ELIOTT WILLIAMSON SHINES AS A SUPERSTAR

By CANDY STALLWORTH

Has anyone ever hit three grand slams in a single baseball game? How many people have climbed Mount Everest in an hour? Count the number of individuals who have:

Won $10,000,000 in a poker game.

Earned $100,000,000 in a movie where he played the lead role.

Designed the largest three buildings in the world.

Scored 10 touch downs in a football game.

Painted a mile-long bridge in three hours.

Swam across the Atlantic – and back – in less than 24 hours.

Well, Eliott Williamson has done it all. He is a true superstar.

Candy Stallworth, an Empire State News staff writer, whipped her way through a doctoral education at the finest of American higher ed institutions, noting how unoriginal, inept, and annoying many of the schools’ professors were in their robotic attempts to maintain a politically correct narrative. BTW: she hates words like “narrative”, “optics”, and “gaffe.” Other than that, her turn-offs include non-masculine men, women who hate men, men who hate men, phonies, disloyal people, and overflowing garbage cans. She likes New England clam chowder better than Manhattan clam chowder, but prefers Manhattan to New England.

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THE DEBATES HELPED BERNIE SANDERS THE MOST, AND HERE’S WHY

By DAVID SHUSTER

Thanks to a political murder-suicide, enduring passions among Democratic progressives, and the dynamics of a crowded field, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders emerged from the first Democratic Presidential debates with the inside lane to the party’s Presidential nomination. I know what you are saying: “Huh?”  Bear with me.

Four years ago, in the Iowa caucuses – the first Democratic nomination contest — Sanders lost to establishment favorite Hillary Clinton by a whisker.  At 49.9 to 49.6%, it was the closest margin in the state’s caucus history.  Sanders then beat Clinton decisively in the New Hampshire primary, the candidates traded victories in subsequent states, and Clinton eventually went on to win the nomination.  Along the way, however, Sanders captured 43% of the Democratic party’s popular vote.

Ever since 2016, Sanders’s progressive support has remained consistent and passionate.   In most surveys over the past few years, around a quarter of all Democratic respondents have told pollsters they would vote for Bernie Sanders again regardless of who else is running.  The most recent poll of Iowa Democrats (CBS/YouGov) had Sanders at 22%.  Progressive Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren received 12%.  Among the more moderate candidates, Vice President Joe Biden was favored by 30% of Iowa Democrats.  South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, got 11%.  California Senator Kamala Harris, who has been moving her policies to the left, got 5%.

Let’s now factor in the first 2019 Democratic debates.  By all accounts, Bernie Sanders made no gaffes or glaring mistakes.   And he emphatically reminded his fellow revolutionaries about his commitment to turn Washington, D.C. inside out.  “Nothing will change,” he roared, “unless we have the guts to take on Wall Street, the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the military industrial complex, and the fossil fuel industry.  If we don’t have the guts to take them on, we will continue to have plans, we will continue to have talk, and the rich will get richer and everybody else will be struggling.”

After the debate, most of the mainstream media analysts paid no attention to the populist Sanders.  Instead, the talking heads repeatedly declared California Senator Kamala Harris the debate winner.  They noted that Harris had dramatically confronted Biden over his opposition to school busing in the 1970’s.   According to the pundits, it was a clear breakout moment for Harris and a sign of potential trouble for Biden.

If you look at the debate in a vacuum, Harris had a great night.  But as a native Midwesterner who has spent his career covering national politics, trust me when I tell you that Iowa Democrats are unique.   They are exceedingly polite, earnest, and strongly opposed to political attacks — the very attacks that rate well with the coastal media elites.

Do any Democrats really believe that Joe Biden is on the wrong side in the ongoing battle in the United States against racism and discrimination?   Of course not.   And, Iowa Democrats have a record of punishing candidates like Harris who pull out the long knives and launch high profile attacks.

For most of 2003, Vermont Governor Howard Dean led the Democratic field in Iowa.  Then, Missouri Congressman Dick Gephardt opened fire on Dean as unstable and a threat to national security, in part over Dean’s opposition to the Iraq war.  The attacks dropped Dean to third on caucus night, behind the eventual nominee John Kerry and North Carolina Senator John Edwards.  But Gephardt also lost ground in the Iowa, finishing fourth in the caucuses and ending his campaign.

It is possible that Kamala Harris, thanks to her strong stage presence and praise from most pundits, will gain ground in national polls.  She might even get a bump from some Iowa Democrats who are soft in their support of Biden.  But, any Biden drop is a boon to Bernie Sanders.

Many political experts in Iowa believe that Bernie Sanders has a bedrock support among progressives across the state that will give him at least 20% on caucus night.  Progressives account for about a third of Iowa Democrats. And that helps explain the 12% poll number going to Elizabeth Warren in Iowa.  She does check off many progressive boxes:   Medicare for all, reining in Wall Street, and tackling inequality.  But most of Warren’s positions, like addressing college loan debt, don’t go as far left as Sanders.  And there are lingering progressive suspicions, fair or not, that Warren is more deferential to the Democratic establishment.

Let’s assume the political experts in Iowa are correct and Sanders goes into Iowa caucus night with around 20% and Warren is around 15%.  Will Joe Biden or Kamala Harris get at least third of the remaining Democratic caucus goers?  Under this scenario, that would translate to 22% of the total caucus vote and an Iowa victory.   But in a crowded field, where progressives are sure about their candidate, and the rest of the party is split between Biden, Harris, Buttigieg, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, to name just a few, the math for candidates who are not in the progressive wing becomes tricky.

It’s the same dynamic that anti-establishment Republicans benefited from in their 2016 Iowa battle.   Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Donald Trump split the party’s anti-establishment vote, a block that accounted for about half of all caucus goers.  Cruz won Iowa with 27%.  Trump came in second with 24%.  Eight establishment Republicans divided the rest of the pie, with Florida Senator Marco Rubio leading that group.  He got 23% of Iowa GOP caucus goers to earn a third place finish overall.  Establishment favorite and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush finished sixth.

In the next 2016 GOP nomination contest, the New Hampshire primary, the anti-establishment candidates together received about 45% of the vote.  Trump got most of those voters and finished first in New Hampshire with 36% of the total vote.  Cruz finished with 11% for third place.  Ohio Governor Jon Kasich came in second at 16%.

The GOP field remained crowded going into South Carolina.  Trump won with 32%.  Marco Rubio got 22%, slightly ahead of the 21% t for Cruz in third place.

The point is that Donald Trump received crucial early nomination momentum, even though he never accumulated much more than a third of the early contest voters.

In 2020, if Joe Biden or Kamala Harris or any other party establishment candidate can’t break out from the pack in Iowa, Bernie Sanders and his steadfast progressive supporters will likely see victory.

And if Iowa goes to Sanders, and New Hampshire follows suit for him as it did in 2016, watch out.  Iowa and New Hampshire wins are rocket fuel in South Carolina and beyond.  And by the time the Democratic establishment tries to coalesce around one Sanders alternative, whether it’s Biden, Harris, or somebody else, it will be too late to stop the Democratic nomination from feeling the Bern.

Yes, debates are often interesting and revealing.  But, they are part of a larger picture. And when you zoom out, any memorable clash between top Democratic establishment candidates helps Bernie Sanders the most.

David Shuster, an Emmy Award winner journalist, served as an anchor for MSNBC, where he also hosted his own show, “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” He also previously served as an anchor at i24 News, anchoring two primetime shows, and was a Managing Editor of the news department. With a long history in television journalism, Mr. Shuster also worked as a correspondent for Fox News Channel, a reporter for ABC, and a field producer for CNN.

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TRUMP ADMINISTRATION DELIVERS FOR MEDICARE PATIENTS–AND TAXPAYERS

By RICHARD McCARTY

Under President Trump, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been busy: approving record numbers of generic drugs, working to increase affordable health insurance options, working to require more transparency in drug pricing, working to defund abortion facilities, protecting the right to conscience, and defunding research using tissue from aborted babies. Now, HHS is creating a new Medicare payment model that supports community paramedicine; this support has been sought by the emergency medical services (EMS) industry for years.

For those unfamiliar with community paramedicine, it expands the role of paramedics in health care resulting in better, faster care for patients and reduced costs for both patients and taxpayers. With an aging population, rising health care costs, and doctorand nursing shortages, it is vital that medical resources be allocated and care delivered in an efficient manner, and community paramedicine does just that.

Starting next year, HHS will begin paying participating ambulance providers to take Medicare patients to their doctor’s office or to an urgent care center, to treat them at home, or even to provide telehealth if that is medically appropriate and allowed by state laws. (An example of telehealth would be a doctor evaluating a patient who is located hundreds of miles away using a smartphone and secure videoconference technology.) This new payment model encourages paramedics to check up on forgetful patients to see if they have taken their medications, to help patients who have fallen to locate tripping hazards in their home, and to help asthma patients avoid things that trigger attacks – all of which helps reduce the likelihood of a patient needing to visit the emergency room.

The current Medicare regulations that only allow payment for ambulance services when patients are taken to the hospital, a skilled nursing facility, or a dialysis center have encouraged wasteful spending. Patients have long been transported to the emergency room regardless of whether that was the most appropriate place to treat them. In addition to being wasteful, emergency departments have been needlessly strained and treatment has been delayed for patients. A nationwide study in 2013 estimated that 17% of all ambulance transports were medically unnecessary. Furthermore, the overutilization of emergency rooms was estimated in 2010 to cost about $38 billion each year.

A number of localities across the country have implemented community paramedicine programs and have seen positive results.

  • A study of a Houston Fire Department telehealth-enabled EMS program found that it reduced ambulance trips to the emergency room by 56%.
  • A community paramedicine program in St. Paul, Minnesota helped nearly 80% of the diabetic patients in the program to reduce their blood sugar levels; the same program helped nearly half of the patients with high blood pressure in the program to lower their blood pressure to healthy ranges.
  • A pilot community paramedicine program in Peoria, Illinois saw an 89% reductionin emergency room trips for the hundreds of patients the program contacted.
  • A community paramedicine program in Pittsburgh that enrolled 269 people, who had recently been released from the hospital, saved an estimated $1.8 million in health care costs over two years.
  • A community paramedicine program in Vail, Colorado estimates that it saves the health care system an average of about $5,200 per patient.

HHS’s support for community paramedicine could make a huge difference in Medicare patients’ lives. By checking on newly-released patients and those with chronic health problems, taking patients to doctor’s offices or urgent care centers when appropriate, and handling minor health issues at patients’ homes, community paramedics can reduce unnecessary ambulance trips to emergency rooms and hospital admissions, thereby reducing healthcare costs for both patients and taxpayers. While community paramedicine programs have shown great promise, finding funding has not always been easy. HHS should be applauded for embracing and helping to fund these innovative, patient-centered programs.

Richard McCarty is the Director of Research at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.  You can read more of his articles at www.dailytorch.com. 

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COMCAST’S UNLICENSED USE OF ROVI PATENTED TECHNOLOGY HURTS INNOVATION AND AMERICAN JOBS

By RICK MANNING

While Comcast may assert that its unlicensed use of Rovi’s patented technology supports U.S. employment, that contention is false.

Our patent laws and the adherence to them by commercial entities promotes innovation and the employment of Americans. Comcast has it backwards. Use of patented technology without permission discourages domestic innovation and growth—that is why our country is currently embroiled in a trade war with China, the poster child for the use and theft of protected technology owned by others.

Americans for Limited Government strong supports of the protections afforded by 19 U.S.C. § 1337 (“Section 337”) and urge the Commission to consider Rovi’s request for an exclusion order against the infringing products.

America’s economy relies heavily on small and new businesses: startups are responsible for developing the most technological innovations, creating the most new jobs, and driving the most economic growth. These businesses help drive economic growth through innovation: while we might think of large corporations as providing the newest and most cutting-edge products, small businesses patent new technology at approximately 16.5 times the rate of those larger companies.

But if small businesses and startups are to succeed, they must have the ability to protect their ideas from corporations that have the inclination to steal them and the resources to resist efforts to make them pay for what they have taken. Good ideas are not immediately good products. To get from one to the other requires time, money, and hard work. If an entrepreneur can invest so much only to have the results stolen by a large corporation, why would they bother?

This is why cases of intellectual property theft do not just implicate the rights of the specific parties in a particular case. When Comcast refuses to compensate Rovi for the use of their innovations, and are permitted to do so, that theft threatens the system that protects and encourages entrepreneurial efforts. Without strong patent protection, the incentives of the system that rewards investment in innovation is substantially weakened, and America runs the risk of these ideas never being pursued in the first place.

Rovi is not a small business. But that fact only serves to underscore how important this case is: Rovi is able to defend itself and its intellectual property because it has the capital, resources, and know-how that enable it to take on Comcast. If Comcast were infringing on the patent of a small businesses, it is hard to imagine how that wrong could be rectified. For these reasons, not only would an exclusion order in this instance not harm the public health and welfare, it would affirmatively serve those goals.

An Exclusion Order Helps Preserve Competitive Conditions in the United States Economy

We anticipate that Comcast will argue that an order ending its unlicensed use of Rovi’s innovations would stifle competition in the U.S. market, when in fact a remedy would be pro-competitive. Because Rovi’s innovations are technologies that build on existing systems, patent protections are especially important in the present case. Patents protect something that is essential for consumers to benefit from these kinds of products: disclosure. As our world becomes increasingly platform-oriented, incremental improvements are unlikely to always come from a product’s original creator. When inventors are confident that their ideas will be protected, they can share those ideas with others. This disclosure improves the collective knowledge that is available to other creators-—and makes it possible for those with different skillsets to build on each other’s strengths and innovations.

The benefits of this collaboration are only available to Americans if the patent system exists to protect competition between the different innovators in the marketplace. Because today’s innovations are often built on each other, many new ideas are particularly susceptible to others taking and implementing them. Without legal protection, there is limited ability for smaller and newer entities to leverage their creations, because existing companies might quickly adopt their innovations. Without the recourse of the patent system, innovators with ideas that can be replicated would be unable to compete in the market.

Rovi’s inventions, which are clearly valued by many consumers, are helpful to Comcast because of the integration between the two corporations’ products. Without patent protection, disclosure becomes dangerous. Collaboration is best protected by robust patent protection. For these reasons, the Commission should find that issuance of an exclusion order would not have an adverse impact on competitive conditions in the United States economy.

United States Consumers are Benefitted, Rather than Harmed, by an Exclusion Order

Finally, we anticipate that Comcast may assert harms to U.S. consumers in the event that it is no longer able to offer desirable functionalities to its customers. Importantly, however, this is not a case where, in order for consumers to continue enjoying the benefits of Rovi’s products, Comcast must win. It is not a matter of choosing between a robust patent system and keeping the Rovi-created features available to Comcast consumers. Comcast is able to exercise the option that many of its competitors have—and that it employed before this litigation: it may license the technology from Rovi. After the issuance of an exclusion order, Comcast’s customers may lose the benefit of the specific Rovi products at issue in this case, but that would be because of Comcast’s choice not to license the product.

There is far greater risk of harm to consumers if Comcast is given the ability to use Rovi’s product without compensation. In a world where patent protection does not guard against that sort of theft, an unquantifiable number of beneficial features will be lost simply because they never will be created or invested in. That is the most harmful cost that could result to consumers from this case. For these reasons, the Commission should find that issuing an exclusion order would not have an adverse impact on U.S. consumers.

Rick Manning is the President of Americans for Limited Government. Adapted from a comment on the U.S. International Trade Commission Investigation No. 337-TA-1103.  You can read more of his articles at www.dailytorch.com. 

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“CALIFORNIA DREAMERS”

By TEMPLE LI

According to the Public Policy Institute of California, California receives approximately $106 billion per year in direct funding, mainly related to education and their Medicaid program-Medi-Cal.  In addition, in 2018, it received more than $212 million in federal dollars for emergency funding for fire recovery and is currently seeking Federal relief because of the recent earthquake in southern California..  California is no longer considered a “donor state,” where a state receives back from the Federal government less in funding than what it pays in Federal taxes.  So it is a “taker,” not a “giver” of federal dollars, being subsidized by other states’ taxpayers.

Yet, Governor Gavin Newsom brags about a state budget surplus of anywhere between $20.6 billion to $21.5 billion.  This is perplexing since, according to a FORBES article in August, 2018, California is anywhere from $1.3 trillion to $2.3 trillion in debt.  Former Governor Brown called it his “wall of debt.”   How best to explain a surplus (rainy day money) on one hand and incredible debt on the other?  It’s akin to having a checking account with $500 in it with a credit card debt of $100,000.

This surplus is nothing more than “funny money,” which apparently has encouraged the State legislature to recently pass the first-in-the country law to provide healthcare to illegal aliens.  Under this new law illegal immigrants between the ages of 19-25 will be covered through Medi-Cal.  The caveat is that Medi-Cal is partially funded with federal dollars, so it is all Americans’ tax dollar contributions, not only the California slush fund, which are contributing to this coverage.  It will encompass approximately 138,000 individuals at a cost of $98 million for the first year.

Meanwhile, homelessness runs rampant in the major cities of California.  According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, California ranks No. 1 in the country, with a homeless population of 129,972.   In Los Angeles County, there are approximately 58,936 homeless , of which 36,300 are within the city limits.

California’s biggest danger is not the natural disasters of fires, earthquakes, and mudslides.  It will be ultimately destroyed by its liberal politicians.  It’s time these “California Dreamers” wake up before it is too late and California becomes the home of the very rich, the very poor and no one in between—EXCEPT FOR PROGRESSIVE POLITICIANS!

Temple Li is the news editor for Empire State News, where she frequently authors her own editorials (just because she feels like it). She graduated at the top of her class at a mediocre college, infuriating her professors with her conservative wit and sultry charm. Empire State News allows Ms. Li to make a living, and to have a platform to tell people what she thinks. What could be better than that?

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POLITICAL VIOLENCE IN PORTLAND, OREG. A SNEAK PREVIEW OF OUR UNRAVELING CIVIL SOCIETY IF ALL AMERICANS DO NOT DENOUNCE IT

By ROBERT ROMANO

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is calling for federal law enforcement authorities to investigate Portland, Oreg. Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler after an incident where Quillette editor Andy Ngo was brutally assaulted by left-wing Antifa demonstrators on June 29 amid a nationwide scourge of political violence.

On Twitter, Cruz wrote, “To federal law enforcement: investigate & bring legal action against a Mayor who has, for political reasons, ordered his police officers to let citizens be attacked by domestic terrorists.”

In 2018, Wheeler told Portland police not to get involved when Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers were attacked by an Antifa mob during a 38-day demonstration at ICE facilities to protest President Donald Trump’s stance against illegal immigration.

Now, Wheeler’s hands-off-Antifa approach is coming under scrutiny as these mobs have been allowed to engage in violence and intimidation with minimal repercussions. On June 29, groups like Proud Boys showed up to support a competing #HimToo demonstration. The result was skirmishes across the city. What should have been simply two different demonstrations occurring instead turned into a scene from the Gangs of New York, with partisans kicking the crap out of each other in the streets.

Daryl Turner, President of Portland Police Association, issued a statement on Facebook decrying the violence and accusing Wheeler of tying the police’s hands, writing, “Police officers work to uphold the Constitution, including the right to free speech. It’s our job to ensure that our community can peacefully protest without fear of violence but right now our hands are tied. It’s time for our Mayor to do two things: tell both ANTIFA and Proud Boys that our City will not accept violence in our City and remove the handcuffs from our officers and let them stop the violence through strong and swift enforcement action. Enough is enough.”

Note, the Portland Police Association is denouncing violence on both sides of the skirmishes. I mention that because when President Donald Trump did the same thing, blaming both sides for the violence in Charlottesville, Va., it was wrongly pilloried. But really, it takes leadership to stand up and say political violence is destructive on all sides and must stop. You know who also said, “Violence begets violence”? Martin Luther King, Jr., who spent his career supporting non-violent protest as a mechanism for social change.

In the case of Portland, Ngo had warned about the imminent assault a day prior to the event on Twitter, writing, “I am nervous about tomorrow’s Portland antifa rally. They’re promising ‘physical confrontation’ & have singled me out to be assaulted. I went on Tucker Carlson last year to explain why I think they’re doing this: They’re seeking meaning through violence.”

Sure enough, Ngo was assaulted when he went to the event to report on it after posting several live streams on his Twitter thread. He had to go to the emergency room where he was told he had a brain hemorrhage from the attack.

Others too were attacked. Michele Malkin reported on John Blum and Adam Kelly who were also assaulted, writing, “Both John & Adam were beaten by Antifa after trying to help a gay man in a sun dress being chased down the street. While the cowards are masked, John and Adam faced the crowds openly and agreed to be named publicly. ‘I’m not afraid,’ John told me.”

One can question the wisdom of knowing that violence is being threatened and then showing up to cover or attend the event anyway. It’s an expression of free speech even to the point of danger. Ngo, Blum and Kelly clearly are standing up to the mob.

But maybe they should be afraid. These are not isolated incidents. Across the nation, Antifa demonstrators have engaged in political violence at Berkeley, in San Jose, in Chicago and elsewhere. They say they are fighting fascists or Nazis, but often the victims turn out to be journalists brandishing nothing more than smart phone camera attempting to capture these mobs in action. So, what is to be done?

The vast majority of people would prefer a civil society. Political differences in America are settled with elections. But that may be starting to change if this keeps going.

Locally, more can be done in liberal cities like Portland that I suppose are not so liberal anymore. An approach to addressing political violence will at some point require leaders to stand up and say enough is enough. There shouldn’t be a need for police associations to come forward saying they are being ordered to stand down.

Local cities need to confront rioters with riot police and shut them down. The state of Oregon has an entire chapter of the criminal code devoted “Offenses against the public order.” There shouldn’t be roving gangs brandishing weapons in a threatening manner in the streets, intimidating journalists and other bystanders and there not be a response. The outcome is in fact violence. Some are sincere partisans who are seeking it out and are looking for trouble, but invariably innocents are getting caught in the crossfire.

But Cruz has a strong point about a national approach. Organizations whose sole purpose is to use violence to achieve political ends, operating across state lines, would appear to be a matter that federal law enforcement could address. Attorney General William Barr should look into Antifa and other organizations that commit and seek out violence against their political opponents.

The scenes of political violence in Portland, Oreg. we are witnessing are just the beginning. The worst thing civil society can do in the face of it is nothing. A permissive environment is encouraging this violence and when it goes unanswered, opposing partisans appear to confront it in the streets. This is a power vacuum and a recipe for anarchy.

In short, our civil society is unraveling before our eyes.

Assuming a state of political violence is not the America we want to live in and raise our families, it’s time to let the police do their jobs. Public officials that get in the way are complicit with staging that violence. The civil society must be restored. Everyone, Republicans, Democrats and everyone in between need to speak in unison against political violence — before it’s too late. This is a sneak preview of what’s coming to all of our hometowns if we do nothing.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.   You can read more of his articles at www.dailytorch.com. 

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SHOOTING STARS

By TEMPLE LI

The split in the Democrat party is clearly demonstrated in the differences between the New York State’s leading Democrat politician, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and the State’s loudest and most outspoken representative to Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC).  Governor Cuomo is a moderate Democrat and has been governor of the State since 2011.  Representative Ocasio-Cortez is a “newbie”, liberal congresswoman who can best be described by the “old” adage, “Empty barrels make the most noise.”

During a recent interview with local New York News Channel 12, Cuomo bemoaned Amazon’s change of heart in setting up a corporate headquarters in Long Island City.  Cuomo stated: “We won a national competition. Then, the foolishness of our own politics after we won. We actually turned them down politically believe it or not. Twenty-five thousand jobs. I hate to think about it.”  And at the forefront of the “political foolishness” is AOC, whose congressional district borders the district which includes Long Island City.  Ocasio-Cortez proudly tweeted in response to Amazon’s announcement:   “Anything is possible. Today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.”

Governor Cuomo travelled recently to Israel; on his agenda, drumming up business for the State of New York.  He met with business leaders in different sectors, including drone technology and navigation systems.  He told News 12, “The future for us in New York is going to be growth in the tech economy.”  Although he has been actively pursuing Amazon to reverse their decision, he has also expressed that their doing so is next to impossible.

During the trip Governor Cuomo reiterated New Yorkers’ solidarity with Israel and decried anti-Semitism in the United States and worldwide.  In an interview on WAMC Northeast Public Radio, he stated, “I understand we have an overheated political environment in this country, but we also have a constitution and legacy of accepting and living together and accepting diversity. The Jewish community is a central part of the State of New York. So, you want to have a political difference with Israel, be my guest, but you have no right to turn that into antisemitism,”

Meanwhile, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez continues to compare the detention camps at the southern border to concentration camps.  Many Jewish leaders have been critical of OAC;s remarks, including Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal, Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper, who, according to the July 3 article in the JEWISH JOURNAL, called Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez comparing immigration detention centers on the border to concentration camps an “insult to victims of the Shoah.”  OAC is part of the freshman progressives in Congress who have been vocal in their criticism of Jews and Israel.  Two of her comrades, Ihan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, supported by pro-Palestinian activist groups, have created considerable controversy over their anti-Israeli, anti-Semitic comments.

In 2012, Omar tweeted that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” She again expressed these sentiments in  mid-February, when she tweeted that support for Israel in the US Congress was “all about the Benjamins,” suggesting, according to an article in VOX, March 9, 2019 “that the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC was buying off American politicians.” According to a January 8, 2019 article in HAARETZ, an Israeli newspaper, “ Leading Jewish groups in the U.S. denounced a tweet by Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) on legislation against boycotts of Israel and the settlements. Critics say that Tlaib’s tweet implies that these senators have ‘dual loyalty’ to the U.S. and Israel.”  Judging by the company OAC keeps and the antagonism she has created within the Jewish community by her remarks, she appears not to share the views of Governor Cuomo that all New Yorkers are in solidarity with Israel.

Finally, as reported in the WASHINGTON EXAMINER, “Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has not yet said who she thins should be crowned the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee in 2020.  Former Vice President Joe Biden is not a pragmatic choice, Ocasio-Cortez told VOGUE, arguing that the current Democratic primary front-runner would appeal mostly to voters who would otherwise support President-Trump—that is, white voters.”  When asked during the News 12 interview about the Democrat candidates running for president, Cuomo said, “I look for heart as much as head. That’s what I get from Joe Biden,”

Two stars revolving around the same sun but only on the matter of Trump do their stars align!

Temple Li is the news editor for Empire State News, where she frequently authors her own editorials (just because she feels like it). She graduated at the top of her class at a mediocre college, infuriating her professors with her conservative wit and sultry charm. Empire State News allows Ms. Li to make a living, and to have a platform to tell people what she thinks. What could be better than that?

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THE DEBATES HELPED BERNIE SANDERS THE MOST, HERE’S WHY

By DAVID SHUSTER

Thanks to a political murder-suicide, enduring passions among Democratic progressives, and the dynamics of a crowded field, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders emerged from the first Democratic Presidential debates with the inside lane to the party’s Presidential nomination. I know what you are saying: “Huh?”  Bear with me.

Four years ago, in the Iowa caucuses – the first Democratic nomination contest — Sanders lost to establishment favorite Hillary Clinton by a whisker.  At 49.9 to 49.6%, it was the closest margin in the state’s caucus history.  Sanders then beat Clinton decisively in the New Hampshire primary, the candidates traded victories in subsequent states, and Clinton eventually went on to win the nomination.  Along the way, however, Sanders captured 43% of the Democratic party’s popular vote.

Ever since 2016, Sanders’s progressive support has remained consistent and passionate.   In most surveys over the past few years, around a quarter of all Democratic respondents have told pollsters they would vote for Bernie Sanders again regardless of who else is running.  The most recent poll of Iowa Democrats (CBS/YouGov) had Sanders at 22%.  Progressive Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren received 12%.  Among the more moderate candidates, Vice President Joe Biden was favored by 30% of Iowa Democrats.  South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, got 11%.  California Senator Kamala Harris, who has been moving her policies to the left, got 5%.

Let’s now factor in the first 2019 Democratic debates.  By all accounts, Bernie Sanders made no gaffes or glaring mistakes.   And he emphatically reminded his fellow revolutionaries about his commitment to turn Washington, D.C. inside out.  “Nothing will change,” he roared, “unless we have the guts to take on Wall Street, the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the military industrial complex, and the fossil fuel industry.  If we don’t have the guts to take them on, we will continue to have plans, we will continue to have talk, and the rich will get richer and everybody else will be struggling.”

After the debate, most of the mainstream media analysts paid no attention to the populist Sanders.  Instead, the talking heads repeatedly declared California Senator Kamala Harris the debate winner.  They noted that Harris had dramatically confronted Biden over his opposition to school busing in the 1970’s.   According to the pundits, it was a clear breakout moment for Harris and a sign of potential trouble for Biden.

If you look at the debate in a vacuum, Harris had a great night.  But as a native Midwesterner who has spent his career covering national politics, trust me when I tell you that Iowa Democrats are unique.   They are exceedingly polite, earnest, and strongly opposed to political attacks — the very attacks that rate well with the coastal media elites.

Do any Democrats really believe that Joe Biden is on the wrong side in the ongoing battle in the United States against racism and discrimination?   Of course not.   And, Iowa Democrats have a record of punishing candidates like Harris who pull out the long knives and launch high profile attacks.

For most of 2003, Vermont Governor Howard Dean led the Democratic field in Iowa.  Then, Missouri Congressman Dick Gephardt opened fire on Dean as unstable and a threat to national security, in part over Dean’s opposition to the Iraq war.  The attacks dropped Dean to third on caucus night, behind the eventual nominee John Kerry and North Carolina Senator John Edwards.  But Gephardt also lost ground in the Iowa, finishing fourth in the caucuses and ending his campaign.

It is possible that Kamala Harris, thanks to her strong stage presence and praise from most pundits, will gain ground in national polls.  She might even get a bump from some Iowa Democrats who are soft in their support of Biden.  But, any Biden drop is a boon to Bernie Sanders.

Many political experts in Iowa believe that Bernie Sanders has a bedrock support among progressives across the state that will give him at least 20% on caucus night.  Progressives account for about a third of Iowa Democrats. And that helps explain the 12% poll number going to Elizabeth Warren in Iowa.  She does check off many progressive boxes:   Medicare for all, reining in Wall Street, and tackling inequality.  But most of Warren’s positions, like addressing college loan debt, don’t go as far left as Sanders.  And there are lingering progressive suspicions, fair or not, that Warren is more deferential to the Democratic establishment.

Let’s assume the political experts in Iowa are correct and Sanders goes into Iowa caucus night with around 20% and Warren is around 15%.  Will Joe Biden or Kamala Harris get at least third of the remaining Democratic caucus goers?  Under this scenario, that would translate to 22% of the total caucus vote and an Iowa victory.   But in a crowded field, where progressives are sure about their candidate, and the rest of the party is split between Biden, Harris, Buttigieg, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, to name just a few, the math for candidates who are not in the progressive wing becomes tricky.

It’s the same dynamic that anti-establishment Republicans benefited from in their 2016 Iowa battle.   Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Donald Trump split the party’s anti-establishment vote, a block that accounted for about half of all caucus goers.  Cruz won Iowa with 27%.  Trump came in second with 24%.  Eight establishment Republicans divided the rest of the pie, with Florida Senator Marco Rubio leading that group.  He got 23% of Iowa GOP caucus goers to earn a third place finish overall.  Establishment favorite and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush finished sixth.

In the next 2016 GOP nomination contest, the New Hampshire primary, the anti-establishment candidates together received about 45% of the vote.  Trump got most of those voters and finished first in New Hampshire with 36% of the total vote.  Cruz finished with 11% for third place.  Ohio Governor Jon Kasich came in second at 16%.

The GOP field remained crowded going into South Carolina.  Trump won with 32%.  Marco Rubio got 22%, slightly ahead of the 21% t for Cruz in third place.

The point is that Donald Trump received crucial early nomination momentum, even though he never accumulated much more than a third of the early contest voters.

In 2020, if Joe Biden or Kamala Harris or any other party establishment candidate can’t break out from the pack in Iowa, Bernie Sanders and his steadfast progressive supporters will likely see victory.

And if Iowa goes to Sanders, and New Hampshire follows suit for him as it did in 2016, watch out.  Iowa and New Hampshire wins are rocket fuel in South Carolina and beyond.  And by the time the Democratic establishment tries to coalesce around one Sanders alternative, whether it’s Biden, Harris, or somebody else, it will be too late to stop the Democratic nomination from feeling the Bern.

Yes, debates are often interesting and revealing.  But, they are part of a larger picture. And when you zoom out, any memorable clash between top Democratic establishment candidates helps Bernie Sanders the most.

David Shuster, an Emmy Award winner journalist, served as an anchor for MSNBC, where he also hosted his own show, “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” He also previously served as an anchor at i24 News, anchoring two primetime shows, and was a Managing Editor of the news department. With a long history in television journalism, Mr. Shuster also worked as a correspondent for Fox News Channel, a reporter for ABC, and a field producer for CNN.

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HOBOKEN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL LAUDED WITH PRAISE, CHAIR KENNETH DEL VECCHIO EXPRESSES GRATITUDE

By CANDY STALLWORTH

Hoboken International Film Festival (“HIFF”) just wrapped its 14th year. For the last three it was held on the shores of Greenwood Lake, New York, with picturesque waterfront views, acclaimed cinematic presentations, high-powered celebrity attendance, and top shelf, packed house opening and closing events. The praise for the festival was universal and unwavering.

As HIFF Talent Coordinator Christie Napurano said, “The list of celebrities who, in just a one week span, made their way to this cool beachy upstate New York town would be impressive for a film festival in Manhattan. A group like this is unheard of, though, for nearly anywhere else.” Some of the 2019 attendees included: Academy Award nominee Danny Aiello (Moonstruck; Do the Right Thing), Governor Jesse Ventura (Predator; The Running Man; “Conspiracy Theory”), “Cobra Kai” star Martin Kove (The Karate Kid; Rambo), superstar standup comedian Gilbert Gottfried (Aladdin; Problem Child), leading man Jason London (Dazed and Confused; The Man in the Moon; The Rage: Carrie 2), Joyce DeWitt (“Three’s Company”; Rock Story), Scott Schwartz (A Christmas Story; The Toy),  Judie Aronson (Weird Science; Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter), famed news anchor David Shuster (MSNBC; Fox News; i24 News), Julie McCullough (“Growing Pains”; Sharknado), Jackie Martling (“The Howard Stern Show”; An Affirmative Act), and Gena Lee Nolin (“Baywatch”; “Sheena”).

And they all had great things to say about Hoboken International Film Festival. Watch them here, during interviews on the 2019 HIFF red carpet.  Just some of their red carpet quotes include:

When asked why she returns to HIFF every year, iconic TV actress Joyce DeWitt replied, “It starts with [HIFF Chairman] Kenny Del Vecchio. Ken’s passion for film, and his passion for all the people it takes to put together a good piece. That passion and love that he has is so infectious. And we became friends working together, and after that, becoming involved with the festival really had to do with what he and his wife Francine have birthed in this marvelous situation. There are films here from across America, and also from 24 countries. So this has become one of the largest film festivals in the world, and the very core of that reason is Kenny Del Vecchio.” DeWitt presented the Best TV Pilot award at the festival’s gala show on the last night this year.

Weird Science starlet Judie Aronson, who presented an award at the HIFF Gala Awards Ceremony, declared that she’s “having such a fun time here. So many people…I’m going to be presenting the Best Documentary Award this evening. There are quite a few really wonderful documentaries this year, so I’m really excited to be a part of this. The movies are amazing, all different movies, and I’m having a great time here in Greenwood Lake…I’m just so excited to be here, and for all the winners. Everybody did such a great job on their films this year.”

Martin Kove, a fan-favorite who is right now one of the most visible silver screen actors with his show “Cobra Kai” being in the top three rated shows nationally, stated this before he accepted the HIFF Hall of Fame Award on Opening Night: “I’m here really to support my friend Ken because Ken supports all these young filmmakers…And Ken mentors a lot of these kids who have a lot of dreams…People like Ken really allow these dreams to become a reality for all these young filmmakers.” Earlier in the evening, Kove stated his admiration for Greenwood Lake Mayor Jesse Dwyer and the beauty of the town.

“Baywatch” star and best-selling author Gena Lee Nolin, who presented the Best Supporting Award at the HIFF Gala Awards Ceremony, proclaimed, “I’m here to support indie films. I am just so thrilled at some of the nominees and the films I’ve seen over the course of the last few days. It is truly inspiring. And the talent, the raw talent that’s out there…I appreciate good filmmaking. I got into town two days ago, and I love it.”

Star news anchor David Shuster explained, “We’re here because Ken Del Vecchio hooks us up with cool people…Greenwood Lake is beautiful…we would come out here for a weekend and have a nice weekend at Greenwood Lake. It’s a beautiful community, and everybody seems really nice and excited to have this sort of event. So it’s amazing. It’s great.”

HIFF Chairman Kenneth Del Vecchio – who is also an acclaimed filmmaker of dozens of star-filled movies, a best-selling author, a popular TV network analyst, a former judge, and who has previously published for ESN  – echoed the excitement of his celebrity colleagues in a red carpet interview at HIFF Opening Night, saying: “What kind of circumstance is this for a filmmakers coming from all different parts of the world to have their movies shown in a beautiful setting like this. It’s such an oddity, it’s so rare, it’s really exciting for that reason alone. Now, on top of it, we’ve got a major roster of stars that are going to be here this year.” Later that evening at the ceremony, Del Vecchio thanked Greenwood Lake Mayor Jesse Dwyer, the village’s board, and the village for having Greenwood Lake serve as the host community. He also thanked all the officially selected filmmakers, festival goers, festival staff, and the special awards recipients. Prior to the Gala Awards Ceremony, he spoke specifically about them. “Marty Kove is legendary, with incredible range. Jason London is wildly talented, with fantastic charisma. And Jesse Ventura is a multi-faceted success story. Most importantly, they all are all great people. That’s why they are receiving the top awards at HIFF this year.”

After receiving the 2019 HIFF Excellence in Acting Award at HIFF’s Gala Awards Ceremony, Dazed and Confused star Jason London posted on Facebook that he was “Catching up with great friends and enjoying this beautiful town.” Before the Gala Awards Ceremony, he said, “This festival is so important to independent filmmakers from everywhere. It’s an incredibly well-run event, with great people behind it. Ken knows what he’s doing.”

Walking into the Gala Awards Ceremony, Oscar nominee Danny Aiello stated: “It’s incredible, the crowd here. So many people. I’ve always been glad to be a part of Hoboken International Film Festival.” A sentiment Aiello has expressed before.

The praise for HIFF, however, doesn’t end with celebrities. The filmmakers, fans, and local residents were also thrilled, en masse. And they weren’t shy about it, making public statements and sending written notes to HIFF.

The following Facebook posts are a sampling of the enormity of the social media applause for HIFF, that occurred during and directly after the 2019 HIFF:

“An incredible experience! It was wonderful to see so many great films and spend time with such fun and greatly talented people! Thank you Ken Del Vecchio and everyone for a fantastic festival!!”

– Lizet Benrey

“We had a wonderful time! Thank you for the all out effort to put on an amazing festival!”

– Joe Whelski

“Thank you Ken, Julie and all the great people that made it happen. The festival was so well run, elegant, fun…with lots of great films and cineaphiles. And the setting….gorgeous!”

– Victoria Guthrie

“The Hoboken International Film Festival was an amazing experience with such wonderful people which I found to be all True Class. The Founder Kenneth Del Vecchio and the entire HIFF crew were totally professional and honesty did a remarkable job! Thank You for having us and for giving us the opportunity to be a part of this moment in the Festivals History – The Wiseguyz.”

– Freddy Tenore

“It was a wonderful time! I can’t wait until next year! It’s so great to see the event evolve bigger and better with each year. Thank you Ken for shinning a spotlight on the area for independent artists and businesses… to the many that is known, the 14th annual Hoboken International Film Festival happened this past week and last night wrapped up with a star studded gala and awards. The buzz is STILL in the air on amazing performances and witnessing something AWESOME.”

– Charles Marinaro

“Great time…thanks to everyone see you next year.”

– Wes Anderson

“Loved it! Thanks as always for a fantastic time… Wow I’m psyched to now be an award-nominated actor (Best supporting actor in a feature film) and even better that it happened at one of the biggest and best film festivals in the world, the Hoboken International Film Festival! …Thank you to Kenneth Del Vecchio and the wonderful crew of the festival for another incredible year. I’m already looking forward to next year!”

– Anthony Gagliardo

“The amount of planning and work it takes and expense no one can realize but those like me who also do things like this. Its a credit to all involved. CONGRATS TO ANOTHER GREAT FESTIVAL…”

– Billy G Lippolis

“I hope you come back next year.”

– Courtney O’Brien

“Was soooooo fun!!!”

– Oriana DAgostino

“You’re a genius! This Film Festival is terrific. Love Danny. A real gentleman…”

– Kevin M Hudson

“Glad to be part of Hoboken International Film Festival with Greek short film IVAN…

– Panagiotis Kountouras “

“ … you are not going to want to miss this outstanding film festival with unbelievable talent and honorees….”

– Michael DeGennaro

 “Awesome! Love this festival.”

– Laura Shapanus

Thank you Hoboken International Film Festival for being amazing!

– Mike Flowerz

“Opening Night at the Hoboken International Film Festival was a success! The feature film I’m the lead of A Karate Christmas Miracle opened the festival (also starring Julie McCullough, Martin Kove, Eric Roberts, Mario Del Vecchio) , Martin Kove received a Lifetime Achievement award, and Governor Jesse Ventura received a Humanitarian Award. And I got to reunite with a lot of my cast and crew, which was a treat!! Thanks for putting it all together Kenneth Del Vecchio, and for casting me in your film! Looking forward to the Awards Gala on Thursday.”

– Mila Milosevic

“Last nights opening for the Hoboken International Film Festival was awesome!… Another amazing time at the Hoboken International Film Festival 2019 congratulations to all the winners!!!”

-Ken Hampton

“…WHAT. A. FANTASTIC. NIGHT, seeing myself in the Opening Night Movie of The Hoboken International Film Festival! “A Karate Christmas Miracle.”

– Hugo Salazar

“Attending the Hoboken Film Festival last night in support of the movie A Karate Christmas Miracle was the bee’s knees!…”

– Candy Fox

“Great times great people.”

-Joann Patricia

Fun Opening Night At The Hoboken International Film Festival. Can’t Wait To Be There Tomorrow!… The Hoboken International Film Festival Is Roaring With Excitement !!!!!!… The Evening Was Trilling , Filled With Unending Excitement.”

– Josephine Moon Bloomfield

“Absolutely thrilled that the World Premiere of our feature will be @ one of the biggest Film Festivals in the Universe.”

– Mike Vezza

“Great screening this weekend of What Tomorrow Brings at the Hoboken International Film Festival!”

– Sean Hoagland (filmmaker)

“Thanks Kenneth Del Vecchio for an awesome festival!”

– Joe Puglisi

“Congratulations Kenneth Del Vecchio for hosting the wonderful Hoboken International Film Festival and for the film – A Karate Christmas Miracle.”

– Lydia Fiore

“Great job on the festival as always Ken! It’s awesome that you created such a platform where so much talent can shine & be recognized. Keep it up.”

– Gregg Woods

“Ken Del Vecchio does an over the top job with his film Festival every year. Each one better than the last. Not only is Ken a friend, but, each year all of us that attend feel like it is a family reunion. So much fun. I come over from Bloomingburg, NY. I am the director and co-host of The Mr. Phil Show. We have had Ken on our show and he will be back soon on a post Hoboken show. Great job Ken and crew. Congratulations!”

– Mary Lent-Frost

“Fantastic screening yesterday of Catnip Nation at Cove Castle. Every chair taken. Lots of emotion. Looking forward to closing ceremony.”

– Tina Traster

“The Tarab team rocked it on the #redcarpet at Hoboken International Film Festival in the beautiful town of #greenwoodlakes NY!!! Thanks for having us!!!… Met some cool fellow #filmmakers at Hoboken International Film Festival !!! Saw the fantastic #documentary 21 Years -A Folded Flag directed by Richard A. Fitts Jr. and produced by @rudolphchilds .Can’t wait to meet more cool peeps at the Gala Awards on Thursday!”

– Tarab Filmmakers

“Last night at Hoboken International Film Festival was pretty special. After a year and a half of hard work, Mystery Mansion won the jury award for Best New Pilot! It was a surreal moment. I am impossibly grateful to the festival and everyone who made this possible.”

– Mike Handelman

“40th won the award for Best Short Short at the Hoboken International Film FestivalGuy and Kate got to make a speech. They were congratulated by Jason London who was there picking an award himself. Very fun night! Congratulations all!”

– 40th Filmmakers

“The Hoboken International Film Festival was just another amazing event to behold. I don’t know how they manage to make every year better than the last. It was truly a blessing and a honor to be invited to be a part of such a first class celebrity award ceremony. Among the hundreds of new and seasoned producers, directors, writers and actors were some of my favorites! Jessie the Body Ventura, Gilbert Gottfried and of course Joyce DeWitt, as Janet from Three’s Company. She really is as sweet and caring in person as her character she played on the show. I don’t have to tell you how much they all loved the taste of Antioxidant Alkaline water. We already received our invitation for next year… We had a blast at yet another very memorable event… So excited to be a part of this prestigious event another year!

– Alkaline Water King

“Good time again on the red carpet with icon Martin Kove during the Hoboken International Film Festival in Greenwood Lake, New York… On the red carpet opening night for the 14th annual Hoboken International Film Festival in Greenwood Lake, New York. Appreciate founders Kenneth Del Vecchio & Dr. Francine Del Vecchio for hosting me for another great year. Congratulations!”

– Joshn Carpenter, Head of Acquisitions – Green Apple Entertainment

Some of the festival goers not only posted their compliments on social media, but also sent writings directly to HIFF. For example:

John Bernieri of Greenwood Lake, wrote to HIFF, exclaiming: “Just when you thought Ken Del Vecchio and his Hoboken International Film Festival staff couldn’t get any better, any more exciting, any more entertaining,  he blows it out  of the water! In this case, Greenwood Lake,  which is turning out to be a fantasy land of talented entertainers! Joyce DeWitt, Julie McCullough,  Martin Kove, Gilbert Gottfried, Danny Iello and more! Whew! As an actor and writer (winner of last years “Best Screenplay “) I feel honored to be part of this , yes I’ll say it, significant event!The films were amazing, the talent relentless and the energy was over the top! Bravo, Ken and staff for a job to be proud of! Hey Hollywood,  watch your back!!” Bernieri had also posted on Facebook, “Thank you Ken Del Vecchio for being quarterback for an amazing team. Greenwood Lake should be honored. You should be especially proud of your staff, totally professional every one! Excellent!”

Orange County resident Phil Weiner declared, “It was the best night of my show business career. It was an honor to once again meet all the celebrities and they remembered Mary and me. It was also an honor to be in 2 films associated with the festival. The films shown were great. It was great to be interviewed on the red carpet opening night and awards night.”

Tina Ramos, who lives in Middletown, NY, proclaimed, “It was an exciting week at the Hoboken International Film Festival held at Greenwood Lake New York. So exciting to see the films and the filmmakers and actors who worked so hard.  It’s especially exciting to share the Camaraderie and anticipation throughout the week. Thank you HIFF, Ken Delvecchio and everyone that worked so hard to make this past week spectacular, exciting and memorable.  I was able to visit some of my favorite local restaurants and pubs. I  definitely found my summer 2019 hot spot.  You outdid yourself AGAIN!  Mario is quite the star. He did not go unnoticed.   Here’s to HIFF 2020!!!”

Jessica Martin of Poughkeepsie added, “As someone fairly new to the industry of Radio and Broadcasting I’m always looking for new ways to network and branch out. I came across the Hoboken International Film Festival by way of advertising. Right away I knew I wanted to be involved. I spoke with the Founder Mr. Del Vecchio and it only further confirmed my interest. All I can say about the HIFF and everyone involved is WoW. This festival and all aspects of things from start to end Exceeded my Expectations like nothing I’ve experienced before. I am so grateful to have found this Festival and all the great people involved all around. It is now my favorite thing to look forward to every single year right along with my other favorite which is Christmas. Thank you so Much HIFF and Mr Del Vecchio. “ And Martin posted on Facebook: “Hoboken International Film Festival Such an Amazing time interviewing All the Directors, Producers, Actors & Actresses In all the Wonderful Films, Shorts & Documentary’s. Truly Wonderful. Thanks Kenneth Del Vecchio Again for this Great Opportunity.”

Joann Santoro from New Paltz had this to say: “I went to the Hoboken international film Festival for my first time ever. My friend invited me and I had such a good time. I met big-time celebrities and all the actors and writers of the films.  Greenwood lake is gorgeous!! There’s so many restaurants and so much to do.  Next year I’m inviting all of my friends. I’m really looking forward to it. “

It’s clear that a lot of people look forward to Hoboken International Film Festival, and with the greatest of excitement.

“I have the most earnest of thanks to all of these people who attend HIFF,” Del Vecchio said. “Just like making a movie, a film festival is the ultimate collaboration in the arts. The filmmakers, the host town, the sponsors, the festival attendees, they are all equally as important as the festival staff. And I’m just one of the staff. We have an outstanding, dedicated group at HIFF. And I also can’t say enough great things about the wonderful talent who presented awards at HIFF this year – truly exceptional people like Julie McCullough, David Shuster, Judie Aronson, Gena Lee Nolin, Scott Schwartz, Jackie Martling, Mila Milosevic, Sydney Houlihan, Chrsitie Napurano, Julie Kimmel, Kenneth Hampton, and how about my incredible son and wife – Mario Del Vecchio and Francine Del Vecchio. And then the hosts of our key shows, Gilbert Gottfried and Buddy Fitzpatrick. I mean, these guys are the best of the best; they are comedy talent at the highest.” Del Vecchio finished his thanks up with: “Danny Aiello and Joyce DeWitt. Now there’s absolute class and grace. Superstars, as both actors and human beings. HIFF honored them with its top award in past years, and they keep coming back. Now that’s worthy of gratitude.”

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BIG TECH’S BID FOR ONE-PARTY RULE COULD RESULT IN IT GETTING REGULATED TO DEATH

By ROBERT ROMANO

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that momentum is building for the U.S. government to subject Google and other Big Tech firms to antitrust scrutiny for fears that they have become too big and too powerful.

In today’s digital ecosystem, politicians, political parties, organizations and media all rely on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google and Youtube to get the message out because that’s where consumers by and large go to in order to consume information.

Pew report found 68 percent of adult Americans use Facebook, or over 170 million. 24 percent use Twitter, or about 61 million. A separate Pew report found 73 percent, or 185 million, use broadband internet. Statista reports that Google’s family of sites are the most popular in America, with 255 million unique U.S. visitors in March 2019 alone.

So, the internet is indisputably a huge part of the way people are getting information nowadays.

Now, conservatives and Republicans have become alarmed as many of these platforms are censoring and restricting speech that does not coincide with Big Tech’s social justice agenda. Deplatforming is real. Actor James Woods has been censored on Twitter, Stephen Crowder has been demonetized on Youtube (owned by Google) and Candace Owens was temporarily suspended on Facebook before the company did a reversal and declared it “an error.”

Political discrimination is destructive as it creates an incentive to silence your political opponents. Suddenly you have countrymen reporting on one another to get them deplatformed. Is this healthy for a society?

But it is not merely the reporting features that are being abused on these platforms.

Project Veritas’ James O’Keefe released a video on June 24 that showed how the algorithms that produce Google search results (and other machine learning) are programmed with algorithmic “fairness” in mind to prevent, per an internal 2017 Google document, “unjust or prejudicial treatment of people that is related to sensitive characteristics such as race, income, sexual orientation or gender, through algorithmic systems or algorithmically aided decision-making.”

Just throw in political affiliation, philosophy or religion, and one can immediately recognize how Republicans, conservatives or Christians might feel marginalized on social media platforms, but Google did not end up looking into that. A study by Google in 2018 on algorithmic fairness stated, “due to our focus on traditionally marginalized populations, we did not gather data about how more privileged populations think about or experience algorithmic fairness.”

As a Google executive in the video who was quoted in an undercover camera noted, “Communities who are in power and have traditionally been in power are not who I’m solving fairness for.”

But if Google had looked at other groups, they would have likely found found that supposedly “privileged” populations can feel marginalized, too. The 2018 study unsurprisingly found that participants expressed, “In addition to their concerns about potential harms to themselves and society, participants also indicated that algorithmic fairness (or lack thereof) could substantially affect their trust in a company or product” and that “when participants perceived companies were protecting them from unfairness or discrimination, it greatly enhanced user trust and strengthened their relationships with those companies.”

The thing is, nobody wants to be discriminated against, and if they are it will affect their perception of the company or companies that are doing it. Deplatforming, censorship and manipulating search and news results undermines trust in these Big Tech firms, and suddenly makes them a problem that many want to solve. No need for another focus group.

So, what responsibility does Big Tech have to foster our way of life and our competitive system of representative government, if any?

I would argue just as much responsibility as they feel to tackle the issue of fairness for historically marginalized groups, if for no other reason than it is good, sound business to cater to all comers, particularly in the political and governmental sphere. Why make enemies? It’s provocative.

Many solutions have been proposed to help there to be a level playing field on the Internet. Some are heavy-handed and appear to miss the target, while others are more narrow.

There is the Federal Communications Commission route, which might seek to make public utilities out of Big Tech companies, and all the regulation that comes with that. Net neutrality springs to mind, although that appeared more focused on throttling broadband speeds due to how much data was being used, whereas the issues today appear to focus on content-based censorship.

There is antitrust approach, whether via the Federal Trade Commission or the Department of Justice Antitrust Division, that might envision breaking up these large companies. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has come out for this approach. In a recent statement, she said, “As these companies have grown larger and more powerful, they have used their resources and control over the way we use the internet to squash small businesses and innovation, and substitute their own financial interests for the broader interests of the American people. To restore the balance of power in our democracy, to promote competition, and to ensure that the next generation of technology innovation is as vibrant as the last, it’s time to break up our biggest tech companies.”

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act exempts “interactive computer services” from liability of what their users post, and grants them the power to remove items at their discretion they find objectionable. Some have proposed simply removing the liability protections, which would render sites that allow users to write whatever they want suddenly subject to liability of hundreds of millions of users. It would also effectively destroy the Internet, since nobody would be willing to assume the risk of hosting somebody else’s material that might be defamatory.

Some have called for conservatives to boycott these platforms and to take their business elsewhere or to make their own platofrms, but what sort of echo chamber would we wind up with? More to the point, to win elections, Republicans have to appeal to independents and unaffiliated voters. You buy ads where there’s ad space to reach undecideds. Insular practices of exclusively only talking to partisans on your side is a recipe for being in the minority for a very long time. It does not grow a political movement to do that.

This author has posited that perhaps Congress could narrowly expand the franchise of protected groups under civil rights to include politics, philosophy and the like (although excluding employment hiring for exclusive organizations like political parties and organizations) and defining interactive computer services as public accommodations so that services cannot be denied on the basis of partisan differences. Throw in banking, DNS resolution, web hosting and email services as public accommodations while we’re at it for good measure.

From the perspectives of the Big Tech companies, surely they have noticed a marked uptick in calls to regulate their firms? Conservatives complain about censorship. Elizabeth Warren is worried about smaller businesses. The calls for regulation are directly proportionate to how powerful these firms become. Do any of the above options sound profitable or more like a regulatory headache that will cost millions or billions of dollars to manage?

And these are not even things we would normally consider, but throw in the prospect of censorship and suddenly it’s an existential matter of survival. Republicans who might normally defend these companies from regulation might look the other way when it comes up now. See how that works?

The truth is, I’m taking time out of my column to focus on this issue and so are many other organizations that are worried they too could be censored. The platforms we’re talking about have such market saturation that is so pervasive it could be utilized to discriminate on the basis of politics in order foster conditions conducive to one-party rule, which I believe to be dangerous.

More broadly, groups like Americans for Limited Government and political parties depend on a competitive political system to function. If we and others like us were suddenly barred from posting on social media or hosting a website or sending emails, suffice to say we would not function for much longer.

In a representative form of government, political parties’ access to media and their followers are critical to building and growing constituencies, and in the digital age these represent a digital sort of civil rights, and they must be protected in order for that system to continue to exist. One party systems do not respect civil rights. They squelch dissent to consolidate power and they target political opponents and critics of the system.

The great Renaissance philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli supposed that there were but two forms of government, republics and principalities, perhaps for that reason. One is ruled by the consent of the governed and the separation of powers, and the other by the will and domination of the state and over time needs to instill fear in order to govern.

There are liberal democracies that foster debate, and then there are one party systems that demand loyalty to the state. There’s not much in between.

The alarming trends we’re seeing with Big Tech companies engaging in censorship in the pursuit of “fairness” look a lot like a bid for one party rule. And the thing about one party systems is, once you have one, it’s really, really hard to get rid of it and there’s no guarantee that your favored class will be represented in its leadership. Sometimes those who support the rise of such a system wind up being marginalized by it. Look no further than Elizabeth Warren to see what lies at the end of that tunnel. Is it worth the risk? Be careful what you wish for.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.  You can read more of his articles at www.dailytorch.com. 

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