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Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Real Ted Cruz

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Brains vs Bombast

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POTUS?

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By Theodore A. Gebhard

American Thinker

January 25, 2016

 

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Contrary to some who have expressed concerns about Ted Cruz’s temperament and qualifications to be an effective president, my experience in working with the Texas senator and Republican presidential candidate during the early 2000s convinces me that he is the right person at the right time for the job.

Although not a close friend of Senator Cruz, I got to know him reasonably well as a colleague at the Federal Trade Commission from mid-2001 until he left the commission to return to Texas in 2003. During that time, we worked together on a number of projects, including efforts to curtail anticompetitive legislation pending in several states to protect incumbent businesses such as gasoline retailers and automobile dealerships, and a task force established by the FTC’s Chairman charged with looking into litigants’ abuses of legal immunities to the antitrust laws. The Chairman appointed Cruz to lead that task force, and I was one of several members.

In this capacity, I was able to observe Ted’s professional skills, his personal characteristics, and, significantly, his commitment to constitutionalism, the rule of law, and free-market economics. These personal observations impel me to conclude not only that Ted possesses the qualifications to be president in terms of intellect, temperament, and knowledge of the issues facing the country; but even more importantly, that he is uniquely the right person to lead America at this time in its history.

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Ted Cruz’s Intellect Is Extraordinary

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Ted’s academic credentials are well known: Princeton, Harvard Law, and clerk to the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Even these outstanding credentials do not fully reveal Ted’s extraordinary brainpower. Indeed, the first impression that I had of Ted was provided by his ability to move down a learning curve of a new subject at lightning speed and acquire knowledge and skills that most people take years to acquire.

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Ted and I arrived at the FTC on the same day in 2001. At that time, I had had over twenty-five years’ experience in the antitrust field. Ted had none. He came to the agency at the behest of the White House as a reward for the work he did on behalf of George W. Bush in the Bush v. Gore recount litigation in Florida, not because of any significant antitrust background. Indeed, the chairman had not previously known Ted.

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Upon arriving, however, Ted immediately immersed himself in self-study of antitrust law, consulting the major legal treatises in the field as well as reading and absorbing critical antitrust case law. Amazingly, within a few short months, Ted made himself into a superb antitrust lawyer and policy thinker. Observing this feat at first hand left me in awe of Ted’s superior intellect. He is surely one of smartest persons I have ever known.

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Ted Cruz Has a Winning Temperament

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Since becoming the junior senator from Texas, Ted has been labeled by some in the media as the most disliked senator among his colleagues.  It is reported that he eschews many senatorial “courtesies,” and the deference to senior members expected of a junior senator. I personally find this attitude refreshing because I see it arising out of Ted’s commitment to the principles on which he campaigned, as opposed to warm feelings from his fellow senators.

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In my own experience, I found Ted to be very easy to work with. I never knew him to tout his own résumé, talk down to anyone, or insist on deference to his position. To the contrary, I knew him to be consistently pleasant, generous with his time, and most importantly, always respectful of others’ views and work-product. I remember, for example, that Ted often dropped into my office to follow up on some comment or idea that I had offered during an earlier task force meeting. Those meetings generally permitted only limited discussion because of the number of people present, and Ted wanted to explore my thinking further. Unlike many persons holding titles in government, it never occurred to Ted that, because of his higher position as head of the task force, protocol would demand that I be called into his office. Such ego-driven attachment to hierarchy never mattered to Ted. To the contrary, he was only interested in getting the best ideas out of the people around him. All in all, I cannot recall a single instance when I did not enjoy interacting with Ted professionally. He not only displayed a consistent winning temperament throughout the time we were together, but did so in a way that drew out the highest quality of professional thinking from those with whom he worked and supervised.

Ted Cruz’s Knowledge of the Issues Is Deep

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There is no question that today the country is in bad shape. On the domestic economic front, during the Obama years we have experienced near stagnant economic growth, a decline in labor force participation and middle-class prosperity, and a dramatic increase of big government intrusion into the economy in the form of regulatory overreach, ObamaCare, and massive market distortions owing to the failed $800 billion “stimulus” package. Many elites have accepted perpetual stagnation as the new normal.

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One only need listen to Ted Cruz’s speeches or consult his detailed policy papers on his website to realize that he not only rejects this new normal but also that he understands its causes and therefore what needs to be done to bring back the dynamism that the United States’ economy has historically exhibited. In particular, Ted understands that free-market capitalism is the engine that drives growth and prosperity. He also understands that future growth and prosperity require savings and capital accumulation, not a culture of government handouts and spending coupled with a tax system that discourages work and saving. And perhaps most critically, Ted understands the importance of institutions such as the rule of law and sound money to the efficiency of free-market capitalism. The free market engine only works when it is well lubricated and when it rests on a solid legal and monetary foundation.

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Significantly, among all the Republican candidates, Ted Cruz is the only one who can be counted on to remain fully committed to the kind of economic freedom that the country desperately needs to restore its economic dynamism. Contrast him with Donald Trump, who shows a near total absence of economic literacy as exemplified by his pronouncements on trade, healthcare markets, and property rights. Or consider the stark contrast with Senator Marco Rubio, who, despite lauding free markets in nearly every campaign speech, could not wait, in the interest of political expediency, to vote for continuation of the New Deal era anti-free market sugar program after arriving to the senate. In contrast, Ted Cruz has never deviated from a commitment to free trade and unimpaired markets. Indeed, in Iowa he rejected all temptation to pander to voters by lending support to the market-distorting federal ethanol mandates that are so important to certain rent-seeking segments of the Iowa farm economy. Whereas Donald Trump’s and Marco Rubio’s blatant hypocrisy brings into doubt the extent to which either can be trusted to hold steady to free market principles in the face of political opposition, Senator Cruz’s courage and commitment to economic freedom cannot be questioned.

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In addition to economic issues, it is clear that Ted Cruz is superior to all other candidates respecting his understanding of and commitment to America’s founding constitutional order, including federalism, the separation of powers, and the protection of individual liberty against government coercion. One only need observe Ted’s passion whenever he talks about religious liberty, the rights given under the Second Amendment, and the most fundamental of all liberty rights, the right to life and self-ownership. Compare Ted, for example, to the constitutionally challenged Donald Trump, who wants to disregard the rule of law and the separation of powers as much as President Obama, and instead simply substitute his own version of an imperial presidency. This is not the place to list the near endless examples of Obama’s lawlessness or the ways that Donald Trump would mimic that lawlessness, but I think that it is evident that a Ted Cruz administration would be the antithesis of such lawlessness. The founding principles anchored in individual liberty would be the focal point of a Cruz administration.

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I will not dwell on foreign policy because it is outside of my area of competence. As a citizen, however, I share the dismay of many of my fellow Americans at the decline in American prestige and respect as a beacon of liberty that has occurred during the Obama years. Knowing Ted Cruz as I do, I have every confidence that, as president, he would restore America’s leadership among the world’s democracies. I have no such confidence that Mrs. Clinton would achieve such a result. I have little confidence that any of the other Republican candidates, and surely not the carnival barker Donald Trump, would have the seriousness of purpose necessary to secure America’s safety, restore its world leadership role, and maintain the fear and respect of its enemies.

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Ted Cruz Is Uniquely the Right Person for President at this Time in History

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America has traveled along the path of ever-increasing statism for the better part of a century. From the progressive era onwards, the left has fostered the view that the founders’ Constitution, which was focused on the protection of individual liberty by constraining the powers of government, needs to be reinterpreted to encompass an ever-growing state that solves problems, awards new rights at the expense of others’, and redistributes wealth. The result is a monstrous and intrusive federal government, a constantly increasing dependency on government handouts, a stagnant economy, and a long period of declining American influence in world affairs. America is presently in bad shape and on a wayward course. In my view, America will continue to decline and, indeed, ultimately implode if it continues on the same course. To prevent this outcome, it is imperative that Americans, both individually and collectively as a nation, restore respect for and fidelity to our founding principles, most importantly the rule of law as embodied in the original meaning of the Constitution and its amendments. No other candidate comes as close to having the qualifications, the depth of constitutional knowledge, and the commitment to the American founding as Ted Cruz. If America is to survive as a reservoir of liberty, prosperity, and human dignity, it is crucial that we abandon the errant path that we have followed too long and elect a man like Ted Cruz.

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Mr. Gebhard is an antitrust lawyer and economist residing in Arlington, Va.  He was a colleague of Senator Cruz’s at the Federal Trade Commission from mid-2001 until 2003.

 

 

 

CRUZ – A PROTÉGÉ OF REAGAN?

SURE LOOKS LIKE IT

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January 24, 2016

The Case for Ted Cruz

By Peter Ferrara

AMERICAN THINKER

 

Since Ted Cruz walked onto the national stage, he has been consistent in leading the attack against the corrupt Washington Establishments of both parties. Redolent of     Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  He has done that with a level of articulate intelligence and perception virtually unprecedented in Washington.

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I served President Reagan in the White House Office of Policy Development, and I have studied his speeches and writings for years. Cruz embraces the same three dimensional political and policy framework as Reagan – fearless, consistent, free market economics, Peace through Strength National Defense, and Traditional Values Cultural Conservatism. On issue after issue, I can see no difference between Reagan and Cruz in any of these dimensions.

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Like Reagan, Cruz is a convictions politician, in the words of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.  That means that Cruz, like Reagan, and Thatcher, is transparently in politics to advance his conservative “convictions,” philosophy, and ideology, not for personal aggrandizement, power, or riches.

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Conservatives, from Christian Evangelicals, to Tea Party fire brands, to Libertarian free market activists, to low tax crusaders, to Second Amendment, gun rights advocates, to National Defense, foreign policy conservatives, to traditional, family values, cultural conservatives, are now coalescing around Cruz. I believe they will put him over the top in Iowa, and carry that momentum to New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, and Super Tuesday states throughout the south. That run may resolve the nomination contest much sooner than now expected. Below are the reasons why this is happening.

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Economics

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On economics, Cruz thoroughly supports the pro-growth “supply side” economics embraced and promoted by Reagan, Jack Kemp, Art Laffer, Steve Forbes, Larry Kudlow, and Steve Moore. Cruz has proposed a specific, detailed tax reform plan developed with the assistance of Art Laffer and Steve Moore, which I think is the best tax reform plan proposed by any of the Presidential candidates.

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Tax Reform. The Cruz tax reform proposal would scrap the current income tax code entirely, and replace it with a Simple Flat Tax with the same 10% rate for all forms of individual income.  That same 10% rate would apply to wages, profits, capital gains, dividends, rent, and interest income.  No one would be able to claim that billionaires are paying lower tax rates than their secretaries, or that the system is rigged to favor the rich over the middle class.

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The corporate income tax would be abolished as well, replaced with a 16% Net Business Tax.  That would include immediate expensing, or deductions, for the costs of plant and equipment, and all other capital investment.  That promotes investment in worker productivity, which is the foundation of rising wages, and in businesses providing good paying, blue collar jobs, like heavy industry, mining, energy, farming, ranching and manufacturing. But there would be no more corporate welfare, special interest, credits and deductions, or crony socialism, as under the current corporate income tax.

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The 16% Business Flat Tax provides sufficient revenue to abolish the payroll tax altogether, with Social Security and Medicare financed in full from these two Cruz flat taxes, with no funding shortfalls. The payroll tax is the biggest tax working people and the middle class pay today, more than the income tax for the bottom 60% of income earners. That provides major tax relief for business as well, particularly the small and medium sized businesses that create most new jobs on net, since both the employer and employee payroll taxes initially come out of the cash flow of businesses.

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Cruz’s 10% flat tax for families includes a $10,000 standard deduction ($20,000 for couples filing jointly), and a personal exemption of $4,000.  That means that the first $36,000 for a family of four is exempt from all significant federal taxes, with no payroll tax any longer. The plan retains the current Child Tax Credit, and increases the Earned Income Tax Credit by 20%, both favoring poor and lower income workers. This new system is consequently rigged to favor the poor and the middle class.

Each worker would also enjoy a Universal Savings Account, where any adult could save $25,000 a year with taxes deferred, like in an IRA, which could be used at any time for any purpose. Cruz’s tax reform would also abolish the Death Tax and the Alternative Minimum Tax, as well as the Net Investment Income Tax of 3.8 percent and the Medicare surtax of 0.9 percent, both imposed by Obamacare.

Most families could file their income taxes on a postcard under this Simple Flat Tax, saving taxpayers hundreds of billions in tax compliance and collection costs each year.  That means that “we can abolish the Internal Revenue Service as we know it,” Cruz rightly argues.

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The Tax Foundation scored Cruz’s tax reform plan dynamically as increasing capital investment by 43.9%.  That would create nearly 5 million new jobs, and grow wages by 12.2%.  That would increase real economic growth over the next decade by nearly 14% more than under current tax policies.  The after tax income of all workers would increase, by 21.3% on average.  Those in the bottom 20% of income would also enjoy after tax income increases, gaining 15.3% on average.

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Cruz’s business tax would tax imports into the U.S., but exports would be tax free, just like a national sales tax would. That is why such a tax system is permissible under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which permits sales taxes. Most of America’s trade partners have such a domestically favorable tax system. Cruz’s business tax would especially favor American manufacturers, American exporters (including agricultural exporters), and even 100% service companies would be no worse off because the 16% business tax just replaces the 15.3% payroll tax, which again would be abolished. Moreover, the proposal sharply reduces, rather than grows government like a VAT, because it would abolish so many current taxes – the corporate income tax, the payroll tax, the death tax, the Alternative Minimum Tax, the 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax, and the Obamacare Medicare payroll tax increase add on of 0.9%.

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Cruz’s tax reform plan is not designed to be revenue neutral, because Cruz is running for President to make government smaller, not to raise the same taxes to pay for the same spending. The non-partisan Tax Foundation scores the reform dynamically as a tax cut of $768 billion over the first decade, which is manageable.

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Spending Cuts and Balancing the Budget. Cruz has already proposed $500 billion in spending cuts over 10 years, with a plan abolishing four federal departments, plus the Internal Revenue Service, and 25 more named federal agencies. Those include the Departments of Energy, Commerce, Education (sent back to states in block grants), and HUD.

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Cruz’s budget plan includes sweeping entitlement reform. Cruz has been the indomitable leader in advancing the repeal and replacement of Obamacare. Gone would be the individual mandate, the job killing employer mandate, and all the other unnecessary regulation increasing the costs of health insurance and care. Costs would be further reduced through the market incentives of Health Savings Accounts, consumer choice, and competition. The poor would be better taken care of by block granting Medicaid back to the states, ultimately involving more Health Savings Accounts, consumer choice, and competition. So would coverage for pre-existing conditions. This would save the economy at least another trillion dollars each year.

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The enormously successful 1996 welfare reforms can be expanded to all of the $1 trillion a year means tested welfare programs through further block grants to the states. States would have powerful new incentives to promote work for the able bodied particularly among the bottom 20% in income. That would further promote booming economic growth through tidal waves of new labor supply into the economy.

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Cruz mentioned at the October debate that he would propose the freedom of each worker to choose a personal savings and investment account to finance future Social Security benefits. The Chief Actuary of Social Security scored a similar plan introduced by Paul Ryan in 2004 and 2005 as generating savings and investment by working people all across America of nearly $8 trillion over the first 15 years, and $16 trillion over 25 years. That would do more to reduce inequality of wealth than everything dreamed up by Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren put together. All that capital investment would create millions more jobs and higher wages, through increased economic growth.

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Through a lifetime of savings and investment in those accounts, seniors would earn higher, not lower, benefits, multiples of what Social Security even promises let alone what it could pay.  Each would be free to choose their own retirement age, with market incentives to delay it for even higher benefits. This alone would involve the largest reduction in government spending in world history, as Social Security benefits would be financed through private financial markets, rather than the federal budget through tax and spending redistribution.

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Reform of Monetary Policy and the Fed. Cruz raised in the October debate as well fundamental reform of the Federal Reserve, to restrict its wild monetary policy discretion by firm rules holding its course to maintaining a stable dollar. He suggested a commission to determine whether that should include a link to gold. Such guaranteed dollar stability would further draw investment from across the entire globe, as investors would know they would be paid back in dollars as good as the dollars they invested.  Indeed, as good as gold.

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Deregulation

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The most important deregulatory policy for creating another economic boom is to unleash the private sector to produce plentiful supplies of low cost energy.  That would provide a lower cost foundation for the entire economy, effectively equivalent to another major tax cut.

America enjoys the resources to be the world’s number 1 producer of oil, natural gas, and coal. That would involve thousands and thousands of high paying jobs in those industries alone, and trillions over the years in revenues from those industries to federal, state and local governments.

But the reliable low cost energy supplies they produce would create millions of new jobs throughout the entire economy, and ultimately trillions in new revenues due to the economic boom that low cost energy would support.  Such low cost energy is critical to manufacturing in particular, which is critical to restoring good paying jobs for blue collar workers.

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Due to new breakthroughs in the technology of “fracking” in oil and gas production, private producers have so far overwhelmed Obama’s regulatory barriers intended to stop them. In April, 2014, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced the American Energy Renaissance Act, providing for comprehensive liberation of energy producers to maximize energy production, job creation and prosperity for America, with a House companion bill introduced by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK).

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The Climate Change narrative supposedly justifying so much of Obama’s anti-energy regulation has been thoroughly rebutted by Climate Change Reconsidered II, comprised of three, one-thousand page volumes of objective, dispassionate, non-political, peer reviewed science, published by the Heartland Institute. The climate has changed since the Earth was born, and will continue until the Earth is gone. That change is controlled by natural causes, not by mankind’s comparatively puny effects.

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Further powerfully pro-growth deregulation would be achieved by Repealing and Replacing Obamacare, and Dodd-Frank runaway overregulation. Cruz also favors the REINS (Regulations of the Executive In Need of Scrutiny) Act, proposed by Senator Rand Paul. That would require approval by both houses of Congress before any regulation from the Executive Branch with an impact on the private sector of $100 million or more could become effective. That would have stopped dead all of the runaway EPA regulation we have seen under Obama.

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Complete Pro-Growth Plan

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These Cruz economic policies include all the four components of the Reagan economic recovery plan:

–Reduced tax rates to promote economically productive activity;

–Deregulation, to reduce regulatory burdens and barriers on such activity.

–Reduced federal spending, to reduce the federal drain on the private sector;

–Stable dollar monetary policy, to maximize investment from across the globe.

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Foreign Policy and National Defense

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In the December debate in Las Vegas, Cruz embraced the original Reagan foreign and national defense policies, focusing on advancing America’s security interests around the world, rejecting Bush’s Neoconservative policies of sacrificing American lives and treasure replacing foreign dictators with human rights, birthing new democracies, or nation building jobs and prosperity in foreign lands.

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Or, as Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens explained it on December 15, “[T]he purpose of U.S. foreign policy cannot be to redeem the world’s crippled societies through democracy building exercises. Foreign policy is not in the business of making dreams come true—Arab-Israeli peace, Islamic liberalism, climate nirvana, a Russian reset. It’s about keeping our nightmares at bay. Today those nightmares are Russian revanchism, Iranian nuclearization, the rise and reach of Islamic State and China’s quest to muscle the U.S. out of East Asia.”

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When Wolf Blitzer asked Cruz at the debate whether his policy would be “to preserve dictatorships, rather than promoting democracy in the Middle East?” Cruz answered by explaining, “I believe in an America first foreign policy, that far too often President Obama and Hillary Clinton – and unfortunately more than a few Republicans – have gotten distracted from the central focus of keeping this country safe….We need to focus on American interests, not on global aspirations.”

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Cruz later added, in supporting Rand Paul’s well-articulated opposition to regime change, “The question of whether we should be toppling dictatorships is asking the wrong question. The focus should be on defeating our enemies. So, for example, a regime we should change is Iran because Iran has declared war on us. But we shouldn’t be toppling regimes that are fighting radical Islamic terrorists….” Cruz explained the roots of his foreign and defense policies in Reagan, saying “We need a Commander in Chief who does what Ronald Reagan did with communism, which is he set out a global strategy to defeat Soviet communism. And he directed all of his forces to defeating communism.”

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Integrity Tests

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Ethanol. Cruz in Iowa bravely spoke out against the corporate welfare scandal of ethanol, which under so-called “Renewable Fuel Standard” regulations, refiners are forced to mix into gasoline, and consumers are consequently forced to buy. Tariffs protect American ethanol producers from foreign competition. American ethanol producers also receive billions in tax credits each year. That consistently reflects the long standing opposition to government bailouts and handouts for private, for profit businesses, by Cruz and his Tea Party base.

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It takes almost as much energy to produce a gallon of ethanol as the amount of energy in a gallon of ethanol. About 40% of the U.S. corn crop is used for Ethanol. Hence its appeal in Iowa. It can be produced from sugar cane, as in Brazil, and from other possible foodstuffs.

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But burning food for fuel is not wise. The growing production of Ethanol is causing food prices to rise, which quickly forces out of the market the poorest people who need food for food. That effect is felt not only within America, but worldwide, as environmentalists in the West promote so-called “alternative fuels,” from America to Europe to South America, to Australia and the Far East. The effect on food prices has caused riots, and even revolutions, in the Third World.

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There couldn’t be a more crass example of crony socialism. But Trump spoke out in favor of this policy atrocity in Iowa, in an effective attack on Cruz. Now the Ethanol mafia in Iowa is attacking Cruz, led by long time Iowa Governor Terry Bransted. Is the economy of Iowa really dependent on such corporate welfare handouts?

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This is a real test for Cruz, the Tea Party, Republican primary voters, and the Evangelical base of those voters in Iowa.

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Natural Born Citizen. The U.S. Constitution provides that to be eligible to hold the office of President, a candidate must be a “natural born citizen” of the United States. That language simply means a citizen by birth, as opposed to a citizen by naturalization. Cruz was born in Canada. But his mother at the time was a citizen of the United States, born in America to U.S. citizen parents. So Cruz qualifies to hold the office of President as a “natural born” citizen.

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Note that the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1790, passed by the same Founding Founders who wrote the Constitution in 1787, which was ratified in 1789, stated, “And the children of citizens of the United States that may be born beyond Sea, or outside the limits of the United States, shall be considered as Natural Born citizens.” That settles the matter. Some conservative activists who are not even lawyers, insist on playing amateur Supreme Court Justice, and reading the language “natural born citizen” narrowly to require a natural born citizen to be born of two parents who are citizens of the United States. Cruz, whose father at birth was not a U.S. citizen, but a citizen of Cuba, would then not qualify.

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But for a conservative activist to read the Constitutional language narrowly, in a way that actual Supreme Court Justices are unlikely to follow, to exclude the most consistently conservative, viable candidate, is perverse. Requiring both parents to be citizens at birth would also exclude Marco Rubio, and Trump himself, whose mother at his birth was not an American citizen, but a citizen of the United Kingdom.

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Why would any conservative vote for the erratic Donald Trump, with no grounding in conservative policy or philosophy, and no history of conservatism, when they can vote for one of the sharpest minds ever elected to Congress, the proven political winner Ted Cruz, who has been steeped in conservative policy and philosophy from an early age, and raised with the training and development to be one of the most skilled advocates for conservatism in history? You can’t tell where Trump is going to come out on any issue. But you can be sure of where Cruz is going to stand, based on his consistent public record of conservatism.

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No one has ever been elected President before who had never previously held public office, except for Generals who led American troops to victory in major wars, such as Dwight Eisenhower and Ulysses S. Grant. It is Donald Trump, a billionaire, career, real estate developer, who would be a perfect foil for the Democrats, who is not qualified to run for President of the United States.

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Peter Ferrara is Senior Fellow for Entitlement and Budget Policy at the Heartland Institute, and Senior Policy Advisor to the National Tax Limitation Foundation. He served in the White House Office of Policy Development under President Reagan, and as Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States under George H.W. Bush.

 

 

 

Roe v. Wade

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roe_v._Wade

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Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), is a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. It was decided simultaneously with a companion case, Doe v. Bolton. The Court ruled 7–2 that a right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment extended to a woman’s decision to have an abortion, but that this right must be balanced against the state’s two legitimate interests in regulating abortions: protecting women’s health and protecting the potentiality of human life.[1] Arguing that these state interests became stronger over the course of a pregnancy, the Court resolved this balancing test by tying state regulation of abortion to the third trimester of pregnancy.

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Later, in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992), the Court rejected Roe‘s trimester framework while affirming its central holding that a woman has a right to abortion until fetal viability.[2] The Roe decision defined “viable” as “potentially able to live outside the mother’s womb, albeit with artificial aid.”[3] Justices in Casey acknowledged that viability may occur at 23 or 24 weeks, or sometimes even earlier, in light of medical advances.[4]

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In disallowing many state and federal restrictions on abortion in the United States,[5][6] Roe v. Wade prompted a national debate that continues today about issues including whether, and to what extent, abortion should be legal, who should decide the legality of abortion, what methods the Supreme Court should use in constitutional adjudication, and what the role should be of religious and moral views in the political sphere. Roe v. Wade reshaped national politics, dividing much of the United States into pro-choice and pro-life camps, while activating grassroots movements on both sides.

 

Focus on ISIS is obscuring Iranian threat to Israel

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An Iranian nuclear bomb is the most significant threat

 

Palestinians are stabbing, shooting and ramming cars into Israelis on a daily basis. According to a recent survey by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, two-thirds of Palestinians back the current wave of terror stabbings against Israelis, while the same percentage support a larger armed uprising.

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Amid these daily assaults in Israel, as well as the Paris attacks, reports that ISIS is “preparing the largest religious cleansing in history,” as well as about mass slaughter of civilians in Syria and Iran’s testing of bal­ listic missiles in contravention of multiple UN resolutions, the UN General Assembly saw fit on a single day last fall to adopt six non-binding resolutions criticizing Israel.

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This singling out of Israel is an example of what former justice minister Irwin Cotler describes as a “new, sophisticated, virulent” strain of anti-Semitism involv­ ing “the discrimination against, denial of, or assault upon the right of the Jewish People to live as an equal member of the international community, with the state of Israel as the targeted collective Jew among the nations.”

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A small country comprising 0.11per cent of the world’s population , Israel attracts a disproportionate amount of the world’s attention and animosity. Through terror plots both thwarted and successful, the Jewish state is relentlessly reminded of the existential pressure it faces to be stronger and smarter than its adversaries.

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It must, therefore, be gratifying for the Is­ rael Defence Forces to learn that while the world galvanizes against ISIS, the terrorist group is apparently scared of only one country: Israel.

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Jurgen Todenhofer, a former member of the German Parliament, is the first western journalist to be granted significant access to ISIS territory and come home safely. Af­ter his 2014 trip, he published a book titled My 10 Days in the Islamic State. He recently said in a media interview that the “only country ISIS fears is Israel.” He elaborated: “They think they can defeat U.S. and U.K. ground troops, who they say they have no experience in city guerrilla or terrorist strategies. But they know the Israelis are very tough as far as fighting against guerril­las and terrorists.”

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What, then, to make of the message from ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, released at the close of 2015? “Jews,” he warned, “you will not enjoy in Palestine. God has gathered you in Palestine so that the mu­ jahedeen can reach you soon, and you will hide by the rock and the tree. Palestine will be your graveyard.”The going wisdom is the recording was intended to boost ISIS’ popularity in the Arab world, after criti­cism the group is fighting Muslims rather than Jews and neglecting the Palestinian struggle. Israel is still perceived to be a low priority for an ISIS attack.

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The Islamic State’s caution in this regard is consistent with Israel`s confidence in defending itself against the notorious terror­ ist organization. Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon has said that despite sharing borders with areas where the group is active, such as Sinai and the Golan Heights, his country is not significantly threatened by ISIS. “The Islamic State hasn’t opened a front against us, because they would simply get hurt,” Ya’alon declared.

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Iran, on the other hand, is a major source of concern for Israel. Former head of IDF intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin admitted that an Iranian nuclear bomb is the most significant threat to Israel. Ya’alon expressed worry about Iran’s presence in Syria: “Iran’s Quds Force is currently the only source actively working in Syria to attack us, trying to smuggle weapons and run messengers.”

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Indeed, the world’s current focus on ISIS may be obscuring the true long-term threats presented by state sponsors of terror such as Iran, which has the land, resources and newfound legitimacy to pursue its agenda. Ifthe West is truly com­ mitted to countering terrorist groups in the Middle East, advice should be heeded from the sole democracy in the region with unsurpassed counterterrorism expertise: Israel. •

 

Sheryl Saperia

CJN

January 14, 2015

 

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 A PERSONAL NOTE:

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THE DEAL WITH IRAN IS A STRATEGIC ERROR.

THE BEST SOLUTION TO IRAN`S NUCLEAR AMBITIONS IS THE CREATION OF A DEMOCRATIC STATE.

THE HATRED OF AND THE COMMITMENT TO THE ANNIHILATION OF ISREAL ARE NOT NEGOTIABLE

OBAMA`S SOTU ADDRESS DOES NOT REFER TO ISRAEL, BUT RATHER HOW THE AGREEMENT BENEFITS THE US AND IT GULF PARTNERS `THROUGH DIPLOMACY`.

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IT`S ALL ABOUT CULTURE

IRAN`S POLITICAL `CULTURE` VIEWS

HATRED AND ELIMINATION OF ISRAEL AS NON NEGOTIABLE

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WOULD HARRY TRUMAN HAVE SIGNED A NUCLEAR DEAL WITH IRAN?

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DAN ZWICKER

TORONTO

ARE YOU SURE

YOU CAN FUND

A LIFETIME SUSTAINABLE

INCOME

(NO SHORTFALLS IN ANY YEAR)

THROUGHOUT THE

2nd 30 – 40 YEARS

YOU MAY BE RETIRED?

(i.e. AGES 55 – 95) 

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PENSIONS: A MYTH?

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Large corporations began to dismantle defined benefit pension plans over 20 years ago.

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The first demographic group who were targeted were those in their mid 50’s. Why? Because it is costly to fund a lifetime retirement with 10 years left (i.e. 55 – 65). This left those affected with only one choice – do it on your own. A $100,000 / year retirement income requires $2,000,000 in capital assuming a 5% rate of return on the capital – that’s $200,000 / year in retirement funding. That sum speaks for itself. Most corporations did not start the retirement funding early.

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Once a corporation removes a guaranteed pension for all intents and purposes an employee becomes self employed. The only advantage anyone has financially in a large institution is the opportunity to receive a pension and retire with peace of mind. Once you are on your own you are acting as an independent entrepreneur and not an employee. Loyalty cuts both ways.

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That’s the background that has resulted today in 60% of all working Canadians not having a defined benefit pension plan which would allow them to sleep soundly throughout the 30 – 40 years of their retirement (from as early as 55 to as late as 95. – look around you in your own family.)

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Ask public servants why they work for the government from a financial point of view – their defined benefit pension.

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Financial planning was done by the corporation – not the employee. Employees budgeted – income – expenses – that’s it. The employee traded his or her financial time for a guaranteed lifetime income at retirement.

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Employees bought financial products for their individual accumulation purposes but had very little certainty whether they would be able to transition their accumulated savings capital into a sufficient and sustainable lifetime retirement income.

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That brings us to 2016 where 14,000,000 + boomers in Canada are preparing to retire and are inadequately aware of which professional financial practitioner can replace the corporate financial management team who once upon a time designed and implemented their defined benefit retirement plans…….

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That’s where we are today.

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WE LEARN HOW TO EARN AN INCOME FOR OUR FIRST 30 – 40 YEARS.

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…………………AND………………..

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WHAT ABOUT OUR 2ND 30 – 40 YEARS?

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HOW DO YOU PLAN ON PROVIDING A SUSTAINABLE INCOME (NO SHORTFALLS) FOR THE NEXT 30 – 40 YEARS – DURING YOUR RETIREMENT?

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HOW WE GOT FROM THERE TO HERE

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http://beyondrisk.blogspot.ca/2011/05/the-2nd-30-40-years-lifetime-retirement.html

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THE SECOND 30 – 40 YEARS – THE QUESTIONS TO BE ANSWERED

 .

http://beyondrisk.blogspot.ca/2010/02/second-30-40-years.html

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https://beyondrisk.wordpress.com/2016/10/23/the-big-lesson-from-nortel-networks-pension-plans-arent-a-guarantee/

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Daniel H. Zwicker, Principal, B.Sc. (Hons.) P.Eng. CFP CLU CH.F.C. CFSB

Professional Engineers Ontario

Certified Financial Planner

Chartered Life Underwriter

Chartered Financial Consultant

Chartered Financial Services Broker

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Bus: 416-726-2427

Email: danzwicker@rogers.com

Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/danzwicker

‘What We Do’:      http://beyondrisk.weebly.com/

 

 

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President Obama’s 2016 State of the Union Address

 

The White House is once again making the full text of the State of the Union available online ahead of the speech, as prepared for delivery, continuing efforts to meet people where they are and make the speech as accessible as possible. On Medium, people can follow along with the speech as they watch in real time at WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU, view charts and infographics on key areas, share their favorite lines, and provide feedback.

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Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans:

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Tonight marks the eighth year I’ve come here to report on the State of the Union. And for this final one, I’m going to try to make it shorter. I know some of you are antsy to get back to Iowa.

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I also understand that because it’s an election season, expectations for what we’ll achieve this year are low. Still, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the constructive approach you and the other leaders took at the end of last year to pass a budget and make tax cuts permanent for working families. So I hope we can work together this year on bipartisan priorities like criminal justice reform, and helping people who are battling prescription drug abuse. We just might surprise the cynics again.

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But tonight, I want to go easy on the traditional list of proposals for the year ahead. Don’t worry, I’ve got plenty, from helping students learn to write computer code to personalizing medical treatments for patients. And I’ll keep pushing for progress on the work that still needs doing. Fixing a broken immigration system. Protecting our kids from gun violence. Equal pay for equal work, paid leave, raising the minimum wage. All these things still matter to hardworking families; they are still the right thing to do; and I will not let up until they get done.

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But for my final address to this chamber, I don’t want to talk just about the next year. I want to focus on the next five years, ten years, and beyond.

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I want to focus on our future.

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We live in a time of extraordinary changechange thats reshaping the way we live, the way we work, our planet and our place in the world. Its change that promises amazing medical breakthroughs, but also economic disruptions that strain working families. It promises education for girls in the most remote villages, but also connects terrorists plotting an ocean away. It’s change that can broaden opportunity, or widen inequality. And whether we like it or not, the pace of this change will only accelerate.

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America has been through big changes beforewars and depression, the influx of immigrants, workers fighting for a fair deal, and movements to expand civil rights. Each time, there have been those who told us to fear the future; who claimed we could slam the brakes on change, promising to restore past glory if we just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control. And each time, we overcame those fears. We did not, in the words of Lincoln, adhere to the “dogmas of the quiet past.” Instead we thought anew, and acted anew. We made change work for us, always extending America’s promise outward, to the next frontier, to more and more people. And because we didbecause we saw opportunity where others saw only perilwe emerged stronger and better than before.

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What was true then can be true now. Our unique strengths as a nationour optimism and work ethic, our spirit of discovery and innovation, our diversity and commitment to the rule of lawthese things give us everything we need to ensure prosperity and security for generations to come.

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In fact, it’s that spirit that made the progress of these past seven years possible. It’s how we recovered from the worst economic crisis in generations. It’s how we reformed our health care system, and reinvented our energy sector; how we delivered more care and benefits to our troops and veterans, and how we secured the freedom in every state to marry the person we love.

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But such progress is not inevitable. It is the result of choices we make together. And we face such choices right now. Will we respond to the changes of our time with fear, turning inward as a nation, and turning against each other as a people? Or will we face the future with confidence in who we are, what we stand for, and the incredible things we can do together?

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So let’s talk about the future, and four big questions that we as a country have to answerregardless of who the next President is, or who controls the next Congress.

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First, how do we give everyone a fair shot at opportunity and security in this new economy?

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Second, how do we make technology work for us, and not against usespecially when it comes to solving urgent challenges like climate change?

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Third, how do we keep America safe and lead the world without becoming its policeman?

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And finally, how can we make our politics reflect what’s best in us, and not what’s worst?

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Let me start with the economy, and a basic fact: the United States of America, right now, has the strongest, most durable economy in the world. We’re in the middle of the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history. More than 14 million new jobs; the strongest two years of job growth since the ’90s; an unemployment rate cut in half. Our auto industry just had its best year ever. Manufacturing has created nearly 900,000 new jobs in the past six years. And we’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by almost three-quarters.

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Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction. What is trueand the reason that a lot of Americans feel anxiousis that the economy has been changing in profound ways, changes that started long before the Great Recession hit and havent let up. Today, technology doesn’t just replace jobs on the assembly line, but any job where work can be automated. Companies in a global economy can locate anywhere, and face tougher competition. As a result, workers have less leverage for a raise. Companies have less loyalty to their communities. And more and more wealth and income is concentrated at the very top.

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All these trends have squeezed workers, even when they have jobs; even when the economy is growing. It’s made it harder for a hardworking family to pull itself out of poverty, harder for young people to start on their careers, and tougher for workers to retire when they want to. And although none of these trends are unique to America, they do offend our uniquely American belief that everybody who works hard should get a fair shot.

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For the past seven years, our goal has been a growing economy that works better for everybody. We’ve made progress. But we need to make more. And despite all the political arguments we’ve had these past few years, there are some areas where Americans broadly agree.

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We agree that real opportunity requires every American to get the education and training they need to land a good-paying job. The bipartisan reform of No Child Left Behind was an important start, and together, we’ve increased early childhood education, lifted high school graduation rates to new highs, and boosted graduates in fields like engineering. In the coming years, we should build on that progress, by providing Pre-K for all, offering every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one, and we should recruit and support more great teachers for our kids.

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And we have to make college affordable for every American. Because no hardworking student should be stuck in the red. We’ve already reduced student loan payments to ten percent of a borrower’s income. Now, we’ve actually got to cut the cost of college. Providing two years of community college at no cost for every responsible student is one of the best ways to do that, and I’m going to keep fighting to get that started this year.

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Of course, a great education isn’t all we need in this new economy. We also need benefits and protections that provide a basic measure of security. After all, it’s not much of a stretch to say that some of the only people in America who are going to work the same job, in the same place, with a health and retirement package, for 30 years, are sitting in this chamber. For everyone else, especially folks in their forties and fifties, saving for retirement or bouncing back from job loss has gotten a lot tougher. Americans understand that at some point in their careers, they may have to retool and retrain. But they shouldn’t lose what they’ve already worked so hard to build.

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That’s why Social Security and Medicare are more important than ever; we shouldn’t weaken them, we should strengthen them. And for Americans short of retirement, basic benefits should be just as mobile as everything else is today. That’s what the Affordable Care Act is all about. It’s about filling the gaps in employer-based care so that when we lose a job, or go back to school, or start that new business, we’ll still have coverage. Nearly eighteen million have gained coverage so far. Health care inflation has slowed. And our businesses have created jobs every single month since it became law.

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Now, I’m guessing we won’t agree on health care anytime soon. But there should be other ways both parties can improve economic security. Say a hardworking American loses his jobwe shouldnt just make sure he can get unemployment insurance; we should make sure that program encourages him to retrain for a business thats ready to hire him. If that new job doesnt pay as much, there should be a system of wage insurance in place so that he can still pay his bills. And even if he’s going from job to job, he should still be able to save for retirement and take his savings with him. That’s the way we make the new economy work better for everyone.

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I also know Speaker Ryan has talked about his interest in tackling poverty. America is about giving everybody willing to work a hand up, and I’d welcome a serious discussion about strategies we can all support, like expanding tax cuts for low-income workers without kids.

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But there are other areas where it’s been more difficult to find agreement over the last seven yearsnamely what role the government should play in making sure the systems not rigged in favor of the wealthiest and biggest corporations. And here, the American people have a choice to make.

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I believe a thriving private sector is the lifeblood of our economy. I think there are outdated regulations that need to be changed, and there’s red tape that needs to be cut. But after years of record corporate profits, working families won’t get more opportunity or bigger paychecks by letting big banks or big oil or hedge funds make their own rules at the expense of everyone else; or by allowing attacks on collective bargaining to go unanswered. Food Stamp recipients didn’t cause the financial crisis; recklessness on Wall Street did. Immigrants aren’t the reason wages haven’t gone up enough; those decisions are made in the boardrooms that too often put quarterly earnings over long-term returns. It’s sure not the average family watching tonight that avoids paying taxes through offshore accounts. In this new economy, workers and start-ups and small businesses need more of a voice, not less. The rules should work for them. And this year I plan to lift up the many businesses who’ve figured out that doing right by their workers ends up being good for their shareholders, their customers, and their communities, so that we can spread those best practices across America.

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In fact, many of our best corporate citizens are also our most creative. This brings me to the second big question we have to answer as a country: how do we reignite that spirit of innovation to meet our biggest challenges?

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Sixty years ago, when the Russians beat us into space, we didn’t deny Sputnik was up there. We didn’t argue about the science, or shrink our research and development budget. We built a space program almost overnight, and twelve years later, we were walking on the moon.

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That spirit of discovery is in our DNA. We’re Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers and George Washington Carver. We’re Grace Hopper and Katherine Johnson and Sally Ride. We’re every immigrant and entrepreneur from Boston to Austin to Silicon Valley racing to shape a better world. And over the past seven years, we’ve nurtured that spirit.

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We’ve protected an open internet, and taken bold new steps to get more students and low-income Americans online. We’ve launched next-generation manufacturing hubs, and online tools that give an entrepreneur everything he or she needs to start a business in a single day.

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But we can do so much more. Last year, Vice President Biden said that with a new moonshot, America can cure cancer. Last month, he worked with this Congress to give scientists at the National Institutes of Health the strongest resources they’ve had in over a decade. Tonight, I’m announcing a new national effort to get it done. And because he’s gone to the mat for all of us, on so many issues over the past forty years, I’m putting Joe in charge of Mission Control. For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the family we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.

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Medical research is critical. We need the same level of commitment when it comes to developing clean energy sources.

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Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it. You’ll be pretty lonely, because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.

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But even if the planet wasn’t at stake; even if 2014 wasn’t the warmest year on recorduntil 2015 turned out even hotterwhy would we want to pass up the chance for American businesses to produce and sell the energy of the future?

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Seven years ago, we made the single biggest investment in clean energy in our history. Here are the results. In fields from Iowa to Texas, wind power is now cheaper than dirtier, conventional power. On rooftops from Arizona to New York, solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars a year on their energy bills, and employs more Americans than coalin jobs that pay better than average. Were taking steps to give homeowners the freedom to generate and store their own energysomething environmentalists and Tea Partiers have teamed up to support. Meanwhile, we’ve cut our imports of foreign oil by nearly sixty percent, and cut carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth.

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Gas under two bucks a gallon ain’t bad, either.

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Now we’ve got to accelerate the transition away from dirty energy. Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the futureespecially in communities that rely on fossil fuels. Thats why Im going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet. That way, we put money back into those communities and put tens of thousands of Americans to work building a 21st century transportation system.

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None of this will happen overnight, and yes, there are plenty of entrenched interests who want to protect the status quo. But the jobs we’ll create, the money we’ll save, and the planet we’ll preservethats the kind of future our kids and grandkids deserve.

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Climate change is just one of many issues where our security is linked to the rest of the world. And that’s why the third big question we have to answer is how to keep America safe and strong without either isolating ourselves or trying to nation-build everywhere there’s a problem.

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I told you earlier all the talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air. Well, so is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker. The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. It’s not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined. Our troops are the finest fighting force in the history of the world. No nation dares to attack us or our allies because they know that’s the path to ruin. Surveys show our standing around the world is higher than when I was elected to this office, and when it comes to every important international issue, people of the world do not look to Beijing or Moscow to leadthey call us.

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As someone who begins every day with an intelligence briefing, I know this is a dangerous time. But that’s not because of diminished American strength or some looming superpower. In today’s world, we’re threatened less by evil empires and more by failing states. The Middle East is going through a transformation that will play out for a generation, rooted in conflicts that date back millennia. Economic headwinds blow from a Chinese economy in transition. Even as their economy contracts, Russia is pouring resources to prop up Ukraine and Syriastates they see slipping away from their orbit. And the international system we built after World War II is now struggling to keep pace with this new reality.

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It’s up to us to help remake that system. And that means we have to set priorities.

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Priority number one is protecting the American people and going after terrorist networks. Both al Qaeda and now ISIL pose a direct threat to our people, because in today’s world, even a handful of terrorists who place no value on human life, including their own, can do a lot of damage. They use the Internet to poison the minds of individuals inside our country; they undermine our allies.

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But as we focus on destroying ISIL, over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands. Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks and twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages pose an enormous danger to civilians and must be stopped. But they do not threaten our national existence. That’s the story ISIL wants to tell; that’s the kind of propaganda they use to recruit. We don’t need to build them up to show that we’re serious, nor do we need to push away vital allies in this fight by echoing the lie that ISIL is representative of one of the world’s largest religions. We just need to call them what they arekillers and fanatics who have to be rooted out, hunted down, and destroyed.

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That’s exactly what we are doing. For more than a year, America has led a coalition of more than 60 countries to cut off ISIL’s financing, disrupt their plots, stop the flow of terrorist fighters, and stamp out their vicious ideology. With nearly 10,000 air strikes, we are taking out their leadership, their oil, their training camps, and their weapons. We are training, arming, and supporting forces who are steadily reclaiming territory in Iraq and Syria.

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If this Congress is serious about winning this war, and wants to send a message to our troops and the world, you should finally authorize the use of military force against ISIL. Take a vote. But the American people should know that with or without Congressional action, ISIL will learn the same lessons as terrorists before them. If you doubt America’s commitmentor mineto see that justice is done, ask Osama bin Laden. Ask the leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, who was taken out last year, or the perpetrator of the Benghazi attacks, who sits in a prison cell. When you come after Americans, we go after you. It may take time, but we have long memories, and our reach has no limit.

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Our foreign policy must be focused on the threat from ISIL and al Qaeda, but it can’t stop there. For even without ISIL, instability will continue for decades in many parts of the worldin the Middle East, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in parts of Central America, Africa and Asia. Some of these places may become safe havens for new terrorist networks; others will fall victim to ethnic conflict, or famine, feeding the next wave of refugees. The world will look to us to help solve these problems, and our answer needs to be more than tough talk or calls to carpet bomb civilians. That may work as a TV sound bite, but it doesn’t pass muster on the world stage.

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We also can’t try to take over and rebuild every country that falls into crisis. That’s not leadership; that’s a recipe for quagmire, spilling American blood and treasure that ultimately weakens us. It’s the lesson of Vietnam, of Iraqand we should have learned it by now.

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Fortunately, there’s a smarter approach, a patient and disciplined strategy that uses every element of our national power. It says America will always act, alone if necessary, to protect our people and our allies; but on issues of global concern, we will mobilize the world to work with us, and make sure other countries pull their own weight.

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That’s our approach to conflicts like Syria, where we’re partnering with local forces and leading international efforts to help that broken society pursue a lasting peace.

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That’s why we built a global coalition, with sanctions and principled diplomacy, to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. As we speak, Iran has rolled back its nuclear program, shipped out its uranium stockpile, and the world has avoided another war.

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That’s how we stopped the spread of Ebola in West Africa. Our military, our doctors, and our development workers set up the platform that allowed other countries to join us in stamping out that epidemic.

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That’s how we forged a Trans-Pacific Partnership to open markets, protect workers and the environment, and advance American leadership in Asia. It cuts 18,000 taxes on products Made in America, and supports more good jobs. With TPP, China doesn’t set the rules in that region, we do. You want to show our strength in this century? Approve this agreement. Give us the tools to enforce it.

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Fifty years of isolating Cuba had failed to promote democracy, setting us back in Latin America. That’s why we restored diplomatic relations, opened the door to travel and commerce, and positioned ourselves to improve the lives of the Cuban people. You want to consolidate our leadership and credibility in the hemisphere? Recognize that the Cold War is over. Lift the embargo.

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American leadership in the 21st century is not a choice between ignoring the rest of the worldexcept when we kill terrorists; or occupying and rebuilding whatever society is unraveling. Leadership means a wise application of military power, and rallying the world behind causes that are right. It means seeing our foreign assistance as part of our national security, not charity. When we lead nearly 200 nations to the most ambitious agreement in history to fight climate changethat helps vulnerable countries, but it also protects our children. When we help Ukraine defend its democracy, or Colombia resolve a decades-long war, that strengthens the international order we depend upon. When we help African countries feed their people and care for the sick, that prevents the next pandemic from reaching our shores. Right now, we are on track to end the scourge of HIV/AIDS, and we have the capacity to accomplish the same thing with malariasomething Ill be pushing this Congress to fund this year.

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That’s strength. That’s leadership. And that kind of leadership depends on the power of our example. That is why I will keep working to shut down the prison at Guantanamo: it’s expensive, it’s unnecessary, and it only serves as a recruitment brochure for our enemies.

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That’s why we need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith. His Holiness, Pope Francis, told this body from the very spot I stand tonight that “to imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place.” When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn’t make us safer. That’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. And it betrays who we are as a country.

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“We the People.”

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Our Constitution begins with those three simple words, words we’ve come to recognize mean all the people, not just some; words that insist we rise and fall together. That brings me to the fourth, and maybe the most important thing I want to say tonight.

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The future we wantopportunity and security for our families; a rising standard of living and a sustainable, peaceful planet for our kidsall that is within our reach. But it will only happen if we work together. It will only happen if we can have rational, constructive debates.

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It will only happen if we fix our politics.

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A better politics doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. This is a big country, with different regions and attitudes and interests. That’s one of our strengths, too. Our Founders distributed power between states and branches of government, and expected us to argue, just as they did, over the size and shape of government, over commerce and foreign relations, over the meaning of liberty and the imperatives of security.

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But democracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens. It doesn’t work if we think the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice, or that our political opponents are unpatriotic. Democracy grinds to a halt without a willingness to compromise; or when even basic facts are contested, and we listen only to those who agree with us. Our public life withers when only the most extreme voices get attention. Most of all, democracy breaks down when the average person feels their voice doesn’t matter; that the system is rigged in favor of the rich or the powerful or some narrow interest.

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Too many Americans feel that way right now. It’s one of the few regrets of my presidencythat the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better. Theres no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide, and I guarantee I’ll keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office.

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But, my fellow Americans, this cannot be my taskor any Presidentsalone. There are a whole lot of folks in this chamber who would like to see more cooperation, a more elevated debate in Washington, but feel trapped by the demands of getting elected. I know; you’ve told me. And if we want a better politics, it’s not enough to just change a Congressman or a Senator or even a President; we have to change the system to reflect our better selves.

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We have to end the practice of drawing our congressional districts so that politicians can pick their voters, and not the other way around. We have to reduce the influence of money in our politics, so that a handful of families and hidden interests can’t bankroll our electionsand if our existing approach to campaign finance cant pass muster in the courts, we need to work together to find a real solution. We’ve got to make voting easier, not harder, and modernize it for the way we live now. And over the course of this year, I intend to travel the country to push for reforms that do.

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But I can’t do these things on my own. Changes in our political processin not just who gets elected but how they get electedthat will only happen when the American people demand it. It will depend on you. Thats whats meant by a government of, by, and for the people.

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What I’m asking for is hard. It’s easier to be cynical; to accept that change isn’t possible, and politics is hopeless, and to believe that our voices and actions don’t matter. But if we give up now, then we forsake a better future. Those with money and power will gain greater control over the decisions that could send a young soldier to war, or allow another economic disaster, or roll back the equal rights and voting rights that generations of Americans have fought, even died, to secure. As frustration grows, there will be voices urging us to fall back into tribes, to scapegoat fellow citizens who don’t look like us, or pray like us, or vote like we do, or share the same background.

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We can’t afford to go down that path. It won’t deliver the economy we want, or the security we want, but most of all, it contradicts everything that makes us the envy of the world.

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So, my fellow Americans, whatever you may believe, whether you prefer one party or no party, our collective future depends on your willingness to uphold your obligations as a citizen. To vote. To speak out. To stand up for others, especially the weak, especially the vulnerable, knowing that each of us is only here because somebody, somewhere, stood up for us. To stay active in our public life so it reflects the goodness and decency and optimism that I see in the American people every single day.

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It won’t be easy. Our brand of democracy is hard. But I can promise that a year from now, when I no longer hold this office, I’ll be right there with you as a citizeninspired by those voices of fairness and vision, of grit and good humor and kindness that have helped America travel so far. Voices that help us see ourselves not first and foremost as black or white or Asian or Latino, not as gay or straight, immigrant or native born; not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans first, bound by a common creed. Voices Dr. King believed would have the final wordvoices of unarmed truth and unconditional love.

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They’re out there, those voices. They don’t get a lot of attention, nor do they seek it, but they are busy doing the work this country needs doing.

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I see them everywhere I travel in this incredible country of ours. I see you. I know you’re there. You’re the reason why I have such incredible confidence in our future. Because I see your quiet, sturdy citizenship all the time.

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I see it in the worker on the assembly line who clocked extra shifts to keep his company open, and the boss who pays him higher wages to keep him on board.

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I see it in the Dreamer who stays up late to finish her science project, and the teacher who comes in early because he knows she might someday cure a disease.

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I see it in the American who served his time, and dreams of starting overand the business owner who gives him that second chance. The protester determined to prove that justice matters, and the young cop walking the beat, treating everybody with respect, doing the brave, quiet work of keeping us safe.

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I see it in the soldier who gives almost everything to save his brothers, the nurse who tends to him ’til he can run a marathon, and the community that lines up to cheer him on.

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It’s the son who finds the courage to come out as who he is, and the father whose love for that son overrides everything he’s been taught.

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I see it in the elderly woman who will wait in line to cast her vote as long as she has to; the new citizen who casts his for the first time; the volunteers at the polls who believe every vote should count, because each of them in different ways know how much that precious right is worth.

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That’s the America I know. That’s the country we love. Clear-eyed. Big-hearted. Optimistic that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. That’s what makes me so hopeful about our future. Because of you. I believe in you. That’s why I stand here confident that the State of our Union is strong.

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Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

 

EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW AND WERE AFRAID TO ASK

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HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE VULNERABILITY?

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WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL VULNERABLE?

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCvmsMzlF7o

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WHOLEHEARTEDNESS

WORTHY OF CONNECTION?

WHOLEHEARTED?

A SENSE OF COURAGE

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THE COURAGE TO BE IMPERFECT

COMPASSION TO BE KIND TO YOURSELF FIRST

AND THEN TO OTHERS

CONNECTION AS A RESULT OF AUTHENTICITY

FULLY EMBRACE VULNERABILITY

 

Hillel Neuer: Jewish eyes on the United Nations

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PAUL LUNGEN

INTERVIEW

CANADIAN JEWISH NEWS

JANUARY 7, 2016

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Montrealborn Hillel Neuer walks softly, but carries a big microphone. Words are his currency, and as executive director of Geneva-based UN Watch, he brings them to bear against the dictator­ships who wrap themselves in the protective cloaks of the United Nations Human Rights Council. In 2013, he called those delegates, to their face, “the despots who run this council.Possessing four degrees, including one in comparative constitutional law from Hebrew University, he is a strong advocate for fair and equal treatment for the State of Israel.

 

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Has the number of UN resolutions critical of Israel changed over the years?

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The General Assembly and Human Rights Council are mostly on autopilot, as are other UN agencies like UNESCO, when it comes to many votes, and particularly an­ ti-Israel resolutions. Typically it’s the same resolutions every year. They are sponsored by the Arab and Islamic states, with the Palestinians playing a key role. And they typically try to ratchet up the language to make it more inflammatory. November marked 40 years since the adoption of the infamous Zionism is racismresolution , which thankfully was repealed in 1991. But that really ushered in the era of the auto­matic condemnations of Israel. And we’ve been steady in recent years at 20 resolu­tions in New York and about five at the Hu­man Rights Council in Geneva.

 

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How did Canada’s voting record under former prime minister Stephen Harper compare to those of the Jean Chretien and Paul Martin governments?

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The Martin government improved the balance from the Chretien government. Canada had a more balanced record, opposing the most egregious, onesided and inflammatory resolutions, where previ­ously they might have abstained. They moved on a couple of things to a No.”

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And then when Harper came in, we trended in a positive direction, even more so, most famously in Geneva at the Hu­ man Rights Council when Canada was a member from 2006 to 2009. Canada was the only country in the world that was voting no” on a number of votes. That was something that stood out.

 

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What do you expect from the Trudeau government?

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Clearly this is a government that has a dif­ferent approach to the United Nations. The Harper government was skeptical of the UN, and the Trudeau government has a more positive attitude. Thats fine, provided that the Trudeau government will speak truth to power and stand up on principle.

 

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We believe in the mission of the UN, but when the UN falls short of that mission, when the UN Human Rights Council chooses Saudi Arabia to chair a panel that selects human rights experts on issues like women’s rights and judicial independence, that’s a mockery of what the UN is meant to be and a mockery of Canadian values of a free and democratic society.

 

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I hope and trust the Trudeau government will strengthen the UN by opposing those who seek to hijack that body and distort its founding mission and values.

 

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Has the UN responded to the crises in Syria, Iraq and Crimea with the same level of resolutions directed at Israel?

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Absolutely not. The case of Israel remains unique, and it continues to draw focus that is disproportionate to an extreme de­gree from what happens on the ground.

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Syria was ignored for decades when President Bashar Assad’s father, Hafez Assad, was murdering tens of thousands in Hama in the 1980s. Syria was re-elected repeatedly to the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations. Llbya was made the chair of the HRC in 2003. Arab dictatorships were given a free pass. They were rewarded.

 

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In 2011, Syria alienated the Sunni world, and you had an Alawite regime, which is part of the Shiite world, backed by Iran and Hezbollah, at war with the Sunnis. The Sunni regimes at the UN Egypt, the Saudis, Jordan, the other Gulf countries turned against Syria. That enabled the UN to criticize Syria on anumber of occasions. But compared to how they criticize Israel and to what is happening on the ground, it’s marginal. There is one resolution at the General Assembly on Syria. Theres 20 on Israel. So that says it all.

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The Palestinian flag was first raised at the UN around the same time PA President Mahmoud Abbas told the General Assembly the Palestinians were no longer bound by Oslo. What’s the significance of those two events?

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Well, you had that statement by Abbas showing contempt for signed international deals. But beyond that, in the past weeks, PA media are openly inciting to kill Jews, and the Palestinian media is glorifying the killers of Jews as martyrs and saying they are carrying out a sacred Islamic duty.

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The response of the UN, besides a few passing, fleeting criticisms that were outweighed by far stronger condemnations of Israel, was to elevate and reward Abbas by raising the flag at the United Nations. It is outrageous that the UN, instead of holding the Palestinians to account, are treating them like children, not treating them as agents who can be held responsible for their actions. This only guarantees well have fur­ ther bad acts by the PA government.

 

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UN Watch revealed recently that 22 UNRWA teachers were inciting anti­ semitism. At first UNRWA denied it and later said there was some legitimacy to what you said, and disciplined those teachers. Is that response satisfactory?

 

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We’re gratified there was some acknowledgment by UNRWA of the basic facts. Anybody who goes on the Internet sees in­ dividuals who openly identify as UXR\ ‘A teachers posting photos of themselves in the classroom, and at the same ti.me post­ ing things in those same accounts shm :ing pictures of Israelis being stabbed and en­ couraging murderous attacks against Jev. . Saying for example, “stab Zionist dogs.

 

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It’s not a question of slapping them on the wrist. The best we have from ID1R1 .\ is acknowledging that some teachers had been suspended. What does that mean? Suspended for a day, a week, two weeks?

 

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The response of UNRWA is unsatisfactory, to say the least. It‘s far worse than that. UNRWA’s spokesman. Chris Gunness, has attacked U \\-atch. He published a number of tweets urging journalists to ignore us, that we have no credibility. It’s insufficient, and generally their attitude is one of contempt toward those of us trying to hold them accountable, and it’s unacceptable.

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 A PERSONAL COMMENT:

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2016 – THE UN IS STILL MIRED IN ANTI – SEMITISM.

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WHY?

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WHAT IS IT ABOUT JEWS THAT TRIGGERS ANTI – SEMITISM?

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RELIGIOUS / PHILOSOPHICAL THOUGHT?

 

CULTURE?

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THOUGHT LEADERSHIP?

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SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH LEADERSHIP?

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MEDICAL RESEARCH LEADERSHIP?

 

LEGAL LEADERSHIP?

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POLITICAL LEADERSHIP?

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ENTREPRENEURIAL LEADERSHIP?

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A CLAIM TO LEADERSHIP?

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ENVY?

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TIME TO GROW UP

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NOT ENOUGH TO SIMPLY GROW OLDER

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 DAN ZWICKER

TORONTO

 

 

 

 

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BEYOND RISK

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Beyond Risk is about people and their views on money….borne of over 30 years of front line experience and engagement in the arena of exponential corporate growth through financial practice building under ‘fire’ in a lifetime passion……the assuring of the financial value of our time…..to allow for the completion of our personal and business financial objectives.

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It is about character, integrity, people and their often complex and conflicting attitudes towards money…..its accumulation…..its preservation and its utility.

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It is about the leadership of high performance professionals who are committed to managing the capital risk and the lifetime financial well being of their families, business associates and clients.

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It is about coaching ‘Olympian’ class high performance empowerment.

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Above all it is about ethical choice in every facet of decision making and execution.

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It is remarkable that of all the basic life skill related subjects that we include in our children’s early curriculum financial literacy is not one of them…….given that we live in a money economy.

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It is said that we each have a “Money Personality”.

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Nothing could be more accurate and more life defining.

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http://dzwicker.blogspot.ca/

 

 

‘ELDER CARE IS THE NEW CHILD CARE’ PROFESSOR SAYS

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ELIZABETH CHURCH

The Globe and Mail

Jan. 03, 2016

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When Dawn Sinclair’s workweek ends, her other work begins.

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Every second Friday, she battles traffic to make the 40-minute trip to her parents’ home east of Toronto where she’ll spend the weekend caring for her mom, 85, left partially paralyzed by a stroke, and giving her 83-year-old dad a much-needed break.

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“I’m it,” says Ms. Sinclair, her parents’ only child and herself the single mother of a now-grown daughter. “Sometimes it almost feels like I am in survival mode. I just keep going. There is a lot of guilt because no matter how much you do, it is never enough.”

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For decades, parents have been struggling to juggle work and family, making tradeoffs and seeking special arrangements with employers to attend a school event or pick up a sick child. But as Canada’s population ages and policies encourage the elderly to remain at home, researchers say there is a different kind of work-life balance Canadians need to think about – one that involves a new set of variables.

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“I would say very clearly elder care is the new child care,” said Linda Duxbury, a Carleton University business professor who has spent her career researching work-life balance and is studying how workers like Ms. Sinclair manage demands.

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Her findings to date are sobering. In a sample of 25,000 mostly professional workers, 70 per cent said they are responsible in some way for the care of an elderly relative or friend and about half said they are caring for two or more seniors. On average, those responsibilities last for more than six years – far longer than the weeks or months of leave provided by employer and government programs.

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Beyond the numbers, Prof. Duxbury’s research shows looking after an aging or ill family member or friend is much different than raising a child. The milestones are unpredictable, and unlike child rearing, they are seldom cause for celebration. Parents lose their independence, their mental capacity or suffer some catastrophic health event. “The emotional component of elder care is absolutely staggering.” Prof. Duxbury said.

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Researchers point to a convergence of factors that are making matters worse. The much-discussed greying of Canada’s population means there are an increasing number of elderly who require care, but the issue doesn’t stop there. People are having fewer children later in life, meaning there are fewer siblings to share the duties of helping elderly parents and increasingly they are being asked to do it when they have young children – the so-called sandwich generation – and while they are in the middle of their careers.

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The fact that Canada is a country of immigrants also complicates the issue, points out University of Toronto Professor Paul Williams of the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, since that usually means leaving behind a network of family and community supports. Even rising real estate prices will create trouble down the road, he predicts, as more people live in condos that can’t accommodate extended families.

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Against this backdrop, the country’s health-care system is in the midst of major changes, moving more care into the home and community, in part because of scare resources, but also in response to an aging population that increasingly needs care for chronic, complex conditions rather than the acute care in which hospitals specialize.

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Cindy Forbes, the head of the Canadian Medical Association who has practised family medicine in Nova Scotia for close to three decades, said the most appropriate care often is not in the hospital, and patients prefer to be at home where they can eat their own food and get rest. But she adds, the home-care system has not kept up with the need, and the result is even more demands on an already stretched resource – the family caregiver.

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“I certainly see both sides in my office,” Dr. Forbes said. “The difficulty of elderly patients trying to access care and how it stresses younger patients, many of them who are working and trying to look after their parents.”

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Prof. Williams is more blunt. “We are really leaving people in very difficult situations and we are expecting them to take it on the chin,” he said.

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For Sara Shearkhani, the demands of being a caregiver came suddenly in 2013 when her husband experienced his first seizure and was diagnosed with brain cancer. A graduate student in economics, she left her studies to look after him, get him to appointments and manage his care.

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While she played an important role in his treatment, as organizer, researcher and interpreter when his English failed him, she was alarmed that there was no acknowledgment of her value. It was just assumed, she said, that as a wife she would be there. “We are beneficial to the health-care system. We can add value, but we are not recognized,” said Ms. Shearkhani, who co-founded a caregiver-led advocacy and research group.

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Prof. Williams said the shift of care to the home depends on the goodwill of family and friends to be successful – figures that are “bit players” in a hospital are becoming the ones holding the system together.

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That’s a huge ask, he said, one that requires the support of a community and more than money alone. “People are so fried, so overburdened,” he said. “Caregivers need support, not simply a cheque in the mail and see you later.” Karyn Davies sees this first hand as the co-ordinator of a caregiver support program in North Vancouver. “Caregivers are being asked to stretch to the maximum,” Ms. Davies said by a system that is short on resources

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Increasingly, Ms. Davies also juggling care and careers. “ I see there are a lot of sacrifices that people are making – careers and jobs that they love that they are having to put on hold or they can’t progress further because so much energy is going to caregiving, “ Ms. Davies said.

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A report from the B.C. Seniors Advocate found that close to one in three unpaid caregivers are in distress and only about half of those had some form of public community or home support in the past week.

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Ms. Sinclair said she wishes she could do more, but does not want to give up her job as a medical aesthetician and her own circle of friends. Her mom gets 14 hours of publicly funded home care each week, but she worries about how much longer her dad can continue to drive her to appointments and day programs and to care for her.

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“Family can’t be expected to do it all,” she said. “It just isn’t possible.”

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 A PERSONAL NOTE:

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WHERE DOES RETIREMENT FIT INTO THE ‘RESPONSIBILITY’ ROLE?

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DAN ZWICKER

TORONTO