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Communist Party USA: Eager to Work with the Democratic Party to Advance Communist Goals

Upon its inception in 1919, the CPUSA was inextricably linked to the Soviet Communist International (Comintern), which was controlled by Moscow leadership and possessed “uncontested authority” over all international parties. When it was founded, the Party had approximately 50,000 members.

By the 1920s, the CPUSA’s membership had dwindled to approximately 15,000 because the Comintern forced it to adopt an ultra-revolutionary stance and give up attempts at “coalition building.” The Great Depression presented the Party with an opportunity to recruit and build its membership. Thus the CPUSA used hard times as a propaganda tool to assail the failure of capitalism, targeting particularly the liberal policies of the early FDR administration while successfully infiltrating government agencies, notably the Agricultural Adjustment Administration.

In 1935, with the rise of Nazism, the Comintern changed its policy and adopted the Popular Front tactic, which allowed the CPUSA to pose as the anti-fascist defenders of American liberalism. As Earl Bowder, the leader of the CPUSA from 1935 to 1945, declared, “Communism is Twentieth-Century Americanism.” This new tactic increased the Party’s membership to nearly 100,000 people — its high point — , and it simultaneously allowed the Party to infiltrate a whole host of liberal institutions and use them as front groups. The CPUSA worked especially on becoming a presence within the powerful labor federation, the Congress of Industrial Organizations (which would later merge with the American Federation of Labor, to become the AFL-CIO).

In 1939, the Nazi-Soviet pact brought an end to the CPUSA’s anti-fascist pose. Soon after, the Party returned to its prior aggressive denunciations of mainstream American politics — a move that eventually brought about a collapse in membership, especially when the Party reversed course once again with Hitler’s invasion of the USSR.

After World War II ended, Soviet hostility to the West surfaced once more. In 1944, U.S. Army cryptanalysts broke the code to the KGB’s communications, and by 1948 the Venona project had identified hundreds of espionage operatives in the United States. Although the Roosevelt administration had dismissed Republican assertions that Communists had infiltrated the New Deal, by the late 1940s the Truman administration began to treat the internal Communist threat as a very serious matter.

In 1948, Whittaker Chambers and Elizabeth Bentley, both former Communists, testified before the House Committee on Un-American Activities that Communists had operated in the Roosevelt administration — especially Alger Hiss, who had served as a top official in the State Department. In January 1950, Hiss was convicted. A year later, on March 6, 1951, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, members of the CPUSA and militant Stalinists, were put on trial for espionage and were executed two years later in 1953.  Generations of radicals perceived them as martyrs for the cause and, to this day, many still protest their guilt, even though evidence continues to prove that they engaged in a conspiracy to steal the atomic secrets of the United Stated and deliver them to the USSR.

Joseph McCarthy, United States Senator from Wisconsin from 1947 to 1957, became the most famous and aggressive politician to take up the anti-Communism banner. In 1950, although the purge of the CPUSA from American politics was well underway, McCarthy used anti-Communist sentiment to gain power. Claiming that he was in possession of a list of Communists in the State Department and later in the Truman administration and the U.S. Army, McCarthy propelled himself into the national limelight. His influence was to be short-lived, however; in 1954 he was censured by the Senate for abusing his legislative power. Rather than weeding out Communists in government, McCarthy’s methods became a boon to the radical Left. By evoking the specter of open-ended witch-hunts, he gave the Communist Left a banner around which to regroup.

As the Cold War developed and Congressional legislation targeted its revolutionary activities, the CPUSA had to retreat underground.  In 1956, Nikita Khrushchev’s “secret speech” — denouncing the crimes of Josef Stalin and the Soviet invasion of Hungary — further depleted the CPUSA’s membership, which fell to 3,000.  In 1959, Gus Hall became the leader of a marginalized CPUSA that was a diminished shell of what it had been a generation earlier.

Although the CPUSA’s support of the Soviet invasions of Prague and Afghanistan continued to brand the Party as part of the Old Left, it began to see some increased membership in the 1970s. Some previous Party members now felt it safe to rejoin the organization, and a small number of 1960s radicals also joined the Party.

From its inception, the CPUSA had put resources into recruiting African Americans into ranks. While this effort never yielded many members and collapsed with the advent of the Civil Rights movement in the late 1950s, Herbert Aptheker, a long-time member and founder of the American Institute for Marxist Studies, and Angela Davis now attempted to incorporate racial radicalism into the Party.

While its goal has always been the development of a national Communist Party, in 1984 the CPUSA began to give indirect support to the Democrat Party as the only alternative to the conservatism of the Reagan era. In 1987 Mikhail Gorbachev introduced Perestroika to the Soviet Union, leading eventually to the near disintegration of the CPUSA. In 1992 Herbert Apthetker and Angela Davis split away from the Party to found the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.

In 2008 the CPUSA built what it termed “a labor and people’s alliance” to support Barack Obama’s presidential bid. On January 31, 2009, Sam Webb, the current leader of the CPUSA, gave a speech celebrating that “a friend of labor and its allies sits in the White House.” He described President Obama’s inauguration as a sign that “an era of progressive change is within reach, no longer an idle dream.” According to Webb, the new administration was already considering “a new model of governance” that “would challenge corporate power, profits and prerogatives.”

In October 2010, CPUSA national executive vice-chair Jarvis Tyner spoke in Detroit on the need to for “left and progressive”-minded Americans to vote for Democrats in the upcoming midterm election.

On November 3, 2010 — the day after mid-term elections in which Democrats lost 6 Senate seats, more than 60 House seats, and 7 governorships — CPUSA Labor Commission chairman Scott Marshall emphasized that his organization had worked collaboratively on political campaigns with AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka. SaidMarshall:

“The continuing independence of the labor movement was heightened tremendously by the election, and in very specific ways, not just in general. Not only did the campaigning take place from union hall[s],… but this time, as Trumka told us when he was in Chicago, they began the nuts and bolts [of] building independent labor campaign organizations in five key cities around the country.”

Also on November 3, 2010, the CPUSA praised the Obama administration for having “accomplished many things.” Moreover, the Party:

  • complained that prior to the previous day’s elections, a “corporate-Republican alliance depended on lies, fear, and hatred to spread its message”;
  • praised labor unions for having worked to raise “class consciousness”; and
  • asserted that a key CPUSA priority for the immediate future would be “to deepen and expand class-consciousness.”

Late in 2010, CPUSA member C.J. Atkins called for his comrades to drop their “communist” label, so that they could work more effectively inside the Democratic Party. Soon thereafter, Joe Sims, co-editor of the CPUSA publication Peoples World, acknowledged not only that collaboration with the the Democrats “will be an area of engagement for those wanting to make a difference,” but also that communists might someday be able to “capture” the Democratic Party entirely. Sims warned, however, against dissolving the CPUSA entirely into the Democratic Party. Rather, he advised his organization to remain a separate entity, working both inside and outside the Democratic Party as circumstances required.

On December 5, 2010, the CPUSA held an awards ceremony in Connecticut, where it honored, among others, John Olsen, head of the Connecticut AFL-CIO.

CPUSA’s modus operandi is to delegitimize and smear American society by depicting it as deeply and irremediably infested with racism, sexism, homophobia, and all manner of injustice. Click here, for instance, for an explanation of how the organization in 2014 used its flagship publication, People’s World, to foment racial strife in Ferguson, Missouri, in the aftermath of a white police officer’s fatal shooting of a black suspect.

In January 2015, CPUSA National Committee chairman John Bachtell published an essay in People’s World stating that American Communists were eager to work with the Democratic Party in order to advance communist goals. He wrote, for instance:

“[L]abor and other key social forces are not about to leave the Democratic Party anytime soon. They still see Democrats as the most realistic electoral vehicle to advance their agenda, especially in the national battle against the extreme right. Their main goal at this time is changing DP policies and approaches away from influences of the Wall Street wing and the more conservative elements…. First, we are part of building the broadest anti-ultra right alliance possible…. This necessarily means working with the Democratic Party. Second, our objective is not to build the Democratic Party. At this stage we are about building the broad people’s movement led by labor that utilizes the vehicle of the Democratic Party to advance its agenda. We are about building the movements around the issues roiling wide sections of people that can help shape election contours and debates…. [W]e are for building movements in the electoral arena and see engagement in the electoral arena and democratic governance as a vital means to further build movements.”

CPUSA is a member organization of the United for Peace and Justice anti-war coalition. The group also has strong ties to China, Cuba, and other nations hostile to the United States.

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The Economic Costs to Taxpayers of Refugee Resettlement

I told you recently that the Office of Refugee Resettlement had published its 2015 Annual Report to Congress (a year late, but much better than when it was three years late earlier in RRW’s history).

If any of you citizen investigators want a winter research project, study the whole document and see what other information you can find. (Look back at some previous reports too, see here).

Below are some charts from the report (beginning on page 16) that are very instructive. And, remember readers they survey refugees and often don’t hear back from them, so I expect the numbers could even be worse then they are here (from “responding household,” those willing to talk)—and here they are bad!

By the way, when the Leftist Open Borders gang publishes economic studies that claim that refugees bring economic boom times to struggling communities, they surely don’t factor in the cost of welfare use by refugees (or the education costs, or the criminal justice system costs). LOL!, maybe they figure federal welfare dollars (grown on trees in Washington) flowing to certain communities are income to the community.

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Let’s take SNAP for example (that is food stamps).  Note that 92.5% of refugees who arrived in 2015 went on food stamps, but of those admitted in 2011, 60% are still on food stamps 5 years later!

Interesting too is the figure for housing assistance. Newly arriving refugees get very little, but after they have been here for awhile (see 2011) they find the housing assistance.

Also, note that as they are here longer, more refugees find SSI (for aged, blind, disabled or poor people generally).

Are you listening ‘welcoming’ communities?

“General assistance” is described as ‘benefits’ provided by state and local governments (taxpayers!).

Take special note of the 23% who used that state and local aid.

Aren’t we told REPEATEDLY that refugees do not cost state and local taxpayers anything! (And, this figure likely does not include the cost of educating the children).

There is graph on page 18 worth looking at which shows the same numbers in a different way.

Then here on page 19 we see a comparison between various ethnic groups and their use of welfare.

Although we are admonished by ORR to not compare statistics by country of origin, I ask, then why bother reporting this data yourself since it begs comparison?

Welfare use was highest for refugees arriving from predominantly Muslim countries in 2015—Iraq and Somalia—as shown in this table from page 19.  See that they sure knew how to suck up the state and local “general assistance” as well.

(If you are wondering, the Bhutanese are mostly Hindu, the Burmese mostly Christian, but we are admitting Rohingya Muslims from Burma now, Cubans of course are mostly Christians, Iraqis mostly Muslim, and Somalis all Muslim).

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This post is filed in our ‘where to find information’ category and in our ‘refugee statistics’ archive.

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More on the “dumb” Australia deal: Which American towns will volunteer to take them?

‘New Americans’ activist group set for rallies tomorrow at mosques, airports, etc.

Here comes the truth! Do-gooder refugee agencies fear job losses—theirs!

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Suggestion for President Trump: Save up to $45 billion by cutting International Rescue Committee funding

Everyday I start my day at around 5 a.m. with CNN.  I recommend that you all consider doing that (not necessarily at that hour!) because it is so informative to see how they spin the news each and every day. Kind of fires me up to get to work!

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David Miliband (left) and George Soros.

In 2013, Miliband awarded George Soros the IRC’s Freedom Award (this is not a joke, or fake news!).

This morning CNN showed a clip of the International Rescue Committee’s CEO David Miliband whining (in his snooty British accent!) about Trump’s EO on refugees.  I tried to find the clip just now, but couldn’t.  But it doesn’t matter.

This is what you need to know (especially you lazy reporters who never mention that the refugee contractors, including the IRC, are largely taxpayer funded while you pretend their intentions are pure as the driven snow!).

The IRC is one of the nine major federally funded refugee contractors.

David Miliband is a British national who came over from the UK a few years back to run the International Rescue Committee which places refugees in a couple dozen US cities. He was a former Foreign Secretary and is the brother of ‘Red’ Ed.

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The International Rescue Committee had an annual income stream of $688,920,920 for the year ending September 2015 according to ‘Charity Navigator.’ 

66.5% of that income came from you—the U.S. taxpayer!

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Miliband is paid annual compensation of $591,846! What the h*** does he do for that kind of money? Doing well by doing good, but is he?

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And, here is where the IRC is placing refugees in America (screenshot from their website):

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Think about it! A rich British elitist is changing American cities and we taxpayers pay him to do it!So my suggestion to the President is to begin balancing the US budget by cutting off the supposed humanitarians, especially the foreign ones being paid handsome salaries out of the US Treasury! Let them raise PRIVATE money from those who want refugees seeded throughout America. Heck, the US taxpayer could save almost a half a billion bucks annually by pulling them off the federal teat!

We have a lot more on Miliband (Hillary had a crush on him, he likes her smile), click here for more.

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Twin Falls, Idaho: Former Idaho Chief Justice calls out Breitbart and World Net Daily for their refugee coverage

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Oxfam Uses Absurd Metrics and Gets Absurd Results by Chelsea Follett

Every year, Oxfam releases a report meant to shock the public about the extent of income and wealth inequality. This year’s report claims that the eight richest people on Earth have as much wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population (3.6 out of 7.2 billion people). That’s certainly shocking. It’s also profoundly misleading.

As others have pointed out, Oxfam reached that number with a questionable methodology, which also led them to several other absurd conclusions. According to their own graphs, more poor people live in North America and Europe than China (see the far left of the chart below). How can that be, given that traditional poverty measures show the opposite?

Oxfam isn’t using a traditional poverty measure (such as the number of people with a purchasing-power-adjusted income of less than, say, $2 per day). Instead, they focus on something called “net wealth.” This is the sum of an individual’s wealth minus any debts.

Of course, many people in rich countries carry debt due to university loans or a home mortgage, yet also enjoy high incomes and an enviable standard of living.

Here are some illustrations of just how absurd it is to use net wealth as a measure of poverty.

Consider this. Oxfam claims a penniless, starving man in rural Asia or Sub-Saharan Africa is far richer than an American university graduate with student debt but a high-paying office job, a $2,000 laptop and a penchant for drinking $8 designer coffees.

Let that sink in.

(I must credit Cato’s Adam Bates for that example).

Here is another example, courtesy of Johan Norberg. He points out that his daughter, a child with only about twenty dollars in her piggy bank, is richer than 2 billion people by Oxfam’s logic. If that were true, then the solution would surely not be to take away the humble savings of his daughter and redistribute them among those 2 billion souls, but rather to generate more total wealth, “enlarging the pie” so to speak.

That’s the core problem with obsessing over “inequality.” If the goal is to further human wellbeing, then instead of decreasing inequality through redistribution, we should focus on decreasing poverty by creating ever more wealth. Happily, thanks to the wealth-creating power of market exchange, we’re doing just that. The trend lines all show that poverty (by any reasonable measure) is in retreat.

Republished from the Cato Institute.

Chelsea Follett

Chelsea Follett

Chelsea Follet works at the Cato Institute as a Researcher and Managing Editor of HumanProgress.org.

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Trump’s ‘Honeymoon’ Non-Existent, as Alt-Left ‘Radicals’ Rally by David Horowitz

Donald Trump’s presidency has been marked by protests from campaign season to win, robbing him of the normal seven or so months incoming leaders of the high office are afforded in order to get their cabinet picks in place and acclimate themselves to the business of governing.

Alt-Left protesters.

That’s according to David Horowitz, who penned an insightful piece in Breitbart.

Donald Trump’s campaign and rise to the White House have been marked by protests and opposition rallies, and he’s being robbed of the time normally afforded incoming presidents to acclimate to the White House because the far-left refuses to take a break.

It opened:

“According to Gallup, the average presidential honeymoon lasts seven months. This is a window when the losing party declares a partisan peace, allows the incoming president to pick his cabinet and launch the agenda his victory mandates. Presidential honeymoons are not only a venerable American tradition they are one of democracy’s pillars. For generations they have been ceremonial supports for the peaceful transition of power, and the peaceful resolution of partisan conflicts.

“Not this election year. There will be no honeymoon. This year even before Trump arrives in the Oval Office, the opposition cry has been Resist! Block! Reject! It is not just anti-American radicals like Michael Moore, who has indeed called for “100 days of resistance” to the Trump presidency, but by the leadership of the Democratic Party which has vowed to fight Trump’s appointments, has attacked the election result as an expression of popular racism, attempted to discredit the Electoral College by falsely calling it a legacy of slavery, and even accused Trump of being a Russian agent, a pawn in the chess game of its dictator Vladimir Putin. It is a sad day for America when the world’s oldest political party, whose name proclaims it a partisan of democracy, comes out in force as a saboteur of that same system.”

The blame can be found in the far-left shift of the Democratic Party.

From Horowitz on Breitbart again:

“Nor is all this simply a fit of Democratic absent-mindedness. Instead, it is the culmination of a long developing shift in Democratic Party politics, a shift symbolized by the current favorite to become its next leader. Keith Ellison is a Muslim radical who spent his formative adult years as a vocal supporter of the anti-American, anti-Semitic racist Louis Farrakhan. Ellison reflects the power of the Bernie Sanders radicals in the Democratic Party who according to recent Gallup polls now represent its majority, even though they lost a rigged primary election which would have made him the party’s presidential nominee.

“The face of this new Democratic Party was revealed during a seminal moment in the second Clinton-Trump presidential debate. It came when Trump turned to the cameras and said, “Hillary has tremendous hatred in her heart.” He was referring to her now notorious statement that half of Trump’s supporters belonged in a “basket of deplorables,” which was followed by her iteration of those she had in mind: “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic—you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”

“What made this moment pivotal was that the slurs were not an idiosyncratic tic of the Democratic standard-bearer and leader of the party’s “moderate” wing. They were the logical expression of the identity politics that had become the party’s creed. If every political issue and conflict is reduced to a conflict of races, genders and ethnic origins this inevitably leads to the demonization of the opposition as racist, sexist … deplorable. It is this mentality that has swallowed the Democratic Party and caused it to view politics not as an art of compromise but as a war against the indecent and the irredeemable. There can be no more succinct summary of what the Democrats’ rejection of the traditional presidential honeymoon is about.”

So here comes Trump, with what radical leftists see as a revolutionary idea – to bring America back to the level of sane politicking, when even opposing views weren’t automatically filtered through the lens of racism, or gender wars, or the like.

Horowitz, once again:

“This why the attempt to reverse the election result, block Trump’s appointments and cripple his agendas will fail. Other Republicans faced with such extreme attacks on their appointments would have thrown many of them under the bus. But Trump himself has been the target of such attacks from the outset of his campaign. The reason he has been so attacked has been his readiness to confront head on what is called “political correctness” but what is in fact a party line demonizing anyone who challenges it as a racist, sexist, Islamophobic — deplorable.

“This is the revolution that Trump represents. It will succeed or fail on whether the American people are ready to reject the racial, gender and ethnic divisiveness that has become the policy of the Democratic Party; whether they are ready to restore the American social contract that regards individuals on their merits, regardless of race, color or creed. In short it will succeed or fail on whether they are ready to make America great again.”

RELATED ARTICLE: The president alone can conclude treaties and trade agreements, there is no role for Congress

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The Geller Report.

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Why Cheap Muslim Refugee Labor has Taken Over Meatpacking Jobs

Editor:  We occasionally post comments or guest posts from readers that are so informative that we don’t want them lost where comments are normally posted.  This is from a reader answering my perennial question about how it came to be that good paying American jobs in the meatpacking industry have now become low paying jobs for immigrants and refugees.

Before you read what Deena has to say, check out a post I wrote in 2008 about how President Bill Clinton brought tens of thousands of mostly Muslim Bosnians in to the US to do meatpacking jobs in Iowa in the mid-1990s (with the help of Lavinia Limon who was Bill Clinton’s director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement). The business model allows BIG MEAT (or LOL! BIG YOGURT) to pay low wages which are then supplemented by welfare that you pay for!

The US State Department is acting as a head-hunter for big business, so forget about the humanitarian mumbo-jumbo they are trying to sell!

From Deena:

You asked if slaughterhouse work used to be a good job. It did; and, in fact, was heavily unionized until sometime in the late 80’s or early 90’s, I believe.

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Brazilian owned JBS (formerly Swift & Co).

It had its own union (Amalgamated Meat Cutters (AMC)) and the former president of the Iowa AFL-CIO back when I worked for the national AFL-CIO came out of this union. This work was among the best in pay and benefits in the US along with auto work because basically the entire industry was unionized; and like in the UAW, workers spent a lifetime in the trade.

This is a photo I took on my fact-finding mission in the heartland this past summer. Meat giant JBS (formerly Swift & Co) is a Brazilian owned company that encourages Somali refugee labor, and as such it is changing the demographic make-up of Greeley, Colorado.

It ended when the market was flooded by foreign workers – largely illegal. The decent paying companies – and most then fell into this category – were unable to compete with low-paid-unskilled-foreign-worker-filled companies which sprang up. The pay is now about 55% of what it was then. Forget benefits.

The union merged into what is now known as the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW), which largely represents retail workers. The ‘meat cutters’ of today are more likely to cut and package large sections of pre-cut meat into individual packages for purchase by shoppers in local grocery stores like Kroger where I live.

The actual slaughterhouse industry has high turnover – some logging over 100% in a year. The work is hard on the body and dangerous, which is why the wages used to be reasonably high. I’m sure OSHA still requires the posting of health and safety rules but I doubt if most of the workers can even read them, let alone care about them.

Back when Bush was staging company raids, the first things a company would do after losing its illegal workers to a raid were to raise wages to attract legal workers to this hard, dirty work and to offer bonuses to workers who could bring in new workers, proving that this was work that US workers would do, just not for the wages and conditions that prevailed in the plants where illegal workers set the standards. [And where legal refugees are now hired at those low wages—ed]

Construction work has largely followed slaughterhouse work.

The AFL-CIO used to be against massive immigration because of what I just outlined: the law of supply and demand in which large numbers of workers who will work for low wages under bad conditions drive down wages for the remaining ones who stay and force those who can’t or won’t work for these wages out of the field. It changed after Sweeney-Trumka came in 1996, bringing several operatives from the Democratic Party.

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Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL)

Recently the AFL-CIO has toed the Democratic Party’s line on immigration – more and faster – and has paid the price.

Their idea seems to be that they can organize these low wage workers, but it doesn’t work out that way. The union numbers keep decreasing. SEIU*** has enjoyed some success but they are organizing workers at low wages who can be easily replaced. If necessary, companies like WalMart simply subcontract out work like janitorial work to companies who will hire illegal workers on the cheap.

Construction companies hire subcontractors for wall boarding, painting, and roofing. Young men who would like a start in construction don’t get hired at these entry level jobs and so don’t make their way up the ladder.

The loss of such careers as meatpacking and construction to non-college educated men is a shame and a disaster.

In 2013, Senator Jeff Sessions called out Trumka and the meat packer lobbyists on the Gang of Eight bill, a bill to legalize more cheap laborers. This is why they hate him so much!

The MSM made much of women voting for Trump. I’d be willing to bet that many non-college educated women would be far happier for their husbands still to be able to get those better paying jobs so that they didn’t have to work full-time and could spend more time at home when the kids are small.

***See our post over the weekend where SEIU is attempting to organize Rohingya refugees.

For more comments worth noting and guest posts, click here.

Sessions photo!  please read this!

Senator Jeff Sessions has been a stalwart in fighting for American workers in the US Senate and tomorrow the Left will try to destroy him!

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Rochester, NY: Confirmation that the US State Department has packed the pipeline with refugees in advance of Trump

Chicago: Story about Rohingya Muslim airport workers is instructive

Getting new housing in your town? Then you will get refugees!

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Iran built on stolen property — Trump should take it back

President-elect Donald Trump was right during the campaign to call the Iran nuclear agreement “the worst deal ever negotiated” by the United States government.

Not only did it reward a terrorist state with $100 billion of frozen oil revenues (some say, $150 billion), it dismantled an extensive armature of international sanctions that had cut Iran’s oil exports in half, banned it from the international financial system, and was beginning to threaten the regime with domestic unrest.

Obama tried to set this bad nuclear deal in concrete by incorporating most of its measures into a United Nations Security Council Resolution.

This will make its undoing more complicated than some analysts imagine. It’s not just a piece of paper President Trump can rip up, as a group of American nuclear scientistsimply. The international sanctions regime Obama destroyed took years to build and cannot be reconstructed in a day.

But the incoming president and Congress have other options for ratcheting up pressure on the Iranian regime, options that can be enacted unilaterally.

A group of conservative leaders released a letter to House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) on Thursday, commending him for a resolution he introduced in the final days of the last Congress on the restitution of or compensation for property wrongly confiscated by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“Totalitarian regimes historically have confiscated property from individuals whose sole ‘crime’ consisted of supporting the previous government,” the letter states.

“When the Islamic regime seized power in 1979, it followed in the footsteps of these earlier totalitarians.”

The letter, and spearheaded by the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, which I chair, recalled Congressional action against previous cases of unjust expropriation, most notably the Helms-Burton Act — also known as the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 — which penalized foreign companies trafficking in property stolen from Cuban nationals.

“Pro-Castro advocates screamed that Helms-Burton would cause irrevocable harm to the United States with friends and allies around the world. Nothing of the sort occurred,” the letter states.

“We believe the time has come to envisage a similar measure for the victims of the Islamic Republic of Iran, many of whom have become United States citizens, whose properties were unjustly expropriated.”

Signatories to the letter include Colin A. Hanna, President of Let Freedom Ring; Admiral James “Ace” Lyons, Jr, former Pacific Fleet commander; Frank Gaffney, President and CEO of the Center for Security Policy; Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation; Amy Ridenour, Chairman of the National Center for Public Policy Research; Ellen Sauerbrey, former Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration; and myself.

The letter also won support and was signed by Iranian-American human rights advocates and journalists and by leaders of the American Middle East Coalition for Trump.

On July 7, 1979, the new Islamic state in Iran issued a decree seizing the assets of 51 supporters of the previous regime and their families. A few weeks later, a revolutionary Court issued a separate order confiscating the assets of another 209 individuals and their families.

According to court documents the claimants provided to me, the properties seized included major factories and industrial conglomerates, hotels, private residences, real estate, land, stock, and other holdings, which today are worth more than $100 billion.

In all, thousands of Iranians were directly robbed by the Islamic regime, and millions more were terrorized with the threat of confiscations.

Many of these individuals subsequently fled to America and became U.S. citizens. But few were American citizens at the time of the revolution, and thus have been unable to seek restitution through the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal in The Hague, or through U.S. courts.

Their assets were turned over to para-state foundations, known as “bonyads,” which are owned or controlled by the Supreme Leader or the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Despite the extensive sanctions relief included in the bad Iran deal, the IRGC continues to be subject to United States government sanctions because it kills Americans in state-sponsored terror attacks around the world.

Ordinary Iranians understand that the ruling clerics have plundered their country. How else could a village cleric such as “Supreme Leader” Ali Khamenei personally own a commercial empire the U.S. Treasury has estimated to be worth more than $40 billion? A separate 2013 Reuters investigation found that the property confiscations on behalf of Iran’s clerical leadership were about $95 billion.

A Congressionally-enacted Iran Assets Recovery Plan would be a powerful weapon the ruling clerics in Iran could not ignore.

Not only would it bring justice to some of the many victims of the Islamic state in Iran, it would put the Iranian regime’s foreign partners on notice.

Traffic in stolen property at your peril. A regime founded on theft will end up bankrupt, in jail, or dead.

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What’s Truly Remarkable about Bitcoin: It Exists by Jeffrey Tucker

It was the second week of February 2013 when I first ventured a public opinion that Bitcoin is the real deal. The dollar exchange rate was at $25, on its way toward another run-up and crash that had been the pattern for two years.

I had just returned from a conference where some Bitcoiners surrounded me and force-fed me the information I needed to know. It would take another two months before I wrapped my brain around it enough to be able to write an article. But in these early days, it was enough publicly to dispense with incredulity to cause the ceiling to fall in.

To this day, I’ve never faced such a barrage of criticism. Derision, ridicule, outrage, disgust – I saw it on my feed, all of it very personal and hugely inflammatory. It was my first experience with what it is like to feel like that whole world is against you (an illusion social media specializes in creating).

And yet I completely understood why. I had been reviewing submissions on Bitcoin since 2009, and I had not been a believer either.

Money for Nothing?

How can you create money out of computer code? That struck me as absurd, a techno version of alchemy. Money had to grow out of commodities used in barter – this is what Carl Menger had proven. If Bitcoin had a value, it had to be an error, a result of clever marketing, like any Ponzi scheme. Like many observers at the time (and there weren’t that many), I had no idea about the underlying payment system (the Blockchain) or the complex history of fits and starts that led to its creation in 2008. I had read the original “white paper” but could hardly understand the language.

So, yes, I dismissed it.

Bitcoin Didn’t Care About My Theory

Groucho Marx once said: “Who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?”

After having acquired Bitcoin and used it, I had to deal with something that became profoundly important in my own intellectual life. I had to recognize the reality of something my mind could not explain. I had been writing about money, its history and theory, since college. I thought I knew it all. Now this thing came along that blew up all my understanding. Who was I going to believe, myself or my own eyes?

I finally decided in favor of my eyes. The market had outwitted my expertise. This was a very humbling experience for me, and it taught me a lesson I hope never to forget. Never become so wrapped up in the certainty of your own opinions that you fail to look out the window and walk the streets to discover something that challenges what you think you know. It’s a Hayekian point but one that intellectuals are prone to ignore.

First Public Writing

As Bitcoin reaches the age of 7 and is again floating around an exchange rate of 1BTC to $1,000, I decided to look back at my first public writing on the topic (April 1, 2013), just to re-experience the lesson. And by the way, all credit to Max Borders (then the editor of FEE) and Lawrence Read (president of FEE) for daring to publish this piece, which defied all conventional wisdom. They were willing to take the risk on this piece, which was probably the first major article in the established free-market opinion world to say: this is real and it matters.

As I look back, I put the most important point up front:

Understanding Bitcoin requires that we understand the limits of our ability to imagine the future that the market can create for us.

Thirty years ago, for example, if someone had said that electronic text—digits flying through the air and landing in personalized inboxes owned by us all that we check at will at any time of the day or night—would eventually displace first-class mail, you might have said it was impossible.

After all, not even the Jetsons had email. Elroy brought notes home from his teacher on pieces of paper. Still, email has largely displaced first-class mail, just as texting, social networking, private messaging, and even digital vmail via voice-over-Internet are replacing the traditional telephone.

It turns out that the future is really hard to imagine, especially when entrepreneurs specialize in surprising us with innovations. The markets are always outsmarting even the most wild-eyed dreamers, and they are certainly smarter than the intellectual who keeps saying: such and such cannot happen.

It’s the same today. What if I suggested that digital money could eventually come to replace government paper money?

I then marched through the reasons for my conversion to the cause. The main one was the realization that Bitcoin reproduced a key feature of money that no previous attempt at digital money had achieved: scarcity. The algorithm assigned property rights to the units in question. At that point, this was enough for me to see that it could become money. It would take another year before I discerned its intellectual origins, and another half-year before I could intelligently explain why Bitcoin gained value in the first place.

My first article concluded:

It’s possible that Bitcoin will flop. Maybe it is just the first generation. Maybe thousands of people will lose their shirts in this first go-round. But is the digitization of money coming? Absolutely. Will there always be skeptics out there? Absolutely. But in this case, they are not in charge. Markets will do what they do, building the future whether we approve or understand it fully or not. The future will not be stopped.

And Yet, the Price Doesn’t Matter

Like many observers, I became caught up in the exchange rate madness, thinking that a higher rate confirmed my embrace while a lower rate raised doubts. In my mind, I became a cheerleader for the Bitcoin boom and correctly predicted the first price break above $1,000 (December 2013) but failed to predict the bust that followed.

In retrospect, I should have stayed focussed on my main theme that started me off on this journey. The remarkable thing about Bitcoin is not its upward trajectory in valuation, the rate of its adoption, the pace which which it made its march to the mainstream. All that comes in time, and no one is in charge of the process or pace or direction of change. The main insight I had at the time is still the right one. What’s wonderful about Bitcoin is that it exists at all.

Money for the digital age, and without the state: the concept has been proven. That’s what matters. The technology is known. It works. It represents a path for reforming the world’s monetary and legal systems. It points to a bright future.

It is all the more wonderful to consider the glorious way in which Bitcoin has outsmarted the experts, including me. And this is precisely why I adore market forces so much. No one is in charge of them. No one can consistently outthink them. Markets keep us humble. They constantly remind us that even the most astute and prescient observer can be surprised, even shocked.

I like living in such a world, one where the future is not only unknown but unknowable. That will always be true, and this is also why no one will finally gain control of it.

That is the lesson that the astonishing experience with Bitcoin teaches us.

Jeffrey Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Content for the Foundation for Economic Education. He is also Chief Liberty Officer and founder of Liberty.me, Distinguished Honorary Member of Mises Brazil, research fellow at the Acton Institute, policy adviser of the Heartland Institute, founder of the CryptoCurrency Conference, member of the editorial board of the Molinari Review, an advisor to the blockchain application builder Factom, and author of five books. He has written 150 introductions to books and many thousands of articles appearing in the scholarly and popular press.

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You Will Comply: The Regulatory Menace vs. America

The regulatory hive centered in Washington, D.C., buzzes with a power and reach that even the Caesars never imagined. And they were considered gods.

Federal regulators can bankrupt companies, distort markets and shut down entire industries with their decrees — the rules that implement Congressional laws. They can also move or slow entire economies and prop up or undermine Presidents. Not good.

Here’s how it works.

Laws are often and by necessity general. The rule-writing and rule enforcement is where the power is. Regulators, lifelong employees with little accountability to the people, write the rules and enforce the rules. If you as a private citizen or a business person have the misfortune of running awry of the regulators, you have virtually no recourse.

They are all powerful. Like gods of an industry. And like all people, they are given to ideology, partisanship and self-interest.

So here is the dynamic: Ideological, partisan, all-powerful regulators write and enforce rules and are unaccountable to the people. This is why so many conservatives want deregulation, in addition to the job-creating economic boost.

Their power is really stunning. Because of that, we have the armies of lobbyists. People mistakenly think the lobbyists are only interested in persuading the politicians. Actually what they are looking for is language that will help their industry or hurt their competitors — when the regulators write the rules. They can also lobby — unofficially — the regulators themselves.

What we have seen in spurts with FDR and Nixon was a corrupting of certain federal regulators. But what we have seen in recent years is a wholesale corrupting of regulatory agencies along ideological and partisan lines. Here’s a few.

  • The U.S. Department of Justice selectively enforcing laws
  • The IRS in blocking the non-profit status of tea party and conservative organizations, thus eliminating their influence
  • The Environmental Protection Agency used on multiple levels to achieve political aims
  • The Department of Homeland Security body-patting grandma while allowing burka-covered Muslim women through in the name of multicultural correctness
  • The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency that refuses to enforce immigration laws and allows millions of people to come and live here illegally
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture targeting of small farmers and closing down “undesirable” farmers and ranchers

Abuse by the EPA undermine Trump

And so now we come to this moment. The EPA regulators have changed the agency’s report on fracking in groundwater contamination to make it more difficult for future approvals.

In last year’s draft version, the EPA reported that there were no “widespread systematic impacts on drinking water.” That report said the number of contaminated sites was quite small compared to the number of fracking sites and concluded the impact to be minimal. Good for the fracking industry, jobs, energy costs and energy independence.

However, that did not make the anti-fracking environmentalists happy, and those conclusions are now gone from the final report that just came out — one month before the new president is sworn in. Now the same EPA — based on the same data — reports that there is not enough evidence to dismiss the water contamination threat and says more vaguely that fracking activities “can impact drinking water resources under some circumstances.”

This is regulatory abuse at its clearest, because it is supposedly relying on scientific evidence to tweak the wording. But what it does is empower regulators to deny permits, allow stronger legal challenges to fracking and, probably most specifically, undermines Trump’s stated desire to open up more fracking to create American jobs and energy independence.

Abuse by the Fed undermine Trump

The Federal Reserve manipulates interest rates to spur the economy or try to slow it. The supposedly politically independent organization has kept interest rates at record lows for almost the entire Obama presidency. Obviously the economy needed all the help it could get, and it still wasn’t enough.

But interestingly, right before Trump takes office the Fed is planning a rapid series of rate increases. Either the Fed leadership knows exactly which policies goose the economy (Trump’s, not Obama’s) or they are actively trying to undermine a Trump recovery.

We never know what is going on inside of the secretive Fed, but given that Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellin chaired Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors and was appointed to the Fed’s top seat by Obama, who appoints fellow ideologues, it seems likely that it is not suddenly a clear view of what is good for the economy. If that is right, then this is another abuse of one of the most powerful and unaccountable of regulators.

This will not be the end of the Regulatory State’s attempts to undermine Trump at every turn. We saw this regularly in the Bush Administration, particularly in the State Department.

Americans should not have to fear the federal government and whatever local regulators show up at the door. But many do. And virtually all businesses do. Now, Republican presidents also must deal with the menace.

This needs to stop. But that will be a Herculean task, requiring a commitment to substantially reducing the size and scope of the federal government through agency elimination and deep funding cuts.

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90,000 Pages of Bureaucratic Hell

There are records, and then there are records.

A month ago, I blogged that President Barack Obama’s Federal Register, the daily depository of rules and regulations, stood at 81,640 pages for 2016.

That topped the all-time record—also held by Obama—of 81,405 pages in 2010.

And it happened before Thanksgiving. Since November 17, the Federal Register has been setting a new record every day.

But this morning is special. Today standing at 91,642 pages, the Federal Register is 10,000 pages higher than the prior all-time record.

Ninety-thousand pages is heretofore unheard of. Up until this year, the 80,000 page mark was the shocker, and had been passed just three times (in 2010, 2011 and 2015).

The chart below shows the 15 highest Federal Register page counts. Of the 10 highest-ever counts, Obama holds seven.

For ideas on how to reform the federal regulatory state, see the relevant section of CEI’s Agenda for Congress and our recent Web Memo, “First Steps for the Trump Administration: Rein in the Regulatory State.”

Republished from AEI.

Clyde Wayne Crews

Clyde Wayne Crews

Wayne Crews is vice president for policy and director of technology studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

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At New Highs, Bitcoin Is a Global Safe Haven Asset

The market cap of Bitcoin surpassed the $14 bln margin for the first time in history, breaking its all-time record high previously set in 2014. The surging value of Bitcoin led to extensive mainstream media coverage and social media attraction, with Bitcoin earning a spot on the trending section of social media platforms like Twitter.

In the morning of December 22, Bitcoin crossed the $14 bln mark to establish its highest market cap to date. Additionally, Bitcoin officially recorded a 100 percent year-to-date price increase, surpassing the performance of well-performing currencies like the Russian ruble by large margins.

Mainstream media outlets including Reuters, Business Insider and CNBC immediately began to publicize Bitcoin’s most significant milestone in recent years, as Bitcoin continues to surge in value with mainstream speculation and increasing demand from dominant markers such as China.

While the price has stalled slightly since its initial surge earlier today, the price of Bitcoin reached $874 at its daily peak, surpassing a six-month high value.

An optimistic view towards Bitcoin

One of the positive aspects of Bitcoin’s price surge that occurred this week is the optimistic view from the mainstream media and high profile investors. Amid the price spike in June, investors and traders were able to pinpoint particular reasons behind the increasing value. In June, it was Brexit, which pushed Bitcoin to multi-month high trading prices.

However, this month’s performance of Bitcoin is difficult to generalize as the price of Bitcoin continued to increase amid global economic and financial instability. For instance, when the Chinese government announced its plans to crack down on wealth management products, the price of Bitcoin increased slightly. The price of Bitcoin also was on an upward trend when the Indian government demonetized certain banknotes and created a nationwide financial wreckage and panic.

Thus, as investors like Mati Greenspan, a senior market analyst at eToro and other analysts as well as mainstream media outlets state that the recent surge in the value of Bitcoin can simply be attributed to the general population treating Bitcoin as a global currency and protection asset. In other words, Bitcoin has officially become a global safe haven asset.

EDITORS NOTE: This piece ran on CoinTelegraph.

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Best Affordable Care Tips for Your Health and Safety

Medical alert systems – the most affordable and effective means for ensuring your health safety. Having been introduced in the 1970s these small devices have since saved a great number of lives. The mechanism is easy and simple – push the button of the device that is normally worn either around your neck or wrist, when an emergency occurs and there is no one around to help you. You will get connected with the professional staff of a call center which differs from company to company. The latter will send people to your rescue.

Medical alert systems are especially good for seniors – those who live alone. It’s no news that old age brings about a number of health issues – memory loss, heart attacks, strokes, seizures, and the like, – and no one wants their loved ones to be alone and helpless when facing these problems. Here is when medical alert systems come to the fore and release you from all the worries about your senior relatives living alone.

Whenever they fall down – be it accidentally or as a result of some illness – regardless of them being far from the phone, all that is required from them would be pushing the button of their medical alert system and the help will be there in no time.

With medical alert systems you get the best affordable care for your loved ones or yourself. Now let’s dive in deeper into the subject by playing a game of questions and answers. Read on to find out the answers to all the questions regarding medical alert systems, their purchasing process and other minute details that will help you choose the best one for affordable health care.

What to Look for in Medical Alert Systems?

In helping you choose the best medical alert systems at the same time we provide you with highly effective health care tips. Health care is of crucial importance especially when it comes to safety of the elderly. Medical alert systems are a key to this safety and in order for them to function properly and contribute to the health care of your loved ones you need to have the skills and knowledge to choose the right one.

The best medical alert systems come with certain important features that are the basis of their “successful functioning”. So let’s have a look at these important features that you should seek in every medical alert system:

  • Alarm Buttons: Any quality company that you apply for a medical alert system will by all means offer you a selection between pendant and wristband types of buttons. The further choice is a matter of individual preference.
  • Wall-Mounted Help Buttons: Check out the availability of installing wall-mounted buttons throughout your house. This will be very helpful in case you “get into trouble” and don’t have your medical alert system around your neck or on your wrist. You can call for help with the help of these buttons.
  • Contact Listing: A quality and customer-oriented medical alert service will preserve a list of contacts and let you choose whom to call for your rescue. Maybe all you need is just a neighbour’s kind assistance.
  • Battery Backup: This point is crucial and makes up an important part of our care tips because of the simple reason that if your medical alert system lacks battery backup then in case of sudden power cuts it will be of no use. Battery backup will enable the functioning of your medical alert system even if there is no trace of electricity in your house.
  • Call Center: Speaking about the call center, we recommend you to check carefully whether it is of high quality and whether or not the staff is professional. For this exact purpose, the main way of checking the professionalism of the members of the call center staff is to make sure they are certified by the Underwriters Laboratory or UL. The latter qualifies companies according to the standards of quality they provide for customer care. Make sure your call center not only qualifies for these standards but also passes them on a regular basis.

What is the Amount of Coverage Provided by Your Medical Alert System?

Here arises another important question regarding medical alert systems. You should know how much coverage you or your loved one need. The answer to this depends on the type and size of house you live in. However, regardless of your house type, be it a big three-storey house with a garden, a small cottage, or an apartment, you should be sure that your medical alert system has enough amount of coverage and will function not only everywhere in the house, but in the yard/garden as well.

Landline or Cellular Service?

The next thing you should ask yourself refers to the type of medical alert system you want. Landline service is considered highly reliable but requires the presence of an available phone line. However, if you don’t have a phone line, then the cellular medical alert system will function as good. The rest depends on your personal choice.

Do You Need Fall Detection?

This question sounds about the same as “Do you need an additional safety feature?” The answer is obviously positive. Of course, you do! This feature might especially be of great relevance if you or your loved ones suffer from any kind of disease. You are never fully secured even with a medical alert system on your neck or wrist. But you can be if you buy one with the feature of fall detection.

Fall detection means the availability of special motion detection sensors that are normally built in into the medical alert system. They will detect the falling of a person and call for help automatically. Don’t hesitate to pay a bit more for this feature!

Are Medication Reminders Effective?

Some companies might offer special reminder-services that tell the elderly that it’s time to take their medication. This is done either automatically or through a base station and over the phone. This will be a good option for those suffering from regular memory losses.

What Do I Need to Know about the Medical Alert System Pricing Technique?

To start with, keep in mind that the concept of price is very relative and that neither a very low price nor a high one will ensure high quality. However, when talking about the prices of medical alert systems, we shall say that they are generally not very expensive, but require monthly or yearly fees. The latter differ from company to company.

Some companies might offer you to sign contracts. We advise you either not to agree to this, especially if they insist on it much, or do it with the help of a lawyer because these contracts can be really tricky and have some hidden fees.

Make sure the company provides you with price guarantee. If it doesn’t, it might raise your monthly fees later.

Another important tip is that you should find out the system activation fee beforehand so as not to have to face unexpected issues later.

And last but not least, don’t forget to buy a medical alert system that comes with a warranty. The latter will help you avoid wasting hundreds of dollars in case of any system malfunctions.

Medical alert systems are highly efficient and are worth the money, but following our tips you will get the best buy and the most affordable health care service.

What about the Lockbox?

For those who don’t know, a lockbox is a special box that comes with a lock combination chosen according to your preferences, it is kept outside of your house and contains a spare set of your house keys with the help of which the emergency staff won’t have to break the door in order to enter your house. This is very beneficial in terms of your budget as it will help you avoid further “door renovations” requiring hundreds of dollars.

Having learnt all these tips and bought a medical alert system that meets all our instructions as well as your expectations, you can be sure that the health care of your loved ones or yourself is fully secured. Find out the best companies that have positive reviews by the majority of their customers (we have singled out the best ones for you to make your purchase easier), check the medical alert systems they offer, the features they provide and choose the one you consider the best fit for yourself from all aspects mentioned above.

Don’t forget to test the medical alert system after you complete the installation process. There is usually a test button, in case your device lacks one, simply push the alarm button that connects you with the call center to be sure it functions.

What refers to the installation, it is utterly easy and doesn’t require much time. You can do it by simply reading the step-by-step instructions that most companies will provide you with. In case you have trouble with the installation process, simply call the company’s service center and they will give you further instructions on the phone.

Note: Don’t trust a company that wants to send a specialist with you for the installation, let alone requires additional fees for it. No high-quality company would do such a thing because of the simple fact that the installation of a medical alert system is extremely easy! In essence, all it takes you is to plug in the device into the wall.

Follow the health care of your loved ones and yourself, buy the best medical alert systems and keep yourself secure in all emergency situations!

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Advertising agencies ‘confidence high heading into 2017’ — Digital Video gains over TV

CHICAGO, IL /PRNewswire/ — According to a fourth quarter survey of advertising agencies conducted by STRATA, a Comcast company, confidence among agencies heading into 2017 is high. Forty-three percent of agencies report that their business will increase in the first quarter of 2017, while only 11% expect a decrease. Forty-two percent of respondents anticipate the need for additional staff next year, and not a single agency reports plans to reduce staff sizes. This comes in contrast to Q2 this year, which found that the rate of hires was decreasing, and concerns over needing to reduce staff sizes were increasing rapidly.

When asked what the biggest challenges ahead were, 51% stated that their biggest concern was expanding their client roster, followed by determining the right media mix (22%). Only 13% of agencies felt that client retention was their chief concern, reflecting confidence in existing relationships.

The fourth quarter survey found video advertising remains the dominant focus, with 34% of agencies noting their clients’ primary focus was local TV & cable. For the first time the survey’s history, digital video claimed the second spot, with 27% of agencies responding that it was their primary focus, a 79% increase over the previous year. Display advertising, previously in the second spot, fell to third with 15% reporting it as their clients’ main focus.

“At the end of a year that could be defined as turbulent, if nothing else, one of the upsides we’re seeing is the swift reversal in agency outlook and confidence. Earlier this year, we found that agencies had major concerns about budgets and revenue, but we’re now seeing much more optimism heading into 2017,” said Judd Rubin, vice president at Strata. “We’re excited to see how this new confidence impacts advertising strategies next year. Local and cable video continue to be the top focus, but digital video is increasingly coming to the forefront. With mobile advertising and rapidly growing social players like Snapchat also making strides, 2017 could prove to be a very exciting year.”

Though only 6% of agencies report plans to allocate between 26-50% of their budgets to paid social, that’s an increase of 321% compared to the first quarter this year. A majority of agencies report that paid social media accounts for the smallest portion of their budget (0-5%), and 18% percent of agencies noted that it accounted for 11-25% of their budget, an 80% increase over last year.

In terms of which platforms agencies are using in social campaigns, Facebook remains dominant, with 94% planning to use the social network. YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter reclaim their second, third, and fourth spots, respectively. Though Snapchat remains sixth, more than 20% of agencies now plan to use the messaging app, a 58% increase from the second quarter in 2016.

Heading into 2017, responses also indicate increased appetite for programmatic buying options. Thirty-six percent of agencies report that they will be allocating 10-20% of their budgets to programmatic purchasing, a 33% increase over Q2. Another 27% plan to dedicate 20-40% of their budgets to programmatic, up 43% compared to Q2. The percentage of agencies refraining from programmatic buying decreased as 24% of agencies report that they will not devote any of their budget to programmatic, a 39% decrease from Q2.

About STRATA

The solutions that STRATA provides empowers clients to buy and sell all media types including cable, broadcast, newspaper, radio, outdoor and digital advertising mediums. On average, over $50 Billion in advertising dollars flow through STRATA systems per year. As the system of choice for over 1,000 agencies in the United States, STRATA provides media technology that enables organizations to lead rather than react to industry developments.  By transforming the way advertisements are placed and tracked, STRATA adds a new level of transparency to campaigns that is necessary in the ever-evolving media world. STRATA is a Comcast Platform Services company. For more information, visit www.gotostrata.com.

RELATED ARTICLE: Trump Wins Again – Lockheed CEO Gives “Personal Commitment” To Cut F-35 Costs “Aggressively”

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Reflections on the Trump Presidency by Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio, Chairman & Chief Investment Officer at Bridgewater Associates, L.P. wrote a compelling analysis of the Trump administration. The title of Dilio’s Linkedin article is “Reflections on the Trump Presidency, One Month after the Election.”

Please take the time to read it in full.


Reflections on the Trump Presidency, One Month after the Election

By Ray Dalio

Now that we’re a month past the election and most of the cabinet posts have been filled, it is increasingly obvious that we are about to experience a profound, president-led ideological shift that will have a big impact on both the US and the world. This will not just be a shift in government policy, but also a shift in how government policy is pursued. Trump is a deal maker who negotiates hard, and doesn’t mind getting banged around or banging others around. Similarly, the people he chose are bold and hell-bent on playing hardball to make big changes happen in economics and in foreign policy (as well as other areas such as education, environmental policies, etc.). They also have different temperaments and different views that will have to be resolved.

Regarding economics, if you haven’t read Ayn Rand lately, I suggest that you do as her books pretty well capture the mindset. This new administration hates weak, unproductive, socialist people and policies, and it admires strong, can-do, profit makers. It wants to, and probably will, shift the environment from one that makes profit makers villains with limited power to one that makes them heroes with significant power. The shift from the past administration to this administration will probably be even more significant than the 1979-82 shift from the socialists to the capitalists in the UK, US, and Germany when Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Helmut Kohl came to power. To understand that ideological shift you also might read Thatcher’s “The Downing Street Years.” Or, you might reflect on China’s political/economic shift as marked by moving from “protecting the iron rice bowl” to believing that “it’s glorious to be rich.”

This particular shift by the Trump administration could have a much bigger impact on the US economy than one would calculate on the basis of changes in tax and spending policies alone because it could ignite animal spirits and attract productive capital. Regarding igniting animal spirits, if this administration can spark a virtuous cycle in which people can make money, the move out of cash (that pays them virtually nothing) to risk-on investments could be huge. Regarding attracting capital, Trump’s policies can also have a big impact because businessmen and investors move very quickly away from inhospitable environments to hospitable environments. Remember how quickly money left and came back to places like Spain and Argentina? A pro-business US with its rule of law, political stability, property rights protections, and (soon to be) favorable corporate taxes offers a uniquely attractive environment for those who make money and/or have money. These policies will also have shocking negative impacts on certain sectors.

Regarding foreign policy, we should expect the Trump administration to be comparably aggressive. Notably, even before assuming the presidency, Trump is questioning the one-China policy which is a shocking move. Policies pertaining to Iran, Mexico, and most other countries will probably also be aggressive.

The question is whether this administration will be a) aggressive and thoughtful or b) aggressive and reckless. The interactions between Trump, his heavy-weight advisors, and them with each other will likely determine the answer to this question. For example, on the foreign policy front, what Trump, Flynn, Tillerson, and Mattis (and others) are individually and collectively like will probably determine how much the new administration’s policies will be a) aggressive and thoughtful versus b) aggressive and reckless. We are pretty sure that it won’t take long to find out.

In the next section we look at some of the new appointees via some statistics to characterize what they’re like. Most notably, many of the people entering the new administration have held serious responsibilities that required pragmatism and sound judgment, with a notable skew toward businessmen.

Perspective on the Ideology and Experience of the New Trump Administration

We can get a rough sense of the experience of the new Trump administration by adding up the years major appointees have spent in relevant leadership positions. The table below compares the executive/government experience of the Trump administration’s top eight officials* to previous administrations, counting elected positions, government roles with major administrative responsibilities, or time as C-suite corporate executives or equivalent at mid-size or large companies. Trump’s administration stands out for having by far the most business experience and a bit lower than average government experience (lower compared to recent presidents, and in line with Carter and Reagan). But the cumulative years of executive/government experience of his appointees are second-highest. Obviously, this is a very simple, imprecise measure, and there will be gray zones in exactly how you classify people, but it is indicative.

Below we show some rough quantitative measures of the ideological shift to the right we’re likely to see under Trump and the Republican Congress. First, we look at the economic ideology of the incoming US Congress. Trump’s views may differ in some important ways from the Congressional Republicans, but he’ll need Congressional support for many of his policies and he’s picking many of his nominees from the heart of the Republican Party. As the chart below shows, the Republican members of Congress have shifted significantly to the right on economic issues since Reagan; Democratic congressmen have shifted a bit to the left. The measure below is one-dimensional and not precise, but it captures the flavor of the shift. The measure was commissioned by a National Science Foundation grant and is meant to capture economic views with a focus on government intervention on the economy. They looked at each congressman’s voting record, compared it to a measure of what an archetypical liberal or conservative congressman would have done, and rated each member of Congress on a scale of -1 to 1 (with -1 corresponding to an archetypical liberal and +1 corresponding to an archetypical conservative).

When we look more specifically at the ideology of Trump’s cabinet nominees, we see the same shift to the right on economic issues. Below we compare the ideology of Trump’s cabinet nominees to those of prior administrations using the same methodology as described above for the cabinet members who have been in the legislature. By this measure, Trump’s administration is the most conservative in recent American history, but only slightly more conservative than the average Republican congressman. Keep in mind that we are only including members of the new administration who have voting records (which is a very small group of people so far).

While the Trump administration appears very right-leaning by the measures above, it’s worth keeping in mind that Trump’s stated ideology differs from traditional Republicans in a number of ways, most notably on issues related to free trade and protectionism. In addition, a number of key members of his team—such as Steven Mnuchin, Rex Tillerson, and Wilbur Ross—don’t have voting records and may not subscribe to the same brand of conservatism as many Republican congressmen. There’s a degree of difference in ideology and a level of uncertainty that these measures don’t convey.

Comparing the Trump and Reagan Administrations

The above was a very rough quantitative look at Trump’s administration. To draw out some more nuances, below we zoom in on Trump’s particular appointees and compare them to those of the Reagan administration. Trump is still filling in his appointments, so the picture is still emerging and our observations are based on his key appointments so far.

Looking closer, a few observations are worth noting. First, the overall quality of government experience in the Trump administration looks to be a bit less than Reagan’s, while the Trump team’s strong business experience stands out (in particular, the amount of business experience among top cabinet nominees). Even though Reagan’s administration had somewhat fewer years of government experience, the typical quality of that experience was somewhat higher, with more people who had served in senior government positions. Reagan himself had more political experience than Trump does, having served as the governor of California for eight years prior to taking office, and he also had people with significant past government experience in top posts (such as his VP, George HW Bush). By contrast, Trump’s appointees bring lots of high quality business leadership experience from roles that required pragmatism and judgment. Rex Tillerson’s time as head of a global oil company is a good example of high-level international business experience with clear relevance to his role as Secretary of State (to some extent reminiscent of Reagan’s second Secretary of State, George Shultz, who had a mix of past government experience and international business experience as the president of the construction firm Bechtel). Steven Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross have serious business credentials as well, not to mention Trump’s own experience. It’s also of note that Trump has leaned heavily on appointees with military experience to compensate for his lack of foreign policy experience (appointing three generals for Defense, National Security Advisor, and Homeland Security), while Reagan compensated for his weakness in that area with appointees from both military and civilian government backgrounds (Bush had been CIA head and UN ambassador, and Reagan’s first Secretary of State, Alexander Haig, was Supreme Allied Commander of NATO forces during the Cold War). Also, Trump has seemed less willing to make appointments from among his opponents than Reagan was (Reagan’s Chief of Staff had chaired opposing campaigns, and his Vice President had run against him).

By and large, deal-maker businessmen will be running the government. Their boldness will almost certainly make the next four years incredibly interesting and will keep us all on our toes.

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A Squeeze of Regulatory Reform Could Juice Productivity

The Wall Street Journal’s Greg Ip warns we’re “out of big ideas,” [subscription required] and as a result, the U.S. economy’s productivity growth has “averaged a pathetic 0.5% for the current decade.”

Productivity growth matters, because as U.S. Chamber chief economist, J.D. Foster stated in August, it’s the “mother’s milk of prosperity” and wage growth:

When labor productivity is rising, it means rising labor compensation should soon follow. It means workers and firms are becoming more competitive in global markets. And when labor productivity is declining, it means just the opposite.

Part of the problem Ip finds is that instead of innovation that focuses on big, bold ideas—say flying cars–much of it is directed toward responding to regulatory edicts, even if well-meaning:

The portion of a car’s price that pays to meet federal safety and fuel efficiency mandates has gone from zero in 1967 to 22% now, or $5,500 on a $25,000 car, according to Sean McAlinden, an economist at the Center for Automotive Research, an industry-supported think tank.

These have delivered genuine benefits: Highway fatalities fell from the late 1960s until recently, and the air is cleaner. Mr. McAlinden notes consumers may not have bought those features if given the choice.

A California mandate first introduced in 1990 now aims to make one in seven cars in the state emit zero emissions, which means powered by hydrogen or electricity. So while the purpose of the mandate, less pollution, is broadly shared, it achieves it by forcing car makers to favor certain technologies over others that may be commercially more viable.

R&D isn’t infinite. One tradeoff for focusing on technologies that satisfy federal regulations is not putting more resources into researching technological leaps like flying cars.

As Foster points out, the overwhelming Regulatory State sits like a weight on the economy:

The current dismal labor productivity figures do not reflect cyclical conditions. Coming toward the end of the current administration these figures aptly and primarily describe the net effects of the administration’s economic policies, most especially its hyper-active regulatory policies. On Aug. 8, the American Action Forum (AAF) released a study summarizing those policies.

According to AAF, the administration has issued an average of 81 major regulations a year, where major regulations are defined as costing at least $100 million, for a total so far of over 600 major regulations costing over $743 billion according to the regulators’ own estimates though the real cost could be significantly higher. At the start of the year the president indicated he would push his administration to be very aggressive in accelerating the outflow of regulations in the time remaining, so the economic drag from regulations would be expected to intensify.

The regulatory rush underway isn’t helping.

As a result, it makes businesses hesitant to go out on a limb:

Regulations have costs that go far beyond the simple calculations presented. They also create uncertainty among affected businesses as they wait for the regulations to come out, become final, and then become internalized within the business. Perhaps even more important, when businesses are subject to such an onslaught of regulations in complete disregard to the economic damage they inflict, and especially in combination with other policies such as the administration’s enacted and proposed anti-growth tax policies, the net result is to create at least the appearance of an antagonistic attitude toward businesses. Businesses can then become overly cautious and defensive and these consequences appear in the declining business investment in recent quarters.

Waning productivity growth (and a sluggish economy) is what you get when caution replaces bold, risk-taking.

Establishing a regulatory process fit for the 21st Century can be a way to bolster innovation and boost productivity. A step toward that is for the next Congress to quickly pass the Regulatory Accountability Act. This bill–supported by 380 business groups–help ensure that agencies make the most consequential regulatory decisions in an open and transparent manner based on good data and sound science and instruct them to use the least-costly option in meeting Congress’ intent.

Better, more carefully-crafted regulations can give entrepreneurs and businesses the certainty they need to move off the sidelines and invest more in bold ideas.

It’s obvious that productivity needs a boost, and squeeze of regulatory reform could be just the trick.

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