Get Prepared Newsletter Recap

 

Part 1 –Safe Investing


Part 2 – Victory Garden


Part 3 – Food Storage


Part 4 – Glenn’s Last Meal




Get Prepared: Safe Investing




It's All About Diversification


by Chuck Butler

It has changed a lot over the last 50 years. Think of a typical American household in the 1960's: we bought an American car propelled by Oklahoma crude; toys for our children and clothing for everyone was mostly made right here in the USA; food was quick to market (and not fast food) from local producers; and we all felt paying off the mortgage quickly was the thing to do. And all these costs were denominated in US dollars.

Today every American household is a multinational importer. We buy autos from Europe and Japan, oil from the Middle East, consumer goods from a host of Asian countries, natural resource prices are dictated by mines in Australia and Africa, and we've financed our mortgage at lower rates with cash provided by China, Japan and Russia. And when the value of the US dollar declines costs for the family go higher.

But for the most part our investment portfolios are the same as they have always been. When you ask an associate if they have a diversified portfolio they'll likely reply that yes, they have a number of the stocks in the S&P or maybe an index fund. But what about the rest of the world?

The Basics

When people think about their investment portfolio usually it's about stocks, bond and maybe real estate. But what many experts believe is that other asset classes like foreign currencies can reduce overall portfolio risk, hedge some of the price risk inherent in a falling US dollar for our typical multinational family, and at times provide a great return all by itself.

And of course when you consider investing in foreign currency: You wouldn't buy just one stock for your portfolio would you? Then why have just one currency (dollars) in your portfolio?

The Declining US Dollar

Since February 2002, the dollar has been declining. The last four completed US dollar directional trends since departing the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1971 have ranged in length from 7 to 20 years and are propelled by a collection of fundamental reasons and events. Until these fundamental reasons change, the trend continues.

Trends are not a one way street - in 2005 for example the US dollar gained strength as the Federal Reserve raised rates. But as the US dollar enters its 7th year of decline one must wonder if the trend is nearing an end. The thing to keep in mind here is that at no time during each of the previous weak dollar trends did we, as a country, have a situation with a mortgage meltdown, credit and liquidity crunch, consumer debt greater than GDP, a Current Account Deficit greater than 5%, and a war to fight.

In this decline there appear to be a number of fundamental issues contributing to the decline but the big two have been the large US Current Account deficit, the Federal Budget deficit.

Current Account Deficit

In February 2002, the U.S. Current Account Deficit reached 4.5% of GDP. Historically, this level of indebtedness to GDP meant that the country posting such deficits would experience a currency crisis or at least a large depreciation. And so we have.

Since then the Current Account Deficit climbed to 6% of GDP in April of 2007, and has recently been running just below 6%. So instead of correcting the fundamental reason the weak trend of the dollar, has instead gotten worse.

Deficits Do Matter

People who should know better, continue to say that "Deficits Don't Matter". Unfortunately, that's not true. The rising Deficit is a contributor to the current dollar decline, and the fact that the Deficit continues to rise, keeps the dollar in its weak trend.

When a country incurs a Deficit, it needs to be financed. As a nation of non-savers this means that for us the financing will need to come from overseas.

Since financing is needed from abroad we face two choices:

1. Interest rates will have to move significantly higher to attract investment; or


2. The country can allow a debasement of their currency, which acts as a clearing mechanism for investments. As foreigners buy U.S. assets, their base currency is converted to dollars to purchase the asset. If the dollar is weak, it gives the buyer the ability to purchase the asset at a discount.

Given the options, politicians have recently chosen debasement of their currency. It's the easy way out since there are no spending cuts to make or taxes to raise. Unfortunately, no country has ever debased their currency to prosperity!

Reducing Purchasing Power

As the US dollar declines the price of consumer goods for our typical multinational family will go up.

A good example is the price of oil. Since 2002 oil prices for a European family have risen by 92% - and that's a lot. But unfortunately due to the decline in the US dollar prices for those of us in the USA have gone up a whopping 319%! That's a whopper.

Protecting Yourself from Further Depreciation

As stated earlier, currencies can help provide a hedge against dollar depreciation. But how does one go about choosing a currency or which currencies to purchase?

Interest rates can play a big part in a country's currency performance, as investors look for positive interest rate differentials around the world. However, interest rates are not the "end-all" to currency valuations, as countries with a need to attract foreign investment may raise interest rates above the norm to achieve their goal of attracting foreign investment.

I like to tell people to look at a currency as the "stock of a country" .

When you analyze a stock you are trained to look at the company's balance sheet, their yield, their ability to attract investment, their leadership, and other things.

Take that same training to analyze the currency you want to purchase. Does the country have a positive balance of payments? (Surplus), Does the country provide a yield? Does the country need to attract foreign investment? Does the country's Central Bank provide price stability (keep inflation low)?

For the longest time, I've pinned my colors to the mast of the countries that have a positive balance of payments (Surplus), as this does not require them to do things to attract foreign investment, and have a deficit dragging down their economy.

Those countries would include: Norway, Sweden, Eurozone, Switzerland, Singapore, Japan, and China.

Another thing to look for is the country's ability to produce raw materials that other countries demand. Australia and Canada would be two countries that meet that criteria.

How To Use These Currencies

Now that you understand how foreign currencies can be an important part of your investment portfolio, here are ways you can buy them:

Foreign currency CD's that give you interest based on a country's interest rate structure, and the currency gain or loss depending on the currency's performance vs the dollar.

There are also savings accounts that do not offer interest, but give the holder of the currency liquidity, thus enabling them to buy the currency one day and sell it the next should they want to do that.

The Benefit that these products hold over ETF's is the fact that the holder actually owns the currency, of which they can take delivery of at some point in the future.

Chuck Butler is the President of Everbank.


Get Prepared: Victory Garden




Planting a Victory Garden


by: Michael Glassman

Back in World War II the United States Government urged people to plant food in order to help ease the burden on the nation's food supply during a very difficult time in the history of our nation. The resulting gardens were nicknamed "Victory Gardens".

Today's economy is not exactly the same as it was back then, but we are facing challenges of our own. Our food supply is not necessarily in danger of going away, but in case you haven't noticed prices on the most basic of things are going through the roof---and that starts to add up. I realize not everyone has a giant corner of their yard to dig up and turn into a farm, but there are things you can grow in just about any landscape that will not only yield food, but blend in with the surroundings.

Vines that Fruit: Do you have a blank wall that needs something growing on it? Try building a lattice trellis on the wall and planting grapes to grow on the trellis. "Red Flame Seedless" or "Thompson Seedless" grapes are great vines to plant on a trellis or on an iron gazebo, the beautiful fruit bunches hanging down make a great addition to your landscape. Do you have an empty iron arch? A great vine is Kiwis. You need to plant a male and a female vine in order for them to cross pollinate and produce fruit. Plant one of each on either side of the arch. Sweet Peas or Snap beans also make a great vine for a trellis or an arch. If you have a blank spot in your garden that only gets morning sun, try planting Blueberries.

Pot Veggies: A bare patio could use a large pot planted with vegetables and herbs. In the center of a large pot place a wire topiary frame and plant a tomato. Tomatoes are the fastest and easiest to grow they take about 2 to 3 months before producing fruit. Place them in full sun and water daily. Around the tomato, plant basil, oregano, thyme and garlic-this pot has the making of a good pasta sauce. Or plant a pot with Butter lettuce, Romaine lettuce, radishes, a cherry tomato plant and you have a salad in a pot. Herbs make good ground covers: such as creeping thyme, lemon thyme, chamomile, strawberries, all make great ground covers and all grow in full sun.

Privacy Food: If you are looking to create some privacy between you and your neighbors, don't just get any old plant. Plant "Laurus Nobilus", common name Bay Laurels, for a good privacy screen. This is better known as Bay leaves, the same spice that we dry and use in our spaghetti sauce. They are an evergreen bush or tree growing up to 35 feet in height. They give you plenty of privacy. Or plant "Feijoa Sellowiana" common name Pineapple Guava. They make a great evergreen screen growing up to 20 feet in height and have delicious fruit that can be eaten and will also make great mixed drinks.

Made in the shade: Fruit trees make a great shade tree or patio tree. Try planting a self pollinating Cherry Tree. Cherries are so expensive in the supermarket and yet one "Bing Cherry" can produce over 10 to 15 lbs of fruit. My family just harvested our Cherry tree. The fruit was delicious and we picked over 10 lbs of fruit. Other fruit tree options would be planting a Santa Rosa plum or Apricot. These trees produce beautiful white and pink flowers that turn into delicious fruit. If you have a very small yard plant a dwarf or semi-dwarf variety. Full size fruit trees can grow up to 20 feet in height, yet a semi dwarf fruit tree grows about 12 feet and a genetic dwarf fruit tree grows only to about 4 to 5 feet. Genetic fruit trees are great to grow in a pot or large tub. Peaches, nectarines and apples are also great trees to plant in your garden. If you have very limited space and only have room for one fruit tree but you like so many of the summer fruits, you can buy a fruit tree that is called a "fruit cocktail tree". These are fruit trees that have been grafted with several different kinds of fruit on one tree, such as a cherry, plum and peach.

In warmer climates citrus trees and bushes are wonderful. A full size citrus tree can grow 20 feet, it is an evergreen tree with fragrant flowers and wonderful fruit. If you like navel oranges plant "Washington Navels" or "Robertson navels". If juice is desired plant a "Valencia Orange". If you are interested in making Lemonade, plant a" Eureka" or a "Lisbon" Lemon, if you want a decorative Lemon with an orange skin plant a Improved Mayer Lemon. Genetic dwarf citrus grow to a height of 4 to 6 feet are great to grow in a large pot. If you do get a cold spell you can cover them with a plastic tarp making a tent (try not to touch the leaves) or bring the pot inside or on a sheltered patio. Plant strawberries to drape over the container around the dwarf citrus.

Melons are very expensive to buy at the store. Take an area that gets full sun and build 12" high by 24" wide mounds of dirt. Place two melon plants "Ambrosia" cantaloupes or "Sugar Baby" watermelons on the top of the mounds and water daily for two weeks. Melons should be planted after the last frost. After the first two weeks water every other day. It takes 65 to 85 days for your melons to ripen and be ready to eat. When preparing the soil mix in coffee grounds or compost to add organic material to your soil. Aged horse manure is one of the best composts since it is not as high in Urinemic acid as cow manure is.

These are just a few starter ideas help you create an edible garden. Will it solve all of your problems with high food prices? No. But you'll be surprised at how much you'll gain from the work you put into growing your own food. You'll gain a little in the pocketbook; you'll make a few less trips to the grocery store. But most importantly you'll experience the satisfaction of growing your own fruits, herbs and vegetables---and you'll possess the knowledge that you are prepared to provide for your family (at least basic nourishment) no matter what is going on in the world---which is a bit of a 'victory' in its own right.

Michael Glassman is co-host of the Discovery Channel's "Garden Police". He has over 20 years experience, and a degree in Landscape Design and Horticulture from the University of California at Davis. He currently lives in Northern California with his wife and daughter and his work can be viewed on his website.


Get Prepared: Food Storage




Family Emergency Survival - Air, Water, and Food


by: Arthur B. Robinson, PhD

During emergencies - natural and man-made - one's family and friends may find themselves without ordinary essentials that make life possible. A human can survive only a few minutes without air, a few days without water, and a few weeks without food. Each of us has a fundamental moral responsibility to make certain that those people for whom we are responsible can get to the other side of an emergency alive, regardless of inconvenience or unhappiness that may occur during the event.

A safe air supply can be lost due to chemical, biological, or nuclear fallout contamination, or, of course, through simpler means such as flood waters over one's head. These threats are best met by public civil defense preparations - preparations that U.S federal and state politicians and bureaucrats have been unwilling to make. So, concerned private citizens must either buy costly air protection systems or arrange to live in locations that are less threatened. These preparations are beyond the scope of this article. Definitive and comprehensive civil defense information is available here.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, performs exactly the function that its name indicates. FEMA "manages" emergencies. It does not prepare for emergencies. The last remaining civil defense functions - physical preparations for emergencies - of FEMA were defunded by the Clinton Administration. People deprived of safe air die within minutes. All that remains to be "managed" is their burial.

A safe supply of emergency water is relatively easy to provide. One method is to simply close the inlet and outlet valves of the home water heater in case of impending emergency. This will preserve many gallons of life-saving drinking water. Storage of additional water is also prudent. This can be done in one gallon milk containers, 50 gallon plastic drums, or most other containers of convenience. It is best to use multiple containers rather one container, the possible loss of which endangers the entire supply. As time passes, regardless of the water treatment method, stored water usually accumulates contaminants that one would ordinarily prefer to avoid, but which are acceptable during an emergency. Excellent purification systems are available from many sources, although emergency preparation funds are probably better spent in other ways.

Stored water must, however, be protected from poisonous biological contamination that can accumulate with time. The simplest way to provide this protection is by addition of chlorine compounds available as ordinary bleach. This must be done safely and correctly. These procedures are given in the book, Nuclear War Survival Skills, available on-line without cost here. This book also provides instructions for expedient water purification procedures.

A safe and sufficient supply of food is also easy to arrange, but provision of emergency food is often misunderstood.

First, most adults and children - with the exception of infants - can survive for several weeks without food. Survival food storage is required primarily for emergencies lasting for weeks, months, or even years.

Second, stored food should provide essential nutrition - not gourmet satisfaction. Storage of freeze-dried ordinary food, for example, caters to the illusion that a food-requiring emergency will be such a benign event that the participants will be very concerned about the tastiness of their food. Nothing could be further from the truth. Emergency food preparedness involves staying alive and in functional good health - not catering to one's pallet. Every food storage dollar should purchase the greatest quantity of nutritious food possible - not unneeded luxuries.

Third, a family food storage program should include as great an amount of nutritious, long-lasting food as the family can afford - not an amount estimated for the family's personal needs. The family friends and neighbors who have not stored food will need to be fed, too. Very, very few Americans would, in an emergency, eat stored food while allowing their neighbors and friends to die from starvation. Consequently, a family must realize that their food will likely last only so long as they can feed themselves and their friends and neighbors.

Fourth, stored food should last for 50 years or more in good condition.

During the 1980s at the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, we developed food storage recommendations that consider these requirements. These recommendations were subsequently adopted and publicized by FEMA. Our food storage suggestions are as follows:

1. Store whole grain - not ground or otherwise processed - corn, wheat, and soybeans in a ratio by weight of 2:2:1. In other words, if one is storing 40 pound plastic, nitrogen-packed pails of grain, store 2 pails each of wheat and corn for each single pail of soybeans. Combined in these proportions, ground to flour, cooked (as in corn bread), and eaten, 2 to 3 pounds per day of this mixture will provide the nutrition required for a marine in combat - except for vitamin C and salt. An ordinary person surviving during an emergency would require perhaps half as much. Note: soybeans must be cooked before eating to avoid danger to health.

Nitrogen packing helps to assure that insects cannot infest the food. Containers should be long-lived and rodent resistant. There are several good commercial sources of food already appropriately packaged for storage - for example, Walton Feed in Idaho.

2. Store 1 kilogram of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) for each person-year of food. This is 3 grams per day. People under stress require extra vitamin C for optimum health. For prevention of death from scurvy, however, about 1% of this amount will suffice, so storage of vitamin C in these amounts might save the lives of an entire community.

Store crystalline vitamin C - not pills. During storage, the pills may deteriorate. In a cool, dry bottle, crystalline vitamin C will last indefinitely. Vitamin C can also be obtained by simply sprouting some of the food grain before eating. In a serious emergency, however, sprouting may prove difficult. Store also, in a cool place, a supply of ordinary multivitamin pills.

3. Store lots of salt. This could be crucial to saving many lives. An inexpensive and convenient form is in bags or salt blocks obtained from a local farm feed store.

4. For infants, store dried milk available from food storage suppliers in #10 cans. Infants can live on the grain ration, but they may refuse to eat less familiar food and will do better with milk.

5. Store several 4 gallon plastic buckets each containing 25 pounds of ordinary table sugar - sucrose; 1 pound baking soda; 5 x 11 ounce containers of Lite salt - KCl &NaCl; and a teaspoon for measuring. Dehydration from burns and diseases such as cholera can be treated with proper oral administration of these items. Instructions can be found in the March 1988, Volume 1, # 12, Fighting Chance newsletter. These buckets could save many lives during a serious prolonged emergency, where ordinary medical care is not available.

In ordinary times, soy bean, corn, and wheat flour can serve as a base for delicious and nutritious corn bread - when cooked with lots of baking soda, vegetable oil, and fruit for flavor.

Prior to the current U.S. government program to burn America's food for fuel, the rations above could be purchased and stored for about $100 per person per year of food. Prices now are between $200 and $300 per person year. If Americans continue to allow repressive government regulation and taxation of their nuclear and hydrocarbon energy industries and tax-subsidized use of food for fuel, these prices will rise much higher.

It is best to store food now, while it is still available at a reasonable price.

Art Robinson is a scientist and currently a professor at the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has commended and utilized Robinson work on emergency preparedness.


Get Prepared: Glenn's last meal




The Amazing Recipes for Glenn's last meal


by: Michale Lomonaco

Here, as promised, are the delicious recipes for Glenn's last meal, provided by Michael Lomonaco. These recipes are so good, however, that it's highly recommended they be utilized many, many times in between now and your last meal.

Maryland-Style Crab Cakes

Mustard-Glazed Beef Short Ribs

The Best French Fries

Double Crust Apple Pie

Michael Lomonaco is Executive Chef and Partner at Porter House restaurant located at 10 Columbus Circle, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10019. (212-823-9500).

As we move along this endless primary season, we implement our first major adjustments to our power rankings model. Because of all the changes on the model itself, we'll keep the write ups short this week so that we can get an update posted before we hit the second round of debates.

There are now 40 separate measures of candidate performance which are summarized by the 0-100 score that helps us makes sense out of this chaos.We also have a new style of graphs, where the section highlighted in blue will show the progress (or lack thereof) made by each candidate over the life of their campaign.

In this update, we have our first campaign obituary, a couple of brand new candidates (when will it ever stop) and plenty of movement up top.

Let's get to it.

In case you're new here, read our explainer about how all of this works:

The 2020 Democratic primary power rankings are an attempt to make sense out of the chaos of the largest field of candidates in global history. Each candidate gets a unique score in at least thirty categories, measuring data like polling, prediction markets, fundraising, fundamentals, media coverage, and more. The result is a candidate score between 0-100. These numbers will change from week to week as the race changes. The power rankings are less a prediction on who will win the nomination, and more a snapshot of the state of the race at any given time. However, early on, the model gives more weight to fundamentals and potentials, and later will begin to prioritize polling and realities on the ground. If you're like me, when you read power rankings about sports, you've already skipped ahead to the list. So, here we go.

See previous editions here.

Campaign Obituary #1

The Eric Swalwell Campaign

California State Congressman

April 8, 2019 - July 8, 2019

Lifetime high: 20.2

Lifetime low: 19.5

I ended my initial profile on Eric Swalwell with this:

"There's a certain brand of presidential candidate that isn't really running for president. That's Eric Swalwell."

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It's now more true than ever that Swalwell isn't running for president, because he has officially dropped out of the race.

To any sane observer, Swalwell never had a chance to win the nomination. This was always about raising his profile with little downside to deter him from taking money and building a list of future donors.

In one of many depressing moments in his FiveThirtyEight exit interview, he noted that one of his supporters told him he definitely thought he'd eventually be president, but it wasn't going to happen this time. (This supporter was not identified, but we can logically assume they also have the last name Swalwell.)

Swalwell did outline a series of reasons he thought his ridiculous campaign might have a chance.

  1. He was born in Iowa. After all, people from Iowa will surely vote for someone born in Iowa, even if they escaped as soon as possible.
  2. He had what he believed was a signature issue: pretending there was no such amendment as the second amendment.)
  3. He's not old.

It was on point number three where Swalwell made his last stand. In an uncomfortably obvious attempt to capture a viral moment that would launch his fundraising and polling status, Swalwell went after Joe Biden directly.

"I was 6 years old when a presidential candidate came to the California Democratic Convention and said it's time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans. That candidate was then-Senator Joe Biden." This pre-meditated and under-medicated attack, along with Swalwell's entire campaign future, was disassembled by a facial gesture.

Biden's response wasn't an intimidation, anger, or a laugh. It was a giant smile that somehow successfully communicated a grandfathery dismissal of "isn't that just adorable."

Of course, headlines like this didn't help either:

Eric Swalwell is going to keep comparing the Democratic field to 'The Avengers' until someone claps

The campaign of Eric Swalwell was pronounced dead at the age of 91 days.

Other headlines:

Eric Swalwell ends White House bid, citing low polling, fundraising

Republicans troll Swalwell for ending presidential campaign

Eric Swalwell Latest 'Cringe' Video Brags About Omar Holding his 'White' Baby

Eric Swalwell's message to actor Danny Glover is 'the cringiest thing I've ever seen in a hearing'

Eric Swalwell's 'I Will Be Bold Without The Bull' Bombs

25. Joe Sestak 11.0 (Debut) Former Pennsylvania State Congressman

Joe Sestak is a former three-star admiral who served in Congress for a couple of years in the late 2000s. Besides his military service, his most notable achievement is figuring out a way to get Pat Toomey elected in a purple state.

With Arlen Specter finally formalizing his flip from Republican to Democrat in 2009, he was expected to cruise to reelection. However, Sestak went after him in the primary, and was able to knock him off in the by eight points. Sestak then advanced to face Republican Pat Toomey in the general election. He lost by two points during the Tea Party wave election of 2010.

Needless to say, losing to the former president of the fiscally conservative Club For Growth isn't exactly an accomplishment that is going to help Sestak in the Democratic presidential primary.

Unfortunately, with the current state of the party— his distinguished service in the Navy probably isn't helpful either.

Other headlines:

Joe Sestak on the issues, in under 500 words

Joe Sestak, latest 2020 candidate, says it's not too late for him to gain traction

Sestak aims to 'heal the soul of America' with presidential bid

Joe Sestak Would Move the US Embassy 'Back Out of Jerusalem'

24. Mike Gravel: 12.5 (Previous: 24th / 15.3) Former US Senator from Alaska

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Gravel was able to get celebrities and other candidates to send out pleas to raise funds in effort to get above 65,000 donations and qualify for the second debate.

We may never know if it was grift or incompetence, but Gravel probably should have known that crossing this line made no difference. He'll still be yelling at the TV when the debate starts.

Other headlines:

Gravel meets donor threshold to qualify for Democratic primary debate

Gravel spends a bit of cash to run an ad against Joe Biden in Iowa

Mike Gravel: Why the American People Need Their Own Legislature

Mike Gravel Is the Anti–Joe Biden

23. Wayne Messam: 12.7 (Previous: 23rd / 15.8) Mayor of Miramar, FL

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Messam has made no impact in this race so far, and has fundraising numbers that don't even get into the six digits, let alone seven. He's not really running a campaign at this point, so there's no real downside in staying in for now.

Other headlines:

Wayne Messam: Money Kept Me Out of the First Democratic Debate. Will It Keep Me Out of the Second?

22. Seth Moulton 17.2 (Previous 20th / 21.5) US Rep. from Massachusetts 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Seth Moulton is the invisible man on the campaign trail. Most people don't even know who he is when they're talking to him. His appeal to the Democratic party is heavily flavored with his military service and appeal to patriotism.

Good luck with that Seth.

Other headlines:

Moulton: Buttigieg Was a Nerd at Harvard

Moulton: Democrats shouldn't go on 'moral crusade' against Trump

Moulton talks reclaiming patriotism from Trump, Republicans

Moulton: 'Trump is going to be harder to beat than many Democrats like to believe'

Presidential candidates hear challengers' footsteps at home

21. Tim Ryan 18.4 (Previous: 18th / 24.3) US Rep. from Ohio

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Tim Ryan's first debate performance was so bad he lost about a quarter of his score with this update. He's not without a plan to get that support back though. He wants to bring hot yoga to the people.

Other headlines:

Tim Ryan on CNN: Trump 'clearly has it out for immigrants'

Ryan Falls Way Behind in Q2 Fundraising Race, New Poll

20. Marianne Williamson 20.7 (Previous: 21st / 20.6) Author, Lecturer, Activist

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Williamson is not going to be the nominee for the Democrats, but if you throw a debate watch party, she might supply the most entertainment. So much so, Republicans have started to donate to her campaign to keep her in future debates.

Other headlines:

"I call her a modern-day prophet": Marianne Williamson's followers want you to give her a chance

Williamson Uses Anime to Explain 2020 Candidate's Holistic Politics

What Marianne Williamson and Donald Trump have in common

Marianne Williamson's Iowa director joins John Delaney's 2020 campaign

19. John Hickenlooper 22.5  (Previous: 11th / 32.0) Former Gov. of Colorado 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Hickenlooper has been shedding campaign advisors at a relatively furious pace as he admits "there's just a bunch of skills that don't come naturally to me" when it comes to campaigning.

Probably best to pick another line of work.

Other headlines:

Hickenlooper defends campaign fundraising to The Onion: 'The race is wide open'

WP: 'You are who?' The lonely presidential campaign of John Hickenlooper

Gary Hart Warns John Hickenlooper Against Campaigning On Bipartisanship Message

Hickenlooper refuses to condemn protesters who hoisted Mexican flag at ICE facility


18. Michael Bennet 27.4 (Previous: 14th / 28.8) US Senator from Colorado

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Michael Bennet is a bit of a boring no name, but give him credit for actually trying to differentiate himself from the field. He's one of the only candidates willing to criticize his socialist opponents from the center, calling out the open borders crowd and student debt. Obviously this has no chance of success in the democratic party, but at least he's trying.

Other headlines:

George Will touts Bennet to beat Trump in 2020

Bennet: America doesn't know what the Democratic Party stands for

17. Steve Bullock 28.3 (Previous: 16th / 27.7) Gov. of  Montana 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Bullock's biggest moment of his campaign, and quite possibly his only important moment , will come in this round of debates. He missed the first round, but squeaks in for round two after Eric Swalwell decided to take his zero percent and go home.

Bullock has a theoretical argument that doesn't look half bad on paper, but it seems impossible for another "moderate*" to make noise with Biden still hanging around.

(*-None of these moderates are actually moderate.)

Other headlines:

For Democratic presidential hopeful Steve Bullock, it's all about the 'dark money'

Steve Bullock hates 'dark money.' But a lobbyist for 'dark money' donors is helping his campaign.

Steve Bullock looking to introduce himself as someone who won in Trump country

Bullock said he's not one to eliminate all student-loan debt

Steve Bullock raises $2 million for 2020 bid in second quarter, campaign says

Lowering of state flag at capitol draws criticism

15. John Delaney 29.5 (Previous 19th / 20.3) Former US Rep. from Maryland 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

The power ranking model likes Delaney more than voters seem to like him. He continues to pour his own money into the race and at some point you have to believe someone in his life stops him from setting his cash on fire.

He did steal a key advisor from Marianne Williamson's campaign, which doesn't seem like a path to success.

Other headlines:

Delaney: "Non-Citizens Are Not Covered By My 'Better Care' Plan, But…"

Delaney says he opposes decriminalizing border crossings

Undaunted by low polling, John Delaney keeps his show on the road

Delaney presidential campaign theme: fix what's broken, keep what works

14. Andrew Yang 30.0 (Previous: 15th / 28.3) Attorney and Entrepreneur 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Before the campaign started, if you would have said Yang would be in the middle of the pack at this point, he probably would be happy with that result. His embrace of quirky issues like banning robocalls, giving everyone free cash, and spending $6 billion to fix the nations malls is enough to keep him in the news.

His fundraising was decent, and he remains an interesting and thoughtful candidate. But, Yang has a better chance of dropping out and running on a third party ticket than winning in this Democratic Party.

You do have to wonder how long it will be before the word "Math" moves from his campaign slogan to the reason he needs to drop out.

Other headlines:

Andrew Yang Is Targeting The 'Politically Disengaged' To 'Win The Whole Election'

You can't turn truck drivers into coders, Andrew Yang says of job retraining

Yang's plan to give $1000 a month to everyone is popular with young, poor Democrats

13. Jay Inslee 31.4 (Previous: 12th / 30.4) Gov. of Washington state

CANDIDATE PROFILEf

Expect Inslee to capture the king-czar-chancellor role of the new climate police or whatever draconian nightmare the actual Democratic nominee creates if they win.

In the meantime, he should try to avoid cringe inducing nonsense like this.

Other headlines:

Presidential hopeful Jay Inslee says Trump's immigration policies will 'end his presidency'

Crowd roars for Elizabeth Warren, Jay Inslee follows to tepid applause

Inslee on listening to Carole King, wanting an anchor tattoo

Inslee Says He Tried to Arrest Fleeing Republicans


12. Tulsi Gabbard 33.4 (Previous: 13th / 28.8) US Rep. for Hawaii 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Tulsi Gabbard really wants to be Joe Biden's vice president. Or, at least, she wants to hold an important role in his cabinet, like Secretary of Defense.

Gabbard has been running interference for Biden, aggressively going after Kamala Harris for her very successful but substance free bussing attack, while hammering Harris as not qualified to be President. These have been among the harshest criticisms levied by any candidate in the race so far, and there is definitely a purpose to all of it. Her presence in the same debate as Biden and Harris should be something Harris prepares herself for. Expect incoming fire.

Along with Yang, Gabbard remains among the most interesting Democratic candidates to Republicans and Libertarians, which is not helpful to her chances of actually winning the Democratic party nod.

Other headlines:

Gabbard says Harris used "political ploy" to "smear" Biden on raced

Which U.S. Wars Were Justifiable? Tulsi Gabbard Names Only World War II

Tulsi Gabbard Says It's A 'Good Thing' Trump Met With Kim Jong Un

Gabbard Sympathizes With Amash, Says the Two-Party System Sucks

Tulsi Gabbard Files Bill To Study Hemp's Uses For Just About Everything

Gabbard: '14-year-old girl hacked into a replica of Florida's election system'

11. Tom Steyer 33.5 (Debut) Billionaire hedge fund manager

Tom Steyer is a Democratic billionaire that has spent millions plastering his face all over MSNBC for the past two years begging people to consider impeaching Donald Trump.

The campaign power ranking model loves Steyer's potential because of his unlimited money and theoretical ability to put together a serious campaign team.

All of this is theory at this point though, as the millions spent so far has lead to a giant pile of zilch. If he's serious enough, he should be able to buy his way into the low single digits, and squeak his way into a debate or two.

Steyer's billionaire status isn't an obvious fit as the party of inequality attempts to take down Donald Trump. But, he does have legitimate movement credibility, tons of cash to buy support, and a long developed immunity to embarrassment—so the sky is the limit.

Other headlines:

Tom Steyer on the issues, in under 500 words

Tom Steyer announces 2020 bid, reversing course

Why We're Not Treating Tom Steyer As A 'Major' Candidate (Yet)

Steyer banks on South Carolina in 1st presidential bid stop

10. Kirsten Gillibrand 37.1 (Previous: 9th / 36.7) US Senator from New York

CANDIDATE PROFILE

There is probably no candidate that enters the second round of debates more clearly in do-or-die mode than Gillibrand. With headlines like "The Ignoring of Kirsten Gillibrand" lighting up her feed, she needs something big to happen, and fast. Her performance in the first debate wasn't actually horrible, but still went unnoticed.

She has zero percent in lots of polls, and that includes all of the benefits she says she's received from white privilege. Imagine if she didn't have that going for her.

Other headlines:

Gillibrand: I'd Tell Concerned Coal Miner the Green New Deal Is 'Just Some Bipartisan Ideas'

Struggling in White House bid, Democrat Gillibrand seeks bump in Trump country

Gillibrand Annoyed by Question About Immigration 'Reversal'

9. Robert Francis O’Rourke 40.7 (Previous: 6th / 52.8) Former state Rep. from Texas

CANDIDATE PROFILE

The free fall continues for Betomania.

When campaigns show signs of death, reporters start to write long profiles that aim to tell the story of the demise, or launch the amazing comeback.

Politico's headline (What Beto O'Rourke's Dad Taught Him About Losing) probably wasn't all that helpful.

Beto did secure Willie Nelson's vote though, meaning he can now count on 2 votes, assuming his "Republican" mother votes for him.

Other headlines:

Welcome to America—It's a Hell Hole!

A desperate Beto O'Rourke goes for broke, claims America was founded on white supremacy

Beto O'Rourke finds 'personal connection' to slavery, argues for reparations to unite 'two Americas'

Beto boldly vows not to prosecute people for 'being a human being'Rebooto O'Rourke

Fact Checker: Has Beto O'Rourke visited the most Iowa counties? No.


Beto O'Rourke: Let's Forgive All Student Loan Debt For Teachers

8. Amy Klobuchar 42.9 (Previous: 8th / 41.9) US Senator from Minnesota 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Klobuchar has been a massive underachiever so far, but is still sticking around in that third tier of candidates. Along with Beto, Booker, and maybe Castro— they aren't exactly eliminated, but can't seem to catch fire. Or even get warm.

Klobuchar would serve herself well to focus on the fundamentals and avoiding desperate pleas for attention if she wants to remain in the Biden VP sweepstakes. Or she could totally shake things up by throwing binders at her opponents in the debate.

Other headlines:

Klobuchar: I Don't Support Open Borders Like Warren, Castro

Deportation raids are about distracting from issues: Amy Klobuchar

Klobuchar hoping 'nice' finishes first

Sports bookmakers put Klobuchar as "heavy underdog" in presidential race

7. Julian Castro 43.2 (Previous: 10th / 34.5) Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Castro is a good example of how overblown debates can be. His first debate performance was quite solid, but did more to sink Robert Francis O'Rourke than actually help his own candidacy.

One more good debate performance should be enough to get him into the next round of debates, as he has already passed the donor threshold. Polling, however, has been elusive. Perhaps there is a swath of America that is uncomfortable voting for a Castro for president, like say, all of south Florida?

Still, in a field of a zillion candidates that have shown no potential, he stands out as a long shot with a punchers chance to make some noise. This is reflected with a nice bump in his score for this update.

Other headlines:

Julián Castro Doubles Down On Decriminalizing Migration: Repeal Felony For Reentry, Too

Julian Castro: 'Instead of breaking up families, we should break up ICE'

Bill Maher rips Julián Castro for remark about abortion for trans women

Julián Castro declines to hold baby

Julián Castro can't speak Spanish

Julian Castro wants to solve homelessness by 2028

A consulting firm made specifically to prevent sexual harassment is providing Castro and other 2020 campaigns advice and training

5. Pete Buttigieg 65.8 (Previous: 2nd / 68.8) Mayor of South Bend, IN

CANDIDATE PROFILE

There probably isn't a campaign that has been more bizarre than Mayor Pete. He was a complete nobody to the public, though as we initially noted, he had support from a bunch of Obama era celebrinerds.

This helped him rise to a top tier candidate with all the money and momentum to make a run at the nomination. Since then we've seen a complete fizzle. He is using the cash to build the infrastructure to make himself a serious candidate, and he should last a while, but he probably must win Iowa to have a chance at the nomination.

Also, finding one African American who will vote for him would be nice.

Other headlines:

Pete Buttigieg goes on hiring spree after top fundraising quarter.

Buttigieg, Struggling With Black Voters, Releases Plan to Address Racial Inequities

South Bend police call out Buttigieg for sending pizza rather than apology after race comments

CNN's Axelrod Rips Buttigieg: Blacks Doing Worse Under His Leadership

Only Pete Buttigieg gets standing ovation from Corn Feed audience

New Republic Drops Out Of Climate Forum Over Backlash To Pete Buttigieg Op-Ed

Pete Buttigieg says it's "almost certain" we've had gay presidents

Pete Buttigieg Sets Hollywood Fundraisers With Ellen DeGeneres, Chelsea Handler and More

4. Elizabeth Warren 70.4 (Previous: 5th / 53.4) US Senator from Massachusetts 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Looking back at my initial analysis of this field, I'd say it's played out pretty closely to what I expected. Warren has surprised me though.

In an election where beating Trump is the most important characteristic for democratic voters, she seems to be grown in a lab to lose to him. She comes across as a stern elementary school principal who would make kids terrified to be called into her office, because she'd bore them to death by reading them the handbook.

Her DNA kit roll out was so catastrophic, I assumed democrats would see that her political instincts are awful. When put under the intense pressure Trump is sure to bring, she's going to collapse, and I figured democrats would recognize that.

Instead, she's in the top tier. This rise has been legitimately impressive for Warren.

It's also a dream come true for Donald Trump.

Other headlines:

The Activist Left Already Knows Who It Wants for President

Netroots Nation was the day Elizabeth Warren became president of the American left

Elizabeth Warren pledges to decriminalize border crossings

Warren plans to increase annual refugee admissions nearly 800 percent from FY2018

Warren, Biden Campaigns Appear to Find Loophole Around Paid Internships

Warren says she'll push to end Israel's 'occupation'

Warren staffer: 'I would totally be friends with Hamas'

Elizabeth Warren reintroduces legislation requiring corporations to disclose climate risk exposure

Elizabeth Warren Wants Reparations For Same-Sex Couples

Elizabeth Warren proposes executive orders to address race and gender pay gap

This is how Elizabeth Warren plans to close the pay gap for women of color

How much would a wealth tax really raise? Dueling economists reflect new split in Democratic Party

Elizabeth Warren Brings Ad Buying In-House

Elizabeth Warren says she raised $19 million in the second quarter of the year

3. Bernie Sanders 71.1 (Previous: 3rd / 67.2) US Senator from Vermont

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Sanders has fallen slowly but steadily in the polls the past couple of months, and while not every metric yet reflects it, the socialist wing seems more likely represented by Warren.

That being said, Bernie holds her off for third place. Warren and Bernie have reportedly struck a truce to not attack each other, an arrangement which benefits Warren far more than Sanders.

Bernie's machine and name recognition continues to keep him near the top of the heap, but one wonders how long that lasts as name recognition for other candidates get higher, and Iowa gets closer.

No matter if he wins or loses, he's moved the Overton window of the party in a dramatic way. And don't underestimate the appeal of his Medicare-for-all-humankind dream. Bernie may be too old and cranky to see socialized health care into the end zone, but he has advanced that ball much further than he had any right to.

Other headlines:

Bernie Sanders has 'deep sense of satisfaction' his positions are now 'centrist' among Dems

Bernie Sanders: I Will Cancel All $1.6 Trillion Of Your Student Loan Debt

Sanders hits back at Biden over criticism of 'Medicare for All'

Bernie Sanders: Nancy Pelosi shouldn't 'alienate' freshmen House Democrats

Why Sanders Wanted His Meeting With a Rabbi Kept Secret

Bernie Sanders Says Being the First Jewish President Would Be 'Another Barrier Broken Down'

Liberal billionaire calls Bernie Sanders a 'Communist' and 'a disaster zone'

Blackstone's Byron Wien: Markets are terrified of far-left Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren

Antiwar candidate Bernie Sanders faces backlash over the $1.2 trillion war machine he brought to Vermont

The time Bernie Sanders ranted about baseball in a low-budget film

Bernie Sanders shows off sword Ross Perot gave him

Bernie Sanders Raises $18 Million in 3 Months, Trailing Buttigieg

2. Kamala Harris 79.2 (Previous: 4th / 65.9) US Senator from California 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Harris has given back a good chunk of her post debate bounce, which is to be expected. While she rockets to number two in the power rankings, there are a few things to worry about.

The difference between Warren and Harris is notable. The candidates are nearly tied in most polls, but much of the strength of Harris is based on one spectacular moment. Warren alternatively seems to have a lower ceiling, but a stronger foundation.

The good news for Harris is she does incredibly well among voters that are actually paying attention, while her weakness lies with those who haven't really tuned in yet.

At some point, Harris has to clean up her mess of a policy package, which includes supporting a Bernie style Medicare for All without the Bernie style middle class tax hikes-- a combination that even the left admits makes no sense.

Quotes like this still feel way too accurate, "She's the easy-to-listen-to, poorly defined identity candidate." This needs to be sorted out eventually if she's actually going to win.

Other headlines:

It's Hard To Have A Conversation With Kamala Harris When She Doesn't Even Know What She's Talking About

Kamala Harris: Immigration Raids Are 'A Crime Against Humanity', there are 'babies in cages'

Harris doubles down on criticism of Biden's busing comments on The View

Mother Jones: Kamala Harris Wants to Bring Back Busing? Really?

Kamala Harris's Call for a Return to Busing Is Bold and Politically Risky

Race is 'America's Achilles' heel,' Harris tells African-American group

Kamala Harris claims her campaign is being targeted by Russian bots, also says she's not a plan factory

Harris proposes $100 billion plan to increase minority homeownership

What's Kamala Harris's record on Israel?

Kamala Harris Called Young People "Stupid" in 2015

Kamala Harris lags behind top-tier candidates in Q2 fundraising

Utah man arrested after alleged scheme to plan fake Kamala Harris fundraiser

1. Joe Biden 80.8 (Previous: 1st / 82.3) Former US Senator from Delaware and Former Vice President

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Biden's polling has mostly rebounded to his pre-debate status and he remains the favorite to be the nominee.

He can't survive too many more performances like his first debate however, and he needs to show voters that he can stand up to the heat President Trump is going to bring. In other words, don't get smoked again, fall over on your walker, or look like your dentures are going to fall out in the middle of a debate.

This is a real test for Biden's candidacy. He's had time to prepare, and he's had time to stretch the old muscles. No more excuses.

If Joe can get spry, he probably wins the nomination. But, that is far from a sure thing.

Other headlines:

NBC/WSJ poll: Biden tops 2020 Democratic field...

Joe Biden Decides He Doesn't Need to Stay Above the Fray After All

Biden campaigns as Obamacare's top defender

Biden says Democrats haven't been straightforward about 'Medicare for All'

Biden under fire for mass deportations under Obama

Biden refuses to apologize for high deportation numbers during Obama years

Joe Biden's campaign office opens in Philly with a protest, not a party

AOC: Segregationist controversy and debate performance raised question Biden could be too old for office

Are Biden's Apologies Killing His Electability Argument?

Liberal activists at Netroots Nation bet Joe Biden drops out of race

Joe and Jill Biden have made $15M since leaving White House

How Joe Biden, who called himself 'the poorest man in Congress,' became a multimillionaire

Penn Paid Joe Biden $775,000 to Expand Its "Global Outreach" … and Give Some Speeches

Biden: 'Occupation is a real problem'Joe Biden raised $21.5 million in second quarter, campaign announces

Joe Biden: I Promise To 'End The Forever Wars In Afghanistan And Middle East'

Joe Biden promises to 'cure cancer' if elected president

No, stealth Obamacare won’t fix the failed status-quo

Online Marketing/Unsplash

Another day, another proposed fix to a pressing national problem by a Democratic presidential hopeful. Former Vice President Joe Biden has positioned himself as the "moderate" leader of the Democratic Party, putting pressure on him to come up with a "sensible" alternative to Sen. Sanders' (I-Vt.) Medicare for All plan. But Biden's healthcare proposal, released July 15, doubles down on flawed, top-down solutions without offering any new ideas. Presidential hopefuls should instead pledge to unleash market innovation and lower healthcare prices for all.

Of course, a former vice president will inevitably find it difficult to make a clean policy break from the administration he has repeatedly hailed and defended. Biden's tenure as vice president made him into a second-tier political rockstar, and it makes sense that he's reluctant to separate himself from former President Obama's Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare"). It's also no surprise that "Bidencare" preserves Obamacare's disastrous expansion of Medicaid, the federal government's insurance program for low-income Americans. His plan even provides a public option for residents of states that have not expanded Medicaid. Perhaps more surprising, or just disappointing, is how thoroughly the Democratic orthodoxy has embraced government medical insurance even at gargantuan cost, despite little evidence that it'll work.

RELATED: Medicare for all: Obamacare was only the first step

Back when he was a heartbeat away from the presidency, Biden vigorously defended Obamacare, criticizing Republican governors for failing to expand Medicaid and predicting that all states would eventually see the light. That never quite happened (as of now, 17 states wisely refuse to expand health insurance targeted at low-income Americans). But the Obama administration tried to cajole red and purple states into expanding the Medicaid eligibility threshold "up to 138 percent of the poverty level." Nevertheless, states such as Texas, Florida, and North Carolina wisely considered the evidence that Medicaid was breaking the bank — without helping the poor get access to the care they needed.

This evidence isn't just based on one or two stray studies produced by the "right" think-tank. In June 2018, Health Affairs published a blockbuster analysis of 77 studies on Medicaid's effectiveness, and the results may be disappointing for fans of government-provided insurance. Around 60 percent of the studies included in the meta-analysis found that health status and quality of care failed to improve for low-income patients after Medicaid expansion. The analysis also finds that a majority (56 percent of studies) found no improvement in the financial performance of hospitals post-Medicaid expansion. This finding contradicts claims by Obama, Biden and co. that Medicaid expansion would shift patients from the emergency room to doctor's offices, lowering system-wide costs.

These findings are scandalous for an expansion program that costs federal taxpayers at least $70 billion per year. How could all of this money be failing to improve outcomes? Plausibly, the types of institutions that accept Medicaid are larger facilities that aren't as great at delivering quality health-care as smaller offices? The copious paperwork and documentation required by the program don't really allow smaller facilities the bandwidth to deal with Medicaid in an efficient manner. Yet this documentation is necessary to curb rampant fraud in the program that costs taxpayers tens of billions of dollars each year.

Greater Medicaid funding and corresponding anti-waste measures fail to address the cancer undermining the healthcare system: sky-high drug prices and expensive medical equipment.

Greater Medicaid funding and corresponding anti-waste measures fail to address the cancer undermining the healthcare system: sky-high drug prices and expensive medical equipment. Instead of pushing for ever-higher government spending, a President Biden could push for a streamlined Food and Drug Administration approval process for drugs and medical devices, which would keep medical costs down and give a green light to innovators everywhere. The cost to develop a single medication is now more than $2 billion, and an onerous FDA approval process costs lives by being too risk-averse.

Presidential hopefuls such as Biden should also pledge to work with states to roll-back "certificate of need" laws, which force medical institutions to jump through countless barriers to expand their facilities and invest in new services. It's not just hospitals and their patients that suffer from these needless laws; Harvard medical scholar David Grabowski sums up the evidence that these laws make nursing homes far worse and costlier than they need to be. Getting rid of these laws nationwide would give patients and consumers far more options when shopping around for the care and facilities they need.

The price problem gripping the American healthcare system simply won't go away while regulatory barriers and onerous approval processes continue to stifle the sector. Presidential hopefuls such as Biden can make a dent in this problem by supporting market reforms, instead of doubling-down on failed government healthcare.

Ross Marchand is a Young Voices contributor and the director of policy for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both fulfilled their goal of living to see the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Then, both died later that day — July 4, 1826. Adams was 90. Jefferson was 83.

Because of their failing health, Jefferson and Adams each declined many invitations to attend July 4th celebrations. Adams sent a letter to be read aloud at the 50th Independence Day celebration in his local town of Quincy, Massachusetts. He wrote that the Declaration is:

... a memorable epoch in the annals of the human race, destined in future history to form the brightest or the blackest page, according to the use or the abuse of those political institutions by which they shall, in time to come, be shaped by the human mind.

It's remarkable how well the Founders understood human nature and what could happen to the United States. It's the postmodern mindset that increasingly rules the U.S. now. It has infected our institutions and untethered us from the bedrock principles of the Declaration. In its place? Hypocritical and vitriolic partisan righteous indignation.

Less than a century after Adams' and Jefferson's deaths, the most serious attempt to undermine the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution came from America's 28th president — Woodrow Wilson. He wrote:

Some citizens of this country have never got beyond the Declaration of Independence.

As if that's a bad thing.

During Wilson's career as a college professor, he thought deeply and wrote extensively of his contempt for our founding documents. His issue with them formed the core beliefs of Progressivism that are still alive today.

In 1911, before he was elected President, Wilson said in a speech:

I do not find the problems of 1911 solved in the Declaration of Independence ... It is the object of Government to make those adjustments of life which will put every man in a position to claim his normal rights as a living human being.

See what he does there? He completely inverts the Declaration — he's saying, you don't have inherent rights until government puts you in a position to claim them. That's the heart of Progressivism.

In a later speech, Wilson said:

If you want to understand the real Declaration of Independence, do not repeat the preface.

Wilson did not think the equality, natural rights, and consent-of-the-governed parts of the Declaration defined the proper role of government. He preferred the Declaration's list of grievances because they addressed specific problems. That's what he thought government existed to do — solve problems for people. And since people's problems change over time, so should the Constitution and government to keep up with the times.

Wilson said:

No doubt we are meant to have liberty; but each generation must form its own conception of what liberty is.

We hear this sentiment echoed all the time today: follow your heart, find your truth, etc.

Another key to Wilson's Progressive theory of government was human evolution. He thought that because humans were now more enlightened, they could be trusted not to abuse government power. The Declaration's committee of five (Adams, Sherman, Franklin, Livingston and Jefferson) would've laughed Wilson out of the room.

It's hard to believe that less than 150 years after the signing of the Declaration, the U.S. president — Wilson — was saying this:

We are not bound to adhere to the doctrines held by the signers of the Declaration of Independence: we are as free as they were to make and unmake governments. We are not here to worship men or a document. Every Fourth of July should be a time for examining our standards, our purposes, for determining afresh what principles, what forms of power we think most likely to effect our safety and happiness. That and that alone is the obligation the Declaration lays upon us.

Wilson was so effective at imposing his philosophy on government that he forever diverted the U.S. presidency away from the Constitution. Progressives have kept Wilson's torch alive ever since.

Progressives are still hostile to the Declaration of Independence because of this idea of “historical contingency" which holds that truths change over time. Progressives think the “self-evident" truths of the Declaration are outdated and may no longer apply. And that means the Constitution based on those truths may no longer apply either. Wilson and Progressives especially don't like the whole separation of powers thing, because it hinders the fast action they want out of government. They want a justice warrior president who will bring swift change by fiat.

The current trend in attacking the Declaration and Constitution is to tear down the men who wrote them. In late 2015, students at the University of Missouri and the College of William & Mary, placed notes all over the statues of Thomas Jefferson on their respective campuses. The handwritten notes labeled Jefferson things like, “racist," “rapist," “pedophile" (not sure what that one's supposed to mean), “How dare you glorify him," “I wouldn't be here if it was up to him," and “Black Lives Matter."

That is the handiwork of students who are blinded by self-righteous victimhood and can't see the value and merit that the Declaration still holds for us today. After these incidents, Annette Gordon-Reed offered a reasoned defense of Jefferson. Reed is a respected history professor at Harvard Law School, who also happens to be a black woman. She wrote:

I understand why some people think his statues should be removed, but not all controversial figures of the past are created equal. I think Jefferson's contributions to the history of the United States outweigh the problems people have with aspects of his life. He is just too much a part of the American story to pretend that he was not there ... The best of his ideals continue to influence and move people. The statues should be a stimulus for considering all these matters at William & Mary and the University of Missouri.

At the opposite end of the spectrum from Woodrow Wilson's disdain for the Declaration of Independence, Abraham Lincoln loved it. If there is one overarching theme in Lincoln's speeches, it is the Declaration. Lincoln pointed the nation back to the Declaration as a mission statement, which ended slavery and preserved the Union.

Unlike Wilson, who recommended leaving out the Preamble, Lincoln considered it the most vital part. To Lincoln, the self-evident truths were universal, timeless, and more important than the list of grievances. Lincoln wrote that these truths were:

... applicable to all men and all times ... that today, and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling block to the very harbingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression.

In a speech Lincoln gave in 1861, shortly after he was first elected president, he said:

I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence… I have often inquired of myself what great principle or idea it was that kept this Confederacy so long together. It was not the mere matter of the separation of the Colonies from the mother-land, but that sentiment in the Declaration which gave liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but, I hope, to the world, for all future time.

Lincoln went on to say that he would rather be assassinated than see the nation forfeit the principles of the Declaration. His Gettysburg Address is a brilliant, concise renewal of the Declaration:

... 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.

We cannot assume that this radical idea of freedom will always be embraced by Americans. It has found hostility on our shores every step of the way. The Declaration's principles must be continually defended. Because while humans do have certain unalienable rights that are endowed by our Creator, there is darkness in the world, and for some strange reason humans, while valuing freedom, also seem to have a natural bent toward tyranny. That's why we must understand and discuss the Declaration. It's not alarmist. It's not a quaint history lesson. It's a reality, right now, that the fundamental principles of the Declaration are under attack. The Founders would have undoubtedly shuddered at most of the rhetoric from last week's Democratic presidential debates. Left to its own mob devices, even America would turn its back on freedom.

Shortly before his death in 1826, 90-year-old John Adams was asked to recommend a toast that could be given in his honor on July 4th. Adams didn't hesitate. He suggested, “Independence Forever." The small group of visitors silently glanced at each other for a moment, before someone asked Adams if he'd like to add anything else. Adams shifted forward in his chair, leaned on his cane, stared intently at the men, and replied, “Not a word."

China is having its Boston Tea Party moment

Unknown Wong / Unsplash

Freedom. It usually begins as a whisper. A secret passed on between patrons at a secluded bar or private meeting. And no matter how hard the tyrants may try and stop it, no matter how many dams they throw up to try and contain it, the whispers eventually become a flood. Sometimes it takes longer to break through, but it's the same EVERY TIME. Liberty and freedom always wins. It's an unstoppable force that knows no immovable object.

For us it was exactly 243 years ago to this month that those whispers became a flood. A group of ragtag colonists took on the world's only superpower —and won. Our forefathers proved it — freedom refuses to recognize tyranny as an immovable object. The world was forever changed.

And I can't help but see the poetic justice as more whispers became a flood, defying their own immovable object, just three days before all of us were buying fireworks to celebrate our Independence Day. But this time it was just off the coast of mainland China.

Last week over a MILLION protesters filled the streets in Hong Kong. Literally a FLOOD of humans looking for one thing — freedom. They stormed the government building that is the equivalent of their Congress. They smashed windows, broke down doors, and a photo was taken that I think just might be the picture of the year.

A British colonial flag, a symbol thrown out when Hong Kong was given back to China, was draped — BY THE PROTESTORS — over the chair of their head of government. I can't restate how historic this actually is. The people of Hong Kong, with a population that is over 90 percent ethnic Han Chinese, are saying to the mainland that they prefer colonial rule over the tyranny of the Chinese government. Leftists would tell you that communism is the remedy for colonialism, but for those living in the dark shadow of communism, they actually prefer colonial rule over what they now face.

The local Hong Kong government is caught between the immovable object of the Chinese communist government, and the unstoppable force of liberty.

When Hong Kong was given back to the mainland, China agreed to allow them a few freedoms that the rest of the Chinese don't enjoy. They're free to engage in protest against the government and they maintain a legislative body — both of which are outlawed on the mainland. But, as every tyrannical oppressor always does, China has been looking to reel that in. Most recently, China attempted to make it possible to extradite dissenters back to Beijing. The result? The quiet whispers of freedom, the secrets told in private at clandestine meetings, became a flood of millions in the streets.

On July 3rd, police began a crackdown. More than 13 people have been arrested so far. If China eventually gets their way, those 13 people will no doubt be the first of many to be extradited over to the mainland. Their crime? The dream of freedom. As of right now, the extradition law has been temporarily delayed. The local Hong Kong government is caught between the immovable object of the Chinese communist government, and the unstoppable force of liberty.

History has shown who will win in the end. Yesterday, over 200,000 protestors gathered at the high speed train station that links mainland China to Hong Kong. The message was just as clear as the British colonial flag hung inside their legislative building. For our forefathers it was symbolized with the Gadsden Flag and the phrase “Death To Tyranny." The message is simple: “we will not be ruled. Freedom knows no immovable object."

News of the protest movement has been censored in mainland China, but how long will they be able to contain THEIR OWN whispers with over two hundred thousand freedom lovers camped out at the bridge between Hong Kong and mainland China? How long before those whispers spread to secret meeting locations in Beijing or Shanghai? How long before that cascades to the Christian and Muslim minorities that are tired of being rounded up and thrown into camps?

We might have just witnessed the Chinese version of the Boston Tea Party. July 4th is still a long way away for them, but — as it does time and time again — freedom and liberty always win in the end.