IVN.us http://ivn.us Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News Thu, 27 Nov 2014 15:15:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Looking to the Founders: Thanksgiving and the Executive Order http://ivn.us/2014/11/27/looking-founders-thanksgiving-executive-order/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=looking-founders-thanksgiving-executive-order http://ivn.us/2014/11/27/looking-founders-thanksgiving-executive-order/#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 15:15:47 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295654450 Looking to the Founders: Thanksgiving and the Executive Order

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation, issued on October 3, 1789, was our nation's first executive order. Following the set examples of the Continental Congress and Congress Assembled under the Articles, the new Congress requested that Washington set aside a national day of thanksgiving.

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Looking to the Founders: Thanksgiving and the Executive Order

George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, issued on October 3, 1789, was our nation’s first executive order. Following the set examples of the Continental Congress and Congress Assembled under the Articles, the new Congress requested that Washington set aside a national day of thanksgiving.

Examining this short, 500 word proclamation and the precedents it set into motion would definitely help our understanding of the current political crisis, as well as what George Washington thought was important for a thankful people to do.

Washington’s Seven Principles of Thankfulness

For our nation as a whole to truly be thankful, Washington outlined seven national and foreign policy statements that define what it means for our nation to be one of thanksgiving:

  1. Seeking Pardon for our national and personal transgressions;
  2. Performing our duties properly and punctually;
  3. To render our government a blessing to all people by ” being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws;”
  4. To be an active player in world politics, “to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us);”
  5. To promote religious freedom worldwide;
  6. To promote knowledge worldwide, especially sciences;
  7. To seek worldwide prosperity.

Too often, the Founding Fathers are seen as demi-gods, who could do no wrong in their actions; yet Washington openly acknowledged the need for our nation to constantly reflect on our actions in order to right wrongs and to seek pardon when necessary. Today is no different. Part of being the most economically and militarily powerful nation on Earth is to use that power wisely — and to adjust our actions when necessary.

"Washington openly acknowledged the need for our nation to constantly reflect on our actions in order to right wrongs."
Unlike many of Washington’s successors, Washington believed in a United States that was active in world events. While Washington wanted an active foreign policy, he also knew how to stay out of troubles that didn’t concern us. Three years later, he would issue a Proclamation of Neutrality — an executive order declaring the United States neutral in the Napoleonic wars brewing in Europe.

A scholar of the Enlightenment, Washington saw religion and science as two equally valuable, mutually-exclusive, yet non-competing disciplines. Enlightenment thinkers often believed that the physical world needed to be explained through the sciences, while issues of faith remained in the realm of religion. Both disciplines can grow without bitter competition or revisionism.

Most of the financial experience the Founders had was within the European system of mercantilism — filled with protectionism, colonialism, and oppressive monetary policies. America was just entering the world stage on its own footing, trying to launch a free-market style trade by establishing treaties and trade routes.

Capitalism was in its earliest of phases. Early economic writers like Smith (1776), Quesnay (1759), and Say (1794) all believed that the market economy provided increased economic prosperity to all who engaged in trade. 

The Executive Order

In short, Washington was using his first executive order as a way to highlight his political platform and ideology, something that is still done in politics today.

The only president to not issue any executive orders was William Harrison, but this is almost certainly due to his short presidency of only 32 days. Of the generation of the Founders, George Washington issued the most at eight, while Adams, Madison, and Monroe only issued one executive order each.

After the generation of the Founders, the usage of executive orders steadily increased, with Grant being the first president to issue more than 200 during his two terms. Teddy Roosevelt was the first to break 1,000 executive orders — yet it was his distant cousin FDR who would hold the all-time record at 3,522.

No president since Truman has issued more than 500 executive orders.

But like the first executive order, all of them were a tool for the president to advance their agenda and ideology. George Washington didn’t have the authority to make his first executive order, nor did Congress have the authority to give it to him, but it was merely assumed that the Constitution granted this power when it instructed the executive “to take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

Congress meets for around 150 legislative days in modern times, yet Congress is only required to meet once per year. The executive branch is the only branch of the government that is required to work for the people year-round.

The “take Care” clause of the Constitution recognized this, and gave the president considerable leeway interpreting and implementing the law.

In modern politics, all three branches of government have encroached on the other branch’s duties and responsibilities. Beginning with the Thirteenth Amendment, Congress gave itself enforcement powers. Mayberry v. Madison (1803) introduced judicial review, where the courts gave themselves the power to “legislate from the bench.” And George Washington, with a short 500-word statement about being a thankful people, set the precedent of presidential legislation.

Now, 225 years later, the boundary lines between the checks and balances are not completely clear, and it’s really no wonder that so many people are upset!

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Strange Presidential Traditions: Turkey Pardoning http://ivn.us/2014/11/26/strange-presidential-traditions-turkey-pardoning/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=strange-presidential-traditions-turkey-pardoning http://ivn.us/2014/11/26/strange-presidential-traditions-turkey-pardoning/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 17:46:51 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295654516 Strange Presidential Traditions: Turkey Pardoning

With Thanksgiving upon us, it's time to reflect on the culinary embodiment of this American tradition -- the turkey. The turkey's ascendency to fame has its humble origins as far back as the First Thanksgiving in 1621.

Danielle BalderasIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Strange Presidential Traditions: Turkey Pardoning

"No Citizen of the United States should refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day."Alexander Hamilton
With Thanksgiving upon us, it’s time to reflect on the culinary embodiment of this American tradition — the turkey. The turkey’s ascendency to fame has its humble origins as far back as the First Thanksgiving in 1621.

In 1789, when a group of congressman had a banquet in honor of a Thanksgiving celebration, they realized the chef had put no turkey on the table. Alexander Hamilton said, “No Citizen of the United States should refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day.” However, it wouldn’t be until after 1800 that turkey would become a mainstay of the Thanksgiving feast.

By 1857, turkey became traditional fare on New England Thanksgiving menus. Oddly enough, the turkey’s induction as a cultural icon spawned the presidential tradition of turkey pardoning. The origin of this uniquely American tradition is somewhat murky but most trace it back to President George H.W. Bush in 1989.

President Barack Obama will carry on this tradition on Wednesday, sparing two turkeys from the first family’s dinner plates.

Why Turkey?

From the time of the First Thanksgiving in 1621, many Americans celebrated some form of a Thanksgiving. George Washington issued the first presidential “Thanksgiving Proclamation” in 1789.

However, the official tradition of Thanksgiving started when Abraham Lincoln declared it a national holiday during the Civil War in 1863. Historical novelist Andrew Beahrs attributes the turkey’s ascendency to fame to magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale. She lobbied Lincoln for years to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday and wrote novels “romanticizing” about mouthwatering turkey feasts.

According to historian Karen Davis, turkey had become a mainstay of New England Thanksgivings by the 1850s, but “it often passed unobserved” in other parts of the country as late as 1900.

Writer Michelle Tsai takes a more economical approach. She suggests turkeys became a mainstay of the holiday feast due to three main factors: “They were fresh, affordable, and big enough to feed a crowd.”

Turkeys Spared By Presidential Pardons

Turkeys have occasionally been spared from the holiday feast since the first official Thanksgiving in 1863. Abraham Lincoln supposedly granted a stay of execution for his family’s turkey. As the story goes, his son Tad grew close to their turkey, walked it around on a leash, and begged his father to spare the bird. So, Lincoln reprieved the turkey of his holiday fate.

Since the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant, the honor of providing the president with a turkey fell to one man, poultry dealer Horace Vose.  When he died 4 decades later in 1913, the floodgates opened and according to the White House, “By 1914, the opportunity to give a president a turkey was open to all comers, and poultry gifts were frequently touched with patriotism, partisanship, and glee.”

Harry S. Truman started the tradition of the photo ops in the Rose Garden with the turkey, but he never granted a pardon to the turkeys:

Truman even told reporters that the turkeys would “come in handy” for dinner.

In 1963, shortly before Kennedy’s assassination, he was presented with a huge 55-pound turkey but sent it back to the farm, joking, “We’ll just let this one grow.”

Nixon also sent his turkeys back to the farm, although without a formal pardon. The first president to use the word pardon was probably Ronald Reagan in 1987. In the wake of the Iran-Contra scandal, reporters were pressuring him about his intent to pardon some of his aides. Then, when Reagan was asked about the future of the turkey in front of him, he joked, “I’ll pardon him.”

But it wasn’t until George H.W. Bush’s first Thanksgiving as president in 1989 that he announced:

“Let me assure you, and this fine tom turkey, that he will not end up on anyone’s dinner table, not this guy. He’s granted a presidential pardon as of right now.”

Every president since 1989 has updheld the turkey pardon. There is no definitive account of why President Bush granted the pardon; even archivists at the Bush Presidential Library claim no one really knows why he did it. Bush’s press secretary Marlin Fitzwater said, “I’m sure some speechwriter came up with some unique way of letting turkeys live.”

President Obama has brought his own humor to the tradition. In 2013, Obama reflected on the turkeys journey to the White House:

“It was, quite literally, ‘The Hunger Games.’”

On Wednesday, November 26, at 2:00 p.m. EST, Obama will announce the names of this year’s turkeys and pardon them in a ceremony in the Rose Garden. Brothers Gary and Cole Cooper brought the turkeys to a Washington, D.C., hotel on Tuesday from a farm in Ohio. Gary Cooper said:

“The turkeys tried to order room service, but we stopped that from happening.”

Photo: Public Domain

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China Expands Its Military Reach to North America with Canada Deal http://ivn.us/2014/11/26/china-expands-military-reach-north-america-canada-deal/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=china-expands-military-reach-north-america-canada-deal http://ivn.us/2014/11/26/china-expands-military-reach-north-america-canada-deal/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 14:49:54 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295654609 China Expands Its Military Reach to North America with Canada Deal

These developments should alarm American politicians, even though they have been largely ignored by the mainstream media. The last several years have been marked by increasing conflict with the Chinese Navy by American forces, including an attempt to board the USS Cowpens in international waters in December 2013, as well as numerous naval aircraft encounters.

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China Expands Its Military Reach to North America with Canada Deal

China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will move the world. – Napoleon Bonaparte

This week, in yet another announcement of China’s growing list of military partnerships, The People’s Daily News announced greater military partnership with Canada. The deal gives the Chinese Navy access to Canadian ports, further increasing China’s aspirations for a blue-water navy.

This new deal was announced just a month after the controversial Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) treaty came into effect between Canada and China. The treaty, supported by conservative Prime Minister Stephan Harper, has been denounced by many in Canada as a direct attack on Canadian sovereignty. In particular, the fact that the treaty cannot be amended until 2045 and gives China an unequal advantage in Canadian trade — all disputes are resolved via arbitration, which is not obligated to follow Canadian Law, with no legal recourse for appeal.

These developments should alarm American politicians, even though they have been largely ignored by the mainstream media. The last several years have been marked by increasing conflict with the Chinese Navy by American forces, including an attempt to board the USS Cowpens in international waters in December 2013, as well as numerous naval aircraft encounters.

Access to Canadian ports will give the Chinese Navy the ability to patrol near our coastal waters and increase the harassment strategy of occasionally encroaching on American territorial boundaries.

American businesses should be concerned as well. Legal experts contend that the FIPA treaty’s provisions would supersede Canada’s obligations under the NAFTA treaty — potentially undermining the world’s largest trading bloc.

One thing is certain: China now has a foothold in North America that they aren’t going to lose any time soon. Even worse, many American lawmakers want to cement the relationship with the Keystone XL pipeline, which will pipe Canadian oil through American territory, ultimately for sale in China.

American politicians need to wake up and make a concerted effort to advance American foreign policy and trade–before it’s too late.

Photo source not attributed

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Marijuana Legalization Movement Likely to Grow Even More in 2015 http://ivn.us/2014/11/26/marijuana-legalization-movement-likely-grow-even-2015/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=marijuana-legalization-movement-likely-grow-even-2015 http://ivn.us/2014/11/26/marijuana-legalization-movement-likely-grow-even-2015/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 14:29:30 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295653700 Marijuana Legalization Movement Likely to Grow Even More in 2015

Despite a steady stream of state laws approving marijuana for medical and sometimes recreational use, the drug is still illegal under federal law. But that could change if reformers win in the right places.

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Marijuana Legalization Movement Likely to Grow Even More in 2015

Marijuana legalization under the new Congress is likely to continue its current path — slow and steady, but sure, experts say.

“The next Congress will see another slate of pro-cannabis reform bills introduced — more like reintroduced — ranging from legalization to medical access to industrial hemp to banking regulations to sentencing,” said Allen St. Pierre, executive director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “However, like in this Congress, the prospects of these bills actually passing both houses of Congress are practically non-existent.”

Despite a steady stream of state laws approving marijuana for medical and sometimes recreational use, the drug is still illegal under federal law. But that could change if reformers win in the right places, St. Pierre said.

“Where is the tipping point in America for cannabis legalization? A bellwether state legalizing cannabis, most notably California,” he said.

Marijuana legalization may follow a similar track as same-sex marriage, according to Dr. Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science and international affairs and director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington.

"I would anticipate the most effective strategy for the legalization folks is to focus on other ballots."Dr. Stephen Farnsworth
“I think we really saw what an irresistible state movement looks like,” Farnsworth said. “Marijuana legalization is six or seven years behind the gay marriage movement. So far, you’ve seen a relatively small number of states in a geographically concentrated group move in a direction of legalization.”

If advocates continue on the path they’re going, Farnsworth said, the movement could grow.

“The strategy for marijuana legalization is to stick with what’s working,” he said. “Voter referenda seem to be a very appealing scenario for getting support. I would anticipate the most effective strategy for the legalization folks is to focus on other ballots — and to do it in states that have a significant culture of independence or libertarianism or both. I think of Maine as a compelling test state.”

Farnsworth added that Congress may not be too keen to take up the matter just yet, because it could divide Republicans at a time when they’ve just gained control of both chambers.

“I think the Republican Party is increasingly split on marijuana legalization,” he said. “Obviously, there’s the remnants of Reagan’s ‘just say no’ in the party, but there’s also a growing enthusiasm for more libertarianism.”

Michael Collins, policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, pointed out that his organization has worked with both major parties on marijuana reform.

“We passed legislation on the House side with 49 Republicans,” Collins said. “For us, the fact that Republicans have taken control of the Senate doesn’t really change anything.”

America is reaching a point where supporting marijuana reform isn’t so damning to a politician’s career, Collins added.

“The New York Times coming out in favor of ending federal prohibition kind of gives politicians an idea where the public is on this,” he said.

In 2013, Gallup reported that a majority of Americans supported legalizing the drug — for the first time since the organization began tracking the topic in 1969. A record 58 percent of Americans responded in favor of legalization.

Legalization still has majority support in 2014, according to Gallup, but it’s down to 51 percent of Americans.

St. Pierre emphasized the importance of winning over female voters — specifically, mothers.

“If women in general don’t want cannabis legalization then these measures often gain a strong plurality, but not a majority needed to win,” he said. “If, on the other hand, women can be convinced that raising children under prohibition is harder than tax-and-control, they can tip the societal scales toward major cannabis law reforms.”

Some opponents of legalization have raised concerns about children using the drug, Collins said, but he stressed that regulating marijuana could actually prevent children from using it.

“Under prohibition, kids have access to marijuana on every street corner in America,” he said. “We’re trying to reduce marijuana use among children and get it off the black market.”

Though Congress has yet to directly address the matter, voters in the nation’s capital recently approved small-scale growing and possession of cannabis plants – a move that could have consequences beyond the nation’s borders, according to Collins.

“It sends a message internationally to other countries that have been subject to the drug war with the U.S.,” he said. “There is an opportunity to reform their drug laws without U.S. intervention.”

Collins added that Congress’ inaction on marijuana might not be about the issue itself, but the difficulty of the legislative process in general.

“It’s very hard to get anything passed, any big standalone piece of legislation,” he said.

Photo Source: AP

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People Want Online Privacy — They Just Don’t Want To Do Anything About It http://ivn.us/2014/11/25/people-want-online-privacy-just-dont-want-anything/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=people-want-online-privacy-just-dont-want-anything http://ivn.us/2014/11/25/people-want-online-privacy-just-dont-want-anything/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 20:53:41 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295654568 People Want Online Privacy — They Just Don’t Want To Do Anything About It

Most people are concerned about online privacy, but most of these people are not doing anything to protect their personal information. That is what a recent survey from the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), a Canadian think tank, found.

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People Want Online Privacy — They Just Don’t Want To Do Anything About It

Most people are concerned about online privacy, but most people are also not doing anything to protect their personal information. That is what a recent international survey from the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), a Canadian think tank, suggests.

According to CIGI, 64 percent of respondents said they are more concerned about online privacy and the security of their personal information now than they were a year ago. Further, nearly 80 percent said they were concerned about criminals and hackers accessing their personal bank accounts and/or stealing personal information through their online accounts.

With so much concern over online privacy, one would expect people to take whatever necessary actions are required to protect sensitive information. CIGI found that this is not the case for everyone.

CIGI asked respondents if they have heard of Edward Snowden; 60 percent said yes. Despite knowledge of the NSA scandal, however, only 39 percent of these respondents said they have taken steps to protect their privacy and security online. Only 43 percent of respondents avoid websites that have raised privacy concerns and 39 percent change their passwords regularly.

Interestingly enough, nearly 40 percent of respondents admitted to sharing personal information with private companies and say “it’s no big deal.” So, there seems to be a prevalent notion that though we want privacy online, we don’t want to be responsible for ensuring it.

People need to realize something about privacy in the digital age. We demand measures be taken to enhance our privacy online, but we share everything about our personal lives on social networking sites like Facebook. There is a paradox here.

Even before the rise of social media, a person’s privacy depended on how much they wanted to share with people and how important keeping certain things private was to them. Things have not changed. Though it is easier to access information, personal privacy is still the responsibility of the individual.

If people want to share information online, they should know there is a chance that some hacker somewhere could gain access to it. There are a couple of ways to keep sensitive information secure:

  1. People can choose not to put information they want private on their online profiles, or
  2. They can take steps to keep their information safe — like updating their security settings every now and then or avoiding certain websites.

It is reasonable to be concerned over online privacy — especially in the wake of revelations that the U.S. government is spying on its own citizens and people around the world through surveillance and data collection programs. However, it is not reasonable to be concerned about privacy and then do nothing about it.

Photo Credit: Blablo101 / shutterstock.com

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Twitter Analysis Reveals Deep Political Divide over Ferguson Shooting http://ivn.us/2014/11/25/twitter-analysis-reveals-deep-political-polarization-ferguson-shooting/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=twitter-analysis-reveals-deep-political-polarization-ferguson-shooting http://ivn.us/2014/11/25/twitter-analysis-reveals-deep-political-polarization-ferguson-shooting/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 18:28:33 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295654550 Twitter Analysis Reveals Deep Political Divide over Ferguson Shooting

While there is constant chatter surrounding Ferguson on Twitter, users remain deeply divided on the issue.

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Twitter Analysis Reveals Deep Political Divide over Ferguson Shooting

Twitter has hosted opinions about Ferguson since the incident first gained national attention, with organizers using the platform to plan protests and users adding their two-cents in 140 characters or less. 

However, recent analysis reveals that while there is constant chatter surrounding the shooting, riots, and subsequent grand jury hearing, users remain deeply divided on the issue. What’s more, users seem to be entirely unreceptive to opposing views on the issue. 

As you can see in the graphic below, the “red” and “blue” users are talking past each other. The self-identified conservative tweeters and the self-identified liberal tweeters ignore each other on the social network:

People mostly tweeted right past each other when talking about Ferguson.(Emma Piers

People mostly tweeted right past each other when talking about Ferguson. (Emma Piers)

In the image, as explained by statistician Emma Pierson, who published her analysis on Quartz, “each point is one of the most talkative tweeters, and two points are connected if one mentions the other: in essence, the image depicts the social network of who talks to whom. It shows two clearly divided groups.”

Pierson continues:

“So maybe if everyone would just talk to each other they would get along? Not necessarily: when the red and blue group did talk, it often wasn’t pretty.” 

Twitter, if used productively, has the capacity to connect people from all corners of the globe with ideas and analysis they might otherwise be blind to. If used unproductively, it becomes an echo chamber, further highlighting our inability to engage with users who may not share our views. 

This problem is not unique to Ferguson. It is not unique to Twitter. It is the very root of what is wrong with American politics today and sheds light on the underlying divisions that partisanship breeds.  

People with opposing views don’t know how to have a civil, respectful discussion about politics. That’s why most Americans just avoid getting involved in the political process altogether.  

With a mainstream media that favors sensationalism over rationality, who can blame them for sitting out of the debate? By viewing controversies through a “red” v. “blue” lens, the news available to Americans presupposes that there are only two sides to every story – only two solutions to every challenge facing the nation. This is just wrong

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7 Reasons Political Consultants Fail Online http://ivn.us/2014/11/25/7-reasons-political-consultants-fail-online/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=7-reasons-political-consultants-fail-online http://ivn.us/2014/11/25/7-reasons-political-consultants-fail-online/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:28:32 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295654352 7 Reasons Political Consultants Fail Online

Political consultants continue to miss out on opportunities to utilize the innovative space online. Here are seven reasons why.

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7 Reasons Political Consultants Fail Online

As a society, we have evolved into a citizenry reliant on technology in almost all aspects of our lives – politics is no exception. And if the 2014 midterm elections taught us one thing, it’s that the space for online campaigning is exponentially growing.

In just 4 years, the proportion of Americans who use their cell phones to track campaigns has doubled, according to the Pew Research Internet Project, jumping from 13 percent in 2010 to 28 percent during the 2014 election cycle.

Clinging to their “tried and tested” strategies of direct mail and television, political consultants continue to miss out on opportunities to utilize this innovative space online. Here are seven reasons why traditional political consultants miss the mark when it comes to online campaigning.

Social media is about building relationships. It’s about connecting with people online, actual people, who in the case of a political consultant, will go vote.

What is the point of having tens of thousands of Facebook Likes on a campaign’s page if none of these people are voting in the election? What do campaigns gain from having a post go viral if it does nothing to advance the candidate in the polls?

If the end goal is to get a candidate elected, or pass a piece of legislation, then success should be measured in terms of people, not numbers.

Independent-minded voters are not swing voters, they do not consistently lean one way or another, and they are not partisans in disguise. They are exactly what it sounds like they are: independent-minded. They think for themselves, they make decisions based on policy issues and analysis, and most importantly, they can see through partisan messaging.

Delivering the same message to these voters as you would to loyal conservatives or liberals would be a mistake. 

In a political climate where 42 percent of voters now self-identify as independent, consultants need to tailor their messages to remain relevant to this near-majority of voters. So forget the traditional red v. blue campaign rhetoric and try to craft a nonpartisan message that engages voters based on its substance, not a party label.

While it is hard to control what outside groups or campaigns say about a candidate, the one place where campaigns have control of the narrative is their Facebook Page.

patroberts

Comments pulled from Pat Roberts for Senate 2014 Facebook Page. Click here to enlarge.

Campaigns have the power to respond to comments and reframe the debate. They have the power to remove offensive comments from their wall (because there will nearly always be offensive comments on a Facebook wall). Campaigns have the opportunity to influence not only their fans, but the friends and family of their fans by actively engaging in and monitoring the conversation.

A great example of a campaign that failed to follow this simple rule is U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, who was running for re-election against Independent Greg Orman. On Election Day, comments on his GOTV messages on Facebook ranged from people complaining about his robo calls, to offensive comments bashing his opponent, to criticisms of his job in office.

While these didn’t cost him the election, the campaign could have easily responded to these comments – especially on Election Day.

Despite the unavoidable negative commentary that the anonymity of the Internet breeds, most people using Facebook and Twitter do not want their newsfeeds bombarded with attack ads. Americans have consistently reported that negative campaigning is a turn-off, so why do consultants continue to use it?

Because changing how they operate to adapt to the creativity and innovation that the Internet invites would just be too much work. Political consultants who have spent their careers perfecting their craft would have to change how they talk to people. Entrenched party bosses would have to employ new methods to spread their message to a growing range of voters.

Instead, consultants continue to regurgitate traditional strategies in the not-so-traditional online landscape, often times failing to engage voters.

Fact: Sending three fundraising emails in one day will result in voter frustration, annoyance, and an unnecessarily high number of unsubscribes.

Just because a consultant’s life now revolves around this campaign, their supporters still have their jobs, families, and probably an inbox full of work-related emails. Don’t annoy them early in the campaign by over-saturating them with fundraising emails and GOTV-type messages on Facebook and Twitter.

One of the keys to successfully managing a political campaign online is to continuously test strategies until one that fits is found.

This does not mean posting a status on Facebook and forgetting to measure its reach, how many users engaged with the post, and the sentiment of the feedback. And this does not mean sending out one version of an email and hoping people will open it.

This does mean analyzing successes along the way. What if a Facebook post doesn’t reach as many people as a previous post? Consultants should take a look at what time it was posted in comparison to more successful posts. They should be comparing the language and imagery used in successful and unsuccessful posts and using this data to shift their strategy if necessary.

Running a political campaign gives you the unique opportunity to respond to negative feedback with the click of a button — something that is impossible with traditional print and TV advertising. 

Instead of dismissing user comments that are negative, political consultants should use them constructively to address the individual’s concerns by responding on Facebook. If it’s an issue that relates to all constituents, the campaign should write a blog post and share it with all online audiences.

It is not campaigning that starts too late. It seems candidates are already gearing up for 2016. However, what most traditional political consultants don’t understand is that online it takes time to develop a base of supporters who will act as online advocates.

A candidate needs to earn the trust of their online base, and this means posting relevant and meaningful content on their social media channels year-round. If an initial connection has not been made with a person online, how can they be expected to share campaign messages when it matters?

Start building meaningful relationships early, so that when mobilizing a base is needed to share a particular image, or change his or her profile picture, the campaign can count on its audiences online.

Jane SusskindIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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A New and Different Monetary System for a Better Economy http://ivn.us/2014/11/25/a-new-and-different-monetary-system-for-a-better-economy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-new-and-different-monetary-system-for-a-better-economy http://ivn.us/2014/11/25/a-new-and-different-monetary-system-for-a-better-economy/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 12:30:01 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295653790 A New and Different Monetary System for a Better Economy

Heretofore, every monetary system that has ever existed has been problematic. For starters, money in all its forms has been subject to manipulation. Metallic specie made with precious metals can be debased by the issuer or shaved, filed, or nicked by individuals. Paper currency actually creates more difficulty for individuals to tamper with the money, but is all the more easily manipulated by those issuing it, whether individual banks or central authorities.

Stephen YearwoodIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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A New and Different Monetary System for a Better Economy

Heretofore, every monetary system that has ever existed has been problematic. For starters, money in all its forms has been subject to manipulation. Metallic specie made with precious metals can be debased by the issuer or shaved, filed, or nicked by individuals. Paper currency actually creates more difficulty for individuals to tamper with the money, but is all the more easily manipulated by those issuing it, whether individual banks or central authorities.

Even with the best of intentions, issuers have tended to provide too much or too little money, contributing to economic instability in all its forms. Leaving the size of the money supply to the amount of precious metal provided by the Lord (or the amount of ‘coins’ made available by the demigods of virtual mining) does not solve that problem. Finally, it is inevitable that any monetary policy pursued by issuers will be relatively better for some at the expense of others, raising issues of justice.

"It is inevitable that any monetary policy pursued by issuers will be relatively better for some at the expense of others"Stephen Yearwood
Besides those more generic problems, our current monetary system has a couple of others.

For one, the efficacy of using monetary policy within it to decrease inflation is well-established, but it is equally well-established that monetary policy is in itself ineffective in increasing production or consumption to avoid deflation — the condition underlying Keynes’s famous “liquidity trap.” Also, with our current monetary system, the money the economy needs is provided through debt, which, we have learned, grows faster than the economy does, making recurring crises inevitable.

The purpose of this effort is to present a sketch of an alternative monetary system. It is revolutionary without being radical; it would transform the functioning of the market-based economy, not replace it. It is neither ‘socialistic’ nor ‘libertarian’; this is about economics, not any particular political ideology. Freedom, private property, money, the profit motive, and competition would still be integral to the economy.

Moreover, changing our monetary system in the U.S. is not exactly a novel idea. Our approach to having a monetary system has been so conflicted and so haphazard that a definitive number of different systems is difficult to establish, but — counting only the times we have had or have not had a central bank — if we changed it one more time, that would make at least seven different systems.

Rather than contributing to instability, the proposed system would make the economy function the way the market-based economy is supposed to function in theory, without being ‘managed’ using monetary or fiscal policies. It would absolutely, indisputably eliminate recessions. It would provide the means to eliminate (involuntary) unemployment and poverty (without redistributing anything). Also, there would be no need to use taxes to fund government (though it would be funded as fully as at present, as part of the structure of the system).

The only possible macroeconomic problem would be inflation, but the system has built-in safeguards against it, prices would have our undivided attention, and with this system preventing inflation, whatever it took, would do no one any harm. Those outcomes are intrinsic to the structure of the system, as inevitable as taxes have ever been.

The heart of the monetary system presented herein is for the supply of money to originate as incomes for individuals. The general idea is for the money to originate as incomes for lots of consumers, to get circulated to the business sector via their purchases, with a large proportion of the money supply getting transferred each quarter (by banks) back to the monetary agency, which would retain the amount needed to prevent inflation and use the rest to fund government — which would (as at present) return its revenue to the private sector via its expenditures.

The monetary agency would be totally separate from and independent of both the banking system and government, with no discretionary authority. It would merely be the paymaster for the people being paid that income.

We can call the money that would be paid to individuals to form the money supply the ‘allotted income.’ It would be paid to retirees, people of working age who were too incapacitated to do any work (for whatever period of time), and people employed in what can be called ‘basic labor.’ Anyone could forego the allotted income, but those three categories ensure that the allotted income would be available for every adult.

Please note that, unless one were retired or too incapacitated to do any work, one would have to work to be paid the allotted income. There would be no welfare of any kind.

That income would be the same for everyone being paid it. In the U.S., based on current incomes and prices, it should be at least $12.50/hr. ($500/wk.). [The current median income for an individual is, in round numbers, $25,000/yr.] It would become the minimum wage/salary.

Yet, it would save businesses and government money, since the wages and salaries for people employed in basic labor would be paid by the monetary agency, not the employers of those individuals. It could be prorated for part-time work; employers would pay shift differentials and pay the full amount for overtime.

We would have to work up to establishing the allotted income at that amount to prevent a shock to the economy. Once set, however, it would be fixed at that level forever; with no inflation, over time gains in productivity would increase the purchasing power of a fixed income.

It is important to understand that local labor markets would determine which positions were paid as basic labor, not bureaucrats — private or public. Initially, everyone employed in a position which was already being paid that amount of money or less would immediately be paid the allotted income.

From that point, employers could designate any position to be basic labor. They would surely try to designate as many positions as possible for that category. Individuals would be free to choose to work in those positions for that amount of money or to do something else. Over time, some positions might fall into the category of basic labor and others rise out of that category.

Due to imperfect knowledge on the part of employers and employees, the same job might be a position paid as basic labor in one company but not in another. People not employed in basic labor would be paid in full out of the revenues of their employers, as at present. Employers would compete for employees to fill positions in basic labor using benefits, such as health insurance.

This proposal is not about limiting options. Singularly self-employed people and people who worked as partners might do work that was being paid as basic labor by some businesses, but make more—or less—money than the allotted income. That income could also be paid as easily as not to one parent in a household with at least one dependent child (the same amount, not adjusted for the number of children).

Local government might be an employer of last resort at no cost to anyone, such as picking up trash along roadways, if nothing else — but only if no job which the person seeking such employment could perform was available in the local economy.

We can already see how this monetary system would solve some big problems. It would eliminate any possibility of a recession because the money for everyone being paid the allotted income would be absolutely, positively guaranteed; the people being paid it would form a large, bullet-proof body of consumers providing the business sector of the economy with a steady stream of revenue. The pay for people employed in basic labor would be set at a rate which would eliminate poverty. With local government as an employer of last resort — at no cost to anyone — there would not be any involuntary unemployment.

As the paymaster of the people being paid the allotted income, the new monetary agency would be utterly independent, part of neither the business sector nor government. That means that the monetary system would have to be extricated from the banking system. The latter would continue its perhaps damnable but nonetheless necessary existence, including the Federal Reserve System. The Fed would, however, be limited to its functions as the banks’ bank, not lending to government, creating money, or attempting to manage the economy.

"In the U.S., what is now the Social Security Administration could be extricated from government and become the new monetary agency."
The new monetary agency would have no discretionary authority whatsoever. It would be a purely administrative body, providing the allotted income for those who were being paid it.

In the U.S., what is now the Social Security Administration could be extricated from government and become the new monetary agency. Social Security would no longer exist, anyway, and that agency already sends checks to people in two of the three categories of people who would be paid the allotted income.

The money for the allotted income would simply be created as needed. The money would not be ‘backed’ by gold or silver. On the other hand, neither is the money now. Whereas in today’s monetary system there is no limit to how much money can be created, however, in this proposed monetary system the amount would be determined by the number of people in the three categories being paid the allotted income—and nothing else. That difference makes all the difference.

One can see that with this monetary system there would be an unending flow of money into the economy; if all the money stayed in the economy that would cause infinite inflation. Therefore this system must have a mechanism for returning money to the monetary agency. Though the economy would have a much larger money supply than it now has, the transfer of money back to the monetary agency would establish a correspondingly smaller ‘multiplier’.

In ‘real’ terms the multiplier is the number of times the supply of money gets re-circulated in generating the GDP (Gross Domestic Product—the total amount of goods and services produced in a given period of time); in monetary terms the multiplier is the ratio of the monetary value of the GDP to the money supply at current prices. So, the GDP can increase because of an increase in output or due only to an increase in prices. The latter is monetary inflation.

In our current economy, ‘stimulus’ is usually effected by increasing the amount of money in the economy. It is then in the economy more or less permanently. It can be used again and again, for production or consumption. The Fed has ways of taking some of it out of circulation, but if monetary inflation gets underway the demand for available money gets very powerful very fast—as cash sitting in a vault, it is losing value—even though letting the money out of the vaults will add to the inflation.

Standard economic theory suggests that the most likely effect of an increase in the size of the money supply in our present economy is for it to increase real GDP initially, but eventually to have more effect in the form of monetary inflation (unless it leaves the domestic economy via imports, foreign investments, etc.).

Compared to our present situation, this new monetary system would put more money in people’s pockets with which to make purchases. That would encourage more supply, thus increasing real GDP. By regularly returning money to the monetary agency rather than leaving it in the economy, however, the larger money supply would not induce monetary inflation. (Again, we would have to increase the size of the allotted income gradually, to give time for supply, real GDP, to adjust to the increasing total demand without inducing monetary inflation.)

The transfers that would return money (eventually) to the monetary agency would be administered by the branches of the banks in which people and businesses had their accounts. Every adult and business would have to have an account in a (domestic) bank. Both businesses and individuals would be limited to how much money they could retain in their accounts. For businesses, it would be a percentage of their profits. For individuals, it could be some absolute amount for everyone or a percentage of annualized income.

When the time for the transfer did roll around, any money over the prescribed amount in any account would be transferred to the monetary agency to complete the circulation of money. For businesses that would be the end of each quarter, for individuals each month. An individual could avoid the transfer by simply spending money, thereby participating in the necessary circulation of money; that money would have to be in the account of some business somewhere (ignoring, for now, imports).

The amount of money that could be retained in accounts would be calculated to prevent the larger money supply from being inflationary as the new system was instituted. Some adjustment would probably be necessary, but as soon as possible that percentage would be set for all time. (Also, the windfall in disposable income from abolishing taxes would have to be taken into account to prevent inflation, with perhaps initially much larger amounts retained in accounts than would be the case after the dust from the transition to this monetary system had settled.)

The money from the accounts of individuals and businesses would first of all be retained by the banks as (free!) capital for one quarter. The banks would be free to utilize that money however they saw fit, but at the end of the quarter that amount of money, in total, to the penny, would have to be transferred to the monetary agency. It would be replaced by the inflow of money from the accounts of people and businesses for the next quarter. (In the first quarter of this system’s operation, money would have to be provided to banks by the monetary agency based on expectations, since no transfers from accounts would have yet happened.)

When money did reach the monetary agency, it would retain the amount of money necessary to prevent inflation, i.e., the amount that had entered the system that quarter, and use the rest to fund government. Government would return that money to the private sector via its expenditures (as at present). [Again, in the very first quarter of this system’s operation the monetary agency would have to provide the funds for government, since the agency would not yet have collected any money with which to fund government.]

It is not inconceivable that, because of excessive lending by banks, the multiplier could reach such proportions that it could cause inflation. That level of growth in the multiplier could be prevented by putting a ceiling on the amount of money that the monetary agency would send to government, with the agency retaining, in that circumstance, more money than it would otherwise.

It is perhaps not impossible that the multiplier could, for some reason, be too small, such that government was receiving insufficient funds. Using money from the monetary agency to ensure that government reached the ceiling set on its spending would prevent that. Having a ceiling on government spending and ensuring that the ceiling was reached would add even more stability to an economy with this monetary system. [That ceiling would be set as per capita spending so that it would automatically adjust with changes in the size of the population; also, that ceiling implies that there would have to be a permanent freeze on pay for all positions in government—adding a tad more to stability of prices.]

"Since government would be funded as part of the circulation of the money supply, that would eliminate completely the need for taxes."
Since government would be funded as part of the circulation of the money supply, that would eliminate completely that need for taxes — all taxes, personal or business: income, property, sales, payroll, etc. Yet, it would receive as much money as it does at present — without having to pay for Welfare or Social Security.

There would also be no need for government to sell bonds: “Ban the bond!” Forthwith, public debt would be of historical interest only (also eliminating interest payments as an expenditure). Since much of our public debt in the U.S. is owed to the Social Security fund, and it would no longer exist, the debt owed it would no longer exist, either.

Finally, let’s note that a tax code is not necessary to stimulate productive real investment; savings in labor and other costs — or gains in output — are sufficient to encourage capital investments.

In the U.S. the money for government should go from the monetary agency to the federal level. What was not spent there would be apportioned among the states, based on population. Federal Representatives and Senators would know that the less they spent, the more money they could send back home to benefit the people who would determine their political fate.

As noted at the start of this essay, with this system the only possible problem for the economy as a whole would be inflation. Besides the transfer returning money to the monetary agency, having so many people with a fixed income would also help to control prices, especially for things they normally bought. In addition, another source of inflation, speculation in real estate, commodities, and currency (but only those three things), would be strongly, materially discouraged.

The absence of government bonds would largely eliminate the motive and means for speculation in currency, but government could undertake more general efforts, such as using licensing to restrict activity in those areas of the economy. If producers’ costs did rise, that would lead to more positions in those businesses being rendered basic labor (or replaced by machines, bringing to mind the long-promised revolution in robotics). That would reduce the cost of labor for those businesses, offsetting the rise in other costs, eliminating that pressure for increasing their prices.

Our economic system at present is somewhat like a star. There are forces pushing for expansion, with other forces at the same time pressing towards contraction. One set of forces grows stronger relative to the other, then the reverse occurs—or can be made to occur—we hope. The system works best with ‘moderate’ inflation supporting steady expansion—which eats into wages, all the same. That need for relentless expansion exacerbates environmental degradation.

The proposed monetary system would not create a Utopia. It would, however, solve many problems and ameliorate many more. As a system, the economy would be about as stable as the surface of the Moon, where, sans meteors, mere footprints in the dust can last forever. Best of all, though, this monetary system would make ours a more just economy.

Author’s note: Justice is the subject of Part 2 of this essay; for more on this monetary system, see www.ajustsolution.com.

Image: Orhan Cam / Shutterstock.com

Stephen YearwoodIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Ferguson Grand Jury: No Probable Cause To Charge Officer in Michael Brown Shooting http://ivn.us/2014/11/24/ferguson-grand-jury-probable-cause-charge-officer-michael-brown-shooting/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ferguson-grand-jury-probable-cause-charge-officer-michael-brown-shooting http://ivn.us/2014/11/24/ferguson-grand-jury-probable-cause-charge-officer-michael-brown-shooting/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 03:23:00 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295654501 Ferguson Grand Jury: No Probable Cause To Charge Officer in Michael Brown Shooting

A grand jury found there was not enough evidence to indict officer Darren Wilson for the August 9 shooting of Michael Brown. The prosecuting attorney for St. Louis County, Bob McCulloch, announced Wilson would not be indicted at a press … Continued

Alex GauthierIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Ferguson Grand Jury: No Probable Cause To Charge Officer in Michael Brown Shooting

A grand jury found there was not enough evidence to indict officer Darren Wilson for the August 9 shooting of Michael Brown. The prosecuting attorney for St. Louis County, Bob McCulloch, announced Wilson would not be indicted at a press conference held at the St. Louis County Justice Center Monday.

From McCulloch’s statement:

“After their exhaustive review of the evidence, the grand jury deliberated over two days making their final decision. They determined that no probable cause exists to file any charges against Officer Wilson and returned a ‘no true bill’ on each of the five indictments. The physical and scientific evidence examined by the grand jury, combined with the witness statements, supported and substantiated by that physical evidence, tells the accurate and tragic story of what happened.”

In order for an indictment to have been handed down, 9 of the 12-person grand jury would have needed to believe there was enough credible evidence to warrant ‘probable cause’ to believe Wilson committed a crime. The grand jury process is guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and is designed to be held in private where prosecutors present evidence to jurors.

The evidence that was presented will be made available to the public and a federal investigation is still ongoing.

The decision comes as tensions between law enforcement and residents has escalated in the days and weeks prior to the decision.

During a press conference held hours before the announcement, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon issued a statement urging citizens to show restraint when exercising their First Amendment rights:

“Our shared hope and expectation is that regardless of the decision, people on all sides show tolerance, mutual respect, and restraint.”

Nixon declared a state of emergency on Monday, November 17, under executive order 14-14. The executive order granted the St. Louis County Police Department operational control over security within the City of Ferguson. The national guard has also been called in to secure government buildings.

The following day he announced the creation of a 16-person commission called the ‘Ferguson Commission,’ tasked with making recommendations to improve policing policies and race relations in the community. Recommendations are expected by Spring 2015 at the earliest.

In the days and weeks ahead of the decision, activist groups held protest drills stressing non-violent demonstration in an effort to train participants and reduce the chances for violence and destruction of property.

Hundreds of civil rights activists have amassed outside of the Ferguson Police Department headquarters to demonstrate their opposition to the verdict.

Whether or not the protests will remain unimpeded by law enforcement or fall victim to unruly provocateurs remains to be seen. One thing is certain, the community of Ferguson, Missouri now has the undivided attention of the nation.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay captured the sentiment during his statement at the press conference with Nixon earlier today:

“The world will be watching us. They are going to watch how we handle our disagreements in the coming days and how we make needed change in the coming months and years. St. Louis finds itself with an opportunity to show the nation the ways in which a community can be more fair, and more just for everyone. We must seize this opportunity together.”

Editor’s note: The post was updated to include McCulloch’s full statement and the civil unrest that followed. Also, case evidence and transcripts of the proceedings were made available to the public.

Image: Bob McCulloch / CNN


Alex GauthierIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel Resigns after 22 Months in Office http://ivn.us/2014/11/24/secretary-defense-chuck-hagel-resigns-22-months-office/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=secretary-defense-chuck-hagel-resigns-22-months-office http://ivn.us/2014/11/24/secretary-defense-chuck-hagel-resigns-22-months-office/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 16:37:22 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295654490 Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel Resigns after 22 Months in Office

It was confirmed by the Pentagon on Monday that U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is stepping down from his post. A senior official at the defense department says it was a "mutual decision" between Hagel and the White House after weeks of discussions about the direction the administration wants to go in its final two years.

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

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Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel Resigns after 22 Months in Office

It was confirmed by the Pentagon on Monday morning that U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is stepping down from his post. A senior official at the defense department says it was a “mutual decision” between Hagel and the White House after weeks of discussions about the direction the administration wants to go in its final two years.

While Hagel’s time in the position may seem short, historically it is not unprecedented. In fact, most secretaries of defense have not stayed on for a full presidential term — a majority not lasting 3 years for one reason or another.

There have been 24 defense secretaries in United States history. The man who spent the shortest time in the position was Elliot Richardson, who served 114 days under Richard Nixon in 1973 — 4 months before being appointed attorney general. The longest serving was Robert McNamara under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. He served a total of 2,595 days — almost two full presidential terms.

Reports are conflicting on what exactly led to Hagel’s departure and while a defense official says it was a mutual decision, several news outlets are reporting that an administrative official says it was not as amicable as some are suggesting and that Hagel was forced out after months of not being fully integrated into Obama’s inner circle and the decision-making process.

In an announcement on Monday, President Obama thanked Hagel for his service and Hagel gave a professional and gracious farewell — what one might expect from these events. However, no reason was given as to why Hagel was departing as the timing seems odd with everything going on in the Middle East — not even talk of a mutual decision.

Politicos will continue to speculate on all the factors that played a role in Hagel’s departure and who the president will choose to replace him. Hagel said he will stay on until a successor is confirmed.

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

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