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The 50 Best Presidential Quotes of All Time

Fri, 2017-08-18 17:05

The 50 Best Presidential Quotes of All Time

A president’s legacy is defined not only by his actions, but also by his words. Those who have held the highest office in the United States know well that what they say has impacts far beyond the podium. This list compiles some of the best presidential quotes from American history, grouped within themes, from most recent to oldest.

Note: Dates next to names indicate the years of their presidency.

Story Highlights

War & Peace

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

– Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)

“Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron….Is there no other way the world may live?”

– Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)

“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

– Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-1945)

“There is something inherently wrong, something out of accord with the ideals of representative democracy, when one portion of our citizenship turns its activities to private gain amid defensive war while another is fighting, sacrificing, or dying for national preservation.”

– Warren G. Harding (1921-1923)

“In a storm at sea no one on board can wish the ship to sink, and yet not unfrequently all go down together because too many will direct and no single mind can be allowed to control.”

– Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865)

“Peace is the best time for improvement and preparation of every kind; it is in peace that our commerce flourishes most, that taxes are most easily paid, and that the revenue is most productive.”

– James Monroe (1817-1825)

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Democracy & Government

“But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.”

– Barack Obama (2009-2017)

“We the people tell the government what to do, it doesn’t tell us.”

– Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)

“A president’s hardest task is not to do what is right, but to know what is right.”

– Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969)

“No government is perfect. One of the chief virtues of a democracy, however, is that its defects are always visible and under democratic processes can be pointed out and corrected.”

– Harry S. Truman (1945-1953)

“You cannot extend the mastery of government over the daily life of a people without somewhere making it master of people’s souls and thoughts.”

– Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)

“Being a politician is a poor profession. Being a public servant is a noble one.”

– Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)

“It is not the enactment, but the observance of laws, that creates the character of a nation.”

– Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929)

“I can imagine no greater disservice to the country than to establish a system of censorship that would deny to the people of a free republic like our own their indisputable right to criticize their own public officials.”

– Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)

“In the history of mankind many republics have risen, have flourished for a less or greater time, and then have fallen because their citizens lost the power of governing themselves and thereby of governing their state.”

– Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909)

“Officeholders are the agents of the people, not their masters.”

– Grover Cleveland (1885-1889, 1893-1897)

“This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.”

– Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865)

“The only legitimate right to govern is an express grant of power from the governed.”

– William Henry Harrison (1841)

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American Values

“It’s time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget, that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots.”

– Donald J. Trump (2017-)

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

– Barack Obama (2009-2017)

“It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

– Barack Obama (2009-2017)

“America has never been united by blood or birth or soil. We are bound by ideals that move us beyond our backgrounds, lift us above our interests and teach us what it means to be citizens.”

– George W. Bush (2001-2009)

“We must teach our children to resolve their conflicts with words, not weapons.”

– Bill Clinton (1993-2001)

“Think about every problem, every challenge, we face. The solution to each starts with education.”

– George H.W. Bush (1989-1993)

“For this is what America is all about. It is the uncrossed desert and the unclimbed ridge. It is the star that is not reached and the harvest that is sleeping in the unplowed ground.”

– Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969)

“If national pride is ever justifiable or excusable it is when it springs, not from power or riches, grandeur or glory, but from conviction of national innocence, information, and benevolence.”

– John Adams (1797-1801)

“But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation, while it is practicing iniquity and extravagance, and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candor, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world.”

– John Adams (1797-1801)

“When one side only of a story is heard and often repeated, the human mind becomes impressed with it insensibly.”

– George Washington (1789-1797)

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Liberty

 

“Liberty without learning is always in peril, and learning without liberty is always in vain.”

– John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)

“Those who want the government to regulate matters of the mind and spirit are like men who are so afraid of being murdered that they commit suicide to avoid assassination.”

– Harry S. Truman (1945-1953)

“I would rather belong to a poor nation that was free than to a rich nation that had ceased to be in love with liberty.”

– Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)

“The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.”

– James Madison (1809-1817)

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Parties

 

“We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing…it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names — liberty and tyranny.”

– Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865)

“Although in our country the Chief Magistrate must almost of necessity be chosen by a party and stand pledged to its principles and measures, yet in his official action he should not be the President of a part only, but of the whole people of the United States.”

– James K. Polk (1845-1849)

“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

– George Washington (1789-1797)

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Power

“…Only if you’ve been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain…”

– Richard Nixon (1969-1974)

 

“There is nothing more corrupting, nothing more destructive of the noblest and finest feelings of our nature, than the exercise of unlimited power.”

 – William Henry Harrison (1841)

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Economy

“We’ve learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.”

– Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)

“Economy is idealism in its most practical form.”

– Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929)

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Labor

“I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth or shapes it into a garment will starve in the process.”

– Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893)

“If we can but prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretense of taking care of them, they must become happy.”

– Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809)

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Constitution

 

“The diffusion of information and arraignment of all abuses at the bar of the public reason; freedom of religion; freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus, and trial by juries impartially selected. These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation.”

– Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809)

What quotes would you add to the list? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Remy ReyaIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Gingrich: “Serious Changes” Needed at White House

Fri, 2017-08-18 12:34

Gingrich: “Serious Changes” Needed at White House

One of President Trump’s most ardent supporters fired a warning shot across the commander-in-chief’s bow.

In an interview on Fox News, Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich called out the president for the gaffes he has made and the growing list of enemies he is creating in his first six months in Washington.

You don't get down to 35% and have people in your own party shooting at you and think everything is fine. I think he's in a position right now where he is much more isolated than he realizes.

Gingrich said, “If the president wants to have a serious, stable presidency, he needs to enact serious changes.”

Gingrich mentioned Trump’s 1997 book the Art of the Comeback and noted, “he needs to take his own advice and start thinking about what isn’t working. You don’t get down to 35% and have people in your own party shooting at you and think everything is fine. I think he’s in a position right now where he is much more isolated than he realizes.”

Jeff PowersIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Libertarians Tell White Nationalists, Racists to Leave Party

Fri, 2017-08-18 05:00

Libertarians Tell White Nationalists, Racists to Leave Party

The Libertarian Party wants to be clear: they reject white supremacy, bigotry, and racism.

Racists, White Nationalists Asked to Leave the Party

In a press release on August 15, 2017, in the wake of the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, the LP’s executive director Wes Benedict reiterated the party’s stance on bigotry:

“We condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant. Government should neither deny or abridge an individual human right based on sex, wealth, ethnicity, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference, or sexual orientation.”

The press release went further, and asked any members who identified as white nationalists to leave the party:

“There is no room for racists and bigots in the Libertarian Party. If there are white nationalists who — inappropriately — are members of the Libertarian Party, I ask them to submit their resignations today. We don’t want them to associate with the Libertarian Party, and we don’t want their money. I’m not expecting many resignations, because our membership already knows this well.”

Party Leaders Criticize Prominent Libertarian for “Blood and Soil, God and Nation” Blog

The press release might not have been a response just to the event in Charlottesville.

A controversy has been raging over a blog post, written by Jeff Diest — a prominent Libertarian thinker, Mises Institute president, and former chief of staff to Dr. Ron Paul.

The post was titled, “A New Libertarian.” It calls for rekindling the spirit of “Blood and Soil, God and Nation,” and suggests these should be virtues Libertarians should fight and die for.

Libertarian Party Vice Chair Arvin Vohra reacted on Facebook, calling the phrases central to Nazi, and nationalist ideas, and “to the belief that the US should be turned back into some pure, white, Protestant, Christian, vaguely theocratic, racially segregated, cultural backwater.”

“On a pragmatic note,” Vohra’s post reads, “this means that at the current time, Mises Institute has been turned into a sales funnel for the white nationalist branch of the Alt-right”

“Mises will continue to put out useful information,” he said, “But that will be just the bait to lead unsuspecting people down this path of collectivist, racist lunacy.”

To some, the Mises Institute, a Libertarian think tank, is a bedrock of Libertarian ideas. However, the institute has been harshly criticized as racist in highly regarded publications, like the Washington Post and Business Insider.

Diest’s ‘blood and soil’ phrasing was also criticized by fellow Libertarian thinker Steve Horowitz.

Diest defended himself against Horowitz in a Facebook post of his own:

Nicholas Sarwark, LNC party chair, said he has been verbally attacked, and asked to step down as chair, by some, for asking people to condemn racists and nationalists.

Comments to the chair on Facebook rejected the phrases as reflections of Nazism and white nationalism:

In response, Sarwark offered commentators a “simple, three step plan” for removing him — join the party, register for the national convention, and elect someone else.

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Kathryn BullingtonIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Trump Tries To Combat The Deep State With Military Structure

Thu, 2017-08-17 17:14

Trump Tries To Combat The Deep State With Military Structure

It’s no secret that the White House has had their share of problems when it comes to intelligence leaks in the first 200 days of the Trump administration. While some say that the so-called “deep state” is a myth, President Trump isn’t taking any chances.

He has pushed back, most recently, by installing retired General John Kelly as White House Chief of Staff, in an effort to bring order and discipline to the West Wing. Kelly is one of a handful of retired Generals appointed to key positions in the Trump administration.

Since the intelligence leaks first came to light earlier this year, the Trump administration has been on the offensive, blaming everyone from the news media to the so-called deep state (a shadow government working behind the scenes to undermine the administration for the leaks coming out of the White House).

On May 28, Trump tweeted:

It is my opinion that many of the leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2017

And though not specifically using the exact label, the notion of a “deep state” has certainly taken hold in the Trump White House.

On several occasions, claims of tapped phones and administrative infiltrators have been made, with former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer at one point referring to “people that burrowed into government” to try and undermine the administration.

To some, the idea of a shadow government sounds paranoid and desperate. However, Trump confidant, Newt Gingrich asserts it’s anything but.

Though not specifically using the exact label, the notion of a 'deep state' has certainly taken hold in the Trump White House.

“Of course, the deep state exists. There’s a permanent state of massive bureaucracies that do whatever they want and set up deliberate leaks to attack the president,” said Gingrich, in an interview with the Associated Press. “This is what the deep state does: They create a lie, spread a lie, fail to check the lie and then deny that they were behind the lie.”

Whether people believe in the deep state or not, it is clear that the intelligence leaks are undermining national security interests, at one point causing the British government to say they would no longer share intelligence with the U.S. government.

President Trump is hoping that military discipline might be the answer. The British government later reversed its position with assurances that the administration would crack down on the leaks.

“This was not a whistleblower exposing government misconduct,” Ron Hosko, a former assistant FBI director for the bureau’s Criminal Investigative Division, told The Daily Signal in reference to the British Intelligence leaks.

He added, “This is a bureaucrat saying to a reporter, ‘Look at me, look what I know,’ maybe hoping the reporter will make him look good later on … There was no positive purpose for this leak.”

There’s a permanent state of massive bureaucracies that do whatever they want and set up deliberate leaks to attack the president. Newt Gingrich

Since taking office, President Trump has made a number of moves contrary to the Obama administration and has placed a great deal of trust in the military and its former leaders, moves that signal his desire for greater discipline among his administration.

He has appointed retired general James “Mad Dog” Mattis as Secretary of Defense and given him much more autonomy over military operations than the Defense department had under the Obama administration, which insisted on a micromanaged approach to military operations.

In February, when Michael Flynn was forced to resign after it was brought to light that he had lied about his dealings with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak (itself a potential source of intelligence leaks though this has not been confirmed) President Trump asked General H.R. McMaster to replace him.

Because General McMaster intended to remain on active duty while serving as National Security Advisor, he had to be confirmed by the Senate. Typically the position of National Security Advisor does not require Senate confirmation.

What Trump needs, above all else, is someone with the stature and security to walk into the Oval Office, close the door and tell the president what he needs to hear. Brent Budowsky, a columnist with The Hill

Most recently, he tapped retired General John Kelly as White House Chief of Staff, easily the most powerful position in the White House. Trump realizes he needs a no-nonsense general to instill discipline in a White House embroiled in an internal civil war, with multiple sides battling for power.

“The president’s White House staff problem will only be solved by bringing in a mega-heavyweight to his staff, someone along the lines of former Reagan chief of staff James Baker,” said Brent Budowsky, a columnist with The Hill.

“What Trump needs, above all else, is someone with the stature and security to walk into the Oval Office, close the door and tell the president what he needs to hear,” Budowsky said.

At a time when Americans have little trust in their government, most do still trust the military, a fact that the Trump administration may be hoping to capitalize on. And many think that Kelly is the mega-heavyweight that the White House needs.

“The kind of discipline that he is going to bring is important,” Senator Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut, said on CNN after the president’s announcement.

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Wendy InnesIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

3 Stocks That Could Skyrocket If Marijuana is Legalized in Canada

Thu, 2017-08-17 10:31

3 Stocks That Could Skyrocket If Marijuana is Legalized in Canada

Earlier this year, Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau announced legislation to legalize recreational marijuana in 2018. The proposed legislation has support from both political parties and a majority of Canadian citizens.

Medical marijuana has been legal since 2001 and this would make Canada the first industrialized nation to fully legalize recreational cannabis nationwide.

Initial Rules

The initial rules are tight. Edibles will remain illegal. The age of legal consumption will be 18, but provinces may raise that age if they choose. Also, vaporizing and concentrates are not as widely popular as they are in America, and vape pens are not widely available through legal channels.

This would make Canada the first industrialized nation to fully legalize recreational cannabis nationwide. Michael Austin, IVN Independent Author

But there are some benefits as well. Most provinces own the liquor stores and the same is expected of cannabis dispensaries as well. This will provide an important level of quality control.

American tourists will also be able to buy cannabis in Canada and it’s a good possibility that Amsterdam-style coffeehouses might open as well. This will greatly boost tourism opportunities.

Marijuana Stocks to Watch

One definite benefit that has been noticed right now is marijuana stocks. Beginning with the announcement of pending legislation, stocks in the industry soared. Investors are rushing to get in on the ground floor of what could be a windfall financial opportunity.

Specifically, three Canadian medical cannabis companies have been expanding their growth operations over the past three quarters. If the legislation passes as expected, they could see huge financial benefit. These stocks, traded on NASDAQ, are Canopy Growth Corp., Aphria, and Aurora Cannabis.

Canopy Growth Corp

The largest of the three by market cap is Canopy Growth Corp., which has expanded mainly through acquisitions.

When they acquired Mettrum Health for $430 million, it gave them access to half of the country’s medical cannabis users.

The production capacity of the company is spread across six licensed facilities. This spelled a year-to-date revenue through Q3 of 2017 of $25.2 million. This is roughly a 230% increase from the same period the prior year.

Aphria & Aurora Cannabis

Not to be left out, Aphria and Aurora also got into the expansion game.

In late November, Aurora announced the start of construction on an 800,000-square foot production facility. Called Aurora Sky, it will be the most technologically advanced cannabis production facility in the world. The company also managed to acquire a 40,000 sq. ft. facility in Quebec.

Aphria’s board also recently announced a fully-funded project to increase production capacity from 300,000 plants to 1 million plants. The project, billed at approximately $137 million, is expected to be completed within the next 12 months.

This will put the company in line to be able to handle the expected surge in demand that the proposed legalization will bring in 2018.

Current profitability is one thing, but continued profitability is another entirely.

Both Canopy and Aphria are well placed and already generated positive earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. Both companies are expected to be profitable on a regular basis by the end of the current fiscal year.

Aurora Sky will be the most technologically advanced cannabis production facility in the world.

Investors should be cautioned, however, that the current prices for these companies are exceptionally expensive. And it is yet to be seen if their current fundamentals will, indeed, catch up with their valuations.

One stock to watch, however, is Aphria, who has fully funded its projects and is already profitable. Since it is still smaller than Canopy, it might just offer the most potential for long-term growth.

Stocks are always a risk; however, these three may benefit tremendously if the legalization goes through as expected.

With the initial cost high and the nature of investments, it still might be worth pausing to consider the investment into these stocks, particularly if you want to support the industry and get in on the ground floor of a potentially good investment.

However, I should warn that cannabis stocks, even those with large market caps, are especially risky investments. Remember, the bill hasn’t passed yet!

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Michael AustinIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

A Libertarian and Progressive Agree: This Reform Is Needed to Fix Elections

Thu, 2017-08-17 09:06

A Libertarian and Progressive Agree: This Reform Is Needed to Fix Elections

It kind of sounds like an odd pairing at first, no? A self-described “neo-libertarian” and a “progressive Democrat” join forces. Yet what they are advocating for is something most people will agree on: We need fairer elections.

Manu Koenig — the “neo-libertarian” — and Faisal Fazilat — the “progressive Democrat” — are two locals of Santa Cruz, California, who want their city to adopt ranked choice voting. It is reform that they say has been endorsed by former President Barack Obama, Sen. John McCain, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, among others.

“It’s an issue that both sides of the political spectrum can agree on—because, in the end, every side wants fair elections. Everyone wants it to be democratic,” says Fazilat. (Good Times, August 16, 2017)

How does ranked choice voting work? Here is a video that explains it and why advocates support it:

Here are a few things supporters say ranked choice voting can do:

  • Eliminate “strategic voting” or “lesser-of-two-evils” voting by allowing voters to rank multiple candidates by preference.
  • Eliminate the “spoiler effect,” where voting for a candidate outside the two largest political parties runs the risk of skewing the results to the favor of a major party candidate the voter doesn’t want in office.
  • Ensure the winner of elections has majority support. The choose-one voting method used in most jurisdictions in the US doesn’t guarantee the winner will get over 50% of the vote if there are more than two candidates in the general election. Under RCV, instant runoff elections are conducted, eliminating the poorest performing candidates until a winner gets over 50 percent of the vote.
  • Create a more civil campaign environment, with less mudslinging, since candidates are no longer just fighting for a voter’s single vote, but to be their second or even third choice — so they will actually talk issues.

“Ranked choice voting would encourage candidates to actually talk about the issues that voters care about. This kind of system favors grassroots campaigns where candidates are going door-to-door. They’re talking with as many people as they can,” says Faisal Fazilat.

Read more about Manu Koenig and Faisal Fazilat and their grassroots effort to adopt ranked choice voting in Santa Cruz, California here.

Ranked choice voting is currently used in 11 cities, will be used in Memphis starting in 2019, and is the law of the land in Maine for statewide and non-presidential federal elections. Voters in Santa Fe, New Mexico, approved ranked choice voting in 2008, but the city council has yet to implement its use in city elections.

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Photo Credit: Steve Heap / shutterstock.com

Shawn M. GriffithsIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Meet The California Republican Who Met With Julian Assange

Thu, 2017-08-17 07:33

Meet The California Republican Who Met With Julian Assange

Julian Assange maintains that Russia did not provide WikiLeaks the leaked emails on the DNC and former Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta during the height of the 2016 presidential election. And now, according to The Hill, he has met with a US lawmaker for the first time.

The Hill reports that US Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican who represents California’s 48th congressional district (an Orange County district), met with Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for 3 hours, during which the two discussed — among other things — the leaked DNC emails.

The congressman said:

“Our three-hour meeting covered a wide array of issues, including the WikiLeaks exposure of the DNC emails during last year’s presidential election. Julian emphatically stated that the Russians were not involved in the hacking or disclosure of those emails.”

He added, “Julian also indicated that he is open to further discussions regarding specific information about the DNC email incident that is currently unknown to the public.”

So who is Dana Rohrabacher?

Rohrabacher was first elected to Congress in 1989 to represent California’s 42nd district. His district number has changed 3 times since his first election, after each decennial census and subsequent redistricting. He was also an aide and speechwriter to President Ronald Reagan.

Ballotpedia says Rohrabacher is “an average Republican member of Congress, meaning he will vote with the Republican Party on a majority of bills.”

Julian indicated that he is open to further discussions regarding specific information about the DNC email incident that is currently unknown to the public. US Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.)

There are some issues where Rohrabacher is not completely in line with his party, though. He supports full legalization of marijuana. He also supports pulling troops out of Afghanistan.

He opposed the troop build up during the Obama administration, saying, “If the Taliban is going is be defeated, it’s got to be by the Afghan people themselves, not by sending more U.S. troops, which could actually be counterproductive.”

Rohrabacher has said his initial support for the war in Iraq was “a mistake.” He was also quoted in June 2013 saying the US should stay out of the conflict in Syria.

“We should stay as far away as we possibly can. [It’s] absolutely absurd to think the United States has to get involved in every one of these fights everywhere in the world,” he said.

“The fact is, in Syria you’ve got terrorists who are murdering Americans on one side and you’ve got the radical mullahs allied with Assad on the other side. Let’s stay away from this one.”

The media, however, has been more interested in Rohrabacher’s record on Russia.

In 2008, Rohrabacher defended Russia after the escalation in the Russia-Georgia War, saying “Georgia started it.” He also defended the annexation of Crimea in 2014, stating:

“What do the people of Crimea want? I don’t think anybody in here will disagree with the fact that it is clear the people of Crimea would rather be part of Russia than be part of a pro-European or European-directed Ukraine.”

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, Rohrabacher said the US should have been working with Russia to combat Islamic extremism:

“Russia has the same interest as we do and we should have a long time ago been working with them to build a closer relationship after the fall of Communism, that by now would have permitted our intelligence sources to be working together to thwart radical Islamic terrorist attacks like the one in Boston against our marathon.”

None of these positions have been popular with many lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Russia’s actions with Georgia and Crimea were condemned by administrations, lawmakers, and presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle, and the ongoing investigation into alleged meddling by Russia in the 2016 presidential election has bipartisan support in Congress.

After his meeting with Julian Assange, Rohrabacher said he had information to give to President Donald Trump, including a request from WikiLeaks to get credentials to the White House press room. The congressman supports giving WikiLeaks this media access:

“Julian passionately argued the case that WikiLeaks was vital to informing the public about controversial though necessary issues. He hoped that Wikileaks — an award winning journalistic operation — might be granted a seat in the White House press corps. As a former newsman myself I can’t see a reason why they shouldn’t be granted news status for official press conferences.”

Rohrabacher would not detail what additional information he had for the president.

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Thomas A. HawkIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Break the Duopoly: It’s Time to Make Missouri a Truly “Purple” State

Wed, 2017-08-16 18:18

Break the Duopoly: It’s Time to Make Missouri a Truly “Purple” State

Missouri is a classic American Purple state. It is coveted by presidential candidates much as Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Florida: It voted twice for Clinton, but also voted for Bush, McCain, Romney, and Trump — all by narrow margins.

Missouri has gone ten years without two senators of the same party, and 133 years since it sent representatives from only one party to DC.

Most importantly, over a third of Missourians consider themselves moderates. Fifteen percent of Missourians don’t even lean toward one party or another.

And yet, the state has never sent an independent to DC.

Missouri rarely has any independent representatives in its House or Senate — occasionally there is one (out of 197 total seats), and currently there are zero.

Fifteen percent of Missourians don’t even lean toward one party or another. Erik Fogg

Missouri State Representative Keith English was the only independent in 2015, after having broken with the Democratic Party. He lamented, “if you don’t belong to the two-party system, you won’t get elected.”

Why is there such a gap? Why do independent and moderate Missourians have no representatives at all?

It’s because the game is rigged.

Not in the sense that votes aren’t counted — by all accounts they are. But it’s who you vote for that’s the problem.

In the general election, you’re stuck with two choices. You may not like either of them all that much: too bad.

It’s too expensive and difficult for third parties to get on the ballot and compete with the two big parties. In fact, how we vote actually makes it worse.

Think of how many times someone has said, “a vote for a third party is a vote for X,” where “X” is whoever that person really doesn’t like. And that’s not fantasy — it’s true.

If Ralph Nader’s voters had voted for Al Gore in 2000, he would have been president. A similar picture could be painted for libertarians and Hillary Clinton. Right now, a vote for a third party is a wasted vote. So, guess what: you get two choices. Deal.

But perhaps you can influence what choices you get at the primaries? A bit… but not really. While you can choose which party you vote for in the primary, you must pick one.

If you’re not a die-hard Republican or Democrat, you’ll be swamped out by those that are, as moderates split themselves into small groups in each primary.

In the end, whoever the die-hard Republicans and Democrats want will end up in the general election. Once again, you’ll be stuck picking between the two–whether they share your beliefs or not.

If you’re not a die-hard Republican or Democrat, you’ll be swamped out by those that are...

In the end, either a die-hard Republican or die-hard Democrat will end up representing you. And they’ll go vote how their partisan base wants them to. You’re shut out.

There’s a good reason that Missourians don’t get real representation in DC or Kansas City. The rules of how we vote have been designed to favor the two parties. While they may hate each other, they agree on one thing: they don’t want more competition.

They want their people to go to the general election, and they want to slug it out just between the two of them. The tide will ebb and flow between the two big parties… but that’s about it. No real change comes.

This isn’t how democracy is supposed to work. It’s not how the Founding Fathers intended it. And Purple Missouri doesn’t get represented as a truly purple state, full of people across the ideological spectrum with nuanced ideas that don’t fit into the standard party platforms.

The gap between reality and representation is glaring, unfair, and undemocratic.

This needs to change. And it can. The voting rules are behind this mess, and if we change the rules, we can create a system in which all Missourians are represented, at all levels of government.

The gap between reality and representation is glaring, unfair, and undemocratic.

The good news is that there’s hope. It seems Missourians are getting fed up enough with this that they’re organizing. A nascent movement to change the rigged election rules is starting to grow, and the movement has organized itself into “Missouri Fair and Open Elections.”

They’ve partnered with national organizations that have successfully fought for better representation of American voters. And it seems they’re on the march.

So maybe — just maybe — things can change.

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Erik FoggIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Gary Johnson on Charlottesville: Let’s Focus on Solutions, Not Finger Pointing

Wed, 2017-08-16 14:06

Gary Johnson on Charlottesville: Let’s Focus on Solutions, Not Finger Pointing

We all do it. As we go about our daily lives, we look past national problems that may not hit us personally. We know the problem is there, but we let it simmer until it boils over.

In Charlottesville this past weekend, a problem boiled over – and people died.

The Founding Fathers created for us a brand of freedom that was, at the time, literally revolutionary, and even today, that freedom still presents us with amazing ironies.

In America, people have a constitutional right to be stupid, vile, offensive and disgusting – as long as their misguided beliefs or even words don’t cause harm to others.

That’s what makes it possible for a bunch of white supremacist neo-Nazis to gather in a city like Charlottesville for the purpose of spewing hate. Millions of members of our military, of all ethnicities, have fought wars to protect that right.

In Charlottesville last weekend, the black chief of police and, undoubtedly, a number of police officers of color found themselves protecting the rights of white supremacist idiots. That’s what we do in America.

In America, people have a constitutional right to be stupid, vile, offensive and disgusting – as long as their misguided beliefs or even words don’t cause harm to others. Gary Johnson

But none of that means we have to tolerate hate, racism or “supremacy” of any kind. A free society works when the rights of not just the minority, but the individual, are insured by the majority. That’s what liberty is – and that is government’s most fundamental responsibility.

However, even in the aftermath of the weekend events in Charlottesville, we have seen the media and too many politicians get sidetracked into debates over whether we are sufficiently outraged.

Personally, I’m not sure there actually are words to adequately capture the lowliness of a bunch of white supremacists who carry baseball bats and homemade shields into a so-called “rally.” Yes, words are important. But actions are more important.

Likewise, if we are to get into the finger-pointing business, I’m not sure any of us has enough fingers. At whom, exactly, do we point?

Let’s look for solutions rather than pointing fingers

In business as well as government, I have always found it to be more productive to talk about solutions, rather than blame.

There is almost always plenty of blame to go around, and in the case of the violence and murder in Charlottesville, that obviously begins with the thugs who came to town looking for a fight.

Murder is murder, and I hope that anyone who contributed to the death and injury that occurred gets the punishment they deserve.

A free society works when the rights of not just the minority, but the individual, are insured by the majority. Gary Johnson

As for the rest of us, it’s just too easy for us to take comfort in the fact that the vast majority of Americans aren’t racists, and that we all condemn the white supremacists who showed up in Charlottesville.

That cannot be the end of the story.

First, let’s begin with admitting that racism exists. It does, and as long as we have ignorant thugs among us, it may always exist at some level.

But that doesn’t exempt us from the imperative to examine laws and policies that we can control – and that are in reality racist and discriminatory, even if not intentionally so.

Criminal justice reform must be a priority

Let’s begin with the criminal justice system. When are we actually going to take a hard look at the stark reality that people of color are much more likely to end up in jail than the rest of us?

Are black people more criminal than white people? Don’t think so. But they are more likely to be arrested and more likely to rely on inadequate indigent defense programs.

There is no excuse for that reality to persist in America today, and yes, it is racist.

It’s not some demographic reality that can be rationalized by the politicians who refuse to reform our drug laws or provide adequate defenses for those who can’t afford high-dollar attorneys. It’s racism we can fix — and we need to do so. Now.

Politicians are demonizing immigrants even though they commit fewer crimes

And speaking of the politicians, what about the ones who aren’t even subtle about suggesting that immigrants are bringing rape and thievery to our communities, notwithstanding the fact that immigrants commit fewer of those crimes than us red-blooded Americans?

And it doesn’t even have to be about race. What about the politicians who are blatantly trying to find ways to legalize discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity?

Let’s...turn our outrage into a productive and overdue look at what we can do to place our laws, our rhetoric and our politics squarely on the side of equality under the law... Gary Johnson

I’m sorry, but enacting “bathroom laws” to somehow “protect” us is not just unnecessary, but hurtful.

Bigotry reared its despicable head in Charlottesville, and we are rightfully disgusted and outraged. And no one is suggesting that a piece of legislation or a government policy is somehow responsible for violence and murder for which there is no justification.

But at the same time, let’s at least turn our outrage into a productive and overdue look at what we can do to place our laws, our rhetoric and our politics squarely on the side of equality under the law and against any form of discrimination.

Editor’s note: This article has been republished with permission from Gary Johnson and The Jack News and modified slightly for publication on IVN.us

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Gary JohnsonIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Iran’s President Warns: We Will Restart Our Nuclear Program

Wed, 2017-08-16 12:58

Iran’s President Warns: We Will Restart Our Nuclear Program

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Tuesday that it will restart its nuclear program if the Trump administration continues to pursue confrontational policies and rhetoric toward Iran.

The announcement came in response to increasingly bellicose words for Iran from the Trump administration, and the announcement last month of new economic sanctions against Iran, one of the world’s largest producers of petroleum.

If (the US wants) to return to the previous position, definitely, not within a week or a month, but within hours or days, we will be back to a much more advanced stage. Iran President Hassan Rouhani

Trump has also promised to back out of the 2015 deal with Iran, signed by Barack Obama and the leaders of Russia, Britain, France, China, and Germany.

Under the agreement, often called “the Iran nuclear deal,” Iran suspended its nuclear program, and the U.S. and other countries reduced the severity of their military blockade of imports and exports to the Middle Eastern country.

Rouhani said Tuesday:

“If they want to return to the previous position, definitely, not within a week or a month, but within hours or days, we will be back to a much more advanced stage than we were during our last negotiations.”

It’s important to note that Rouhani risked his presidency to make the deal with the U.S., and a major reason he won re-election this year is the agreement enjoys widespread support in Iran, “even among anti-Western hard-liners who believe it averted a military confrontation with the U.S.”

This is the first time Rouhani has threatened to back out of the deal himself, a strong indication of how badly the Trump Administration has unwound U.S.-Iranian relations.

The sanctions against Iran are an aggressive military action. Economic sanctions are enforced by military blockade, and have historically been a precursor to war with the country under sanction.

So it’s not a geopolitical move to be taken lightly or thought of as anything less than an escalation toward war.

Sanctions also invariably hurt the livelihood of innocent civilians who are trying to make a living like the rest of us, battering the economy of the sanctioned country, which is another reason why the deal that lifted some of the sanctions against Iran is so popular there.

Economic sanctions are enforced by military blockade, and have historically been a precursor to war... W.E. Messamore, IVN Independent Author

Claims by Trump administration officials and media foreign policy analysts that Iran is continuing to carry out a nuclear bomb program in secret are completely contradicted by the entire U.S. intelligence community.

Even the Council on Foreign Relations acknowledges this fact about Iran, that it is not violating the nuclear agreement, and hasn’t pursued nuclear weapon capabilities in over a decade.

In 2007, all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies publicized a “high confidence” report that Iran had no nuclear weapons program. They confirmed this assessment again in 2011.

To save America another war in the Middle East against a country with no WMD, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee should conspicuously call in the heads of the CIA and DIA, and the Director of National Intelligence, to testify in open session about Iran’s current nuclear status, as Pat Buchanan has wisely recommended.

In 2007, all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies publicized a 'high confidence' report that Iran had no nuclear weapons program.

As a candidate for the White House, Trump’s campaign rhetoric emphasized how bad a deal it is for Americans to pay for the rest of the world’s defenses.

Iran poses no clear, imminent, or even long-term threat to the United States, and there is no conceivable way that war with the U.S. would be in the interests of any of the parties involved in this.

If Trump continues to escalate U.S. foreign policy toward war with Iran, then Iran will be his legacy, just like Iraq is George W. Bush’s legacy, a legacy that Republicans have been at great pains in 2016 and 2012 to forget ever happened.

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W. E. MessamoreIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Colorado Independents Shatter Voter Registration Record

Tue, 2017-08-15 17:54

Colorado Independents Shatter Voter Registration Record

Voter registration on Colorado reportedly hit a record high recently, and it is independent voters who are driving the surge.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams reported Monday that over 25,000 new or returning voters have registered since June 28. The boost in voter registration was mostly provided by unaffiliated voters, who made up nearly 14,000 new or returning voters.


Sources: Colorado PoliticsColorado Secretary of State

According to the Colorado secretary of state, total voter registration is at 3.7 million. Registered unaffiliated voters currently make up the largest voting bloc in the state — outnumbering the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.

Unaffiliated voters can now participate in crucial statewide and presidential primaries after Propositions 107 and 108 were approved by voters in 2016. Independents can choose between a Republican and Democratic primary ballot.

The record number of registered independent voters now have a greater say in who ends up representing them in statewide and federal elections.

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Some CO Republicans Really Don’t Want Independents Voting in Primaries

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Shawn M. GriffithsIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Trump Gives Media Oxygen On Charlottesville; Bannon Out?

Tue, 2017-08-15 17:39

Trump Gives Media Oxygen On Charlottesville; Bannon Out?

 

In what was meant to be a news conference about the president’s infrastructure plan, quickly devolved into a shouting match between the media and the president over the weekend violence at Charlottesville.

When pressed about his initial statement on Saturday, President Trump said, “I gave a statement on the facts I had. And I stand by what I said.”

The president then noted that he updated his statement on Monday after learning more facts about what had transpired. In his second statement, he specifically called out the KKK and white supremacists for their role in the violence.

In his Tuesday’s news conference, the president blamed both sides, the “alt-left” as well as the “alt-right,” for their roles in the riot.

Bannon Out?

Aside from the Charlottesville reactions, the biggest headline at the news conference appears to be Steve Bannon, the president’s chief political strategist, could be on his way out.

Steve Bannon, the president's chief political strategist, could be on his way out.

When asked about Bannon, the president said, “Mr. Bannon came on (my campaign) very late. I like him, he’s a good man.”

President Trump said similar things about White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci shortly before his release.

Third World Infrastructure Plan

President Trump likened our country’s infrastructure to a third world country, and announced it was time to eliminate the onerous regulations that stall projects for “20 years.”

President Trump held up a sheet that nearly extended to the floor showing the regulation hurdles developers must meet before proceeding on a project.

The president noted, “Right now the process is way too cumbersome. It takes 20 years for a highway to be built. We are going to remove the regulations and give developers a chance to complete the regulatory process in less than two years.”

He thought the plan would get bipartisan support, unlike the health care reforms that were sunk by Congress.

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Jeff PowersIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

A-List Celebrity Adds Star Power to Anti-Corruption Movement

Tue, 2017-08-15 15:50

A-List Celebrity Adds Star Power to Anti-Corruption Movement

There is an A-list celebrity that has joined a growing movement to end political corruption in the United States: Jennifer Lawrence.

Represent.us, the nation’s largest grassroots anti-corruption campaign, announced recently that they are teaming up with the Hollywood star to raise money for the organization and its efforts. It was announced in an article in Vogue Magazine that Lawrence was joining the board of Represent.us as well.

“If you’re a Republican, if you’re liberal, it doesn’t matter,” she said. Lawrence says the goal is “getting money and corruption out of politics,” and “freeing our democracy.”

“We are thrilled to work with Jennifer Lawrence on fighting corruption around the country and passing laws that put the American people first,” said Josh Silver, director of Represent.us.

The campaign is offering a chance for donors to win a trip to go wine tasting with Lawrence at “a top California vineyard.”

Represent.us is currently involved in a number of anti-corruption efforts, including a new state constitutional amendment in South Dakota to restore a voter-approved initiative that was scrapped by state lawmakers in February.

The organization is also raising awareness and support for the American Anti-Corruption Act, which aims to “stop political bribery, end secret money, and fix the electoral system.”

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Shawn M. GriffithsIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Hacking the Vote: Lulu Friesdat Explains How It’s Really Been Done

Tue, 2017-08-15 07:00

Hacking the Vote: Lulu Friesdat Explains How It’s Really Been Done

This week on A Civil Assessment we meet the award-winning election journalist Lulu Friesdat.

T.J. and Lulu discuss her history reporting on elections, her documentary “Holler Back” about voters who did not vote in 2004, the annual tech conference DEF CON where hackers broke into election machines in under 2 hours, bipartisan election security, the Wisconsin, Georgia, and Florida recounts, and more.

Lulu walks us through how hackers easily hacked a number of different election machines, much of which was made easier due to simple passwords (such as “ABCDEF”) and lack of encryption. She recommends voting via paper, in order to secure your vote!

Watch Lulu’s video of hackers at DEF CON here, check out her “Holler Back” website and GoFundMe.

Lulu Friesdat is an Emmy award-winning journalist whose many news assignments include producing election coverage for MSNBC, editing with the CBS Evening News and Good Morning America, and  writing for Salon, and Alternet.

She’s been reporting on problems with U.S. elections since 2008, when she received a Best Documentary award for directing her first feature-length documentary, Holler Back: [not]Voting in an American Town.

A two-time recipient of the Edward R. Murrow award, Friesdat has been interviewed on radio and television shows including Writer’s Voice and Connect the Dots. You can follow her on Twitter @LuluFriesdat.

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Kaia Los HuertosIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

VA Governor Blames ACLU For Charlottesville Violence

Tue, 2017-08-15 05:00

VA Governor Blames ACLU For Charlottesville Violence

A characterizing attribute of fascism is the suppression of views and voices.

Enter the ACLU of Virginia. Viewed as a traditional liberal voice for the oppressed and voiceless, the civil liberties organization last week came out in support of the First Amendment right of neo-Nazis and white supremacists to march in Charlottesville.

Since the horrific events of this last weekend, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has spoken out against the ACLU’s position of supporting the march’s location and the ability to have it in such a populated part of town.

“We asked – the city of Charlottesville asked for [the gathering] to be moved out of downtown Charlottesville to a park about a mile and a half away – a lot of open fields. That was the place that it should’ve been. We were, unfortunately, sued by the ACLU,” said Terry McAuliffe, in an interview for NPR.

“I’m angry that – I am angry that this was not moved to McIntire Park, where the city of Charlottesville had requested. I am very angry today because these people, they were dispersed, and that allowed this guy with the car to run through downtown Charlottesville with people everywhere.”

The ACLU has since came out with a response to the Governor’s criticism of their approach.

BREAKING: We respond to @GovernorVA 's allegations that the ACLU is responsible for violence in #Charlottesville : https://t.co/T3eeyupPmo pic.twitter.com/pAuSytT36z

— ACLU of Virginia (@ACLUVA) August 14, 2017

The group states:

“We are horrified by the violence that took place in Charlottesville on Saturday and the tragic loss of life that resulted from it. The ACLU of Virginia does not support violence. We do not support Nazis. We support the Constitution and laws of the United States. We would be eager to work with the governor and the attorney general on efforts to ensure that public officials understand their rights and obligations under the law.

But let’s be clear: our lawsuit challenging the city to act constitutionally did not cause violence nor did it in any way address the question whether demonstrators could carry sticks or other weapons at the events.

We asked the city to adhere to the U.S. Constitution and ensure people’s safety at the protest. It failed to do so. In our system, the city makes the rules and the courts enforce them. Our role is to ensure that the system works the same for everyone.”

When the ACLU filed a lawsuit supporting the demonstration, it opened up a nuanced argument:

Is it the responsibility of organizations like ACLU or even Uber and AirBNB (who last week refused services to the influx of Alt-Right demonstrators), to make a judgment call on the extent with which someone is able to express their First Amendment rights?

Basic human dignity should serve as the foundation with which decisions are made, not political affiliations.

What happens when the views people are representing (neo-Nazi, Alt-Right, White Nationalism) are defended by the rights they are, in a way, opposing (suppression of minorities)?

The amount of judicial restraint or activism an organization uses when interpreting the First Amendment right of opposing points of view creates a dichotomy of issues that is as convoluted as it is controversial.

It is crucial, however, to understand that as issues like this present itself, political affiliations only further fog the issues. Basic human dignity should serve as the foundation with which decisions are made, not political affiliations.

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Tomas UrtasunIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Greg Orman: We Are Paving the Way for Independents to Win Elections

Mon, 2017-08-14 17:33

Greg Orman: We Are Paving the Way for Independents to Win Elections

“We need to give [independents and centrists] something and people to be passionate about, who they know can lead and put our country ahead of political parties, use facts and common sense to solve problems, and ultimately not be influenced by the special interests who control both parties.” – Greg Orman, 2014 US Senate candidate

Entrepreneur and political independent Greg Orman has joined forces with the Centrist Project in order to elect more independent candidates that better represent the interests of their constituents and break the two-party duopoly on our political process.

Orman and other declared or potential independent candidates for governor and US Senate gathered for a private retreat in Philadelphia over the weekend. They were joined by core Centrist Project supporters, donors, and advisers.

The whole political economy has been built around serving Democrats and Republicans. Greg Orman

The purpose of the gathering was for attendees to explore “joining forces and paving a new way forward in our polarized politics,” according to the Centrist Project.

Other independent candidates present included: Gov. Bill Walker (I-AK), Maine gubernatorial candidate Terry Hayes, former presidential candidate and potential US Senate candidate Evan McMullin, and of course Greg Orman, who ran in the 2014 election for US Senate in Kansas and may run for governor.

In his Senate run, Orman was able to garner 43 percent of the vote against incumbent Republican US Senator Pat Roberts. Though he lost, it was an impressive showing for an independent.

Still, as Orman notes, candidates outside the two major parties still face significant “institutional and structural barriers to independents succeeding.”

“The whole political economy has been built around serving Democrats and Republicans, and that’s really what the Centrist Project is trying to change,” said Orman.

According to the most recent Gallup survey, 45 percent of US voters identify politically as independent, meaning that independents make up the largest voting demographic in the country. Yet, there is not a single independent in the US House, and only two in the Senate. There is also only one independent governor.

RELATED ARTICLE: Over 10,000 Sign Pledge to #HackTheSenate

Part of the Centrist Project’s goal is to create a Centrist Caucus in the US Senate by electing 5 independent politicians who can force Republicans and Democrats to the table on the nation’s biggest issues since neither party would control the chamber — putting country ahead of partisan politics.

To learn more about this and more, watch the full CNN interview with Greg Orman above.

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Shawn M. GriffithsIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

OPINION: The Enemy of Democracy is Not the Left or Right — It’s Corporations

Mon, 2017-08-14 14:09

OPINION: The Enemy of Democracy is Not the Left or Right — It’s Corporations

Our politics are in a sad state. Most people would characterize it as extremely partisan and polarized, more so than we’ve experienced in our lifetime or possibly even the past century.

Every day we read stories about how one side is “fighting” to prevent the other side from doing something they think is disastrous. The words “fighting,” “struggling,” “blocking,” “war,” “winning,” and “losing” are in headline after headline.

It looks like the country is divided down the middle fighting it out to see which way we’ll eventually go while the gridlock prevents us from actually going anywhere.

But the truth is we are not divided down the middle. We’re actually divided into 3 groups.

About 25 percent of us are liberals and about 25 percent of us are conservatives and the rest of us, 50 percent or more, are so disenchanted and/or disgusted with what’s going on that we don’t even bother to vote.

The truth is we are not divided down the middle. We're actually divided into 3 groups.

In 2008, that 50 percent shrunk to 40 percent, but since then it’s been over 50 percent and for the primaries, it’s up to 70 percent. Think of that! In the world’s strongest democracy, at least in terms of economic and military strength, 50-70 percent of us don’t even participate.

How can that be good?!

It’s not good for all the liberal and conservative people and it’s not good for all the disenchanted and/or disgusted people, but it is good for corporations, the media that is owned by the corporations,  and the politicians who are in the pockets of the corporations.

There’s a small percentage of people who benefit from the partisanship and polarization — people whose wealth and income have gone up in leaps and bounds over the past 30 years while the rest of us haven’t gotten a raise or have lost our decent paying jobs.

The problem therefore is not a battle between the right and the left, but rather a situation where corporations, through their owned media and owned politicians, have created a false battlefield that divides the country into thirds, none of which have a majority on any issue and therefore have essentially no political power.

This sounds like some kind of nutty conspiracy theory or the Hunger Games, but consider the following well-established facts about corporations, politicians and the media, not one of which you’ll find surprising:

  • The wealth of the top few percent has gone up tremendously over the past 30 years.
  • CEO pay has gone from 70 times the average employee to over 300 times the average employee. Productivity gains have all gone to the top.
  • The middle class has lost ground. Wages have been stagnant over that same period of time.
  • Politicians are bought and paid for by corporations. Most members of Congress are millionaires and many become lobbyists after a few years in Congress. There are now tens of thousands of lobbyists in Washington, a substantial increase from 30 years ago.
  • Studies show politicians pay no attention to the interests of their constituencies, only their big donors.
  • Politicians spend over half their time raising money.
  • Political operatives who raised money for Clinton are now raising money for Trump. Campaigning has become a billion-dollar business whose goal is to make money, not champion a political ideology.
  • Large corporations own the major media stations.
  • Independent media is essentially dead. Many newspapers have gone out of business or have cut way back on their staff of reporters.

I could go on and on.

The point is that this battle between the right and left is not real. It’s staged by a very small percent of people who benefit greatly by it.

They love to look out the window and see us in the streets battling back and forth with our signs and blogs while they go about their business squeezing every penny out of the economy for themselves and leaving us with less and less for more and more work.

  • Why is it that we pay twice as much as other countries for our medical expenses with poorer results? Our premiums and deductibles go up year after year and our health gets worse. Who benefits? Insurance companies and pharmaceuticals.
  • Why are we engaged in wars that cost us trillions of dollars, never end, and we never win? Who benefits? The military industrial complex; the one Eisenhower warned us about.
  • Why do we have a higher percentage of our population in jail than any other country on earth? It started with the war on drugs which we lost but the privatized prison system won. They are the ones who benefit. And by the way, most of those folks we threw in prison can’t vote for the rest of their lives.
  • Why do we have more gun violence than any other country on earth? Ninety percent of us want national background checks or some form of gun control. Yet we get nothing while the NRA and its corporate donors benefit by keeping the government out of their business.
  • Why are our roads and bridges falling apart while our taxes go up and our cities go bankrupt? Where does all that money go?
  • Why is it that we all feel the effects of climate change every time we go outside but Trump pulls us out of the Paris agreement? Who benefits? Big oil companies, of course.
  • Where does all the tax money from gambling casinos and lotteries go? It seems to disappear into some sort of political vacuum. I’m sure legalized weed will follow the same path with even more of our tax money going up in smoke.

The answer to all these “why’s” is – that’s how the corporations want it. That’s how they make money and they’re excellent at it. Getting better every day. That’s how capitalism works.

The solution to this insanity is for us to stop fighting with the other side and start talking to them. Start asking all those folks who are disenchanted and disgusted to get engaged and to join the rest of us to find some common ground so we can take back our power from the greedy crowd that has been sucking us dry.

Aristotle said that virtue lies at the mean between extremes. We certainly are experiencing those extremes today with the right and left going at it over every issue. But we have also seen that when we put people together in reasonable conversation they find understanding and common ground.

The solution to this insanity is for us to stop fighting with the other side and start talking to them.

The enemy of democracy is not the right or the left. We actually need each other. It’s the corporations and their media and political henchmen who have created this false polarization for their own benefit.

Our Founders did everything they could think of to keep corruption from creeping into and destroying our democracy. But it has crept all the way into our hearts and souls.

We have a cancer. Our democracy is dying and it’s on our watch. We need to stop fighting each other and join forces, not only with the other side but by pulling in the disenfranchised 50%.

That would give us the huge majority we need to dump the “politicians,” find common ground ourselves and elect a new breed of “representatives” who live there.

This is doable. But not forever. Time is running out and at some point we won’t be able to get it back.

Our democracy will be gone. America will decline like every other empire that ever existed. How would we explain that to our grandchildren? What would we say to them, “Oh yes sweetheart, I remember when America was the hope of the world, but we let that die, it was under our watch. So sorry about that.”

We can’t let that happen. I’m not going to say that to my little granddaughter, Sadie Mae. She expects more of me than that. She deserves more of me and that I think yours will too.

We need to come together now.

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Jim BeileIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

New Utah Party Wants to End Taxpayer-Funding of Closed Primaries

Mon, 2017-08-14 07:00

New Utah Party Wants to End Taxpayer-Funding of Closed Primaries

There is a new party on the rise in Utah, and it wants to end taxpayer funding for closed partisan primary elections.

Utah uses a semi-closed primary system for statewide and congressional offices. This means the parties get to choose whether or not to allow unaffiliated voters to participate in “their” taxpayer-funded primaries.

Democrats currently allow registered independents to participate in their party’s primaries. Republicans do not. Yet the unaffiliated voters barred from these crucial elections still contribute public tax dollars to their funding.

The United Utah Party (UUP) says this has to stop.

“There is no reason the voters should pay for a party’s primary election when that party refused to allow all taxpayers who are eligible voters from voting in the primary,” said Richard Davis, chairman of the UUP.

The GOP is the dominant party in Utah, which means that its primary elections are even more crucial because in most elections, the outcome decides the winner of the entire race.

Independents make up the second-largest voting demographic in Utah, behind the Republican Party. Yet nearly half a million voters have no say in the final outcome of most races because they do not want to register with a political party — which the current system forces them to do to have an equal voice.

Davis believes that Republicans should either foot the bill for their own primary or open the elections up to independent voters. And since the state GOP is “hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt,” according to Davis, he believes they would opt to open the primary.

“’When people realize their tax dollars go toward an election they can’t participate in, legislators are going to feel pressure to change’ the system,” he said, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

The UUP states that the party reaches across party lines and favors “moderation rather than extremism and pragmatism and problem-solving rather than ideology.” It was certified as an official party by the state on June 26.

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Shawn M. GriffithsIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

From Russia Meddling to DNC Incompetence: Where We Are and Why It Matters

Fri, 2017-08-11 16:45

From Russia Meddling to DNC Incompetence: Where We Are and Why It Matters

I just finished reading “Trump, Putin, and The New Cold War” that appeared in the May 6 issue of The New Yorker (the online title is different in the magazine).

Written by Evan Osnos, David Remnick, and Joshua Yaffa, it is likely the longest article I have ever read in the magazine — which I’ve been reading for many years. I note this to underscore my judgment as to the article’s importance.

I did not read it in a single sitting. I’ve done that with many New Yorker articles, but not this one.

If you want specifics from the article, you will need to read it (click here). All I can do here is share my overall impressions, which are:

1. The Evil that is Putin and the Russia apparatchik is beyond dispute, as is their sabotage of the 2016 election. Many Trumpians will deny that, say it’s “fake news,” but this perpetuates a falsehood.

2. The sabotaging of the presidential election is not the sole reason Trump won, but when you lose the presidency by 70,000 critical votes, its impact cannot be overstated.

3. But Russia’s role in the election in assisting Trump’s improbable “victory” is secondary to the mind-boggling incompetence of Hillary Clinton, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and the Democratic National Committee.

It’s impossible to overstate Ms. Clinton’s failure and that of her $800,000,000 campaign, or that of her 1,000 campaign employees, to grasp what was happening in America. Neither Ms. Clinton nor her staff got it, but Trump did. How is that possible other than rank incompetence? (That is not The New Yorker’s point, but rather mine.)

Russia's role in the election in assisting Trump's improbable 'victory' is secondary to the mind-boggling incompetence of Hillary Clinton, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and the DNC.

It was obvious very early on that Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, doubling as chair of the DNC (always a bad idea, as you can do justice neither to your constituents nor your Committee) favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. Her denials were hollow and unconvincing, as WikiLeaks proved.

READ MORE: The Anti-Sanders Emails That Led Wasserman Schultz to Resign as DNC Chair

But by the time the facts were established and Ms. Wasserman Schultz had resigned (replaced by Donna Brazile; at best a wash, more likely a loss), it was too late.

The supporters of Senator Sanders were livid, with due cause, and Ms. Clinton as the Democratic nominee, continued on with her tone deaf campaign – impressing neither independent nor Middle America voters.

4. But despite Ms. Clinton’s colossal failings as a presidential candidate, she was on track to win the election and become the 45th President of the United States, until Friday, October 29, 2016, the day that James Comey, director of the FBI, issued a statement saying the bureau was reopening its investigation into Ms. Clinton’s emails, while secretary of state.

Perhaps in presidential campaigns there have been more egregious acts that sunk a candidate, but not one that comes to my mind.

I knew the day it happened it would have disastrous results for Ms. Clinton’s campaign; a disaster aided and abetted by the White House’s failure to fire Director Comey for an unforgettable breach of department protocol.

(Yes, it’s true Comey came off as a hero during his Senate testimony this past spring, but that does not change the damage he did the day the FBI also sabotaged Ms. Clinton’s presidential campaign and changed the course of American history.)

How ironic the person who benefitted most from Mr. Comey’s wrongheaded decision was candidate Trump — who later, as President Trump, fired Mr. Comey.

But beyond the four reasons I list as to the denouncement of the ’16 campaign, there is the transcendent significance of the larger issue in The New Yorker’s article.

To put that in context, here are my outtakes from section five of the article (slightly modified for publication on IVN):

“No reasonable analyst believes that Russia’s active measures in the United States and Europe have been the dominant force behind the ascent of Trump and nationalist politicians in Europe. Resentment of the effects of globalization and deindustrialization are far more important factors.

“But many Western Europeans do fear that the West and its postwar alliances and institutions are endangered, and that Trump, who has expressed doubts about NATO and showed allegiance to Brexit and similar anti-European movements, cannot be counted on.

“Although both Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis have expressed support for traditional alliances, Trump remains entirely uncritical of Putin.

No reasonable analyst believes that Russia’s active measures in the United States and Europe have been the dominant force behind the ascent of Trump and nationalist politicians in Europe. Evan Osnos, David Remnick, and Joshua Yaffa, The New Yorker

“‘Trump changes the situation from a NATO perspective,’ General Shirreff said. ‘The great fear is the neutering of nato and the decoupling of America from European security. If that happens, it gives Putin all kinds of opportunities…

“‘How long will Angela Merkel hold out against Donald Trump?’ Stephen Sestanovich, who was an adviser on Russia to both the Reagan and the Clinton Administrations, asked. ‘She is already by herself in Europe. Putin is going to look like the preëminent power in Europe.’

“Der Spiegel published a startling editorial recently that reflected the general dismay in Europe, and the decline of American prestige since Trump’s election. The new President, it said, is becoming ‘a danger to the world.’

“Strobe Talbott, who served as Deputy Secretary of State in the Clinton Administration, told The New Yorker he “believes that Trump, by showing so little regard for the institutions established by the political West in the past seventy years, is putting the world in danger.

“Asked what the consequences of ‘losing’ such a conflict would be, Talbott said, ‘The not quite apocalyptic answer is that it is going to take years and years and years to get back to where ww – we the United States and we the champions of the liberal world order – were as recently as five years ago.’”

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George MitrovichIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

5 Key Ways to Bridge the Hyper-Partisan Divide on Infrastructure

Fri, 2017-08-11 13:12

5 Key Ways to Bridge the Hyper-Partisan Divide on Infrastructure

Remember all that talk about infrastructure during the 2016 presidential campaign?

America needs massive new investments in infrastructure: safer bridges; modern sewers; a more efficient electricity grid; better transportation options; an upgraded air traffic control system; and so on.

Building infrastructure would create jobs in the short run. More important, it would make us richer and more productive as a nation in the long run.

When the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago polled an ideological panel of economists on the benefits of infrastructure investment, 98 percent of them agreed that “the federal government has an opportunity to increase average incomes by spending more on roads, railways, bridges and airports.” (The other 2 percent were uncertain.)

Building infrastructure would...make us richer and more productive as a nation in the long run. Charles Wheelan

Infrastructure investment should be a natural area for bipartisan cooperation. So where are we on that?

Sadly, the toxic partisanship in Washington has derailed (pun intended) what should be a logical place for the two parties to work together.

As with so many other issues, a handful of Centrist Independents could be the catalyst for infrastructure investments that would pay economic dividends for decades, if not longer.

The whole point of building a Centrist Caucus in Washington is to jump start legislative action by offering a vision that combines a common sense desire to govern with the best of what the Republicans and Democrats bring to the table.

RELATED ARTICLE: Over 10,000 Sign Pledge to #HackTheSenate

Here is what a Centrist Caucus roadmap for infrastructure investment might look like:

1. This can’t be the usual list of pork barrel projects.

Americans are rightfully skeptical that Congress will put infrastructure dollars to good use, as opposed to passing them out as political goodies.

As with so many other issues, a handful of Centrist Independents could be the catalyst for infrastructure investments that would pay economic dividends for decades. Charles Wheelan

Remember all those economists who thought infrastructure investment was a good idea — in theory. More than half of them also worried that “many of the projects would have low or negative returns.”

Congress needs to develop clear, objective, and measurable criteria for evaluating projects: improving safety; reducing traffic congestion; promoting economic development; reducing carbon emissions; and so on.

Every project can then be scored against those criteria — by an independent body, if necessary — with the best projects getting funded. That is how most private companies develop their capital budgets.

2. The Republicans are right: We should put private capital to use through public-private partnerships.

Government ought to plan for our infrastructure needs; in many cases, the private sector can fund, build, and operate those assets.

Most infrastructure projects spin off revenue: tolls, landing fees, and like. Governments at every level are strapped for cash. The private sector can put up capital for worthwhile projects; in exchange, they get a steady, predictable stream of revenues.

We need better public infrastructure. Nothing about that says government needs to build or operate it.

3. The Democrats are right: Many infrastructure investments should support our environmental goals.

When we get serious about climate change — and we are going to have to get serious — we will have to get more Americans out of their cars.

We need better public infrastructure. Nothing about that says government needs to build or operate it. Charles Wheelan

The U.S. is a global laggard in terms of public transit. Those who drive are often stuck idling in horrific traffic. Meanwhile, a smarter electricity grid is one of the most efficient ways to conserve energy.

America has an enormous capacity to move people and goods in ways that are faster and less polluting than we do now.

4. Whenever possible, consumers ought to pay for the infrastructure they are using, whether it is an airport or a sewer or a bridge.

Making users pay is a way to recoup our investments (which makes the private investment in #2 possible).

Tolls and other kinds of variable pricing are also a powerful tool for preventing congestion. Why is traffic so bad in most metropolitan areas? Because we take a valuable resource (space on the road at 8:30 a.m. on a weekday) and give it away free.

No one likes tolls. But having drivers (and other infrastructure users) pay for what they use is a pretty common sense idea.

5. Infrastructure spending can be a powerful tool for dealing with the next economic downturn.

We need to create a list of pre-approved federal infrastructure projects — like a capital budget — that can be funded more aggressively when we hit an economic rough patch.

When the economy slows, we should be building more. Not only does this put Americans back to work, it is also the cheapest time to be doing construction.

RELATED ARTICLE: Just How Bad is America’s Infrastructure and How Much Will It Cost to Fix It?

When the financial crisis hit in 2008, infrastructure spending would have been a good way to put Americans back to work. Unfortunately, there was a shortage of “shovel-ready projects.”

That should never happen again. We should approve worthwhile projects as soon as possible (See #1) so they will be shovel-ready when the economy needs a dose of fiscal stimulus.

During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton all proposed that we spend more federal money to improve our nation’s infrastructure. Seventy-five percent of Americans agree that would be a good thing to do.

So far, we have done nothing of the kind.

This is a sensible idea with broad support — in other words, exactly the kind of policy a Centrist Caucus would get behind. Let’s start building from the center.

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Charles WheelanIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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