About Me

In writing the "About Me" portion of this blog I thought about the purpose of the blog - namely, preventing the growth of Socialism & stopping the Death Of Democracy in the American Republic & returning her to the "liberty to abundance" stage of our history. One word descriptions of people's philosophies or purposes are quite often inadequate. I feel that I am "liberal" meaning that I am broad minded, independent, generous, hospitable, & magnanimous. Under these terms "liberal" is a perfectly good word that has been corrupted over the years to mean the person is a left-winger or as Mark Levin more accurately wrote in his book "Liberty & Tyranny" a "statist" - someone looking for government or state control of society. I am certainly not that & have dedicated the blog to fighting this. I believe that I find what I am when I consider whether or not I am a "conservative" & specifically when I ask what is it that I am trying to conserve? It is the libertarian principles that America was founded upon & originally followed. That is the Return To Excellence that this blog is named for & is all about.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Christmas & New Year's Message For Argentina


Between 1860 & 1930 Argentina experienced strong economic growth & by 1913 was one of the ten wealthiest countries in the world ranking higher than Canada & Australia.  Its per capita GDP was 80% of that of the United States.

Starting in 1946 with the government of President Juan Peron & his wife Evita, the economic experience of Argentina has been up & down but mostly down.  Peron, a former Army lieutenant general, took power after engineering a coup d'etat in 1943 & his socialist policies gradually shifted leftward leading to state control of the economy.  Unstable Peronism replaced the stable civilian constitutional government that had been in place for the seven decades prior to the Great Depression in the United States.

Under Peron, policies designed to redistribute wealth included increasing state-owned property, controlling prices & rents, & increasing government spending to finance populist programs.  Naturally this led to ruinous inflation.  

Peronism has persisted, to one degree or another, for the majority of the last 80 years resulting in political instability & economic decline in living standards.   

The deterioration of the currency over the past 20 years shown in the above graphic predominantly coincides with the rule of Cristina Kirchner (first as the wife of President Nestor Kirchner from 2003 to 2007, then as president herself from 2007 to 2015, & then as vice president to Alberto Fernandez from 2019 to 2023).  In the 21st century alone Argentina has defaulted on its international sovereign debt three times – in 2001, 2014, & 2020. 

The above graphic tells the story of the unsustainable Argentine government spending the past 20 years & its accompanying inflationary misery & deterioration of any standard of living where 40% of the population now lives in poverty.  The black-market value of the peso is well over 1,000 pesos per U.S. dollar, far exceeding the official rate of 370 pesos per dollar.  The Argentine peso has lost 99.206% of its value against the U.S. dollar from December 5, 2003 to December 10, 2023, going from a value of more than a third of a dollar to 27% of a penny.  See graphic below that shows the growth of the money supply the past five years.

Inflation was 143% the past year - see graphic below.

The above three graphs illustrate Steve Forbes' concise definition of inflation - the distortion of prices that occurs when money loses value.  The fundamental cause of Argentina's inflation is the decline of the value of the peso.  Money, first & foremost, is a measure of worth.  Source: Inflation - Forbes, Lewis, & Ames, pages xiii & 9.

With the above backdrop it is no wonder that the Argentine electorate felt they had nothing to lose & on November 19, in a runoff presidential election, elected libertarian economist & Congressman Javier Milei President in a vote of 56% to 44% over the sitting Peronist economic minister Sergio Massa.  The turnout was 74% - you have to go back to 1900 to equal that turnout in the United States for a presidential election.

Since both candidates are steeped in different economic training the voters had a real choice - there were no subtle differences or small distinctions.  

Massa's record & beliefs were on display for most of the last 20 years - he held positions in a Peronist government before working for both Nestor & Cristina Kirchner's administrations as well as Fernandez's.  Massa's lifelong work was centered on making people dependent on government  - one of his campaign strategies was to show commuters two ticket prices for trains & buses: one low priced ticket, with government subsidies, he supported & the other much higher priced under Melei's plan without the government subsidies.  The budget deficit under Massa is 15% of GDP or about three times that of the United States in 2022.

Melei has been a university level professor of economics specializing in economic growth.  He studied the work of Professor Friedman & Dr. Murray Rothbard (& thereby extension to Bastiat) & knows the importance of people producing value in an economy.  Melei follows the laissez faire Austrian school of economics.  Melei opposes identity politics, sex education, abortion, euthanasia, & the notion that humans cause climate change.  He is an advocate for individual rights, has zero tolerance for crime, supports families' choice of education, gun owners' rights, same sex marriage, gender identity, universal healthcare, & legalization of drugs & prostitution.  Melei's foreign policy preferences for Argentina include closer relationships with the United States, supporting Ukraine's stand against Putin's invasion, & less close ties with China. 

The election was virtually over when Massa won Buenos Aires, where a third of the Argentine population lives, by only 1.4% & Melei won Cordoba 74% to 26% by over 1 million votes.  Massa's wins were small to moderate, & sparsely distributed throughout the country while Melei won by substantial margins across the entire country.  Unlike the presidential elections of the United States where Democrats win the west coast, northeast, & a few other states but lose the rest of the country, Melei had no weak spots. 

The actual results of the runoff election were Melei 14,476,462 votes (55.69%) to Massa 11,516,142 votes (44.31%).  Massa conceded defeat before the first official results were announced.

Melei took office on December 10 & his immediate plans include public spending reductions by reducing transfer payments to provinces, cancelling public works, & cutting subsidies to energy & transportation agencies like the train & bus commuter subsidies that Massa supported.  Melei has reduced the official peso exchange rate against the dollar by 55% to bring it into line with the black-market rate which is the true market rate widely used domestically that has benefited importers (whose goods are bought using the low official exchange rate) @ the expense of exporters - now we have to see if the peso stabilizes there.

Due to the instability of hyperinflation & the loss of usefulness of the peso as a medium of exchange Melei plans to dollarize - i.e., use the U.S. dollar in addition to or instead of the peso, close the central bank that has been completely controlled by the treasury, eliminate & cut taxes, & privatize deficit making public companies.  

Melei's plans touch all of the principles of supply side economics: 1) the reduction of the size of government and its claims on earned income, 2)  lower taxes for the highest income earners who are the job creators, & 3) sound-money policies using the U.S. dollar the way Ecuador, El Salvador, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, & Hong Kong have - either dollarizing or pegging their currencies to the U.S. dollar.

Now turning around Argentina's economy will not happen quickly.  The misery of the entrenched stagflation (both high unemployment & high inflation) will endure a while longer as Melei's various programs come into play.  Melei's party holds only six of 72 seats in the Senate & 38 of 257 in the House so the politicians of all the parties will have to cooperate & recognize the electoral mandate & work with the new president @ least for a while - like Democrats did with President Reagan in 1981.

But the stakes could not be higher for all of Argentina because it is not just the 40% of the population that lives below the official poverty level, it is really all of the people, except for the few elites like Cristina Kirchner, who suffer from the poverty of opportunity where there has been no hope of improvement to the standard of living for most of the past 80 years. 

Javier Melei, & more pointedly the people of Argentina who dared greatly to elect Javier Melei in a landslide to the office of President, gives them a chance.  Now they have to make the most of it.

So it is to Argentina, & specifically the libertarian people who voted to throw off the burden of socialism that I dedicate this Christmas & New Year's message - namely, it is the future that they bring when tomorrow comes.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

WSJ Publishes My Solution To The Social Security Solvency Problem

America was founded on the principles of limited government, personal responsibility, & free enterprise so it was an indication of how far we have moved away from these principles in learning that young adults & women think the American dream is out of reach in a recent WSJ/NORC survey: 46% of men & only 28% of women said the ideal for advancement for hard work still holds true.  Only 28% of Americans under 50 have a positive outlook on getting ahead.  People say they need a 50% pay raise to be happy.

Brought on by their incomes losing ground to inflation & the rapidity of an 18% increase in the general price level since Biden took office, Americans are feeling the effects of the mixed economy that is really more than 50% socialist. The federal government's limitless deficit spending is really not fulfilling but just lets people muddle through life on government dependence never knowing the "triumph of high achievement" in the words of TR's Man In The Arena.

Complicating the socialist economic problem for these young people is that many of the former grade A companies they work for have stymied their upward mobility by adopting Woke cultures centered around antibusiness non-financial aspects of the ESG movement, equality of outcome policies of DEI, a super alertness to perceived racial prejudice & discrimination - even when none exists - to the point of absurdity following the hateful teachings of Critical Race Theory, & a broader awareness of social inequalities such as racial justice, sexism, & homosexual, bisexual, & transgender rights.  It would be hard for a new Ivy League MBA with $100,000 of student loan debt to want to work for an employer adopting these types of policies - these MBAs are looking for meritocracy & advancement.

But what they are finding is trouble "in terms of their perceived ability to marry, raise children, own a home, & plot an autonomous course to have control of their own financial destinies - the fundamentals of traditional middle class citizenship." - The Dying Citizen, page 40, Victor Davis Hanson.

A case in point - The Walt Disney Company recently filed an SEC statement admitting  "We face risks relating to misalignment with public and consumer tastes and preferences for entertainment, travel, and consumer products, which impact demand for our entertainment offerings and products and the profitability of any of our businesses."  Specifically, Disney has infamously dabbled in politics by attempting to place homosexual & queer content in children's school programs - fighting the state of Florida & the preferences of parents who are their paying customers.  See Parental Rights In Education law.

Since much of this wokeness has spread to Police Departments & the U.S. military is there any wonder that 2,500 NYC policemen have quit in 2023 & the military faces recruitment shortfalls?

To address the significant portion of the country that is not concerned about meritocracy & advancement of career but rather prefers time to contemplate the correct work-life balance - especially while their parents are helping out - the country obviously needs a change of mindset from a "you deserve, you're entitled to" mindset to one of even limited personal responsibility for a start.  Just listen to TV & radio commercials to see how much stuff advertisers tell people they deserve for free, & of course this mindset delivers anything but freedom.

The federal government runs 126 separate & often overlapping anti-poverty welfare programs identified by the Cato Institute, like the 33 housing programs run by four cabinet departments or the 21 different programs providing food or food-purchasing assistance.  But make no mistake, federal government spending is powered by Social Security & Medicare & unless the new president is willing to tackle these gargantuan entitlements our financial miseries as indicated above will only get worse due to increased longevity of older American beneficiaries & the smaller payroll contributions of people unconcerned about working.  And both Biden & Trump offer no help saying they have no intention to address Social Security & Medicare entitlement funding @ all.

Now I have offered four solutions for America's financial problems: 1) replace the Medicare plan with one of premium support to buy private insurance using a nominal dollar demogrant, unadjusted for inflation, for people younger than 55, 2) change the basis for the initial Social Security benefit to the CPI instead of the national average wage index to ensure that benefits do not grow faster than the cost of living, 3) cut, cap & balance federal spending @ 18% of GDP, & 4) replace the federal income tax & IRS with the FairTax Plan.  Go to the search bar on the upper left side of RTE to find any of the numerous posts I have written explaining in detail all of these solutions - all of which get some play in the financial media from time to time.

So with the above as background, I was delighted when the WSJ published my letter below on November 16 regarding the Social Security solution.

Dear Editor,

John F. Cogan and Daniel L Heil's excellent op-ed (Older Americans Are Better Off Than Ever - November 10) points out that "the typical senior household today enjoys Social Security benefits that have twice the purchasing power of benefits received by the average household in 1982."

A beneficiary's initial benefit is based on the national average wage index, not the inflation rate.  Because real wage growth has been greater than inflation, purchasing power has doubled since 1982.  Indexing the initial Social Security benefit formula to inflation instead of this wage index would solve the Social Security solvency problem.  By using the index, the government is guaranteeing a real positive return for the average person, a guarantee no other investor has.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Thanksgiving Proclamation In The Year Of The Independence Of The United States Of America The One Hundred & Forty-eighth

It was 100 years ago this past August 2 that Calvin Coolidge became the 30th president of the United States following the sudden death from a heart attack of Warren G. Harding.  In the middle of the night Coolidge was sworn in by his father, a notary public & justice of the peace, in the parlor of Coolidge's childhood home in Plymouth Notch, Vermont.  Carol & I visited the site in 2013.  President Coolidge was a very humble man.

Although three of our first five presidents died on July 4 (Adams, Jefferson, & Monroe) Coolidge is the only president to be born on July 4.

Coolidge's presidency was a masterpiece.

Under Coolidge all of the principles of supply side economics were achieved: 1) the reduction of the size of government and its claims on earned income, 2) a lower marginal tax rate for the highest income earners, & 3) sound-money policies.   Silent Cal reduced the top 73% income tax rate to 25% by 1925, reduced the national debt, & balanced the budget – a budget that actually was smaller when he left office than when he took office. Federal spending was 3% of GDP in 1928 – it is 24.2% today.

On November 5, 1923 President Coolidge issued Proclamation 1680 - Thanksgiving Day, 1923.

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

The American people, from their earliest days, have observed the wise custom of acknowledging each year the bounty with which divine Providence has favored them. In the beginnings, this acknowledgment was a voluntary return of thanks by the community for the fruitfulness of the harvest. Though our mode of life has greatly changed, this custom has always survived. It has made thanksgiving day not only one of the oldest but one of the most characteristic observances of our country. On that day, in home and church, in family and in public gatherings, the whole nation has for generations paid the tribute due from grateful hearts for blessings bestowed.

To center our thought in this way upon the favor which we have been shown has been altogether wise and desirable. It has given opportunity justly to balance the good and the evil which we have experienced. In that we have never failed to find reasons for being grateful to God for a generous preponderance of the good. Even in the least propitious times, a broad contemplation of our whole position has never failed to disclose overwhelming reasons for thankfulness. Thus viewing our situation, we have found warrant for a more hopeful and confident attitude toward the future.

In this current year, we now approach the time which has been accepted by custom as most fitting for the calm survey of our estate and the return of thanks. We shall the more keenly realize our good fortune, if we will, in deep sincerity, give to it due thought, and more especially, if we will compare it with that of any other community in the world.

The year has brought to our people two tragic experiences which have deeply affected them. One was the death of our beloved President Harding, which has been mourned wherever there is a realization of the worth of high ideals, noble purpose and unselfish service carried even to the end of supreme sacrifice. His loss recalled the nation to a less captious and more charitable attitude. It sobered the whole thought of the country. A little later came the unparalleled disaster to the friendly people of Japan. This called forth from the people of the United States a demonstration of deep and humane feeling. It was wrought into the substance of good works. It created new evidences of our international friendship, which is a guarantee of world peace. It replenished the charitable impulse of the country.

By experiences such as these, men and nations are tested and refined. We have been blessed with much of material prosperity. We shall be better able to appreciate it if we remember the privations others have suffered, and we shall be the more worthy of it if we use it for their relief. We will do well then to render thanks for the good that has come to us, and show by our actions that we have become stronger, wiser, and truer by the chastenings which have been imposed upon us. We will thus prepare ourselves for the part we must take in a world which forever needs the full measure of service. We have been a most favored people. We ought to be a most generous people. We have been a most blessed people. We ought to be a most thankful people.

Wherefore, I, Calvin Coolidge, President of the United States, do hereby fix and designate Thursday, the twenty-ninth day of November, as Thanksgiving Day, and recommend its general observance throughout the land. It is urged that the people, gathering in their homes and their usual places of worship, give expression to their gratitude for the benefits and blessings that a gracious Providence has bestowed upon them, and seek the guidance of Almighty God, that they may deserve a continuance of His favor.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this 5th day of November, in the year of our Lord, One Thousand Nine Hundred and Twenty-three, and of the Independence of the United States, the One Hundred and Forty-eighth.


By the President:
CHARLES E. HUGHES, Secretary of State.

Calvin Coolidge, Proclamation 1680—Thanksgiving Day, 1923 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/206745

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Galston Column Takes Opposite Approach To RTE

The series of recent posts regarding problems I document with Trump's term in office so far has concentrated on 1) Trump being the biggest deficit spender per year in the country's history, 2) Trump having no constitutional, statutory, or historical basis for asking Pence to not certify Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election on January 6, 2021, & 3) Trump leaving thousands of people in Seattle to fend for themselves against a band of marauding thugs for over three weeks in the summer of 2020.  

Die-hard Trump supporters commented that voters don't care about these issues citing some they do care about such as "inflation, high gas prices, & high interest rates - can't buy a house" as if Trump spending $3.6 trillion in 2020 was of no consequence compared to Biden spending $1.9 trillion in 2021 as the cause of the resulting inflation & high interest rates.  Trump skates by these die-hard supporters after spending nearly twice as much money as Biden did over these two years.

None of the lists of issues that voters supposedly care about that die-hard Trump supporters presented to me included Social Security & Medicare's solvency problems.  Trump sees no problem - a position that will hurt millions of people, either with benefit cuts or much higher payroll taxes.  Not good leadership on Trump's part & a definite unawareness on the part of his followers of an issue they will care about in a big way one day soon.

With regard to voters not caring about January 6 - please remember that with the authority I cited in the last post Trump could have called up the DC National Guard instead of saying that Pelosi was in charge of Capitol security & there was nothing he could do.  Not a picture of a strong president.  Better yet I alway wondered why Trump would not have called off the perceived danger if it was thought so unsafe that calling up thousands of troops was necessary.

In fact, the die-hard Trump supporter who wrote the original comment defending Trump's summer of love dereliction of duty in Seattle saying "Trump could not just go into cities unless asked by the governor" - went off this track after I presented documentation of many of the cases where presidents did "go into cities" uninvited by changing the topic to "election fraud that is going on in the midterms" & that we should "Stop the fraud, so we can have trustworthy elections" which I take to mean elections his candidate wins.  Because his comments rambled so much I'm not sure this commenter even recognized he was the one that led me to research the Insurrection Act in the first place.

I know that there is a substantial percentage of die-hard Trump supporters who dismiss anything & everything that does not put Trump in a good light - Mike Huckabee, everyone on NewsMax, & some on FNC for instance.  But there are several people who could deliver all of the pro-American policies without the baggage & divisiveness of Trump.  Just look @ Senator Mullin ready for a fistfight on the Senate floor.  Representative Comer was in a heated dispute also & the media encourages this behavior.  We need substance not bluster & Trump is more bluster than substance.

Using all of the above as background I was surprised to read Wliiam Galston's weekly column (below) in the Wednesday WSJ that, like Sunday's RTE post, reviewed the Insurrection Act of 1792 & the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878.  What timing. The difference is that I presented the authority for Trump to federalize the National Guard to enforce the laws of the United States during the summer of 2020 in Seattle as something that should have been done to protect American citizens while Mr. Galston presents this same authority as a danger to constitutional liberties that we all take for granted when in the hands of a person suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder. 

Donald Trump's Insurrection Act Gambit 
By William Galston

In June 2020, President Trump considered—and was talked out of—invoking the Insurrection Act against protesters who took to the streets after the murder of George Floyd. Now Team Trump reportedly is preparing the ground to use this law whenever necessary after he retakes the White House.

Like most Americans, I knew little about the Insurrection Act until recently. But the more I learn, the more I worry about its potential to erode our fundamental liberties.

The Posse Comitatus Act, enacted in 1878, mostly barred the U.S. military from the role in civil law enforcement that it had played during the Civil War and its aftermath. The act permitted legislated exceptions, however. The most important of these is the Insurrection Act.

This act gives the president the authority to deploy the military to assist law-enforcement agencies in three situations: when a state government requests federal aid to suppress an insurrection in that state; when the president deems military deployment necessary to "enforce the laws" of the U.S. or to "suppress the rebellion"; and when the president deems such deployment necessary to suppress "any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy" in a state whose government is unable or unwilling to enforce the constitutional rights of its citizens or "opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws."

I quote from the statute to make a point: Its scope, which is both broad and vague, gives the president enormous discretionary power. Key terms—insurrection, rebellion and domestic violence—aren't defined. As an analysis by the Brennan Center shows, the president alone may decide whether these prerequisites for deploying the military have been met, and the Supreme Court has said it has no authority to review the president's decision.

To be sure, a 1932 Supreme Court decision held that courts may review the lawfulness or constitutionality of acts the military performs after it has been deployed, but in the swirl of events basic liberties may be curtailed well before the judiciary can step in.

Consider this scenario: After a divisive campaign, a presidential candidate opposed by half the country is inaugurated, and a massive protest breaks out in Washington. While observers and authorities report that the demonstrators are mostly peaceful, the new president disagrees, federalizes the National Guards of Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, and deploys them with orders to suppress the protests.

Or this one: After police in a large city kill an unarmed black man, protests break out and spread to other cities. Although the protests are peaceful at first, the president argues that similar events in the past have turned violent in a manner that exceeded local and state capacity to suppress them. He then orders the deployment of military forces to break them up before threats to life and property arise.

In situations such as these, fundamental rights such as the freedoms of speech and assembly are at stake, and the potential for the arbitrary and capricious use of the Insurrection Act is evident. This possibility should disturb anyone who doesn't trust every president to use his authority prudently and within constitutional restraints. After 2020, Congress should have reformed the Insurrection Act to prevent future presidents from using it to suppress basic liberties.

In one of the most enduring lines of the 2016 presidential campaign, veteran reporter Salena Zito wrote of Mr. Trump that "the press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally." She implied—plausibly—that his supporters, not the press, were reading him correctly. But that was then, when his plans were relatively unformed and his understanding of how to staff his administration wasn't informed by any government experience.

Things are different now. In his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in March, Mr. Trump declared that he had learned a great deal during his first term about who is strong and who is weak, about who can be trusted and who can't. With the help of such groups as the Claremont Institute and the Heritage Foundation, Mr. Trump's team is busy formulating policies and making lists of people on whom it can rely to staff his administration.

A second Trump term would be much more effective than the first, a prospect that thrills his supporters and sends shivers through those who fear, as I do, that his re-entry into the White House would trigger the biggest threat to constitutional governance since the Civil War. Let's take him literally as well as seriously.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Trump's Dereliction Of Duty During The "Summer Of Love"

Based on the series of posts I started in August even the most die-hard Trump supporter in this readership has said he understands that Trump is the biggest deficit spender per year in the country's history & that Trump had no constitutional, statutory, or historical basis for asking Pence to not certify Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election on January 6, 2021.  These are two very large concessions that should encourage interest for some consideration of other candidates running in the Republican primaries.   

Afterall, to acknowledge the above two points & still unabashedly back Trump takes away your right to criticize lesser spenders like Biden or BO & makes your concern less pure for the rule of law & the presidential oath of office "to preserve, protect, & defend the Constitution" which Trump obliterated with what he asked Pence to do for reasons of false pride, self-aggrandizement, & self-importance that demonstrated a narcissistic personality disorder.  Now that these facts are known, a continued acceptance of Trump, compromises consistency regarding government spending & the rule of law.

It is intellectually weak to ignore these two very large concessions, & continue with a blind loyalty for Trump who would not debate as part of the Republican primary field that included in the first two debates Christy, Haley, & Pence - three people who could counter Trump's accounts & statements based on direct personal experience.  And of course that is why Trump cunningly skips the debates - these three would have been more prepared than Low Energy Jeb, Little Marco, & Lyin' Ted. 

In fact, the debate last Wednesday produced many meaningful discussions that gave the electorate several good candidate choices to select from that would be an upgrade to Trump.  I had trouble envisioning Trump answering the questions in a substantive way.

A Trump-Biden choice is a crapshoot that either man could win by a handful of votes in a few swing states like what happened in both 2016 & 2020.  It is like choosing your poison - anthrax or phosgene.  The country loses either way.

The election is a crapshoot because an inordinate number of people will stay home & not vote if the Republican nominee is Trump, or will write in Trump's name if Trump is not on the ballot (the trouble with this threat is that the citizenry votes for electors not the candidate for President meaning this maneuver is really meaningless except for taking away from the real Republican candidate).  The No Labels group candidate is thought to take more votes away from Biden & RFK Jr. is thought to take more votes away from Trump.  A dreadful negative election with all these external factors that will not turn out well no matter who wins - Biden will continue destructive policies & portray a feebleness to the world while Trump will ensure a divisiveness that will ultimately divide the house until it falls.  Liz Peek summed it up well when she said "The country is so polarized that it is turned off by neutrality."

Biden can't hide in his Delaware basement again this election & he really can't run on his terrible record on inflation, deficit spending that increases the national debt to new records every day, control of the border, energy dependence on the Green New Deal, allowing crime waves across the country while not supporting the police, & going wobbly on Iran-Hamas-Hezbollah terrorism in Israel.  Biden is counting on the Democrat machine producing a large turnout that is anti Trump, which it certainly will be, & that abortion continues to be a political winner for the Democrats as the society continues its secular decadent slide.

Trump must perform a skillful deception by not taking a stand one way or the other on abortion while still taking credit for appointing three Supreme Court justices who made the difference in overturning Roe.  Trump also was the instigator of the rapid Covid vaccine development that many people are opposed to, especially the vaccine mandates.  Trump told a Dallas audience that he even received the booster to a chorus of boos.  Trump also previously took the position to raise the age to collect full Social Security retirement benefits to 70 & called for privatizing the program calling it a "Ponzi scheme" - he now says no changes are necessary even though the program is in worse financial shape than ever.  And of course there will be plenty of questions about January 6 - for certain by the Democrats including videos.  By ducking the debates Trump has not been called out on these issues - but he will be sooner or later on all of them & more.

Both parties would be smart to put a fresh face @ the top of their tickets to eliminate as much of the crapshoot as possible so that when the election dust settles there will be no regrets for fielding terribly flawed candidates. 

Now I was a Trump supporter way before most of the current die-hard Trump supporters in this readership turned their devotion away from Ted Cruz.  Please remember that Mike Pence was initially a Ted Cruz supporter & it surprised me when Trump picked Pence to be his VP running mate in 2016.

As readers of this blog from June, 2015 to December, 2020 know I supported Trump - even @ 2:30 AM on November 4, 2020 when Trump said on TV, flanked by Melania & Mike & Karen Pence "Frankly, we did win."  But like Texas Congressman Chip Roy (Liberty Score "A" @ 100%) my support started to erode in December, 2020 when neither Trump nor Chief of Staff Mark Meadows could produce one piece of evidence that Trump won.  What followed after Trump's December 19, 2020 tweet "Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!"; the ruined careers of 38 year old Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell, & Meadows, with more to come; & the $787 million FNC settlement for deliberately & knowingly presenting false information on air regarding Dominion voting machines rigging the 2020 presidential election for Biden are events to be pitied.


Other comments I received that deserve a response pertain to BLM & Antifa committing violent crimes like arson, assault, & damaging business owners' property & federal court buildings during the "summer of love" in 2020.  There was a fatal shooting in Seattle.  I remember Trump saying that after the 2020 election he would clamp down on these violent groups & I wondered why he didn't do it then instead of waiting six months until after the election.  Trump said it would take him about an hour to end the violence & restore order if such situations occurred in his second term.

The comments that deserve a response regarding the "summer of love" violence are "Trump could not do anything unless invited by the governor" & "Trump could not just go into cities unless asked by the governor."

Now governors do have the authority to call up the national guard & mayors & police chiefs certainly have the duty to protect life & property - neither of which happened in the summer of 2020 in Seattle, where the police were so overwhelmed in one section of the city by violent groups that a police precinct was abandoned & all the citizens in that section of the city were left to the mercy of thugs for over three weeks.  The governor & mayor were no help to their constituents & neither was Trump. 

Safety & health matters are handled by the states & cities who can call on (invite) the federal government for help if needed.  It is reasonable to expect this to be a cooperative effort in a unified country but there have been occasions where governors have not cooperated.

For instance, on September 5, 1957 Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus refused to allow the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School following federal court orders after the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.  President Eisenhower sent the 101st Airborne Division to enforce the court's ruling.   Similarly, President Kennedy federalized the National Guard in 1962 to ensure integration of the University of Mississippi & President Johnson, in like manner, gained control of the riots around the 1968 Democrat national convention in Chicago.  Trump & Biden have both put active duty members of the Armed Forces on the southwest border to assist U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents.   

So there has been presidential authority to call up or federalize the national guard starting with the Militia Act of 1792 that was used by President Washington as his authority to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 in Western Pennsylvania.

The Constitution's enumerated powers specifically grant Congress the power to call out the militia (Militia Clause - Article I, Section 8, Clause 15) & the President the authority to command the militia (Commander Of Militia Clause - Article II, Section 2, Clause 1) when needed in the active service to the U.S.  Starting in 1792 with the above named Militia Act (also known as the Calling Forth Act) Congress delegated to the President the authority to call out the militia for two years.  This delegated authority was made permanent in 1795 & remained permanent as the laws were revised over the years like in 1807, 1903, & Title 10 of the U.S. code pertaining to Armed Forces.

In addition, President Lincoln believed that the "preserve, protect, & defend" language of the presidential Oath of Office clause (Article II, Section 1, Clause 8) placed a special constitutional duty on the President to fight for the nation's survival whether Congress had declared war or not, & by inference, whether or not a governor had invited him to call up the militia to suppress rebellion.

The Take Care clause (Article II, Section 3) requires the President to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed" & with particular emphasis on Article II executive branch Power to restrain violations of life, liberty, & property of American citizens by effective criminal law & prosecution of criminals who destroy homes & businesses.

In summary, the President has the legal authority to deploy U.S. military & federalized National Guard troops within the United States to suppress civil disorders, insurrections, or rebellions as documented above.

Accordingly, Trump was derelict of duty when he left people in Seattle to fend for themselves against a band of marauding thugs for over three weeks in the summer of 2020 & only talked about doing something about it if he was reelected in November.  A shameful irresponsible failure to fulfill his presidential obligation. 

Special note - Presidents are aware of our history of quartering soldiers in houses during the Revolutionary War & the use of the army in civil law enforcement during the Civil War & Reconstruction so they design limited missions specifically to restore order & quickly remove the military presence once order is restored.  See Third Amendment & the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Mike Pence & The Electoral History Of The United States

A few comments I received from concerned readers regarding the post entitled Ten Trump-Record Deficiencies For GOP Primary Voters To Consider brought up points not contained in the original post & therefore deserve a response from me & anyone else who would like to weigh in.

One such comment pertained to Mike Pence's role in the January 6, 2021 counting of electoral college votes that wondered "why Congress passed The Electoral Count Reform & Presidential Transition Improvement Act of 2022 that restricted the VP from denying electoral votes if he did not have that authority in the first place."

The commenter went on to say "Pence did have the right to deny states' votes & if he had the right to do that he had the right to not accept.  Now there is a new law (identified above) restricting the Vice President of that privilege.  If he did not have the right to reject, why did they make a new law?  That is something to ponder."

Before we spend too much time pondering this comment we had better get the facts straight because the comment is full of mistakes.  The commenter obviously hasn't read the twelfth amendment or @ least has not read it recently - so what facts, if any, was the comment based on?  The Constitution gives the VP no such powers or authority & neither has any statute.  We have to be careful that we don't just believe what we want to believe but rather search for the facts & follow them which in this case I have researched & present below.

Trump's erroneous legal theories about Pence being able to return, reject, overrule, or otherwise not accept electoral college votes from any or all states was based on the hotly contested election of 1876 & the Electoral Count Act of 1887 that was enacted to help clarify how to resolve disputed electoral college votes.  Note that there was a gap of over ten years between the disputed election of November 8, 1876 & the enactment of the Electoral Count Act on February 3, 1887.

Following the Civil War & Lincoln's reelection Congress rightly sensed that bitter politicians from both parties would contest future close elections & asserted through the adoption of the Twenty-second Joint Rule of 1865 that Congress had "total power over the electoral vote."  The joint rule never assigned such power to the Vice President in his role as President of the Senate.

This joint rule arrangement was put to the test @ the conclusion of Grant's two terms in office with the contentious election of 1876 when three southern states (South Carolina, Florida, & Louisiana) lost control of their electoral processes & could not agree on who won their respective states.  There was also one disputed electoral vote in Oregon because of process reasons.

The election of 1876 was actually decided under a compromise reached on January 29, 1877 - over two months after election day & a little over one month before the new president took office in March.  Under the terms of the Electoral Commision Act of 1877 a commision was established composed of five senators (three Republicans & two Democrats), five representatives (three Democrats & two Republicans) & five Supreme Court justices who awarded all the disputed electoral votes to Benjamin Harrison, who was announced the winner of the presidential election of 1876.  At no time during this matter did Thomas W. Ferry, President pro tempore of the Senate & acting VP as it was known in those days following the death of Vice President Henry Wilson on November 22, 1875, participate in deciding what votes to accept or reject.

After two more close presidential elections in 1880 & 1884 Congress passed the Electoral Count Act of 1887 that more formally established the counting procedure for the electoral votes sent by each state to the Vice President as President of the Senate.  The Electoral Count Act of 1887 minimized congressional involvement in election disputes & placed the primary responsibility upon the states themselves for determining who won their respective elections.  The 1887 act gave no power to the Vice President to reject or return votes to states.  In fact the problem with the election of 1876, that was decided as described above, was that three states were not able to determine their own winning set of electors & sent two sets to the Vice President so that someone in Washington would decide who were the winning electors in these three states.  In other words, rejecting sets of electors & sending them back to the states would have been a futile effort because the above listed states were unable to decide themselves who won.  But in no event was the Vice President, acting as the President of the Senate, authorized to resolve disputed electoral votes as described above.

In the case of the 2020 election no state had asked for their electoral ballots to be returned so they could recertify them showing Trump the winner. That being the case the entire Pence electoral vote count controversy was created by Trump, who actually was the one trying to steal the election.  In the infamous telephone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on January 2, 2021 Trump was told "What we're seeing is not @ all what you are describing."  Without any real dispute from a state, Pence had no reason to do anything but see that the votes were counted & announce the winner.

The improvements in communication technology since the 1870s makes it easier for the states to determine the winner of their elections.  Per the Constitution each state, usually under the administration of the State Secretary of State, runs their own election & typically the Secretary supervises the counting of votes & announces the winner.  The problems with the election of 1876 laid dormant for over 100 years until Trump & his lawyers distorted the facts to bring a world of hurt to the country that still exists today every time Trump brings up his false claims about Biden not winning the 2020 election.

The Electoral Count Reform & Presidential Transition Improvement Act of 2022 was written, as an example, to prevent Vice President Kamala Harris, acting as the President of the Senate following the 2024 election, from pulling the shameful trick that Trump wanted Pence to perpetrate in throwing out electoral votes & awarding the presidency to the incumbent - in Harris's case Joe Biden.  The Act was not written to change the Vice President's responsibilities but to restate the constitutional text that the Vice President's function is purely ministerial so that claims like Trump made would not be made again.  The 2022 act was also not written to undo a procedure that had never been done or authorized by the Constitution or statute - i.e., no Vice President has ever sent electoral votes back to a state. 

In summary, the text of the Constitution is clear that the Vice President has no power or authority to return or reject electoral votes & the pertinent events of the country's electoral history, as described above, confirm that every applicable statute written into law & implemented followed the constitutional text in this regard.  Neither the Electoral Commision Act of 1877, that directly decided the election of 1876, nor the Electoral Count Act of 1887 gave the Vice President any authority to return certified ballot lists from electors of any state.  As per the Constitution the Vice President's function, as President of the Senate, is ministerial in presiding over the joint session of Congress for the purpose of counting electoral votes.  This is in accordance with the Constitution where Pence's only function on January 6, 2021 was to open certified state election results & have the electoral votes counted in the presence of Congress, with the candidate receiving the majority of electoral votes for President winning the presidency.  As such, it is appalling what Trump asked Pence to do on January 6, 2021.

On seven occasions since 1960 the Vice President presided over the congressional ceremony that finalized his party's defeat.  On two of these occasions - Nixon in 1960 & Gore in 2000 - they announced they had personally lost their bid for the presidency.  In none of these cases did the Vice President send electoral votes back to a state & declare himself or his party the winner.

Thursday, October 12, 2023

The XYZ Quiz

The latest opportunity for parents & grandparents to monitor & participate in what their children & grandchildren are learning is found @ the Classic Learning Test (CLT) website.  The CLT, an alternative to the SAT & ACT, covers students starting in the 3rd grade & continues all the way through 12th grade so parent & grandparent involvement can be maximized through this resource.  There is a section dealing with homeschooling.

The website invites you to "ensure your student is equipped to succeed" through "CLT's academic assessments . . . so your student can pursue a fulfilling future."

Sample tests for each grade level, that are examples of a real CLT, are provided on the website to get students started - each test evaluates reading comprehension, grammar/writing, & mathematics @ the appropriate grade level while emphasizing foundational critical thinking skills (the ability to effectively & objectively analyse information & form a judgement using reasoning & logic).  The real (non sample/example) tests can be taken online using your own computer with a remote proctor, or parents for younger students, so it is very convenient & as stress free as it can be - you can take the test @ the best time of day for you.

Over 200 colleges that accept the CLT offer academic scholarships to high-scoring students.  In May Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill making Florida the first state in the country to allow public schools to administer the CLT & last month Florida's Board of Governors voted to approve the CLT as an accepted admissions test @ all Florida public universities.  CLT is also accepted @ an additional 14 private colleges & universities in Florida.

The WSJ ran a favorable editorial about CLT on September 25 that included a math puzzle from one of the sample tests that I present below as the XYZ Quiz.

Educational innovators, like the founder of CLT, are working to improve the dreadful academic results that government schools have produced for far too long.  Participating in the CLT program provides a way to work with your children to ensure they are learning what you think they should be learning to succeed in life.  You can actually partner with your child in this endeavor.

Take the XYZ Quiz below & ask your child if they attend a senior high school to take it also.  If your children are younger go to one of the age appropriate sample tests on the website & see where it leads regarding signing up for the real tests throughout your child's schooling.

I will post all correct answers to the quiz below or alternatively will send the correct answer privately to anyone who requests it if no one gets the right answer.

XYZ Quiz

If y^z=x & 8z=xy, then what is x+y+z if y is half the value of z?

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Preserving Liberty Through Education

"Educate & inform the whole mass of the people. . . . They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty."  - Thomas Jefferson

  Click on graphic to enlarge

The above graphic prepared by Catrin Wigfall, Education Policy Fellow @ Center of the American Experiment, shows a majority of government schooled students in Minnesota can't proficiently read or do math - it is the latest example of what Jefferson warned us about over two centuries ago.  The graphic shows per pupil spending increasing with student achievement in reading & math decreasing meaning Minnesota taxpayers are not getting their money's worth.  Sixty-four percent of high school juniors can't do math & 48.5 % of sophomores can't read @ grade level in Minnesota.

Progressives all over the country have been very successful in replacing the teaching of reading, writing, & arithmetic in our schools with indoctrination of little more than kindergarten aged children learning about drag queen shows & gender identification - & it shows with terrible results like those on the above graphic.  This indoctrination has expanded, using critical race theory & the 1619 Project, from very young children to all of K-12 schools, colleges, businesses, every level of government, & even the U.S. military.

Closely related to wanting to improve America's failing academic record is parents' determination to remove sexually explicit books from school libraries.  On September 12 the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing examining what progressives call book bans, claiming that to not make the objectionable books available discriminates against homosexual, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning people.  Click here to hear Louisiana Senator John Kennedy read out loud excerpts from pornographic books "All Boys Aren't Blue& "Gender Queer"  followed by a discussion with witnesses representing the LGBTQ community.  Removing these types of books is not a case of replacing indoctrination parents don't like with indoctrination they do like, but rather is a common sense response for having their children taught this filth instead of math, reading, science, & civics.

Now banning books in a school library where a significant percentage of the students can't read seems pointless except the illiterates could still look @ the pictures or have literate students read the books to them.

Many progressives ask what harm it does to give their points of view to students so that the students can hear all sides & decide for themselves what to believe.

But we never taught that the moon is made of green cheese so why would we want to teach something equally as fallacious as the historical inaccuracies & deliberate lies of the 1619 Project.

We hear AOC's claims about climate change ending the world twelve years after she presented this theory in 2019 & yet she is not @ all concerned about the trust funds of Social Security or Medicare running out of money about the same time as her forecast for the world ending.  It won't be long before we find out if the progressives pushed the wrong problem because the trust funds shortages will have more of a negative impact on the lives of tens of millions of senior citizens than the so-called climate change emergencies ever will.

Why did BO buy a multimillion dollar ocean front property with forecasts of threats of flooding from every weatherman?  Is somebody pulling our leg?

These are not debates like the Federalists & Anti-Federalists had about ratifying the Constitution that resulted in the Bill of Rights.  The progressives' ideas more resemble the arguments made & accepted by the characters, other than the little child, in the fairy tale "The Emperor's New Clothes."

Thank heaven for educational organizations like 1) Center of the American Experiment whose mission is to build a culture of prosperity for Minnesota & the nation by championing the values of liberty & economic opportunity through unparalleled research & grassroots activism, 2) Hillsdale College who remains independent, not accepting a single penny of state or federal taxpayer funding, while presenting marvelous online courses given by their campus professors, distributing millions of copies each month of their Imprimis publications written by renowned scholars to households & businesses, & supporting K-12 schools across the country, both public charter & private, by providing an American classical curriculum free of charge of American history & civics lessons to a growing network of educators & homeschoolers through The Hillsdale 1776 Curriculum, 3) Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) whose mission is to inspire college students to discover, embrace, & advance the principles & virtues that make America free & prosperous through their network of mentoring professors throughout the country that provides an education & tight community of lasting influence over & above what is expected from any particular university so that ISI's graduates become defenders of the principles of liberty & an effective advocate for timeless principles - graduates include Supreme Court justices Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito, PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel, Reason magazine editor Katherine Mangu-Ward, Hillsdale College president Larry Arnn, and Heritage Foundation founder Ed Feulner, & 4) American Council Of Trustees & Alumni (ACTA) whose independent work is committed to academic freedom, excellence, & accountability @ American colleges & universitities - like their annual assessment of the core academic requirements of over 1,100 of our nation's colleges & universities entitled What Will They Learn?, an indispensable guide for starting to select a college that grades each school from A to F.

Now it's wonderful that K-12 schools have the above organizations to call on for help - but there is more.  Thanks to my friend & colleague in liberty Lawson Bader for letting me know that the state of Florida has made the decision to use the curriculum of the Prager University Foundation (known as PragerU) across all state run schools.  Like the four organizations above PragerU is an educational organization that promotes American values through creative free online videos promoting conservative viewpoints on various political, economic, & sociological topics.  Most readers of this blog are familiar with PragerU's online videos that I present from time to time, most recently featuring Candace Owens' video regarding the history of slavery.  PragerU is working on similar arrangements with other states.  Click here to hear Dennis Prager & Marissa Streit's fireside chat to discuss their new venture in Florida schools

All of the above educational organizations would make Jefferson very pleased because they each do their part to ensure the preservation of our liberty.  Jefferson believed that only educated citizens could make the American experiment in self-government succeed.  He placed education as the foundation of the self-government of the American republic & really every household's prosperity.  Sound self-government & prosperity will not exist very long in a poorly educated Society.  A tyrannical government, that can come into power only if the citizenry is uneducated, ignorant, & unsophisticated, will restrain & deprive the "whole mass of the people '' their liberties - the goal of the progressives.  The above five organizations contribute to the real education of Americans by sustaining, supporting, & defending our principles of freedom.

America was founded on the principles of limited government, personal responsibility, & free enterprise.  Progressives are transforming these principles by instituting unlimited government with no personal responsibility for anything - like releasing people of commitments such as repaying student loans or paying people not to work.  The resulting lethargy destroys free enterprise because we have less & less people making or providing services for anything of value - a sure instigator of crippling hyperinflation.  Lenin knew that debauchery of the currency was the surest way to overturn the existing basis of a stable Society when he said that "the process engages all of the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, & does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose."

This is where education & knowing a little something comes in.