Author Archives: Richard Larsen

Has America Lost Its Collective Mind?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 [email protected].

 

Healthcare Ruling-Government Control Expands With Language

This week the Supreme Court struck another major blow to common sense and the English language. In a ruling upholding the subsidies afforded policies purchased on the federal insurance exchange, the SCOTUS opened a veritable Pandora’s Box of legal interpretation, and expanded power not only of the judiciary, but of the federal government itself.

2015-06-26-b1f429b7_largeSeven times throughout the Affordable Care Act (ACA) references are made to policies or individuals who are “enrolled in through an Exchange established by the State under section 1311 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act…” In each case, the context is citing policies purchased through insurance exchanges established and operated by the respective states. But the court ruled the actual legal language, and even the context, didn’t matter. What mattered was the “intent” of the congress. So reading “tea leaves” now has greater weight with our legal system than the literal words of legal documents!

To be clear, the case was brought to the court on that very issue, whether the literal meaning of the words of the statute were legally binding. The decision was not regarding the efficacy of the ACA, or whether it’s feasible. The decision was on whether the law could be interpreted to support federal subsidies for states with no insurance exchange or only those states that had established their own exchange.

Even Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the majority decision, conceded that a strict reading of the Act clearly meant only policies purchased through individual state exchanges were eligible for federal subsidies. He wrote, “While the meaning of the phrase…may seem plain when viewed in isolation, such a reading turns out to be untenable in light of the statute as a whole. Those credits are necessary for the Federal Exchanges to function like their State Exchange counterparts, and to avoid the type of calamitous result that Congress plainly meant to avoid.”

109044_600The Court has historically ruled on constitutionality of statute. With this decision, however, the Court has clearly become a proactive partner with Nancy Pelosi’s 111th Congress in writing the wholly inappropriately named Affordable Care Act. Seven times the Act described, in context, that subsidies would be available through Section 1311 sanctioned State Exchanges. Yet the Court by a 6-3 majority became a partner in writing the law, ex post facto, by redefining a key component of it.

Obviously, legislative intent is now more consequential than legal wording. This means that even legal documents generated by the government, which establish the rule of law by the selection and utilization of specific words and phrases, will not necessarily be judged based on what they actually say, but what the intent was. And since intent can be interpreted far beyond the scope of actual legalese, taking the government to court on any matter of law will now be a potentially arbitrary and spurious crapshoot.

To illustrate the absurdity of such a notion, imagine if the same principle applied to our legal documents regarding wills, property ownership, and child custody issues. If the Supreme Court’s logic, or illogic, were to be applied to our legal documents, what they say literally becomes inconsequential, for the intent is what is meaningful, not the words. We can claim that we didn’t intend to break the law when charged, but that doesn’t matter. But if we broke the law, what our intent was becomes inconsequential. Yet now the government claims the plenipotentiary authority to claim intent matters more than the actual law, and the language that created it. A government should never be able to do what an individual citizen can’t.

2015-06-26-b8f7c82c_largeIt’s common to take such a cavalier attitude towards what people or organizations say or write. They can say something, and then apologize for it, claiming that wasn’t their intent. But for government, this is a new low. It now has legal precedence to make the same claim with regard to statute and laws, if their intent was different than the actual wording of a law!

Justice Antonin Scalia illustrated the absurdity of the ruling in his dissent. “I wholeheartedly agree with the Court that sound interpretation requires paying attention to the whole law, not homing in on isolated words or even isolated sections. Context always matters. Let us not forget, however, why context matters: It is a tool for understanding the terms of the law, not an excuse for rewriting them…

“Far from offering the overwhelming evidence of meaning needed to justify the Court’s interpretation, other contextual clues undermine it at every turn. To begin with, other parts of the Act sharply distinguish between the establishment of an Exchange by a State and the establishment of an Exchange by the Federal Government….Provisions such as these destroy any pretense that a federal Exchange is in some sense also established by a State…

“The Court has not come close to presenting the compelling contextual case necessary to justify departing from the ordinary meaning of the terms of the law. Quite the contrary, context only underscores the outlandishness of the Court’s interpretation. Reading the Act as a whole leaves no doubt about the matter: ‘Exchange established by the State’ means what it looks like it means.”

This ruling is not dissimilar from the 2012 ruling upholding the mandate of Obamacare. That ruling sustained the Act by identifying the “mandate” as a “tax.” It would appear with two major SCOTUS decisions upholding the Act, the only way it can be deemed constitutional is by the Court’s new precedence of reinterpreting and changing what the words actually say, legally. In other words, jumping through logical and linguistic hoops to make it so. As Senator Rand Paul said, “This decision turns both the rule of law and common sense on its head.”

The omnipotent authority of the government over individual lives is now complete, when words can mean whatever the government chooses to make them mean. Alexander Hamilton, upon the founding of the nation, declared, “It’s not tyranny we desire; it’s a just, limited, federal government.” When government can arbitrarily change, reinterpret, and alter statute, after the fact, it is no longer just, or limited. It is totalitarian and hegemonic!

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 [email protected].

What We Need From Our Next President

President Ronald ReaganAs the pool of aspiring presidential candidates grows by the day, one can’t help but hope that the electorate’s appetite for economic improvement under a term or two of a new president will likewise increase. After eight years of burgeoning government hegemony, diminution of personal liberty, assault on the free enterprise system and middle class family incomes, the last thing we need is perpetuation of the stagnant and fiscally stifling policies of the Obama administration. Perhaps we should look back, as we look forward, determining the nation’s course under a new president.

The last time the U.S. floundered with such a moribund economy was when the misery index (inflation plus unemployment) spiked over 20 at the end of the Carter administration. With rather constrained inflation, and government underreporting of real unemployment (Department of Labor U6 is still over 10%) our misery index is nowhere near Carter’s abysmal economic mishandling. But the sluggish economy, declining median income, and negligible economic expansion are taking their toll not just on the middle class, but the whole country.

Reagan-Obama-November-11But looking back to 1980 and how a new president, with congressional help, was able to reverse the negative trends, as well as instill hope for the future, is an example that begs repeating. If we’re to have any hope for our children and grandchildren’s future, it’s an example that must be repeated!

Carter’s economic policies had perpetuated the inordinately high tax rates of the previous decade, limiting job growth and capital investment, while generating less tax revenue due to the stagnant economy. Yet following the passage and implementation of the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1982, unemployment dropped 45%; private domestic investment grew 77%, and economic growth averaged over 4.5% annually. The consumer price index, a measure of inflation, rose only 17% over the next ten years, far below the one-year peak of 13.5% the last year of the Carter term. Real income of every income bracket increased while tax receipts doubled from 1980 to 1990, from $500 billion to over $1 trillion.

Real GDP Growth (Recovery)The Reagan administration deregulated many industries, reducing the cost of doing business significantly, including oil, making energy cheaper. A new U.S.-Canadian free trade agreement was inked, and savings and investment encouraged by the creation of IRAs and 401(k) plans. A whole new investor class was created, as most Americans now had “skin in the game” of economic expansion. And they were richly rewarded, as the GDP increased by 77%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average more than doubled.

National debt continued to grow under Reagan, but that was more the culpability of a spendthrift congress headed by Speaker Tip O’Neil. Twice Reagan sent balanced budget recommendations to Congress, both of which were carried to the capitol in an ambulance so Speaker O’Neil could declare them DOA (dead on arrival).

Cumulative Job Growth ComparisonSpending on education, social services, and healthcare nearly doubled over eight years, while federal outlays on commerce, housing credits, and regional development were decreased by nearly 22%. The federal civilian workforce was reduced by 5% as well. The deficit, as a share of GDP, was cut more than in half, from 6.3% to 2.9% by the time Reagan left office. A vibrant, growing, and healthy economy made that possible, even with the spending increases.

National defense was a priority in the Reagan years, as exemplified by a near doubling of the annual military budget over his two terms. When told in a cabinet meeting that he couldn’t spend that much on the military, the president responded, “Look, I am the president of the United States, the commander-in-chief. My primary responsibility is the security of the United States. … If we don’t have security, we’ll have no need for social programs.”

GrowthInPerCapitaGDP80sVsCurrentThe strengthened and expanded military validated Reagan’s defense mantra: peace through strength. Due to our significant military investment, the cold war never evolved to a hot one, and the Soviet state collapsed in part due to their inability to match our burgeoning military capabilities.

Researching the economic “report cards” of postwar presidents, Harvard economist Robert Barro claims, based on the raw data alone, Reagan easily has the top scores. “Using the change each year in inflation, unemployment, interest rates, and growth in gross national product, Reagan ranks first. He engineered the largest reduction in the misery index in history—50 percent.”

This is not intended to heap adulation on a former president, but to illustrate what can happen nationally when tried and true principles are applied in governance. Rather than perpetuating the failed Obama doctrines intended to fundamentally transform America, a return to the economic principles that made the nation great will resurrect the indomitable free enterprise engine of America, unleashing our ability to work, produce, and compete, and hopefully get a handle on our out-of-control spending.

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 [email protected].

Will There Be Another American Revolution?

The number of Americans disgusted with the direction the nation is headed has been growing steadily over the past several years. And increasingly, abject frustration with the electoral process, which arguably has facilitated a fundamental transformation of America, leads a growing chorus calling for outright revolution. After all, the abuses of our own government far exceed what King George imposed on our revolutionary forebears.

declaration-of-independenceThose of us who treasure America as the land of the free and the home of the brave, see contemporary statists, those who are actively engaged in expanding centralized governmental authority at the expense of personal liberty, as adulterators and enemies of freedom.  They are “fundamentally transforming America” into a fiercely potent centralized government that was never intended for this republic; a fascist police state that, regulates, coerces, bullies, and spies on its citizens. In the past, they’ve done it surreptitiously, clandestinely, and dishonestly. Now, however, they do so blatantly and openly, yet classifying it as something else. The United States of America currently only slightly resembles the land of the free and home of the brave as founded and intended.

Another American RevolutionEven a cursory series of online searches reveals a growing chorus of classical-liberals calling for a “new revolution” against the tyranny of a federal government that resembles oligarchical fascism much more than the liberty-based republic we were given. Is such talk of a new revolution hyperbolic, or real? And if there was such a revolution, what might it look like? It could possibly resemble the plot of a new book, “Shadow Revolution: Code Name Operation Achilles,” by award winning columnist, Bill Corbett, authored under the pseudonym, Will Edwinson. This is a major rewrite of his 2001 book, “Halcyon Revolution.”

As Bill describes it, “The self-reliant producers try for years to elect people to government that would stem the tide of the Progressive movement, but to no avail. The Progressives always manage to win, and the trend continues toward socialism. Titus Coppard and the revolutionists have finally had enough, and they start a quiet shadow (underground) revolution. The goal is for all the self-reliant like-minded people to exodus to eighteen Western states, get jobs, start businesses, get involved in politics to gain ideological control of the respective legislatures; and on a pre-determined date, secede in one block from the union of the United States and form the new nation of the Free States of North America.”

Will Edwinson PhotoThe new nation will be established according to the original Constitution; a republic of limited government ensuring individual liberty as the U.S. was founded 226 years ago.

For lovers of liberty, the speeches and teachings of Coppard, a fictional yet inspiring protagonist, are like reading Jefferson and the founding fathers. He explains the rationale behind the revolution. “The whole purpose of establishing this new nation is to encourage people to pursue their personal happiness by being as productive as they can. We will do this by cutting the shackles of regulation that prevent that productivity. We want new citizens to migrate to our country, but not for the purpose of a dole. If they are expecting that, they had better stay where they are, because, here, there will be no dole. Our credo will be that of President John F. Kennedy when he said in his inauguration speech: ‘Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.’”

When addressing the economics behind his plan, he sounds like Milton Friedman, “We hope to abolish all taxes on income and capital; or at least, make them minimal. We feel that those taxes are counter-productive. People should be allowed to keep all of what they earn and accumulate and be free to dispose of it as they see fit. We will have poor people, true. As Jesus said, ‘The poor will always be with us’, but we intend to retrain the mind-set of the citizens. We will work to instill in their belief system that it is not the responsibility of government to care for the poor, but rather, this should be left up to private citizens, churches, and charities.”

And he embodies the federalist ideals of James Madison when he explains, “There will be no mandates imposed on the several states by the federal government because we respect states’ rights as spelled out in the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution.”

Shadow Revolutrin Front CoverSome of Coppard’s suggestions for the Free States of North America will ring true regardless of ideological orientation on the political spectrum. Who could argue with a competency requirement for those seeking public office, or with term limits? As he explains, “Everyone running for president, vice-president, and service in the Congress—and I emphasize service, not career—must pass a comprehensive examination testing his knowledge and understanding of the Constitution in order to qualify him to run for office.” He then goes on to explain the term limits on congressmen and senators that would prevent the level of cronyism and amalgamation of power we see today.

Government is not the only difference in the new country. The basic culture must change as well. “Someone once said the miracle of America originally brought forth a breed of human being that was noted for its desire to do the right thing because common decency and common sense dictated common standards of conduct. Because of this, each generation rose higher and higher on the ladder of civilization with genuine and lasting results. We intend to recapture that philosophy. Basic honesty will be the governing rule,” Coppard explains. And while it may sound idyllic in today’s context, at one time it defined American culture.

For those of us who embrace the founding principles and documents of our republic, this story is one of reflection as well as possible inspiration for the future. After all, the classical-liberal ideals embedded into our founding documents made of us a great nation. We could be great yet again by returning to them. The existential question for each of us to ponder, is whether it will come at the ballot box, or from a new revolution?

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 [email protected].

Note: Shadow Revolution is available at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Is the U.S. Really More Respected Now?

President Obama this week made a statement that caused more than a few eyebrows to rise. He averred that the United States is the “most respected country on earth,” and that his administration claimed credit for that accomplishment. Judging from most reactions to the statement, it would appear that more Americans would agree with Charles Krauthammer’s rhetorical question, “What planet is he living on?”

UnknownSpeaking to about 70 community leaders from the nascent Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the president declared, “People don’t remember, when I came into office, the United States in world opinion ranked below China, barely above Russia,” Obama said. “And today, once again, the United States is the most respected country on earth, and part of that I think is because of the work that we did to reengage the world and say that we want to work with you as partners, with mutual interests and mutual respect.”

But as the Investor’s Business Daily stated the next day, “The only problem with this narrative about winning respect is that it has no basis in reality. In fact, the very opposite is true.”

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer echoed IBD’s sentiments. “You wonder what world, what planet he’s living on and it’s not just as you enumerated, our enemies who have respect for us. The Chinese, the Russians, the Iranians of course, ISIS, you can go all the way down.”

muslim-brotherhood-flagClearly those who threaten global security and peace have no respect for the U.S. Russia invades the Ukraine, knowing U.S. leadership will do nothing. Putin’s assumptions are affirmed.

China builds manmade islands in international waters claiming sovereignty, and the assumption is obvious that the administration will do nothing. Again, the Chinese assumptions are affirmed.

Iran violates terms of the framework agreement regarding development of nuclear weapons, even before the tentative ink has a chance to dry, and again, the administration does nothing.

ISIS is running roughshod over Syria and Iraq, expanding and growing exponentially, in part due to the weaponry and equipment we left in the wake of our hasty and premature withdrawal from Iraq. We run a few token aerial sorties against the barbarians, but the administration ties its own hands by delineating everything we won’t do to rein them in.

Krauthammer continued with his rant against the president. “[How about] our allies. You think the Ukrainians respect us? Or the Poles? The Lithuanians? How about the Saudis? How about the Bahrainis? The King of Bahrain was supposed to come to the summit in Camp David with the President of the United States. He stiffs the President and the foreign ministry of Bahrain issues a statement saying that on that day, where was the king? At a horse show in England. Now, if that’s a sign of respect, we’ve got problems.”

baltimore-cover-finalBahrain wasn’t alone. Actually four Arab monarchs took a bye from the president’s summit on terrorism last month. And Saudi Arabia has so little regard for our policies and security measures in the Middle East that they initiated defensive measures against the insurgency in Yemen without even telling the administration. Clearly a measure of “incoherence” in our policies there, as NBC’s Richard Engels explained it.

Couple that with the “stream of leaks from anonymous White House operatives and public dismissals” against Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu before his appearance before a joint session of congress two months ago, and the lack of respect for Obama’s new America is even more glaring. Israel, supposedly our closest ally in the region, is pummeled with abuse, while Iran, one of our most strident enemies, is treated amicably, and even apologetically, by the administration.

For the past forty years Egypt has turned to the U.S. for leadership, support, and stability. Part of that was reliance on our military technology and arms. Yet just this spring, for the first time in decades, Egypt went to Russia looking for weaponry for their armed forces.

And we mustn’t forget how infuriated our allies, especially Germany and Brazil were, after learning that the Obama administration had been spying on their leaders. The Edward Snowden revelations came not just as news to U.S. citizens, but to some of our closes global allies. And it was not welcome news.

Take-Notice-NRD-600-w-logo-578x420It’s inconceivable to think that the world is impressed with the domestic unrest over alleged racism of our law enforcement agencies, and the rioting and looting which regularly assaults the global news airways. Violent crime is now rising dramatically in those cities that have had violent clashes between hired rioters and law enforcement.

Yet we’re to believe that somehow we’re more respected as a nation? Really, Mr. President. What’s to respect about what you’ve turned our nation into? Domestically or abroad? Our “friends” and allies don’t trust us. Our enemies don’t fear us, as the administration proves their impotence on a nearly daily basis. And our domestic scene is more polarized and riotous than it’s been in fifty years.

The only ones who likely think America is more respected now are probably those of warped moral relativistic ideology, who in some convoluted way think domestic Christian cake-bakers are more evil than the extremists and sovereign powers that want to destroy us!

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 [email protected].

FIFA Indicted – The Clinton Foundation Should be Next

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

Wonder what FIFA got for their contribution to the Clinton Foundation

Wonder what FIFA got for their contribution to the Clinton Foundation

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

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

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

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

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

Clinton-Foundation-2013-BreakdownBut even that raises significant issues, since according to the Foundation’s own tax filings, only 10% of their donations ultimately make it to “charitable grants” for their professed causes. That’s a whole lot of donations that go for expenses (34%), salaries and benefits (33%), travel (10%), office supplies (6%), and rent (5%). And don’t forget the 2% that goes to IT (information technology), for that’s where all of Hillary’s emails were stored, in two separate email accounts, until they were erased.

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

Clinton_Family_Corruption_1_495x750The most serious, however, is well documented. As explained by the New York Times, a Canadian businessman was purchasing up to 1/5 of the U.S. uranium assets, while making millions of dollars in contributions to the Clinton Foundation. The Canadian firm, Uranium One, was then sold to Russia’s atomic energy agency, Rosatom, which was celebrated in Russia’s Pravda with the headline, “Russian Nuclear Energy Conquers the World.” An acquisition of this size and nature had to be approved by the U.S. State Department, which was easily done with Mrs. Clinton at the helm.

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

money_laundering-101The Clinton Foundation meets all of the criteria for a money-laundering entity: placement, layering, and integration, while enjoying the benefit of tax-exemption. They collect millions in donations (placement). Then through layering (or structuring) distance is created between the donation and the source, to obscure the audit trail. And finally the integration stage, which in the Foundation’s case, is the returning of favors and influence to donors.

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

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

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 [email protected].

Memorial Day – A Day to Acknowledge Heroes!

For many, the significance of Memorial Day seems to be lost in the temporal anticipation of the first holiday of summer. The day’s true significance is found in acknowledgment of the ultimate sacrifices made for our freedom, by our men and women in uniform. As such, it is much more than simply a day for a picnic, or a weekend getaway. It is a day of reflection, acknowledgment, and gratitude, for the sacrifices made by relatively few, so the many may enjoy freedom and liberty today.

memorial-day-rememberIt is a day to pause from the daily grind and celebrate the lives and sacrifices of those who have perpetuated this Republic, this One Nation Under God. It is a day to reassess our own convictions to the principles that those who have worn the uniform of our young nation have been willing to sacrifice their own lives for, in order to preserve the legacy of liberty, from one generation to the next. The torch of Madam Liberty has been perpetually and successively passed from the earliest generations of Americans to those who yet wear the uniform. And to them we owe our all.

There is nothing we can do which can repay those who have so sacrificed that we might be free, but everything we do does count in some small way. Abraham Lincoln put into proper perspective what we do to celebrate the lives of those who have been willing to pay the uttermost farthing for our freedom. “We cannot dedicate – we can not consecrate – we can not hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

The Civil War has long since ended, yet the veracity of Lincoln’s statement rings equally true today as it did 150 years ago. We cannot hallow the ground where our brave have fallen. They consecrated it with their blood and their lives. And not only the ground fought over during our Civil War, but around the globe where we have fought to prevent expansion of liberty-destroying socialism, the fiendish tyranny of dictators and freedom-trampling totalitarians and terrorists around the world.

IMG_1807The necessity of these men and women willing to serve and fight in inconceivably horrendous conditions in our behalf should be self-evident. Contrary to the platitudes of a popular bumper sticker, sometimes war is the answer. And as appalling as war is, there are worse things, like the expunging of personal liberty by communism, socialism, and totalitarian regimes, and the heinous cruelty and tactics of terror or radical extremist groups.

The English philosopher John Stuart Mill put this dichotomy into even more stark personal terms. He reasoned, “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. A man who has nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance at being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

Since the earliest days of our republic, tens of millions of Americans have served honorably, wearing our nation’s military uniforms. Of those, 1.2 million have made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives, and more than 1.4 million have been wounded in combat, in defense of liberty. Yet the value of their sacrifices, and those made by their families, is truly inestimable and incalculable.

General Douglas MacArthur delivered his farewell speech to the cadets at the U.S. Military Academy in May, 1962. He used the occasion to eloquently reference the nature and character of those who so choose to serve us. “When I think of his patience under adversity, of his courage under fire, and of his modesty in victory, I am filled with an emotion of admiration I cannot put into words. He belongs to history as furnishing one of the greatest examples of successful patriotism. He belongs to posterity as the instructor of future generations in the principles of liberty and freedom. He belongs to the present, to us, by his virtues and by his achievements. In twenty campaigns, on a hundred battlefields, around a thousand campfires, I have witnessed that enduring fortitude, that patriotic self-abnegation, and that invincible determination which have carved his statue in the hearts of his people.”

IMG_8166President Ronald Reagan, at Arlington National Cemetery, on Memorial Day, 1982, expressed the profound gratitude of a thankful nation. “I have no illusions about what little I can add now to the silent testimony of those who gave their lives willingly for their country. Words are even more feeble on this Memorial Day, for the sight before us is that of a strong and good nation that stands in silence and remembers those who were loved and who, in return, loved their countrymen enough to die for them. Yet, we must try to honor them not for their sakes alone, but for our own. And if words cannot repay the debt we owe these men, surely with our actions we must strive to keep faith with them and with the vision that led them to battle and to final sacrifice.”

His ensuing counsel for the citizens of America is as appropriate and proper now, as it was then. “Our first obligation to them and ourselves is plain enough: The United States and the freedom for which it stands, the freedom for which they died, must endure and prosper. Their lives remind us that freedom is not bought cheaply. It has a cost; it imposes a burden. And just as they whom we commemorate were willing to sacrifice, so too must we – in a less final, less heroic way – be willing to give of ourselves.”

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 [email protected].

How the Left Uses Racism, and Will Use Sexism, to Stifle Dissent

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

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

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

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

racist_0What’s brilliant about the tactic, is that you don’t have to worry about any facts, data, or common sense to employ it. Just by hurling the accusation several things have been accomplished with one fell swoop. 1) The argument has been misdirected, so it’s no longer about the policies or the substance of the disagreement, it’s now whether the dissenter is truly racist or not. 2) It neutralizes and diminishes the objections of the dissenter, for now the greater issue is whether he is in fact racist, or not. And 3) it successfully stifles dissent, since no one, probably even real racists, likes to be called one, so why go out on a limb and face the probability of such an accusation?

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

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

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

UnknownThose of us who are bitter clingers to our freedom, our liberties, and the principles the nation was founded on, shouldn’t allow ourselves to be rebuffed or silenced by the non-thinking Alynski devotees who utilize these nefarious and polarizing tactics. And remember, if that’s their primary tool to fight back with, you know that logically you’ve already won, because their only defense is casting aspersions ad hominem.

There are two things even more disturbing than a group attempting to regulate political speech. One, that the liberal-biased media may well comply, and play their game; and two, that for a large segment of our unenlightened and uninformed electorate, their “sexist” tactic will work.

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 [email protected].

Decades of Liberal Policies Have Decimated Baltimore

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

baltimore-riot-police-car-AFP-640x480The city has been hemorrhaging jobs at an alarming rate for decades. And the most hard-hit have been the city’s black youth. Over 37% of 20-25 year-old black males are unemployed, versus 10% for white males of the same age. Black household median income is nearly half what it is for white households, at $33,610 and $60,550, respectively.

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

Rising Taxes and Declining Population

Rising Taxes and Declining Population

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

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

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Over 16,000 Vacant Buildings in Baltimore

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

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

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

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

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

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

West.jpg.pagespeed.ce.NGkhqN1J13The ideology which has governed Baltimore, Detroit, Illinois, California, and the nation for the past several years, has always been to create a new policy or social program, or additional taxes and spending (aka “investments”) to address our socio-economic ailments. It’s not “school reform,” “job training,” or “investments in infrastructure” that elevate and strengthen communities, it’s a thriving economy. And nothing douses entrepreneurism and economic growth like the massive taxing and regulatory burdens the leftist ideology is so totally invested in.

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

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

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 [email protected].

Oral Arguments at SCOTUS on Same-Sex Marriage

The oral arguments before the Supreme Court this week stimulated vigorous legal discourse not just between the counsel for the represented parties, but amongst the justices themselves. The questions posed to counsel cannot reliably serve as tealeaves, prognosticating the court’s ultimate ruling, but they did indicate some of the struggles the court faces when they rule on same-sex marriage.

marriage_dictionaryAt issue is whether several state’s referenda or state statutes defining marriage as between one man and one woman shall stand. Based on public opinion trends on the issue, the ruling may be a moot point, but the legal arguments before the court clearly indicate why the rush toward a redefinition of marriage will have a significant impact on our society and the republic.

Justice Anthony Kennedy pointed out that thinking marriage is the union of a man and a woman “has been with us for millennia. And it—it’s very difficult for the Court to say, oh, well, we—we know better.” He went on to observe that even the concept of same-sex marriage has “only been around for 10 years,” and compared with human history, he conjectured, “I don’t even know how to count the decimals when we talk about millennia.”

Chief Justice John Roberts echoed that observation, by stating, “Every definition that I looked up, prior to about a dozen years ago, defined marriage as unity between a man and a woman as husband and wife.” He then correctly observed, “You’re not seeking to join the institution, you’re seeking to change what the institution is. The fundamental core of the institution is the opposite-sex relationship and you want to introduce into it a same-sex relationship.”

700Making the case that the definition of marriage really has nothing to do with “discrimination,” Justice Stephen Breyer observed that the male/female definition “has been the law everywhere for thousands of years among people who were not discriminating even against gay people, and suddenly you want nine people outside the ballot box to require states that don’t want to do it to change … what marriage is.”

Justice Samuel Alito made the same observation when he declared, “There have been cultures that did not frown on homosexuality. … Ancient Greece is an example. It was well accepted within certain bounds. People like Plato wrote in favor of that.”And yet, ancient Greece and people like Plato never thought a same-sex relationship was a marriage. Alito concluded: “So their limiting marriage to couples of the opposite sex was not based on prejudice against gay people, was it?”

Justice Roberts clarified another significant issue as well, when he alleged that what the petitioners are arguing for in this case is not freedom from government, but government affirmation. Roberts explained that in a previous Supreme Court case, “the whole argument is the State cannot intrude on that personal relationship. Now people are suing saying “the State must sanction. It must approve that relationship. They’re two different questions.”

supreme-court-gay-marriage_mtJohn Bursch, the lawyer defending the traditional marriage laws in Michigan, echoed this point. Based on precedence, he noted that while “the government cannot interfere in private, intimate conduct, the Court cannot as a constitutional matter … force the State into these relationships by forcing them to recognize and give benefits to anyone.”

Bursch made another critical point in his oral arguments. He said, “the marriage institution did not develop to deny dignity or to give second-class status to anyone. It developed to serve purposes that, by their nature, arise from biology.” He pointed out that the same-sex marriage argument is significantly different. “Now, the marriage view on the other side here is that marriage is all about love and commitment. And as a society, we can agree that that’s important, but the State doesn’t have any interest in that.”

He continued by illustrating that redefining marriage to say that it’s primarily about emotional commitment would have consequences. “When you change the definition of marriage to delink the idea that we’re binding children with their biological mom and dad, that has consequences. The consequences of redefining marriage won’t happen overnight, but the law will have an impact. We’re talking about something that’s going to change the meaning of the institution over generations.”

Chief Justice Roberts tendered perhaps the most significant indicator on how the court may rule. He noted that a court-imposed 50-state solution would not lead to civil peace, but to anger and resentment. “If the Court unilaterally redefined marriage, there will be no more debate. Closing of debate can close minds, and it will have a consequence on how this new institution is accepted. People feel very differently about something if they have a chance to vote on it than if it’s imposed on them by the courts.”

MW3_My_Parents_Divorce_and_Video_Games1The premise of the same-sex marriage argument is that adults have the “right” to marry whomever they choose to, regardless of gender. But there is no such premise inherent in the institution of marriage. It is, rather, based in natural law, lex naturalis, which is the system of law that is determined by nature and is thus universal. Same-sex marriage is therefore, logically, preternatural. It has no logical basis in nature, nor can a presumed right can be extrapolated constitutionally, based on equal protection.

Based on logic and strength of arguments, and the types of questions the justices posed during oral arguments, it would seem the court may be inclined to defer such matters to the states respectively. If they do so, given the Roberts Court’s tendency to enjoin the legislative branch, they’ll likely encourage making provision for universal recognition of same-sex couples rights by states which uphold traditional marriage. But that’s logic, which can merely be presumed from the Court, based on precedence.

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 [email protected].

Worshiping Gaia On Her Holy Day

Establishment ClauseEvery year at this time, schools at all levels and all across the nation violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution. That’s the clause that proscribes state-sponsored institutions from advancing any religious organization or movement, and is usually cited (though incorrectly) as the “separation of church and state.” Not only does academia fully embrace religion the week of Earth Day observance, but it actively works, knowingly or not, to indoctrinate a whole new generation of adherents to a pantheist green religion.

The notion that we are stewards of our planet, and that we must nurture and protect it as we utilize the resources she provides us is both logical and moral, and should be universally embraced. But Earth Day, and the environmental movement behind its evangelism, has advanced far beyond the logical and moral. It is now a full-fledged religion, a worship of Mother Earth, or Gaia.

gaia8838detailAs one Earth Day source proclaims, “Our Earth, as known in Greek mythology is Gaia. The Greeks were considering Earth acknowledgment years before we started our Earth Day Affair. The first Greek god was actually a goddess. She is Gaia, or Mother Earth, who created herself out of primordial chaos. From her fertile womb all life sprang, and unto Mother Earth all living things must return after their allotted span of life is over. Gaia, as Mother Nature, personifies the entire ecosystem of Planet Earth. Mother Nature is always working to achieve and maintain harmony, wholeness and balance within the environment. Mother Nature heals, nurtures and supports all life on this planet, and ultimately all life and health depend on Her. In time, Nature heals all ills.”

In 1979, a NASA employee, James Lovelock, formulated the Gaia hypothesis. It states that “all life, and all living things on this planet, are part of a single, all-encompassing global entity or consciousness” which he named Gaia. “It is this global consciousness, Mother Gaia, that makes our planet the mother of life.”

Worthip the Earth DayMany in the movement have elucidated the mystical relationship of man to Mother Earth. The British writer, William Golding, said, “We are the children of that great blue white jewel [Mother Earth]. Through our mother we are part of the solar system and part through that of the whole universe.”

The eco-theologian Thomas Berry has been perhaps most explicit in defining the divine-feminine relationship of Gaia to man. “What does the Earth Desire? I will put it in just a few short sentences… To be admired in her loveliness, To be tasted in her delicious fruits, To be listened to in her teaching, To be endured in the severity of her discipline, To be cared for as a maternal source from whence we come, a destiny to which we return. It’s very simple…As humans we are born of the Earth, nourished by the Earth, healed by the Earth.”

Clearly, Mother Earth, or Gaia, is ascribed theological properties, with teleological implications, including creation, veneration (worship), and a maternal relationship with earth’s inhabitants, her children.

UN Mother Earth DayThis relationship is even codified in the resolutions of the United Nations, a full listing of which can be found on the UN website under the title “Mother Earth Day.” These resolutions form the religious equivalent to a catechism on deference toward Mother Earth on a secular philosophical basis.

Another revelatory document from the UN even identifies the natural enemies or apostates to the green religion. In a document that was mandated by the UN-sponsored Convention on Biological Diversity, the Global Biodiversity Assessment, Christianity is explicitly identified as heterodox to Gaia. The document blames Christianity for subverting some indigenous people’s sense of “affinity with the natural world,” leading to destructive practices deemed crucial to saving the planet.

Christianity, to the UN, is therefore antithetical, and constitutes the ideological “root of ecological evil.” The document goes on to praise Buddhism and Hinduism as they “did not depart as drastically from the perspective of humans as members of a community of beings including other living and non-living elements.”

This should not be a surprise to any who are paying attention to the political correctness trends, which make Christianity and Christians acceptable targets as dregs of society and banes to civilization. That’s why it’s the only religion that is acceptable to be criticized, be the brunt of jokes, and even faddishly ridiculed by bigots and secularists.

Earth Our Home Not Our GodThe Mother Earth religion has its prophets, like Al Gore, James Hansen, Gaylord Nelson, Michael Mann, Kenneth Watt, and Paul Ehrlich. And the EPA appears to serve as the High Council to enforce and regulate all human activities to ensure fealty to Gaia, employing pseudo-science and half-truths as justification.

Unlike organized ecclesiastical organizations, however, Gaia’s followers, and supporting industries and academics, don’t just get a tax break from Uncle Sam. They actually do one better: they are on the receiving end of tax-free loans, seemingly endless tax-credits, and grants for “research” and industries that support the faith.

Some may scoff at the notion of this hallowed international holy day as representative of pantheistic dogma and a veritable religion. But as averred by the inductive-reasoning “Duck Theory,” if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is one. Educators and the government in general certainly should encourage responsible citizenship as it relates to the environment. But it’s gone far beyond that. The Mother Earth pantheism, the essence of a state sponsored religion, really should be treated no differently than any other religion.

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 [email protected].

America Is No Longer the “Land of the Free”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The omnipotence of government today certainly contrasts sharply with what our founding fathers envisioned for this “land of the free.” As Thomas Jefferson said,

Quotation-Benjamin-Franklin-freedom-security-trade-people-Meetville-Quotes-230658“A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have.” Or, in the context of abrogation of 4th Amendment rights, any government that is powerful enough to do everything we allow it, certainly is powerful enough to get away with everything it does.

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

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

FoundersExtremists1Every election from here on out is a referendum on the future of our republic. Will we choose to elect those who embrace our founding principles based on liberty and freedom, or will we continue to cede our liberty for “security” provided by a statist government which is increasingly less attune to the concerns and interests of the individual citizen?

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

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 [email protected].

Strong Nuclear Families Are Crucial for our Economy and Society

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

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

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

Quotation-Ashley-Montagu-society-quality-human-family-Meetville-Quotes-54321Drawing from Department of Labor data, they showed how American families experienced an average 80% increase in their real income from 1950-1979. Family income inequality was relatively low, and more than 89% of prime working age men were employed. All of those trends have reversed, and are accelerating to the downside, with the composition and structure of the family playing the most crucial role in this reversal.

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

images-2The economic impact on individual family units, as well as society as a whole, cannot be overstated. Even adjusting for race, education, and other factors, if the share of married parents remained at 78% through 2012, “the rise in the overall median income of parents would have been about 22%, substantially more than the actual growth of 14%.” And if the post-1979 immigrants, coming mostly from low-income countries, are adjusted for, the “growth in median family income would have been 44% higher than 1980 levels.” They therefore conclude that the decline in the share of “married-parent families with children largely explains the stagnancy in median family incomes since the late 1970s.”

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

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

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

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

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

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 [email protected].

Easter – A Celebration of Hope and Rebirth

For Christians worldwide, Easter is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus the Christ. While the eschatological doctrines associated with Christ’s crucifixion, death, and resurrection are a matter of faith, the attestation of primary accounts makes Jesus’ emergence from the tomb a matter of historical record. And many of the contemporary symbols associated with Easter date back centuries, and represent elements of this most holy of events from the life of one Jesus of Nazareth.

isaiah-scroll.lTo a historian, primary sources are the bedrock to validate or invalidate events or individuals averred to be historical. Princeton University History Department defines a primary source as, “a document or physical object which was written or created during the time under study. These sources were present during an experience or time period and offer an inside view of a particular event.”

Primary sources regarding the life of Jesus of Nazareth are plentiful. The eyewitness accounts of four contemporaries are recorded in the synoptic Gospels, the first four books of the New Testament. There are many secular primary sources that attest to the fact that Jesus lived at the time, including Roman historians Tacitus and Suetonius, and the Jewish historian Josephus.

As a quantitative matter of fact, there are more primary sources confirming the reality of Jesus of Nazareth than there are of the Roman leader Julius Caesar. Yet to my knowledge, no serious historian of the antiquities questions whether Julius Caesar really lived. Validating this concept, Rylands professor of biblical criticism and exegesis at the University of Manchester, F. F. Bruce wrote, “The historicity of Christ is as axiomatic for an unbiased historian as the historicity of Julius Caesar.” World historian Will Durant indicates that, to the best of his knowledge, “no Jew or Gentile from the first-century ever denied the existence of Jesus.”

images-1One of the most prolific classicists of our era, Michael Grant, has said, “In recent years, no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non historicity of Jesus’ or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary.” In another of his works he states, “There are those who argue that Jesus is a figment of the Church’s imagination, that there never was a Jesus at all. I have to say that I do not know any respectable critical scholar who says that any more.”

The public death of Christ, by crucifixion, is also broadly accepted as historical fact. Michael Grant said of that event, as well as the account of his baptism, that those “two facts in the life of Jesus command almost universal assent.” Jesus’ public crucifixion is likewise referenced by secular historians of the age, Josephus and Tacitus.

Primary accounts of Jesus’ resurrection however, are exclusively non-secular. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John’s accounts of Jesus’ life, death, and subsequent resurrection, were canonized. Yet they were written, and widely promulgated, during the time when most of their contemporaries could have dismissed their accounts if they were perceived to have been fabricated or in error. F.F. Bruce confirms this perception, “Had there been any tendency to depart from the facts in any material respect, the possible presence of hostile witnesses in the audience would have served as a further corrective.”

Most of the original apostles died ignominious and horrible deaths as a direct result of their avowed faith in Jesus as Messiah. They died as martyrs for their convictions and testimony regarding the risen Christ. It is wholly unfathomable that someone would die a martyr’s death for a story thought to be no more than a fable. The fact that eleven of them, twelve including Paul of Tarsus, would do so only attests to the veracity of their witness statements. They forever sealed their testimonies with their blood.

blogger-image--1527425496Our contemporary iconography associated with Easter is colorful, literally, starting with the Easter bunny. Rabbits are widely known to be prolific procreators, and in some ancient cultures symbolized new life and fertility. The first Easter bunny arrived in America in the 1700s, courtesy of German immigrants, who perpetuated their tradition of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase, or “Oschter Haws.” German youth would make nests where the hare could lay its colored eggs, which later simply became decorated baskets for the multicolored eggs.

The egg itself represents new life. For Christians, Christ emerging from the tomb is symbolic of newborn life exiting an eggshell. Coloring and decorating eggs, according to some sources, dates back to the 13th century, undoubtedly with some pagan influence.

The timing of the Christian world’s Easter celebration is somewhat enigmatic to many, since it is observed anywhere from March 22nd, to April 25th. This is because early Christians felt that since the resurrection of their Lord occurred after the Passover, they always wanted Easter to follow that Jewish feast, which is based on solar and lunar cycles. The short explanation, roughly speaking, is that Easter is celebrated on the Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon.

imagesWhether celebrated for its theological implications, or its secular treats, Easter represents new life and resurrection, as the Northern hemisphere springs to life following the dreary, darker, and shorter days of winter. The symbolism likewise can represent as much or as little as one desires, but traditionally links back to rebirth and new life. How we respond to the symbolism and the day itself is wholly up to each of us.

Former Cardinal Basil Hume said of Easter, “The great gift of Easter is hope.” And in a world of so much ugliness, evil, and negativity, we all need all the hope we can get.

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 [email protected].

Destructive Effects of Multiculturalism

America has a rich history as a melting pot of cultures, ethnicity, and religion. Those who have come here over the past couple hundred years have sought a better life through the freedoms and liberties assured by our Constitution and the free enterprise system that fosters their “pursuit of happiness.” They’ve brought their culture, customs, and language with them, but they became Americans: learned English, learned our customs and conventions, and became encultured into the American way. America is great in large part because of the diversity of our people, and the richness of our cultural elements brought here. But multiculturalism has become much more than that, and is now more destructive than ameliorative, to American culture.

MulticulturalismIf the goal of multiculturalism was followed, which was to primarily facilitate the understanding and respect of other cultures, it would contribute, even add “seasoning” to our melting pot by encouraging our young people to compare and contrast, and then eclectically assimilate the best of all cultures. Instead, it has become an assailant to diminish Western values and advance ideologies distinctly anti-American. It has evolved, or devolved, to an illogical extreme that in academic and educational circles, attempts to vitiate the strengths and advances of Western civilization and promotes other cultures as preferable cultural paragons, regardless of their shortcomings.

Thomas Sowell, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University has said, “What ‘multiculturalism’ boils down to is that you can praise any culture in the world except Western culture – and you cannot blame any culture in the world except Western culture.”

Roger Kimball of the New Criterion has written, “Wherever the imperatives of multiculturalism have touched the curriculum, they have left broad swaths of anti-Western attitudinizing competing for attention with quite astonishing historical blindness.” Multiculturalism has led to the historical revisionism that paints Christopher Columbus as a nefarious European who initiated the transformation of a supposed paradisiacal Western hemisphere into the evil, corrupt America of today.

multiculturalism-poster-denigrationIt is multiculturalism that precludes Shakespeare from being studied by many university literature and English majors, because he was a “sexist and racist white man.” It is also the underlying principle engaged in revising history, including the historical roots of our contemporary observance of Thanksgiving and acknowledgement of the Christian principles prevalent at the time of our founding. Multiculturalism, in it’s extreme, is at the root of the removal of any references to Christ in the public square and public schools, even at the time we celebrate His birthday, for one characteristic of the movement is distinctly anti-Christian.

As convoluted as it may seem, Al Gore was perhaps correct when in the 2000 Presidential campaign he defined E Pluribus Unum as out of one, many, instead of the other way around. Multiculturalism in its extreme form seeks to divide rather than unify as Jefferson and Franklin intended, as emblazoned on the official Seal of the U.S.

A poll by the Pew Research Center a few years ago indicated that only 55% of Hispanics, living either legally or illegally in this country, consider themselves Americans. Another poll of Muslims in Los Angeles County indicated that only 10% of them consider themselves to be Americans. It seems the hyphenation of Americans is another social and cultural divider, rather than a unifier. A hyphenated American is just another symptom of political correctness.

Multiculturalism in its extreme weakens community bonds and reduces the motivation for new immigrants to participate in the common culture, the shared history and the common language of America: English.

The American concepts of freedom of expression, religion, human rights, liberty and democracy are distinctively Western values. As historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. has said, “These are European ideas, not Asian, nor African, nor Middle-Eastern ideas, except by adoption. There is surely no reason for Western civilization to have guilt trips laid on it by champions of cultures based on despotism, superstition, tribalism, and fanaticism.”

Teddy RooseveltThe pejorative aspects of multiculturalism have contributed alarmingly to a Balkanization of America, where differences are the focus instead of common values and ideals. Where culture and ethnicity divide us, rather than adding seasoning to our melting pot to enrich the entire culture.

President Theodore Roosevelt put the concepts of multiculturalism in perhaps the best context, although it was of course not known as such in 1907. He declared, “In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American…There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag… We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language… and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”

As long as multiculturalism is an end in and of itself, or worse, as a means to continue to diminish western values and our history, and divide and weaken our country, we will continue to decline as a culture, losing those distinctively American traits that once made the nation unique. As it diminishes our value system, erodes our cultural strengths, and rewrites our history, the very meaning of what it means to be an American is perhaps forever changed.

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 [email protected].

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