UPDATE: Ron Paul Conspiracy Theory in Critical Condition

UPDATE: Bullet dodged.

Many of you are familiar with my Ron Paul baby conspiracy theory, which goes a little something like this:

--Ron Paul doesn't care about the Republican Party. (He actually held a press conference including the Green Party candidate in 2008 to encourage people to avoid voting for the D or the R.)

--Ron Paul doesn’t think there’s much of a difference between Republicans and Democrats, therefore he doesn’t see a Mitt Romney victory over Barack Obama as all that important.

--Ron Paul is old and isn’t running for congress anymore. This is essentially his last political act.

--Ron Paul obviously is not winning the Republican nomination, but will still raise a lot of money.

--Ron Paul never completely rules out a third party run.

--Ron Paul will drop out of the Republican race at the last minute, walk into the Libertarian convention, and run as their presidential candidate.

I call it my baby conspiracy theory, because I have absolutely no evidence whatsoever that it was going to happen, and I have to stretch on certain aspects of the theory, while ignoring some other evidence to make it work. In other words, I don’t take it that seriously.

But, I do think it could happen, and would essentially hand the presidency to Barack Obama for four more years. Some people have suggested that Paul might wind up running as an independent, but the ballot access rules make an independent run such a pain, that I don’t think he’d go that route. On the other hand, the Libertarian Party offers ballot access in close to 50 states automatically. It also offers a convention format that would basically allow him to stroll in whenever he wants and become the nominee, assuming he could win a vote among hardcore libertarian activists.(Is there even a question he’d win that?)

As his last major political act, I think Paul could quite likely believe that introducing his ideas on a stage bigger than ever before could be worth the political hits he’d take. Could he win? No, but he could get in the debates, and perform as well as any third party candidate since Perot. That might be enough for him. (The only thing really stopping this would be fear for his son Rand’s career. Republicans will surely punish him, fair or not, if daddy goes down this road.)

Well, luckily—the faint highlight of a conspiracy theory is beginning to fade. This weekend is the Libertarian convention. So, if Monday’s news is not littered with reports of a Ron Paul third party candidacy—we’ve dodged that mythical bullet.

According to some correspondence with Libertarian Party insiders, Ron Paul would have to make his move in the next couple of days, collect his tokens (that’s how they vote), and then win the nomination Saturday. If not, they pick somebody else like Gary Johnson, and Ron is left to try to influence the GOP platform at the convention and leave the long term message tied to his son Rand.

I watched the Libertarian convention last year, and I assume it will be on CSPAN again this weekend. It is an interesting event to say the least. Check it out, and see if Mitt Romney clears his most immediate hurdle on the way to the White House. Conspiracy theorists unite!

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.

The Hong Kong protesters flocking to the streets in opposition to the Chinese government have a new symbol to display their defiance: the Stars and Stripes. Upset over the looming threat to their freedom, the American flag symbolizes everything they cherish and are fighting to preserve.

But it seems our president isn't returning the love.

Trump recently doubled down on the United States' indifference to the conflict, after initially commenting that whatever happens is between Hong Kong and China alone. But he's wrong — what happens is crucial in spreading the liberal values that America wants to accompany us on the world stage. After all, "America First" doesn't mean merely focusing on our own domestic problems. It means supporting liberal democracy everywhere.

The protests have been raging on the streets since April, when the government of Hong Kong proposed an extradition bill that would have allowed them to send accused criminals to be tried in mainland China. Of course, when dealing with a communist regime, that's a terrifying prospect — and one that threatens the judicial independence of the city. Thankfully, the protesters succeeded in getting Hong Kong's leaders to suspend the bill from consideration. But everyone knew that the bill was a blatant attempt by the Chinese government to encroach on Hong Kong's autonomy. And now Hong Kong's people are demanding full-on democratic reforms to halt any similar moves in the future.

After a generation under the "one country, two systems" policy, the people of Hong Kong are accustomed to much greater political and economic freedom relative to the rest of China. For the protesters, it's about more than a single bill. Resisting Xi Jinping and the Communist Party means the survival of a liberal democracy within distance of China's totalitarian grasp — a goal that should be shared by the United States. Instead, President Trump has retreated to his administration's flawed "America First" mindset.

This is an ideal opportunity for the United States to assert our strength by supporting democratic values abroad. In his inaugural address, Trump said he wanted "friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world" while "understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their interests first." But at what point is respecting sovereignty enabling dictatorships? American interests are shaped by the principles of our founding: political freedom, free markets, and human rights. Conversely, the interests of China's Communist Party are the exact opposite. When these values come into conflict, as they have in Hong Kong, it's our responsibility to take a stand for freedom — even if those who need it aren't within our country's borders.

Of course, that's not a call for military action. Putting pressure on Hong Kong is a matter of rhetoric and positioning — vital tenets of effective diplomacy. When it comes to heavy-handed world powers, it's an approach that can really work. When the Solidarity movement began organizing against communism in Poland, President Reagan openly condemned the Soviet military's imposition of martial law. His administration's support for the pro-democracy movement helped the Polish people gain liberal reforms from the Soviet regime. Similarly, President Trump doesn't need to be overly cautious about retribution from Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. Open, strong support for democracy in Hong Kong not only advances America's governing principles, but also weakens China's brand of authoritarianism.

After creating a commission to study the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote last month that the principles of our Constitution are central "not only to Americans," but to the rest of the world. He was right — putting "America First" means being the first advocate for freedom across the globe. Nothing shows the strength of our country more than when, in crucial moments of their own history, other nations find inspiration in our flag.

Let's join the people of Hong Kong in their defiance of tyranny.

Matt Liles is a writer and Young Voices contributor from Austin, Texas.

Summer is ending and fall is in the air. Before you know it, Christmas will be here, a time when much of the world unites to celebrate the love of family, the generosity of the human spirit, and the birth of the Christ-child in Bethlehem.

For one night only at the Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, on December 7th, join internationally-acclaimed radio host and storyteller Glenn Beck as he walks you through tales of Christmas in the way that only he can. There will be laughs, and there might be a few tears. But at the end of the night, you'll leave with a warm feeling in your heart and a smile on your face.

Reconnect to the true spirit of Christmas with Glenn Beck, in a storytelling tour de force that you won't soon forget.

Get tickets and learn more about the event here.

The general sale period will be Friday, August 16 at 10:00 AM MDT. Stay tuned to for updates. We look forward to sharing in the Christmas spirit with you!