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The sky’s the limit



The skys the limit

If I have a regret over the last two years, it is not doing a better job of documenting my specific predictions about what a potential Trump Presidency would be like. I would if I could go back and do it again, but I didn’t the first time because, like so many others, it didn’t occur to me until about a week before the election that he might actually win. He did win, and here we are.

Yesterday the President made a deal with the House and Senate minority leaders, members of the party that is theoretically his opposition, while leaving the leaders of the party that he is theoretically his on the sidelines. Now I say theoretically because Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Paul Ryan (R-WI) are hardly allies of the President, nor are they small government conservatives. Nor is the President. Nor are Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) or Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Frankly, why they all don’t just join the same party is beyond me.

The fact is though, private citizen Trump donated heavily to the campaigns of every one of those lifelong politicians. This should have been a warning sign to his supporters, but for reasons passing understanding it was not, even when it was pointed out to them. Trump was a long time Democrat, became and independent, then a Republican, then a Democrat again, now a Republican again. He has no firm principles he believes in.

I’m not here to bash Trump. This is simply who he is. And if I had done the aforementioned documentation he’d be following my predictions as if it were scripted.

So, it is no surprise to me that the issue that he has chosen to cross over and work directly with Democrats while ignoring Republicans is debt. After all, Trump is the self-proclaimed “king of debt.” The problem is that description comes from his business “savvy” where he has become wealthy in the world of micro-economics by borrowing and then sometimes defaulting on debt, leaving his investors holding the bag while he walks away with profit. This is all legal of course, but legal and moral aren’t the same thing.

Further, while this might work in the world of micro-economics, he is now dealing with macro-economics and on a global scale. It’s not certain that Trump understands that he can just have the US file for bankruptcy protection and walk away without paying our debts.

First of all, much of that money is owed to ourselves. We are the world’s reserve currency, which is the only reason we’ve been able to amass this much debt over this period of time. When China and Russia trade, they don’t trade Yuans for Rubles, they trade Yuans into US dollars and THEN into Rubles.

Or at least, they used to. That system is rapidly going away as major economic powers like Russia, China, Australia, Japan, Saudi Arabia and others are starting to conduct business without the dollar. When the dollar stops being the world’s reserve currency, we will suddenly have to start living within our means overnight, and debt will not be able to be taken anymore.

We’re already paying billions on just the interest on our loans. We’re taking loans out to pay our loans. We’re told every time the debt ceiling come up that we must “raise it to pay our bills.” This. Is. Insane. STOP SPENDING.

I’m not saying don’t raise it at this time, but it MUST be coupled with massive spending cuts.

I’ve written about tax reform and how it relates to federalism before. Most of what the Federal government does, it doesn’t have the Constitutional authority to do, but it keeps granting itself that authority in spite of the Constitution. With this usurped authority has come massive unnecessary spending that has put us in onerous debt that we must deal with NOW.

Can you imagine what would happen if we don’t do this correctly? What would happen if massive austerity measures had to be taken overnight? Look at Greece. That. Times a thousand. Some people scoff at that idea. Well, we live in a country where people literally riot over a thug who attacks a police officer getting shot. Imagine what will happen when their EBT cards suddenly stop working. Yeah. Scary.

Plenty of people reading this right now probably think I’m crazy. That’s normal. What you’re feeling right now is called the Normalcy Bias. It’s the belief that because something hasn’t happened to you before that it won’t. Well, your house has never burned down before (probably) but you still have fire insurance right? Why? Because you know it does happen. Well, financial meltdowns have happened before in other countries, and it CAN happen here. It WILL happen here is the debt is not brought to heel.

One of the reasons I didn’t see a difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is neither of them were the least bit interested in dealing with our massive debt, and frankly it was my number one domestic priority. Even if one of them had promised to deal with the debt I wouldn’t have believed them. Neither would have dealt with the root cause of the debt. Clinton has a long history of working to increase the burdensome social programs and regulations that overburden the taxpayers and lead to debt, and Trump never understood it.

The national debt, and the even greater unfunded liabilities that some experts estimate to be nearly $100 Trillion, not just the $20 Trillion in debt must be our national domestic priority, and the ONLY way to counter it is massive spending cuts. Despite the rhetoric of the leftists in both parties, the rich pay their fair share, and if they don’t, it’s the fault of the government for not enacting REAL tax reform as I’ve written about previously. We cannot tax our way out of this. We have to stop spending.

Trump’s “betrayal” of the GOP leadership (I see it as just returning to his roots) is really just dealing with debt in the only way he knows how: take out more debt. These are dangerous times for our country, but the looming debt bubble may be the most dangerous issue of all, and if it isn’t tackled quickly and smartly, we may not survive. Unfortunately, few in the two party system in Washington are inclined or capable of doing what must be done.

Benjamin Wilhelm served as a commissioned officer in the United States military for 10 years, serving one combat tour in Afghanistan. He is a recipient of the Bronze Star and Combat Action Badge among other military awards. Ben has worked in a variety of private sector businesses both large and small. He is a former military and civilian firearms instructor and an advocate for veterans issues. Ben is a strict Constitutionalist who sees the Federal government as an out of control leviathan, and the federal debt as a burden that will break the country. Ben is a divorced father of two boys.

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Trump tariffs another in-name-only moment for the in-name-only president



As a man who likes the title but not the responsibilities of the office, Donald Trump has proven himself to be America’s President In-Name-Only. From the primaries to today the New York Liberal with an “R” after his name has demonstrated a lack of any core convictions as he makes policy decisions based on the need to feed his narcissistic personality.

One of the consequences of Trump’s lack of character is the frequency in which he’s forced to take action based on the rhetoric he continues to feed his dwindling base. Even though most of the promises he makes are nothing more than the politically convenient ramblings of a man who has no intention of keeping them—he bragged in a TV interview that he could change into whatever he needs to be—Trump’s never-ending need for the praise and adulation of his followers has forced him to at least give the appearance that he will keep his word.

This has given birth to a host of in-name-only legislative efforts by Mr. Trump. Some of his biggest hits on the in-name-only charts deal with two of his major campaign promises: rescinding DACA and withdrawing the US from the Paris Climate Accord.

When Trump issued his executive order rescinding DACA, he immediately teamed up with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to create an amnesty program for DREAMers. At the same time, he made a promise to reinstate DACA after six months if necessary.

In addition to statements from the White House that he never intended to rescind DACA, Trump has advocated amnesty for nearly two-million illegals (a number that was originally around 800,000). By the way, the deadline has come and gone, and DACA still exists.

When Trump announced in June that the US was withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, he immediately committed to re-entering it under better terms. In addition to statements from members of the White House team that Trump would work on getting the US back in, Trump stated in a January TV interview with Piers Morgan that the US is ready to re-enter the Paris deal.

“The president said he is open to finding those conditions where we can remain engaged with others on what we all agree is still a challenging issue.” – Rex Tillerson on CBS’s Face the Nation

“He left the door open to re-entering at some later time if there can be a better deal for the United States.” H.R. McMaster on ABC’s This Week

Following Trump’s recent trade-war announcement that he was adding across-the-board tariffs to steel and aluminum imports, he proudly crowed that he was keeping a campaign promise on trade. Yet, when faced with an avalanche of blowback for the obviously anti-free-market policy, Trump turned this into another in-name-only moment.

On the day of the announcement, Trump immediately granted exclusions to the tariffs for Mexico and Canada—two of America’s biggest providers of imported steel—despite repeated statements from the White House indicating otherwise.

“We have made clear these will be across-the-board tariffs with no exclusions. The problem with exclusions is that they are a slippery slope. Once you start, where do you stop?” — White House, March 2 (Wall Street Journal)

“There will be no country exclusions.” — Pete Navarro, President Trump’s radical trade adviser, March 4 (CNN’s State of the Union)

“I have no reason to think he is going to change.” — Wilbur Ross, President Trump’s protectionist commerce secretary, March 4 (NBC’s Meet the Press)

As a believer in free trade, I’m ecstatic that Trump at least partially broke his promise, but it serves as the latest evidence that Trump is nothing more than an in-name-only president willing to take make-believe actions to make it appear he’s keeping his make-believe promises.

Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.

David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is nationally syndicated with Salem Radio Network and can be heard on stations across America.

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In Lieu of what is Right – An Interview with Dr. Ken Wright



One of the most vapid and reliably anti-Constitutionalist members of Congress is known to anyone who takes to Twitter, Ted Lieu, of the California 33rd Congressional District, suddenly has a staunch conservative to square off against. I got to sit down for about an hour over the phone with Dr. Ken Wright, who was one of the most interesting interviews I’ve done this year (and after Erin Cruz, Austin Petersen, Shane Hazel, and Hunter Hill, that is saying something).

Dr. Wright is a renowned pediatric ophthalmologist who is invited to teach all over the world. For that reason (sorry doc) I thought he might have the demeanor of a college professor. Analytical without a lot of passion. I was right about the analytical part. I was dead wrong about the lack of passion. This is a man who in no way needs to run for Congress, but instead sees it as a public service that he is willing to take on to make the world better for his family and for all of ours as well. It’s probably worth noting that one of the most respected and freedom-oriented members of the Senate, Dr. Rand Paul, is also an ophthalmologist. I also have an acquaintance here in my home town who is a Constitutionalist and an ophthalmologist. There seems to be a pattern here.

I found Dr. Wright to be authentic, passionate about Constitutional freedoms, and a man who will not be bullied by anyone. He supports much of what President Trump is trying to do, however I have no trouble believing he would stand up to the President should he go off the rails. The people of the California 33rd would do well to put a man of such integrity into office, and with him get rid of one of the most staunchly anti-freedom members of the US House of Representatives, Ted Lieu.

BW: What specific experience and education make you feel makes you the most qualified to be a Congressman?

KW: With the present state of our representatives I think as long as you have a pulse you could do a better job. They’re bought. The special interest lobbyists are running the show. Any good, ethical citizen could do a better job and do what is right for the people.

**I needed to take a moment to stop laughing at this answer. It was funny because it’s true.**

I’m a pediatric ophthalmologist. I know people all over the world since I travel for teaching in my field. I was awarded a service medal from the President of Panama after Noriega was ousted due to the work I was doing there. I’m a doctor, and doctors use data and facts to make decisions. We don’t put a Band-Aid on an infection and expect it to go away. Dems in inner cities have made people dependent for more than 50 years with no way out and they end up in gangs or living on welfare. Let’s get factories into the inner-cities. Let’s get them jobs instead of food stamps and a few bucks. I want to actually solve problems instead of creating a never-ending cycle of dependency.

BW: What specific issues will be your main focus if elected?

KW: Immigration is a huge problem right now. President Trump gave Congress the job to put together a real plan for DACA and they’ve done nothing. We need a clear policy regarding immigration. To my mind we need to secure the border. Without that we have open borders. We need a wall for at least part of the southern border. It worked in Israel. Then you can think about what to do with 13 million illegals.

Whether they were invited by the government or not, many illegals came here because we wanted people to come here; we wanted them to do certain jobs like pick crops or be a housekeeper, and it would be wrong to send them all home after so many years. That said, criminals with so much as a DUI have to go. This is my problem with sanctuary cities; they allow criminal illegals to roam free and harm our citizens. This is not a Democrat or Republican problem, but rather an American problem.

The largely law abiding that we choose to let stay can get in line behind everyone else and perhaps pay some fines and do some service, but they shouldn’t be able to get to the head of the line like so many Democrats want, and they certainly shouldn’t be given blanket amnesty.

Healthcare is a big issue, mostly because the Democrats have made it that way with Obamacare. Despite what the Democrats say, there were never bodies lying in the street before Obamacare. No one is turned away from any emergency room. Everyone can get care. Not everyone needs health insurance. If you’re a 20 year old on your first job and in good health, perhaps you don’t need to spend money on health insurance, and it’s wrong for the government to force you to subsidize health insurance for others. We need to repeal McCarron-Ferguson Act which exempts insurance companies from most federal regulation including anti-trust laws. That would allow real free-market competition back.

BW: What failures do you feel have been made on the part of Ted Lieu?

**Note: I asked Dr. Wright to please try to keep this to a top 5 list… I know I could write an article just on this question**

KW: When the Syrian war was really going on he wanted to bring 200K refugees from Iraq and Syria and voted against the SAFE Act. That’s dangerous for America.

He doesn’t protect America first. He wants open borders. He’s for sanctuary cities. He votes against Kate’s Law every time it comes up. He has sponsored legislation for no-money bail, saying bail is unfair to the poor, yet judges can take that into consideration. He wants to take the discretion away from the judges.

He’s a hypocrite. On his web site the number one issue he talks about is climate change. And yet, when he was a state senator he accepted $13K from real estate developers who wanted to build a new stadium, and then he co-sponsors a bill to exempt the real estate developers from environmental regulations. He’s a career politician and has never had a real job in his life. I’ve had a real job. I’ve run a business and put people to work.

BW:  What political challenges do you face and how do you plan to overcome them?

Well, District 33 is only 24% Republicans, which has discouraged the GOP and the GOP wasn’t even going to run someone in 2016. However, there’s almost 30% here with no party preference. I was able to take 37% in 2016 and I didn’t have a real organization. I have a whole organization this time and I think winning this district is doable.

BW: With the current debate over gun-control, what are your thoughts?

KW: Well this isn’t an easy issue. I think we all, or at least most, agree a civilian doesn’t need to own a surface-to-air missile. At the same time, the 2nd Amendment isn’t about hunting, it’s about being able to resist a tyrannical government. We need to find a balance. I think for certain weapons perhaps some form of mental evaluation might be in order. The problem is the Democrats always want to take it too far. Instead of making things simple and wanting to implement legislation that might actually save lives they are intent on disarming the population.

BW: There has been a lot of debate over President Trump’s tariffs. How do you feel about them.

KW: Great question. Would you agree that it is equally wrong for one to hire someone to commit murder as it is to commit murder yourself?

BW: Sure.

KW: Well by the same token, if it’s wrong for us to use slave labor to make our products, it’s equally wrong for us to allow China and other countries to use slave labor without any kind of penalty. The Chinese have a miles long factory where people were crammed into tiny rooms to live and work. It was so miserable that people were jumping to their deaths. Know what the Chinese government did? They put up nets outside the building so that people couldn’t even kill themselves to get away. It’s that miserable and yet we are profiting from it in the form of cheaper goods. You’ll notice that the President isn’t imposing these tariffs on Europe or Canada or other nations that play by the rule of civilized behavior.

BW: I’m personally very much against tariffs, but I have to admit that I never thought about it that way.

KW: Most people don’t.

BW: I ask this of all California candidates since your state pretty much has been the leader on this issue: What about legalization of Marijuana?

The half-life of marijuana is 3-4 days. If you smoke 2 or 3 times a week then the half life becomes about 2-3 weeks. Alcohol is metabolized much faster. I think it should be available but through a pharmacy, and not in smoking form. Physicians were encouraged to give more opioids for pain management and they found it to be profitable. This has led toward a lax attitude toward drugs. Marijuana should be available to those who need it, but we can’t be so careless with how it’s used.

BW: What do you want the people of the California 33rd to know about you?

KW: Both Republicans and Democrats need to realize that we are Americans first. Vote for someone who has the moral fiber to do what is right. Don’t vote for someone just because they might be at your end of the ideological spectrum.

You can learn more about Dr. Ken Wright by clicking here.


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Free but Fair Trade – Is it Possible?



Free but fair trade is an expression which we often hear today from President Trump; just as we hear that millionaires and billionaires must pay their fair share from Senator Sanders. When asked what percentage is fair; since these millionaire and billionaires are in the highest tax bracket and pay the most in taxes, we never seem to get an answer. All we hear is from the progressive left that they have too much and need to pay more.

Similarly, the expression free but fair trade sounds great, but the meaning of “fair” is utterly void of any substantive meaning. The idea of a 25% tariff may be fair, but it is by no means free. So the question is, how can we obtain free but fair trade?

The Reality

Before we can answer this question, we must first examine the deficiencies in our current trade policies. The first thing we must realize is that we do not currently have free trade. Think about it like this. If we did have free trade why would we need complex trade agreements? The fact is we have thousands of tariffs in the United States. Just like every other country, we seek to protect some industries over others.

Some are for supposed national security reasons, and others are simply to protect an industry in a member of Congress’ district.

The second and most significant reason we do not have free trade is that true free trade is optimal but not politically expedient. For instance, let us use China and the United States as examples and let us say we currently do not trade with each other.

Establishing trade with one another is beneficial for both countries regardless of tariffs. Since trade never existed, an unfavorable trade agreement is preferable over no trade at all. Reasons being both countries will benefit from trade. Industries may open, and some may close, but there will be a net positive for both countries. It is a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Now instead of unfavorable trade agreements, what if we had free trade. All products coming from China into the United States and vice versa are tax-free. In this situation, you will see the greatest mutually benefit as both countries will have positive net growth. If this situation exists for years, you will see a fluid economy as some industries will be created, grow, decline, or shut down.

The problem that arises is not the creating and growth of some industries but the decline or elimination portion.

If a software engineering firm which sells most of its software to China opens up in a congressional district, you will be sure to see that member of Congress at the ribbon cutting ceremony will a plethora of other politicians stating their policies fostered the creating of this software engineering firm.

On the other hand, you won’t see these same politicians at the factory down the street which is packing up and moving to China. The same policies that opened up the software engineering firm eliminated your manufacturing job. What is an elected official to do?

What they will try and do is give tax incentives and add tariffs to prevent the closure. If they succeed, they will once again take credit; even though the biggest net benefit to the economy as a whole is to allow the factory to shut down, though it isn’t politically expedient.

Back in China, they will also try and protect their software engineering firms by adding tariffs and regulations on the US-based company. The result of all this will be less than optimal, but a long-term net benefit is not politically expedient. So protectionism will inevitably begin.

Possible Solution?

Therefore, how do we create complete free and fair trade? The honest answer is you can’t; as we have demonstrated allowing complete laissez-faire trade policy will never occur because it isn’t politically expedient. Some may be for good reasons and some for bad reasons.

To achieve the most optimal outcome would be to eliminate tariffs. But how do you do that without cheating and allowing politically expedient policies?

Maybe this example trade policy below might help in this endeavor.

All products, goods, materials, and services, entering the United States and its territories shall be free of tariffs. Any fees, including but not limited to docking, storage, and inspection imposed at points of entry shall be uniform at each location regardless of country of origin. Likewise, all products, goods, materials, and services produced in the United States and its territories shall be free of tariffs. Any country that imposes a tax on any of said products shall immediately, have the highest equivalent tax impose on all their goods and services at the same rate plus 10%; until eliminated.

Likewise, any fees should not favor any other country over the United States and its territories. Fees must be uniform or to the benefit of the United States. If fees are to the disadvantage of the United States, those same rates shall be immediately imposed on said country plus 10% until eliminated.

How it works

I postulate this trade policy would allow greater free trade then we have ever seen.

For instance, if China has a combined 20% tariff on mid-sized trucks and 25% on sedans, then since 25% is the highest tax imposed on US products then 100% of all items coming into the United States from China will have a tariff of 27.5% immediately imposed on it. This scheme would also apply to any value added tax or border adjustment tax which would disadvantage the United States over other foreign or domestic products. Therefore, I believe the consequence would be so devastating to China they wouldn’t dare put a tax on American products, and likewise, the United States would not want to engage in a trade war just to protect one industry or factory.

Let us say that we just succeeded in creating Free Trade the vague notion of Fair Trade can never be quantified or defined.

For instance, if China is subsidizing its steel industry and shipping Chinese steel into the United States cheaper than the free market can produce it, is that still Fair Trade?

Is it Fair?

It’s still Free Trade because no taxes or tariffs are imposed but is it fair?

Some would argue that it is not fair for China to subsidize their steel industry because that puts the US steel industry at a disadvantage. The US could impose a tariff but as stated that would eliminate free trade. The only other option would be for the United States to subsidize the US steel industry or let it possibly collapse. Sidenote, we only receive 2% of our steel from China, and U.S. Steel production makes up 70% of the steel used in the United States.

Some might see this as unfair; others see this as a plus benefit to the United States.

American economist and Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences recipient Milton Friedman viewed this as reverse foreign aid. If China wants to tax their citizens to provide US citizens and companies with subsidized steel why not let them. In a Milton Friedman perspective, this might seem unfair to Chinese taxpayers and more than fair to US taxpayers.

Some may argue that US steel production is vital to US national security. Having enough steel is crucial to our national security, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t stockpile Chinese steel. Also, it neglects the fact that other countries like South Korea protect their steel industry by subsidizing steel in their country to prevent monopolization by Chinese firms. The US can also buy from South Korea or even Canada.

Countries may also put strict regulations on how steel is produced in their countries as well as impose those rules on foreign producers. These policies may not have a defined numerical value as a tariff but in a sense act as a protectionist trade barrier. Since there is no quantitative value to these types of regulations, having US laws automatically trigger countermeasures would be impossible.

So can we truly have Free but Fair Trade? As we have seen having Free Trade is possible, but Fair Trade is really in the eye of the beholder. Ultimately, the best interest of the United States and its continued success is by having a free trade policy, maybe something like I have spelled out in this article, as well as, limiting regulations and limiting government interference in the economy.

Nothing can be put in place to be completely fair and balanced, but the most reasonable thing to do for the overall benefit of America and Americans is to maximize laissez-faire economic policies void of politically expedient measures.

Konstantinos Roditis is a candidate for California State Controller. You can learn more about his campaign at, and you can follow him on Twitter & Facebook.

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