology on the rest of society. Like William F. Buckley said years ago, “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.”

If tolerance is a virtue, it is one that should be demanded of both sides of an issue, not just the politically incorrect one. And if bigotry, (intolerance of those who hold different opinions), is to be abhorred by society, it must be equally abhorred by the politically correct crowd.

And even though the state of Oregon denies it, there is this pesky “guaranteed” right of free exercise of religion. Unlike the assumed “right” to marry whoever or whatever one desires to, free exercise of religion is actually written into the Constitution with the First Amendment. But it’s no wonder so many people, even government officials in Oregon, are so ignorant of the Bill of Rights. A recent poll indicates that only 19% of the American populace knows that the Constitution guarantees free exercise of religion.

So now with the strident, politically correct movement afoot across the fruited plain, and the fascistic, bullying enforcement of the Rainbow totalitarians, assumed (not even implicit) rights trump guaranteed (explicit) rights embedded in our nation’s founding documents! And yet to think these elected officials place their left hands on the Bible, raising the right arm to the square, and solemnly swear to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” The hypocrisy and duplicity is so conspicuous that only in the face of such a constitutionally illiterate population could they assume to have any credibility whatsoever.

The Liberty Institute published a report last year, before all of these latest assaults on religious liberty, titled “Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion,” which documented over 1,200 recent cases of hostility toward people and institutions of faith. These battles are not being waged by the right, but by the left, that faction of the political spectrum that avers such tolerance and “open-mindedness.” That segment that is so fearful of the guaranteed right of freedom to exercise one’s religion, that they force their own secular religion of political correctness upon those whom they denounce excoriatingly.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority in the Court’s ruling stated, “Those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.” Chief Justice John Roberts, in the minority statement, acknowledged the imminent dilution of religious rights resulting from the Court’s ruling. He wrote, “The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to ‘advocate’ and ‘teach’ their views of marriage. The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to ‘exercise‘ religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.”

In an age where presumed rights trump assured constitutional rights, we can only assume the bullying from the left will accelerate as their own bigotry continues to eviscerate religious freedom. Perhaps Christian churches should adopt some of the tenets of Islam, like the death penalty for sodomy, for the secular left displays much greater tolerance toward Islam than Christianity.

When presumed “rights” take supremacy over explicit, constitutionally assured rights, we are no longer a nation governed by the rule of law. We have morphed to a fascistic, bullying system ruled by the capricious expectations of the prevailing politically correct crowd, bolstered by judicial fiat, and enforced by a seemingly omnipotent government. The secular left has won another round, but the assault against our constitutionally assured liberties is far from over!

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

Richard Larsen: The Nation has Officially Lost Its Collective Mind

July 18th, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

With the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage last week, the fundamental building block of society is no longer affirmed by the rule of law. Rather, by judicial fiat, the legal doors have been thrown open for legitimization of literally any possible kind of relationship as viable and recognizable by the state.

Dr. Patrick Fagan, a sociologist and psychologist has said, “The family is the fundamental building block of society and predates the state and even the societies it builds… At the heart of the family is the mother and father who bring their children into existence.” This is a self-evident truth, regardless of who said it, and anthropologists, biologists, sociologists, politicians, and religious leaders have reiterated that very sentiment. The family is the building block of society and civilization, and the cornerstone to that foundation, or the genesis of it, is a mother and a father.

As evidence that the nation has collectively lost its mind, the highest court in the land has affirmed that “Adam and Steve” are as viable in creating the social building blocks of society as Adam and Eve were. But such convolution is unavoidable in a society where words no longer have literal meaning, but only interpretive based on contemporary perceptions of “rights” and state sanctioned privileges.

As logically bizarre as it is, the tenets of the 14th Amendment were used as justification. The Amendment was adopted following the Civil War to ensure that all citizens, regardless of color, were assured “equal protection of the laws.” The tenet was crucial to resolving issues related to race, and logically tenable. After all, no one has the ability to choose their race, their skin color, or other congenital features determined genetically. Nor can they arbitrarily choose their sex, which is why it’s also logically tenable for application of the Amendment in cases related to sexual discrimination.

But now, for the first time, “equal protection of the laws” is applied based on behavior and choice. For even if there are predilections, or a predisposition, to behave in a certain way, it is still ultimately a matter of choice whether each person acts on those inclinations. And with this caveat, application of the equal protection clause can now legally, albeit illogically, applied to anything that is behaviorally based, or has an element of choice to it. Since the “right” to “marry” no longer has any legitimacy as an anthropological, biological, or social convention, as etymologically it has held for eons, everything and anything is game.

All “marriage” restrictions can now be revisited, reinterpreted, and re-adjudicated from the bench. Marriage will continue to be redefined since it is no longer based on natural law. There is no viable logical limitation that can be applied to prevent further morphing of the term. It will of necessity evolve to include everyone who loves anyone, or anything. The man who wanted to marry his horse a few years ago, can no longer be logically proscribed, and the trio from Montana who said this week they want to be married, are all viable. And all other barriers and restrictions will necessarily fall as well since the logic and the fundamental raison d’être behind marriage is now discarded in the dustbin of history.

The political leap from equal treatment of individuals under the law, to equal treatment of behavior and relationships under the law, is one of quantum proportions that defies logic.

And since equal protection now can be applied to behavior and choice, what’s to prevent the next fad group averring their presumed “constitutional rights,” from requiring egalitarian application of the rule to income, aptitude tests, performance reviews, school exams, or any other “right” that some hair brained group claims they’re entitled to “equality under the law?” Pandora’s legal box of horrors has now been thrown open!

No wonder the most logical and constitutionally sound justice on the court, Justice Antonin Scalia, ripped the majority opinion as mercilessly as he did. He called it a “judicial Putsch” that poses a “threat to American democracy.” He added that a “system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.” He said the Court’s “naked judicial claim to legislative—indeed, super-legislative—power bulldozed the right of the People to self-government.”

In a freaky, unconventional way, America has advanced in its claim to being the “land of the free.” We are now free from logic, common sense, and the literal rule of law. Welcome to the new Wild West where laws can mean what they don’t literally say; the rights of the people as asserted by initiative and referendum, are voided by five politicians in robes, posing as “judges” of the Constitution; and natural law, laws of biology and sociology, as well as language etymology, are all trash-canned to allow 1.5-2.5% of the population to have their lifestyle validated and affirmed.

In light of current judicial trends, no wonder Jefferson referred to the judicial branch as “the despotic branch.” Abraham Lincoln aptly described our current state, “If the policy of the Government upon vital questions…is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers.” Interestingly, he may have also provided the solution. “The people — the people — are the rightful masters of both congresses, and courts — not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert it.”

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

David Ripley: The Judicial War on Women

July 7th, 2015 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Sometimes it genuinely seems as if a substantial number of judges really don’t care much for women.

Take the recent ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court.

It just issued a ruling declaring that the Iowa Board of Medicine had acted “unconstitutionally” when it stopped the experimental practice of dispensing RU-486 via remote computer control. The women and girls going to see Planned Parenthood didn’t even receive the consideration of a personal examination by a licensed physician.

After receiving complaints, the Iowa Board of Medicine held hearings about Planned Parenthood’s decision to expand its abortion practice by using a new, substandard level of medical of care. Expenses were reduced, profits enhanced. After days of hearings from medical experts and physicians practicing in the state, the Iowa Board of Medicine outlawed the practice of “tele-med” abortions. It found that the practice was unsafe, as it became impossible for doctors to establish a genuine relationship with patients.

Planned Parenthood sued in state court. A district court found that the Iowa Board of Medicine had acted responsibly to fulfill its statutory mandate to license physicians and establish standards of care. The lower court found that the Iowa Board of Medicine had based its decision on sound medical and scientific evidence to protect the health and safety of women and girls considering a chemical abortion.

But the Iowa Supreme Court took a completely different view. In striking down the Iowa Board’s findings, it also went on to herald a “right to abortion” under the Iowa State Constitution – something which has been hidden from the people of that state since 1846.

What is even more disturbing about the Iowa Supreme Court ruling is its failure to sanction Planned Parenthood for conducting massive medical experiments upon the women and girls of Iowa – most likely without their consent. The national office of Planned Parenthood viewed Iowa as a vast laboratory they could use to lower the standards of medical care for women across the nation. After denying for years that they were conducting “tele-med” abortions, Planned Parenthood revealed in court documents that it had performed 7000 chemical abortions in Iowa over the past several years. And it is highly unlikely that in conducting such experiments, it ever revealed to the women and girls they treated that the care they were being given was experimental and failed to meet the minimum standards established by the FDA when it approved the killer drugs at the end of the Clinton Administration.

No, these women and girls were just data points.

The drive to make abortion easy, cheap and frequent has cost this nation dearly. Tens of millions of babies have paid with their lives. Millions of women have paid with their souls; thousands more have been injured or even died as a result of easy abortions. Now we see more evidence of the corruption of our legal and medical institutions at the hands of Planned Parenthood.

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

David Ripley: Reflections on the Homosexual Marriage Ruling

July 7th, 2015 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Many Christians across America are grieving this weekend over the Supreme Court edict on homosexual marriage. Many must be wondering: Where did my country go? And where is it going?

Just a few years ago, homosexual behavior was illegal in every state of the Union. Today, with the meandering paragraphs of a few judges, it has become a right. How did it come to this?

Students of modern American history will see the obvious correlation between Roe v. Wade and the imposition of homosexual marriage upon a resistant nation. The process for imposing “social change” came upon us in nearly identical fashion – through the blatant abuse of power by the federal judiciary and the possessed agitation of a motivated, moneyed, small band of conspirators.

So now we shall enshrine another sin in America’s Constitution, calling it “freedom”. The two radical, lawless rulings share that commonality as well.

But they also share something deeper: They are edicts of death. The sanctification of homosexuality will harm real people, enticing some to wander into a lifestyle with notorious health and spiritual hazards. And for those homosexual couples who seek legalized marriage as a way to legitimize their unhealthy relationships, we predict they will find the institution of marriage to be very problematic.

A few years into this social experiment, it is rather easy to foresee dramatic rates of divorce among homosexual couples. The legal and financial entanglements of the institution will become more of a burden than it’s worth to many in the homosexual community, renowned for a casual and promiscuous sexual ethic.

We don’t, however, think that huge problem will diminish the luster of the victory for activists in the homosexual community. The drive to establish homosexual marriage is not about marriage, per se: it is an assault on Christianity. And make no mistake – the dragon is now on the sanctuary steps.

How will the Christian churches respond to the threat by government that they jettison parts of the Gospel to preserve their tax benefits? How will pastors and clergy react to charges that they are but purveyors of “hate speech”? We have already seen many denominations and so-called clergy make their accommodations with evil. It is likely more will do so.

But we predict many churches and pastors will be led by the Holy Spirit to a deeper appreciation of their duties under Christ. We believe that the Lord is hard at work, even in this apparently dark hour for America, to intensify the light by which we might find our way out of this swamp. Churches will not find it so easy to evade the issue of homosexual marriage as they have the abortion holocaust. The dragon is coming to find them in the quiet of their communities. They shall have to choose whom they shall serve.

Those who choose to proclaim the Gospel will be used by God to lead America into revival and redemption.

Christians are right to grieve over their nation, over the plight of those men and women who will be enticed into a destructive lifestyle by the Supreme Court and other social elites. But this is no time for despair. Christ specializes in taking what Satan has intended for our harm and turning it into a means for redemption.

The healing touch of the Savior is what this nation desperately needs.

Perhaps this is the hour that His Church will once again rise up to confront sin; to offer genuine love and hope for a sickened society.

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

David Ripley: RIP Dr. Welby

June 6th, 2015 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The California Medical Association has announced that it is on board with a great re-write of medical ethics. As of last month, it no longer opposes physician-assisted suicide. Doctors in that state will no longer be bound by the Hippocratic Oath, which has already been partly repealed by the broad tolerance of abortionists within the medical profession. But now the ethical cancer has reached around to include the old, the infirm and those in despair.

The move is part of broader effort in California to legalize assisted-suicide. The CMA has withdrawn its opposition to legislation pending in the state Assembly.

The present effort by the Death Caucus in California is their sixth attempt to seduce people into killing themselves. In 1992, the people of California voted down a measure to legalize assisted suicide. Four previous bills have been defeated in the California Legislature between 1995 and 2008.

Apparently the California Democrat Party has been largely taken-over by death advocates, as two committee votes have moved the bill forward on straight party line votes.

In a small concession to those doctors still holding to the traditional Western ethical system, the California Medical Association insisted that doctors opposed to suicide be protected from any requirement that they refer or otherwise assist a patient seeking to end their lives.

Doctors speaking for the Association rationalized the policy change by pointing to changing cultural attitudes toward suicide.

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

Richard Larsen: FIFA Indicted But Not the Clintons?

June 6th, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

It was not much of a surprise to some to see the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) bring corruption charges against the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) this week. After all, the granting of World Cup hosting rights to Russia (2018) and Qatar (2022), appeared highly suspect, along with several other apparent “pay to play” coincidences. Considering the nature of the charges against FIFA, it seems only logical to wonder if, or when, such charges will be levied against Bill and Hillary Clinton, and the Clinton Foundation.

The DOJ indictment alleges that FIFA officials “abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks,” according to Attorney General Loretta Lynch. The graft is alleged to have influenced World Cup host nation selection, marketing rights for sports marketing companies, and broadcast rights for television coverage of FIFA events.

Prima facie, it doesn’t appear that FIFA did anything more legally dubious than did the Clinton Foundation. According to Hillary Clinton last year, the First Family of the 1990’s left the White House “dead broke,” in 2001. They made up for their White House poverty years from 2001-2006, when, according to Mrs. Clinton’s Senate disclosures, the couple made $87.3 million, from book deals to speaking fees. As long as none of those paydays bought influence, that’s just fine, unless of course one’s ideology requires disdain and class-envy of those who are financially successful, for the Clintons are clearly “one per centers.”

The Clinton’s financial waters become much more murky when their Foundation is brought into the picture. The Clinton Foundation is classified under IRS Code 501(c)(3) as a “non-profit” foundation, comprising several separate “initiatives,” or areas of focus, including health, economic opportunity, and climate issues. In just over 13 years, the Foundation has raised nearly $2 billion from U.S. corporations, especially Wall Street firms, political donors, and foreign governments.

The nebulous financial arrangement and political nature of the Foundation was of sufficient concern to the Obama administration that Mrs. Clinton was required to sign a disclosure agreement with the White House before her nomination as Secretary of State in 2009. According to the Washington Post, Obama required her “to disclose all contributions to the Clinton Foundation, and that there be a process to vet donations that were coming in. They violated that agreement almost immediately. They took multi-million dollar donations from foreign businesses that had interests before the State Department. Those were never disclosed.”

According to Bloomberg earlier this month, there was a lot of non-disclosure going on at the Foundation. “There are in fact 1,100 undisclosed donors to the Clinton Foundation, [Clinton Foundation board member Frank] Giustra says, most of them non-U.S. residents. ‘All of the money flowed through to the Clinton Foundation—every penny—and went to the [charitable] initiatives we identified,’ he says.”

But even that raises significant issues, since according to the Foundation’s own tax filings, only 10% of their donations ultimately make it to “charitable grants” for their professed causes. That’s a whole lot of donations that go for expenses (34%), salaries and benefits (33%), travel (10%), office supplies (6%), and rent (5%). And don’t forget the 2% that goes to IT (information technology), for that’s where all of Hillary’s emails were stored, in two separate email accounts, until they were erased.

That’s likely where much of the hard evidence alleged in Peter Schweitzer’s book, “Clinton Cash,” would have been found. Absent the hard evidence, most of the public evidence is circumstantial. Charges that official State Department policy toward countries like Libya, Saudi Arabia, and India, were altered or softened after contributions by those countries to the Foundation certainly raise serious questions of paying for influence, not unlike those leveled against FIFA officials this week.

The most serious, however, is well documented. As explained by the New York Times, a Canadian businessman was purchasing up to 1/5 of the U.S. uranium assets, while making millions of dollars in contributions to the Clinton Foundation. The Canadian firm, Uranium One, was then sold to Russia’s atomic energy agency, Rosatom, which was celebrated in Russia’s Pravda with the headline, “Russian Nuclear Energy Conquers the World.” An acquisition of this size and nature had to be approved by the U.S. State Department, which was easily done with Mrs. Clinton at the helm.

To make this even more salacious, a Kremlin-linked bank that was promoting the stock of Uranium One, paid Bill Clinton $500,000 for a speaking engagement. But the contribution went not to the former president, but to the Clinton Foundation, as many of the speaking fees are funneled for non-taxable reporting purposes.

The Clinton Foundation meets all of the criteria for a money-laundering entity: placement, layering, and integration, while enjoying the benefit of tax-exemption. They collect millions in donations (placement). Then through layering (or structuring) distance is created between the donation and the source, to obscure the audit trail. And finally the integration stage, which in the Foundation’s case, is the returning of favors and influence to donors.

Operationally, the Clinton Foundation functions as a shell corporation for the Clintons, and the pass-through conduit for buying influence and tax avoidance. Thanks to the IT staff at the Foundation, and Hillary’s obfuscation, we may never fully grasp the breadth and reach of the corruption. No wonder only 38% of us believe Hillary is honest.

If FIFA bribery and corruption is worth investigating, certainly the similar practices of the Clinton Foundation are as well. After all, the implications are much greater.

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

Richard Larsen: Baltimore’s Failures Spawned by Liberal Policies

May 23rd, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Culpability for the events in Baltimore over the past couple of weeks has perhaps inappropriately been directed exclusively at the police department. In all likelihood, the charges against the police involved in the tragic death of Freddie Gray are only symptomatic of the greater underlying problems of the once booming city. The greater tragedy is the destructive policies of over fifty years of liberal governance, which created the environment of disparity, poverty, and victimhood.

The city has been hemorrhaging jobs at an alarming rate for decades. And the most hard-hit have been the city’s black youth. Over 37% of 20-25 year-old black males are unemployed, versus 10% for white males of the same age. Black household median income is nearly half what it is for white households, at $33,610 and $60,550, respectively.

City policies have shrunk the population of the city by heavily penalizing the productive and earning households. Steve Hanke and Stephen Walters of Johns Hopkins University wrote in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week, “Officials raised property taxes 21 times between 1950 and 1985, channeling the proceeds to favored voting blocs and causing many homeowners and entrepreneurs — disproportionately Republicans — to flee. It was brilliant politics, as Democrats now enjoy an eight-to-one voter registration advantage.”

The result is a declining population, declining business enterprise, declining jobs, and severe blighting of the infrastructure. The city now has an estimated 16,000 vacant buildings and over 14,000 vacant lots. In the area of Sandtown-Winchester and Harlem Park, where Freddie Gray lived, more than 25% of the buildings are now vacant.

More than 40,000 residents have fled from the high tax, low job-opportunity confines of Baltimore, to the more favorable economic climate of Virginia. According to the Washington Times, they took a whopping $2.17 billion with them. No wonder Gallup found last year that 47% of the residents of the state said they would leave if they could. Interestingly, the only two states that registered higher in their 2014 poll were the states of Illinois and Connecticut, two more bastions of liberal tax and anti-enterprise policy.

Hanke and Walters explain that in order to counterbalance the high taxes that have driven so many jobs out of town, the city has been attempting to lure “developers with subsidies, and the developers, in turn, contribute to politicians to stay in their good graces. This makes for fertile ground for the city’s corruption.” The city’s ruling elite for decades has been pumping literally billions of dollars into development projects that were to mysteriously “trickle down” to the impoverished sections of town.

One example is the highly anticipated Inner Harbor project. As Todd Krainin wrote in Reason magazine, “Instead of revitalizing the city’s fortunes, the rise of the waterfront has paralleled the decline of basic functions. Violent crime remains high, public schools underperform, and the cityscape is blighted by the presence of tens of thousands of vacant buildings.”

Yet the visionary liberals ruling the city are pinning their hopes on yet another big-ticket project. They’ve committed $400 million in public subsidies to Harbor Point, the latest boondoggle of the city fathers.

Meanwhile, city residents have been losing their homes at an alarming rate. Especially hard hit are those most involved in the looting and rioting after Freddie’s death. Baltimore County Public Schools reveals that they’ve seen a 28% increase in homeless student enrollment over the past three years. According to Labor Department Data, 61% of Baltimore’s children live in poverty.

President Obama was surprisingly accurate in his assessment of the underlying issues which fostered the failures in Baltimore. He suggested that “the police alone can’t solve the problems of communities where there are no fathers who can provide guidance to young men; communities where there’s no investment, and manufacturing has been stripped away; and drugs have flooded the community.”

But then his liberalism kicked in. “I’m under no illusion that out of this Congress we’re going to get massive investments in urban communities,” he said. “And so we’ll try to find areas where we can make a difference around school reform and around job training, and around some investments in infrastructure in these communities trying to attract new businesses.”

The ideology which has governed Baltimore, Detroit, Illinois, California, and the nation for the past several years, has always been to create a new policy or social program, or additional taxes and spending (aka “investments”) to address our socio-economic ailments. It’s not “school reform,” “job training,” or “investments in infrastructure” that elevate and strengthen communities, it’s a thriving economy. And nothing douses entrepreneurism and economic growth like the massive taxing and regulatory burdens the leftist ideology is so totally invested in.

Perhaps none have addressed the issue as frankly as former Congressman Allen West has. He said last week, “Yes, the dirty little secret that no one wants to admit is that Baltimore, and so many other urban areas and inner city communities in America, are a reflection of the abject failure of liberal progressive socialist policies as advanced by the Democrat party. The truth is that it is a culture of dependency … that has created what we’re seeing play out in Baltimore.”

The policies that have shrunk Baltimore’s economy, stymied the job market, and blighted the cityscape are liberal policies. The policies that have created a lack of trust with law enforcement are liberal policies. It is highly improbable that city officials would ever fess up to their ownership. It’s much more convenient to cast blame wherever they can make it stick, in an obvious obfuscatory misdirection to avoid culpability. Exactly like the president did blaming congress for his own failures in broaching those issues on a national level.

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

Richard Larsen: Is America Still the “Land of the Free”?

April 27th, 2015 by Halli

by Richard Larsen

Is America really the “land of the free?” We may have been initially founded and constructed as such, but each year the land of the free becomes increasingly the land of the regulated, oppressed, disparaged, and dependent.

Gallup regularly conducts global polls to assess citizen’s perception of their levels of freedom around the world. In 2006, 91% of US residents were satisfied with their “level of freedom,” which was among the highest in the world. Last year’s iteration of the survey indicated only 79% of Americans are satisfied with their level of freedom. Such a precipitous drop in a few short years dropped the US to 36th place among the 120 nations sampled. Cambodia, Uzbekistan, Paraguay, and Rwanda are among the 35 nations more satisfied with their levels of freedom.

This seems to be confirmed by Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom, which has seen the U.S. slip to number 12 this year. Countries with greater economic freedom, based on ten criteria, from personal property rights to personal financial freedom, include Chile, Estonia, and Mauritius, none of which could be considered bastions of liberty, as the U.S. historically has been.

America was founded differently than any other nation in human history, which is what we refer to as American exceptionalism. Our founding documents guaranteed rights of free exercise of religion, free speech, free association, freedom from government oppression and illegal searches and seizures, among others. These rights and freedoms, our founding documents asserted, were “inalienable rights” derived from God, not granted by government. That “all men are created equal,” and that among those precious rights were “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (property).”

Every year those liberties are assaulted afresh by an ever-expanding governmental reach into our personal lives. Even those fundamental rights that are codified, by constitutional amendment as our Bill of Rights, are under assault. Freedoms of religious expression, speech, assembly, arms, illegal search and seizure, and due process are eroded with every congressional, legislative, and council bill, act, and statute, and are increasingly rarely upheld through judicial review.

In short, it seems that the machinations of government, politicians, and the courts, are arrayed broadly against the interests of individual liberty, personal accountability, and private freedoms. Our nation can only loosely be identified as a republic, where the enumerated powers of government are narrow and defined, with all non-enumerated powers residing in the states and the citizens, as the Tenth Amendment declares. The nation has morphed, and can be categorically and definitionally identified as a statist system, concentrating “extensive economic, political, and related controls in the state at the cost of individual liberty.”

This devolution of the republic and our individual liberties has only accelerated over the past several years, since the despicable attacks of 9/11. It was deemed necessary to relinquish some individual liberty for the defense of the realm, as the Patriot Act and other anti-terrorism measures sliced away at individual liberties for security purposes. In spite of the sunset provisions
incorporated into that measure, they were extended in 2011, and have been expanded by NSA surveillance, more expansive monitoring of financial transactions, and even more circumvention of the 4th Amendment with the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012. Sections 1021 and 1022 of the NDAA essentially classify the entire country as a battlefield, allowing extraordinary rendition, indefinite detention, and enhanced interrogation against U.S. citizens here on American soil.

The omnipotence of government today certainly contrasts sharply with what our founding fathers envisioned for this “land of the free.” As Thomas Jefferson said, “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have.” Or, in the context of abrogation of 4th Amendment rights, any government that is powerful enough to do everything we allow it, certainly is powerful enough to get away with everything it does.

Which also brings to mind Ben Franklin’s astute observation, “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” Clearly, the more ground we cede collectively as a citizenry to security, the less freedom and liberty there is. And that applies not just to issues of national security, but also to domestic fiscal policies as well.

Patrick Henry famously mirrored that sentiment, when he said, “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” I’m sure the good governor would be aghast at the sacrifice of liberty for thralldom to government that has ensued these past several years.

Every election from here on out is a referendum on the future of our republic. Will we choose to elect those who embrace our founding principles based on liberty and freedom, or will we continue to cede our liberty for “security” provided by a statist government which is increasingly less attune to the concerns and interests of the individual citizen?

For those of us who are lovers of liberty, there has never been a more critical time to reassert our founding principles and the constitutional limitations of governmental power than today. If we want to have anything even remotely resembling the American republic surviving for future generations, it’s time to quit being a doormat to the politically correct progressive and statist agenda, and to proactively engage in the political process. Most of the statist “accomplishments” can be unwoven, but we need the electoral majorities to do it. Passivity and acquiescence are no longer options for those who would concur with Patrick Henry, “…give me liberty, or give me death!”

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

David Ripley: Hillary Assumes Pontifical Powers

April 27th, 2015 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Candidate Hillary Clinton, terminally corrupted by privilege and ambition, delivered a speech to the “Women in the World” summit recently. It was her first official campaign speech since declaring the continuation of her interrupted campaign for the presidency, and it was no accident that her central message was “Death to pre-born Children!”

We have known for some time that abortion would be Hillary’s primary campaign message.

What made this particular speech unique was Hillary’s bold declaration that God needed to get His act together on this whole abortion thing. It was past time to update the Ten Commandments.

Clinton proclaimed that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed” if women were to come into full possession of their right to kill pre-born children.

Now, of course, most of those “religious beliefs” are based upon clear teachings within Scripture that teach us to hold children precious, to sacrifice ourselves for others – and, above all, not to kill the innocent. What Clinton and her comrades on the Left do not seem to understand is that our religious beliefs are not a matter of personal opinion, but, rather, one of submission to our Creator.

Clinton is not the first self-proclaimed leader to shake a fist at the Almighty. One can presume that He is not particularly impressed, though His heart is undoubtedly grieved.

And we can all be grieved that a person of such arrogance stands a chance of becoming president over this great nation.

Pro-Lifers need to be in earnest prayer that the Lord will not allow that to happen. We can ask Him to soften her heart and illuminate her understanding. We can ask Him to protect His little ones from her ambition and wrath.

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

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