Oct 062001
 
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  • Muhammad Ali vs. Pee Wee Herman

    Middle East expert Dr. Mike Evans is ripping the Obama administration for profanely disparaging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and for constantly misunderstanding who the real troublemakers are in the region. On Wednesday, an online piece in The Atlantic quoted an unnamed "senior Obama administration official" who labeled Netanyahu as "chickenshit" for only being interested in his own political security rather finding common ground with adversaries in the region. 1cThe bad thing about him is that he won 19t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states," the unnamed official told The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg. "The only thing he 19s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He 19s not (Yitzhak) Rabin, he 19s not (Ariel) Sharon, he 19s certainly no (Menachem) Begin. He 19s got no guts. 1d Evans says there is a great deal of frustration with Netanyahu inside the Obama White House and the reasons are pretty simple. "Obama is wanting Netanyahu to surrender leadership to him and he won't do that. Those two have never got along. This goes back further than Obama. It goes back to the Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton days. I know. I was there in Washington," said Evans. "It's a problem because of (Netabyahu's) ideological right leanings. His hero was Ronald Reagan. He's ideologically right to the core and this is the heart of the problem he said," said Evans, who also asserts Obama knows he cannot match Netanyahu intellectually. "Netanyahu is a Muhammad Ali in the ring against a Pee Wee Herman. He's a heavyweight," said Evans. "He's the smartest leader on the planet IQ-wise. His IQ is 185. He's absolutely brilliant, one of the most articulate leaders in history. Obama can't compete with him," he said. In addition to the vastly different political ideologies, Evans says a major frustration for the Obama administration is that Netanyahu simply won't bow to its demands when it comes to the Palestinian question. "He has told them from the beginning, 'I will not accept a Palestinian state that has an army, that has treaties and is armed. I'm not going to define a Palestinian state that way.' He's never changed. That's always been his policy. They know that and they don't like it. (Netanyahu) won't bend," said Evans. According to Evans, the Obama administration is also quietly fuming over Israel's increasingly close relationship with Saudi Arabia as they both try to prevent a nuclear Iran. "The Sauds are not friends of Obama. They're not happy with Obama's policies on Iran. They're not happy with Obama's policies on Syria. And, shockingly, the Sauds are very happy with Netanyahu. So the Sauds have aligned themselves with Netanyahu with plausible deniability. It's happening behind the scenes and it's over Iran," said Evans. The disparaging comments are not the only source of tension between the U.S. and Israel this week. The State Department is catching heat for sending condolences to the family of Mohammad Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian with U.S. citizenship who was killed by Israeli Defense Forces as he allegedly prepared to throw Molotov cocktails at cars on an Israeli highway. Abu Khdeir was buried wearing a green Hamas headband. Nonetheless, State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. did not view Molotov cocktails as an act of terrorism. Evans is horrified by this mindset, but not surprised. "They don't look at them as terrorists. They didn't look at them as terrorists when they were firing thousands of rockets into Israel. They think that they need education and money. By the way, we've given them a lot of it. (Secretary of State John) Kerry did the biggest fundraiser in my knowledge that's ever happened for the Palestinians and raised billions for Hamas in Gaza. To do what? To reward them," said Evans. "This was completely insane. It's the kind of things that get people killed, appeasement. The more you appease them, the more they think you're afraid of them and the more they take advantage of you," he said.

  • Vote Fraud Fact and Fiction

    With critical midterm elections just days away, stories have arisen in multiple states suggesting voter fraud may be afoot, but a leading conservative advocate for fair elections says some of these concerns are greatly exaggerated while others are worthy of further scrutiny. In just the past two weeks, Project Veritas released undercover videos of liberal activists tacitly or openly condoning voter fraud on mail-in ballots. Thousands of non-citizens are feared to be on the voting rolls in North Carolina and reports surfaced of voting machines in Cook County, Illinois, registering votes intended for Republicans on the Democratic side. True the Vote is an organization dedicated to ensuring integrity in elections through updated voter rolls, requiring photo identification for voters and other measures designed to guarantee only eligible voters are taking part in our political process. It has been very visible in it's battle with the IRS over unwarranted scrutiny into the group's application for tax-exempt status. Of those three controversies, True the Vote Communications Director Logan Churchwell says the Colorado story is the most alarming. The Project Veritas video shows progressive interest groups encouraging undercover reporters to fish mail-in ballots out of trash cans, fill them out and mail them in. One activist even directed Project Veritas to a predominantly black neighborhood where apartment buildings would have many unused ballots in the trash. "One thing that Project Veritas seems to be very keen at is trying to expose the corruption that could lead to crime. It looks like, yet again, there is that willingness that people are willing to play games in order to tilt the election in their favor. It's important that we continue to show that that kind of corruption is out there, it could occur and to be vigilant against it," said Churchwell. As for the North Carolina story of non-citizens being on the voter rolls, Churchwell says this is a classic example of why state and local officials have a solemn duty to verify that each person on the list is eligible to vote and failing to do that job compromises the system. "This is what happens if you don't stay on top of your data and you're not constantly verifying that. That requires action on the government's level and the citizens holding it to account," he said. However, Churchwell doesn't necessarily see anything sinister in the Tar Heel State. "Yes, there were about 150 or so people that are shown to be non-citizens with no legal status in the United States but got their way onto the voter rolls out of a pool of 10,000. They've got to figure out if there were more of that 10,000 that fit into that same category," said Churchwell, who believes there may be a simple explanation for how those non-citizens got added to the rolls. "In North Carolina, if you're applying for citizenship and you're in the normal pipeline, you can get a driver's license too. What they've got to figure out is of those 10,000 potential illegal aliens on the voter rolls, we have to figure out if some of those people were actually in the pipeline for citizenship and had actually been granted it. So the jury is still very much out on the North Carolina issue," said Churchwell. In Illinois, Cook County has a long reputation for political corruption, but Churchwell says machines registering votes for the wrong candidate or wrong party is not a sign of corruption and is very easily corrected. "You're going to hear many stories about how a machine malfunctioned when someone went to vote. This happens all the time. It probably doesn't get reported as much as it occurs," he said. "All that's required is that you raise your hand and tell the election judge or whatever they're called in your community, 'This machine doesn't seem to be working right.' They can do a very quick recalibration, probably right there on the spot and reassign you to a different booth so you can vote correctly the way you intended to," he said. In short, stories of malfunctioning machines should not trigger conspiracy theories. "A lot of people freak out when they see their votes change on them. Then the mind begins to wander on what all could be causing it. You do not need to panic," he said.

  • U.S. Approaches Energy Independence Despite Obama Policies

    Those plunging gas prices you see are the result of a stunning oil and natural gas boom in the U.S. that is increasing supply, creating good jobs and making us less dependent upon countries that hate us, and Heritage Foundation Chief Economist Stephen Moore says all of it comes in the face of fierce opposition from the Obama administration. Over the past several weeks, gas prices have plummeted across the country, falling well below three dollars per gallon in some part of the country. Moore says it's the result of an oil and gas bonanza across the U.S. that is leaving OPEC no choice but to slash prices to compete. The irony, however, is that it's an economic windfall the White House wished wasn't happening. "This is the biggest story of the American economy overt the last six years. It dwarfs everything else. The United States of America is becoming energy dominant, something nobody would have predicted six years ago and it's happening under a president who hates this industry," said Moore, who said the explosion in energy production could be much greater if there was an ally in the White House. "Barack Obama hates the fossil fuels industry. He hates coal. He hates oil. He hates gas because he's so tied at the hip with radical environmentalists. So it's astonishing we've been able to produce this much oil and gas with a president who doesn't like the industry. Imagine how much faster this would grow if we had a president who wanted to nurture the industry and make it grow faster," he said. In addition to a number of Environmental Protection Agency regulations aimed at various sectors of the energy industry, the case for Obama as an opponent of this trend has been the stark reduction in permits to explore for energy on federal lands since he took office. The vast majority of the boom, they say, are the result of permits granted for private lands and most of those were approved in the George W. Bush administration. "The president has been trying to take credit for this but I think most people realize he will not build the Keystone Pipeline. He's got an EPA that is trying to regulate and strangulate this industry out of business. He will not allow drilling on federal lands. I think it makes it difficult for him to take credit for this boom," said Moore. An even greater oddity, according to Moore, is that Obama is hostile to the industry, even though it's probably the reason he won a second term as president. "If it weren't for this energy boom, the president never would have been re-elected in the first place. No way, because the economy would have still been in a recession. So it saved his skin. It's technology and oil and gas that are really driving our economy right now. I think even the president understands that," said Moore. Nonetheless, the growth in the energy sector in recent years has been remarkable. Moore says American progress has radically altered the status quo when it comes to the energy markets. "This great country of ours has become one of the dominant oil and gas producers in the world. In just the course of the last five or six years, we've increased oil and gas output by over 60 percent, which is an enormous increase. We have now surpassed Russia as the number one natural gas producer in the world and we're about to surpass Saudi Arabia as the number one oil producer in the world," said Moore Moore calculates the recent plunge in gas prices is the equivalent of an annual $75 billion tax cut for the nation. And he says those prices may very well go even lower. "We've seen a 25 percent decline already, so I wouldn't be surprised if we saw gas prices go as low as maybe $2.50 or $2.60 a gallon, which would be very welcome relief," he said. In addition to cheaper energy costs, Moore says there are several other major benefits for the U.S. At the current pace of growth, he says, the U.S. could reach that elusive goal of energy independence rather soon. "By my calculations, within five or six years, the United States of America could be energy independent. That is we will be exportint oil and natural gas rather than importing it," said Moore. By diminishing and possibly eliminating our dependence upon foreign energy, Moore says our enemies will lose a lot of their leverage on the world stage, from Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons to many other areas. "ISIS is getting five to six million dollars a day from petro dollars, so if we can produce more oil and gas here in the United States, it's a good way to defund the terrorists who are trying to kill us. It's also a good way to put a nail in the coffin of OPEC, which has controlled the price of oil now for 40 years. No longer does it have that pricing power," said Moore. Back at home, he says booming energy production means a lot of good job opportunities for Americans struggling to find work. "These are good-paying jobs. We're talking about welders and drillers and people who are pipe-fitters and truckers and construction workers. We're talking about jobs that are paying $60-$100,000 a year. These are good, blue collar, middle class jobs that we're producing hundreds as we're becoming energy independent," said Moore. "There's nothing not to like about this picture," he said.

  • 'This is Where the Real Story Actually Begins'

    A federal judge has dismissed two lawsuits filed against the Internal Revenue Service and Lois Lerner by forty conservative organizations that claim they were harassed by the government over applications for tax-exempt status because of their political leanings, but one leader of this legal fight says the battle is really just beginning and it may not even be fought in a courtroom. On Thursday, federal District Judge Reggie Walton, a George W. Bush appointee, dismissed suits suing the IRS for improper intrusion into the sensitive donor information and private communications within the groups. Walton also rejected efforts to collect damages from the IRS for all the legal and accounting fees piled up by the organizations as they tried to comply with the unlawful scrutiny. In the end, Walton concluded there was "no harm done" since the groups ultimately received their tax-exempt status. One of the groups leading the charge against the IRS is True the Vote, an organization dedicated to clean elections through updating voter rolls and tougher voter identification laws. True the Vote Communications Director Logan Churchwell says that logic was new to his group. "It's a fascinating sign of the times when you see that because the judge can reason and he can justify that the ultimate remedy that the court could have offered under the law itself would have been our tax status, which they gave us only after we decided to sue them. A question we'll never know is if we hadn't filed a lawsuit and we just sat there and took it, would we have actually gotten this tax status?" said Churchwell, who says the fate of the tax-exempt application is not the biggest issue in this case. "Anyone that's ever dealt with the IRS or any federal agency knows that the process is worse than the actual outcome. It doesn't matter whether you have a fine or any kind of penalty at the end. It's dealing with the process. It's having to lawyer up, get more accountants, collect all of your receipts, whatever is required of that. That can really cause problems," said Churchwell. "In our case, we had trouble fundraising. We had trouble organizing and gathering volunteers because every time we felt like we were getting something going when it came to our actual mission statement, we were having to go and find more Washington attorneys to help us defend ourselves against the IRS," he said. Churchwell says as aggravating as the process was for True the Vote, it could muster the resources to fight back while others could not. "True the Vote was fortunate. We had enough support. We had the wherewithal to actually bring the fight to the IRS and force our application to be approved. There are dozens if not hundreds of other little tea party groups or any other group that decided, 'Hey, we just want to organize. We want to do so legitimately under the tax code. If we can't afford to fight this battle to use our first amendment rights, we're going to mail it in. We're done,'" Churchwell explained. True the Vote acknowledges Judge Walton's decision but strongly disagrees with the logic behind it given the questionable revelations that have unfolded since the story first came to light a year-and-a-half ago. At that time, the IRS apologized for the targeting, blamed low-level staffers in Cincinnati for the improper actions and vowed it would never happen again. Churchwell says a lot has happened since then to throw cold water on that narrative. "To get from there to where we are today with lost emails and learned to what extent people were targeted and how wide of a scheme this really was, all to find out that you had to have an internal report to force the story into the open. Otherwise it probably never would have seen the light of day and anyone that said otherwise would probably be called a crackpot for even thinking the IRS would do such a thing," said Churchwell. "Today, we learned just how wide of a scandal this turned out to be and every avenue that's been taken to try to seek justice ends in this same place. 'Well, the IRS admitted their wrongdoing. They've said they've changed their ways. Let's just move on,'" he said. For True the Vote, Thursday was not a good day but it's far from the end of this saga. "It's a setback. Based on how we've seen the IRS play out, we've come to expect the unexpected. But we continue to look at all of our options. This isn't where the story ends. You might even say this is where the true story actually begins," he said. But what exactly is beginning? "We're coming to a breaking point in this country, True the Vote believes, where American citizens just aren't going to put up with it anymore. Our founder, Catherine Englebrecht, put out a statement that said if citizens really want to make a difference on this, then we need to stop relying on the inspector generals of the bureaucratic departments of the executive branch and we need to start doing some of their work for them," said Churchwell. "We need to be building a resource where, if you have a problem with a federal bureaucracy or you feel you were being treated unfairly, then citizens need a resource to call upon and have a variety of options available to them. True the Vote's founding leadership is more than happy to help see that kind of movement grow up out of this news and offer any insight that it can," he said.

  • 'This White House Has Got to Stop Lying'

    New reporting shows the Obama administration released illegal immigrants accused of violent crimes including murder despite various officials repeatedly insisting only those with very minor infractions were set free while they waited for deportation or for their cases to be resolved in court, and Rep. Louie Gohmert says it's time for the president to tell the truth and for Americans to be protected. The congressman is also seething over reports from earlier this week that the administration seems to be ramping up to legalize a massive number of people in the U.S. unlawfully. Obama administration officials ranging from former Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton to former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney assured lawmakers, reporters and the public that the 2,200 illegal immigrants released from detention last year either had no other crimes on their records or were extremely minor. On Thursday, USA Today reported on records it discovered showing illegal immigrants accused of kidnapping, sexual assault, drug trafficking and even homicide "It is the first obligation of the federal government to provide for the common defense, and that's against all enemies foreign and domestic. If everybody in the world loved Americans, we'd be great. If everybody in America loved America, we'd be great. But that's not the case. We owe the American people better and this administration and this White House has got to stop lying," said Gohmert. According to Gohmert, officials in Texas long disputed the official immigration numbers offered by the federal government. He says this latest revelation is more proof that suspicion is well-founded. "We've been reporting for months now, just based on Texas numbers, that the federal immigration numbers were a lie. They were just absolutely a lie. We knew in Texas there were tens of thousands more than [Citizenship and Immigration Services] was admitting. So this really documents that Texas was right all along and that the American public had been lied to," he said, asserting that repeated lies from the government greatly damage the foundation of a country. "Unfortunately, when you have an administration who's been caught in one lie after another, it just destroys the faith that people might have in the government," said Gohmert. While deeply disappointed, Gohmert says he is not at all surprised because the forces tasked with holding the administration accountable refuse to do their jobs. "This is what happens when you have a Congress that protects the president from being questioned about lies, protection from being brought and made accountable for lost lives and lies about those lost lives," said Gohmert. "That's what we've had in (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid. No matter what we've demanded, what we've voted for, what we've passed in the House, Harry Reid has stood in defiance and protected the president. Then we have a Supreme Court that has a majority that really doesn't want to deal with the president when it comes to things he's been dishonest about," he said. However, Gohmert says stories like these also put the burden on the American people to demand better of their government. "I keep bringing up the old age that is eminently true that democracy ensures a people are governed no better than they deserve. So if people in the United States want better government, they have got to get Harry Reid out of the way as majority leader. You do that by going and voting and get Republicans in the Senate, give us more authority, get us people that will elect strong leaders in the House and Senate. Then we can use the Constitution to stop the illegality that's going on in the executive branch," said Gohmert. According to the USA Today story, government officials contend they never intended to allow illegal immigrants charged with violent crimes to walk free. They say much of it happened because of funding issues that were largely out of their control. Gohmert strongly denounces the idea that more money was all that was needed to stop dangerous people from being released. He says it is factually and politically disingenuous. "They have not wanted a lot of money to spend on deporting people because they don't want to deport them. They've got plenty of money to do their job," he said, pointing out how the administration has defied the clear demands of Congress when it comes to spending on immigration enforcement. "Under the Bush administration, there was four billion dollars appropriated for part of the fence (real and virtual) and (former Homeland Security Secretary) Janet Napolitano said, 'You know what, we've decided we don't want to do that. We'll use the money somewhere else,'" said Gohmert, noting again that key allies of Obama stand in the way of true accountability. "They refuse to follow the law. They refuse to spend money where it's dictated. They do what they want and with Harry Reid standing in the way of enforcing the law and Eric Holder providing the president the biggest criminal defense firm in America, he's been able to get away with it. This administration has. It's got to stop," he said. The news on illegal immigrants accused of violent crimes being released from detention follows on the heels of reports earlier in the week, suggesting the president is preparing for a massive extension of work permits to people in the U.S. illegally. Breitbart.com reports that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services are bracing for a "surge scenario" of up to nine million work visas in a year. The total contract could possibly legalize anywhere from four to thirty-four million people in the near future. "I think when we see this kind of request, despite the dishonesty of (White House Press Secretary) Josh Earnest on behalf of the president that obviously this is what they planned to do. They planned to legalize millions of people that are here illegally. They are going to turn this country inside out," said Gohmert, who believes the administration is orchestrating much of what we have seen this year, including the massive influx of illegal immigrants, including many minors across our southern border this past summer. "At the first of this year, this administration sent out for contracts for people who would be able to transport thousands and thousands of people from the Texas border. Low and behold, it turned out that's exactly what happened in the months ahead. The administration said, 'Gee, we didn't really anticipate this.' Yes they did. It was in their initial request," he said. Especially galling to Gohmert is what he sees as the president's unconstitutional attempts to unilaterally change immigration policy because Congress won't give him the legislative changes he wants. "He continues to refuse to do his job (of securing the border) and says, 'Not only am I not going to do my job that's legally required, I'm going to start legislating, which is not my job," he said. If Republicans gain control of the House and Senate and Obama goes through with executive action on immigration, Gohmert says the Congress will hit the administration hard in the wallet. "If he does that, we have got to cut off massive billions and billions of dollars to the White House and the executive branch. That is the power of the purse. When the executive branch is acting illegally, then you quit providing any money whatsoever to allow them to continue their illegality," said Gohmert.

  • 'We'll Change the Direction of the Country'

    Recent polls suggest former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land is trailing Democratic Rep. Gary Peters in the state's open U.S. Senate race, but Land says she will close the small gap and win because intrusive government is crippling her state and her opponent is nothing more than a "rubber stamp" for Harry Reid and the Obama agenda. "It's going to go down to Election Day. We always knew that. This is a very close race. This is a close state. We're working hard to talk to the voters, ask for their vote and tell them we'll change the direction of the country," said Land. Land describes Michigan as a purple state, although voters there have elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate only once since 1972. The seat is up for grabs in Michigan since six-term Democrat Carl Levin announced he would not seek re-election this year. Land served as a Republican secretary of state from 2003-2011, while Democrats controlled the governor's office and the state legislature. Peters is a three-term congressman from the Detroit suburbs. If elected, Land says her experience of working with people in both parties would be a benefit to Michigan and to the nation. She says one immediate benefit of her election would be to improve the odds that Republican ideas see the light of day on the Senate floor. "The biggest hindrance to all of this is Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada). He has not allowed over 400 bills to come up from [the House of Representatives] to vote on in the Senate, everything from energy security and the economy to jobs and all of that. We need to change the direction of the Senate, so that we can vote on these bills up or down and send them to the president," said Land. She says electing Peters would result in more of the same in Washington. "Gary Peters would just be another rubber stamp for Sen. Harry Reid. We'd be in the same situation we are today. We need to change the direction of this country. He does not support balancing the budget and cutting and making sure the government works for the people. He's had a history of voting for taxes. He talks about that he supports women but yet he pays women in his office 67 cents on the dollar," said Land, who also accuses Peters of supporting the outsourcing of American jobs through various votes in Congress. According to Land, the Obama presidency has been bad for Michigan for a number of reasons, but she says the state is especially wounded by a flood of environmental regulations. "In our state, we have the manufacturing industry, farming and tourism. Now we've got the [Environmental Protection Agency] putting in new regulations that put the pedal to the metal on greenhouse gases and making utility companies up costs. It's going to increase costs for not only manufacturers but also for individuals with their home utilities," said Land. The GOP nominee also says she is committed to getting the nation's fiscal house in order and says step one in congressional accountability is make members feel the pinch if they don't get their jobs done. "We need to balance the budget. I propose that if we don't pass a budget that's balanced that you don't get paid in the Senate until you do," said Land, who says eight years in statewide elected office prepared her for the task. "As secretary of state, we went through the dark days of Michigan, where Gov. (Jennifer) Granholm and Congressman Peters' (an official in the Granholm administration) policies lost over 800,000 jobs in our state. We said we need to reduce and consolidate every program that we have. So we looked at literally every program, eliminated programs, looked at positions when they came open when people retired or left and went from 2,100 employees down to 1,500 without any layoffs. We reduced our whole operation by over 20 percent and kept out costs down," said Land. When asked where she would start trimming at the federal level, Land believes there is an obvious candidate for cutting a lot of spending. "Obviously, the biggest thing is Obamacare. That is a huge cost and it doesn't work. It's been a disaster and that would be the first place to go," she said. "We need a health care system that works for Michigan and our country, one that's portable and that you can buy with pre-tax dollars, one where the costs are competitive because you can purchase it across state lines and making sure you can keep that doctor-patient relationship," said Land. The Real Clear Politics average of polls suggests Peters leads by nine points, but pollsters are also stunned by the huge number of still-undecided voters less than two weeks before voters go to the polls. Land says the choice of direction for Michigan couldn't be clearer. "Whether it's outsourcing, raising taxes or not balancing the budget, that is not good for Michigan and would not put Michigan first. I'm going to go down there and put Michigan first," said Land.

  • Gay Marriage Forces Coming for Churches Next

    Idaho State Sen. Steve Vick says one city's efforts to force a Christian wedding chapel to perform same-sex marriages in his state is a blatant violation of the Constitution and he is seriously considering legislation to get the state government out of marriage entirely because he fears churches will be the next target in the aggressive homosexual agenda. Earlier this year, a federal judge ruled Idaho's constitutional amendment defining marriage as one man and one woman was unconstitutional. While that decision was placed on hold during the appeals process, officials in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, informed Hitching Post wedding chapel owners Donald and Evelyn Knapp that they would be required to perform same-sex ceremonies or face jail time and fines if the court's decision stood. Last week, the Supreme Court allowed same-sex marriages to go forward in the state. The Knapps have operated the Hitching Post since 1989. They are bible-believing Christians who refuse to participate in ceremonies they believe are clearly condemned in scripture. A legal fight is already underway, but Sen. Vick says he and the local community are outraged by the Coeur d'Alene's treatment of the Knapps and anyone else seeking the free exercise of their faith. "It's very disappointing to me that they would require a Christian business owner to do something that violates their religious convictions, which I believe are protected by the first amendment to the United States Constitution," said Vick. "Most of the reaction that I incurred has been from disappointment to shock that [the city] would do that." Vick has plans to meet with the Knapps later this week to discuss their ordeal. In the meantime, he expects the state legislature to address the issue. Vick admits there is no concrete legislation in place yet but many lawmakers strongly believe the state needs to take action. The senator is personally investigating two approaches, the second of which may come as a major surprise to other conservatives. "One is to try to re-establish the standing of those who have deeply-held religious convictions," said Vick. "Another potential avenue that I'm exploring is just eliminating marriage licenses in Idaho." Vick admits eliminating state sanctioning of marriage would be a big step and he is only beginning to explore that option. Still, he says the response so far is very positive. "I have discussed it with just a few people. I don't have a bill drafted or anything. I have discussed it at some of the town halls I've been at. It actually seems to be fairly well-received. In my opinion, if we're not allowed to determine the standards for a marriage license, then maybe we should just not issue them," said Vick. The senator says these are the kind of things states must consider since the will of the voters are being rejected in the federal courts. "I believe the only way the Supreme Court will hear it is if a different circuit court rules differently. I haven't seen that yet, but if another circuit ruled that a state could keep on their books a constitutional amendment or a statute that says marriage should be between one man and one woman, then I think the Supreme Court would have to hear it. Other than that, I think these rulings will probably stand," said Vick, referring to the high court refusing to hear appeals from multiple states after judges struck down voter-approved constitutional amendments establishing traditional marriage as law. While Vick remains concerned for Christian business owners like the Knapps, he believes efforts to force believers into approving and participating in same-sex weddings are already targeting the church itself. "I believe the next step will be to say that churches themselves cannot discriminate. They cannot discriminate and the church will have to marry same-sex couples and not be allowed to say anything. Clearly they're going after the freedom of the church's speech through the hate speech statutes," said Vick. For Vick, officials in Coeur d'Alene and elsewhere are guilty of assaulting freedoms that are the cornerstone of our nation. "I still believe [they] are requiring someone to violate a long-held and well-established religious conviction. It's not like somebody established a new religious conviction to discriminate. This is a well-established belief that's been held by most of the people in the Christian church for over 2,000 years. So, I don't know that the state should be involved in choosing who's rights to violate," said Vick.

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