The Economics Quarterly: 2017Q2

GDP GROWTH DATA

The GDP Growth Rate for 2017 Quarter 1 was officially 1.4%, considerably below the 15-year mean, which includes the 2007-2008 recession that makes that number considerably easier to beat. The 4-year trend from 2013 through Quarter 1 of this year continues to show a downward trend, though 2013 and 2014 were the strongest economic years of Obama’s 8 years in office, and the economy has cooled off considerably since. The Q1 number missed the forecasted number of 2.5% considerably, which proved my concern that poor initial job numbers for March, which have since been revised down even further to 50,000, reflected slower GDP growth in Q1.

GDP Growth Rate – 15-Year (1/1/2002-7/7/2017)
united-states-gdp-growth

GDP Growth Rate – 4-Year Trend (7/1/2013-7/7/2017)

united-states-gdp-growth-4year

FEDERAL FUNDS RATE DATA

In June, the Federal Reserve announced yet another interest rate hike, bringing the Federal Funds Rate to 1.25%. While still at a historically low level, far below its peak of 5.25% in 2006-2007, and well below the 15-year mean, the Fed seem intent on driving up the Funds Rate as quickly as they can while somewhat positive trends continue. The Interbank Rate is at 1.30%, which is also pretty well below the 15-year mean and has been creeping upward since early 2016.

Federal Funds Rate Rate – 15-Year (1/1/2002-7/7/2017)
united-states-interest-rate

Interbank Loan Rate – 15-Year (1/1/2002-7/7/2017)
united-states-interbank-rate

INFLATION RATE DATA

Inflation has cooled down to 1.9% from its high of 2.7% in February and is back below the 15-year mean. Though it remains above the mean since January 2016 (not shown), the trend downward could reflect either a trend down in the market itself or the market’s reaction to a tightening money supply, however, the Fed Funds rate still being very low makes the latter highly unlikely. Regardless, the rate is still on an upward trend since at least 2015.

Inflation Rate – 15-Year (1/1/2002-7/7/2017)
united-states-inflation-cpi

CAPITAL GOODS NEW ORDERS (Non-Defense) DATA

New Orders of capital goods remains above the 15-year mean, but decreased in March in a reflection of the slowdown in the economy in Q1. There has been an upward trend since mid 2016, however, fairly in line with the up tick in Labor Force Participation.

Capital Goods New Orders – 15-Year (1/1/2002-7/7/2017)
united-states-new-orders

JOB NUMBER DATA

The jobs numbers for 2017 Quarter 1 totaled 498,000 net jobs, down from the initial Q1 estimate of 533,000, compared to 443,000 net jobs in 2016 Quarter 4 and 588,000 jobs in 2016 Quarter 1, so job numbers in Q1 were a mixed signal. The job numbers for 2017 Quarter 2 totaled 581,000, as of the preliminary numbers for just released yesterday. Presently, Q2 seems to be on track to be slightly below the 4-year average of 210,000 monthly jobs, with the 150,000 May numbers dragging it down, even though the 222,000 jobs (preliminary) in June are on the mark for the 4-year median.

Job Numbers – 4-Year (1/1/2013-7/7/2017)
latest_numbers_CES0000000001_2013_2017_all_period_M06_net_1mth

LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATE DATA

The Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) continues to a recent positive trend since April 2015 (not graphed), climbing to 62.8% in June. The LFPR remains at historic lows, however, far below the 15-year mean, with no indication of any increases in the near future. The 4-year trend remains negative with very slow recovery.

Labor Force Participation Rate – 15-Year (1/1/2002-7/7/2017)

united-states-labor-force-participation-rate

Labor Force Participation Rate – 4-Year (4/1/2013-7/7/2017)

 united-states-labor-force-participation-rate-4year

GOVERNMENT DEBT TO GDP DATA

Finally, the National Debt to GDP ratio climbed to 106.10% at the end of 2016. There isn’t any data from 2017, but we should have some indication by the next Economics Quarterly for the first part of this year. Most people reading this will understand what this means, for those that don’t, however, presently the federal debt load is more than all of the wealth that the entire US economy generates in a year. This does not include future obligations (such as Medicare and Social Security).

Debt to GDP – 4-Year (4/1/2013-7/7/2017)
united-states-government-debt-to-gdp

THE READ

 

The read from the previous Economics Quarterly was bearish, and I remain so. The Q1 GDP Growth was considerably lower than the market was predicting, but was in line with a market pumping its brakes through March. Republicans suggest that a lot of this slow down was from inclement weather in the North East, but there really wasn’t that significant an interruption of the economy, having caused days of disruption, not weeks. The biggest news of March was the failure of the GOP American Health Care Act “Repeal & Replace” legislation.

More than a few economic hopes were pinned on a Republican Party that’s done nothing but promise “Repeal” for 7 years, and their failure to overcome their own party’s concerns threw cold water on a lot of people’s expectations. Since then, of course, the House finally did push through a slightly modified plan, moving the ball to the Senate where partisan obstacles are even higher. With the Senate plan falling apart in the last week, Republicans are now forced to figure out a new direction.

GDP Growth in Quarter 2 will be stronger than in Quarter 1, but don’t look for any doors to be blown off the hinges. A GDP number of 2.5% to 3.0% is possible by seems very unlikely given other factors in the economy. The rising Fed Funds Rate will cool off the money supply some. The Inflation Rate has cooled down 3 months in a row, and the Core Inflation Rate (not graphed) has cooled off 4 months in a row. Coupled with both a drop in orders of Capital Goods and passable Job Numbers, including a relatively bland number in May, all the stumbling blocks are in place for a brief to moderate correction.

The economy has been expanding for about 5 to 6 years, depending on where the recovery is scored. I believe that ObamaCare is keeping the economy from heating up too much, acting as a heavy tax on the economy, but the steep increase in the Inflation Rate that began in late 2014, early 2015, is pushing is sign that the economy is having trouble finding places to move capital effectively. That indicates that a pull back is imminent, because the market is over priced right now. I believe that this, more so than the very moderate Inflation Rate, is driving the Fed to push up the Federal Funds Rate at such an unusually steep rate.

That’s my read. Be cautious.

One more thing, a lot of noise has been made in the news lately from Republicans about numbers they’ve randomly taken from the political cycle that they flaunt without any benefit of context. I’ll focus on two points that I found extra ridiculous. First, a few weeks ago, Republicans were flaunting “historically low” unemployment number among Black Americans, as if Donald Trump’s policies were the direct cause. This is ludicrous. Below is the unemployment rate among Blacks or African Americans for the last 10 years. Unemployment has clearly and steadily been decreasing in the Black community for years. Let’s celebrate when Black unemployment is the same as White unemployment.

latest_numbers_LNS14000006_2007_2017_all_period_M06_data

Second, Republicans recently shared an article that celebrated a $22 Million cut to the Federal Budget, negotiated under the most recent Omnibus budget deal that passed Congress and was signed by President Trump in early May. To get an idea of how ridiculous touting this is, let’s compare the $22 Million cut to the 2016 budget. The 2016 budget was $3.54 Trillion, with a budget deficit of $552 Billion. That $22 Million cut represents a total of 0.000006214689265536723% cut to the 2016 budget. How much did the Republicans and Democrats cut? 0%. Nothing.

The only thing that’s clear about federal budget right now is that no one in Washington is taking the federal budget seriously. That there are people actually gullible enough to believe that $22 Million represents a significant portion of the budget is simply embarrassing and demonstrates just how uneducated in matters of the economy and the federal budget the American populace is.

This has been the Liberty Is For The Win Economic Quarterly. Catch you all in a few months.

Liberty is For The Win!


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True North: Rediscovering Our Compass

If the Culture War is a conflict of ideologies, anyone who rejects ideology is engaging in this battle totally unarmed.

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) rose from its grave on Thursday, shambling through the House of Representatives on a party line vote. It now awaits for action from the Senate, where the Republicans have a much slimmer majority for anything like it to be passed. While the Republican Party continues to claim it is a “repeal and replace” of ObamaCare, it is nothing of the sort. There’s a word for the American Health Care Act: “reform“, and “reform” is neither a “repeal” nor a “replace“.

Just six short years ago, American conservatives fought and failed (by betrayal) to end ObamaCare through constitutional challenges. In the intervening years, Republicans in the House and Senate made numerous largely empty attempts to repeal or at least defund ObamaCare. All of those attempts came up short. Now, in control of both the House and Senate, and, finally, the White House, the GOP snatches defeat from the jaws of victory and gives us what is clearly a reform, while looking us right in the eye and saying “repeal… and replace“.

A fair part of the Republican voters are in line supporting the AHCA, though support for it remains weak overall, even within the GOP itself. Amazingly, many of these people supporting the AHCA will enthusiastically attack socialism on social media, unloading on anyone they perceive as “un-American“. And yet they are still supporting a bill that empowers the government to interfere in the private contracts of individuals (the very definition of collectivist socialism).

How did we come to this?

A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.

We live in an age of polarization, where what someone believes to be true has more to do with their political identity as their actual experience. For example, take two totally different individuals: Rush Limbaugh and Rachel Maddow. Both are simultaneously perceived as extremely credible and totally dishonest depending solely on which side of the political aisle the listener sits. Even when either presents an incontrovertible fact, skepticism is the first (and often only) response from politically hostile listeners.

On top of this rampant “echo chamber” factionalism, we have become accustomed to the ceaseless drumbeat of the 24-hour news cycle. Many Americans, listening only to their approved media source, have come to believe that their political identity derives from their political policy positions. You have people who believe being on the “Left” simply means they must support ObamaCare, expansive tax policy, and welfare programs. You have people who believe being on the “Right” simply means they must support the AHCA, lower taxes, and cutting spending. And you have people who believe they are in the “Center“, because they believe in some combination of these things.

To many, being “Left“, “Right“, or “Center” has everything to do with political positions, and thus their political positions somehow inform their place on the ideological pole. Piece by piece, point by point, Americans cobble their political opinions together, based on little more than their feelings, their existing prejudices, and who they get their information from and think this is “ideology“, or, worse, they reject ideology altogether as bad. They could not be more mistaken, on either count.

“For I do not do the good I want to do,
but the evil I do not want to do—
this I keep on doing.”
-Paul the Apostle, Romans 7:19-

Our political positions do not inform our ideology; our ideology informs our political positions. Without ideology, we can only contradict the objectives of our political aims, by infringing on moral precepts in one hand that we claim to be vehemently protecting with the another. It’s how these people who viciously attack the evils of socialism in one breath will in turn viciously defend government policy that interferes in wages, work regulations, retirement insurance, and health insurance with their very next breath.

Ideology is a clear, coherent, vision by which we can know what is good and what is not. For this reason, why you believe what you do is often more important than what you believe. If the Culture War is a conflict of ideologies, anyone who rejects ideology is engaging in this battle totally unarmed. So the only real question is which ideology will you arm yourself with today?

Liberty is For The Win!


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A Light in the Darkness

What if there were a political party purpose built for the great philosophical hunger of our times?

In the years leading up to 1854, the Whig Party, itself founded among the foundering remains of the Federalist Party, National Republican Party, and Anti-Masonic Parties, had reached the end of its political feasibility in the span of only a few decades. Not only had it managed to win the White House for only two nonconsecutive terms, both of its elected presidents, William Henry Harrison (1841) and Zachary Taylor (1849), died in office. Neither of their Vice Presidents, having taken over the reigns for their fallen superiors, were able to win reelection.

One, John Tyler, burned so many bridges politically that he was actually ejected from the Whig Party while in office. The other, Millard Fillmore, broke ranks with the Whigs in order to compromise with the Democratic Party on the contentious issue of slavery, creating a permanent rift with their abolitionist constituents. Faced with certain political obsolescence, holding only a small minority within Congress and no practical path to the White House, like minded men of the various minor political parties discussed a new political party, centered on the moral imperative of their time: abolishing slavery.

Though they may have agreed on few other political positions, with real disagreements on the size of government, and the proper role and balance of powers among the branches of the federal government, having slavery be perpetuated into the territories of the growing United States was simply so morally evil, it had to be stopped whatever the cost. So one cold week in Wisconsin, men of several political parties of like mind on the issue of abolition lay the groundwork of a political party to unify the different abolition factions into a single effective party.

Thus the Republican Party was born.

“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us… 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.”
– Abraham Lincoln –

With the end of the Civil War over a century and a half ago, the driving political issue that necessitated voters in the Free Soil, Whig, and Know Nothing Parties to join the Republican Party, the abolition of slavery, ceased to be. The (northern) Democratic Party finally abandoned slavery as a national platform issue in 1864, and, while the end of slavery clearly didn’t mean the end of the prejudice or racism that festered at the roots of American slavery, the unifying purpose of abolition was achieved, even if only through strength of arms.

As the Civil Rights Era dawned, the Republican Party rose to political prominence, but without a defining political or philosophical purpose. Absent a such a guiding principle, They defaulted to an “opposition” second party platform, focusing on a punitive policy in the renegade Southern States, rather than on reintegrating them into the Union on equal footing. The lack of political vision of Republican carpet baggers in part stoked the fires of political antagonism that birthed the petty institutionalized racism in the South that persisted for the next 60 years.

By the 1932’s, the Republican National platform was already largely indistinguishable from the Democratic National platform, calling for the same policies of high wages, protectionism, and broad based government economic interventionism as the Democrats. The elections of 1932 and 1933 would mark the last time the Republicans would consecutively control either part of Congress for nearly 50 years and both houses of Congress for 60 years. More recently, the Republicans have been able to recapture the House and the Senate, not because their political vision has been so clear, but simply because the political vision of the Democrats has been so bad.

After promising for 6 years to repeal “ObamaCare“, the Republican Party has failed to do this one thing. It is clearly passed time for the Republican Party to go the way of the Whigs.

“And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the Pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.”
– Ronald Reagan –

The demonstrable truth of this assertion is understandably going to cause much angst among both conservative and long time Republican voters, but the writing is on the wall for the Grand Old Party, and it has been for over a century now. The growing number of right of center 3rd parties demonstrates the ever growing dissatisfaction with the Republican Party. At the heart of this dissatisfaction is a desperate hunger for an unambiguous vision, a guiding purpose so true, so obvious, so clear, and so bold that its light shines through the darkness, bringing hope and meaning to all that see its glow.

For a brief moment late last century, this political platform actually existed. In 1980, it carried 44 of 50 states. In 1984, it carried 49 of 50 states. In 1988, carrying 40 of 50 states, based just on the 8 years before. The Republicans lost again only when they abandoned this shining path. Now, after Clinton then Bush, Obama then Trump, what does the Republican Party stand honestly for? Just looking at the spectrum of candidates from 2016, can it be said that the Republican Party stands for any unifying philosophy at all? Clearly not.

What if there were a political party purpose built for the great philosophical hunger of our times? A party with a political and ideological vision of bold colors, not pale pastels, not simply chasing down myriad issues or nibbling around the edges, but instead aimed directly at the center of what is killing our republic: its tyrannical runaway government and the corrupt politicians and their establishment enablers? A party that shone with a brilliance that burned the darkness infesting the very heart of our national government away?

Sadly, I can tell you with certainty that this party does not yet exist. I can also tell you that it is well passed time for this party. And I can tell you that there is nothing more that the political Establishment fears than exactly such a political party. America needs this party. America wants this party. It’s time.

Liberty is For The Win!


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Shattering the Overton Window

As both the Democratic and the Republican Party are enslaved by their political apparatus, only a third party, free of major party establishment influences, has any hope of smashing through the Overton Window for liberty.

The American political landscape has been changed by over a century of Culture War with the Left, and, as more and more ground has been lost, the Overton Window has shifted further and further in their favor. Positions that the Founding Fathers fought and died to defend have long since been overrun by the hive minded locusts of Left philosophies and buried under meaningless buzzwords. Today, things that would have been unthinkable to the likes of Thomas Jefferson or James Madison have become totally normal.

For a century now, the American people have been offered the same two political choices: a Democratic politician or a Republican politician. Every election year, politicians of these two parties wrap themselves in the American flag, make moving speeches about civil necessity and freedom, all the while demagoguing their opponent over any and every minute moral failing and political inconsistency. Then, as soon as the votes are counted, they go right back to business as usual.

So bad is the cognitive dissonance among American voters that the political parties can totally change political positions in the span of a single election cycle, and their voters won’t even notice. For example, just 5 short years ago, the GOP presidential candidate brutally criticized then president Obama for his overtly friendly relationship with Moscow, while the Democrats accused Republicans of living in the Cold War past. Today, the parties have completely switched positions.

The voting public, much like Pavlov’s dog, is now driven to barking or salivating every election in time with the political beats of their party’s propaganda machine.

“Rursus prosperum ac felix scelus virtus vocatur; sontibus
parent boni, ius est in armis, opprimit leges timor. 
(Once
again prosperous and successful crime goes 
by the name
of virtue; good men obey the bad, 
might is right and fear
oppresses law.)

-Seneca the Younger-

We must face the desperate reality that the Republican Party is now in the same place philosophically that the Democratic Party was just 30 to 50 years ago, when the last of those who were recognizably conservative abandoned that party to the radical Michael Moore brand Left. While there remain conservative stalwarts holding out in the GOP today, the party of Lincoln and of Reagan is largely lost to a center left political machine.

As Reagan had to leave the Democratic Party to find a new fertile home within the Republican Party, so conservatives must find a new home or accept irrelevance. Unlike Reagan, however, American conservatives presently have nowhere to go but a fractious collection of politically irrelevant political parties in the shadow of radical Leftism (Democrats) and centrist Leftism (Republicans). If conservatism is to remain relevant in 21st Century American politics, it is absolutely imperative that we field a political party that meets the necessary 15% threshold.

Very simply, if the conservative movement is to achieve political efficacy in this century, the disparate political parties that by and large carry the banner of political conservatism must unify into a functional conservative political party. If “principle over party” as much as American conservatives claim it matters, then it’s time to abandon the factionalism that plagues our movement and pledge our time, energy, honor and fortunes to a unified political movement that represents what we believe and why we believe it. Literally nothing else matters.

So how do we get there?

“Ignoranti quem portum petat nullus suus ventus est.
(When a man does not know what harbor he is making
for, no wind is the right wind.)

-Seneca the Younger-

First, what we believe in is “limited government“. What does “limited government” mean? Believing in “limited government” means understanding that any government big enough to do good is also necessarily big enough to do great evil. Government, by its very nature, transgresses necessarily on individual liberty, and, in order to minimize this very real and serious threat to personal freedom, government must be limited in scope, those things over which it has authority, and in powers, those actions it is allowed to take on those things over which it has authority.

Second, why we believe in “limited government” is “all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights“. Conservatives necessarily believe that every man, woman, and child that walks the Earth is entitled to the same moral equality and political rights as anyone else in the world. We know that it is government, often acting on behalf or because of a political elite, that violates both the equality and political rights of the people. We also know that the worst evils one man can do upon another pales in comparison to the evils that even well meaning governments have inflicted upon their people.

This is why we must always vanguard against those, who, in the name of doing good, recklessly seek to unleash government from rational and necessary limits. It is our duty to protect the liberties of not only ourselves but our desperately misguided countrymen in pursuit of illusory political altruism. As both the Democratic and the Republican Party are enslaved by their political apparatus, only a third party, free of major party establishment influences, has any hope of smashing through the Overton Window for liberty.

“Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.
(I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.)
-Thomas Jefferson-

Conservatives are losing the “Culture War” one election at a time. If you are reading this right now, then you get this. The time to count our life rafts is not when the bow of our ship strikes the iceberg in the middle of the icy Atlantic. It is now, when we have an opportunity to save the movement not only for ourselves but for our posterity. For Liberty’s sake, the time to move is now.

Liberty is For The Win!


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Building a Nation

Should we stop to think about the underlying assumptions that we’ve made our entire lives or allow those in media, in movies, in music, in politics, and behind golden microphones to tell us what we should and shouldn’t believe and, more importantly, why we believe anything at all?

When is the last time you sat down and thought about what it would take to build a bare bones nation from the ground up? Would it surprise you in the least that the most obvious things needed for nation building are actually the least important? For the sake of argument, however, let’s go through the process. What’s the very first thing we’d need to create our nation-to-be?

The very first thing must be an astounding amount of dirt (everything and anything at about foot level and below, as well as all the stuff sprouting out of it). We’re already talking about an incredible amount of material, even for nations with geographically small footprints. This is an amount of “dirt” that, if it were delivered all at once to our doorstep one morning, would be more than most people could even comprehend.

The second thing our bare bones nation must have is people. This number can get amazingly small. We’re talking about a number of people that can fit into a modestly sized restaurant and still have enough genetic diversity to sustain the population. This number could be significantly reduced even more with a sufficiently liberal immigration policy. Suffice to say, with fewer than 200 people, we could have a functional population for our bar bones nation state.

We’ve got dirt, and we’ve got people, but we still don’t have anything that really defines a nation. Every nation in the world is composed of dirt and people. For the most part, people are just people, and dirt is just dirt. There is one more piece to the puzzle. The one thing that ultimately defines a nation, its people, and its culture.

“Ideology… is indispensable in any society if men are
to be formed, transformed and 
equipped to respond
to the demands of 
their conditions of existence.”
-Louis Althusser, Marxist Philosopher-

Who owns the land? Who owns the people? How do we decide? Do we get to decide at all? Were not many of these things decided long before we came along? Should we stop to think about the underlying assumptions that we’ve made our entire lives or allow those in media, in movies, in music, in politics, and behind golden microphones to tell us what we should and shouldn’t believe and, more importantly, why we believe anything at all?

It is ideology, not dirt and not people, that permeates a culture, defining who has power and what they can do with it. It is ideology, not dirt or people, that determines who owns the land. If the dominant ideology says that a king owns the land, then people will make sure that there is a king around to own the land. If the dominant ideology says that the state owns the land, then people will make sure that nobody but the state can own the land.

What about the people? Do we own ourselves? Again, this depends upon the dominant ideology. If the dominant ideology says that the king owns the people, then people will make sure that everyone submits to a king. If the dominant ideology says that the state owns the people, then people will make sure that the everyone submits to the state. Whether you are merely a subject of the nation of your birth or a free person depends entirely on ideology, not dirt or people.

In America, we once believed that people are free, because they were “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights“. Do we still believe this?

“There exists in man a mass of sense lying in
a dormant state, and which, unless something
excites it to action, will descend with him,
in that condition,to the grave.”
-Thomas Paine-

The chief purpose Liberty is For the Win has pursued is to awaken what Thomas Paine called our “mass of sense” from its dormancy, to force those who read these many words into a sudden and painful waking state. I seek to rouse you from your sleep so that you can discover that your room is filled with smoke, and you have only this drowsy moment to recognize your dire situation and to decide what to do about it. The good news is that the fire hasn’t reached you yet. The bad news is that there is, in fact, a fire.

In such a moment, what you believe is more important than almost anything else. Your beliefs, not your wealth, not your property, and not your political party should guide your actions. Since we have this moment in which to gather our wakefulness, what do we believe and, much more importantly, why do we believe it? Do we believe that we, as individuals, are entitled to rights and privileges by fact of our creation or do our rights and privileges depend upon the existence of a government?

If the latter, must we not endure even the worst of transgressions against us by the government or risk losing our rights entirely? If the former, are we entitled to do as the Founding Fathers did and reject all bonds of servitude, even nationality, in order to assert our rights and privileges as individuals? Which do you believe? Why do you believe it? Who, my friends, do you listen to?

Liberty is For The Win!


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Stay Off of Reagan’s Grave

Here, however delayed, is a four point argument on the differences between Ronald Reagan, a titan of American conservatism, and Donald Trump, a populist, celebrity loudmouth.

Recently, there has been a push by the Republican Party’s propaganda machine to draw comparisons between Donald Trump and Ronald Reagan. In a recent article by Tammy Bruce, she focuses on parallels between how Ronald Reagan was treated in the media to how Donald Trump is being treated by the media, which would otherwise be a meaningless, but not inaccurate comparison had she not wrote one sentence in particular that put a burr under my saddle. She writes, “I do believe there are many similarities between Reagan and Trump.

No, Tammy, there really aren’t, and your argument not only fails to support that statement, it’s ridiculous on its face. On the first premise about the media attacks, I can’t remember a single modern Republican president or presidential candidate that didn’t come under withering and often vicious attacks from the American media. So suggesting that Donald Trump is somehow “just like Reagan“, because he is attacked by the press is a sophomoric argument. Cancer, tobacco companies, and oil spills have all come under withering and vicious attacks, so is Trump like cancer?

Reality check time. In no uncertain terms, comparing Donald Trump in any way to Ronald Reagan is nothing short of a slander of Reagan’s legacy, and I will not stand for it. In fact, I was so incensed by the implication that it’s taken days for me to trim this article from fireball to a somewhat polite retort. Here, however delayed, is a four point argument on the differences between Ronald Reagan, a titan of American conservatism, and Donald Trump, a populist, celebrity loudmouth.

1) Different generations.

Ronald Reagan was a member of the Greatest Generation. The generation that experienced the First World War, then fought through the Second World War, despite the terrible cost in human life, against the racist malevolence of Nazi Germany and imperial Japan. The generation that carried itself through the Great Depression. The generation that raised their children through the darkest hours of the Cold War. The generation that sent their children to fight against communist North Korea and their communist Chinese allies in the Korean War. Reagan’s generation saw the true heart of Communism and Fascism first hand. In every way, Ronald Reagan was a product of his generation.

“Our natural, unalienable rights are now
considered to be a dispensation of government,
and freedom has never been so fragile, so
close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this
moment.”
-Ronald Reagan, 1964-

Donald Trump is a member of the Baby Boomers. The generation that was born in the shadow of the Cold War, after the Second World War. They vaguely remembered the Korean War. When the last of the Cold War era battlefronts escalated into full out war, the Boomers ultimately lost to a broken enemy, abandoning thousands of American soldiers to die in hellish Viet Cong prisoner of war camps and disappear into unmarked graves, and spat on the veterans who survived for defending their country. Selfless patriotism fell out of vogue. Under the Baby Boomers, divorce became fashionable and abortion legal. Trump’s generation became the “me” generation. In every way, Donald Trump is a product of his generation.

“It’s scary, like Vietnam. Sort of like the
Vietnam-era. It is my personal Vietnam.
I feel like a great and very brave soldier.”
-Donald Trump, 1997-

2) Different ideological backgrounds.

Even while the president of the Screen Actor’s Guild, Reagan was already actively anti-Communist, anti-Socialist, and vocally pro-American. During the 1950’s, Reagan traveled the country as a spokesperson for General Electric, speaking on the importance of political and economic freedom to the American way of life. By 1964, when Ronnie gave the historic “A Time for Choosing” speech supporting the Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign, his political ideology had been sharpened by over a decade of public and personal exploration. By the time Reagan took the presidential Oath of Office in 1981, becoming the 40th president of the United States, his conservative ideology had grown deep roots for over three decades.

“I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The party left me.”
-Ronald Reagan, 1962-

Since 1987 alone, Donald Trump changed political parties no less than 6 times. During his campaign for president, Donald Trump espoused political positions on both sides of dozens of policy issues, from public land use to taxation, from minimum wage to health care. Before 2010, Donald Trump gave substantially more to Democrats ($686,250.00 total, from 1989 to 2010) than to the Republicans ($520,390.00 total, same time period). In fact, only after first flirting with running in the 2012 presidential election did Trump stop writing checks to Democratic politicians. The only thing that is certain about Donald Trump’s guiding ideology is that he clearly doesn’t have one.

“In many cases, I probably identify more as Democrat.”
-Donald Trump, 2004-

3) Different professional backgrounds.

Ronald Reagan came to prominence as a celebrity, possessed of a personal charm and movie star good looks. Unlike Hollywood celebrities of today, Reagan didn’t “study” to become an actor. Instead, he majored in economics and sociology, and, though not an outstanding student, he graduated with a well rounded education. After college, he went into sports broadcasting, which lead into his career as an actor. His involvement in the actor’s union took him into more political realms, especially after he became president of the Screen Actors Guild. After serving in the Army Reserves during World War II, he found himself more and more interested in political philosophy, most specifically in the growing threat of Communism. It was this personal investment in pro-American ideology that lead to his run for governor of California in 1967 and ultimately for president in 1976 and 1980. Ideology, not personal celebrity, guided Reagan’s political ambitions.

“There are no constraints on the human
mind, no walls around the human spirit,
no barriers to our progress except
those we ourselves erect.”
-Ronald Reagan-

Donald Trump was born into the real estate business built by his grandmother and father. His obsession with his own personal wealth and celebrity began immediately. He studied at an Ivy League school, a fact he repeatedly reminds people of, studying business, though his academic records, like Obama’s, remain sealed. He was already involved in his own business ventures in college, and the degree, something his father insisted upon, was only tangential to his pursuit of wealth and celebrity. By the time Trump was in his 40’s, he was already a world famous billionaire, known mainly for slapping his name on everything from board games to airplanes, from frozen meat to luxury casinos. Almost all of these companies have crumbled into bankruptcy, still his personal brand persists. Personal celebrity, not ideology, guides Donald Trump’s ambition.

“I don’t even wait. When you’re a star, they
let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em
by the pussy. You can do anything.”
-Donald Trump-

4) Different personal backgrounds.

Ronald Reagan was born in a small town, the child of 2nd and 3rd generation Irish and Scottish Americans. Reagan’s father was a salesman and his mother a homemaker, both deeply religious people. Ronald went out into the world, becoming a sports announcer, which lead him by chance to Hollywood, where he started acting. It was in Hollywood that he met his first wife, Jane Wyman, with whom he two children, and adopted a third. His involvement in the screen actor’s union created an irreconcilable difference between himself and Jane, and she divorced him in 1948. A year later, Ronald Reagan met Nancy Davis, and the two dated for three years, before marrying in 1952. They had two children and spent over half a century together, until Ronnie’s death in 2004.

“Whatever I treasure and enjoy… all would be
without meaning if I didn’t have you.”
-Ronald Reagan, to his wife, Nancy-

Donald Trump was born in Queens, New York, the fourth child of 3rd generation German American and 1st Generation Scottish American. From very early age, Donald was involved in his father’s real estate business. Accustomed to wealth, Donald grew into an unruly and cruel young man, bullying other students at his school. He became so unmanageable that his parents enrolled him in a military academy, hoping to reform him. At age 31, Donald married Czech model, Ivana Zelníčková. Their rocky marriage ended in 1991, Donald having later admitted to numerous infidelities, the final straw being with actress Marla Maples. Donald married Marla in 1993, then divorced her just 6 years later in 1999. In 1998, Donald became involved with his current wife, Melania Knauss, who he married in 2005 and then allegedly cheated on in an affair with Karen McDougal.

“You know, it really doesn’t matter what
(the media) write as long as you’ve got a
young and beautiful piece of ass.”
-Donald Trump-

I have long since personally written off the Republican Party as philosophically bankrupt, and this misbegotten attempt to take credibility from Ronald Reagan and staple it cheaply onto Donald Trump’s rudderless presidency simply goes to prove just how bankrupt the Party of Reagan has become. This is why the GOP is desperate to draw political connections between the historically popular Ronald Reagan and the historically unpopular Donald Trump for obvious reasons.

While many Americans view Donald Trump negatively (55% disapproval per Gallup), his political agenda in Congress remains politically dangerous for members of Congress who would ultimately pay the price for aligning themselves with him. Loss of control of Congress would be devastating to the Republican Party’s hopes of pushing through any long term legislative changes. This is why these propagandist vultures are trying to open up Reagan’s grave to carve off pieces of his legacy.

This must not be allowed to happen. For better or, more likely, for worse, Donald Trump’s personal political circus is his own. To Tammy Bruce and all of the other GOP pundits I say leave Ronnie’s legacy alone. Don’t taint his memory with Donald Trump’s dishonor. If Donald is going to somehow succeed as president, he will do it alone, and evoking Ronnie’s memory isn’t going to save him one moment of shame, nor should it.

Liberty is For The Win!


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The Islamic Question: Peace or War?

Good people must always stand with those who attempt to do good, just as they stand against those who attempt to do evil.

“I see water. I see buildings. We are flying low.
We are flying very, very low. We are flying way too low.
Oh my God! We are flying way too low. Oh my God!”
-Madeline Amy Sweeney, 9/11/2001-

The terror attacks of September 11th, 2001 are the redefining moment of the American experience with Islam. No matter what anyone felt before the attacks on the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and Flight 93, which never reached its target, the context of what being Muslim was changed forever on that Tuesday morning, injecting the word “Jihad” into the 21st Century lexicon with a blaze of fire, blood, and horror as 19 jihadists took the lives of 2977 men, women, and children.

But ask practically any 16 year old what he thinks about the terror attacks that occurred on 9/11/2001 in New York City, in Washington, D.C., and in a field near Shanksville, PA, and you’ll get the sort of ambivalent, second hand sympathy that you’d expect from any teenager. They are as likely to say the same things about the attack on Pearl Harbor. They, of course, have so many more important things in their lives, and those things simply overshadow anything that happened when they were in diapers, with no visceral cognitive understanding of the event.

Ask practically any 26 year old what he thinks about the terror attacks on 9/11/2001, and you’ll get a very different response. For them, it happened when they could see, hear, and understand it. Whatever their feelings about the attacks may be, they won’t be as muted, at least not in the same way as for their younger cohort. The more likely someone was old enough to experience the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks, the less likely they are to be ambivalent about them.

Time and the many distractions of our every day lives, unfortunately, makes a society forget all too soon even those things that it should never forget.

“As-salāmu ʿalaykum. (Peace be with you.)”
-Traditional Arabic Greeting-

In a YouGov poll taken in March 6th through 9th in 2015, 33% of respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 had favorable opinions of Islam, whereas only 24% of respondents between the ages of 30 and 44 had at least somewhat favorable opinions of Islam. Of older respondents, above the age of 45, only 14% to 15% had any favorable opinion of Islam. Most interesting is only 18-29 year olds are less likely to be “Not Sure” about how they felt about Islam, than to feel positively or negatively about it.

While we must always be careful when talking about groups of people, particularly people of one religion or ethnicity, how does one parse how a quarter of Americans are “Not Sure” what to believe about Islam in the shadow of the violence that has been the norm since September 11th, 2001? How do we balance the millions of Muslims who dedicate their lives to perpetuate a peaceful and just society that respects many religious beliefs against the few Muslims that gave their lives to violence in attacks in San Bernardino, Orlando, Boston, New York, Quebec, Fort Hood, Little Rock, Chattanooga, and so many other cities?

As western Islamic scholars continue to conclude that the spread of Islamic faith through violence and intimidation is not only outdated in an age where, by and large, a significant portion of the world’s human population no longer believe that a person’s ideas or beliefs should condemn them to persecution or death, the tensions between a more pragmatic “New World Islam” and the radical traditionalism of “Old World Islam” will become ever bloodier, as the latest jihadist attack on the Quebec mosque demonstrates.

While Islam’s own adherents clearly struggle to determine what the religion is about, it’s also clear why so many Americans can be unsure what to think about Islam.

 “When we think of Islam we think of a faith that
brings comfort to a billion people around the world.
Billions of people find comfort and solace and peace.
And that’s made brothers and sisters out of every race.”
-George W. Bush-

When I was attending the University of North Texas in the early 90’s, I took a semester of tennis to fulfill the “physical education” requirement of my curriculum. It was then that I met a Muslim man whose name I sadly can no longer remember. All that I remember about him was his incredible charisma. He wore an infectious smile and was an endless font of funny stories about himself and his life in America. The comfortable rapport we shared was really the best part of those chilly early Texas mornings. He was a good man, and I hope fate finds him well.

Until the terror attacks of 9/11/2001 fundamentally reshaped my understanding of Islam, my opinion of Islam was largely shaped by him. I honestly want to believe that he is what modern believers of Islam are about than the jihadists, but I know that this is not the case. If we asked one Muslim what his religion was about, and he answered “The mercy of Allah, helping the sick, and feeding the poor.“, then we asked a jihadist what his religion was about, and he answered “All will submit to Allah.“, both men would be right.

As Conservatives, holding to the classically liberal principles of freedom of thought and of religion, we cannot turn our backs on the men and women of the Muslim faith who earnestly seek to better relations between Muslims and people of all other beliefs and force them to struggle against jihadism alone. We can balance our condemnation of jihadists who deny the fundamental humanity of anyone that fails to conform to their barbarous and ignorant values with celebrating and defending the efforts of men and women of the Muslim faith as they try to realize Islam in a pluralistic 21st Century world.

Good people must always stand with those who attempt to do good, just as they stand against those who attempt to do evil. Sadly, the struggle for the heart of Islam has only just begun, and, as non-Muslims, our ability to effect the course of the struggle is limited to support of those who must battle from within. And, for those of us “of the Book“, our obligation to our brothers and sisters is inherent in our own belief.

Peace be upon those who seek justice.

Liberty is For The Win!


We just checked, and it turns out that fighting for Liberty isn’t free, because it requires time and energy to research, prepare, and propagate this message for you. Please drop just a dollar a month into the proverbial tip jar and become a Patriot Patron. Of course, don’t forget to like, subscribe, and share. Keep this fight for Liberty going! – @LibertyIsFTW