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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 Socialistworker.org.

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

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

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

Richard Larsen: Religious Freedom, Whither Goest Thou?

July 18th, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Richard Larsen: The Nation has Officially Lost Its Collective Mind

July 18th, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Richard Larsen: FIFA Indicted But Not the Clintons?

June 6th, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Richard Larsen: Controlling the Language of Dissent and Stifling Dissent

May 23rd, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Ever since the junior senator from Illinois announced his candidacy for the presidency eight years ago, those who have criticized his politics and his ideology have been pummeled with a charge of “racism.” It’s been the perfunctory, knee-jerk response – devoid of intellectual integrity or factual relevance – to avoid the substantive issues, while attempting to simultaneously stifle dissent and silence critics. And it’s clear from early indications with regard to the 2016 presidential race, that the same modus operandi will be employed against those critical of Hillary Clinton. Only this time it will be gender based – the charge of sexism.

During the Obama tenure, the charge of “racist” has been unavoidable to any who were critical of the president. Whether it was criticism of Obamacare, lack of transparency, fiscal profligacy, inscrutable foreign policy, class-envy fomentation, and anti-capitalist policies, it didn’t matter. Regardless of the logic, data, facts, or strength of argument, if you opposed the administration policies and initiatives, you were a racist. At least according to the sycophants, who were either oblivious to logic, data, or facts, and had an empty logical quiver from which to fire back with anything except blanks.

And what’s pathetic, from a free speech, open discourse, and cogent political discourse perspective, is that it worked. The millions of Americans who flocked to Tea Party rallies, Glenn Beck confabs, and other conservative functions, were successfully labeled “racists” because of their opposition to the liberal, destructive policies of the administration. It didn’t matter what color, race, creed, or socio-economic status they hailed from, they were all racists.

For some reason, the fact that the policies propounded and foisted on the nation the past six years are not race-based seems lost on the vapid purveyors of the “racist” tactic. Big government, massive debt, onerous regulations, expansive government control, and the concomitant loss of personal liberty are naturally opposed not because they might be advanced by someone of a certain color, ethnic background, or native language. They’re opposed because they’re antithetical to the founding principles of our republic! It matters not who is foisting the destructive policies and ideology on the nation; it matters that they’re distinctly anti-American. Conservative Ben Carson’s current lead in the crowded GOP primary race underscores that fact.

What’s brilliant about the tactic, is that you don’t have to worry about any facts, data, or common sense to employ it. Just by hurling the accusation several things have been accomplished with one fell swoop. 1) The argument has been misdirected, so it’s no longer about the policies or the substance of the disagreement, it’s now whether the dissenter is truly racist or not. 2) It neutralizes and diminishes the objections of the dissenter, for now the greater issue is whether he is in fact racist, or not. And 3) it successfully stifles dissent, since no one, probably even real racists, likes to be called one, so why go out on a limb and face the probability of such an accusation?

And now it appears that Hillary Clinton supporters will use the same tactic. Just last month a pro-Hillary group, self-dubbed the HRC Super Volunteers, warned journalists that they were going to be watching vigilantly how the media reports on Hillary’s campaign. Group member and co-founder, John West, was thoughtful enough to serve as an early warning system on the words that cannot, I repeat, cannot be used to describe the probable Democrat candidate for president. According to West, “polarizing,” “calculating,” “disingenuous,” “insincere,” “ambitious,” “inevitable,” “entitled,” “over-confident,” “secretive,” “will do anything to win,” “represents the past,” and “out of touch,” are all apparently sexist code-words that the media are to not use when describing the candidate.

According to West, “Already we have seen the coded language of sexism and innuendo used by major news outlets and we are not happy,” followed by a list of examples from major news sources and their egregious use of such sexist vernacular. As a student of language and etymology, I have to admit I was unaware those words and phrases were definitionally sexist.

But alas, I shouldn’t let myself fall into their misdirection and accusatory trap. It’s not that those words are sexist, it’s just that they’re so accurately descriptive of the presumptive Democrat nominee that using the terms will earn the consternation of Hillary devotees, hence justifying accusations of sexism. By couching those terms in a sexist context, they can as easily avert factual criticism of Hillary as they did in protecting Obama. Just like the accusations of “racism;” it has nothing to do with what is true or what is factual, it has everything to do with ensuring electoral success and neutralizing the opposition by attempting to shape and control the language.

Those of us who are bitter clingers to our freedom, our liberties, and the principles the nation was founded on, shouldn’t allow ourselves to be rebuffed or silenced by the non-thinking Alynski devotees who utilize these nefarious and polarizing tactics. And remember, if that’s their primary tool to fight back with, you know that logically you’ve already won, because their only defense is casting aspersions ad hominem.
There are two things even more disturbing than a group attempting to regulate political speech. One, that the liberal-biased media may well comply, and play their game; and two, that for a large segment of our unenlightened and uninformed electorate, their “sexist” tactic will work.

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Posted in Pocatello Issues, Politics in General | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Baltimore’s Failures Spawned by Liberal Policies

May 23rd, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 27th, 2015 by Halli

by Richard Larsen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Richard Larsen: Traditional Nuclear Family Is Crucial to Our Society

April 19th, 2015 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Our contemporary immersion into political correctness and assumed “rights” regarding the basic building block of society has cumulatively, over the past few decades, steadily eroded not only our sociological strength, but our economic viability as a country. The fundamental significance of the family unit, and the hard data evidencing the undeniable importance of the intact nuclear family, have been ignored, and the longer we pander to bad public policy based in political correctness, the more rapidly our society will degenerate.

A few years ago, drawing heavily from government data and peer reviewed sociological and economic research, Robert I. Lerman and William Bradford Wilcox published an extensive research piece in The Economist confirming the fundamental role the intact nuclear family has on society. Lerman is a Professor of Economics at American University and a Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC., and Wilcox is a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia.

Their executive summary states, “All the latest evidence confirms that the institution of marriage is a key to productive adulthood, the cornerstone of a stable family, and the basic unit of a healthy community. Its effects go well beyond the married couple. It shapes our whole society, from workforce participation to economic inequality to the effectiveness of education. Children raised by married parents have better odds of succeeding in school, excelling at work, and building a stable relationship of their own.”

Drawing from Department of Labor data, they showed how American families experienced an average 80% increase in their real income from 1950-1979. Family income inequality was relatively low, and more than 89% of prime working age men were employed. All of those trends have reversed, and are accelerating to the downside, with the composition and structure of the family playing the most crucial role in this reversal.

In 1980, married parents headed 78% of households with children. By 2012, that had dropped nearly 20%. The researchers, again relying on hard primary data, showed why that was significant. “Married families enjoy greater economies of scale and receive more economic support from kin, and married men work harder and earn more money than their peers, all factors that give them an economic advantage over cohabiting and single-parent families.”

The economic impact on individual family units, as well as society as a whole, cannot be overstated. Even adjusting for race, education, and other factors, if the share of married parents remained at 78% through 2012, “the rise in the overall median income of parents would have been about 22%, substantially more than the actual growth of 14%.” And if the post-1979 immigrants, coming mostly from low-income countries, are adjusted for, the “growth in median family income would have been 44% higher than 1980 levels.” They therefore conclude that the decline in the share of “married-parent families with children largely explains the stagnancy in median family incomes since the late 1970s.”

Traditional nuclear family units, including a mother, father, and children, have been proven to be more viable in almost every facet of sociological construct. As the researchers explain, “Family structure appears to matter for children’s well-being because, on average, children growing up without both parents are exposed to: More instability in housing and primary caretakers, which is stressful for children; Less parental affection and involvement; Less consistent discipline and oversight; and Fewer economic resources.”

Sociologists Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur, in summarizing their research on family structure, put it this way: “If we were asked to design a system for making sure that children’s basic needs were met, we would come up with something quite similar to the two-parent ideal. Such a design, in theory, would not only ensure that children had access to the time and money of two adults; it also would provide a system of checks and balances that promoted quality parenting.”

Lerman and Wilcox summarize, “The research to date leads us to hypothesize that children from intact, married families headed by biological or adoptive parents are more likely to enjoy stability, engaged parenting, and economic resources and to gain the education, life experiences, and motivation needed to flourish in the contemporary economy—and to avoid the detours that can put their adult futures at risk.”

Many of the forces negatively affecting the family are cultural and can be attributed to the gradual, yet accelerated, erosion of social mores. But many of the destructive contributors are driven by governmental policy, statute, and legal code, like the IRS “marriage penalty,” and welfare programs that facilitate the absolution of parental responsibilities. And some are couched in principles espoused by political correctness that defy empirical data, the most egregious of the latter represented by the redefinition of marriage, the cornerstone to the family unit, which only further dilutes and weakens the building block of society.

The viability of the American family is crucial for the survival of the republic, not only sociologically, but financially. We all cumulatively either contribute to, or detract from, the soundness of the familial units comprising our society. We must not only do our part in our familial microcosms, but electorally, to elect and support those who favor governmental policy that strengthens the family unit, and who don’t buckle to political correctness in redefining our societal building blocks.

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