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Andi Elliott: It’s Only Just Begun

April 29th, 2012 by Halli

By Andi Elliott

Having read the Jefferson STAR 25 April editorials by Ryan Brown and Gayle Stofey about Sheriff Olsen, I’m prompted to write about my most recent experience regarding our Sheriff.

Because of the testimony that was presented in my successful suit regarding a false complaint filed against me under pressure from the Sheriff’s Department, I decided to file an ethics complaint with the Idaho Police Office Standards and Training or POST, as it is commonly called. So, about 4-6 weeks ago, I contacted Mr. Flink, POST Division Administrator. No response. One week later, I contacted him again. No response. One week later I called and was referred to an Investigator, Mike Dillon, and left a message. One week later, I called him again and when he learned who I was, he immediately asked me for my phone number and said he would get back with me. That didn’t happen. So, one week later, I began calling on a daily basis and finally after a couple of days, Mr. Dillon returned my call.

He was quite frank…told me that it was “too early” for POST to act. I responded “too early” when I have sworn testimony about what happened. When the judge directly questioned the witness about his testimony to make sure that he was absolutely clear about what he was testifying too and when the charges, after six months in court, were dismissed without reason…it is “too early”. He said it was.

My response… I know you have talked with Blair Olsen (Olsen holds the position of Chairman of POST). Talk with him again and he will tell you that when I know that I am in “the right” that I will not give up and you will be hearing from me again. We left it at that.

Several folks have contacted me over the past few years about suits they have filed because of misuse of power in our county. Next week, I’ll be filing a Freedom of Information request for a list of those suits that have been brought against Jefferson County because of inappropriate actions by the Sheriff’s Department. (County taxpayers are sometimes kept in the dark about these suits as the county often includes a clause that prohibits the plaintiff from disclosing any information yet we taxpayers get to foot the bill.) I met with my attorney yesterday; we will be initiating a suit against Jefferson county.

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

Richard Larsen: What’s Obama Hiding?

April 24th, 2012 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Is President Obama right in assuming that Mitt Romney is “hiding something?” Responding to a Washington Post article which revealed that Romney “is using an exception in federal ethics laws to avoid disclosing the full extent of his investment holdings,” Obama sent three tweets under his verified personal Twitter account attacking Romney. In his last tweet Obama queried, “What’s Romney hiding?”

Having filled the requirements of the Office of Government Ethics by what he’s already disclosed, the expectation that Romney would open his entire economic history to public scrutiny is not required, though it would be a courtesy to American voters. Obviously the OGE didn’t have any problems with Romney’s disclosures since they requested no further documentation, explanation, or more tax returns.

This isn’t an isolated instance, but seems to be an inscrutable theme by the Obama camp. Just a few months ago, before the first release of tax documents by Romney, Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, was asking, “What is it that he doesn’t want the American people to see?”

Let’s turn the table on what Obama tweeted. We should all be asking, “What’s Obama hiding?” In spite of having written two ideologically oriented autobiographies, we know remarkably little about the man who’s been our president. Charlie Rose and Tom Brokaw admitted four years ago on PBS, “We don’t know a lot about Barack Obama,” and now three years later, we still know very little about him.

And the reason? So much of his documented history is sealed and proscribed from release to the public. It seems only logical that if someone goes to such great lengths to seal and hide records, that there must be something worth hiding, based on Obama’s own reasoning. There must be something that would raise serious questions about his candidacy, or at the very least, provide an unwanted distraction to a candidate in a presidential election campaign.

While there are verifiable lists of nearly twenty items from his past that Obama has had sealed, there are a few undisclosed items that have particular relevance to his past that voters deserve to know about him. Yet for some unexplained reason, have remained hidden from the public.

For example, none of his college records from his two years at Occidental College in Los Angeles have been released, or from his next two years of undergraduate study at Columbia University. No records, grades, or transcripts from his years there. And, you guessed it, we have none from his law school days at Harvard either, including papers published while president of the Harvard Law Review.

He has prevented all such records from being made public. It can’t be a matter of being embarrassed by bad grades, for he wouldn’t have been able to go from a small private liberal arts school to Columbia, one of the most prestigious higher education institutions in the country without stellar grades. And for that matter, with bad grades he wouldn’t have been able to matriculate at Harvard Law School, either. So, Mr. President, what are you hiding?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act prevents institutions from releasing student educational records, but in the spirit of full disclosure, shouldn’t Obama release those records, including his transcripts?

We also have no records from his 18 months as a practicing attorney, including client lists. In fact, even his record with the Illinois State Bar Association remains sealed.

All of his records and files from his years as an Illinois State Senator are sealed. Even his medical records are sealed, as the only evidence we have of his medical health is a one-page, 276-word statement from his doctor. By comparison, John McCain, in the last election cycle, released over 1,000 pages of medical records.
Even more troublesome, is the obvious duplicity and lack of impartiality on the part of the mainstream media. The cacophony of talking heads from the media is parroting Obama’s call for Romney to release his records. So where are the calls for Obama to open the books and records on his past?

Just last week Obama said in an interview on Univision, “I think that it’s important for any candidate in public office to be as transparent as possible, to let people know who we are, what we stand for, and you know, I think that this is just carrying on a tradition that has existed throughout the modern presidency.”

Mr. President, are you not to be held to the same standards of transparency? Or is this a standard you hold everyone to except you? So, what are you hiding?

How about a document swap; all of your sealed records for Romney’s tax returns?

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

Richard Larsen: The REAL War on Women

April 17th, 2012 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Do moms who choose to stay at home just sit around and “bake cookies and have teas,” as Hillary Clinton mocked many years ago? Or are they shirking their domestic and familial duties when they enter the workforce or public life, as Howard Gutman, a member of Obama’s campaign insinuated in his accusations against Sarah Palin?

The issue of gender stereotyping surfaced this week with some ill-advised comments by a political activist.

“Guess what: his wife has never really worked a day in her life. She’s never really dealt with the kind of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school, and why do we worry about their future.” For being a public relations specialist working for the Democrat National Committee, Hilary Rosen’s effused foot-in-mouth statement on MSNBC’s Anderson Cooper Show betrayed an ignorance and insensitivity toward moms who work at home, when she criticized Ann Romney, a cancer and multiple sclerosis survivor, mother of five, and a stay at home mom.

There is probably no job more difficult and challenging, and conversely, rewarding, than providing for the temporal, emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs of children. Yet the mainstream media and vocal advocates for the feminist movement, as characterized by Ms. Rosen, would have us believe that motherhood’s not hard work and should not be a preferred lifestyle for women.

W. Bradford Wilcox of the University of Virginia claims these are false perceptions, and asserts, “Many in the media and academia think working women are one way, and that stay-at-home wives and mothers are another way. This overlooks the fact that many women who work outside the home would like to work less or not at all. That is, they are working because they feel they have to, not because they want to.”

Wilcox bases his analysis on the 2000 National Survey of Marriage and Family Life, which, as he explains, “Indicates that, among married mothers with children in the home under 18, only 18 percent of married mothers would prefer to work full-time; by contrast, 46 percent would prefer to work part-time, and 36 percent would prefer to stay at home. Clearly, the most popular option for married mothers is part-time work, whereas only about one-fifth of these mothers would prefer to work full time.” In other words, 82% of women with children under 18, would prefer to work less or not at all.

It seems ironic that the same people who are such advocates for “choice” in terminating unborn children, seem almost apoplectic and cynically critical over women who exercise a “choice” to remain at home to rear their children. Yet the irony and duplicity doesn’t stop there. For even Ms. Rosen, who was the head of the Recording Industry Association of America, resigned in 2003, to “spend more time with her family,” which consisted of her then-partner, Elizabeth Birch, and their adopted twins, Jacob and Anna, according to Politico.

After the news of Ms. Rosen’s gaffe hit the airwaves, The Washington Post featured the story online with an opportunity to vote, “Is raising a family hard work?” or “She’s right, Ann Romney is out of touch with the issues facing working women.” 97% of respondents voted that raising a family is indeed hard work.
Too many political analysts and pundits characterize the “women’s vote” as a monolithic block that votes based on perceptions regarding female reproductive rights or other gender-specific issues. It presumes that their primary concerns are somehow different than everyone else’s.

Yet in the real world, I find women mostly concerned with the same issues that preoccupy men as it relates to politics: the national debt, the spending deficit, high unemployment, the security of the nation, government intrusion into our private lives, government control of our economy, and over-regulation that curtails economic growth. In other words, they’re a demographic segment with the same concerns as men, yet with some sensitivity to the aforementioned perceived priorities.

Really the so-called “war on women” is, and always has been, an exercise from the left of the political spectrum. Media, academia, and feminists who want to define for women what they should want and choose, rather than letting them choose for themselves. Women are no less diverse, concerned with national issues, or inclined to stereotypical archetypes than men or any other demographic group is.

For yet another major political figure to erroneously attempt to define women in as limited a fashion as Ms. Rosen did, not only seeks to restrict women’s ability to “choose” for themselves what to do in life, but limits definitionally what is a viable life-style choice for women. That, my friends, is what I would call a real, rather than an artificially concocted, “war on women.”

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

Richard Larsen: Obama’s Constitutional Illiteracy

April 13th, 2012 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

“I can’t believe you ruled against my health reform,” was the caption below President Obama on a political cartoon making the rounds earlier this week. The response from the judge he directed his comment to, was, “I can’t believe you taught constitutional law.” In light of some politically charged comments directed at the Supreme Court by Obama earlier this week, anyone with any sense of history and legal precedent had the judge’s comments echoing through their minds as well.

Obama on Monday, answering a question about the Supreme Court hearings on his health-care plan the previous week, said, “Ultimately, I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress. And I’d just remind conservative commentators that for years what we’ve heard is, the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint — that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law. Well, this is a good example. And I’m pretty confident that this Court will recognize that and not take that step.”

“Unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law.” For having purportedly taught “constitutional law” he’s either startlingly ignorant of it, or he’s prevaricating for the political spin. Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times described Obama’s remarks as “utterly inept,” many others were even less kind. The Supreme Court has overturned, or ruled congressional legislation unconstitutional, dozens of times, even as recently as two years ago with the landmark Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission which struck down portions of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform Act.

How about Obama’s shot across the bow of the Supreme Court calling them an “unelected group of people?” They’re appointed, as he well knows, but this is his disingenuous way of mitigating the pejorative political impact of a possible ruling against his signature legislation. This is odious intimidation from the President of the United States.

The irony of this posturing is only magnified when we realize, as the Huffington Post reminded us this past week that in 2008 candidate Obama campaigned against Hillary Clinton’s proposed “individual mandate” in part because it was “unconstitutional.” Go figure!

Even more stupefying is Obama’s inability to distinguish between judicial review, a judicial precedent established in 1803 with Marbury v. Madison, and “judicial activism.” What the Supreme Court is doing now with a pending ruling on the constitutionality of Obamacare is clearly within the purview of the judiciary branch as delineated in Article III of the Constitution and according to precedent. Judicial activism, however, goes beyond determining constitutionality, and essentially creates law from the bench from their ruling. A perfect example of judicial activism is the case of Roe v. Wade, where the due process clause from the 14th Amendment (granting full citizenship rights to former slaves) was convoluted to such an extreme as to justify abortion from an assumed “right of privacy.”

If not such a serious matter, Obama’s reference to Obamacare being passed by “a strong majority” would be comical. It passed the House by a mere 7 votes, 219-212, and the Senate by one vote! What I would call a “strong majority” is the Senate rejecting Obama’s ludicrous budget last week 97-0, and the House’s similar 414-0 vote.

Much of what Washington has done the past several decades would be considered unconstitutional if our founding legal document, the Constitution, was interpreted literally. For example, the difference between “promote the general welfare” which is what the Preamble to the Constitution says, is vastly different than “provide for the general welfare,” which seems to be the tortuous interpretation made by those who think the Constitution is a “living document,” hence, not to be interpreted literally.

Obama and the advocates of Obamacare maintain that the “individual mandate” to own health insurance is based in the commerce clause of the Constitution. Yet when you read Article I Section 8, it says Congress is to “regulate commerce…among the several states…” Regulate, in 18th century English, meant to “keep regular or even,” or “prevent obstruction.” It is beyond logic to presume that government can force all citizens to buy something based on that definition, even broccoli, as Justice Scalia indicated during oral testimony.

Most contemporary interpretations of the Constitution are flawed with the Etymological Logical Fallacy, which erroneously postulates that the original historical meaning of a word or phrase is necessarily similar to its present-day meaning. Perhaps the best thing we could do is provide everyone in D.C. with an Oxford English Dictionary, which provides the etymological roots, context, and usage of words in delineated historical timeframes.

Literalism is critical to the implementation of our entire legal code. It seems illogical to presume that our founding legal codex, the Constitution, should be interpreted any less literally.

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

Richard Larsen: Small Victory Over Government Intimidation – Sacketts v. EPA

April 6th, 2012 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

It’s bad enough that the politicians who run our government create megalithic and bureaucratic monstrosities to rule our lives with, but it’s even worse when those agencies begin to mutate and exercise presumed power to harass the very citizens they are supposed to serve. Several of our government agencies engage in citizen harassment, intimidation, and persecution that is much more characteristic of a fascistic system than a democratic one. And woe to the citizen caught in their crosshairs, as the Sackett’s from Priest Lake discovered, much to their dismay!

Michael and Chantell Sackett bought their “dream” property, about 2/3 of an acre, hundreds of yards away from the lake, in part of a building development back in 2007. They proceeded to develop the lot in preparation for building a modest three bedroom home.

The EPA showed up and issued a cease and desist order claiming the ground was classified as “wetlands.” Visiting with Michael this week, he said there’s a row of houses and a county road between his property and the edge of the lake, and no other water source, or standing water, on their property.

The Sackets stopped the property development per the EPA order, and researched the property more fully. They learned that the data the EPA was using to classify their property was erroneous, as it was not on their “wetlands inventory.” When confronted with the Sackett’s finding, the EPA said that sometimes their data is not accurate, yet insisted that the Sacketts were still obligated to comply with the order.

Meantime, the EPA threatened fines of $32,500 to $75,000 a day if the Sacketts failed to return the property to its former state, and plant non-indigenous flora. But incredibly, there was no means to appeal the diktat of the federal agency. They couldn’t even take the issue to court against the agency! But they tried. And even though they were deprived of their day in court against the EPA by a federal judge and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court, in a rare unanimous decision last week in Sackett v. EPA, said property owners have every right to challenge bureaucratic fiat in court.

Idaho Congressman Raúl Labrador issued a statement saying, “The federal government is an intimidating force against ordinary citizens, and standing up to its bureaucracy requires extraordinary bravery. Thanks to the unwavering courage and selfless sacrifice of the Sacketts, Americans everywhere will be guaranteed the right to appeal a decision imposed by a government agency.”

Mike Sackett said in a statement after the decision, “We are very thankful to the Supreme Court for affirming that we have rights, and that the EPA is not a law unto itself and that the EPA is not beyond the control of the courts and the Constitution. The EPA used bullying and threats of terrifying fines, and has made our life hell for the past five years. It said we could not go to court and challenge their bogus claim that our small lot had ‘wetlands’ on it. As this nightmare went on, we rubbed our eyes and started to wonder if we were living in some totalitarian country. Now, the Supreme Court has come to our rescue, and reminded the EPA — and everyone — that this is still America, and Americans still have rights under the Constitution.”

In the courtroom, Justice Antonin Scalia, mocked the EPA’s view that the Sacketts’ small lot was protected by federal law as part of the “navigable waters” of the United States, pointing out that the Sackets had never “seen a ship or other vessel cross their yard.” Scalia insisted that they are entitled to a civil hearing before the agency to contest the EPA’s jurisdiction over their property.

In a concurring opinion for the case, Justice Samuel Alito accurately noted that, despite the ruling, “the combination of the uncertain reach of the Clean Water Act and draconian penalties imposed for the sort of violations alleged in this case still leaves most property owners with little practical alternative but to dance to the EPA’s tune.”

The court decision doesn’t change the laws regarding what constitutes a “wetland,” nor does it force the EPA to limit their bullying tactics to their “wetlands inventory,” but it does give landowners the ability to at least challenge the EPA’s strong-arm tactics against property owners.

Government, and its hoard of agencies and bureaucracies, was not created by divine unction, and are not infallible. They are to serve the people, not rule over them in totalitarian fashion. With the tsunami of government control swamping individual freedom, it was encouraging to see the Supreme Court vote unanimously to help protect individual property owners from tyrannical bureaucratic overreach. Those in government service should never forget that they are to serve “We the People.”

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

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