Posts by RichardLarsen:

    “The Forgotten Man,” No Longer Forgotten!

    November 21st, 2016

    By Richard Larsen.

     

    To those on the East coast or the left coast, the rest of the nation is merely “fly-over country.” It’s comprised of common men and women who work hard, want to raise their families in a safe and free country, and want the government to quit striving to micromanage their lives. We are the ones for whom the ruling class has nothing but contempt, describing us as a “basket of deplorables.” We represent the “forgotten man” in America. Donald Trump in his victory speech early Wednesday morning declared, “The forgotten men and women of America, will be forgotten no longer.”

    globalismDonald Trump not only defeated Hillary Clinton, but symbolically triumphed over the political elite, the media elite, a globalist establishment, a reluctant party, and the governance establishment that tramples the interests and needs of the “forgotten man” for their own aggrandizement. He quashed the motives and means of the arrogant statists who assume unto themselves the nanny role of governing and ruling every aspect of our lives. The results of the election Tuesday constituted an emphatic reply to the ruling elite, “Enough is Enough!”

    Eight years ago, candidate Barack Obama promised that he was just a few days away from “fundamentally transforming America.” After ramming ObamaCare down the nation’s collective throat; outlawing Thomas Edison’s life-changing creation; adding ten trillion dollars of debt for our grandchildren to pay for; and hundreds of thousands of pages of regulations to micromanage our lives and our businesses, the “forgotten man” has decided the transformation wasn’t to his liking. Obama has trampled the Constitution, and ignored the plight of the average American, as perfectly depicted in Jon McNaughton’s magnificent painting, “The Forgotten Man.”

    %22forgotten-man%22-by-jon-mcnaughton

    Jon McNaughton’s, “The Forgotten Man”

    The forgotten man is the average middle-class wage-earner who makes our products in factories, works on farms growing and producing our food, fixes our cars and appliances, builds and repairs our homes, and transports our food and life necessities across the land by truck or rail. They are the ones verbally pandered to incessantly by ostensibly well-intentioned progressive politicians, yet are the ones who end up most adversely effected by their bad policies. Yet they are condescendingly referred to by the ruling elite, the political punditry, and mainstream media as “uneducated white men.” The forgotten man is no less than Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables.”

    obamas-economyThe fruits of Obama’s promised transformation, and disregard of the forgotten man are clearly evident. We have 8 million more Americans in poverty; 13 million more dependent upon food stamps; the lowest labor participation rate in a generation with 95 million Americans out of the labor force; the lowest home-ownership rate in 51 years; the worst post-recession recovery in modern U.S. financial history; and a 110% debt to GDP ratio, which our own government declares is “unsustainable.”

    The forgotten man has been saying for years that the country is headed in the wrong direction. That we’re fed up with the elites who believe they’re above the law and flaunt it. That we want to make choices based on what is best for our families, rather than some bureaucrat or ruler in Washington telling us what’s best for us. That we’re as fed up with totalitarianism within our own shores, every bit as much as the revolutionaries were at the time of our nation’s founding. We want our life, liberty, and property back, at a time when the ruling class in Washington has lost touch, and is oblivious to the plight of the forgotten man.

    Over 70% of Americans are dissatisfied with the direction the country is going. 72% feel the federal government isn’t working. Nearly the same percentage claimed in exit polling on Tuesday that they wanted this to change, and 83% of those voters voted for Donald Trump. The forgotten man may no longer be forgotten.

    BREXIT-1A short five months ago, Britons made a historic vote to leave the European Union. The New York Times described the results of the vote as, “…a blow to the betting markets and the pollsters. It was a rejection of the governing political class and the self-satisfied elite. It was delivered by older, working-class voters in areas of Britain hit hard by globalization, angered by mass immigration, and anxious about their nation’s identity in a borderless world.”

    The globalist establishment, governments, global banks and corporations, and cronyistic financial institutions were aghast at the historic vote of Britons, colloquially dubbed “Brexit.” Financial markets collapsed in ensuing trading sessions, only to rebound and rise to record highs when it became obvious the UK would actually be better off, and that the sky was not in fact falling.

    I said of that historic vote in July, “People power can beat the establishment if they try hard enough. It worked for the UK, and may carry over to other EU members with their upcoming votes. The U.S. could join that same anti-globalism and anti-establishment wave with a Trump victory in November. Time will tell.” Well, time has indeed spoken, and it was a resounding rejection of globalization and the ruling elite.

    obama-i-have-a-pen-and-phoneThe past six years Obama has had a noncompliant congress, which refused to merely bend over and accept his conviction to transform the nation. This regrettably led to the greatest abuse of executive power in U.S. history as he bragged that with his “pen and his phone,” he would continue his statist transformation. The plus side of this is the fact that with the stroke of a pen, a newly inaugurated President Donald Trump can negate and rescind all of those illegal Executive Orders and Presidential Statements.

    In spite of his flaws and abrasive ways, it appears Trump was recognized by the forgotten man to be the antithesis of the cronyism and corruption that not only is currently endemic with Washington, but of his opponent. She represented all that is wrong with our federal government and would merely be the perpetuation of Obama’s nanny-state, totalitarian approach to governance in our fair land.

    The Forgotten Man - America's Middle Class

    The Forgotten Man – America’s Middle Class

    Trump, as a non-politician, has never had to be politically correct. Has never governed, yet having worked the system, recognizes and acknowledges the corruption and divergence from what the republic was intended to be. Those of us whom Hillary characterized as a “basket of deplorables,” Trump championed as the average American, even the forgotten man, who simply wants a growing economy, good jobs, safe borders, law and order, to get the federal government off of our backs and out of the micromanagement of our lives, and a safe place to raise our children and grandchildren. As he said the morning after the election, “The forgotten men and women of America, will be forgotten no longer.”

    President Obama said Wednesday, “We all want what’s best for this country. That’s what I heard in Mr. Trump’s remarks last night. That’s what I heard when I spoke to him directly. And I was heartened by that. That’s what the country needs — a sense of unity, a sense of inclusion, a respect for our institutions, our way of life, rule of law, and respect for each other.”

    president-elect-donald-trumpThat seems to be Trump’s intention, even though his approach may seem strident or immoderate. Rhetoric regrettably is often harsh and abrasive in the heat of a campaign, but hopefully that will not be indicative of how he will lead. From the first-hand accounts of those who have worked with him for years, it is not.

    It would behoove us all to do as Obama counseled, to make the transition smoothly, unify as fellow Americans with anticipation of real “hope & change” that will make the nation more economically viable and safer, and give him a chance to “make America great again.”

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    Time for a Tea Party Resurgence!

    November 7th, 2016

     

    By Richard Larsen.

     

    Seven years ago a wave of discontent washed across the fruited plains of America, disgusted with the direction the country was headed. Now, approaching the 2016 election, there is little sign that the Tea (Taxed Enough Already) Party movement ever existed. But if ever there was a time that it needed to be resuscitated, it is now, on the eve of another four to eight years of federal government oppression and dilution of individual liberty!

    dont-tread-on-meThe groundswell of opposition to Obamacare; the burgeoning debt weighing down the nation; the high levels of taxation to service that debt and expanded government spending; and the escalating oppression of coercive government measures restricting individual liberty, fomented the grassroots movement. With no leader spearheading the opposition to Obama regime policies, it truly was a grassroots movement; a veritable groundswell of common Americans rising in fervor averring their “inalienable rights” of “life, liberty, and property.” They were patriots disgusted with their republic being hijacked by a government obviously committed to principles antithetical to our founding documents.

    tea-party-rallyThere was a certain sense of empowerment and cohesiveness at the rallies across the nation at the time. For many, it seemed comforting to know that they weren’t alone in feeling like our country is being steam-rolled to a socialistic state where those of us who work hard to provide for our families are shouldering the costs of an out-of-control spending machine in Washington. Tea Partiers were unified against expansion of government, encroachment into the private sector, restriction of freedom, and against the massive taxes required to pay for all the spending being done in Washington.

    The spirit of the movement nationwide was well represented by some of the signs hefted by real participants with the movement. One very young protestors sign said, “My future is being mortgaged,” and another, “Why do I feel like a ship passing by Somalia?” an obvious metaphoric comparison of government actions to piracy,” and another “Tell the politicians to cut their budgets; we’re already cutting ours.”

    santelli-cme-1In February 2009, I watched the live CNBC report by Rick Santelli from the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade in amazement as he launched into a diatribe against Nancy Pelosi’s Congress and the President for their plan to reward bad behavior by having fiscally responsible citizens help pay the mortgages of those who have been less responsible. Santelli said maybe it was time to consider another Tea Party symbolizing our collective disapprobation of the tax-and-spend mentality dominating Washington.

    Traders on the floor cheered him on (mind you, the CBOT is based in Chicago, not exactly the heartland of conservative political values). as he pled to the camera and viewers, “President Obama, are you listening?” From that heartfelt plea by a single citizen, a nationwide grassroots movement was spawned.

    At this point in time, it appears that the Tea Party movement was simply a flash in the political pan. We are a mere shadow of what we were but a few years ago. And the political impact at the time proved to be ephemeral, as Washington has been largely impervious to pleas of restraint and discretion in spending, taxation, and constricting individual liberty.

    19-trillion-of-debtNow, after eight years of an administration intent on “fundamentally transforming America,” and facing the prospect of perpetuation of those same policies, the need is even greater for that grassroots movement to rise up to action to defend the republic and safeguard individual liberty. Polling data confirm that over 70% of Americans feel the nation is headed in the wrong direction. And if that’s the case, the last thing that should happen is the election of a new president, or congress, who would continue the current path, and perhaps more onerously so.

    The need for this to be a perpetual political factor is no less than it was for the original tea party was to the establishment as an independent republic. It took just two-and-a-half years from the symbolic Boston Tea Party of 1773 to the Declaration of Independence, breaking the stranglehold of British crown tyranny from the colonies. If their convictions had waned, we could still be a British colony.

    tea-party11Likewise, if the Tea Party movement is to have any lasting effect in the 21stcentury, our convictions must be as steadfast and unwavering as those brave patriots from the 18th century. We’ve already seen what can happen when we vote in unity against those who want to transform the nation. The midterm elections of 2010 resulted in a seismic and historic shift, as many of Obama’s enablers in Congress were ousted, and the pendulum swung decisively to the right.

    And for those who are critical of congress for not completely thwarting the transformative policies of the 44th president, just think how much worse it could have been with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid at the helm of congress for the past few years! Most of what has been done by the executive branch the past six years has been by Executive Order, which can be reversed by any subsequent president. That should begin in January of 2017.

    best-endorsement-yetThere is only one way to prevent the policies of the past eight years from having extended life, and that is to prevent another Clinton presidency. As unpalatable as it may be to many, there is only one person who is in a position to win who could stymy it, and that’s the GOP nominee. Many in the movement wanted a political outsider, and that’s what we have, in spite of all his personal flaws and imperfections. He may not completely reverse the current trend, but he can thwart it. It’s time for the Tea Party movement to arise again, as a groundswell, and reject the statism of Obama and Clinton, and reassert liberty!

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    Hillary Clinton Flunks Economics 101

    October 20th, 2016

    By Richard Larsen.

    There is plenty of nuttiness being uttered during this campaign season that gives any sentient voter cause to pause, but sometimes the inanity advances to the level of being outright ludicrous and fallacious. Hillary Clinton, and her sidekick Tim Kaine, engaged in the latter in their recent debates, and in the process, proved they have not the slightest notion of the laws of economics, proving that neither is sufficiently competent to stand at the head of, let alone lead, the largest economy in the world.

    ibd_not_bush_fault_2In her debate two weeks ago, Clinton declared, “Well, let’s stop for a second and remember where we were eight years ago. We had the worst financial crisis, the Great Recession, the worst since the 1930s. That was in large part because of tax policies that slashed taxes on the wealthy, failed to invest in the middle class, took their eyes off of Wall Street, and created a perfect storm.”

    Earlier in the evening Clinton ignorantly and obliviously stated, “Trickle-down did not work,” employing the popularly and fallaciously derisive name for tax cuts that dates from the presidency of Ronald Reagan. “It got us into the mess we were in, in 2008 and 2009. Slashing taxes on the wealthy hasn’t worked.”

    As if to not let his running mate hog the spotlight, displaying her abject ignorance on economics alone, Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine said in his debate with Rick Pence, “The Trump tax plan is massive tax breaks for the very top, trillions of dollars of tax breaks for people just like Donald Trump. The problem with this, Elaine, is that’s exactly what we did 10 years ago and it put the economy into the deepest recession — the deepest recession since the 1930s.”

    private-sector-job-growthThe statements are blatantly false – lies if you will – and only resonate with those of modest IQ’s and negligible economic savvy. Such should not surprise us, however, coming from the Democrat nominee and her running mate. After all, their entire platform is wholly based on populist memes and “feel good” ideology that appeal in an acquisitive way to the base desires of their devotees. The only way to make them appear credible, in the face of facts and truths to the contrary, is to repeat them enough times that the uninformed, ill-informed, and misinformed voter actually begins to believe them.

    There is no school of thought, in economic theory that advances the notion that tax cuts create recessions. Keynesian, classical, and even monetarist theories acknowledge the stimulative effects of reducing taxes on an economy. Tax cuts boost post-tax incomes, providing citizens with more money to spend, which in turn generates additional economic activity and income creation and growth for others. This is especially true when tax cuts are across the board, benefiting lower income, middle income, as well as upper income taxpayers. This was what the 2003 Bush tax cuts did: they reduced rates for all. And for those who have difficulty with the laws of economics, economic expansion and growth are antithetical to recession. I have no idea what “economic theory” Clinton and Kaine subscribe to, but it’s not based in actual laws of economics and has no basis in reality.

    bush-tax-cuts-2Economists on both the right and the left, scoff at the Clinton/Kaine “tax cuts create recessions” myth. Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic Policy and Research, a liberal think tank, said he “can’t think of any way they were a factor at all.” Cato Institute economist Dan Mitchell, concurred, stating “Hillary is spouting nonsense. No economic theory links tax cuts or, for that matter, tax increases, to financial market meltdowns.”

    What tax cuts do is increase economic activity. The results were remarkable during the Reagan era. During the 92 months of expansion (a U.S. record), after the Reagan tax cuts were implemented, the economy grew more than 30%, creating 20 million new jobs, increasing non-farm payrolls by 20%, which reduced unemployment from 10.8% to 5.3% by 1989. Disposable income per capita increased by 18%, increasing the standard of living by nearly 20% in just seven years. And significantly, the poverty rate dropped by nearly 20% from its peak in 1984.

    What Clinton and Kaine are doing is classic misdirection, a la Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals.” They employ Alinsky’s rules 5 and 12 to demonize the concept of tax cuts. “Rule 5: Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” “Rule 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” By fallaciously demonizing and ridiculing tax cuts, they are attempting to neuter the economic plans of the Republican nominee. But their success in doing so is totally dependent upon an economically illiterate and ignorant voter base.

    imageedit_980_8321690764And regrettably, most of the liberal voting base is economically illiterate. Just a few years ago, Daniel Klein, who conducted economic literacy research for Zogby, found that the further to the left one moves on the political spectrum, the more ignorant they are of the laws of economics. As he explained, “The left flunks Econ 101.” Explaining the results, Klein queried, “How did the six ideological groups do overall? Here they are, best to worst, with an average number of incorrect responses from 0 to 8: Very conservative, 1.30; Libertarian, 1.38; Conservative, 1.67; Moderate, 3.67; Liberal, 4.69; Progressive/very liberal, 5.26.”

    So it’s easy to see how Hillary’s vacuity and ignorance would play so well with her devotees. What you will never hear her say is the truth about the cause of the financial meltdown and recession from eight years ago: government programs. Yes, federal government regulation meddling with lending rules for home ownership caused the collapse and the ensuing recession. Starting with the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 by the Carter administration, and then fervidly enforced in the 1990’s by the Clinton administration.

    financial-crisis-inquiryGovernment created the problem by socially engineering the lending process and pushing lenders too far to make mortgages to too many and for too much, whether they could afford them or not creating the subprime lending bubble. The foolhardy governmental mortgage lending policies brought our financial industry’s “chickens home to roost.” As the Investor’s Business Daily observed at the time, “the law of unintended consequences of government policy is now fully manifest.” A more thorough explanation of the causes is available here.

    No, you’ll never hear Clinton or Kaine acknowledge that it was Democrat administration policies that caused such economic mayhem. After all, that would be telling the truth, which is obviously something both have a hard time doing!

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    Understanding Constitutionality on Constitution Day

    September 28th, 2016

    By Richard Larsen.

     

    usconstitutionThere clearly is some misunderstanding about what is deemed constitutional and what is not. Even if one has the most stringent, literal interpretation of the governmental powers and rights enumerated in our founding legal document, the Constitution, there are a lot of changes that have been made to the literal meaning of the document over the past 227 years.

    Those changes are not just in the form of Amendments, of which we have 27. They also come in the form of legislative statute and Supreme Court precedent, which have largely redefined the relationship of the average citizen to the federal government, and severely restricted individual liberty. The result is that very little that is in the Constitution is literally applied today, much to the consternation of those of us who believe in freedom and limited governmental power over the individual.

    94307-004-b97ff416Nearly every concept and precept embedded in the Constitution has been altered or redefined since the document was adopted in 1789. Every legislative statute and judicial ruling, refines, redefines or reinterprets aspects of our foundational legal document. If an Act of congress passes and is signed into law, it builds upon the body of law interpreting the powers granted to them by our most cherished political parchment. If such an Act is challenged through the judicial system, and is either validated or invalidated by judicial ruling, the highest jurisdictional ruling on the Act stands, thereby defining anew some aspect of our relationship with the Constitution.

    Examples of this are plentiful, but just a few samples will illustrate. Nowhere in the Constitution do we read that failure to be warned against making self-incriminating statements is a violation of our constitutional rights, yet Miranda v Arizona (1966) requires the Miranda Warning be issued. And nowhere in the Constitution is found the right of government to mandate purchase of a product or a service, yet NFIB v Sibelius (2012) upheld the government’s requirement, as mandated in the Affordable Care Act, to purchase health insurance. And even though the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution states, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” there are at least 271 federal, and perhaps as many as 20,000 state and local gun-control laws on the books that directly infringe on that declared right.

    what-is-a-the-statute-of-limitationsStatute and judicial precedence redefine constitutionality, whether we like it or not. But that verity does not obviate the need to be well versed on what the founders envisioned for this land of liberty, as codified in our Constitution. If we are to preserve our land of liberty, a return to our founding principles is requisite. That’s why September 17th was declared Constitution Day, and September 17-23 of each year was designated Constitution Week, by joint Congressional Resolution, and the signature of then President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953. September 17, 1787 marks the historic signing of the Constitution of the United States of America, which was then ratified and put into effect two years later.

    The Constitution is prefaced with three important words, “We The People,” acknowledging, for the first time in human history, formation of a nation and a government that derived its power from the consent of the people. And as its citizens, and the collective holders of the power from which our government claims its authority, we must needs be informed, educated, and knowledgeable of our role in governance, and the document which assures us, at least ostensibly, of our inalienable rights.

    constitution800x600Thomas Jefferson acknowledged this, 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 several years, the abuses of Constitutional power by our government have increased exponentially. There has never been a time in our history when remedial education of citizenship and the Constitution have been more essential.

    That is precisely 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.

    Those who serve as our elected representatives, as well as those who don the nation’s uniform, take an oath of fealty to the Constitution, and vow that they will support and defend it against all foes, foreign and domestic. I often reflect how all of us, as citizens, should take a similar oath. For if we did, the abuses of power, usurped and purloined from the citizens, would be so much less likely to occur as we observe on a nearly daily basis in news emanating from our seats of government.

    quote-the-strength-of-the-constitution-lies-entirely-in-the-determination-of-each-citizen-albert-einstein-41-42-51Albert 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.

    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 ideological assumptions rather than what the Constitution authorizes or allows.

    Consequently, the primary objective of Constitution Day 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!

    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, by what is not

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    Has The Republican Party Shifted to the Left? The Answer May Surprise You

    September 23rd, 2016

     

    By Richard Larsen.

     

    There is widespread perception by many conservatives that the Republican Party has morphed into a version of Democrat-light, abandoning its values and migrating to the left of the political spectrum. There are many explanations for this perception, but historical insight and hard facts principally refute the assertion.

    americans-more-conservativeSenior political writer Clare Malone of FiveThirtyEight.com made the astute observation recently that; “The party has been growing more conservative and less tolerant of deviations from doctrine over the past decades…” Polling by Gallup confirms that this is the case. In a 2009 survey of political ideology, Gallup revealed, “Americans, by a 2-to-1 margin, say their political views in recent years have become more conservative rather than more liberal, 39% to 18%, with 42% saying they have not changed. While independents and Democrats most often say their views haven’t changed, more members of all three major partisan groups indicate that their views have shifted to the right rather than to the left.”

    Gallup further delineated the ideological trending of the population. “Indeed, in the latest survey, 38% of Americans describe their political views as conservative, and among this group 58% say their views have grown more conservative in recent years. Although a large segment of liberals (42%) say they have become more liberal, far fewer Americans in the poll (18%) describe themselves as liberal — thus providing little counterweight to the rightward movement of conservatives. At the same time, political moderates are twice as likely to say they have grown more conservative as opposed to more liberal (33% vs. 18%), thus further tipping the scales in favor of conservatism.”

    republicans-more-conservativeSo clearly, as the data reveals, conservatives are becoming increasingly conservative, and smaller numbers, and percentage of liberals, are becoming increasingly liberal. Now let’s take a look at how the ideological underpinnings of the Republican Party have changed.

    Since individual perspectives from members of the party vary significantly, the most accurate way of assessing party convictions and value system is by analyzing the platform evolution over the years. Those platforms are affirmed by the majority of party members at the quadrennial national conventions, and consequently will reveal major or minor shifts in policy.

    Reviewing party platforms since 1900 (there are 28 of them) is enlightening not only from an ideological alignment and policy perspective, but also for the historical perspectives. Much of the verbosity in party platforms is comprised of historical context specifics, referencing current affairs, the current state of the economy and foreign affairs, and affirming the policies needed to either be perpetuated, or incorporated in response to those conditions. Much is also immensely entertaining reading, as in the 1900 platform where Democrats fiscal policies are maligned as a “menace” to the nation, and lamenting the “general incapacity of the Democrat party to conduct public affairs.”

    gop_principles3Aside from the histrionics and contextually sensitive planks, the dominant impression is of the sameness of all of the platforms with regard to foundational commitments. With remarkable consistency, the platforms stress a strong economy, economic growth, a financially sound dollar, limited or reduced spending, curtailment or reduction in the growth of government, preservation of individual liberty, a strong military, sound foreign policy, governance based on the Constitution, affirmation of our founding principles, and common sense solutions. Some are more ardently stated in certain years, as in 1992 with Newt Gingrich’s “Contract With America,” and the 1928 anti-regulation focus of Herbert Hoover, but all of the themes are evident.

    Indeed, nearly all of the differences from one four-year-cycle to the next are based either in historical context, or more vociferous affirmation of a few planks over the others. Again, since these platforms are established by party faithful, and affirmed by members at the quadrennial conventions, they can be viewed as affirmation of core party principles. And it would appear that those core principles have not changed.

    There is additional empirical data defying any leftward movement of the party, based on the data compiled by political researchers Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal. NPR says of the two, that they have “spent decades charting the ideological shifts and polarization of the political parties in Congress from the 18th century until now to get the view of how the political landscape has changed from 30,000 feet up. What they have found is that the Republican Party is the most conservative it has been a century.” Did you catch that? The “Republican Party is the most conservative it has been a century.”

    rino-republicansSo why do so many conservatives believe the party has shifted to the left? Part of that could be in the fact that some of the most visible Republicans are perceived to be “RINO’s,” or Republicans in name only, and some of those have been our presidential candidates, including this year’s nominee, as there is little evidence of his conviction to some of the party’s core principles. Many also believe that congress is made up mostly of “RINO’s” since they’ve failed to stop Obama’s “fundamental transformation” of America.

    But this is nothing new. There have always been “RINOs” in the party, and likely always will be. Although the acronym didn’t gain prominence in conservative circles until the 1990’s, the phrase “Republican in name only” has been around since the 1920’s. In fact, in the 1930’s and 40’s, there was a phalanx of party members known as the “Me Too Republicans,” who basically aligned with the policies (and popularity) of FDR. And going back even further, in 1912, former President Theodore Roosevelt and then-President William Howard Taft, fought over the GOP by referring to each other as “not really Republican.”

    Selection of this year’s GOP presidential nominee certainly shouldn’t be construed as evidentiary to a party shift to the left. Evidence suggests that this year’s GOP nominee was not selected predominantly by Republicans, but primarily by record numbers of Democrats who switched tickets in open-primary states to secure the most vulnerable candidate against Hillary Clinton. Estimates range from five to twelve million Democrats crossed over in open primaries to select the most vulnerable of the GOP candidates. If those data are correct, as few as four million Republicans actually played a hand in selecting this year’s nominee. Given that verity, it’s illogical to claim the GOP has “abandoned its values” in selecting this nominee.

    does-donald-trump-represent-the-republican-partys-core-valuesPolitico confirmed this in May by stating, “While Trump’s insurgent candidacy has spurred record-setting Republican primary turnout in state after state, the early statistics show that the vast majority of those voters aren’t actually new to voting or to the Republican Party, but rather they are reliable past voters in general elections. They are only casting ballots in a Republican primary for the first time.”

    With Republican Party core principles, as enunciated in their platform over the past 100 years, and the evidence that there have been Republicans in name only for the same duration, it would appear that the party has not shifted to the left at all. But there is ample evidence that self-identifying conservatives are becoming increasingly conservative, which may in fact be creating the mistaken perception, rather than the Party moving to the left

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    If You’re Displeased With the Candidates, But Didn’t Vote, You’re to Blame!

    September 10th, 2016

     

    By Richard Larsen.

     

    Politics may not be of interest to you, but politics sure has an interest in you. Whether you feel it doesn’t make a difference by having your voice heard, or you just don’t care what government does to you or demands of you, the political process is heavily dependent upon you. And frankly, it often succeeds due to failure on our part to be involved.

    politics-word-cloudPolitics, after all, is simply “the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.” It is the exchange of ideas for governance that occurs in a free society.

    There is a more pejorative, or less desirable aspect of the political process that is often laced with conflict over those who seek positions of responsibility that is often a “turn off” to many. This is understandable. But it’s simply part of the process, and arguably the biggest part, that determines the ideas and principles employed to determine the future of a community, a state, or a nation. One can be involved in the exchange of ideas, and sharing or supporting principles or even politicians, and still not be embroiled in the corruption that often defiles the process.

    Presidential Election TurnoutBut isn’t that how life is in general? To all good and important things, there are less desirable antecedents, or concomitant events or actions. The pain and discomfort of childbirth is followed by the joys of parenting and delightful children. The prolonged dedication to jobs and work produce the comforts of life we aspire to for our families. The temporal loss of a loved one accompanies a greater appreciation for life and the impact of the one on our lives. As one good book says, “there is an opposition in all things.” There’s the good with the bad, the joys with the pain, and the light with the dark. In short, there’s the satisfaction of articulating correct principles, which is sometimes accompanied by social conflict over those ideas.

    Surprisingly, usually only 50-60% of eligible voters in the country vote for their president. In midterm election cycles, between presidential elections, eligible voter turnout drops to as low as 38%, as with the 2008 midterms, even though they are arguably even more important perhaps than the presidential elections. And with each election cycle, every two years, local and state officials are vying for votes to give them the keys of governance. And since local government has a much more significant impact on our immediate quality of life, every election, even strictly local ones, are much more effectual for each of us personally.

    Midterm Election TurnoutThere’s a video circulating on the internet that uses pennies to illustrate how many fellow citizens voted in the presidential primaries this year to provide us the two major candidates for president. It starts with 324 pennies, each representing a million people. Subtract 103 pennies from those, which represents the 103 million who are ineligible to vote, like children, non-citizens, and felons. Then subtract another 88 million who never vote, not even in general elections. Then delete another 73 pennies representing those who didn’t vote in the primary elections, but will likely vote in the general election. That brings us down to 60 pennies, representing those who voted in the primary elections, about 30 for each of the two major parties. Half of those primary voters cast their ballots for someone other than the two nominees. Statistically, just 14% of eligible voters, or 9% of the entire population, voted for Trump or Clinton. Fully 161 million eligible voters did not vote for either candidate.

    Now, in light of this data, consider how much different the outcome could have been if even a percentage of the 88 million who never vote, had done so, or a portion of the 73 million who were eligible, yet failed to vote in the primary election. If you are dissatisfied with the two nominees, yet failed to vote, you are part of the reason why out of 324 million people, we are left with two significantly flawed candidates.

    Plato on ApathyFor those who choose apathy over involvement, are there no principles or ideas you deem worthy of your support? No concepts so important that you are willing to take a stand? No individuals who support the same values that you deem worthy of your support, or at the very least, a vote?

    Elected officials, and politics in general, determine a great deal about your life, or can have significant impact on your quality of life. They can impact how dynamic the economy is, which effects what kind of job you may have, or how much you can earn, or how much of your hard-earned money you get to keep. They will have an impact on what government demands of you, what kinds of healthcare you get, the kinds of products that are available to purchase, and the quality of our food and environment. They have an impact on our social environment, the respect or lack thereof for the law, and the quality of our educational system for our children and grandchildren.

    Patriotic to VoteIn short, there is very little they don’thave an impact on. And their success in implementing their ideas is directly effected by the involvement of the American citizen. We are, after all, a republic, founded on the principle that we are bestowed with inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Are we forfeiting our rights by not participating in the process that determines our ability to retain, protect, and maintain them?

    Thomas Jefferson stated, “There is a debt of service due from every man to his country, proportioned to the bounties which nature and fortune have measured to him.” To some, that debt of service may be to serve in an elected capacity. To some, to fairly and accurately report the facts of what is occurring in our nation and our communities. And for others, it is to merely work hard for our families and pay our taxes. But for all of us, without exception, the debt of service must include participation in the electoral process of choosing our leaders and representatives. Any less than this, as eligible voters, is a forfeiture of our rights as citizens to ensure our pursuit of happiness, and perpetuation of our republic.

    political-involvement-quotes-1For as the Nobel Prize-winning author José Saramago has said, “The painter paints, the musician makes music, the novelist writes novels. But I believe that we all have some influence, not because of the fact that one is an artist, but because we are citizens. As citizens, we all have an obligation to intervene and become involved, it’s the citizen who changes things.”

    None of us can do everything, but all of us can do something. And the very least we can all do, is to be informed and to vote. In fact, our citizenship demands it of us!

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    Capitalism Works, If Government Would Just Get Out Of The Way

    August 26th, 2016

     

    By Richard Larsen.

     

    Image result for Capitalism Works, If Government Would Just Get Out Of The Way

     

    As a matter of fact, according to the Small Business Administration, small businesses represent 99 percent of all employer firms, employ half of all private-sector employees, pay 45 percent of total U.S. private payroll, generate 80 percent of new jobs annually, create more than 50 percent of nonfarm private gross domestic product, comprise 97 percent of all identified exporters, and produce 26 percent of the known export value to our GDP.

    Yet every time new governmental regulation is imposed on businesses, the costs increase. Whenever the government increases taxes on companies, the costs increase again. In order to stay in business, they must pass those costs on to their customers, or find other ways to reduce costs — such as eliminating jobs. That’s why it makes no sense to tax companies since we all end up individually paying their taxes via increased prices for their products and services.

    And it’s not just small business that makes our quality of life what it is, but the brother of small business; BIG business. It’s not an evil concept to sell things that people want and need at prices that most people can afford, so they can sell as much or as many as possible, applying the economies of scale. And they do so with a profit motive in order to share their success with those who ponied up the capital (investors, silent partners, shareholders) facilitating their business ventures. Remember, if they overprice their widgets, they price themselves out of the market. If they underprice their widgets, they’re not going to remain viable, and will have to lay off employees and won’t be able to pay all those taxes the government is requiring of them. Then their employees will have to hope they can find another widget company to replace the job they lost

    The media, Hollywood and even some of our fellow citizens bash “big pharma,” big oil and big retailers like Wal-Mart. But in reality what do those “big” evil companies do? They provide needed products and services at reasonable prices, and jobs, enabling our national economic engine, and our quality of life, to keep chugging along. They have limited control over much of their expenses, but to be able to continue doing what they do, they achieve a modest profit to ensure their viability in future years, and allow us to have a job.

    When politicians promise “free stuff” at the expense of taxpayers, they’re doing nothing more than attempting bribery – they promise free stuff for our votes. And it’s not their free stuff. It’s stuff they promise to use governmental coercion to forcibly take from others, in order to redistribute to those they’re bribing.

    It’s no wonder that Sen. Bernie Sanders, who nearly captured the Democrat presidential nomination (and likely would have if the Democratic National Committee had not colluded with the Clinton campaign) garnered the support he did as a socialist peddling collectivist promises for populist electoral support.

    And Hillary Clinton is no less ideologically aligned with socialistic solutions. A disciple of Saul Alinsky, and the first architect of a socialized health care system for the U.S., she has made some brash statements over the years that reveal her ideological convictions. Among her many anti-capitalist statements are these nuggets:

    “We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good” (June 29, 2004).
    “It’s time for a new beginning, for an end to government of the few, by the few, and for the few and to replace it with shared responsibility for shared prosperity” (May 29, 2007).
    “[We] … can’t just let business as usual go on, and that means something has to be taken away from some people” (June 4, 2007).
    “I certainly think the free market has failed” (June 4, 2007).

    The brilliant economist Thomas Sowell has philosophically put the failed socialist ideology into proper perspective. “I have never understood why it is ‘greed’ to want to keep the money you’ve earned, but not greed to want to take somebody else’s money,” he has said.

    Also this: “Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good.”

    And for academics who are smitten with the failed ideology: “Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant than only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.”

    Too many of us rely on fallacious populist typecasts of what business and the profit motive do, rather than relying on our empirical observations of their contributions to our quality of life and economic viability. We allow the media, Hollywood or anti-business kvetching to taint our perceptions with a failed yet idyllically appealing narrative of “equality” or “social justice.”

    PragerU has produced an insightful clip that explains this perfectly

     

    Image result for Capitalism Works, If Government Would Just Get Out Of The Way

     

    The profit motive, capitalism and free enterprise are the backbone to our economic system, and as such are the key to future growth and prosperity, individually and collectively. Government encroachment and increased regulation stymie future potential growth, our quality of life and our job security. It’s time for Americans to quit buying (with their votes) what self-serving politicians promise for them. Less regulation, less taxation, less government spending and less government control are the solution for future economic growth and security.

    The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website.

     

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    Duplicitous Reactions to GOP Convention – Non-Endorsements and Plagiarism

    August 1st, 2016

    By Richard Larsen.

     

    During the Republican Convention this week what was not said drew more ire from some than what was said. Ted Cruz in his magnificent speech on freedom and our founding principles failed to say the “E” word (endorse) much to the chagrin of ardent Trump supporters. And Melania Trump, wife of the GOP nominee Donald Trump, seems to have quoted Michelle Obama, without attribution, which perturbed the mainstream media, and the left.

    Melania TrumpMelania Trump in her speech on opening night of the convention unknowingly quoted from Michelle Obama from a speech in 2008. “From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise, that you treat people with respect. They taught and showed me values and morals in their daily life,” Melania Trump said in her speech in Cleveland.

    Two paragraphs were very similar, yet phrased slightly differently. Similar enough to certainly raise the prospect of plagiarism. It was surprising to learn that the mainstream media and Democrats still have scruples, as they responded with contempt. Judging from their outrage over Melania’s faux pas, it is apparently more detestable than putting national security at risk with unsecured emails! Also, based on their reaction, you’d think that liberals have never plagiarized before. Clearly a case (or a trait) of selective outrage based in moral relativism. It’s a big thing if a Republican does it, but not if a Democrat does.

    Joe Biden PlagiarismIronically, Michelle Obama herself plagiarized by lifting entire phrases from Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals,” and attributed them to her husband. Hillary pilfered other’s lines in both her 2008 and her 2016 presidential runs. And of course, Joe Biden stole other’s words, sentences, paragraphs, as well as the biography of a writer when he was in college, and even later when he was in law school. But we don’t hear much outrage over those instances.

    In a Twitter message the next day, Donald Trump said, with just a touch of hyperbole, “The media is spending more time doing a forensic analysis of Melania’s speech than the FBI spent on Hillary’s emails.”

    A campaign speechwriter claimed responsibility for the error, and offered her resignation. It was rejected by the campaign.

    In his speech Wednesday night, the GOP runner-up, Senator Ted Cruz, delivered a rousing speech on individual freedom. Some sources referred to it as “The speech of his life.” Yet many Trump supporters were outraged that the Senator refused to endorse Trump. Instead he said, “I congratulate Donald Trump on winning the nomination last night. And like each of you, I want to see the principles that our party believes prevail in November.” Later he said, “Don’t stay home in November. Stand and speak and vote your conscience.”

    Ted Cruz Addressing ConventionIt’s immensely ironic that those who are ardent supporters of Trump, he who knows no bounds in what he will say, politically correct or not, would seek to impose their own political correctness on the runner up. What Cruz said was justifiable and principled. Why on earth castigate him for what he didn’t say? The campaign is far from over, and Cruz vowed months ago that he would support the GOP nominee. Perhaps his statement of congratulations and desire to see party principles prevail in November is all the support he could proffer to one who had so maligned the character of his wife and dad.

    Trump’s devotees perhaps conveniently forget what the nominee said in a March Townhall on CNN. When asked by CNN’s Anderson Cooper if he continued to pledge to support whomever the Republican nominee is, Trump blatantly said, “No, I don’t anymore.” Yet just last fall he signed a pledge to do just that. Trump took it one step further. He said of Cruz, he “doesn’t need to support me, I have tremendous support right now from the people. I don’t really want him to do something he’s not comfortable with.”

    anderson-cooper-donald-trumpInterestingly, what Cruz did was very similar to what Reagan did in 1976. Reagan came up short of endorsing Ford, and said, “Rally behind our principles of freedom and work to show the world that we may be small in number but our ideas are the right ideas.”

    Perhaps not surprisingly, many of these same critics of Cruz are the most vociferous in their denunciation of those who simply vote for the candidate with an “R” behind their name. Yet now they seem to demand it. Apparently with many, loyalty is only to be expected or demanded when their candidate is selected, while voting one’s conscience is anathema.

    As Redstate.com printed the next morning, Trump supporter’s response to Cruz’s non-endorsement proved that they are “more interested in settling perceived grievances with the Republican party than they are in actually winning the White House.” Their entire focus was on what Cruz didn’t say, rather than what he did, and judging from their response in social media, they allowed Ted’s unsaid words to completely eclipse what should have been the highlight for the evening, the superb speech by Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence. This does not bode well, either for the party for the foreseeable future, or for the November election.

    It’s always disconcerting to learn that certain elements of the right share some of the less desirable traits of those on the left. But there’s obviously a reason election time is often referred to as “silly season.” Emotions prevail, reason is suspended, judgment often clouded by biases, issues are eclipsed by personalities, and sound principles are trumped by identity politics.

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    One Law for Me and Another for Thee – Hillary & Elitists Above the Law

    July 20th, 2016

     

     

    By Richard Larsen.

     

    It seems ironic that the day after we celebrated our 240 years of Independence, that we would witness the complete collapse of the rule of law in our fair republic. Tuesday it was announced by the FBI that they would not file criminal charges against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the crimes she committed against state security – crimes that the FBI admits she committed.

    Hillary Security BreachJames Comey, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), said at a press conference on July 5th, that he will not recommend an indictment against Clinton. This, in spite of the fact that the FBI had “evidence” that she violated laws pertaining to the handling of classified information.

    The applicable laws are contained in the Espionage Act, specifically Section 793, subsection (f), which lists, ”Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information” among those crimes for which the perpetrator “shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.”

    FBI Director James Comey

    Director Comey said that 110 of Clinton’s emails were classified at the time they were sent. And according to the Washington Times in February, another 80 were either marked “secret” or “confidential,” and were of such sensitive nature that national security could have been jeopardized had the emails been hacked and subsequently sold or leaked.

    And apparently they were hacked. According to a report this week, beginning in 2011, the Russians began monitoring Romanian computer hacker Marcel Lazăr Lehel (aka Guccifer) after he attempted to break into the computer system of the Russian funded RT television network.

    Hacker Marcel Lazăr Lehel (aka Guccifer)

    After monitoring Guccifer, the Russians were reportedly able to record his actions, which allowed the Russian intelligence analysts, in 2013, to not only detect his breaking into the private computer of Secretary Clinton, but also break in and copy all of its contents as well. Shortly after Russia obtained Clinton’s emails, they released a limited amount to RT TV which were published in an article in March 2013, titled “Hillary Clinton’s ‘hacked’ Benghazi emails: FULL RELEASE.”

    In fact, in October, 2015, the Associated Press reported that, “Hillary Clinton’s private email server maintained in her home while serving as secretary of State was possibly hacked by Russia-tied authorities, and others, on five separate occasions.” Guccifer told Fox News last month that he knows of at least 10 others, beside himself and Russia, who hacked her emails.

    The Washington Times reported last month that the Former Secretary of State did break department rules by setting up her own secret email server. Steve Linick, the Inspector General appointed by Obama, sent a report to congress on Wednesday, which detailed how she failed to report hacking attempts, and cavalierly dismissed warnings that she should switch to her government email account.

    In his testimony to congress on Thursday, Director Comey stated, “A reasonable person would know that,” responding to a question regarding the private email server and reporting hacking attempts. Based on our own FBI Director, Hillary Clinton is not a reasonable person, since she failed to comply with directives on both accounts. In his brief news conference on Tuesday, Comey described the former Secretary of State as being “grossly negligent.”

    Gowdy and ComeyCongressman Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, through a series of questions directed at Director Comey itemized the lies and obfuscation Mrs. Clinton had committed over the course of the investigation. She lied about having not received or sent classified information through her private email account. She lied about having not sent or received anything marked “classified.” She lied about having sent classified documents from her unsecured email account. She lied about using only one device for her email. Director Comey said she used multiple devices. She lied about “all work related emails” being returned to the State Department. Comey said they discovered “thousands that were not returned.” She lied about neither her nor anyone from her office deleting work-related emails. She lied about her lawyers “reading every one of the emails” and that they were “overly inclusive.”

    Gowdy went on to illustrate why those lies are significant. He asked the Director, “False exculpatory statements are used for what?” The Director responded, “They are used either in the substantive prosecution or for evidence of intent in a criminal prosecution.” Gowdy responded, “Exactly. Intent and consciousness of guilt.”

    13599810_963073247123573_8834617580641976251_nThis is significant since Comey in his news conference on Tuesday claimed Clinton “didn’t intend” to break the law. Yet by his own testimony to the House Oversight Committee, the intent was there, as clearly manifested by Clinton’s consciousness of guilt and false exculpatory statements (lies). General David Patreaus did far less, yet the FBI brought him up on felony charges for not safeguarding classified information. And just last year the DOJ successfully prosecuted Naval Reservist Brian Nishimura for having classified information on his personal electronic device. Sound familiar?

    Former DOJ prosecutor Andrew McCarthy points out, “Hillary Clinton checked every box required for a felony violation of Section 793(f) of the federal penal code (Title 18): With lawful access to highly classified information she acted with gross negligence in removing and causing it to be removed it from its proper place of custody, and she transmitted it and caused it to be transmitted to others not authorized to have it, in patent violation of her trust.”

    Former DOJ Prosecutor Andrew McCarthy

    “The whole thing stinks to high heaven,” said Dan Metcalfe, the founding director of the Office of Information and Privacy within the Department of Justice and onetime chief DOJ official for overseeing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) matters. She broke the law. And by her lies and obfuscation, clearly intended to do so. Any “lesser” person would be indicted and, based on the evidence made public, would be convicted.

    What is so frightening about all of this, is that it shows that people of influence and means are not held accountable for their legal infractions. Meanwhile she still is running for president, and could well be Obama’s successor. Yet in her official capacities, she wantonly ignores laws, dismisses threats and concerns, lies to congress and the American people, and clearly thinks she’s above the law. If she wins in November, the first lie she will utter to the world will be when she places her hand on the Bible and promises to “uphold and defend the Constitution.”

    As a good friend of mine said this week, “One law for me, and another for thee, peasant!” This kind of elitism and concomitant assumption that one can break whatever laws and restraints there are for the protection of the republic, indicates she’ll likely be an Obama on steroids; no regard for laws, no regard for constitutional restraints, no regard for what’s right for the nation.

    the-rule-of-law-webWhen one is convinced they’re above the law, there is no one they are accountable to, as they flaunt their power and evade personal responsibility and accountability for their actions. Director Comey was right, it’s “gross negligence.” Such an one should never ascend to the presidency, or any elected office! If Clinton were accountable under the law like the rest of us are, the bumper sticker “Clinton for Prison, 2016,” would be a reality!

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    Brexit – A Portent for the EU and Possibly for the U.S.

    July 9th, 2016

    By Richard Larsen.

    Bigger is rarely better. Especially when it comes to governance. The “bigger” government is, the more detached from the governed it becomes; the more onerous its regulations and taxes become, and it becomes more susceptible to the ideologically motivated cause célèbre of the ruling elite. We have seen that verity over the past several years in America, and apparently the United Kingdom (UK) has come to the same conclusion.

    BulbInHandLast week UK citizens voted by a narrow majority to withdraw from the European Union (EU), the amalgam of 28 nation states who joined the collective 23 years ago. The EU was to provide member nations more clout and influence by being part of the politico-economic entity that comprised the 2ndlargest economy in the world, based on gross-domestic product (GDP).

    The result of the vote created a veritable tempest in a teapot for financial markets, as most global stock exchanges dropped by 8-12% over the next two trading sessions. The stock selloff resulted in a predictable flight to safety, as traders moved to treasuries and the metals, spiking bond values and dropping yields. U.S. markets have recovered most of that volatility-induced loss, while most European markets have only somewhat recovered.

    kettles-EU-Express-banThe tempest in a teapot metaphor is apropos since it would appear the vote to exit (British Exit, hence, “Brexit,”) was significantly influenced by a planned regulation of the top selling teapots and toasters in the UK. Tea and toast are staples to Britons, as they consume six times the tea their mainland counterparts drink. In April European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker accidently revealed that there would be new restrictions on the devices based on new “ecodesign” models, over concerns with anthropogenic global warming. The new regulations would have banned eight of the best selling teapots and nine of the best selling toasters in the UK. In short, don’t mess with the Brit’s tea and toast!

    They were also planning on banning six of the top 10 selling vacuum cleaners in the UK, including immensely popular British manufactured Dyson models. The move was seen as more “nanny state” meddling in the minutia of daily life. And their proposals were seen by Britons, apparently, to be as inane and idiotic as when the U.S. congress outlawed incandescent light bulbs as one of the first “accomplishments” of Nancy Pelosi’s 110th Congress in 2007. Ideologically driven regulatory meddling – the “nanny state” personified!

    david-cameron_1939896cBrexit is perhaps the first of a series of antiestablishment votes, protesting the perceived disparaging effects of globalization. British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced he will resign in October. After a new PM is selected at the Conservative Party conference, the new PM will trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which will initiate the formalities of divorcing the UK from the EU, which are predicted to take about two years to implement.

    MFS, the Boston-based mutual fund company, explained in a research piece this week, “To sum up, it looks as though the UK’s decision to leave the EU could be the beginning of a large, protracted process in which dissatisfaction with the effects of three decades of globalization is being expressed in ever more impactful ways.”

    BrexitTheodore Bromund, senior research fellow in Anglo-American Relations at the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, expresses little concern from the Brexit vote. He argues that the benefits to both the U.S. and the U.K. are much greater than staying with the EU.

    “The upside, economically, is that the UK would have the ability to sign genuine free trade agreements with whichever nation or nations that it could negotiate satisfactory agreements. The U.K. has a much wider financial role than just trading with the United States, as important as that is, and the city of London could continue its worldwide financial role, unrestrained by Euro related concerns. So that’s the economic side.”

    Marian L. Tupy, senior policy analyst at the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity at the Cato Institute, thinks the effect on the U.S. will be negligible. “I don’t think that British involvement in Europe will have any consequences for America’s economic growth, not at all.”

    maxresdefaultProfessor Tim Congdon of the University of Buckingham, has highlighted the high costs of regulation from the EU. He maintains that EU membership costs the U.K. over 10 percent of GDP, and that long-term they’ll be much better off.

    The Brexit vote could be the beginning of the unravelling of the EU. Other countries considering their own “Brexit” are Czechoslovakia (“Czechout”), Finland, (“Finnish”), Italy (“Italeave”), and Netherlands (“Nexit”). As the anti-globalization sentiment grows, there could be a domino effect, which could see the unraveling of the EU and their currency, the Euro. Since the UK retained their Pound Sterling, at least they won’t have to worry about a currency reversion.

    farage-sticks-it-to-themNigel Farage, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), gave some of the credit for the successful Brexit campaign to President Obama. “Threatening people too much insults their intelligence. A lot of people in Britain said, ‘How dare the American president come here and tell us what to do?’ It backfired. We got an Obama-Brexit bounce, because people do not want foreign leaders telling them how to think and vote.”

    Presidential candidate Donald Trump was not surprised. “The world doesn’t listen to him.” Trump said he wholeheartedly backed Britain’s decision to leave the EU and once again forge its own path. “You just have to embrace it,” he said. “It’s the will of the people. What happened should have happened, and they’ll be stronger for it.”

    Farage explained further, “People power can beat the establishment if they try hard enough.” It worked for the UK, and may carry over to other EU members with their upcoming votes. The U.S. could join that same anti-globalism and anti-establishment wave with a Trump victory in November. Time will tell.

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    “Solution to Domestic Terrorism is Not Gun Control”

    June 24th, 2016

     

    By Richard Larsen.

     

     

    In the face of the horrible terrorist attack in Orlando this week, Senate Democrats filibustered, holding the floor of the Senate hostage in order to enact more gun control legislation. What they seem incapable of acknowledging, is that it’s not further diminution of our 2nd Amendment that needs correction, but rather a complete overhaul of the Obama Administration’s policies that enable and facilitate such heinous attacks on our own soil.

    In response to the attack, President Obama showed anger and emotion, something rarely seen from him. But his rage was not directed to the homegrown terrorist who perpetrated the massacre in Orlando, rather it was aimed at his political critics, and Donald Trump, for criticizing Obama’s apparent inability to correctly identify and name the jihadist zealotry that has brought Islamic extremism to the homeland.

     

    Obama angrily lashed out, claiming that calling such terrorism “radical Islam” is not a strategy. He is correct, it is not a “strategy.” But it is the basis for creating a strategy. Sun Tzu, the 6th century Chinese general and military strategist, perspicaciously declared, “If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles… if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.” Obviously, from a strategic standpoint, it’s critical to know not only yourself and your strengths and weaknesses, but also those of your enemy. And your strategy is incapacitated and fundamentally flawed if you refuse to even properly or accurately identify your enemy, especially their motivation.

    Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, correctly identified this fundamental flaw of Obama’s this week when he said to the Senate Homeland Security Committee, “Telling the truth about violent Islam is a prerequisite to a strategy – a strategy you [Obama] admitted you don’t have. It is the Commander-in-Chief’s duty to actually identify our enemies and to help the American people understand the challenge of violent Islam.”

     

    Lt. Col. Ralph Peters echoed that verity in an interview on Fox News this week. “Using the correct terminology, jihad, & radical Islam, they have legal, strategic, military, and no end of important meanings as applied to the strategy.”

     

    He went on to provide examples of how the Obama administration has weakened our ability to address the threat, not just abroad, but even more significantly, here at home. “We’ve censored our law enforcement, the pentagon and the military. They can’t teach certain things. They can’t teach the history of jihad honestly. They can’t use these terms. The FBI is restricted from using certain terms. How does that help us?”

     

    He concluded, “We’ve got to quit saying that this isn’t Islam. It’s part of it. Jews and Christians have no authority to say what is and isn’t Islam. Muslims have that authority, and hundreds of millions of Muslims have declared that this is it. We have to call it what it is, and what they’re telling us it is.”

     

    In the middle of all of this extremist mayhem, and with the worst domestic terrorist attack since 9/11 serving as a backdrop, the Obama administration quietly announced this week that it’s “fast-tracking” the number of Syrian refugees coming into America. According to Avril Haines, Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor this week, “We’re speeding up the admissions process. So far, we’ve admitted about 3,500 Syrian refugees – more in the last five weeks than in the past seven months.”

    National Intelligence Director James Clapper said just a few months ago, “We don’t obviously put it past the likes of ISIL to infiltrate operatives among these refugees, so that is a huge concern of ours.” And the FBI Director James Comey said just a few months ago in a House hearing, that the government has no way to adequately screen these refugees for jihadist leanings. “We can only query against that which we have collected,” Comey said. “And so if someone has never made a ripple in the pond in Syria in a way that would get their identity or their interest reflected in our database, we can query our database until the cows come home, but there will be nothing show up because we have no record of them.” In other words, there’s no way to adequately vet them.

     

    To make matters worse, if they could possibly be worse, the Obama administration’s Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement (ICE) has released over 86,000 illegal immigrant criminals, who committed over 231,000 crimes, just since 2010. This data was made public at a House hearing last month by Rep. Jason Chaffetz. These were aliens who illegally entered the United States, were convicted of crimes here, and then simply released upon the unsuspecting public. We have no breakdown on the nations of origin of those criminals, but considering how porous our southern border is, the odds are great that many could have extremist leanings.

    There is ample evidence that Obama’s convoluted and warped ideology carries over to domestic law enforcement. Retired Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agent Philip Haney had been running a special investigation into a worldwide Islamist movement originating from Pakistan known as Tablighi Jamaat. In the course of his investigation, Haney uncovered numerous connections between several mosques and individuals in the U.S. with known terrorists and terrorist organizations, including Al Qaida and Hamas, among others.

    In an open letter to Congress just last year he explained how his program was cancelled. “Almost a year into this investigation, it was halted by [Hillary Clinton’s] State Department and the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. They not only stopped us from connecting more dots, the records of our targets were deleted from the shared DHS database[Which included over 300 suspects.] The combination of Farook’s involvement with the Dar Al Uloom Al Islamiyah Mosque and Malik’s [the San Bernardino jihadist] attendance at al Huda would have indicated, at minimum, an urgent need for comprehensive screening. Instead, Malik was able to avoid serious vetting upon entering the United States on a fiancé visa and more than a dozen Americans are dead as a result.”

    A meme circulating in social media indicates that during Ronald Reagan’s terms, there were 11 mass shootings. Under George H.W. Bush, 12. Under Bill Clinton, 23, and under George W. Bush, 16. But under the accommodating and acquiescent policies of Barack Obama’s administration, there have been 162, most of which they don’t recognize because of their diluted definition of a “mass shooting.”

    More gun control is not the answer to these domestic terrorist attacks. The solution is to enforce existing laws against those who conspire to perpetrate terrorist attacks on Americans. Unleash law enforcement to employ profiling and all other effective tools go to the root of the jihadist organizations that have set up shop here at home. Take guns away, and they’ll simply change their weapon of choice, to IEDs or suicide vests. Solve the problem by going to the root, not by thrashing ineffectually at the branches.

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    Party Platforms and Core Principles

    June 18th, 2016

    By Richard Larsen.

     

    There are issues that some conservatives ardently embrace which, in their minds, make them “real conservatives,” distinguishing them from “faux conservatives,” to whom they have applied a myriad of pejorative labels and acronyms. In an ideal world, and at one time, those issues were workable and constituted a core component to the fabric of the American political structure. But in today’s environment, they are anachronistic and a return to them politically impossible, and implementation impractical. Consequently, those who incorrigibly and tenaciously hold to them may be more accurately defined as fatuous, rather than “far right.”

     

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    Some of these issues have been revisited in state Republican conventions around the country, most recently in Idaho’s last week. Some have been proposed or restated as planks in their respective state party platforms. But the big question is, should they be?

    Party platforms should be a terse couple of pages articulating the core principles of the party, not an idyllic “wish list” of fringe issues that are either anachronistic or impossible, and that restrict, rather than expand, the electoral appeal of the party. When fringe issues muddy the waters, only the inane will buy into inane planks, while mainstream voters question if they even belong with a group of such zealots detached from reality.

    “Exhibit A” amongst these dubious issues is the proposed repeal of the 17th Amendment, which provided for direct election of Senators rather than by state legislators. This has nothing to do with “how conservative” or how “constitutional” one is. But it certainly is indicative of how specious ones ideology can be.

     

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    The 17th Amendment was passed overwhelmingly, and in near record time, by the requisite 36 states, because of corruption at the state level. That was in 1912. Ratified in 1913. Now, the crucial question is whether cronyism and corruption was more likely to occur then, versus now. It seems based on the continued deterioration of morality in the political realm, that cronyism, corruption, and the influence of money in politics is much more likely to occur now than it was then. Especially with the emergence of PACs (Political Action Committees) which have much less accountability to the people and even to the candidates, the ability to buy off a few state legislators is much greater than the cost to fund and shape the outcome of a direct election by millions of citizens.

    Institutionalizing that corruption by repeal of the 17th Amendment is hardly a “constitutional” concept, and is arguably contrary to the core principles embedded in our founding documents. When cronyism, pecuniary influence in politics, and corruption at the state level is eradicated, then the 17th Amendment will be ripe for repeal. Until then, doing so will only prove that we’re insane, by trying the same thing again and again, expecting different results.

     

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    Exhibit B is no less questionable – the return to the gold standard. What led to the demise of the gold standard has relevance to today’s challenge to the dollar as the global reserve currency. During the late sixties, government spending grew significantly with the costs of the escalation of the Vietnam conflict and funding of LBJ’s Great Society programs. These were funded mostly by deficit spending, essentially charging the costs with a promise to pay for them in the future. This was extremely risky while the dollar was tied to the value of gold, for overspending and printing of dollars meant an excess of dollars in global circulation which could then be exchanged back to gold, depleting U.S. gold reserves.

    This limited the extent to which Washington could deficit-spend, and caused inflationary pressures on the economy. With Washington lacking the fiscal discipline to control the spending, President Richard Nixon issued Executive Order 11615, which “closed the gold window,” making the dollar just another fiat currency with a free-floating value for global exchange.

     

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    While it was devastating to our monetary and fiscal policy (from a deficit spending and national debt standpoint) for Nixon to abandon it, it’s a genie that could never be put back in the bottle. To do so would either create massive hyperinflation (devaluation) of our current fiat currency, massive swings (politically rather than market driven) in the price of the metal, or create such a high conversion rate as to be nearly meaningless.

    In all of my studies, and discussions with economists on the issue, I have yet to find a viable process to link the dollar back to the price of gold, reestablishing the gold standard. I honestly don’t think it could be done without devastating, and to a large extent, unintended consequences.

    The solution lies in limitations on spending, debt, and deficit spending, perhaps through Article V Amendment process, since Washington has afforded no evidence that they can limit their appetite for the power (and cronyism) that comes from spending. Those are “conservative” issues. But re-linking the greenback to a limited precious metal is a pipe dream, and consequently, not an issue of ideological orientation, (i.e. “I’m more conservative than you because I support returning to the gold standard”). And I can ascertain no conceivable advantage to the party committing to something that is not only illogical, but likely impossible.

    To many, these proposed planks in the Republican platform seem illogical, anachronistic, and divisive rather than broadening and inclusive. It would be preferable to have never abandoned the gold standard, and it would be ideal if graft had not corrupted American politics and created the need for the 17th Amendment.

    The differences of opinion on unwinding these realities are genuine, but they have nothing to do with “how conservative” one is. Logically, it’s not the “far right” that’s responsible for these impractical planks, but simply ardent ideologues, regrettably validating the thesis that no party has a monopoly on historical ignorance or detachment from reality

     

     

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    Looking Toward Next Week’s Primary

    May 17th, 2016

     

     

    By Richard Larsen.

     

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    Our Primary Election is next Tuesday. This is the opportunity for voters to select their potential governmental leaders, and determine which direction our governing bodies lean ideologically. Voters who opt to not participate in the primary election, and then complain about the choices available in November, are at least partly to blame for those choices. If you want to have a say in the process, the primary is easily as important as the general election, especially when there are important contested races.

    I would never be so presumptive as to tell someone how to vote. Everyone has different priorities and expectations of their elected officials. However, due to the number of requests I receive at election time, (which is truly humbling!) I usually share my rationale on electoral choices.

     

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    There are no contested races on the Constitution Party, Democrat Party, or Nonpartisan ballots, but there are some judgeships and a jail expansion bond that appears on those three as well as the Republican ballot.

    The jail proposal is to fund an $18 million bond to double the capacity of the Bannock County jail. With interest, the 20-year bond total cost would be $24.37 million. If it passes, Bannock County taxpayers will see an increase of about $16.32 (or about $1.36 per month) per $100,000 of their taxable property. The proposed bond would include $3 million in repairs to the jail, and requires a super majority (66.7%) to pass.

     

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    Based on what many members of the citizen’s advisory committee have said regarding the proposal, it seems there are other options available to the county that would be less expensive and more remedial to the pressing issues facing the jail. To pursue those other options, it seems the logical choice is to reject the bond, and look at other, and likely better, options.

    There is one contested judicial race that’s on all the party ballots, and that’s the replacement of Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Jones. There are four legal professionals seeking to fill the court vacancy. Of the four, one seems more of a strict constructionist, or originalist, than the others. Curt McKenzie, a highly regarded state senator and attorney from Nampa, clinched it for me with his answers in the Idaho PBS debate, especially with regard to our constitutional inalienable rights.

    On the Republican ballot, there are several contested races. One really shouldn’t be contested. Howard Manwaring, who has served the county in exemplary fashion for the past six years as County Commissioner, has

     

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    resigned his position, yet his name is still on the ballot. Terrel “Ned” Tovey should be selected by the voters, rather than the GOP Central Committee choosing a candidate if Howard “wins” on Tuesday. With his engineering, leadership, and management skills from the Army, Terrel would be a superb County Commissioner.

    Steve Hadley has served the county well for five terms as a County Commissioner. Having never been intended to be a permanent public service position, it seems logical to rotate in some new ideas and new skill sets. I believe Evan Frasure would do just that. Whether teaching constitutional governance to students at Century, providing historical perspective on issues of relevance to the county, or explaining the complexities of governmental budgeting, Evan has an incomparable grasp of the issues facing local governing bodies today and is constitutionally grounded. He would be an excellent County Commissioner.

     

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    Ken Andrus has opted to not run for reelection for District 28 House Seat A, which left a vacancy being sought by Randy Armstrong, Tari Jensen, Lance Kolbet, and Kay Jenkins. And this is a rarity for a local race, but there is not a negative thing that can be said of any of them, that I know of. They’re all principled, knowledgeable, conscientious, and would serve the region well. I have a slight preference but it’s not sufficient to eclipse the viability of the others.

    Perhaps the most difficult of the local races for me to call is District 28 House Seat B, between Rep. Kelley Packer and her challenger, Dr. Jason West. I have the highest regard for both of them, and frankly love them both dearly. But a series of events triggered by a bill in last year’s legislative session gives me but one place to go on this one.

    In short, Dr. West appeared before a legislative committee to testify against a bill that jeopardized his integrative medical practice in Pocatello. He was threatened with retaliatory legislation if he testified. He subsequently had his state license annulled by the retaliatory legislation. He then was forced to have his medical doctor removed from his staff, and a gag order imposed by the state medical board. His entire practice, which services tens of thousands of patients from all over the country, was imperiled because he exercised his first amendment rights.

     

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    There were some things that were done, and some that were not done, by Rep. Packer that could have mitigated the situation, as evidenced by dozens of pages of documentation. But the real clincher, I’m afraid, was in a radio interview last week when she said there was nothing she would do differently. This is troubling, for part of leadership is recognizing when you make an error, and then remedying it to prevent its repetition.

    In spite of all the abuse that the State of Idaho has heaped upon Dr. West, he’s not bitter or vengeful. He’s convinced that Idaho citizens should be able to express their opinions and stand up for their rights without fear of reprisal. With the principles, values, and competency he brings to the position, Jason West will make a phenomenal state legislator!

    If you want a say in who is running in November, you’ve got to vote in the Primary, which is next Tuesday. If ever there was a time to quit being apathetic about the political process, it is now!

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    Time For Candidates to Address Debt, Spending, and Economy

    April 16th, 2016

    By Richard Larsen.

     

    The discourse on the presidential race has devolved to a point that the most pressing issues seem totally lost in the verbal brawls between candidates. The economic threats and risks to the republic should be the centerpiece of the campaign, for both parties, rather than relegated to a footnote to their public statements.

     

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    We have nearly $19 trillion in debt now as a nation. Eight years ago when it was $8 trillion, then candidate Barack Obama denounced the fiscal profligacy of such exorbitant debt, only to more than double it during his two terms. Even Hillary Clinton called it a “threat to our national security.” Why is this threat hardly even mentioned during this campaign?

    Due to the massive debt being amassed by government spending, the role of the dollar as the global reserve currency is threatened. During the first five years of the Obama administration, our deficit spending exceeded $1 trillion per year. The first two of those years we were within a few hundred billion of spending twice what we were collecting in treasury receipts. The lack of discipline and fiscal responsibility in Washington led to a downgrade of the nation’s sea of debt by Standard & Poor’s. The ratings organization stated at the time, “Elected officials remain wary of tackling the structural issues required to effectively address the rising U.S. public debt burden in a manner consistent with a ‘AAA’ rating.”

    Three years ago, Dick Bove, vice president of equity research at Rafferty Capital Markets said, “Generally speaking, it is not believed by the vast majority that the American dollar will be overthrown. But it will be, and this defrocking may occur in as short a period as five to 10 years… If the dollar loses status as the world’s most reliable currency, the United States will lose the right to print money to pay its debt. It will be forced to pay this debt.”

     

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    At the current rate of spending, the federal debt is projected by the Congressional Budget Office to be a staggering $24 trillion by 2020. Erskine Bowles, co-chair of the Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Commission has calculated that service on the interest for that debt alone, if rates stay near current record lows, will be nearly $1 trillion! If interest rates rise, we’ll pay more. Very soon the largest line item spending category will be paying interest on our debt. More than welfare programs, more than defense spending, more than everything!

    The General Accounting Office was explicit in its warning to the policy makers three years ago about our spending. They said in the very first paragraph, “GAO’s simulations continue to show escalating levels of debt that illustrate that the long-term fiscal outlook remains unsustainable.”

    Yet we hardly hear a word about our onerous and debilitating debt. Nor do we hear much about economic growth, that is equally important as prudent fiscal policy. As Bill McGurn of the Wall Street Journal recently noted, “A growing economy means a growing standard of living. … That translates into more dreams fulfilled for more Americans, whether that means a college degree, a home in a decent neighborhood, or just the certainty that your children will do even better than you did.”

     

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    It’s no surprise for the Democrat candidates to not fret over the debt or economic growth. Bernie’s programs are calculated to cost $18 trillion themselves, and Hillary’s plans would require a 69% tax increase! Don’t expect economic reality from them. But the Republicans should know better.

    To illustrate how critical economic growth is to the country. University of Chicago economist John Cochrane recently wrote that “sclerotic growth is the overriding economic issue of our time. From 1950 to 2000, the U.S. economy grew at an average rate of 3.5 percent per year. Since 2000, it has grown at half that rate, 1.7 percent.”

    This is more important to the middle class than any other segment of the population, because as Cochrane points out, from 1952 to 2000, real income per person in the U.S. rose from $16,000 to $50,000. If the economy grew by only 2 percent per year over that period, rather than 3.5 percent, real incomes for the average person would have risen to only $23,000, not $50,000. That’s why average middle class incomes have actually declined since 2008 – a moribund economy with negligible growth.

    And it’s organic economic growth we need, not questionable monetary-policy-based growth that we need. Arguably, the Federal Reserve’s “quantitative easing” has exacerbated the problem with regard to the debt hole we’re digging for ourselves.

     

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    Bond manager Jeffrey Gundlach, CEO of DoubleLine Capital, concurs. Gundlach says, “The slow-growth U.S. economy is living on cheap money as is the bull market, which is in its last stages.” He explains that the central bank is committed to “easy money,” referring to the accommodative low rate policy and quantitative easing. He calls these policies “circular financing schemes.”

    The economy has not improved in any tangible way for the millions of Americans struggling with unemployment and underemployment. A healthy jobs market is crucial to strengthening the middle class, which currently exhibits a troubling lack of long-term stability. More people have dropped out of the work force than at any other time, and median household income continues to decline. A growing economy can solve this economic malaise.

    There are other important issues as well. But these are the most crucial for survival of the republic, and having the wherewithal to provide for the defense of the realm. And what we need from our presidential aspirants is solutions to these critical issues. Whichever one of them starts to provide meaningful and realistic solutions should be the winner not only at the convention, but in November. I believe economist John Cochrane is exactly right. “Solving almost all our problems hinges on reestablishing robust economic growth.”

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    Uncomfortable GOP Fit for Trump

    April 3rd, 2016

     

    By Richard Larsen.

     

    Even the mention of political parties in general brings out the worst in some people, and the reaction only becomes more vociferous and “colorful” when specific parties are mentioned by name. As despised and maligned as the two major parties are, at any given time, it’s amazing they’re still around, even though they fill a crucial role in our American political system. But there has perhaps never been a presidential election in which party affiliation has meant less than in this one.

     

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    The founding fathers were adamantly opposed to the concept of political parties, or “factions,” as they often referred to them. The principles upon which our republic was established are fundamentally premised on the assumption that governance would be by rationality and collaboration amongst the citizenry and those in government, and our founders were convinced that a consensus for the greater good would always prevail.

    The ink was hardly dry on the Constitution before factions, or parties, began to be formed. And perhaps most surprisingly, those most critical of parties were most instrumental in their formation. George Washington had said that party bickering “agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another.” And Thomas Jefferson claimed, “If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.”

    Washington’s policies, foreign and domestic, strengthened and expanded the power of the new federal government, spawning a faction of Federalists. A broad cross-section of the populace was opposed to this expansion of centralized power, and became known as the Democratic-Republicans, harboring the same loathing of centralized power that the Anti-Federalists did during the drafting of the Constitution. This anti-federalist sentiment led Jefferson to resign as Secretary of State to lead the opposition to the Federalist faction of Washington, John Adams, and Alexander Hamilton. This marked, in essence, the birth of America’s two-party political system.

    The ideological bifurcation of our founder’s republicanism, which spawned America’s earliest two-party system, continues today, and still provides the demarcation of contemporary parties. In general ideological terms, yesterday’s Federalists are today’s Democrats, more inclined toward centralized power, and the Anti-Federalists, or Democratic-Republicans, are today’s Republicans, favoring decentralized power and individual liberty.

     

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    Like the Anti-Federalists of yesterday, today’s Republicans generally favor less government, less centralized control over the economy, less regulation and control over the private sector, less spending, and lower taxes. Also, like their 18th century predecessors, the current iteration of anti-federalists also are more literal and devout in enforcement of our Bill of Rights, and the credo trifecta of the Declaration of Independence, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

    Even though such a general belief system runs deep in the GOP (Grand Old Party), there’s no litmus test for fealty to those principles in order to declare party affiliation. Nor is it requisite for those who run under the Republican banner. It’s simply a matter of self-identification, and anyone can claim at any time to be a member of either of the parties, or none of the parties.

    And the same holds for candidates. And this is where things get sticky for Republicans. The current GOP frontrunner, Donald Trump, has a history of statements on his belief system that could make him more of a Democrat than a Republican. He also has a history of donating more to Democrat candidates in the past than to Republicans. Yet today, he claims to be a Republican.

     

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    Perhaps even more disconcerting for Republicans, rather than broadening the GOP’s “big tent,” he’s narrowing it with his incendiary speech and antics. By so doing, he’s reshaping the perception of the party he claims to be a member of and wants to lead. And judging from current polls indicating Hillary Clinton would thoroughly trounce him in November by eleven points, his alienation of minority voters, certain religious voters, most voters with a sense of principle, many conservatives, and people with a sense of decency and propriety, his march to the nomination could easily be characterized as a GOP political suicide by amputation – one limb (or demographic) at a time.

    No wonder “the establishment” Republicans, and life-long party members who have invested years, even lifetimes, to broaden electoral appeal while striving to stay true to party principles take exception to his redrawing the face of the party! He is not a Republican at heart, and in 2004 even said “I identify more as a Democrat.” He has given little over the years to the Party, and shares little ideological alignment with it, yet much like a 19th century “carpetbagger,” sweeps in and hijacks the political apparatus with which he shares little affinity, and takes over.

     

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    With no litmus test or oath of fealty to the GOP, or to the principles espoused by the party, it’s disturbing that one can simply assume the right to take over and reshape the face of an entire organization, simply on the strength of his populist lingo and propaganda. To many who have spent their lives attempting to favorably shape the public perception of their party, Trump’s hijacking is as distasteful as it would be if Rush Limbaugh were to do so to the Democrat Party.

    Party representation has perhaps never, in recent political history, meant less substantively or ideologically, than it does this year. The surprising breadth of support for Trump is not based on principles and party ideology. It’s based on electorate anger, dissatisfaction with the system, and adulation of an anti-establishment persona. Because ideologically, Trump is a box of Cracker Jacks – we have no idea what kind of surprise comes inside!

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    Mitt Romney Has Every Right to Express His Concerns For America

    March 20th, 2016

     

    By Richard Larsen.

    The vitriol heaped upon former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney this past week is entirely illogical and irrational. It only makes sense in the emotion-driven context prevailing during this election cycle. But alas, due to the prevailing emotional populist sentiment, logic has become the most obvious casualty of the primary election season. No wonder this is often referred to as the “silly season.”

     

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    Romney had the temerity to criticize the demeanor, abrasive and crass style, as well as some of the unpropitious statements by current Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump. “He creates scapegoats of Muslims and Mexican immigrants. He calls for the use of torture. He calls for killing the innocent children and family members of terrorists. He cheers assaults on protesters. He applauds the prospect of twisting the Constitution to limit First Amendment freedom of the press. This is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss,” Romney declared.

    The former Massachusetts governor came short of endorsing one of the other three candidates in the GOP race, but discouraged Republican voters from supporting Trump. In doing so, he echoed the sentiments of many who claim affinity with an ABT approach to the primaries – Anyone But Trump.

    Some of the critics of Romney’s interjection into the race have said he has no right to do so. Isn’t it ironic that those so critical of Romney think they can express their disdain, but Romney can’t? Can’t get much more duplicitous than that! Frankly, every citizen has that First Amendment right of free speech. One is not deprived of that right just because they’re a former candidate, or may have lost an election.

    Should his opinion carry weight? Logically, as well as a matter of principle, one should think so. He’s carried the party banner, and did so with dignity and class. He’s a man of sound judgment and acumen, and sometimes those who have run and lost have a better grasp of the stakes than those who haven’t. He has a vested interest in the future of the country and the future of the Republican Party. Perhaps his words are ignored at our peril.

     

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    Others have criticized Romney saying he was a “horrible” candidate in 2012 running against Barack Obama. This begs the question, what is a good candidate? He had no skeletons in his closet, no moral turpitude, and he acted presidential. He is, in many ways, the antithesis of this year’s frontrunner. Maybe that says more about the party and how it’s changing, than it says about Romney.

    That’s not to say he didn’t make faux pas’ as a candidate. His factual observation that 47% of the populace is on some kind of federal assistance didn’t help, and according to some political operatives, his refusal to go negative against Obama sealed his fate. Is that another component to being a “horrible” candidate? Refusing to go negative? If so, it certainly explains why many in the GOP are in full-fledged adulation mode with Trump. With him, it will be a surprise if and when he goes positive.

    Perhaps the animosity directed toward Romney is merely transference because of the anti-establishment mentality prevalent during this election cycle. Even this is illogical since Romney was not the preferred “establishment” candidate either in ’08 (when he bowed out early) or in 2012.

    As the Washington Post reminded us a year ago, “Romney wasn’t the first choice for many in the establishment. True, a few bigwigs were deeply committed to him from the start. But they hardly represented consensus opinion. That’s why we heard so many entreaties for other candidates to run.”

     

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    In an interview earlier this week, Chris Wallace asked Romney about the “establishment” allegation. Romney responded, “Establishment suggests there must be some Wizard of Oz somewhere pulling the strings. That’s not the way it works. I sat there and watched Donald Trump, and I said, look, someone has got to say something. I didn’t talk to anybody and say, ‘I’m going to do a speech, do you have some ideas?’ This is something I did on my own because I care very deeply about the country.”

    “I love America. I’m concerned about America and I believe the heart and soul of conservatives and Republicans recognize that the principles that Donald Trump is talking about have nothing to do with conservatism, nothing to do with keeping America strong.”

    What the establishment allegation against Romney does is create a whole new definition of the “establishment.” In this iteration, it’s everyone who doesn’t share the gutter-mentality, gutter-speech, and noncommittal ideology of Donald Trump.

     

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    Which brings us to arguably the most denunciatory claim made against Romney – that he’s a “loser.” This requires assessment of why he lost in 2012. As Rush Limbaugh explains it, “4.5 million to 5 million Republicans didn’t vote in 2012. This is the conventional wisdom and they didn’t vote because they didn’t like the nominee, he wasn’t conservative enough, or there was a religious component.”

    So was he conservative enough? Many in the establishment thought he was too conservative, hence their efforts to recruit and back more “mainstream” candidates. Further, anyone who read his book “No Apology,” knew where his priorities and his values were based. He did not lack in conservative fidelity! But as Rush points out, there likely was a bigotry issue with some who refused to back an LDS (Mormon) candidate. Their ecclesiastical purity trumped their love of country. That is unconscionable! Voting for a president is not an ecclesiastical endorsement!

    Those verities translate into Romney’s critics perhaps being the real losers. If they didn’t bother to get behind him and vote four years ago, they’re the losers. Romney, and the nation, simply reaped the fruits of those who condemned us with another four years of “the One” by their imprudence and inaction.

     

    Republican presidential candidate Former Massachusetts Governor Romney delivers an address titled, "Faith in America" at the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station

     

    The country missed one of the greatest opportunities for principled, conservative, and classy leadership four years ago. What a shame that he is maligned now for having the audacity to share his valid concerns for the future of the party and the nation!

    Romney had every right to share his insights, and we simply prove yet again that we’re losers, as a party and as a nation, if we fail to listen to wisdom and reason, regardless of how much we may like or dislike the source.

    Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at rlarsenen@cableone.net.

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    Donald Trump’s Cult of Personality

    March 9th, 2016

    By Richard Larsen.

    The most disturbing aspect to the Donald Trump candidacy is not the empty rhetoric, non-substantive solutions, or even his brash politically-incorrect style. The most disturbing aspect of his candidacy is what it says about so many of our fellow citizens. A veritable personality cult is developing around the GOP frontrunner rivaling that of the Democrat nominee from four and eight years ago. And it’s just as speciously founded.

     

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    Some assert that the Trump bandwagon is reshaping the Republican Party. Some go even further and claim that his candidacy is simply bringing out sordid and ignoble characteristics of the party that have been heretofore more latent and simmering under the veneer surface of decency. Such characterizations are erroneous.

    Both major parties are grappling with atypical undercurrents that are largely reshaping the face, and perhaps the heart, of each. Regrettably, both are founded in a pejorative form of populism, whether it’s the promise of “free stuff” for adherents of the Democrat Party, or the abject anger aimed at unresponsive and tyrannical government for the Republicans. Such populism is destructive to the political process in a republic, as it appeals to citizens’ selfishness and most base instincts. And it’s culturally destructive as it drags the public dialogue to the lowest common denominator, while appealing to emotion at the expense of logic and reason.

    In the last two presidential election cycles there was a veritable cult following for “The One” that venerated and idolized him regardless of what he said or did. He could do no wrong. His speech was lofty; language grandiloquent; substance lacking; and promises vapid.

     

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    This year the leading GOP candidate has a similar cult following. It doesn’t seem to matter that “Make America great again,” and “we’re going to win…” constitute 50% of his specious speeches, with the other 50% reiterating his greatness. With little substance accompanying his bold statements, it’s hardly distinguishable from the empty “Hope and Change” mantra of Obama’s cult following.

    But unlike Obama’s elevating elocution, Donald Trump’s speech is degrading, debasing, and uncivil. As Mitt Romney aptly delineated this week, Trump is one who “mocked a disabled reporter, who attributed a reporters question to her menstrual cycle, who mocked a brilliant rival who happened to be a woman due to her appearance, who bragged about his marital affairs, and who laces his public speeches with vulgarity.” But to the cult of Trump, civility, class, and decorum don’t matter.

    Whether we like it or not, the fact is that the president of the United States is the face of the nation. For all of Obama’s policy and ideology failures, at least he was not always an embarrassment in terms of his conduct and decorum. He has typically filled his role as face of America to the world with class. He has acted presidential.

     

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    Trump has no illusion of what it means to act presidential, and is redefining it to the depths of depravity with his tactlessness and inexorable ad hominem attacks on anyone who crosses him. But to the cult of Trump, it doesn’t matter.

    Following Barack Obama’s Super Tuesday victories in 2008, he revealed his “messiah complex” by claiming, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” Millions of Americans seemed to agree whilst gullibly falling for his grandiloquent, yet vapid speech. He could do no wrong in the eyes of his cult-like followers.

    And perhaps unsurprisingly, the leading narcissist of the 2016 presidential race, claims that, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” Such is the power of the cult of personality and its hold on the sycophants who suspend reason in order to wholly buy into a campaign idiom of populist appeal. To the cult of Trump, it doesn’t matter.

    When Obama preyed upon the emotions of low information voters, many on the right were critical not just of Obama and his insubstantial campaigns, but of the uninformed, ill-informed, and misinformed voters who flocked to him in ignorance. Ironically, many of those critics are now devout members of the cult of Trump.

     

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    Compromise is a bad word and anathema to the political purist. Yet in the cult of Trump, it doesn’t matter, because compromise is rebranded as “the art of the deal” and the great dealmaker is adored and praised.

    Just as sound-thinking Democrats would likely prefer to not have their party seen as the party of economic illiteracy, abdication of personal responsibility, and freeloaders, so also most Republicans don’t appreciate Trump’s redrawing the face of their party to reflect the crassness, rudeness, callousness, debasement, and moral turpitude of their leading presidential candidate. Such regression in both parties does not portend well for the republic.

    In that context, both major political parties are being redefined, and it’s to the detriment of the nation and the freedoms and liberties we hold sacrosanct. Let’s hope there are enough sane and sensible people to save us from the populists in both parties!

    Today for the Republican party, the choice is remarkably similar to the ’08 and ’12 choices for the Democrats, and it comes down to the classic Platonic dichotomy of form versus substance. Regrettably for the GOP this time around, not only is the substance lacking, but even the form is not appealing, as it culturally spirals down to the lowest common denominator and our most base instincts.

     

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    When reason and logic are employed in the candidate and presidential selection process, policy matters, character matters, and substance matters. When a cult of personality rules the process, none of it matters. And there can be little doubt of how the Trump zealots are amassing behind his persona. And he knows it. He can say or do anything, even “shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue,” and his adherents remain faithful. That’s when you know all reason has been suspended.

    Anger and frustration with Washington is totally understandable. But the solution is not a classless self-adulator who spews venomous aspersions as fact, and whose platform is based in rage. Appealing to emotion is the low-information approach to leadership, and requires a cult-like fealty to succeed, much like the last two election cycles. The Trump cult, regrettably, seems filled with faux conservatives who care less about principles, character, or truth, and are willing to march to the beat of another narcissistic, egocentric political drum based on vapid memes and platitudes. Trump has become a Pied Piper of populistic political porn.

    Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at rlarsenen@cableone.net.

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    What Conservatives Can Learn From Liberals

    January 30th, 2016

     

    By Richard Larsen.

    There are tactics and characteristics of the American left that conservatives would be well advised to emulate. Until these lessons are learned, conservatives will likely continue to struggle at the ballot box, and liberty will be but a noble afterthought.

    ladderPerhaps the most critical lesson to learn is that politics, and governance in general, is incremental. The ebb and flow of the political environment and the mechanics of governance move incrementally, either toward liberty and constitutional principles, or toward centralized planning and governmental hegemony. Every piece of legislation, policy statement, regulation, executive order, election, and every judicial decision moves the nation, a state, or a community slightly one direction or the other. It rarely moves all the way to one extreme or the other.

    Many conservatives tend to look at each of the above events as an all-or-nothing proposition. If they can’t have absolute 2nd Amendment rights, it’s all wrong. If they can’t have completely free markets, the system is corrupt and it’s no good. If a candidate doesn’t agree completely with their perspective, they’re evil and cannot be supported, and they’re simply the “lesser of two evils.”

    The long-term perspective significantly shapes incremental adaptation. Liberals seem to have a more long-term view of the process, and realize that each political victory is a rung on the progressive ladder. Too many conservatives suffer from severe myopia, mistakenly believing that if they can’t jump to the top of a ladder in one jump, they’ve failed, or that other conservatives have failed them if they can’t, or don’t, make the jump to the top minus the intervening steps.

    This tendency places some conservatives in the unenviable position of never being satisfied with anything. Since they can’t have things just precisely the way they want them to be, they will forever be unsatisfied, and politically unfilled. Liberals, generally, seem to relish each minor victory and recognize any politically incremental movement for what it is – one step in the process.

    When we realize that every election and every other political activity takes us incrementally toward liberty, we begin realizing that each minor move to constitutionality and liberty is a victory, however small. And rather than bemoaning the failure to leap to the top of the ladder, relish the small victory, and gear up for the next battle for the next incremental triumph.

    RAMFNLclr-113012-compromise.jpg.cms_Closely related is persistence. When liberals don’t get what they want, they keep pressing ahead, until at last they persevere. When HillaryCare failed in the 90’s, the issue was placed on the back burner until they could muster the political clout to pull it off with the 2010 edition – ObamaCare. The old aphorism, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” should be the mantra of conservatives. Don’t give up, don’t give in, and if we fail, then try again until we succeed.

    Liberals are masters of the compromise. In foreign affairs, they’re willing to concede large swaths of political ground for minor gains. For example, they assure a nuclearized Iran in 10 years, for little more than the appearance of having achieved a great deal for the U.S. But when it comes to domestic affairs, it’s just reversed. They will concede hardly anything in exchange for massive concessions from Republicans. This art is obviously a learned trait, and one that has thus far eluded conservatives. Until they can learn to at least meet halfway on issues of principle, conservatives will forever be the political doormats in American politics. Acquiescing and caving totally to the left not only emboldens the left, but it alienates conservatives from their political base and ideological constituency.

    ED-AJ347_reynol_E_20090414145152Granted, part of the lefts success in this regard is due to the fact that they have the media to advance their narrative. When congress presents a budget and the president threatens to veto it, liberals and the media all blame congress if the government is shut down for not presenting a budget the president can sign. If it’s vetoed, the president shut government down, not congress! Conservatives must learn to control the narrative, and shape the story in a way that ascribes blame where it belongs. President Reagan was able to do this, even without the alternative media that’s available today.

    The left is organized, mobilized and energized at the grassroots level in such a way as to capitalize on technology and social media. Conservatives have come closer to creating a genuine grassroots organization with the emergence of the Tea Party. But even that is fragmented, sometimes regionalized, and parochial in nature. Until conservatives learn to master grassroots organization and mobilization, we’ll always be playing second fiddle.

    Conservatives tend to be more defensive and reactionary, rather than aggressively proactive. We have constitutional principles – American principles – as our ideological foundation. Rather than sitting back and defensively trying to protect and preserve them, we’ve got to learn to be proactively advancing and bolstering them. Just as in sports, defense alone can’t win a game. There’s got to be an offense scoring points in order to win.

    liberty-treeLiberals don’t seem to care how liberal their fellow ideologues are. They just care if they claim to be liberals, and if they subscribe to their broad dogma. Conservatives are often too consumed with whether one is “conservative enough,” or a “true conservative.” Consequently, we spend more time fighting amongst ourselves, pointing fingers, making accusations, and casting aspersions than we do in fighting the real enemies of liberty. A house divided against itself cannot stand, and as long as conservatives engage in this internal civil war, we will remain our own worst enemies. We can only succeed when we’re united.

    George Washington claimed, “Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.” America’s plant is withering, and if we’re to save it, we need to start working proactively together as freedom’s stewards.

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    ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh – What’s In A Word?

    December 19th, 2015

     

    By Richard Larsen.

     

    This week President Obama addressed the nation in a rare Oval Office speech. The intent was to assuage concerns that the government isn’t doing enough to protect us from radicalized jihadists, like the couple in San Bernardino last week. But the speech may have raised more questions and apprehensions than provided answers or assurances. And perhaps the largest is in the language used to describe the threat.

    levantThe speech made reference to ISIL sixteen times. This is itself significant. ISIL is one of the retired acronyms the organization that prefers to be referred to as the Islamic State has used. The original acronym they employed was ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. ISIL, however, has much more broad regional significance, for it stands for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

    The Levant includes some historically significant territory, including not just Syria, but the region referred to in Biblical times as Palestine. So ISIL includes the entire Fertile Crescent from the Persian Gulf through southern Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and northern Egypt. In other words, the entire region from the Taurus Mountains of Turkey in the North, the Mediterranean Sea on the west, the Tigris-Euphrates river system on the East.

    Secretary of State uses a different term to identify the group. Since late last year Secretary John Kerry habitually has referred to them as Daesh. Perhaps just as incendiary as the president’s insistence on using the ISIL acronym, Daesh refers to the Arabic name of the group, ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah fī ‘l-ʿIrāq wa-sh-Shām. The Arabic version implies that the Islamic State is a worldwide caliphate, with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as its caliph. As a caliphate, it claims “religious, political and military authority over all Muslims worldwide, and that the legality of all emirates, groups, states, and organizations becomes null by the expansion of the khilāfah’s [caliphate’s] authority and arrival of its troops to their areas,” according to Washington Post foreign affairs writer, Ishaan Tharoor.

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    The significance of the terms the administration chooses to employ in referencing the group cannot be overstated. With Secretary Kerry’s Daesh (or Da’ish) he may presume to be ideologically neutral, since it doesn’t have the name “Islamic” in it, (at least an English transliteration). He may also use the term in part due to his French allegiance. France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has said, “This is a terrorist group and not a state. I do not recommend using the term Islamic State because it blurs the lines between Islam, Muslims and Islamists. The Arabs call it ‘Daesh’ and I will be calling them the ‘Daesh cutthroats’.” Perhaps they’re both being either obtuse or naïve, thinking they’re avoiding “Islamic” with the Daesh designation. But use of this term grants the group universal pertinence as a global caliphate.

    The President’s insistence on using ISIL could well betray his perpetual downplaying of the influence, scope, motives, and successes of the terrorist group. After the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, the military vacuum in the country began to be filled by ISIS forces in Northern Iraq. The President called them “jayvee” terrorists at the time they initially encroached into Iraq. And even while repeatedly saying they were “contained,” they have expanded to include 20% of the 169,234 square mile country. To put that in context, California, the third largest state in the U.S., is 163,694 square miles, and the area of ISIS control in Iraq is equivalent to the size of the state of South Carolina.

    Iraq-Syria-ISIS-ISIL-Map-June-12-2014Obama has been unrelenting in his denunciation of Israel, and unremitting in his criticism of its leadership. In the earliest days of his presidency, he made his now infamous “Cairo Speech,” where he referenced Israel’s “occupation” of Palestinian lands, and the “daily humiliation” and “intolerable” condition of the Palestinians. And it’s only gotten worse since then.

    Several times over the past five years, Obama administration officials have leaked classified Israeli information regarding defensive measures and offensive plans related to Iran. The effect has been an unmistakable chilling of the relationship between Washington and Tel Aviv, as Washington’s objectives seem clearly at odds with the protection and preservation of the state of Israel.

    Even the heralded Iran Nuclear deal was done over Israel’s objections, since it assures Iran will be nuclearized by year ten of the agreement, and Iran has vowed to “blow Israel off of the map.”

    So is it coincidental that Obama uses the ISIL name intentionally to include the Levant, which includes Israel? Indubitably not. Even by his chosen appellation for the terrorist group, the President continues his denunciation, disavowal, and rejection of the state of Israel. And rather than graduating to the more geographically broad “Islamic State” name the group applies to itself, he has chosen to stick with their earlier iteration which conspicuously includes the land of Israel.

    Not only does our president consistently understate our enemies, and fail to accurately identify them, but he has severe problems recognizing our primary ally in the region, and providing the support key allies should expect from one another. If we’re to ever succeed in vanquishing ISIS, it’s not going to be by alienating our allies and placing them increasingly at risk.

    Words matter. And in foreign affairs, the symbolism employed by policy-makers through their word choice, are of immense significance, not just to our allies but to our enemies as well. Our enemies should not be emboldened, and our allies alienated by the language they use.

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    The Collapse of Universities as Institutions of “Higher Learning”

    November 21st, 2015

    By Richard Larsen.

     

    Students at several universities have been protesting over some legitimate, and even some illegitimate, grievances and “injustices” recently. In unsurprisingly duplicitous fashion, they have engaged in the same type of tactics they denounce: bullying, intimidation, and bigotry, in what should be the most open and diverse setting – institutions of higher learning.

    At the University of Missouri, there was a report of a swastika of human excrement on a wall in a lavatory. Surprisingly, in this era of everyone having a cell phone that takes pictures, not a soul on a campus of 30,000 students was able to document it. Then apparently some inebriated student said some inappropriate things of a racial nature. He was suspended. So basically, a couple of incidents of bad behavior.

    the-obstruction-of-free-speech-at-missouri-and-yale-is-disturbing.jpgPrimarily because of those incidents, protests broke out all over the campus, even leading a communications professor to request some muscle to prevent a student newspaper reporter from taking pictures. Isn’t that interesting, that a professor of communications, you know, that industry that is so dependent upon First Amendment rights, would attempt to suppress and stifle the First Amendment rights of others?

    To the modern day witch hunters of Mizzou “racial insensitivity” is the hammer, and literally anything can be a nail, because it’s so completely subjective. Failure to display enough revulsion at perceived injustices is apparently enough to be classified as “racial insensitivity,” as the removal of the president and chancellor prove.

    But because of the demonstrations, and the football team getting involved by threatening to not play BYU this weekend, the campus bullies forced their way past logic, to the very highest echelons of university governance. The university president and chancellor resigned. Even they refused to be the adults in the room. No wonder the students act the way they do!

    There is at least one small glimmer of hope with regard to the Mizzou situation. Sci Martin, one of the nation’s top defensive ends in the upcoming recruiting class, has cut Missouri from the list of schools he was considering attending and playing football for. Martin leads the New Orleans area schools in quarterback sacks, says he wants “no part of what’s taking place” at Missouri. “Their campus is going out of control,” the athlete said earlier this week, and “I’m not going back in time with this type of madness.” There are, gratefully, some millennials who have not totally divorced reality!

    The vice president of the Missouri Student Association was on MSNBC earlier this week expressing her disdain at “people using their First Amendment rights to create a hostile and unsafe learning environment.” She called for a “safe space for healing rather than experiencing a lot of hate.” This is so sad on so many levels! Not least of all, the notion to some that freedom of speech can be suspended to create a “safe zone” so hypersensitive adolescents don’t get their feelings hurt.

    university-of-missouri-turmoil-ae5917559f3cbf6aMSNBC host Thomas Roberts asked the student leader what she thought of one professor who complained that college campuses are becoming places of prohibition. She responded, “I personally am tired of hearing that first amendment rights protect students when they are creating a hostile and unsafe learning environment for myself and for other students here. I think that it’s important for us to create that distinction and create a space where we can all learn from one another and start to create a place of healing rather than a place where we are experiencing a lot of hate like we have in the past.” Are there really classes that teach this kind of inanity? No wonder so many of them are so cognitively dysfunctional.

    It is truly unfortunate that some choose to use their freedom of speech to promote hate and ignorance. But someone’s supposed “right” to not be offended doesn’t trump the right to free speech! If we attempted to revoke freedom every time it was used to do something politically incorrect, we’d quickly run out of freedom.

    Next stop, Yale University. The week before Halloween, some students complained to a professor and his wife, who also serve as residential advisors, that the university was being “heavy-handed” on what Halloween costumes should be avoided, for the sake of “racial sensitivity.” The couple drew from their scholarship and experience and wrote a thoughtful email inviting the community to consider whether it was appropriate to have “PC police for Halloween costumes,” from an intellectual perspective. One source described the email as the “model of relevant, thoughtful, civil engagement.”

    For simply having raised the possibility that people should think about the issue rather than simply blindly following the PC dogma, the couple have become the targets of the most pernicious and vile attacks. An all-out public verbal flogging has ensued, to force them from their positions with the university. I guess we can finally relinquish the notion that the Ivy League proffers a superior education.

    College2-300x231Wesleyan University in September cut half of the student newspaper funding from the student association because of complaints about a column critical of the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Bryan Stascavage, an Iraq War veteran, wrote the piece that was not critical of the movement’s mission, or even their motivation, but questioned their tactics, especially the “anti-cop” fringe elements of the movement.

    As one source described the piece, it “contained neither name-calling nor racial stereotypes, the usual hallmarks of collegiate column calumny.” It was a thoughtful, deliberative column. But that didn’t prevent all hell from breaking loose, and Stascavage excoriated and denounced everywhere he went on campus. In a café on campus, one student screamed that he had, “stripped all agency away from her, made her feel like not a human anymore.” And just like at Mizzou, no adults showed up to render order from the vapid chaos because they are afraid to. And perhaps justifiably so, as standing up would likely cost them their jobs.

    The irreverent, and almost always politically incorrect South Park, in one of their October episodes, mocked the current PC climate on American universities. In a song titled, “In My Safe Place,” reality-dimension-challenged college students sang quixotically about their “safe place” where they don’t ever have to hear, see, or be confronted with anything that may challenge their biases and predispositions. That is until the villain, identified as “Reality,” steps into their “safe place” and begins dismantling their ideological fantasy.

    freespeech1One professor in an interview this week said, “I’m a liberal, but my liberal students scare me to death!” Columnist Mona Charon said this week, “There was a much-beloved quote circulated among leftists, often attributed to Sinclair Lewis, that ‘when fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.’ In light of recent episodes of mob action on American campuses, the quote needs updating: When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in ‘diversity’ and demanding ‘safe spaces.’”

    Regrettably, it seems that most of higher education’s commitment to diversity is entirely misplaced. The culture at too many of these institutions sacrifices what should matter most, in favor of what matters least. After all, is there anything that matters less than what color one’s skin is? And conversely, is there anything that matters more in a university setting than ideas? Yet academe has nearly universally substituted those priorities. The pervasive commitment to diversity is all about skin tone, and diversity of ideas and perspectives is maligned, vilified, and proscribed anathema.

    Rather than institutions of higher learning, it appears all too many schools are becoming institutions of lower learning. Instead of preparing the latest generation of students for reality, and to be productive members of society, they’ve become incubators for narcissism, egocentrism, confirmation bias, and a whole new breed of thin-skinned, coddled, entitled, and spoiled brats.

    And this is all occurring in an era when they are accountable for the expenses of their “education.” Imagine how much worse they’d be if taxpayers paid all of it for them! There is much to fear for the future of civilization and our society given the devolvement of our “higher education” culture. Gratefully, our own Idaho State University has withstood this trend thus far.

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