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November 14th, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

It’s hard to think of any other way to characterize the off-year elections results across the nation, than that the rejection of liberalism and progressivism continues unabated. Races across the country, and even some key social-issue elections, don’t portend well for those on the left of the political spectrum.

Perhaps the most significant race was for the governorship of Kentucky. Matt Bevin, a political outsider and Tea Party activist, was trounced just a year ago by 25 points in a primary defeat by the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell. A year later, he’s the governor elect of the state.

There are many takeaways from his success, but the most obvious is that his conservatism was across the board, from fiscal to social. While the Obama administration has been holding Kentucky up as an exemplary success story for Obamacare, Bevin ran against it, based on costs, cost of coverage, and declining healthcare provision under the ACA. He also ran on the social side of the issue, proposing to defund Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the nation.

And he embraced and supported the cause of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis who refused to issue marriage licenses for same-sex marriages because of her religious convictions. And according to Davis, the governor elect even (gasp) prayed with her when she was incarcerated.

His first order of business is to make the Bluegrass State a right to work state. Diminishing union political clout and increasing voter focus on economic issues could have more broad ramifications even beyond Kentucky, and the southern states generally.

It’s difficult to say what the key factor was in Bevin’s victory. As recently as a day before the election, he was projected to lose by five points. Instead, he won by ten. But it’s hard to overstate the significance of a fiscal and social conservative winning the gubernatorial race in a seat that has only had one other Republican governor in the past 50 years. Oh, and his running mate, the Lt. Governor elect, Jenean Hampton, is now the first black elected to statewide office in the state’s history. And she’s also a Tea Party activist.

Elsewhere across the land, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a close friend of the Clintons, went all-out to pick up at least one additional seat to give his party control of the state senate. He solicited PAC money from outside the state and by all accounts, outspent Republicans nearly 4 to 1, yet was unable to pick up even one seat. Interestingly, much of the outside money was advocating stricter gun control legislation. This may be indicative of the mood of the country toward restrictive 2nd Amendment efforts, which does not bode well for the left.

Houston had an Equal Rights Ordinance on their ballot that banned discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. It had been passed by the Houston city council and had only been on the city ordinance books for three months, before voters overwhelmingly repealed it with Tuesday’s vote. Even the White House had weighed in on this local issue, but on the losing side of the argument.

In San Francisco, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi was defeated. The sheriff received national attention when he steadfastly defended the city’s controversial “sanctuary city” policy of protecting illegal aliens, after illegal migrant Francisco Sanchez shot and killed a 32 year-old woman on the waterfront in July. But based solely on one logical vote, it’s entirely premature to claim voters in San Francisco may have actually found their marbles so long lost.

In Mississippi, Republican Governor Phil Bryant was easily reelected. The GOP also increased their majority in their House by nearly 10%, giving them nearly a super majority, defeating the House Minority Leader in the process. Voters in Ohio rejected liberalization of medical and recreational marijuana laws.

With but few exceptions, it was a banner election for liberty, free markets, economic growth, traditional social conventions and institutions, rule of law, and common sense governance. As boisterously as the mainstream media have been proclaiming the demise of the Tea Party, one can’t help but surmise, as did Mark Twain, that news of their death has been greatly exaggerated.

If anything, there seems to be a deepening and widening conviction that exceeds the traditional purview of the Tea Party, and is more fundamentally etched in the broader body politick. It’s gone mainstream. That conviction has been spawned, nurtured, and invigorated by none other than our community organizer in chief. He almost single-handedly has orchestrated the resurgence in the conservative ideals of American exceptionalism. Just as he’s been the most effective gun salesman over the past several years, he’s been the poster child of all that can go wrong when distinctly anti-American ideals are foisted upon the republic.

Since the 2010 midterms, the Democrat party has lost over 1,200 seats in government according to Real Clear Politics. That’s governorships, state senate, state house, town councils, county leadership, city councils, and mayors. Not only are they losing on economic issues, but they’re losing on the social issues. And it’s no surprise, for even though the left has been winning on so many fronts, the broader populace is not pleased. According to a Washington Post, ABC News poll in July, fully 63% of adult Americans are either strongly or somewhat uncomfortable with the direction of the country on social issues. We mustn’t forget who is driving that “uncomfortable” agenda.

With the socialist-left end of the political spectrum dutifully and ideologically represented by the Democrat party, the worst thing would be for Republicans to basically be the socialist-lite party. If the GOP wants to continue winning, it appears increasingly that the way for them to do so is by returning to the core values their party is based on, economically and socially.

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

Richard Larsen: Economic Freedom, Not Egalitarianism, Eradicates Poverty and Builds Wealth

November 9th, 2015 by Halli

by Richard Larsen

America was was intended to be a “shining city on a hill” of freedom, individual liberty, and unlimited opportunity. She was never intended to be a socialist state. Socialistic egalitarianism is strikingly antithetical to the American paradigm.

Founded in individual liberty, America has always been the one nation under heaven where equality of opportunity has taken precedence over equality of outcome. The whole concept of the “American Dream” is based on the individual freedom to become, to achieve, to build, sell, and succeed. This requires individual freedom (which is diminished proportionate to expanded governmental power), and a free market economy (not centralized planning, or government control over the means of production). Consequently, socialism in any of its iterations (communism, national socialism, fascism, and democratic-socialism) is philosophically, morally, and pragmatically, contrary to the principles upon which the republic was founded. Consequently, it is deductively anti-American.

To socialism, equality is paramount, rather than achievement and excellence. It ascribes value to workers not based upon their production and performance, but by the amount of time they put in. The net result is the rewarding of mediocrity rather than excellence.

By robbing Peter to pay Paul, the redistributive policies of socialism punish the producers, and rewards the non-producers. By so doing, not only is the heart and soul of a society inflicted with a loss of appetite for proactivity, creation, and production, but it becomes afflicted with an entitlement mentality of what the government, at the expense of the producers, can do for “me.” This makes individuals dependent on the state and the diminishing number of producers, since the government has nothing but what it takes from its citizens. This dependency can be for everything from food and energy to health care. In short, it strives for egalitarianism by debasing and defalcating from the successful, rather than providing means for elevating the disadvantaged.

As Danish author Mikkel Nissen explains, “Society becomes more and more deprived (in lack of ambition) and grows reliant upon the perfectly steady increase in entitlement benefits solidified through learned helplessness, successfully blinding society to the rapidly increasing collective oppression. This precise process of ambient socialism has taken place in the United States during the end of the twentieth century and continues to transpire ever more rapidly in the twenty-first century.”

Winston Churchill captured the essence of the failed and debilitating ideology; “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy; its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”

Logically then, it seems that those most ardent in their aspiration for egalitarianism seek not the elevation of a society, or a nation, but the demise thereof, by elevation of mediocrity over excellence; governmental thralldom over individual freedom; common misery over hope and the human spirit; micromanagement of the soul of man by the body politik, over personal responsibility and accountability.

If America ever devolves completely to the democratic-socialist level, it will constitute an abject rejection of the classical-liberal ideals upon which the republic was founded, placing foremost among those, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. For nowhere in our founding documents is there even an utterance of socialist egalitarianism for the concept is diametrically opposed to the American dream and spirit.

The greatest evil inflicted upon mankind was done in the name of egalitarianism, and the “common good,” for the “working man,” and is responsible for hundreds of millions of deaths, all sacrificed at the altar of equality. Any form of socialism or collectivism is destructive to the human spirit which yearns to be free. This societal degradation advances until fully contaminated with the lower denominator of mediocrity. The purported elevation of the impoverished is promised, yet never fully delivered, by centralized control.

The freedom, and concomitant free markets, which made America great and so economically viable, has done more to elevate the disadvantaged than any iteration of socialism has even dreamed of. Free market capitalism is the heart and soul of individual freedom, for without financial freedom, most other forms have little pertinence.

The Economist recently reported that the global poverty rate has shrunk 50 percent in the past two decades: “The world has lately been making extraordinary progress in lifting people out of extreme poverty. Between 1990 and 2010, their number fell by half as a share of the total population in developing countries, from 43% to 21% — a reduction of almost 1 billion people.” And what is it that has elevated the quality of living throughout the globe? Nothing but the proliferation of free-market capitalism. “The biggest poverty-reduction measure of all is liberalizing markets to let poor people get richer. That means freeing trade between countries (Africa is still cruelly punished by tariffs) and within them (China’s real great leap forward occurred because it allowed private business to grow),” the Economist explains.

What worked in America, is now working across the globe. Our efforts to incorporate even diluted elements of the failed ideology are ineffectual, as evidenced by the fact that our poverty rate is virtually the same now as it was when LBJ’s “Great Society” social programs were launched 50 years ago.

The ideological cadre of progressives who embrace the pernicious doctrines so antithetical to America’s soul are advocating, in short, principles that are anathema and perhaps traitorous to the nation. We can only hope, pray, and work to ensure that the next eight years, at least, feature a leadership that is dedicated to America and our founding principles, to hopefully unravel so much of the damage inflicted in recent years, and return to those precepts that made America great.

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

Richard Larsen: Democrat Debate Displayed Idiocy of the Democrat Party

October 31st, 2015 by Halli

by Richard Larsen

There are several self-evident truths about the Democrat Party that were revealed at their presidential debate earlier this past week. And as they relate to the character of the party, what it stands for, and what its adherents believe, none bode well for the future of the country.

Bernie Sanders, the self-avowed Democrat-Socialist Senator from Vermont, drew perhaps the most boisterous response to his comment, “Let me say something that may not be great politics. The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your d**n emails,” referring to Hillary Clinton’s FBI email investigation. Clearly, Sanders was echoing the sentiment of the Democrat faithful as evidenced by the raucous response in the debate hall, but such a sentiment underscores the elitism of the party: the “rule of law” is selectively applied, and has little or no relevance to the elite. And in Democrat circles, there are none more elite than the Clintons.

Those with high level security clearance are beholden to the regulations designed to protect national security, and knowingly mishandling classified information (or even sensitive information not classified “Top Secret”), bears criminal repercussions. The cases of former CIA directors General David Petraeus and John Deutch clearly prove the criminal liability. And according to Judicial Watch, the Obama administration has charged more government employees under the Espionage Act than any since the post-WWI era law was enacted.

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough has aptly identified and clarified the problems with Hillary’s dismissal of email impropriety charges. “The State Department inspectors general said they found classified materials sent to and from Clinton’s Chappaqua home-baked server even though they only had access to a small sample of 40 e-mails. Of those, they found that four contained government secrets. That is information that if exposed could potentially harm national security. It’s information that is meant to be transferred and stored exclusively on secure computer networks with special safeguards.

“Again, of the self-selected e-mails that the Clinton camp chose to release, one in 10 of those e-mails seems to have held classified information. Put in perspective, Hillary Clinton turned in over 30,000 e-mails she said were work-related. She destroyed tens of thousands of e-mails, wiped clean her home-baked server and possibly destroyed copies of countless classified documents improperly stored and sent from the United States’ top diplomat. The extent of the cover-up, if there ever was one, will not be known because that evidence which could either clear or convict her is destroyed by the politician who is now at the center of this national security debate,” Scarborough detailed.

If General Petraeus’ informational indiscretions and national security protection had been as egregious as Hillary’s, he would be serving time and not escape with merely a $100,000 fine. And even if the emails were not classified as “Top Secret,” what does it say about the judgment, or lack thereof, of one who aspires to be our Commander in Chief? Bad judgment, poor decisions, disregard for rules intended to safeguard the country, and the Democrat Party applauds her, claiming they’re sick of hearing about it. Contrary to what the New York Times averred after the debate, this was not the “adults in the room,” for adults take their oaths, and national security, seriously.

Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Bergquist indicates that just based on the information that has been made public with regard to Hillary’s emails, the former Secretary of State could be indicted for breaking 8 separate laws, and multiple counts on each. They include 18 U.S. Code § 793 – Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information; 18 U.S. Code § 798 – Disclosure of classified information; U.S. Code § 1924 – Unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material; 18 U.S. Code § 2071(b) — Concealment, removal, or mutilation generally; 18 U.S. Code § 1505 – Obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies, and committees; and 18 U.S. Code § 1519 — Destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in federal investigations

We must remember, in spite of the accusations of this being strictly political, that the FBI, State Department Inspector General, and Dept. of Justice are conducting the investigation. None of this would have come to light without the congressional hearings that uncovered the improprieties.

Also disturbing at the debate was Hillary’s perpetual reference to her gender uniqueness, as if that’s a substantive reason to garner electoral support. She repeatedly reminded viewers, at least seven times, that she was a woman. I wasn’t aware there was any question about that. But is that a reason to vote for someone? Identity politics is as specious and vacuous an appeal for votes as any in the book!

Ditto for class envy politics echoed by all the candidates, but most obstreperously articulated by Sanders. “Middle class in this country is collapsing. We have 27 million people living in poverty. We have massive wealth and income inequality. Our trade policies have cost us millions of decent jobs. The American people want to know whether we’re going to have a democracy or an oligarchy as a result of Citizens United.”

Blaming the wealthy, rather than the laws and presidential actions that have decimated the middle class over the past seven years, is casuistic populism, and displays abject ignorance to the facts about the role government is now playing to vitiate economic growth. But it’s just so much easier to blame the wealthy and, in pandering populist fashion, promise to punish them to the benefit of the rest.

And finally, whatever happened to liberals’ adulation of diversity? The debate was mostly a harmonious echo chamber of confirmation bias, where each tried to “out-progressive” the other. They mostly agree on everything, except perhaps the NRA. And even there, blaming the NRA for the Second Amendment is equivalent to blaming Citizen’s United for the First Amendment.

What the New York Times thought was, “The Grown-ups” taking the stage, was more like the JV team. When identity politics pandering, class-envy populism, lack of understanding of the adult issues, and “vote for me because I’m a woman” are the main course, anyone of substance would have come away hungry.

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Richard Larsen: Do We Really Want to Model the U.S. after Denmark?

October 31st, 2015 by Halli

by Richard Larsen

At the Democrat presidential debate two weeks ago, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said we “should look to countries like Denmark…and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people.” The good senator should either rephrase his statement, or look more closely at the data. Democratic-socialism may work in some places in Europe, but was never intended, nor can it work, in the United States of America.

Another of Sanders’ erroneous statements regarding Denmark was when he claimed that Denmark’s economic model “provides extraordinary security and opportunity.” It does provide security, but little opportunity, economic or otherwise.

Democratic socialism is a political ideology which juxtaposes a democratic political system, (popular elections), with a socialist economic system. As such, it involves a combination of political democracy (usually multi-party democracy) with “social ownership of the means of production.”
Consequently, it can be somewhat characterized as a less tyrannical and totalitarian form of socialism, since the masses are voting for the cadre that will separate them from the fruits of their labors. And while it may not abolish private property ownership, as its more draconian sibling, communism does, it taxes income, and inflates prices sufficiently, that private property ownership is severely limited.

The sheer economies of scale make a comparison between the Scandinavian country and the U.S. impracticable. Denmark, with a landmass of 16,562 square miles, is roughly the size of Maryland, and with a population of 5.6 million, has about 1.5% of the U.S. population. Compound that with America’s propensity toward a kakistocracy, as evidenced by the last two presidential election cycles, and democratic-socialism would likely destroy the economy, and the republic.

Danish author, Mikkel Clair Nissen, has published his own response to Americans who think Denmark’s democratic-socialism is so appealing. “I am a school teacher from Denmark making about $61,000 a year. We get free education. You don’t have to pay for the doctor, the hospital, and students even get paid to study. It all sounds so great…right? However, I forgot to mention that nothing is ever free. The lowest personal income tax in Denmark is minimum 40 percent. Also, we pay a sales tax of 25 percent, and on top of sales tax the government applies further (generally hidden) duties and fees, applied to almost everything, making it really hard for lower class people to get by, causing them to be deeply dependent on government handouts,” she says.

When Senator Sanders refers to “working people,” he likely is referring to the middle class, since that’s the most productive and economically viable demographic. Just as most of the fiscal initiatives of the past seven years have most adversely affected the American middle class, European democratic-socialism virtually plunders theirs. The middle-class in Denmark is taxed at a 60% rate, and that’s just the income tax rate. Yet to pay that rate, all one has to make is $55,000 per year. That means those who, by American standards, are earning a respectable middle-class income of $55k per year, only keep $22,000 of their earnings. That’s a relatively paltry $1,833 per month.

Nissen continues, “A gallon of gas is about 10 dollars. Tax on a car is 180 percent, which brings a car valued a bit over $20,000 dollars in the United States (e.g. Honda Accord) up to an astounding $50,000 dollars in Denmark.” No wonder 65% of the travel in the country is by mass transit and bicycle. And not surprisingly, cost of energy is extremely expensive, as most electricity is produced by “green” sources. The cost per kilowatt-hour of electricity is $.42, compared with an average of $.12 in the United States.

Nissen further explains, because of “excessive taxation, Danes also have the highest private debt in the world. Only few will ever own a car or a house here; banks generally do – hypocritically, the very same banks that the collectivists despise. Anyone who makes over $80,000 annually pays a personal tax of 68 percent. This means that almost all people with higher earnings have either found ways to evade taxes, or have left the country, often bringing their companies with them, making employment scarcely low.”

According to Eurostat, the European Union’s official data reporting service, real unemployment is double what the official figures indicate. By their calculations, Denmark’s real unemployment rate is 14%.

And Nissen provides more insights. “Denmark’s suicide rate has averaged 20.8 per 100,000 during the last five decades, with its highest level of 32. The American suicide rate averaged only 11.1 during the last five decades, and has never exceeded 12.7. Danes are deeply deprived, driven by severe narcissism, and so more than 11 percent of adult Danes – the supposed happiest people in the world – are on antidepressants. Well, of course, Danes are happy; they are medicated to be!”

If Danes are so happy to be economically socialized, why do they take their own lives at three times the American rate, and their anti-depressant dependency exceed America’s by 40%? Could it be that the cost of freedom is much greater than we assume?

Nissen concludes his missive, “Everyone wants the American dream. In Denmark’s neo-communism, no one will ever own or accomplish anything.”
America was founded on classical-liberal ideals of maximum freedom to facilitate virtually unlimited potential. Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor safety.” And that’s precisely what socialism, in all its iterations, does. It sacrifices individual freedom at the altar of security and egalitarianism

One of the most critical concepts of liberty upon which America was founded, is economic freedom. Indeed, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton championed economic freedom as the foundation for all other liberties. True liberty mandates that private property, and the ability to reap and freely expend the fruits of our labors, is sacrosanct. Nobel economic laureate Milton Friedman declared that property rights are “the most basic of human rights and an essential foundation for other human rights.” Without economic freedom, all else is severely vitiated.

There might be some things America can learn from the Danish economic model, but only if we deny what America was founded and intended to be — the land of the free, dedicated to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

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

Richard Larsen: Rectifying Constitutional Illiteracy

October 3rd, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

This past week was Constitution Week, and justifiably so. For if ever there was a time in our nation’s history when we needed to be constitutionally literate, it is now. The spirit of apathy, and ignorance of our founding documents including the Constitution, plagues too many of our fellow citizens. But it is a rectifiable malady.

By joint Congressional Resolution, and the signature of then President Dwight D. Eisenhower, September 17th was declared Citizenship Day, and September 17-23 of each year would be designated Constitution Week. That was reaffirmed in 2002 by then President George W. Bush. September 17, 1787 marks the historic signing of the Constitution for the United States of America.

Thomas Jefferson obviously knew of mankind’s inclination toward apathy and ignorance, when he said, “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of Constitutional power.”

Over the course of the past few years, the abuses of Constitutional power have increased exponentially. There has never been a time in our history when remedial education of citizenship and the Constitution have been more requisite.

That is the objective of Constitution week, to 1) emphasize our responsibility of protecting and defending the Constitution to preserve it, and our freedoms, for posterity; 2) to understand the unique and binding nature of the Constitution in our heritage as Americans; and 3) to study and more fully comprehend the historical events surrounding the founding of our country.

As a word of warning, Jefferson said, “I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries, as long as they are agricultural. When they get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become as corrupt as in Europe.” Our government has reached that point much sooner than Jefferson envisioned.

Abraham Lincoln said, “Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.” As soon as some of the rights or government limitations advanced by the Constitution are questioned, all of them are subjected to similar scrutiny and selective application, eventually. Each right curtailed or impinged upon, opens the door for similar abuses of any and all of the others enumerated in the Bill of Rights, comprising the first ten Amendments to the Constitution.

Albert Einstein, an immigrant to America, recognized the need for all citizens to be informed, educated, and resolute in preserving our rights, which include limitation of the powers of the state. Said he, “The strength of the Constitution lies entirely in the determination of each citizen to defend it. Only if every single citizen feels duty bound to do his share in this defense are the constitutional rights secure.” With so many of our fellow citizens more concerned about getting their share of government largesse at the expense of their taxpaying neighbors, the determination to defend and support the Constitution and our liberties is commensurately diminished.

With all of the recent expansion of federal government infringing on our constitutional rights, we as citizens must take note of what Lincoln said of those who seek to trample our liberties. He said, “We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”

It’s difficult for us as a citizenry, to stand collectively and individually against those who seek to subvert our liberties if we suffer from abject ignorance of what those rights are, and what our government was constructed to do, and not to do. It is readily apparent from blogs and social media that great numbers of our fellow citizens suffer from acute ignorance of our founding documents, as they opine based on assumptions rather than what the Constitution authorizes or allows.

Hence, the primary objective of Citizenship Day and Constitution Week is to increase our understanding and knowledge of our founding documents and the rights and privileges assured thereby. Ignorance, apathy, and selfishness are pitiful excuses for citizens in a constitutional republic that was founded upon principles of individual liberty and limited governmental power!

Regardless of the dearth of public observances or opportunities for constitutional edification this past week, it’s incumbent upon each of us as citizens to avail ourselves the opportunity to become more informed, more educated, and more proactive citizens by reading our Constitution and studying the history surrounding its ratification. I’m convinced most of those who are critical of our Constitution will be amazed at what is in it, but perhaps even more, what is not.

For some, those who believe the country should not be based on liberty but on centralized government, the Constitution is presumed to be an anachronism, unfit to serve as the foundational contractual document between our government and the people. This concept is invalidated by the fact that every political official, every policeman, every judge, and every soldier, takes an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. That such an oath, taken every day across the land, could be thought anachronistic is logically, legally, and morally untenable.

As Benjamin Franklin portended after the signing of the Constitution, we have a republic, if we can keep it. And to any quasi-objective observer of our contemporary political environment, we’re not keeping it, but letting it slip away, one constitutional precept, right, and principle, at a time. Now is the time to remedy our constitutional illiteracy, and to uphold those who take their oath to support the Constitution seriously.

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Richard Larsen: No Substantive Difference Between Socialists and Democrats

August 23rd, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Sometimes what’s not said in response to a direct inquiry is more noteworthy than what is said. When the chairman of the Democrat National Committee was asked recently what the difference between a Democrat and a Socialist was, she sidestepped the issue and went a totally divergent direction. It would have provided a valuable service if she’d answered the question directly, for there seems to be no substantive distinction.

“What is the difference between a Democrat and a socialist?” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews asked Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. The DNC chairman started to laugh, so Matthews tried again. “I used to think there was a big difference. What do you think?” Wasserman-Schultz started to sidestep the issue again, so Matthews tried a third time. “Yeah, but what’s the big difference between being a Democrat and being a socialist? You’re the chairwoman of the Democratic Party. Tell me the difference between you and a socialist.” Intentionally avoiding Matthew’s question, she responded, “The difference between—the real question is what’s the difference between being a Democrat and being a Republican.” Her dogmatically superficial and fallacious explication ensued.

A little later, NBC’s Chuck Todd, on “Meet the Press,” asked the same question, which she responded to very similarly, choosing to answer a question not asked. But when the Matthews interview is looked at contextually, she may have already answered the question, when she called Bernie Sanders “a good Democrat.”

That’s a significant statement even at face value, for Bernie Sanders, the junior senator from Vermont, and a Democrat candidate for president, is a self-avowed socialist. He’s officially an Independent, but caucuses with the Democrats and votes with them 98% of the time, according to

The significance increases further when Sander’s burgeoning popularity in the Democrat presidential polls is analyzed. Having started out in single-digit support just two months ago, Sanders has significantly reduced frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s lead. In Sander’s neighboring state of New Hampshire, one of the early voting states, Sanders now leads Clinton by 7%. Considering only 38% of Americans feel Clinton is “trustworthy,” it’s surprising the former Secretary of State has any lead in any polls, anywhere.

Sanders is attracting larger campaign crowds than any of the other presidential candidates. Earlier this week he attracted nearly 28,000 in Los Angeles, 28,000 in Portland, Oregon, and over 15,000 in Seattle.

When looking at his proposals, it’s difficult to identify any substantive differences from mainstream Democrat Party doctrine. Sanders is pushing for universal single-payer health care; supports redistribution of wealth; advocates “free” college; fosters an antipathy toward corporations and “big business;” wants military spending cut by 50%; opposes natural resource development for energy; advocates government control and solutions for all economic or cultural challenges; and emphasizes egalitarianism rather than merit and achievement.

These tenets fit comfortably under the socialist umbrella, which, in general terms, is “An economic and political system based on public or collective ownership of the means of production. Socialism emphasizes equality rather than achievement, and values workers by the amount of time they put in rather than by the amount of value they produce. It also makes individuals dependent on the state for everything from food to health care. While capitalism is based on a price system, profit and loss and private property rights, socialism is based on bureaucratic central planning and collective ownership,” according to Investopedia.

There are some distinctions that should be made, however. The American variety of socialism (liberalism and progressivism) has a democratic component that doesn’t require a revolution, as many of the European and Asian models featured, but rather relies upon a democratic vote to incorporate. This necessitates the means to organize communities and proliferate propaganda, in order to effect electoral change. Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals,” rose in direct response to that need, as a playbook for societal polarization and proliferation of socialist objectives. And perhaps not coincidentally, Hillary Clinton wrote her senior thesis at Wellesley College on the Alinsky model, and President Obama taught it as a community organizer, and has implemented it to perfection nationally.

Jason Riley, a Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow, wrote in the Wall Street Journal this week, “Mr. Sanders’s socialism appeals mainly to upper-middle-class professionals and fits neatly within the parameters of mainstream, income-inequality-obsessed Democratic politics in the 21st century. He may have an affinity for a political ideology that has given the world everything from the Soviet Gulag to modern-day Greece, but in this age of Obama, the senator is just another liberal with a statist agenda.”

Founded in individual liberty, America has always been the one nation under heaven where equality of opportunity has taken precedence over equality of outcome. The whole concept of the “American Dream” is based on the individual freedom to become, to achieve, to build, sell, and succeed. This requires individual freedom (which is diminished proportionate to expanded governmental power), and a free market economy (not centralized planning, or government control over the means of production). Consequently, socialism is philosophically, morally, and pragmatically, antithetical to American values. Deductively, it is clearly anti-American.

Which brings us back to the chairman of the DNC. With the apparent inability to make any substantive distinction between the major tenets of socialism and the contemporary Democrat Party, it’s perfectly understandable that Wasserman-Shultz would not attempt to note any contradistinction. For as Riley observed in his WSJ piece, “These days, it’s largely a distinction without a difference.”

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Richard Larsen: America – Founded in Liberty, Evolved and Mired in Tyranny

August 13th, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

“The foundation of our Empire was not laid in the gloomy age of Ignorance and Superstition, but at an Epoch when the rights of mankind were better understood and more clearly defined, than at any former period…The United States came into existence as a Nation, and if their Citizens should not be completely free and happy, the fault will be entirely their own.” So declared George Washington at the time of our founding as a nation.

It is unique and exceptional that this nation was established according natural law, and declared inalienable individual rights of life, liberty, and property, or the pursuit of happiness. In an era when monarchs, rulers, oligarchs, autocrats and aristocrats governed according to their whims and disposition, having derived their right to rule based on caste or bloodline, a motley collection of men steeped in classical-liberal principles led a revolution and established a nation dedicated to individual freedom.

Those precepts were the foundation to the Declaration of Independence, which states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” There is nothing more exceptional in human history than those two sentences and the nation that resulted from their utterance: a nation that derived its “just” powers from the “consent of the governed.”

A decade later, the structural document creating the governmental framework based on the tenets articulated in the Declaration of Independence was ratified by the colonies. That document, our Constitution, stated specifically as enumerated powers, what our national government could do, and whatever powers were not specified or enumerated, were “reserved to the states respectively or to the people.”

But even at the nascent stages of the American experiment, the author of liberty, Thomas Jefferson, saw how our system would metamorphose into something entirely different. “Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”

What started as a small list of enumerated powers in the Constitution, has evolved to hundreds of thousands of pages of laws and regulations in the Federal Register, and a government that has debt greater than the entire gross domestic product of the nation. Laws have become so obtrusive that in any given day, millions of our fellow citizens can unwittingly commit “crimes” against the state, as documented in the Alan Dershowitz and Harvey Silverglate book, “Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent.”

We are so far removed from our foundation of individual liberty, that literally every action of every day that we engage in is regulated, taxed, or overseen by an omnipotent Master governing its peon subjects. The tyrannical control of our lives far, far exceeds the relatively minor transgressions of King George against our founding colonists.

Political scientist Theodore Lowi attested to this devolution from liberty to governmental tyranny, forty years ago in his book “The End of Liberalism.” He empirically documented that “modern liberalism has left us with a government that is unlimited in scope but formless in action.” He illustrated how such a government “can neither plan nor achieve justice because liberalism replaces planning with bargaining and creates a regime of policy without law.”

With such a noose of governmental control around the throat of the country, it’s amazing that anything can be produced, sold, or used, for as government grows in scope, power, and control, individual liberty is diminished and quashed. It’s a testimonial to the viability of capitalism that even under such oppressive regulatory control of the means of production that we can still eek out a modicum of GDP growth.

Government is increasingly looked to as the benevolent patriarch that can bestow “rights” and entitlements to a beseeching clientele, diminishing the liberty, rights, and privileges, of another. In short, we have a new master and we are all its subjects.

The cost of this bloating and egregious governmental power is great, and the cumulative cost can literally destroy a nation financially. Greece typifies this collapse, with several European nations not far behind. As columnist and author Dennis Praeger has said, “Countries will either shrink the size of their government, or they will eventually collapse economically. Every welfare state is a Ponzi scheme, relying on new payers to pay previous payers. Like the Ponzi scheme, when it runs out of new payers, the scheme collapses. European countries, all of which are welfare states, are already experiencing this problem to varying degrees.”

Can we ever reverse this course, and make a strong case for liberty again? It won’t be easy. For every dole paid out by our federal master, there is a clientele that would vociferously denounce any effort at reduction. In a representative democracy, the most vocal citizens appropriate to themselves more attention from the powers that be. But if the nation is to survive financially, the trend must be reversed.

This will require a resolute and informed electorate that is more vocal than the beneficiary recipients of our nanny-state master’s noblesse oblige. But if we’re to prevent the otherwise inevitable collapse of our currency, our economy, and the nation, we must muster the will and determination to begin shrinking the scope and cost of government. As Thomas Jefferson said, “The best government is that which governs least.” It’s also more likely to endure.

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Richard Larsen: Donald Trump, Another Narcissistic Liberal?

August 6th, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

After seven years of a narcissistic president, the last thing the nation needs is another four. Donald Trump has all the same outward egocentric manifestations to which we’ve become accustomed. The problem with politicians imbued with such characteristics, is that everything they do is all about them, not those whom they are elected to serve, or the Constitution to which they take an oath of fealty.

Dr. Charles Krauthammer, a psychologist by profession, has said it’s clear that the current inhabitant of 1600 Pennsylvania Av. is a narcissist. “This is a guy, you look at every one of his speeches, even the way he introduces high officials — I’d like to introduce my secretary of state. He refers to ‘my intelligence community.’ And in one speech, I no longer remember it, ‘my military.’ For God’s sake, he talks like the emperor, Napoleon. He does have this sense of this all being a drama about him, and everybody else is just sort of part of the stage.”

Dr. Sam Vaknin, the author of the “Malignant Self Love,” and an expert on narcissism, concurs. Vaknin says, “Obama’s language, posture and demeanor, and the testimonies of his closest, dearest and nearest suggest that the president is either a narcissist or he may have narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). Narcissists project a grandiose but false image of themselves. After listing several 20th century examples, he explains how they all “created a personality cult around themselves and with their blazing speeches elevated their admirers.”

He elaborated, “For a narcissist no subject is as important as his own self. Why would he waste his precious time and genius writing about insignificant things when he can write about such an august being as himself? [Explaining why Obama had written an autobiography before he’d accomplished anything.] Narcissists are often callous and even ruthless. As the norm, they lack conscience.”

And now we have the bombastic, egocentric real estate mogul from New York mirroring the self-absorption seemingly endemic with our 44th president. And he’s already setting some records with his self-congratulatory rhetoric.

“I’m really rich.” “I’m proud of my net worth.” “I’ve done an amazing job.” “I’m really proud of my success. I really am.” “I’m not doing that to brag because you know what? I don’t have to brag.” But he just can’t seem to help himself! And so Donald Trump self-adulated himself 257 times in his 45 minute presidential bid announcement speech last month. That even exceeded Obama’s 208 self-laudatory references in his 22 minute, 2007 presidential announcement. That’s pretty impressive when you can out-“narcissize” the Narcissist In Chief!

But aside from his egocentrism, the most glaring verity related to Trump’s presidential bid is that he doesn’t belong on the Republican ticket. He clearly is not a conservative, and probably aligns ideologically much more with Bernie Sanders than he does with any of the other 15 candidates on the Republican ticket.

Over the years, Trump has been a proponent for single-payer government funded healthcare, a socialistic step to the left of Obamacare. He’s been a supporter of abortion, has advocated an assault weapons ban, and has even floated the idea of forcing the rich to forfeit 14% of their total wealth to reduce the federal debt.

He has donated heavily to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s campaigns, and to the Clinton Foundation. And when he married his third wife in 2005, Bill and Hillary were on his guest list. And his financial support for Democrat House and Senate candidates has far eclipsed what he’s donated on GOP candidates.

According to public campaign disclosures, 21 of Trump’s 30 political donations have gone to liberal Democrats and political action committees. Only seven went to Republicans, and two went to Charlie Crist, who, like Trump, doesn’t seem to know which party he belongs to.

And in 2008, he sounded just like every other progressive in the nation, bemoaning George W. Bush’s presidency, when Trump alleged, “He was so incompetent, so bad, so evil.” Trump went on to call Bush “maybe the worst president in the history of this country.”

In light of his possible xenophobic comments regarding illegal aliens, it’s ironic what Trump said after the 2012 election. He claimed Republicans would “continue to lose elections if they came across as mean-spirited and unwelcoming to people of color.”

Trump’s primary function in the Republican presidential primary process seems to be to function as a media lightning rod. Ninety percent of the media coverage on the GOP candidates is on the Donald, which means he’s literally sucking the air out of the race of the fifteen other legitimate candidates.

So why is Trump polling so well in these early stages of the presidential sweepstakes? It pains me to say, really. But the only logical explanation is that regrettably even a fairly significant minority of conservatives can be deceived by the grandiloquence and fierce independence of a self-congratulatory narcissist, in spite of obvious ideological contradictions. A couple of pet issues that resonate with conservatives on a populist level, and a strident, even blunt, speaking style, and too many citizens can temporarily allow emotion to supersede logic.

At least let’s hope it’s a temporary condition. What a travesty it would be if someone like Trump became the party standard bearer in a year when so many truly qualified conservatives are on the ticket, orr worse yet, if he became a third-party candidate that siphoned off enough votes to give the election to the control freak on the Democrat ticket.

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Richard Larsen: Religious Freedom, Whither Goest Thou?

July 18th, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Richard Larsen: The Nation has Officially Lost Its Collective Mind

July 18th, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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