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Jonathan Lange

Jonathan Lange: The Marriage Penalty Unjustly Penalizes The Children

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By Jonathan Lange, columnist

Wyoming’s senatorial delegation has joined 31 other senators in sending a letter delivered to Senate Majority Leader, Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Wyden (D-OR). It protested inequitable tax hikes designed to punish married people.

The marriage penalty is buried in the $3.5 trillion budget bill that was recently rammed through the House and is now the subject of feverish backroom negotiations with senators Manchin (D-VA) and Sinema (D-AZ).

“As you know,” the letter details, “current marriage penalties occur when a household’s overall tax bill increases due to a couple marrying and filing taxes jointly. A number of other federal programs, such as Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and Section 8 housing assistance, also create marriage penalties by eliminating or reducing benefits for couples who marry.”

Astoundingly, these marriage penalties are already written into current law. That’s bad enough. What is worse, the current budget that was rolled out under the so-called American Families Plan “takes an existing marriage penalty in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and makes it significantly worse.”

How much worse? The new plan could increase the marriage penalty by 72 percent. In 2019, a couple with a combined income of $42,000 and two children would save $1,578 per year by divorcing and filing taxes separately. Under the new plan, that same couple’s marriage penalty would rise to $2,713. For this family, earning only $300 per week above the federal poverty level, over $52 per week is taken by federal income tax.

Is this what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez means by “Tax the Rich?” This is more than an inequity. It is a crime against children. When couples with children decide against marriage, the children suffer in concrete ways.

In 1990, the United Nations published the work of its Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Preamble states, “Convinced that the family, as the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members and particularly children, should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities within the community . . .  the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.”

Based on this foundation, Article 7 simply states, “The child shall [have] the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.” All children have this right because all children have this need.

According to ThemBeforeUs.com, an international movement for the rights of the child, “Children are wired for daily, ongoing connectivity with their mother and father and they are most likely to receive it when their parents are married.  Marriage offers the most stability in a child’s home and the best chance that both parents will be permanently involved in their lives.”

Sarah McClanahan and Isabel Sawhill published research titled, “Marriage and Child Wellbeing Revisited.” They concluded that children who experience parental breakup are affected in their “cognitive and social emotional development in ways that constrain their life chances.”

This is why the International Convention on the Rights of the Child pressed state actors to shape every policy—from direct marriage laws, to divorce laws, to tax policy—toward the singular purpose of encouraging the biological parents of every child to create a stable and loving home for that child through marriage.

This is why 33 senators wrote, “We believe marriage is a vital social good. It is misguided and unfair for the government to build bigger barriers for couples to marry.” Rather, they admonished, “Federal policy should be designed to foster strong marriages, which are the foundation of strong families and strong communities.”

Marriage is the greatest social program ever devised. For the entirety of human history, societies that successfully upheld the institution of marriage, prospered; and those that did not collapsed. For too long, we have seen debates about marriage and sexuality that focused on the desires of adults. Children were not allowed to have a say. It is time that we reversed this trend.

Wyoming should be proud that our senatorial delegation is both unified and far-sighted to speak boldly in support of marriage. In doing so, senators Barrasso and Lummis are standing for the rights of children everywhere.

As the 2022 legislative season approaches, let us hope that our state senators and representatives will follow suit. Whether discussing budgets, schools, taxation or social welfare, the rights and needs of children, not the desires of adults, should drive every law and policy. It is time to put children’s rights above adult desires.

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Jonathan Lange: Defend The Conscience Rights Of Those On The Front Lines

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By Jonathan Lange, guest columnist

Desmond Doss believed that it was against God’s law to kill another human being. He applied as a conscientious objector in World War II. Exempted from carrying a rifle, he was made an army medic, and became the first man in American History to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot. The movie, Hacksaw Ridge, tells his story.

He is not the only one. Thomas Bennett served as an army medic in Vietnam. Killed in action, he became the second conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor. That same year (1969) Joseph LaPointe Jr. also posthumously became the third such hero.

These three held doctrinal positions that are not representative of all Christians. But, when recognizing the right of conscientious objectors, civilized societies do not evaluate the rightness or wrongness of the belief. Rather, they uphold the right of every man to be guided by his own conscience and not another’s. 

Logic alone teaches that we, who have minds persuadable by words, must be so governed. Coercion to harm others knowingly violates human nature. This principle is also taught in the Christian Scriptures. St. Paul makes clear that, even if an activity is permissible in the eyes of God, no one should be made to participate in action that he believes to be sin. You can read his reasoning in 1 Corinthians 8:4-13.

As Doss, Bennett, LaPointe and thousands of other examples show, those who follow the dictates of their own conscience are superior citizens and braver soldiers than those who violate their own principles. This is why generals should resign their commissions rather than execute orders that violate their sense of justice. It is why just societies accommodate conscientious objectors. It is why healthcare workers must never be forced to fill prescriptions, perform procedures, or participate in treatments that they believe to be harmful to the patient. And it is why patients should never be forced to submit to a procedure without informed consent.

The principle behind conscientious-objector status has also produced laws like the Hyde Amendment and the Mexico City policy that protect taxpayers from supporting the abortion industry. One of the most important conscience laws is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), passed almost unanimously in 1993. It requires that any American who has a sincerely held religious belief be protected from government coercion. 

If a citizen has religious qualms about following any governmental law, policy, or regulation, RFRA gives him his day in court. There the government—not the citizen—has the burden of proof. 

According to the Department of Justice, it must prove, first, that the policy at issue addresses a “compelling government interest.” If it can demonstrate this, it must further show that the policy accomplishes this interest in the way that is least burdensome to those whose conscience is violated. This usually involves some sort of accommodation for those who have religious objections to the “one-size-fits-all” policy of the government.

All these strong conscience protections are currently under assault. Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3755. This bill, together with H.R. 5, passed by the House in February, would force doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other entities to participate in harmful medical procedures without recourse to the courts. Specific language strips RFRA protections from anyone who might object to the destruction of healthy babies, the amputation of healthy organs and the prescribing of harmful drugs.

Also last week, whistleblowers leaked a memo from the Department of Defense that instructs chaplains to participate in the persecution of anyone who might seek a religious exemption from military “vaccine mandates.” This violates the First Amendment in two ways. 

First, this memo violates the free-exercise clause by requiring the applicant to be grilled by a chaplain and a doctor with theological and medical argumentation. If a soldier even mentions some non-religious consideration in the process of explaining his sincerely held religious belief, the chaplain is required to document the slip and use it against him. Similarly, if a soldier ever once sinned against any sincerely held religious belief, the sincerity of all of his beliefs are to be treated as suspect. These false moral equivalencies make the theological orientation of the interrogator more important than the conscience of the soldier.

Second, the memo violates the First Amendment’s establishment clause by threatening chaplains with discipline and dishonorable discharge if they help conscientious objectors navigate this draconian process. Thus, they are required to be the preachers of a particular version of religion established by the government. Chaplains who follow the dictates of the memo are no longer ministers of the Word of God, but only of the word of the DOD.

These cascading attacks on religious freedom are, of course, harmful for conscientious soldiers, chaplains, and medical professionals. But it is not only they who are harmed by such policies. All of American society is weakened by these attacks. Conscientious service, whether in the military, medicine or in society is a force multiplier. It turns the eyes of soldiers and citizens to see their service as service to God Himself. The mundane becomes divine. And ordinary people become extraordinary heroes.

That is why we should welcome and encourage those who are standing up against the onslaught of attacks on conscience provisions. All Wyomingites should applaud the board of the Campbell County Health that publicly vowed to stand against the “gross federal overreach” of vaccine mandates that the U.S. Department of Labor is threatening against its 1,100 employees. Other hospitals should do the same.

Wyomingites should flood Senators Lummis and Barrasso with calls, letters and emails thanking them for standing against H.R. 5 and H.R. 3755, now under consideration in the U.S. Senate. Ask them, not only to vote against these draconian bills, but also to use whatever influence they have with fellow senators to oppose any bill that would undermine long-standing conscience protections.Finally, while the Department of Defense can only be reined in by the federal government, the Wyoming National Guard remains in the complete control of its Commander and Chief, Governor Gordon. Contacting him and Adjutant General, Greg Porter, can encourge them shield Wyoming’s soldiers and chaplains against many blatant violations of federal law. Together, we can defend the Republic that Doss, Bennett and LaPointe defended with the resolve and ferocity that earned them the Medal of Honor.

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Jonathan Lange: When It Comes To Ivermectim, ‘Seriously, Y’all. Stop It.’

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By Jonathan Lange, columnist

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now officially joined the ranks of federal agencies that have scuttled their own credibility with media-enabled nonsense.

At 5:57AM on a Saturday morning, August 21, it issued the folksy tweet: “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all, stop it… Using the drug Ivermectin to treat COVID-19 can be dangerous and even lethal. The FDA has not approved the drug for that purpose.”

By Monday morning, as if on cue, every compliant media outlet from Seattle to Miami published articles as if this were a serious problem. Rod Miller was the first out of the gate in the Cowboy State. He profanely opined, “I sure as h— wouldn’t ingest it [Ivermectin].” He failed to notice that over a billion doses have been given to human beings since 1988. In all that time, and in 125 countries, zero deaths have been tied to its use.

What is more, the FDA approved Ivermectin for human ingestion in 1996 and it made the World Health Organization’s “Model List of Essential Medicines” in 2019. Nevertheless, the FDA deliberately created a narrative that Ivermectin is horse medicine. The condescending, “y’all” was calculated to paint anyone who might imagine otherwise as uneducated yokels.

Soon Cowboy State Daily reporter Ellen Fike parroted the narrative by calling Ivermectin an “anti-parasitic medication most often used to treat livestock.” While admitting that the FDA had approved it for human use, the unmistakable point was that Ivermectin is not FDA-approved for treating COVID-19.

In the pharmaceutical industry, this is called “off-label” use. Doctors do it all the time some for good, and some for ill. As this column discussed several weeks ago, Testosterone is regularly prescribed off-label to minor girls! For more examples, Wikipedia has an entire page on the subject.

What good could come of prescribing Ivermectin for COVID-19 off-label?

Here is where it gets interesting. Barely a month after COVID-19 hit America, researchers submitted a paper to Antiviral Research that found Ivermectin to be effective against COVID-19 in the lab. It turns out that the same properties that make it effective against parasites also make it promising against viruses.

Before the paper was even published, the FDA issued a “Letter to Stakeholders” that threatened “FDA investigation and potential enforcement action” against any doctor with the temerity to try it against COVID-19. The letter stated: “Additional testing is needed to determine whether ivermectin might be safe or effective to prevent or treat coronavirus or COVID-19.” It then went on, bizarrely, to warn against people taking Ivermectin packaged for animal use.

Okay. That’s a weird caution. But at least we could expect the FDA to do the additional testing that would either prove or disprove the effectiveness of Ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19. After all, thousands were dying daily, and millions of cases were available for Randomized Controlled Trials that could provide a definitive answer.

One might think that while granting “emergency use authorization” to Remdesivir, two mRNA injections (Moderna and Pfizer), and one vaccine (J&J) against COVID-19, the FDA could have included a study of one of the safest drugs known to man.

But, alas, 17 months later and we still have no such study. Nor has the FDA updated its guidance based on multiple external studies. Rather, on August 21, 2121 we got a snarky tweet bringing up the same unlikely scenario that it had imagined on April 10, 2020.

The intellectually curious soon asked: Where are all these people slurping down ointments intended for cows? Dr. Jason McElyea went on the Rachel Maddow show to say that they lived in Oklahoma. In the very heart of hick-dom, supposedly, so many people were ill from taking “horse de-wormer” that gunshot victims were turned away from emergency rooms. Rolling Stone even put his claims into print. But he was lying.

The hospital issued a statement saying that Dr. McElyea didn’t currently work there, and that it had treated no cases of Ivermectin abuse—not a single one. We are still waiting to meet the knuckle-draggers that the FDA is so worried about.

Why am I taking up this subject? I am no doctor—not even a veterinarian.

But two things kept me from passing over this ridiculous tale. First, a newspaperman, whom I respect, asked me to address it. Second, people are tired of lies. They just want to know what is real and go about their daily lives. If Ivermectin is proven ineffective, just show the receipts. But don’t peddle silly narratives that make even Rolling Stone print a correction.

Truth begins with accountability for lies told. People need and deserve reporters and columnists who will publicly apologize for public falsehoods. Where that doesn’t happen, they will look elsewhere for reliable information, and they should.

Second, those at the CDC and FDA, who have spent a year and a half failing to study Ivermectin, should be put out of a job. The Centers for Disease Control was created to control diseases, not to control the narrative. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.

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Jonathan Lange: Youth Scaling Heights Give Wyoming A Bright Future

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By Jonathan Lange, columnist

Last Wednesday’s sun rose upon a gaggle of teenagers who had just summited a small peak in the Wind River Range. It happened during this author’s annual retreat above Sinks Canyon State Park west of Lander.

Nobody was compelled to go. Rather, the campers themselves took charge. They organized a predawn expedition of three dozen youth who assembled in nautical twilight for the climb.

These are the leaders of tomorrow. And the future looks bright. They are filled with the vigor of youth and the usual spunk and recklessness. But it is no longer directionless and careless. Something has been added to the usual qualities of youth. It is almost imperceptible, but it is palpably present. Purpose, unity, determination and grit can be seen in their bright eyes.

The ascent was not a scrambled melee. It was teamwork. The strong helped the weak. The discerning advised the reckless. The fast waited for the slow and the slow happily pressed their limits to keep up. I was a counsellor allowed to be a part of something special. But, like a fly on the wall, I did more observing than guiding. It was a beauty to behold.

I can vividly remember the first day that I met some of these people in the summer of 2015. There were uncertain greetings exchanged as awkward preteens and an inexperienced counsellor met for the first time. We occupied cabin 7 at the Fremont County Youth Camp and were clueless about the routines and rhythms of summer camp. Everything we did took twice as long and was half as good. That was a long time ago.

Slowly, imperceptibly, boys became men and men became leaders. There is no single person who can claim the credit. Parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, pastors, teachers and a host of unnamed role models each contributed something. Together, it led to a summit marked by a rustic cross that had been cobbled together from a pair of lodgepole pines.

This experience, while heart-warming, is probably not terribly unusual in Wyoming. Our mountains are dotted with summer youth camps that are booked solid from the spring thaw to late fall road closures. Rocks, water, dirt and pines form an outdoor classroom filled by kids and counsellors from every walk of life. All share the experience described above.

But this year I was privileged to witness something else that I have not seen before. I wager that few have. It happened back in the lodge. Still before breakfast, twelve young men of high school age spontaneously picked up hymnals, stood before 70 peers and two dozen counsellors, and sang the Church’s hymns. The cross at the top of the mountain was not an empty symbol to them. It silently proclaimed the Creator’s redemption of His world. These young men were unashamed to stand before their female peers and lead the song.

It was the recklessness of youth redirected. And in that carefree confession, something remarkable happened. No longer were the adults trying patiently to spoon feed the lessons that youth would need for life. The baton was passed to the next generation.

That full throated song of a dozen young men was like the dawn of a new day. These are tomorrow’s leaders. They recognize not only the need to put a hand to the plow. They recognize, also, the Maker of the plow and the Maker of the soil.

In a flash of light, those present saw the potential of the generation who will lead us out of our present confusion. They are eager to take their place as the builders of tomorrow. And they recognize that true building can be done only by “men with chests.”

That phrase comes from one of C.S. Lewis’ most important writings. In “The Abolition of Man,” he laments that the scourge of Materialism treats human beings as soulless machines. It removes “their chests” and then wonders why they act as less than human.

To treat people as “men without chests” is to address only half of their potential. We should not be surprised when it results in corruption, confusion and chaos in the institutions we once revered. Materialism that denies the spiritual side of man ties one hand behind his back and still asks him to build.

Tomorrow’s generation of leaders is growing to see this folly. It is determined to do something about it. Soulless materialism has led us into a box canyon from which there is no escape. Yet rather than give up the fight, a new generation sees that the way out is the way up.

Beleaguered builders of our day can take heart as these happy warriors come of age. They are the dawn of a new day.

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Jonathan Lange: Injustice Anywhere Is A Threat To Justice Everywhere To Us All

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By Jonathan Lange, guest columnist

On a normal day, Joseph Hackett would be seeing clients in his chiropractic clinic. On a normal day, he might stop for groceries on the way home from work, mow the lawn or relax with his wife, Deena and their eleven-year-old daughter in their Sarasota, Florida home. 

But today is not a normal day. They will have to do without his income. They will have to mow the lawn and fetch the groceries without his help.

Nothing has been normal for them since May 28 when a swarm of FBI agents descended on their home. Joe was whisked to a courtroom in Tampa. His wife and child were kept out of the house while the FBI rifled through their belongings for hours. 

In Tampa, Joe was denied bail and passed from lockup to lockup until on June 28, he landed in Washington D.C. There he sits in solitary confinement 23 hours a day. This is not normal. Federal law requires that bail be set, except for two narrow conditions: 1) flight risk; 2) danger to the community. It is extremely difficult to see how Joe’s case meets either criterion.

Court documents allege that Hackett was in the U.S. Capitol rotunda from 2:45pm on January 6 until 2:54pm. Whether this is true or not can await a proper trial. My concern today is the injustice of denying bail and the inhumane conditions of his detention. 

Likely, I would know none of this if fellow pastors from across the nation had not asked me to inquire if any of at least 61 others similarly situated are receiving their constitutional rights to pastoral care. After more than a month of searching, I still do not know the answer. 

Last week, Missouri Congresswoman, Vicky Hartzler, formally asked Attorney General Merrick Garland for an answer to this and seven other questions. He ignored her July 28 deadline. Nor can we know how many have been denied bail since the Department of Justice’s database neither provides the information for every arrestee nor does it even list Joseph Hackett. How many others are detained but not listed?

Especially in a highly charged political climate, it is vital for America that we maintain the formalities of justice. These people are, in fact, “innocent until proven guilty.” The government may, in the course of time, prove them guilty of crimes connected with January 6. But, until that time comes, every American should expect that they be treated as innocent people, because they are.

The reason for this bedrock principle is evident. Punishment—whether fines, incarceration, or death—cannot be undone. Should Hackett be given bail today, or exonerated tomorrow, still his chiropractic business is destroyed. The hours robbed from raising his daughter are irretrievable. Lost months with his wife cannot be returned. Nor will there be any just compensation for income denied. The trauma of solitary confinement—acknowledged as torture by the U.N.—cannot be erased.

On the very day that Congresswoman Hartzler sent her letter to Merrick Garland, a judge in Hong Kong denied bail to four reporters from the Apple Daily. The Chinese Communist Party found that “there was not enough evidence to show that the defendants will not commit further acts endangering national security.” That is essentially the same reason given for denial of bail to Hackett and the others. We expect that of Communists, but not of the American justice system.

In the heat of this political moment, Marxist Critical Theorists are trying to divide us and pit us against one another. Race-baiting is only part of the story. They are also working to create an unbridgeable divide between Democrats and Republicans, Christians and secularists, Wyoming hicks and Wyoming woke. Then, having cast people into arbitrary groups, they ignore individual circumstances and particular facts and find guilt by association.

Such is also the case here. 

Three-score individual lives are being subsumed in a narrative. Instead of treating the cases of Joe Hackett, Ron Mele, Sgt. Kenneth Harrelson, Scott Fairlamb, Couy Griffin, Derek Kinneson, Erik Warner, and dozens more as distinct cases with unique circumstances, you are told that they are “insurrectionists,” “domestic terrorists,” “Oath-Keepers,” “Three-percenters” or some other impersonal group label.

Do not fall for it. The core of justice is equal treatment under law. Membership in some group should neither privilege or penalize a person. It is the government’s burden to prove guilt from facts and evidence—not to advance group narratives for political gain. The former is justice, the latter is not. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” wrote Martin Luther King from the Birmingham jail. It is the duty of Americans everywhere to learn the facts and to stand for individual rights anywhere they are threatened.

Lange: Can Liz Cheney Give Americans What They Justly Deserve?

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By Jonathan Lange, guest columnist

Hours after Representative Cheney (R-WY) broke from her 190 fellow Republicans to establish a “House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol,” she wasted no time in accepting a Democrat appointment to it. This move gave Pelosi’s Committee a façade of bi-partisanship and pre-emptively undercut Republican threats to boycott its own committee appointments.

On June 30th, Cheney issued a press release stating, “This investigation can only succeed if it is sober, professional, and non-partisan. The threat to our democracy is far too grave for grandstanding or political maneuvering. The Committee should issue and enforce subpoenas promptly, hire skilled counsel, and do its job thoroughly and expeditiously. The American people need and deserve a full accounting. We must ensure that what happened on January 6, 2021 never happens again.”

Indeed. On this point everyone is agreed. The substantial questions are: What really did happen on January 6, and can this committee conduct a “sober, professional, and non-partisan investigation? After two embarrassing impeachments, and three years of peddling the fraudulent “Steele Dossier,” American’s may rightly be skeptical.

“The American people need and deserve a full accounting.” That is true. The committee’s subpoena power and legal resources must be employed to examine aspects of January 6 that have, so far, been withheld from the American public. If congress wants to rehabilitate its public credibility, here are some things that should be investigated thoroughly and transparently.

The investigation should begin with the days leading up to January 6th. What did congressional leaders know, and when did they know it? All communications from the Intelligence Community, D.C. Police, and Capitol Police should be subpoenaed. Leadership from both parties should be placed under oath—beginning with Cheney—in order to determine why multiple security requests were denied.

Next, the Committee should subpoena the 14,000 hours of CCTV captured by cameras around the Capitol and owned by the American people. This evidence should be made public. For six months, the Department of Justice has used highly edited snippets to prosecute over 500 citizens. But it has denied access to defense attorneys, claiming that the tapes are state secrets. 

More than an hour before anybody entered the Capitol, video shows  troops in riot gear shooting stun grenades and pepper spray without warning at law-abiding citizens. The attack appeared unprovoked. The group, including small children and the elderly, had crossed no barriers nor were they threatening to do so. Were the unidentified troops federal agents? Or were they agent provocateurs?

The American people deserve to know the full extent of what was done to peaceful protesters. Were some those that breached barriers truly driven by the President’s speech just beginning over a mile away? Or were they reacting to a more immediate threat? Releasing all the video footage from that day would provide necessary transparency.

Third, every death should be vigorously investigated. Before the first door was breached into the Capitol, a man died of a reported heart attack. Soon, a second died from a reported stroke. Then, a woman was trampled. What accounts for such a high death rate in a relatively small crowd? Did chemicals, munitions or police procedures contribute to these tragedies? Were federal officers following crowd safety protocols.

The only shot fired on January 6th was aimed at the throat of Ashli Babbitt. The Capitol Police officer who killed the unarmed woman still has not been formally identified. This most violent event of the entire day ought to receive the fullest and the most painstaking investigation. Who was the shooter? What were his rules of engagement? What training did he receive? What was his service record?

The next day, Officer Brian Sicknick died of a stroke. For months it was falsely reported that he had been struck by a fire extinguisher. Who planted this false information? And why did it take more than 100 days to release the autopsy that disproved it? 

Days later two other officers died in apparent suicides. Who investigated their deaths? What evidence is conclusive that they died of suicide linked to January 6th? Who made the initial decision to connect their deaths to the Capitol? What evidence did Cheney have in hand when she asserted that they died “as a result of what happened that day.” 

Also, before the smoke had cleared from January 6th, Cheney began pushing the narrative that the crowd acted to obstruct the process of our democracy and stop the counting of presidential electoral votes.” How could she know either the motives of 500 individuals, or whether they were acting in coordination? 

This is irresponsible behavior for a public official. Worse, it is extremely prejudicial to the investigation she now wishes to lead. “The American people need and deserve a full accounting.” Will they get it? Or, will they only get more “grandstanding [and] political maneuvering”?

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Jonathan Lange: Natural Law Is Why The Second Amendment Is So Important

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By Jonathan Lange, guest columnist

It has been thirteen years since the Supreme Court last looked at the Second Amendment.

In that case, District of Columbia v. Heller, it finally admitted that “the right to keep and bear arms” is an “individual” right to home defense, and not merely a right for states to maintain “a well-regulated militia.”

In April of this year, the Court agreed to hear New York Rifle and Pistol Organization v. Corlett. This will address whether that right of individuals to “bear arms” gives constitutional protection for those who want to carry a firearm across town, or if one is only allowed to carry it from the bedroom to the kitchen.

Meanwhile, there has been a spate of activity in California’s Ninth Circuit. Three separate cases from the lower courts have nullified different aspects of California’s virtual ban on the popular AR-15 (Armalite Rifle). Duncan v. Becerra overturned California’s ban on the standard 30-round magazine. Rupp v. Becerra and, more recently, Miller v. Bonta challenge California’s AR-15 ban as violating SCOTUS’ “common use” standard.

If all this seems barely relevant except to preppers, this column is for you.

My purpose today is not to get into the weeds of all these cases and reconcile the Court’s strange and contradictory pronouncements. Rather, I will simply outline a few basic concepts to help the non-gun-enthusiast appreciate what is at stake.

We begin by observing that the most ardent defenders of the Constitution were opposed to the original Bill of Rights. They did not oppose the rights delineated in the first ten amendments. Rather, they opposed the very idea of delineating rights. The problem, as they saw it, is the difference between “natural law” and “positive law.”

The U.S. Constitution is an outgrowth of the “natural law” that produced the Declaration of Independence. The law that “all men are created equal” existed before governments and legislators said so. “Positive law,” on the other hand, creates law as a “social contract.” According to it, humans have no rights whatsoever until those in power say that they do. “Positive law” theory attacks the very foundations of our constitutional republic.

By making a list of specific rights, the Bill of Rights presented two dangers. First, just rights unintentionally omitted from the list might not be protected. Second, the Bill of Rights itself might inadvertently teach that rights come from the federal government, and are not transcendent and above all human institutions.

Especially when it comes to the Second Amendment, those original critics of the Bill of Rights have been vindicated. Gun rights—even more than the rights of free speech, free assembly, free press, and the free exercise of religion—are too often treated as special privileges that can be alternately doled out or rescinded at the whim of lawmakers. To the contrary, the Constitution’s framers considered “the right to keep and bear arms” as a natural right inherent in the very fact of your humanity. It does not arise from government, but from God.

Obviously, this view of the Second Amendment does not depend on current technology. Whether a person has the right to carry a rock, a knife or a pistol is not for the government to decide. What is inherent in the very reality of humanity created in the image of God is the responsibility to love one’s neighbor with heart, soul, strength and mind.

When loving one’s neighbor requires defending him or her from bodily harm, human beings have the corresponding right not only to make use of physical strength, but also to use the mind. We think up tools that can assist us to defend our families and our neighbors from harm. This creativity comes from God and is a gift that the animals do not possess. No government has the right to infringe on it.

This right exists independently of the Second Amendment because your responsibility to protect your neighbor is not an assignment from the government, but an assignment from God. As technology advances and your neighbor is threatened by more sophisticated tools, your right to match this sophistication by possessing tools for defense is inherent.

Contrary to SCOTUS’ “common use” doctrine, there is nothing in the Constitution, or in natural law, that requires a tool to be commonly available before you have a right to keep and carry it. Whether a tool be so obsolete that it is no longer in common use, or so cutting-edge that few yet own it, governments have no right to disadvantage some while arming others. Rather, they should limit themselves to prohibiting only those tools that have no use in defending individual persons—or which are impossible to use without harming innocent bystanders.

As we stock up on fireworks to celebrate the firearms that won our independence, now would be a good time to think about the modern tools that we need to have on hand to protect the life and liberty of our neighbors in the 21st century.

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Jonathan Lange: Balow Deserves Praise For Saying No to Critical Race Theory

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By Jonathan Lange, guest columnist

There is a war-of-words waging in Wyoming and across the nation. For decades, it was a cold war played out in the halls of academia.

Last summer it went hot as riots erupted in the streets of major US cities. Most recently, an offensive from the U.S. Department of Education called, “Proposed Priorities-American History and Civics Education” put every local school board in the crosshairs.

Wyoming’s Superintendent, Jillian Balow, fired back. On May 4, she released a Statement on Proposed U.S. Department of Education Rule Prioritizing Critical Race Theory Curriculum in K-12 Schools. It calls out the Proposed Priorities, among other things, for the “alarming move” to encourage “districts to use curriculum related to divisive author Ibram X. Kendi and the New York Times ‘1619 Project.’”

This she said, “should be rebuked across party lines.”

Every Wyoming parent should be grateful for Balow’s vigilance and leadership. But we should not let her fight alone. A general can only be as successful as the troops that are marshaled behind her. Every Wyoming parent needs to get educated and engaged in the battle. Wyoming’s children are at stake.

One factor that keeps parents sidelined is sheer bewilderment. It is hard to join in the fray when the smoke and noise of battle conspire to obscure the truth. The Proposed Priorities are an incomprehensible word salad, designed to bewilder. It lobs flash-bang grenades like “antiracism” and “systemic racism.” Then it rolls out undefined terms like “linguistically responsive” and “equity” (not to be confused with equality). Like smoke bombs, these hide what’s really happening.

The confusion caused by such language is intentional. Constantly changing terminology and the invention of new words are meant to keep you out of the fray. But common sense can cut through the distractions to provide clarity. When you are unable to decipher what people are proposing, simply ask: what are they opposing? This cuts through the fog of war.

The Proposed Priorities implement Executive Order 13985, which was signed by Joseph Biden his very first afternoon in the Oval Office. It revokes EO 13950 Combatting Race and Sex Stereotyping, and commands agency directors to scuttle any changes that it accomplished. Next, it canceled EO 13958 Establishing the President’s Advisory 1776 Commission, and scrubbed its Report from the Whitehouse website.

Clearly, the Proposed Priorities do not want to combat race and sex stereotyping. Also, they treat the 1776 Commission as hostile to the new federal priorities. In fact, the priorities are designed to award government educational contracts on the basis of racial and sex stereotyping, and to teach the New York Times’ discredited 1619 Project in opposition to the Report of the 1776 Commission. No wonder Superintendent Balow raised the alarm!

To understand what is at stake, simply read the short 1776 Commission Report. “Above all else,” it concludes, America’s founding “principles recognize the worth, equality, potential, dignity, and glory of each and every man, woman, and child created in the image of God.” Why would anyone want to cancel that language?

Last January, Rep. Jeremy Haroldson (R-Wheatland) carried the flag of 1776 by sponsoring HB 177 Education-Understanding federal and state government. Balow weighed in to support the concept of Haroldson’s bill. Sadly, the Education Committee did not send it to the floor.

Part “(a)” called for every school district to provide “instruction that prepares students for informed, engaged citizenship,” and named 11 content areas. More importantly, part “(b)” required transparency. It would have allowed “any parent or guardian of a child enrolled in the school district” to inspect the curriculum and materials used to teach the child American history, government and civics.

The need for parental inspection of educational materials was highlighted just this week by a controversy in Cheyenne. The Laramie County School District #1 hired Western Education Equity Assistance Center (WEEAC), an out-of-state company aligned with the ‘1619 Project,’ to administer a survey to Cheyenne’s kids. It looked like a “push-poll” designed more to influence young minds than to gain useful knowledge.

When parents asked to inspect the survey before it was administered, they were told that that WEEAC considered its materials “proprietary,” and would not allow parents to preview them. Enough parents raised alarm that the school board postponed the survey at the last minute, promising to replace it with materials that parents could inspect ahead of time.

Like mold and mushrooms, poisonous ideas thrive in the dark. Healthy ideas, like green plants, enjoy the sunshine. You can help to let in the light. Support Superintendent Balow by supporting your local school board. Attend its meetings. Listen to what is going on. Talk to the board members. You might even run for a seat yourself! Wyoming’s children need your voice to keep them out of the crossfire.

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Jonathan Lange: Cheyenne’s Baby John Doe Mystery – Will DNA Technology Solve It?

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By Jonathan Lange, columnist

Cowboy State Daily reported last Monday that the Laramie County Sheriff’s Department has partnered with Othram labs to reopen a 33-year-old murder investigation. (Wendy Corr, “Laramie County: Wyoming Investigators Reopen 1988 Dead Infant Case” April 12, 2021)

Using the new technology of Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing©, they are working to solve the case of a “Baby John Doe” who was found in west Cheyenne in 1988.

Rapid developments in DNA sequencing are opening cold cases all over the world. Just a year ago, a similar case was solved in Meriden, Connecticut. The newborn had been left under a tree two months before Baby John Doe was found in Cheyenne.

When the DNA trail led police to his mother, she told them that “she’d been waiting 32 years for the day [when] police would be knocking on her door regarding this incident.” Her reaction revealed a simple truth: The solution that she found in a moment of panic neither resolved her problems, nor ended the matter.

My heart breaks for the child who was killed. But it also aches for the decades of mental torture that his mother must have experienced. Thankfully, this mother’s path to healing was opened by the application of DNA sequencing.

I pray for the mother and father of Cheyenne’s Baby John Doe. They, too, have an opportunity for healing that remains hindered so long as the truth remains hidden.

The similarity of these two cases led me to perform a simple internet search to inquire how many others there might be. In less than a second, I found dozens of cold-cases from all over the nation where newborns were left to die anonymously. Undoubtedly, each of these cases will be solved as genetic databases become more and more complete.

Until now, these sad stories only reached the national news in those rare cases when parents were located by traditional forensic means. Today we are standing at the beginning of a tidal wave of mysteries solved by emerging DNA technologies.

To get an idea of how large this wave might be, I consulted one Wyoming Ob-Gyn physician. I learned that he encounters patients on a monthly basis who have complications from self-procured medicinal abortions at home.

Occasionally, there are signs of a live birth, but the patient denies having had a baby. That’s only one practitioner in one city. Multiply this by twelve months in a year, and nearly three dozen such doctors in Wyoming and the potential numbers are staggering.

Each one of these women represents a case in which the State’s best efforts have failed. They did not receive information about the law and the many ways that Wyoming’s agencies, non-profits and safe-haven laws could have helped them avoid this crime and the guilt that followed it.

Each newborn was a Wyoming citizen who was not afforded the protections promised in Wyoming’s Constitution. Each father either failed to care for his child or was never informed of the pregnancy and given the chance to step up.

Wyoming can do better. That starts with opening our eyes to the problem. For years politicians have been pretending that such things do not happen in our state. That is no longer tenable.

Wyoming just passed SF 34 Born alive infant-means of care into law. It’s time for the Board of Medicine to create policies that ensure its enforcement. SF 34 addresses failed abortions, but it does not cover babies like little John Doe. Currently, Wyoming has no procedures in place for doctors to report obvious signs of birth without a baby. The Board of Medicine must address this also.

We are deluding ourselves if we believe that continued cover-ups help these mothers. Reluctance to investigate helps no one. Justice is not only beneficial for the victim. Justice is also beneficial for the perpetrator.

An ancient king named, David, learned this lesson and wrote of it when he tried to cover up his crimes. “[W]hen I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long” (Psalm 32:3). His cure was found in confession: “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin” (v. 5).

As DNA sequencing technology becomes ever more accurate, many more hidden crimes will be brought to the light. Rather than fearing this revelation of the truth, we should embrace it.

It is painful to face our failings, but it also opens a powerful path to healing. Jesus died for the crimes of all. He rose from the grave to give new life to all. He placed his Church on earth to forgive the sins of all who are repentant. By God’s grace, the revelations of DNA technology will give countless people an opportunity to hear and receive this forgiveness.

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Jonathan Lange: Everyone Should Make A Promise To Wyoming’s Children

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By Jonathan Lange, columnist

Promises made between husband and wife are exchanged in weddings all over the world as a public declaration of the bond of love. Families, communities, lawmakers and churches are called to support and help in the keeping of these vows. The marriage bond is at the very heart of communal life.

There is another bond of love that is equally at the heart of community life. This bond comes into existence whenever a new human being is conceived. This bond between parents and children, however, does not enjoy the same public celebration and ceremonial declaration as the marriage bond. It is unspoken, but just as obligatory.

One result of the unspoken nature of the promise to our children is that families, communities, lawmakers and churches are not as conscientiously aware of their role in helping to keep the promises. Sadly, many children face serious harms as a consequence of forgotten promises.

In an effort to raise public awareness and to stand for America’s children, a new coalition of community leaders has stepped forward. “Promise to America’s Children” wants to make explicit the promises to which every child is entitled. It is a partnership of eighteen national organizations and scores of state advocacy groups.

PromisetoAmericasChildren.org articulates the promises made to children both by parents and by the communities that support them. It addresses three aspects of a child’s existence—mind, body, and relationships. In all these areas, political and ideological agendas should take a back seat to the real-world needs of children. This means three promises that parents make toward children.

First, parents promise to nurture and honor young minds as they grow, protecting them from harm, instilling values, and providing the best opportunities for success. Second, they promise to develop and protect young bodies as they grow, affirming the dignity and worth of bodies that have been “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14). Third, they promise to honor and uphold the parent-child relationship, recognizing the infinite worth of their children and caring for them with unconditional love.

Communities also have obligations toward children. The village does not raise children—particular parents do. Nevertheless, the village is obligated to support parents and children in this sacred undertaking. Policy makers, in particular, should promise to set aside any agenda that would undermine their obligations to children.

“Promise to America’s Children” enunciates ten specific promises that government officials should make. They oppose anything that would undermine a community’s obligation to children. Their promises also fall under three headings.

“PROTECTING CHILDREN’S MINDS” means, among other things, that “Every child deserves to be protected from being used in or exposed to pornography, graphic sexual content or activities as well as from being exposed to it in media and on the Internet.” Therefore, “all public-school sexual education programs should be opt-in, voluntarily chosen by parents.” Also, “Every child deserves the right …to affirm or not affirm messages or ideas that violate their beliefs or conscience.”

“PROTECTING CHILDREN’S BODIES” means that “Every child deserves safety and privacy in sex-specific spaces.” Likewise, “Every child deserves the opportunity to participate in fair and safe athletic competitions.” Most especially, “Every child deserves the opportunity to be affirmed… in their biological sex, and to be supported as they mature through puberty and other normal adolescent changes that shape their maturity and reproductive capacity.”

Finally, “PROTECTING CHILDREN’S RELATIONSHIPS WITH THEIR PARENTS” is foundational to the care of both body and mind. Adoption laws, foster care, and assisted reproductive technologies should be regulated with the full acknowledgement that “Every child deserves a relationship with his or her mother and father.”

Furthermore, “Every child deserves to have his or her parents informed of and involved in important life decisions. Authority figures (including teachers, counselors, or medical professionals) should not withhold information about a child’s sexual activity, development, or identity from parents or take any action that undermines the parents’ role in guiding the child in these areas.”

By these simple promises, policy makers can protect Wyoming’s children from the ravages of the culture wars. So long as American citizens disagree on the most fundamental aspects of society, the least that legislators can do is to prevent adults from using children as cannon fodder. This is done by empowering their parents, who love them most of all.

The “Promise to America’s Children” was launched barely a month ago. Already Senate President Dan Dockstader (R-Afton) and Vice President, Larry Hicks (R-Baggs) have given their pledge to Wyoming’s children to support and protect them in Wyoming law. It would be well if all ninety of our legislators and all five of Wyoming’s executive officials joined them. Their promise to America’s children would make Wyoming a better place.

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