What Did LaVoy Finicum Die For?: Part One

lavoy-finicum-620x348I watched the January 26, 2016 FBI footage and Finicum definitely attempted to run the roadblock, almost striking an agent who jumped in front of him.

He left the vehicle immediately walking several yards away covered by multiple agents. He seems to have put his hands down for some reason and the agents shot him dead.

A tragic loss of life after what appears to be anything but a routine traffic stop (some say an ambush) following weeks of peaceful negotiations. There is an on going investigation to assess the actions of the police.

If you are not familiar with this news story, click here.

My military training to “repel boarders” justifies the use of lethal force when faced with aggressive potentially deadly combatants. Law enforcement receive similar training and I can understand interpreting Finicum’s actions as aggressive, but is it really possible that the overwhelming presence of FBI and State Police agents considered the actions of Finicum as “potentially deadly?”

All I know for sure is that I am deeply disturbed by these last few moments of a good man’s life and have lots of unanswered questions:

Why did law enforcement choose to escalate the situation after weeks of peaceful talks?

Why did law enforcement setup and ambush Finicum and company when there was no immediate danger to life or property?

What was the government’s imperative to force a conclusion?

What does “productive beneficial use” mean?

What were the occupiers trying to accomplish at the refuge?

Image created by Joelle Mancuso

Image created by Joelle Mancuso

What are the opposing claims of the government and the ranchers?

What originally gave the ranchers the right to ranch on this land generations before and what changed?

What are the “natural rights” that the LaVoy kept talking about?

Was this just another “crazy standoff” or are these the actions of patriots? Now that a life has been sacrificed, I challenge you to look deeper and ask hard questions.

More to follow.

YOUTH FOR AMERICA: It’s Back and Has Found A New Home

YFA (2)

It has always been truethe youth are the future.

So what does your future hold?

Are you prepared to step into your GREATNESS?

2

Monticello College hosts Youth For America retreats because we take your future leadership serious.

But nobody said that learning about great American leaders and developing your own leadership skills had to be boring.

Come join us for a week of fun, new friends and mentors, and some of the most incredible beauty you have every seen.

DSC03464 copyClasses, colloquia, hiking, lake trips, bonfires, and wilderness skills training will stimulate discussions and help you remember why this is the greatest country on earth.

 

7Perhaps most importantly, you will meet some of the best youth in the nation—youth like you who care about the important things, and you will make new friends that will change your life forever.

Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to enjoy the beauties of the Blue Mountains and catch the vision of a lifelong Thomas Jefferson Education on the campus of Monticello College!

MC Eggs in HandThis retreat includes:

  • Nationally renowned MC speakers and faculty
  • Transformational classes and activities
  • Learning the power of the classics
  • Wilderness survival skills
  • Alternative habitat construction
  • Exciting simulations
  • Understanding the importance and price of freedom
  • Great food
  • Incredible mountain hiking trails, lakes, and streams
  • Fun, fun, fun in typical Monticello College style

Location: Monticello College Campus – Monticello, Utah

Date: July 4-9, 2016

Who Can Attend: Ages 15-20. Limited to 40 participants

Cost: $529 per attendee

To register : info@monticellocollege.org

I.O.U.S.A

I am completely serious when I tell you this.

Gong_08_2008SpendingBased on the evolution of the United States government and our current standing in the world, it is likely that short of President of the United States, the most important office in the federal government and the least known federal government office is the Government Accountability Office. 

The person appointed as the director of this office is known as the Comptroller General of the United States. The GAO is a legislative agency and the Comptroller General is appointed by the President with consent of the Senate. This office has been a part of the federal government for almost 100 years (1921) and is limited to a 15-year term.

hqdefaultThe Comptroller General has the power of truth and facts. His only job is to provide the president and congress with the nation’s state of financial affairs and to make recommendations.

With the gravity of our financial picture today, you would think that the CG would be the most quoted man in Washington. But Mr. Eugene Louis Dodaro, the current CG has had little press exposure since his appointment in 2010.

Based on our ever deteriorating financial position as a nation and as individual citizens combined with the projected negative outcome of continuing such a course, you would think that the CG would use his position, like an ancient Old Testament prophet to shout warnings from the roof tops.

But while Mr. Dodaro is eerily quiet considering the role of his office, others are not so demure. One of the most outspoken Comptroller Generals was David Walker (1998 to 2008) who served under both Democratic and Republican presidents.

2026Mr. Walker resigned his office in 2008 as a form of protest after it became clear that neither the Republican President or the Democratic controlled House and Senate where taking his continued and constant reports seriously.

For nearly his entire 10 years in office, his counsel and factual data were received with a kind of economic apathy so common in the halls of government.

As the keynote speaker at the February 2, 2005 National Press Club Outlook Conference, CG Walker began his remarks with these words:

I’m sad to say that since I last spoke on this issue here at the National Press Club back in September of 2003, our nation’s long-range fiscal imbalance has deteriorated significantly. Furthermore, as you all know, most state and local governments also have their own fiscal challenges and are having to make increasingly difficult choices.

 

We now confront three large and interrelated national deficits. The first is a large federal budget deficit. The second is a growing balance-of-payments deficit. And the third is an alarming personal savings deficit. Frankly, it’s easy to dismiss government deficits and debt as someone else’s problem.

 

But in my view, every American has both a personal reason and a civic responsibility to become more informed and involved in the coming debate over our collective fiscal future.

 

2030These kinds of efforts to educate the government and the press were follow-up by using his office and influence as CG to kick-off the Fiscal Wake-Up Tour beginning in 2005 and expanding to 40 cities.

After 10 unproductive years warning everyone who was supposed to listen, you know…the president, congress, governors, the American people, Mr. Walker resigning his post.

CLICK ON IMAGE TO WATCH VIDEO FOR FREE

CLICK ON IMAGE TO WATCH VIDEO FOR FREE

In 2008, he elevated his personal crusade to educating the American people about the disaster that awaits us by joining forces with the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

One of their most impactful projects was the I.O.U.S.A. documentary that outlined where we were fiscally in 2008. THIS IS A MUST WATCH! This rare peek into the past validates the present and gives us a clear picture of the future.

WARNING: This is a bit like knowing that a tornado is about to hit but being afraid to go outside to the storm shelter.

NATIONAL DEBT 2008

NATIONAL DEBT 2008

I said earlier that in my opinion–considering where we are today–that second ONLY to the president, the most important office in government is the Comptroller General and the GAO.

I say this because without a clear picture of where we are and a plan for a solid financial foundation, it matters little what laws Congress passes, if we do not have the money to execute them. It makes little difference what disasters happen in the world, we will not be able to help them if we can’t even help ourselves.

It won’t matter how much you have paid into Social Security or how much you deserve government funded medical services or disability assistance or a hundred other “entitlements,” none of these will be available if we do not make serious changes now.

America has had terrible debts in the past and we have pulled out of them.  What we had then that we don’t seem to have now is the WILL TO CONTROL OURSELVES.

NATIONAL DEBT 2014

NATIONAL DEBT 2014

The GAO has the information that we need to “Man Up” and face the music. If the CG would take a relentless course of action, even at the risk of being fired, it could make a real difference.

But even more important, if we as citizens and American families took the same information and adjusted our lives accordingly, that would have lasting impact.
Truthfully, neither the President nor the Comptroller General have the power that we do collectively–remember they both work for us.

crushing_burden_debtSo the real question is what are you personally going to do about it? If you don’t start making changes within the next 60 days…don’t bother. This problem is at OUR COLLECTIVE door step now and will not be ignored.

I hope one of two things happens right now:

1) I hope I am preaching to the choir and you are already engaged

or

2) I hope I offend you enough that you will try to prove me wrong (get ready for a surprise!)

 

Here are a few questions, suggestions, and recommended readings that you seriously need to consider:


SAVEQUESTIONS:

How much of the information in the video did you actually know?

Are you a part of the problem?

What is your savings rate?

What do you do with your savings?

How could you “tighten the belt” and either save more or pay down debt?

Do you know what you total personal debt is?

What is the difference between consumer debt and business or legitimate debt?

How can you make more money (and save more)?

What is your investment plan?

Can you afford not to have an investment plan?

 

CFB505SUGGESTIONS:

1. Creatively consider what you could live without to reduce your cost of living down to 60% or 70% of your income (this includes taxes). I challenge you to try an experiment: go through all of your possessions and sell everything you don’t need. You will be shocked at how much you can raise.  This becomes the beginning of your savings plan.

2. Decrease your mortgage payment even if it means down-sizing (I promise it will not kill you).

3. Start a savings plan TODAY. Savings are the life blood of any economy.

4. Stop paying for things that your kids can pay for themselves (yes, that means they will have to earn their own money).

5. Review all family and individual activities that require money.

a. Do you really need these items? Are they vital to life?

b. If yes, who and how should these things be paid for?

c. Who benefits the most by paying for them?

d. How does paying for things increase awareness and make a child responsible?

RECOMMENDED READINGS:

Richest Man In Babylon, Clason  (new $6/used $3)

America’s Great Depression, Rothbard (new $15)

Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed,

the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse, Woods (new $18/used $4)

Redistributive Modeling, Karren ($5 contact me – sb@monticellocollege.org)

 

 

CLICK ON IMAGE TO WATCH VIDEO FOR FREE

CLICK ON IMAGE TO WATCH VIDEO FOR FREE

The Sentence That Knocked Down the Berlin Wall (But Almost Didn’t)

This post is a reprint of the November 5 ,2014 article from the Intercollegiate Review.

 

Twenty-five years ago last week, the Berlin Wall fell. 

Twenty-five years ago last week, the Berlin Wall fell.

In retrospect, what event fails to suggest a certain inevitability about itself, conveying the sense that because it happened it had to have happened?

Twenty-five years ago this week, the Berlin Wall finally fell.

Of course it did.

How could it have remained in place a day longer? For that matter, how could the Soviet Union itself have failed to fall?

How could the Cold War have ended any other way than in a victory for the West?

History preserves only the events that took place, permitting the alternatives—the contingencies and near misses—to fade, disappearing completely in the end.

Yet if you’d like proof that history isn’t predetermined—that history contains within itself a multitude of alternative realities, of near misses and might-have-beens—consider the address that President Ronald Reagan delivered at the Brandenburg Gate twenty-nine months before the Berlin Wall came down.

“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Those words were very nearly dropped from the president’s text.

How do I know? I wrote the address.

The Angry Hausfrau

Über_den_Dächern_von_BerlinIn April 1987 the celebrations for the 750th anniversary of the founding of Berlin were under way.

Queen Elizabeth had already visited the city. Mikhail Gorbachev was due in a matter of days.

Although President Reagan hadn’t been planning to visit Berlin himself, he was going to be in Europe in early June, first visiting Rome, then spending several days in Venice for an economic summit.

At the request of the West German government his schedule was adjusted to permit him to stop in Berlin for a few hours on his way back to the United States from Italy.

I was then serving as a speechwriter to the president and was assigned to write the Berlin address. I was told only that the president would be speaking at the Berlin Wall, that he was likely to draw an audience of about ten thousand, and that, given the setting, he probably ought to talk about foreign policy.

In late April I spent a day and a half in Berlin with the White House advance team, the logistical experts, Secret Service agents, and press officials who went to the site of every presidential visit to make arrangements. All I had to do in Berlin was find material. When I met the ranking American diplomat in Berlin, I assumed he would give me some.

A stocky man with thick glasses, the diplomat projected an anxious, distracted air throughout our conversation, as if the very prospect of a visit from Ronald Reagan made him nervous. The diplomat gave me quite specific instructions. Almost all of it was in the negative. He was full of ideas about what the president shouldn’t say.

The most left-leaning of all West Germans, the diplomat informed me, West Berliners were intellectually and politically sophisticated. The president would therefore have to watch himself. No chest thumping. No Soviet bashing. And no inflammatory statements about the Berlin Wall. West Berliners, the diplomat explained, had long ago gotten used to the structure that encircled them.

After I left the diplomat, several members of the advance team and I were given a flight over the city in a U.S. Air Force helicopter. Although all that remains of the wall these days are paving stones that show where it stood, in 1987 the structure dominated Berlin. From the air, the wall seemed less to cut one city in two than to separate two different modes of existence.

On one side lay movement, color, modern architecture, crowded sidewalks, traffic. On the other lay a kind of void. Buildings still exhibited pockmarks from shelling during the war. Cars appeared few and decrepit, pedestrians badly dressed.

The wall itself, which from West Berlin had seemed a simple concrete structure, was revealed from the air as an intricate complex, the East Berlin side lined with guard posts, dog runs, and row upon row of barbed wire. The pilot drew our attention to pits of raked gravel. If an East German guard ever let anybody slip past him to escape to West Berlin, the pilot told us, the guard would find himself forced to explain the footprints to his commanding officer.

That evening, I broke away from the advance team to join a dozen Berliners for dinner. Our hosts were Dieter and Ingeborg Elz. Germans themselves, the Elzes had retired to Berlin after Dieter completed his career at the World Bank in Washington. Although we had never met, we had friends in common, and the Elzes offered to put on this dinner party to give me a feel for their city. They had invited Berliners of different walks of life and political outlooks—businessmen, academics, students, homemakers.

BerlinermauerWe chatted for a while about the weather, German wine, and the cost of housing in Berlin.

Then I related what the diplomat told me, explaining that after my flight over the city I found it difficult to believe.

“Is it true?” I asked. “Have you gotten used to the wall?”

The Elzes and their guests glanced at one another uneasily.

I thought I had proven myself just the sort of brash, tactless American the diplomat was afraid the president might seem.

Then one man raised an arm and pointed. “My sister lives twenty miles in that direction,” he said. “I haven’t seen her in more than two decades. Do you think I can get used to that?”

Another man spoke. Each morning on his way to work, he explained, he walked past a guard tower. Each morning, the same soldier gazed down at him through binoculars. “That soldier and I speak the same language. We share the same history. But one of us is a zookeeper and the other is an animal, and I am never certain which is which.”

Our hostess broke in. A gracious woman, she had suddenly grown angry. Her face was red. She made a fist with one hand and pounded it into the palm of the other. “If this man Gorbachev is serious with his talk ofglasnost and perestroika,” she said, “he can prove it. He can get rid of this wall.”

“That’s What I’d Like to Say”

Back at the White House I told Tony Dolan, then director of presidential speechwriting, that I intended to adapt Ingeborg Elz’s comment, making a call to tear down the Berlin Wall the central passage in the speech. Tony took me across the street from the Old Executive Office Building to the West Wing to sell the idea to the director of communications, Tom Griscom.

“The two of you thought you’d have to work real hard to keep me from saying no,” Griscom now says. “But when you told me about the trip, particularly this point of learning from some Germans just how much they hated the wall, I thought to myself, ‘You know, calling for the wall to be torn down—it might just work.’ ”

The following week I produced an acceptable draft. It needed work, but it set out the main elements of the address, including the challenge to tear down the wall. On Friday, May 15, the speeches for the president’s trip to Rome, Venice, and Berlin, including my draft, were forwarded to the president, and on Monday, May 18, the speechwriters joined him in the Oval Office. My speech was the last we discussed. Tom Griscom asked the president for his comments on my draft. The president replied simply that he liked it.

Now, you might suppose that after hearing the president say he liked his draft, a speechwriter would feel so delighted he’d leave it at that. Somehow, it didn’t work that way. As a speechwriter you spent your working life watching Reagan, talking about Reagan, reading about Reagan, attempting to inhabit the very mind of Reagan. When you joined him in the Oval Office, you didn’t want to hear him say simply that he liked your work. You wanted to get him talking, revealing himself. So you’d go into each meeting with a question or two you hoped would intrigue him.

at-desk“Mr. President,” I said, “I learned on the advance trip that your speech will be heard not only in West Berlin but throughout East Germany.”

Depending on weather conditions, I explained, radios would be able to pick up the speech as far east as Moscow itself.

“Is there anything you’d like to say to people on the other side of the Berlin Wall?”

The president cocked his head and thought. “Well,” he replied, “there’s that passage about tearing down the wall. That wall has to come down. That’s what I’d like to say to them.”

Squelchfest

With three weeks to go before it was delivered, the speech was circulated to the State Department and the National Security Council (NSC). Both attempted to squelch it. The assistant secretary of state for Eastern European affairs challenged the speech by telephone.

A senior member of the NSC staff protested the speech in memoranda. The ranking American diplomat in Berlin objected to the speech by cable. The draft was naive. It would raise false hopes. It was clumsy. It was needlessly provocative. State and the NSC submitted their own alternate drafts—my journal records that there were no fewer than seven, including one written by the diplomat in Berlin. In each, the call to tear down the wall was missing.

Now, in principle, State and the NSC had no objection to a call for the destruction of the wall. The draft the diplomat in Berlin submitted, for example, contained the line, “One day, this ugly wall will disappear.” If the diplomat’s line was acceptable, I wondered at first, what was wrong with mine?

Then I looked at the diplomat’s line once again. “One day”? One day the lion would lie with the lamb, too, but you wouldn’t want to hold your breath. “This ugly wall will disappear”? What did that mean? That the wall would just get up and slink off of its own accord? The wall would disappear only when the Soviets knocked it down or let somebody else knock it down for them, but “this ugly wall will disappear” ignored the question of human agency altogether.

What State and the NSC were saying, in effect, was that the president could go right ahead and issue a call for the destruction of the wall—but only if he employed language so vague and euphemistic that everybody could see right away he didn’t mean it.

The week the president left for Europe, Tom Griscom began summoning me to his office each time State or the NSC submitted a new objection. Each time, Griscom had me tell him why I believed State and the NSC were wrong and the speech, as I’d written it, was right. When I reached Griscom’s office on one occasion, I found Colin Powell, then deputy national security adviser, waiting for me. I was a thirty-year-old who had never held a full-time job outside speechwriting.

Powell was a decorated general. After listening to Powell recite all the arguments against the speech in his accustomed forceful manner, however, I heard myself reciting all the arguments in favor of the speech in an equally forceful manner. I could scarcely believe my own tone of voice. Powell looked a little taken aback himself.

President Reagan at the Brandenburg Gate June 12, 1987

President Reagan at the Brandenburg Gate June 12, 1987

A few days before the president was to leave for Europe, Tom Griscom received a call from the White House chief of staff, Howard Baker, asking Griscom to step down the hall to his office.

“I walked in and it was Senator Baker [Baker had served in the Senate before becoming chief of staff] and the secretary of state—just the two of them.”

Secretary of State George Shultz now objected to the speech.

“He said, ‘I really think that line about tearing down the wall is going to be an affront to Mr. Gorbachev,’ ” Griscom recalls.

“I told him the speech would put a marker out there. ‘Mr. Secretary,’ I said, ‘the president has commented on this particular line and he’s comfortable with it. And I can promise you that this line will reverberate.’ The secretary of state clearly was not happy, but he accepted it. I think that closed the subject.”

It didn’t.

When the traveling party reached Italy (I remained in Washington), the secretary of state objected to the speech once again, this time to deputy chief of staff Kenneth Duberstein. “Shultz thought the line was too tough on Gorbachev,” Duberstein says.

On June 5, Duberstein sat the president down in the garden of the estate in which he was staying, briefed him on the objections to the speech, then handed him a copy of the speech, asking him to reread the central passage.

Reagan asked Duberstein’s advice. Duberstein replied that he thought the line about tearing down the wall sounded good. “But I told him, ‘You’re president, so you get to decide.’ And then,” Duberstein recalls, “he got that wonderful, knowing smile on his face, and he said, ‘Let’s leave it in.’ ”

The day the president arrived in Berlin, State and the NSC submitted yet another alternate draft. “They were still at it on the very morning of the speech,” says Tony Dolan. “I’ll never forget it.” Yet in the limousine on the way to the Berlin Wall, the president told Duberstein he was determined to deliver the controversial line. Reagan smiled. “The boys at State are going to kill me,” he said, “but it’s the right thing to do.”

The Lessons of History

No matter how it may seem in retrospect, there was nothing inevitable about the event that took place twenty-five years ago this week. The fall of the Berlin Wall took place because certain men and women—people including Pope John Paul II, Margaret Thatcher, Lech Walesa, and Ronald Reagan—took certain specific actions, demonstrating their capacity for reason and courage. And that, really, is why we study history: to remind ourselves that if those who went before us could do the right thing, then we can do no less ourselves.

 

Peter Robinson is editor in chief of Ricochet.com, research fellow at the Hoover Institution, and host of the interview program Uncommon Knowledge. He is the author of several books, including How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life, from which parts of this essay are adapted.

The Debate Over The 2nd Amendment

AR15_M62Whether you support it or not, the recent dispute over the Second Amendment has the makings of a serious controversy in coming days.

With the current refusal of as many as 300,000 Connecticut gun owners who legally possess rifles that have just now become illegal in that state, we are witnessing a profound example of civil disobedience.

The amendment in question states:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

In the 2008 Supreme Court case of D.C. v Heller, it would seem that this issue had finally been put to bed, but the debate rages on. The final paragraph of the majority opinion of the Court concerning D.C. v Heller delivered by Justice Scalia makes their ruling clear:

We are aware of the problem of handgun violence in this country, and we take seriously the concerns raised by the many amici who believe that prohibition of handgun ownership is a solution. The Constitution leaves the District of Columbia a variety of tools for combating that problem, including some measures regulating handguns, see supra, at 54–55, and n. 26.

But the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table. These include the absolute prohibit­ion of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home.

Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amendment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is the pride of our Nation, where well-trained police forces provide personal security, and where gun violence is a serious problem. That is perhaps debatable, but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.
We affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

Here is a chance for all citizens, regardless your politics, to become informed and stand for something.  For more information on this topic I recommend the following:

The Founders Constitution

The Making of America

And the following opinions in these links:

The Six Things Americans Should Know about The Second Amendment

The Second Amendment Myth

 

The Dawning Of A New Era

images (4)We have been saying for years that the day would come when the concepts and results of a liberal education would again be valued in politics, business, and society in general, that citizenship would enjoy a renewed position of importance in our nation, and that statesmen would rise up in our capitols to provide courageous leadership in the face of party politics—particularly one’s own party.

That period of history has just commenced.

We believe that when Senator Rand Paul stood on March 6 to filibuster the U.S. Senate John Brennan consent vote, and spent nearly 13 hours to call the executive branch of the United States government to account for its unclear policies regarding the use of unmanned drones in U.S. airspace, he unwittingly triggered a movement back to the principles and values upon which this nation was built.

Paul’s determination to personally take a stand against the executive branch—an act many in his own party have rebuked him for—shows the triumph of personal conviction over party hierarchy.

imagesMuch of his testimony and debate during this famous filibuster, detailed the convictions that all lawmakers should espouse: principles of sound government, accountability, the value of the rule of law, acknowledgement of Divinity, and the firm foundation and lessons from history.

Rand stated that he had not planned this filibuster in advance, so I think it is fair to surmise that the stream of support from both sides of the aisle was fairly spontaneous and genuine.

It shows that when someone leads out for truth and right, others will follow.

Not all Americans will instantly embrace these ideas and values—in fact, we predict that most Americans won’t—but we firmly believe that enough mothers and fathers will refocus the education of their children, that enough business leaders will reevaluate the purpose and methods of their businesses, and that enough political leaders will rise up as statesmen to lead the charge for liberty—to make a real difference.

This is why Monticello College exists, we are dedicated to cultivating an education and environment that foster public virtue, induce moral character, and emulate the courage and foresight of the American founding period, preparing our graduates to guard the principles of liberty.

images (1)It will take time to clearly discern the impact of this event.

But we predict that Pandora’s box has been opened and more and more Americans will look to Paul’s example and begin to take such measures in their own lives, which will undoubtedly lead to an increased interest in the founding principles, that have set America and the United States as a light on a hill.

 

P.S. I challenge you to watch all 12.5 hours of the filibuster (C-Span or youtube) as a show of solidarity for his act and as a means of responsible citizenship.  We did at Monticello College.