Why are so many families feeling extreme financial stress? Here’s one of the main reasons…

When the cost of living rises faster than paychecks year after year, eventually that becomes a very big problem.  Every month, tens of millions of American families struggle to pay the bills, and most of them don’t even understand the economic forces that are putting so much pressure on them.

The United States never had a persistent, ongoing problem with inflation until the debt-based Federal Reserve system was introduced in 1913.  Since that time, we have had non-stop inflation and the U.S. dollar has lost more than 98 percent of its value.  If our paychecks were increasing faster than inflation this wouldn’t be a problem, but in recent years this has definitely not been the case for most Americans.

Unfortunately inflation is starting to accelerate once again.  In fact, it is being reported that inflation rose at the fastest pace in four years in January…

The prices Americans pay for goods and services surged in January by the largest amount in four years, mostly reflecting a rebound in the cost of gasoline that’s taking a bigger chunk out of household incomes.

The consumer price index, or cost of living, rose by a seasonally adjusted 0.6% in January, the government said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, incomes have been so stagnant that median household income did not go up at all during 2016.

This is one of the reasons why we consistently see families fall out of the middle class month after month.  Even if you keep the same job year after year, your standard of living is going to steadily go down unless your pay goes up.

The things that we all spend money on month after month just keep going up in price — food, housing, medical care and other essentials.  If there is one thing that we can always count on, it is the fact that things are going to cost more tomorrow than they do today.

Let’s talk about food for a moment.  Remember a time when you could get everything you needed for an entire week for about 20 bucks?  These days you can’t even fill up a cart for hundred-dollar bill!

Food prices have been rising aggressively for many years.  The following is a list that was posted on The Economic Policy Journal showing how much some food and grocery items have increased over the past decade:

1. Tobacco and smoking products

-Price increase: 90.4%

2. Margarine

-Price increase: 63.6%

3. Uncooked ground beef

-Price increase: 46.3%

4. Shelf stable fish and seafood
-Price increase: 45.0%

5. Prescription drugs
-Price increase: 43.5%

6. Rice, pasta, cornmeal
-Price increase: 40.3%

7. Bread
-Price increase: 38.9%

8. Snacks
-Price increase: 38.4%

9. Miscellaneous poultry including turkey
-Price increase: 37.0%

10. Apples
-Price increase: 36.6%

11. Frankfurters
-Price increase: 35.8%

12. Canned vegetables
-Price increase: 35.3%

13. Salt and other seasonings and spices
-Price increase: 34.0%

14. Miscellaneous fats and oils including peanut butter
-Price increase: 34.0%

15. Miscellaneous processed fruits and vegetables including dried
-Price increase: 33.7%

16. Bacon and related products
-Price increase: 33.2%

17. Fresh whole chicken
-Price increase: 32.5%

18. Cakes, cupcakes, and cookies
-Price increase: 32.1%

19. Flour and prepared flour mixes
-Price increase: 32.1%

20. Canned fruits
-Price increase: 32.0%

And thanks to out of control government spending and reckless manipulation by the Federal Reserve, inflation is starting to accelerate once again.

According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, if honest numbers were being used the government would be telling us that inflation is rising at a 6 percent annual rate for the first time since 2011.

At the same time, evidence is mounting that U.S. consumers are simply tapped out.  Interest rates are going up, consumer bankruptcies are rising, and lending standards for consumers are really tightening up.  All are things we would expect to see if a new recession was starting.

And today we learned that the number of Americans refinancing their homes has fallen to the lowest level since 2009

A slowdown in refinancing pulled down the total mortgage application volume last week as changes to certain government-loan programs made refinances less lucrative. Refinance volume now stands at its lowest level since June 2009.

You might remember we also saw a slowdown in mortgage refinancing just before the great financial recession of 2008.

For mortgage applications overall, they are now down almost 31 percent from where they were a year ago…

Total mortgage application volume fell 3.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis last week from the previous week, and are nearly 31 percent lower than the same week a year ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

A 31 percent decline in a single year is catastrophic.

If this continues, it won’t be too long before everyone is talking about a new housing crash.

And we also learned this week that FHA mortgage delinquencies increased during the fourth quarter “for the first time since 2006″

Federal Housing Administration mortgage delinquencies jumped in the fourth quarter for the first time since 2006, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported Wednesday. The FHA insures low down-payment loans and is a favorite among first-time homebuyers.

The seasonally adjusted FHA delinquency rate increased to 9.02 percent in the fourth quarter from 8.3 percent in the third quarter, MBA data show.

So many negative things are happening now, but most people are choosing not to see these red flags that are popping up all around us.

None of our long-term economic problems have been fixed.  Even though Donald Trump won the election, the truth is that our economy is in the worst shape it has been in since the last financial crisis.  Just like back in 2007, we are experiencing a wave of optimism with the new administration, and most people think the party can somehow continue indefinitely.

Whether Donald Trump won the election or not, the truth is that a major economic downturn was going to come anyway.  Mr. Trump is not some magician who can just wave a wand and somehow make results from decades of very foolish decisions instantly disappear.

We’ve been on the biggest debt binge in human history, and there is going to be a terrible price to pay when this immense debt bubble finally bursts.

 

[From an article published by The Economic Collapse Blog]

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

 

 

 

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If only the national media and the liberals who love them had cared half as much about the Benghazi debacle or ISIS as they seem to care about destroying Donald Trump, Obama might have been compelled to tell the truth and fix the huge messes he made…

Another lyin' liberal...

False news reporting has reached level of hysteria

 

It has been a disheartening few weeks for national Republicans, even as we should be celebrating our biggest Congressional majorities in almost a century, our control of the Executive Branch, and the very real possibility that we might soon have a conservative Supreme Court again.

Why do we feel so down in the dumps? Mostly because since President Trump’s inauguration we have faced a constant barrage of fire from the national media and the liberals who love them. If it’s not immigration, it’s Russia, if it’s not Russia, it’s immigration… if only the media would have cared this much about the Benghazi debacle or ISIS, the Obama administration might have been forced to tell the truth and fix the mess they made.

I’m not the only one who has noticed the constant attacks on the GOP and the Trump administration, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly has noticed it too. He’s also noticed one other thing about the attacks… they are mostly made of lies and half-truths.

BILL O’REILLY: Last week, about 680 undocumented aliens were arrested by ICE officials. Many of them have already been deported.

The coordinated raids targeted aliens who had committed crimes in the USA, mostly felonies.

Seventy-five percent of those taken into custody had convictions, including homicide and child rape.

One man, arrested in Chicago, is an Iraqi citizen with a conviction for sexual abuse of a victim unable to consent.

Many of the arrested non-felons were associated with the criminals.

But those facts have largely gone unreported by the American press — and by the radical left, which is actively misleading you.

STATE SEN KEVIN DE LEON (D-CA): “What took place yesterday with raids in personal homes is part of the cog of the Trump deportation machine.”

RAUL REYES, ATTORNEY: “How inhumane this is! To be breaking down people’s doors and separating parents from their children.”

REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D- AZ): “This is Donald Trump really executing his campaign plan. He’s trying to be a tough guy so he’s going to go after the maids, the moms, the people that are working in the shops instead of going after the hardcore criminals.”

Maids, moms and shopkeepers, according to that dishonest politician.

Now the false news reporting actually reached the level of hysteria.

Newspaper headlines screamed things like “The Trump Deportation Regime has Begun,” “Immigrant Community on High Alert, Fearing Trump’s ‘Deportation Force,’” “On Devon Avenue in Chicago, News of Immigration Raids Intensifies Fears.”

We could find no headlines in major newspapers – none – that bannered the fact the raids were targeted at illegal aliens who had committed serious crimes.

That’s not press bias, that’s blatant dishonesty.

And here’s another example.

In the year 2013, the Obama administration removed more than 434,000 illegal aliens – the highest number in history, which goes back to 1892.

Did you see any anti-Obama demonstrations?

Did you see any screaming headlines in the national media?

No, you did not. Even after President Obama said this:

OBAMA: “What we should be doing is setting up a smart, legal immigration system that doesn’t separate families, but does focus on making sure that people who are dangerous, people who are gang-bangers or criminals – that we’re deporting them as quickly as possible.”

That’s almost exactly what President Trump is doing.

But the illegal immigration issue has been set up by the media to demonize Mr. Trump as a racist and a brutalizer of the poor.

That’s what’s really going on here.

It is flat-out disgraceful.

If the federal government cannot remove aliens who commit serious crimes, then we do not have an effective federal government.

Yet the far left and the press, knowing full well that the ICE raids were directed at dangerous people, chose not to report that – instead smearing President Trump.

We have now reached a new low in American journalism.

As for the far left, these are people who do not want any immigration enforcement.

They want open borders. They want alien criminals protected. They want anarchy.

Why? Because they do not like America as it stands right now.

It is important for all honest citizens to know you are not getting accurate information, and that there is a radical element in this country who does not care at all about American citizens, honest government, or telling the truth.

 

[From an article by Mateus Kadesh, writing for iPATRIOT.com]

 

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NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
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Trump’s travel ban addressed real problems, but now we need to get it packaged correctly

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld a nationwide temporary injunction on President Trump’s executive order relating to refugees and visas from seven Muslim-majority countries. The White House says it will not take the case to the Supreme Court, but is rather drafting a version of the executive order that administration officials believe will get past the courts. Perhaps. The unhappy reality is that the 9th Circuit Court’s decision and much of the debate surrounding the executive order partake not of logic and reason but rather issue from a form of politicized hysteria and judicial arrogance.

The 9th Circuit Court argued that “The Government has pointed to no evidence that any alien from any of the countries [Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen] named in the Order has perpetrated a terrorist attack in the United States.”

The language is precise but the intention is false. “Alien” refers to an individual who is not a U.S. citizen, or U.S. national, or permanent resident alien, also known as a green-card holder. In 2011, two Iraqi nationals admitted as refugees, i.e. “aliens,” affiliated with al Qaeda and who fought against U.S. troops in Iraq, were arrested in Bowling Green, Kentucky for plotting terrorist attacks in the United States, but did not manage to “perpetrate” one.

U.S dual-nationals, not aliens, from the seven states, as well as permanent resident aliens, have been involved in successful terrorist attacks and plots against the United States. Among others:

Abdul Razak Artan, a Somali refugee, and permanent resident alien, used his car and a knife to attack fellow students at the Ohio State University in December, 2016 before he was shot to death by police.

Anwar al-Awlaki was an American-born dual national with Yemeni citizenship who, according to Michael Leiter, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, had a “direct operational role” in the “underwear bomber” plot against a Detroit-bound plane with 289 passengers aboard. Awlaki may also have played a part in the Fort Hood attack, which left 13 dead, and another 30 wounded. Awlaki was killed in a 2011 drone attack ordered by President Barack Obama.

Mansour Arbabsiar, a naturalized American citizen who was also an Iranian national, plotted together with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States in a Washington, D.C. restaurant. The operation would have likely resulted in mass casualties in the nation’s capital. In September 2013, Arbabsiar was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

It’s clear that nationals from the seven countries have waged, supported, or plotted terrorist attacks on American soil, but the point of the executive order isn’t to punish for past incidents, or else Saudi Arabia, for instance, would be included on the list due to the number of Saudi nationals involved in the 9/11 attacks. The point rather is to protect against future attacks. The reason those seven countries are listed is because they are either state sponsors of terror (Iran, Sudan, Syria), or have dysfunctional central governments or none at all (Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen), which make it more difficult to vet visa applicants with their home country.

Let’s widen the focus some. As I say, the purpose of the executive order is not to punish but to prevent future attacks in the United States. To show that the executive order is a bad mistake, the burden is on those who mean to show there is no evidence that nationals from the seven states have perpetrated acts of terror anywhere—like, for instance, in Europe.

German authorities have stopped a number of terrorist attacks plotted by Syrian refugees affiliated with ISIS, including an attack on a major transportation hub. In July 2016, a Syrian refugee killed a woman with a machete near Stuttgart. The same month, a Syrian asylum seeker blew himself up at a musical festival, injuring 15 people.

Clearly the vast majority of Muslim refugees mean to escape violence, not carry it with them to Europe. But ISIS has used the refugee crisis to disguise their operators and seed European networks. According to a Washington Post report from April 2016, “over the past six months, more than three dozen suspected militants who impersonated migrants have been arrested or died while planning or carrying out acts of terrorism.” Most notorious among them were members of the cell that waged multiple terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015 that killed 137 and injured nearly 400. This, including an attack on the Bataclan music hall that killed 90, was only the most dramatic and violent of ISIS-inspired or ISIS-directed operations that have taken place in Europe since 2014. These include the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher attacks that killed 17, and the truck attack in Nice in July 2016 that killed 86 people, including 10 children, and injured 434.

And it’s not just ISIS that’s sending murderers to Europe among the refugees. Militiamen from Iranian-backed Iraqi Shia groups have relocated to the continent, as have war criminals who fought on behalf of Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad. Indeed, Iraq, Syria, and Iran have a long history of exploiting terror networks in Europe, especially in France. In other words, the problem is not simply that some bad people among the migrants are targeting Europe for terror attacks, but that Middle Eastern states are likely to infiltrate the refugee stream with operatives. Thus, states will not only continue their regional conflict with Europeans in the crossfire, but will also be able to shape European policy through blackmail. If you don’t want your charming cities blown up, and your citizens’ blood spilled in the streets, you better do as we say.

Was it a good idea for Europe to open its doors so widely to the problems that have turned the Middle East into a nightmare? Is Europe a better, more diverse place for admitting the sociopathic murderers who fought to defend Assad? What is the upside of importing the region’s issues, its wars and bloody conflicts? America has some portion of that experience. As former FBI director Robert Mueller told Congress in 2011 that among areas of “threat within the United States … relates to individuals going to Somalia to fight with al Shabab.” Indeed there’s a pipeline from Minnesota to Mogadishu that feeds the ranks of al Shabab, an al Qaeda affiliate, and now, NPR reported, ISIS.

There is no doubt that like the Somali community in Minnesota, the vast majority of Syrian asylum seekers, and visa applicants from the seven states listed, are decent and peaceful people who just want a chance to live, prosper, and raise their families outside a war zone. But the reason that America’s experience of the refugee crisis is different from Europe’s to date is largely because compared to the estimated one million-plus Syrian refugees now seeking asylum in Europe, America has received only a small fraction.

Since the Syrian conflict began in 2011, the United States has admitted around 15,000 refugees—a little more than 2,000 until 2016, when the Obama administration opened the doors to 12,500 Syrian refugees. Given the small number of refugees the United States has admitted as compared to how many Europe has, the burden of proof is on those seeking to show that Europe’s experience is irrelevant to American national security.

Why wouldn’t the odds of ISIS members or Assad militiamen sneaking into the United States increase as the number of refugees increases? The screening process is deeply flawed. As one former Obama administration official working on the refugee vetting process told the Washington Post, it’s difficult to “determine something as basic as an applicant’s criminal history.” He continued: “We do the best with what we have… We talk to people about what their criminal histories are, and we hear about that. That’s pretty much where we are.”

That was in 2015. But in the last two years the vetting process has been fixed and all the holes patched—that’s what various experts and officials opposed to Trump’s executive order seem to be arguing. “The executive order reads,” one former U.S. official toldMother Jones, “as if the stringent measures that have been put in place over the past 15 years to screen refugees don’t exist.”

The time span of fifteen years is meant to point back to 9/11, but the reality is that while they are better now, there are still dangerous problems, noted by lawmakers and law enforcement officials, as recently as December. After the Ohio State attack, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Charles Grassley wrote to the Department of Homeland Security that the assailant’s family should have been vetted more carefully before they were granted refugee status.

After the Bowling Green case, U.S. officials admitted to problems with a screening process that let through two Iraqi terrorists. “This case demonstrates specific gaps that were present in the screening process that was in place in the beginning of the [Obama] administration,” one Department of Homeland Security Official told ABC News. “Once the administration became aware of these gaps, it took immediate steps to fill them. Today our vetting process considers a far broader range of information than it did in past years.”

It’s unfair to demand perfection from the agencies that protect American citizens, but they realize better than anyone that the vetting process is worse than imperfect. As FBI director James Comey told Congress in November 2015, “a number of people who were of serious concern” slipped through the screening of Iraq War refugees, including the two arrested on terrorism-related charges. “There’s no doubt,” said Comey, “that was the product of a less than excellent vetting.”

The Iraqis were caught because their fingerprints matched those collected by American troops in Iraq. The United States doesn’t have those capabilities in, say, Syria or Iran, nor do we have a relationship with the security services of those two State Department-designated state sponsors of terror that would allow American agencies to rely on the information they might provide. According to Comey, it’s not going to get much better regarding Syrian refugees. “If we don’t know much about somebody, there won’t be anything in our data,” the FBI director told Congress. “I can’t sit here and offer anybody an absolute assurance that there’s no risk associated with this.”

That’s an honest assessment from an honorable public servant. Unfortunately, much of the expert commentary of late is not. Consider, for instance, why many terrorism experts and former officials argue that the executive order won’t help protect Americans at home. Some specialists, like Jessica Stern, tell us that in fact the executive order is “likely to make us less safe.” The EO, said Paul Pillar, a former official at the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, “is not targeted at where the threat is, and the anti-Islam message that it sends is more likely to make America less safe.” How does it make America less safe? Former CIA analyst Nada Bakos explains that, “All it does is help [Islamic State] recruiting.” Yes, agrees ex-FBI agent Ali Soufan, “ISIS members and ISIS leaders, at least in their propaganda, have been calling President Trump and his ban and his recent policies a godsend.”

That those experts and former officials opposed to the executive order contend that suspending visas to Syrian refugees indefinitely and temporarily suspending issuing visas to nationals from seven states will turn some Muslims into terrorists seems to me counterproductive reasoning, to say the least. There are only two logical conclusions to be drawn from this argument—either the United States should impose a permanent and total ban of Muslims until the region stops producing quantities of young men who will kill others if they don’t get their way; or ISIS is entitled to a say in drafting America’s national security and policies.

Both are absurd, and the latter is suicidal. For instance, Hezbollah and Hamas both have narratives, too, with Israel at the center of their paranoid and gruesome worldviews. Should the United States stiff-arm Israel so as not to play into the Hezbollah and Hamas narrative? What happens in the aftermath of a terror attack on America? Should we then tailor our policies to suit the demands of terrorists lest they strike again? How about if ISIS won’t stop killing Americans until America admits numbers of refugees that are acceptable to ISIS?

You don’t get it, say the experts. We’re not trying to appease terrorists; we’re making war on them and Trump’s executive order is making it harder for us to work with regional partners, like the Iraqis. Fine, let the Iraqis throw out American troops. If the central government in Baghdad thinks it can tackle ISIS on its own, without American arms, training, special operations and air support, then we should pack up and go home. But they can’t, which is why it would be self-defeating to stop working with the United States.

The United States is campaigning against ISIS in order to assist states either incapable of doing it themselves, or unwilling to. Further, it keeps the organization on the defensive in the region so that it doesn’t wage attacks here at home. So, let’s suppose that Trump has every intention of keeping his promise to wage a massive campaign against ISIS. In response, ISIS will do everything it can to stop that operation, and take revenge, by attacking targets in the American homeland. Will ISIS try to sneak its operatives into the refugee stream? Have they done so already? The answer to both questions, based on the group’s behavior in Europe, is very likely. A Bataclan-like assault will be the least of it. Trump would be criminally irresponsible if he didn’t do everything in his power to reduce the chances of that effort being successful.

Barack Obama fought ISIS, albeit half-heartedly, for similar reasons. The fact that ISIS has turned a large swath of the Syrian desert into a caliphate is a tragedy for many Syrians and Iraqis, but has little bearing on American interests. However, he understood that a major ISIS attack on the United States would prove catastrophic for a presidency. Al Qaeda’s September 11, 2001 attacks consumed George W. Bush’s two terms in office, during which he waged two inconclusive wars in the Middle East. Obama didn’t want the same, and to cover as many bases as possible, he also kept out Syrian refugees, until 2016 when they were just about to become someone else’s problem.

It can hardly come as a surprise that Trump also wants to avoid a major terrorist attack on his watch, which happens to fit neatly with the description of the job the American public hired him for—to keep Americans safe. Thus the White House has reason to believe it can draft policies intended to protect the welfare of American citizens. Trump was elected to the presidency, and the courts were not. The idea that politically appointed judges are licensed and qualified to make decisions that have both national security and political implications is preposterous, without precedent in American law and practice, and dangerous.

Americans are entitled to an honest debate about immigration, the executive order, Syrian refugees, and how we might best balance our national security interests with humanitarian concern for the welfare of others as well as our wish to make our society better and stronger by welcoming those from around the world who share our most fundamental convictions as Americans. Would, for instance, those Syrian immigrants in flight from a mass murderer, and driven by industry, love of family, and love of their new country, make America a finer country? Do those Somali families whose sons go to Africa to wage war on behalf of an al Qaeda affiliate before returning to the Midwest make us a better nation?

We’re owed that debate. We voted for that much at least. The courts have no legal right, no prerogative to take it from us.

[By Lee Smith, writing for THE WEEKLY STANDARD]

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
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Democrats seem unable to recognize truth from lies anymore…

Nancy Pelosi held a town hall event on CNN to try to present a Democratic alternative to Donald Trump.  At the event, a grieving mother whose son was murdered by an illegal immigrant asked Pelosi how she, Pelosi, could possibly support sanctuary cities.  Pelosi’s answer left many Americans wondering just what planet she was from.

Democrats not able to tell the truth any more...

Laura Wilkerson’s son was captured by an illegal immigrant, then beaten, tortured, and lit on fire.

She questioned Nancy Pelosi how she, Pelosi, could support illegal immigration and back sanctuary cities when those policies lead to the death of innocent Americans.

Wilkerson also demanded Pelosi to answer which one of her grandchildren she’d be willing to consider as “expendable” just so illegal immigrants can continue to flout our laws and remain in America.

Pelosi was visibly shaken when confronted with the real world consequences of her open borders policies.

She stumbled through her answer, and then responded with a massive lie, saying that sanctuary cities house people who are not disobeying the law.

Lifezette reports on the exchange:

“In 2010, one of these illegals slaughtered my son,” the woman continued, her voice hoarse and cracking with grief. “He was tortured, beaten, then tied up like an animal. And then he was set on fire.  And I am not a unique one-story mother. This kind of thing happens all the time. Because no one is enforcing our borders,” the woman said.

“We have to start putting American families first. There is nothing wrong with putting Americans first. Many of us have family members who fought and died for this country. How do you reconcile in your head about allowing people to so easily disobey the law?” she asked.

Pelosi was visibly stunned, and perhaps even shamed, by what the woman said next.

“The second part of my question is this — if you need to go home tonight and line up your babies as you say, and your grand-babies, which one of them could you look in their eyes today, and tell them that they’re expendable? For another foreign person to have a nicer life? Which one would you look to and say, ‘You, my child, are expendable for someone else to come over here and not follow the law and have a nicer life’?” the woman asked.

Pelosi’s response was to insist that sanctuary cities do not protect criminals like the one who killed the woman’s son. “I do want to say to you that in our sanctuary cities that these people are not disobeying the law. These are law-abiding citizens [sic], it enables them to be there without being reported to ICE in case of another crime that they might bear witness to,” Pelosi insisted.

 

Pelosi’s false claim that sanctuary cities are a place where law abiding citizens seek refuge is jaw-dropping in its stupidity.

First, every illegal immigrant is breaking the law just by the nature of their presence in America.

Second, her own San Francisco provided one of the most famous examples of the dangers sanctuary cities pose to America citizens.

In 2015, Kate Steinle was viciously murdered when she was gunned down by an illegal immigrant who had previously been deported five times.  ICE had a detainer on the illegal immigrant, but San Francisco as a sanctuary city ignored the order and set him free.

It’s clear Nancy Pelosi has no choice but to employ alternative details (which in the minds of a majority of Americans is called “lying”) in order to claim sanctuary cities are not home to illegals and other dangerous criminals.

[From an article published by AMERICAN PATRIOT DAILY]

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“We cannot sustain ineffective traditions over optimal outcomes,” says our new Secretary of State

During his first speech as Donald Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson warned Thursday morning that he plans to reform the State Department and told his new team to brace for “changes to how things are traditionally done.”

“I remind you that our undertakings are larger than ourselves or our personal careers,” Tillerson said in his introductory speech to State Department employees in Washington, D.C.

Amid dissenting views about the Trump administration’s suspension of the refugee program and the temporary ban on visitors from seven mainly Muslim countries, Tillerson emphasized the importance of rising above politics.

“I know this was a hotly contested election, and we do not all feel the same way about the outcome. Each of us is entitled to the expression of our political beliefs, but we cannot let our personal convictions overwhelm our ability to work as one team,” he said. “Let us be understanding with each other about the times we live in as we focus our energies on our departmental goals.”

Tillerson said the first thing he asks himself every morning is, “Are all of our people safe?”

“The safety of every single member of our State Department family, regardless of where he or she is posted, is not just a priority for me — it’s a core value. And it will become a core value of this department,” he said.

The former Exxon CEO said he will have an unorthodox approach to leading the State Department, but promised he would not make change for the sake of change.

“As secretary, I will deploy the talent and resources of the State Department in the most efficient ways possible,” he said. “That may entail making changes to how things are traditionally done in this department. Change for the sake of change can be counterproductive and that will never be my approach. But we cannot sustain ineffective traditions over optimal outcomes. I will gather information on what processes should be reformed and do my part to make sure that we are productive and efficient.”

Tillerson said he thought he was prepared for “retirement this spring after four decades of business experience” prior to receiving the call to serve from Trump.

“[Tillerson’s wife] Renda [St. Claire] and I were ready to head off to the ranch and enjoy our grandchildren,” the newly confirmed secretary explained. “But when I came back from my first meeting with President Trump and he asked me to do this, Renda said, ‘You didn’t know it but you’ve been in a 41-year training program for this job.’”

“So despite our own dreams, she said you’re supposed to do this. Well, my first day is here, I’m on the job,” he said. “Hi, I’m the new guy.”

There are 248 names on the memorial plaques at the State Department which contains the names of Americans that have died in 64 countries, according to the American Foreign Service Association. Recent additions include the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, killed in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012.

Tillerson spent a few extra moments paying tribute to fallen foreign service personnel during his first day on the job.

“They died in service of causes far greater than themselves,” Tillerson told his staff. “As we move forward in a new era, it is important to honor the sacrifices of those who have come before us, and reflect on the legacy that we inherit.”

 

[This article published by WesternJournalism.com]

 

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Iran conducts new missile tests, saying it’s permitted under 2015 nuclear accord. US says absolutely not and “absolutely unacceptable.” Iran says don’t get us madder than we already are because of your ban on visas. US says we call ’em as we see ’em and we will also “act accordingly.”

Already furious over President Trump’s visa ban, Iran warned the United States on Tuesday not to escalate tensions over tests of Iranian missiles — tests that his administration’s new United Nations ambassador called “absolutely unacceptable.”

The Iranian warning, made in Tehran by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, came a day after American and Israeli officials accused Iran of having conducted a missile test that they said had violated a United Nations Security Council resolution.

The United States called an urgent meeting of the Council on Tuesday to discuss the grievance, making Iran the subject of the first diplomatic skirmish at the United Nations by Nikki R. Haley, the former governor of South Carolina who is Mr. Trump’s new ambassador.

“The United States is not naïve,” she told reporters after the closed meeting. “We’re not going to stand by. You’re going to see us call them out as we said we would, and you are also going to see us act accordingly.”

Ms. Haley took no questions after her Security Council debut and proposed nothing concrete. The council agreed to refer the issue to its own sanctions committee for further inquiry, which is what it did last year after the last missile test by Iran.

Iran has not confirmed that it conducted a test. But Mr. Zarif, at a joint news conference in Tehran with his visiting counterpart from France, Jean-Marc Ayrault, said he hoped that the new American administration would not use Iran’s military defenses “as a pretext to create new tensions.”

When the nuclear deal with Iran was reached in 2015 with major powers including the United States, they agreed sanctions on Iran would be relaxed in exchange for its verifiable pledges of peaceful nuclear work. A Security Council resolution “called upon” Iran not to undertake any tests of missiles designed to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Iran contends that it has not violated the resolution and that its missiles are not designed to carry nuclear warheads — which it already has promised not to make as part of the nuclear accord.

Nonetheless, the American and Israeli accusations have created what amounts to an early test of the Trump administration’s toughness on Iran. During the presidential election campaign, Mr. Trump denounced the nuclear agreement and sometimes conflated it with the Iranian missile program.

Arms control experts have cautioned that Iran’s missile tests are not prohibited under the nuclear accord.

Ms. Haley used tough words about such tests but did not say whether her administration regarded them as a violation of the accord.

“We have said with this administration that we are not going to show a blind eye to these things that happen,” she said. “We’re going to act. We’re going to be strong. We’re going to be loud and we’re going to do whatever it takes to protect the American people and the people across the world.”

Iran’s United Nations mission added to Mr. Zarif’s warning, issuing a Foreign Ministry statement asserting that Iranian ballistic missiles are “exclusively for legitimate defense.”

The statement said missile tests “are an integral component” of Iran’s self-defense and that “we reject politically motivated comments regarding Iran’s missile program.”

Mr. Zarif also used the news conference on Tuesday to emphasize Iran’s anger over the Trump administration’s executive order on Friday suspending refugee admissions and prohibiting the issuance of visas to Iran and six other majority-Muslim countries. Mr. Zarif called the order “a shameful act.”

The order has upended the lives of thousands of Iranians, who are by far the largest population affected among the seven countries, which also include Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Iran’s government has pledged a reciprocal response to the order.

Mr. Ayrault told reporters at the news conference that France had “expressed its concern” over Iran’s missile tests, according to an account by Agence France-Presse.

Earlier, upon Mr. Ayrault’s arrival in Tehran, Iranian news media quoted him as saying the Trump administration’s order on refugees and visas amounted to “discrimination” and should be revoked.

[This article published by The New York Times]

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

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The political theater of the left becomes increasingly violent and hostile

Trump by Ramirez

Is it possible — perhaps even likely — that terrified liberals and Democrats are right about President Donald Trump?

Yes. I want to be fair, here. It’s quite possible they are right.

Trump’s politics and policies frighten them, but also his personality, even his facial expressions.

And so the smell of burning Democratic hair wafts over America, and through much of the media, as the political theater of the left becomes not only increasingly noisy but also increasingly violent and hostile.

That odor carries the scent of judgment, a scent of warnings unheeded over years, as Democrat and Republican establishments encouraged the growth of imperial presidential power under presidents Bush and Obama.

What truly scares the left — and many establishment Republicans — is that President Trump is the most powerful man on Earth and he’s told them to go (jump off a cliff).

He holds the awesome power of the federal hammer in his hands.

And now, he’s exactly the kind of imperial president they never, ever wanted.

Yet there is a solution that may just rid the air of burning hair.

If Democrats are serious with all their caterwauling and shrieking about Trump, if they are truly worried about a chief executive running amok, there’s one thing they must do: Support Trump’s nomination of a conservative candidate for the Supreme Court in the mold of the late, great Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

If not, then all the Democratic hair-on-fire theatrics, all the handwringing about Trump and “alternative facts” when they were silent about Obama administration falsehoods — it all tells Americans a story.  It tells Americans that Democrats aren’t remotely serious, and that all the left is really doing is screaming about lost power.

“For most of the 2016 campaign, the very idea of ‘President Trump’ seemed like a thought experiment a libertarian might have invented to get a liberal friend to focus on the dangers of concentrated power,” Gene Healy wrote in a piece for the libertarian journal Reason a few weeks ago. “Now it’s an experiment we’re going to run in real life, starting January 20, 2017.”

That experiment is underway and media reports refer to the “Scalia-ness” of the Trump nominees.

And so, if you’re truly worried about Trump’s overreach, you’ll demand an originalist on the Supreme Court.

What the nation needs now is someone who understands that the Constitution was written not to bow to the impulses of an imperial presidential personality, but to hold it in check and protect our liberty.

Yet for decades, the bipartisan establishment didn’t care. Some years, Democrats held the presidential hammer and other years, Republicans held it.

Republicans sometimes complained about Democrats referring to a “living document,” but they, too, used that idea of a malleable Constitution and an increasingly muscular executive.

“Living document” was a cheap line offered by establishment hacks to accommodate power. It was all an inside game, an establishment game, an understanding among elites that the presidency was their federal hammer, not the people’s.

It allowed liberal courts to legislate from the bench. It removed responsibility from an increasingly supine Congress that deferred to the presidency. And it put the people on the outside, where the establishment wanted them. That’s corrosive, and it erupted with Trump.

One who recognized this long-term danger to the republic was Barack Obama. Campaigning for the presidency in 2008, he rightly chastised President George W. Bush.

“I taught Constitutional Law for 10 years,” candidate Obama said in 2008 on CNN. “I take the Constitution very seriously. The biggest problems that we’re facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all. And that’s what I intend to reverse when I’m president of the United States of America.”

He took it seriously all right. Obama seriously grabbed even more power. When the Democrats had control of Congress, he pushed through his Obamacare health plan, now falling of its own weight.

That cost the Democrats control, and when he was at an impasse with a Republican-dominated Congress, he tossed his concerns about an imperial presidency out the White House window.

And he announced he’d bypass Congress. “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone,” he said, and began writing his own laws, like a boss.  Like a Boss mayor of America the Chicago Way.

Democrats weren’t merely silent as Obama took extra constitutional steps. They were overjoyed, because he was their guy.

So came Obama’s Libya policy, and U.S. missile strikes there without Congressional authorization; the targeting of journalists who irked him; the unleashing of the Internal Revenue Service on conservative organizations; and the secret surveillance of Americans by the National Security Agency. NSA director James Clapper famously lied to Congress about it.

If you want a valuable examination of presidential overreach, I refer you to Ilya Shapiro in The Federalist. Shapiro characterized Obama’s imperial presidential overreach this way:

“It’s as if the goal was to show Donald Trump how it’s done.”

The way to stop this is to hold the Constitution close. And to have Supreme Court justices interpret the Constitution just as it was written, for this very reason: American liberty.

 

[From an editorial in the Chicago Tribune by John Kass]

 

NORM ‘n’ AL Note:  What Obama really showed Donald Trump and the entire American population was how NOT to do it.  Obama showed us how to govern without an ounce of care for the citizens of the country.  He showed us how to govern with no concern for anything but ego and agenda.  Hillary showed us exactly the same thing.  And these egomaniacs with terminal agendaitis made the fatal mistake of thinking Americans wouldn’t notice or care.  If Donald Trump gives us a president who does nothing but tell us the truth whenever he speaks, just that will be enough.

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

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