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Crazy Candidates, Crazy Election

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

If you are among those voters who think that America's 2016 presidential election has become the laughingstock of the world, you are not alone.

There was a time when our elections were civilized and dignified, and the candidates stuck to the issues and were respectful of one another as they traded blows in the political arena.

But this election will go down as one of the craziest in American political history, where all the campaign rules are broken, the electorate is more divided than ever, the really big issues aren't being addressed and the top candidates are behaving like schoolchildren.

Remember when Dwight Eisenhower declared that "I will go to Korea," to end that bloody, all-but-forgotten war? Or when former California governor Ronald Reagan repelled President Jimmy Carter's attack in a debate by simply saying, "There you go again"?

Fast-forward to the present day and you have Republican front-runner Donald Trump, a clownish, former reality TV star, insulting his way closer to the nomination, as members of Parliament debated whether to ban him from Great Britain.

During the three-hour debate, in response to a petition signed by nearly 600,000 Brits, Trump was ignominiously called a "buffoon," a "demagogue," a "joke," a "fool" and an "idiot."

Labour Party member Jack Dromey argued that "Donald Trump is free to be a fool. But he is not free to be a dangerous fool in Britain."

The issue was triggered by the bombastic billionaire's proposal last month to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.

Trump has a habit of often making things up, as he apparently did last year when he said he saw "thousands and thousands" of Muslims in New Jersey cheering when New York's twin towers were destroyed on 9/11. There was no evidence this ever occurred, and Trump hasn't provided any, ridiculing the award-winning New York Times reporter who covered Trump's story and expressed doubts over its authenticity.

More recently, Trump alleged that areas of London populated by Muslim radicals were off-limits to police. Members of Parliament offered during their debate to take him on a tour of the city to prove that was not true.

Other allies are worried about other over-the-top GOP candidates, like freshman Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has called for "carpet bombing" terrorist locations, even if they lie within civilian-populated urban areas.

The contest for the Democratic presidential nomination, between former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a "democratic socialist, is growing nastier, too.

Their race is neck-and-neck in New Hampshire and Iowa, with both of them re-arguing who is to blame for the financial collapse that led to the 2008 recession.

"Senator Sanders, you're the only one on this stage that voted to deregulate the financial market in 2000 ... which (was) one of the main causes of the collapse in '08," Clinton said during Sunday night's debate on NBC.

She was referring to Sanders' vote to deregulate the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000. What Clinton did not say was that her husband, President Bill Clinton, signed the bill into law.

Sanders, a demagogue if ever there were one, is going around the country blaming Wall Street for the subprime mortgage collapse and the Great Recession that followed.

That's not who economist Peter J. Wallison, one of the 10 members of the government's Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, blames.

In a bitter dissent from the commission's 2011 majority report, he blamed powerful members of Congress who pushed "affordable loans" legislation on the mortgage industry that allowed millions of Americans with shaky finances to buy homes they could not afford, with little or no money down.

A housing bubble may happen again, Wallison said in a 2014 New York Times op-ed column. "According to the American Enterprise Institute's National Mortgage Risk Index data set for October 2013, about half of those getting mortgages to buy homes -- not to refinance -- put 5 percent or less down," he said.

Democrats in Congress were responsible for this costly calamity. Lawmakers like former Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and former Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts plunged the economy into a recession with no-down-payment loans.

And in the wake of that economic catastrophe, they are coming up with new ways to bankrupt our country. Consider Sanders' big-spending socialist agenda that, among other things, wants to see "Medicare for All." His single-payer plan would cost a whopping $1.38 trillion a year, according to his campaign documents. The money would come from premiums paid by employers and families, and higher income tax rates.

Sanders' socialist war cry is targeting millionaires and billionaires, major corporations and big businesses, and investors who provide the capital needed to expand businesses, create new start-up firms and good-paying jobs.

But his proposed tax increases won't stop there. He says some middle-class families will pay "slightly more" in taxes, too. His agenda will irreparably hurt our country. It will destroy jobs, shrink incomes and weaken our nation at every level.

The job market remains anemic, especially for college graduates. For millions of us, wages are flat. Retail sales, the economy's most important barometer, fell last month at the height of the Christmas season. What does that tell you?

And now the voters are facing, among the presidential front-runners, the scariest candidate lineup in many years.

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