Stop glorifying Lindsey Graham

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On October 3, Senator Lindsey Graham told Jeffrey Goldberg, editor of The Atlantic, that the "love crap" between President Donald Trump and North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-Un "needs to stop." Meanwhile, he also advised Trump to stay in Afghanistan and Syria. His argument? That not doing so would continue the mistakes of presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

But Graham has reinvented himself since the 2016 election. Once an ardent foe of President Trump, he's now his vigorous ally, making headlines for defending Trump's Supreme Court pick Justice Brett Kavanaugh. He also lead the way in trying to replace Obamacare and supports Trump's tariffs on foreign countries. But beneath this new fervor for Trump's agenda, Graham still remains a steadfast interventionist who has never seen a war he does not support.

RELATED: RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION: Lindsey Graham speaks for a lot of America

Trump, for all of his faults, promised during the presidential election to draw back American involvement in foreign wars and from the world theater, calling it an "America First" strategy. Though he hasn't followed through on all of his campaign promises on foreign policy, he has succeeded in engaging diplomatically with North Korea and demonstrating that he isn't beholden to the neoconservatives who dominated Republican foreign policy for the last 20 years. He has also been hesitant to use military force to overthrow Iran, despite his own hawkish tendencies toward the Khamenei regime. Furthermore, Trump's administration has been relatively open to influence from non-interventionist figures such as Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky).

Graham, of course, is all for using military might to overthrow regimes we don't like. He called for an Iranian regime change should the Iranians refuse to comply with American demands on their nuclear program. He even suggested that conflict with Iran would be simple, telling former Defense Secretary Ash Carter that, in a hypothetical war between the U.S and Iran, "We win." Yet, there was no nuance in this discussion and no appreciation for the chaos another war would bring to the Middle East — as it did in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

Graham has actively fought against non-interventionist causes, calling for more money and troops to be dumped into the Middle East. For Graham, a constant American presence is what keeps terrorists from committing attacks in the U.S. and he said that Congressmen who opposed increasing troop numbers in Afghanistan would be responsible for the "next 9/11." While Graham fails to realize that homegrown terrorists are the real threat to American security, he continues to support wars that cost thousands of American lives in the Middle East. An estimated 3,000 Americans lost their lives on 9/11, yet more than 6,000 Americans have lost their lives in the wars that followed.

Graham has suggested that scaling back American intervention and not going to war would cost American lives. The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf summarized his arguments writing, "In each case, he argues that American deaths could result if his advice is not taken, but fails to contend with opportunity costs."

But if saving American lives is truly Graham's motivation for supporting American interventionism across the world, why would he continue to advocate for wars that have accomplished little outside of killing thousands of Americans and radicalizing individuals and populations against the U.S.?

Unfortunately, Graham's warmongering is not just limited to supporting American-led interventions. They also extend to our allies.

His recent firey words in defense of Kavanaugh by no means wipe out years of foolish and troublesome support for foreign policy.

Nowhere is this more apparent than his support for the Saudi Arabian intervention in Yemen, where tens of thousands have been killed in a civil war. American bombs dropped by Saudi warplanes killed thousands of Yemen citizens. And these aren't accidental deaths. Saudi Arabia intentionally kills its own civilians. The government has bombed weddings, factories, and hospitals with America-made munitions that Graham voted to give them.

A cynic can point out that Saudi money flows through Congress, and link it to the fact that Saudi Arabia continues to receive American support despite bipartisan concerns. The Center for Foreign Policy's Ben Freeman pointed out that Graham's office was contacted the most times by Saudi Arabian lobbyists during the debate over authorizing a $500 million arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

There's no denying it: Graham is a warmonger. Thus, no matter how close he inches toward Trump's camp, his formidable interventionist streak will muddy his rechristening as a MAGA advocate. His recent firey words in defense of Kavanaugh by no means wipe out years of foolish and troublesome support for foreign policy that has been responsible for the deaths of thousands. Trump supporters and Kavananugh fans alike would do well to keep that in mind—and, perhaps, forgo the standing ovation.

Elias Atienza is a Young Voices contributor. Follow him on Twitter at @elias_atienza.

This compromise is an abomination

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Three decades ago, "The Art of the Deal" made Donald Trump a household name. A lot has happened since then. But you can trace many of Trump's actions back to that book.

Art of the Deal:

In the end, you're measured not by how much you undertake but by what you finally accomplish.

People laughed when he announced that he was running for President. And I mean that literally. Remember the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner when Obama roasted Trump, viciously, mocking the very idea that Trump could ever be President. Now, he's President.

You can't con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole. But if you don't deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on.

This empire-building is a mark of Trump.

RELATED: 'Arrogant fool' Jim Acosta exposed MSM's dishonest border agenda — again.

The most recent example is the border wall. Yesterday, congress reached a compromise on funding for the border wall. Weeks of tense back-and-forth built up to that moment. At times, it seemed like neither side would budge. Trump stuck to his guns, the government shut down, Trump refused to budge, then, miraculously, the lights came back on again. The result was a compromise. Or at least that's how it appeared.

But really, Trump got what he wanted -- exactly what he wanted. He used the techniques he wrote about in The Art of the Deal:

My style of deal-making is quite simple and straightforward. I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get what I'm after.

From the start, he demanded $5.7 billion for construction of a border wall. It was a months' long tug-of-war that eventually resulted in yesterday's legislation, which would dedicate $1.4 billion. It would appear that that was what he was after all along. Moments before the vote, he did some last-minute pushing. A national emergency declaration, and suddenly the number is $8 billion.

Art of the Deal:

People think I'm a gambler. I've never gambled in my life. To me, a gambler is someone who plays slot machines. I prefer to own slot machines. It's a very good business being the house.

In a rare show of bipartisanship, Senate passed the legislation 83-16, and the House followed with 300-128. Today, Trump will sign the bill.

It's not even fair to call that a deal, really. A deal is what happens when you go to a car dealership, fully ready to buy a car, and the salesman says the right things. What Trump did is more like a car dealer selling an entire row of cars to someone who doesn't even have a licence. When Trump started, Democrats wouldn't even consider a wall, let alone pay for it.

Art of the Deal:

The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people's fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That's why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It's an innocent form of exaggeration—and a very effective form of promotion.

He started the wall on a chant, "Build the wall!" until he got what he wanted. He maneuvered like Don Draper, selling people something that they didn't even know they wanted, and convincing them that it is exactly what they've always needed.

As the nation soaks in the victory of the recent passing of the historic First Step Act, there are Congressmen who haven't stopped working to solve additional problems with the criminal justice system. Because while the Act was impactful, leading to the well-deserved early release of many incarcerated individuals, it didn't go far enough. That's why four Congressmen have joined forces to reintroduce the Justice Safety Valve Act—legislation that would grant judges judicial discretion when determining appropriate sentencing.

There's a real need for this legislation since it's no secret that lawmakers don't always get it right. They may pass laws with good intentions, but unintended consequences often prevail. For example, there was a time when the nation believed the best way to penalize lawbreakers was to be tough on crime, leading to sweeping mandatory minimum sentencing laws implemented both nationally and statewide.

RELATED: If Trump can support criminal justice reform, so can everyone else

Only in recent years have governments learned that these sentences aren't good policy for the defendant or even the public. Mandatory minimum sentences are often overly harsh, don't act as a public deterrent for crime, and are extremely costly to taxpayers. These laws tie judges' hands, preventing them from using their knowledge and understanding of the law to make case relevant decisions.

Because legislation surrounding criminal law is often very touchy and difficult to change (especially on the federal level, where bills can take multiple years to pass) mandatory minimum sentences are far from being done away with—despite the data-driven discoveries of their downfalls. But in order to solve the problems inherent within all of the different laws imposing sentencing lengths, Congress needs to pass the Justice Safety Valve Act now. Ensuring its passing would allow judges to use discretion while sentencing, rather than forcing them to continue issuing indiscriminate sentences no matter the unique facts of the case.

Rather than take years to go back and try to fix every single mandatory minimum law that has been federally passed, moving this single piece of legislation forward is the best way to ensure judges can apply their judgment in every appropriate case.

When someone is facing numerous charges from a single incident, mandatory minimum sentencing laws stack atop one another, resulting in an extremely lengthy sentence that may not be just. Such high sentences may even be violations of an individual's eighth amendment rights, what with the imposition of cruel and unusual punishment. It's exactly what happened with Weldon Angelos.

In Salt Lake City in 2002, Weldon sold half a pound of marijuana to federal agents on two separate occasions. Unbeknownst to Weldon, the police had targeted him because they suspected he was a part of a gang and trafficking operation. They were oh-so-wrong. Weldon had never sold marijuana before and only did this time because he was pressured by the agents to find marijuana for them. He figured a couple lowkey sales could help out his family's financial situation. But Weldon was caught and sentenced to a mandatory 55 years in prison. This massive sentence is clearly unjust for a first time, non-violent crime, and even the Judge, Paul Cassell, agreed. Judge Cassell did everything he could to reduce the sentence, but, due to federal law, it wasn't much.

The nation is facing an over-criminalization problem that costs taxpayers millions and amounts to the foolish eradication of individual liberties.

In cases like Weldon's, a safety valve for discretionary power is much needed. Judges need the ability to issue sentences below the mandatory minimums, depending on mitigating factors such as mental health, provocation, or physical illness. That's what this new bill would allow for. Critics may argue that this gives judges too much power, but under the bill, judges must first make a finding on why it's necessary to sentence below the mandatory minimum. Then, they must write a clear statement explaining their decision.

Judges are unlikely to risk their careers to allow dangerous criminals an early release. If something happens after an offender is released early, the political pressure is back on the judge who issued the shorter sentence—and no one wants that kind of negative attention. In order to avoid risky situations like this, they'd use their discretion very cautiously, upholding the oath they took to promote justice in every case.

The nation is facing an overcriminalization problem that costs taxpayers millions and amounts to the foolish eradication of individual liberties. Mandatory minimums have exacerbated this problem, and it's time for that to stop. Congresswomen and men have the opportunity to help solve this looming problem by passing the Justice Safety Valve Act to untie the hands of judges and restore justice in individual sentences.

Molly Davis is a policy analyst at Libertas Institute, a free market think tank in Utah. She's a writer for Young Voices, and her work has previously appeared in The Hill, TownHall.com, and The Washington Examiner.

New gadget for couples in 'the mood' lets a button do the talking

Photo by Matt Nelson on Unsplash

Just in time for Valentine's Day, there's a new romantic gadget for couples that is sure to make sparks fly. For those with their minds in the gutter, I'm not talking about those kinds of gadgets. I'm talking about a brilliant new device for the home called "LoveSync."

This is real — it's a simple pair of buttons for busy, modern couples who have plenty of time for social media and Netflix, but can't quite squeeze in time to talk about their... uh... special relationship.

Here's how it works. Each partner has their own individual LoveSync button. Whenever the mood strikes one partner, all they have to do is press their own button. That sets their button aglow for a certain period of time. If, during that time window, their partner also presses their own button, then both buttons light up in a swirling green pattern to signal that love has "synced"...and it's go time.

According to the makers of LoveSync, this device will "Take the Luck out of Getting Lucky." It brings a whole new meaning to "pushing each other's buttons." It's an ideal gift to tell your significant other "I care," without actually having to care, or talk about icky things like feelings.

If you find your significant other is already on the couch binge-watching The Bachelor, no problem! You can conveniently slink back to your button and hold it in for four seconds to cancel the desire. No harm, no foul! Live to fight another day.

Have fun explaining those buttons to inquiring children.

No word yet on whether LoveSync can also order wine, light candles or play Barry White. Maybe that's in the works for LoveSync 2.0.

Of course, LoveSync does have some pitfalls. Cats and toddlers love a good button. That'll be a fun conversation — "Honey, who keeps canceling my mood submissions?" And have fun explaining those buttons to inquiring children. "Yeah, kids, that button just controls the lawn sprinklers. No big deal."

If you've been dialing it in for years on Valentine's Day with flowers and those crappy boxes of chocolate, now you can literally dial it in. With a button.

Good luck with that.